Boing Boing 

1,000-room palace for Turkey's President Erdogan will cost twice initial $615M pricetag


The White Palace in Ankara has 1.6m square feet of floorspace, and features thousands of trees imported from Italy at a cost of up to $10,000 each; the taxpayer-footed electricity bill from the palace will run $313K/month.

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Turkey to require pet owners to undergo mandatory certification

Via Reddit, photographer unknown.


Via Reddit, photographer unknown.

Under a new law in Turkey:

Anybody who wants to have a pet at home will need to undergo training. They will also have to provide suitable accommodation for the welfare of the animal, as well as meeting its ethological needs and care for its health. With the new arrangement, sales of all kinds of pets and animals except for fish and birds will be banned in pet shops. Also, prison sentences will be introduced for torture and ill-treatment of animals.
Also, zoophilia gets you 2 years in jail. [hurriyetdailynews.com]

Turkish government blocks Youtube to shut down spread of phone recording in which PM conspires to hide millions from investigators


The Turkish government has doubled down on its Internet censorship program, blocking all of Youtube in addition to its ban on Twitter. Despite theories about the political theatre of blocking Twitter, it seems like Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also genuinely concerned with suppressing a recording of a conversation with his son in which he conspires to hide the money he is thought to have received through corrupt dealing. As with the Twitter block, this one was undertaken as an administrative order from the PM's office, without judicial oversight. The Twitter ban has since been rescinded by the Turkish courts, but the block may not be lifted before the elections.

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Turkey orders block of Twitter's IP addresses

Just a few days after Turkey's scandal-rocked government banned Twitter by tweaking national DNS settings, the state has doubled down by ordering ISPs to block Twitter's IP addresses, in response to the widespread dissemination of alternative DNS servers, especially Google's 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 (these numbers were even graffitied on walls).

Following the ban, Turkey's Twitter usage grew by 138 percent. Now that Twitter's IP range is blocked, more Turkish Internet users are making use of Tor and VPNs, and they continue to use SMS for access to the service.

It's interesting that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has singled out Twitter for his attacks ("Twitter, schmitter! We will wipe out Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says.") Why not Facebook or Google Plus? I'm not certain, but my hypothesis is that Facebook and Google's "real names" policy -- which make you liable to disconnection from the service if you're caught using an alias -- make them less useful for political dissidents operating in an environment in which they fear reprisals.

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Turks bid farewell to the Internet in the face of brutal censorship/surveillance law

Turkey's brutal new Internet law grants the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate the power to arbitrarily censor Web-pages to the individual URL level, much like the Great Firewall of China -- meaning that specific articles that are critical of the state can be censored while leaving the remainder of the site intact. It criminalizes "harmful" Internet messages and hosting "harmful" content, and requires long-term data-retention by ISPs, meaning the state and police will be able to access records of your entire online activity. It will also mandate the use of deep packet inspection to detect and disrupt technologies for evading censorship and maintaining privacy.

The law was passed in a process rife with corruption, secrecy and other undemocratic irregularities. Turkey's #OccupyGezi uprising galvanized a diverse opposition that took to the streets against corruption and repression, spread using the Internet. It documented police brutality that shocked the world and uploaded the videos to Youtube. As the forces of reaction and oppression in Turkey move to consolidate their power, it's clear that this law is intended to prevent any further use of networks to organize and publicize opposition movements.

On Medium, Ahmet A. Sabancı has posted a poignant farewell to the Internet from Istanbul:

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A holiday reminder

Eating turkey doesn't make you sleepy — it's all the booze and over-eating that does that.

Why Q was illegal in Turkey until last month

Last month, Turkey repealed its 1928 Alphabet Law, and legalized the letter Q. In a short, illuminating piece in the London Review of Books, Yasmine Searle describes the history of Romanicization of Turkish writing, which was part of a larger project to assimilate Turkish minorities by standardizing the language and its spelling, and, in the process, banning many of the keys from the left side of the typewriter.

