Taking e-security matters in hand, Azerbaijan plans to update its criminal code with some thoughts on "cyber crimes." The amendments are "expected to be adopted in the near future," according to one security official.
What exactly those crimes will entail is not clear, but, already, steps are being taken to address the needs of the most frequent of Facebook and Skype users -- youth.
A selection of student activists and young Azerbaijanis "who succeeded in different fields" gathered "the most pleasant impressions" from an April 21 meeting with President Ilham Aliyev, News.az tells us.
(Not among their number was opposition youth activist Jabbar Savalan, who was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on May 4 for alleged possession of narcotics, Contact.az reports. )
The chitchat focused on a youth program that plans to bolster employment, make home mortgages affordable, encourage physical activity, and, now, for good measure, "amend" Azerbaijan's history textbooks.
Some articles appearing in Kyrgyzstan's media these days are hateful and obnoxious. But then sometimes there are views that are so barking mad as to tip from intolerant to plain ludicrous. The problem is, in Kyrgyzstan's tense environment, delusion and denial could foment more unrest.
Step forward political "expert" Talant Razzakov, who was interviewed by AKIpress news agency about the independent international report into the ethnic bloodshed in Osh last summer.
Clearly disappointed with not finding enough to be disgruntled with, Razzakov has compromised it by simply concocting patent nonsense about a nebulous first draft of the Kyrgyz Inquiry Commission (KIC) report released May 3.
KIC team leader Kimmo Kiljunen categorically stated that there was no qualification for describing the violence in Osh as a genocide, but Razzakov claims that terminology was in fact used in the initial version of the report: "I have read the first printed version and the main idea was like that. But then members of the commission denied that they had written the report."
Several weeks ago, mere rumors the word had been used by foreigners to describe the tragedy drew a a protest outside the parliament and the UN.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy may not be able to have it both ways when it comes to balancing between the Armenians and the Turks. Faced with pressure from Armenian Diaspora groups, Sarkozy pledged not to give his 25-centimes' worth when France's Senate on May 4 votes on a bill that would make it a crime to deny that the massacre ethnic Armenians suffered in 1915 at the hands of Ottoman Turks is a genocide.
France's National Assembly adopted the bill in 2006. But alleged US diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks suggest that Sarkozy has played a diplomatic double game about the bill ever since.
Sarkozy vowed to France’s significant ethnic Armenian electorate to pull the bill through the parliament, but, according to Wikileaks, he also promised Ankara that the Senate would kill the measure.
The revelations sparked an outpouring of Armenian anger in France. Crooner Charles Aznavour, one of the most prominent Armenian Diaspora members in France, threatened to rally the Armenian vote against Sarkozy in next year's presidential elections.
Sarkozy may now have promised Armenian Diaspora members not to interfere with the genocide denial vote in the Senate, but will he say the same when Ankara calls?
The security forces of Kyrgyzstan bear some blame for the violence last year between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan, according to the comprehensive international report on the events, just released. But for the most part, the report paints the picture of passive, rather than active, military involvement in the violence.
The role of the security forces in the events was significant. The military personnel under the command of the Provisional Government numbered 2,000. The KIC is of the opinion that had those troops been properly instructed and deployed, it would have been possible to prevent or stop the violence and to block the access to Osh city by the attackers who moved from rural areas. The failure of members of the security forces to protect their equipment raises questions of complicity in the events, either directly or indirectly. Further, some members of the military were involved in some of the attacks on the mahallas.
In most cases, the report carefully accuses the military of sins of omission, rather than commission, for not doing anything to stop the violence, the requisitioning of military equipment by the mobs or to subsequently recover the weapons that were seized in those days. Then defense minister and current MP Ismail Isakov comes in for particular censure:
Georgia Today has an interesting article about Tekuna Gachechiladze, an ambitious Tbilisi chef who is opening up a restaurant called Georgian Fusion, that, as the name implies, will serve up Georgian fusion cuisine.