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Game-tokens found in 5,000-year-old burial mound


Ege University's Haluk Sağlamtimur presented a remarkable find of 5,000-year-old gaming tokens found in a Bronze Age burial mound at Başur Höyük in Turkey. They take a variety of forms ("Some depict pigs, dogs and pyramids, others feature round and bullet shapes. We also found dice as well as three circular tokens made of white shell and topped with a black round stone") and suggest a game based in some way on the number four.

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Technology of #OccupyGezi

Here's a quick overview of the technologies used (so well) by the #OccupyGezi protesters in Turkey. There's no question that the right tools helped organizers mobilize non-activists in huge numbers, despite the threat of police violence. But the question that remains to be seen is how much signals intelligence the police intercepted from the protesters, and whether they'll use that to track down and attack protesters after the fact.

Scenes from Turkey and Brazil


(A protester in Sao Paulo kisses a Turkish flag. Brazilians say they were, to a large extent, influenced by #occupygezi)

Yup, they're still in the streets in Turkey. And Brazil. And it's not just because Turkish cops buy their tear-gas from Brazil. Yesterday's Brazilian protests widened the causes under discussion, expanding to cover new laws that will make it harder to punish corrupt public officials. Photos from the excellent OccupyGeziPics Tumblr.

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Turkish cops shoot a protester's drone out of the sky

Above, footage of a protester's quadcopter in Gezi Park getting shot down by the Turkish Police. Below, the footage of police violence the drone had been capturing (complete with music that sounds like it came out of an orc-fighting scene in the Hobbit). Ahead of us: a long, weird future history of protest.

Tuesday afternoon on June 11th 2013, Police was violently attacking peaceful protestors. Police fired guns at one of our RC drone during the protests in Taksim square, Istanbul. Police aimed directly at the camera. Due to the impact on the camera (it did have a housing) the last video was not saved properly on the SD card. The camera and drone were both broken. Managed to keep the SD card. Here is the footage from that camera! This footage you are about to see is from the prior flights minutes before the incident.

Turkish drone shooting heralds a new age of civillian counter-surveillance

Young Gezi protester waits out the tear-gas in a Burger King


From the Occupy Gezi Pics tumblr: "A young girl in a Burger King restaurant on Sunday, after she managed to escape the tear gas outside. The caption reads: 'Spring will come again. I promise you.'"

A young girl in a Burger King restaurant on Sunday

Brutal crackdown on Turkish protests


Barricades at Nisantasi, at 4:50AM Sunday

Poiu is in Turkey; he writes: " Since yesterday evening, everything has worsened. Unfortunately it is not really covered by local media, the consequence of that being that it gets a lot less international attention than it should. People are gassed here non stop, in all central Istanbul areas. Tens of thousands of people are out in the streets. The only two channels who cover the street events are ULUSAL KANAL CANLI YAYINI and artı bir tv. You should check them out just to get an idea of the scale and the drama."

Meanwhile, there's a lot of astounding stuff in the Occupy Gezi Pics Tumblr.

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From Gezi Park

A protester runs through tents covered by tear gas in Gezi park in Istanbul's Taksim square June 15, 2013. Turkish riot police stormed a central Istanbul park on Saturday firing tear gas and water cannon to evict hundreds of anti-government protesters, hours after an ultimatum from Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

I've been attending the Gezi Park protests since arriving in Turkey on June 6.

Thousands of people have camped at the park in Taksim Square, traditionally a gathering place for all kinds of meetings and protests, to prevent Prime Minister Erdoğan from razing the park to remove the place of assembly and erase some of the last green space in Istanbul to turn it into an Ottoman barracks shopping mall.

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Turkish EU minister: protesters will be treated as terrorists


Turkish police used extreme force to eject the protesters from Taksim Square yesterday. Egemen Bağış, Turkey's representative in the EU, gave a televised address in which he said, "[The police] will intervene against anybody who tries to enter Taksim Square, [treating them] as a terrorist."