“I still want to use typical Georgian ingredients, such as tarragon or tkemali (a cherry plum sauce), but mix them with new ingredients such shrimps, or combine eggplants, very popular in many traditional Georgian dishes, with foie gras," Gachechiladze says. “Look at Spanish cuisine, just 20 years ago it was still very traditional. Look at it now, it has some of the most radical and innovative chefs of our times.”
Sila Sahin, a German-born Turkish actress, has made history by being the first Turkish woman to pose for the cover of Playboy. But her move has not been welcomed, both by her family and some Muslim hardliners.
The Berlin-based Sahin has said she posed for the German-edition of the magazine, "to show young Turkish women it's okay for you to live however you choose. Many of my countrymen think it's great that I can be so free. With the shoot I hoped to say to them that we do not necessarily have to live under these rules given to us."
But the photo spread has led her mother to cut off contact with her and concerns about what kind of pressure Sahin may face from cultural and religious conservatives within the large Turkish community in Germany. More details here. And writer Asra Q. Nomani takes a closer look at the significance of Sahin's Playboy photo and interview here.
Uyghur activists in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have been forbidden from traveling to the U.S. for a conference, and they say it's as a result of pressure from China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
One of the activists in Kazakhstan, Kahriman Ghojamberdi, told Radio Free Asia's Uyghur service that customs officials at the airport in Almaty surreptitiously ripped out pages in his passport, and then told him that his passport was invalid for travel:
“Obviously, it is a slander to block me from the conference by orders from China. The Central Asian countries are acting as one of the provinces of China since the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established,” Ghojamberdi said.
Four activists from Kyrgyzstan apparently had the same thing happen, and Ghojamberdi said several other Uyghurs in Kazakhstan were harassed by police and intimidated into not going to the conference:
“In the past 30 days most of my friends who received invitations from Washington to attend the congress were ‘investigated’ by Kazakh police and ‘persuaded’ not to attend the conference."
The SCO, recall, is the regional security organization consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Just a month ago, the U.S. mooted the idea of cooperating with the group, while a human rights group put out a report explaining the risks of these sorts of anti-Uyghur crackdowns in Central Asia under the auspices of the SCO.
Continuing their intrepid exploration of Turkey's and Istanbul's hidden culinary secrets, the EatingAsia folks have just posted a great writeup of their adventures in Istanbul's Besiktas neighborhood, where they found a truly old-school bakery and a classic breakfast spot that serves the heavenly Turkish version of clotted cream, known as "kaymak." Their report is here. More on "kaymak" here.
As mentioned here in previous posts, the Turkish Karsan company was one of the three finalists chosen to compete for the honor of building the next generation New York City yellow cab. The Turkish entry was the most exciting one, in many ways, with a slightly futuristic-looking design and nice touches like London cab-style jump seats.
But, according to reports, the powers that be in New York have ruled against Karsan's entry, judging the company to not have enough car building experience (clearly they never heard of the "bocek"). More details here.
Meanwhile, Turks can take solace in the fact that of the two remaining entrants in the new taxi sweepstakes, one of them -- a modified Ford Connect -- is built in Turkey.
[UPDATE -- It's official, the ho-hum Nissan has won the taxi of tomorrow sweepstakes. More here.]
Hundreds of young Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan are getting into the terrorism business, says Keneshbek Dushebayev, the head of Kyrgyzstan's National Security Service (GKNB). Moreover, they have created yet another new extremist organization, the Islamic Movement of Kyrgyzstan (IMK), he said without providing evidence on April 29.
That the 400 or so would-be terrorists training in camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan are mainly ethnic Uzbeks is a charged assertion in the current climate of rising Kyrgyz nationalism.
Dushebayev says the IMK is a newly set-up group, and there is no evidence of it having appeared in news reports until now. With no real details, the likelihood is that the IMK will simply be added to the alphabet soup of acronyms designating alleged terrorist groups in all their guises, alongside the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Islamic Movement of Turkmenistan (IMT) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU).
Dushebayev has been making ominous warnings about the threat of terrorist violence since last summer’s ethnic bloodletting in southern Kyrgyzstan. At the start of the year, he announced that a group of detained militants had been planning five attacks in the country and predicted that the number of terrorist plots discovered could increase as the investigation proceeded.