Everyone who enters Taksim Square will be treated as a terrorist: Turkish EU Minister

(via Reddit)

(Image: "People crossing Bosphprous Bridge (normally closed to pedesterians) headed for Taksim square" Ve halk kopruyu gecti/ @marjinal_hatun)

Why are the protesters in Gezi Park?

Zeynep Tufekci, a Turkish-American Princeton/UNC sociologist who studies social movements and the Internet is presently in Istanbul's Gezi Park at the protests. She follows up on her earlier piece on the "social media style of protest" with a long and thoughtful look at what the protesters on the ground in Gezi Park are doing and why they're doing it:

After talking to the park protesters for days here is a very quick compilation of the main complaints and reasons people say brought them to the park:

1- Protesters say that they are worried about Erdogan’s growing authoritarian style of governance. “He thinks we don’t count.” “He never listens to anyone else.” “Why are they trying to pass laws about how I live? What’s it to him?”

Erdogan’s AKP party won the last election (its third) and is admittedly popular with many sectors of society, including some who are now in the Park have voted for him. It has accomplished many good things for the country through a program of reform and development. Any comparisons with Mubarak and pre-Tahrir 2011 Egypt are misplaced and ignorant. The country is polarized; it is not ruled by an unelected autocrat.

However, due to the electoral system which punishes small parties (with a 10% barrier for entrance to the parliament) and a spectacularly incompetent opposition, AKP has almost two-thirds of the deputies in the parliament with about 50% of the vote. Due to this set up, they can pass almost any law they want. People said to me “he rules like he has 90%.”

So, that seems to be the heart of the issue. People have a variety of grievances, but concentrate mostly about overreach and “majoritarian authoritarianism.” For example, Erdogan recently announced that they would be building a third bridge over the Bosphorus strait. Many people felt that the plan was not discussed at all with the public and concerns about environmental impact ignored. Then, he announced that they had decided the bridge would be named “Yavuz Sultan Selim”–an Ottoman king (“padisah”) famous for a massacre of Alevi (Turkey’s alawites) populations. Unsurprisingly, Alevis who compromise a significant portion of the Turkish population were gravely offended. In the predominantly “GAzi” (not Gezi) neighborhood, people have been marching every night since the Taksim protests began. Last night, they blocked the main TEM highway for a while before voluntarily dispersing.

Read on for an excellent on-the-ground view of the mood of the protesters, some important observations on censorship, and a sickening look at the police violence directed against the protesters.

What do #occupygezi Protesters Want? My Observations from Gezi Park

Photos from #OccupyGezi

In case you've forgotten it amidst the Prism and Greek broadcaster shut-down stories, here's a reminder that the police are still engaged in a brutal crackdown on protesters across Turkey, courtesy of the Occupy Gezi Pics Tumblr:

"Taksim rainbow, Tuesday evening."

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Scenes from #OccupyGezi

Three photos picked from the OccupyGeziPics Tumblr, chosen for their vivid incongruities, and also to remind us all that Turkey still fights for the right to protest:


Another photo of the woman in red surfaces.

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Interview with Turkish woman occupying Gezi Park

Rene from the German site Nerdcore sez, "A friend of mine who is staying in Istanbul right now contacted me this morning and I had the opportunity to interview a girl who is occupying Gezi Park in Turkey right now. The situation calmed down, but she told me that actually the whole city of Istanbul is up on their feet roaming the streets."

D: The protests started with only a bunch of people who sat on at Gezi Parc so they don’t turn the only green area at Taksim so it becomes a mall. I must say they have reason. I never go to that parc unless i have to walk through but from Şişhane to where I live there are already 8 shopping malls! it’s crazy. The protestors are aware of that this is not against a shopping mall. It started like that but when the police attacked a bunch of people and continued the second day, the people rised against the brutality of the government. And now it is about the force that he uses against his people, the rules he makes because he wants to and that he bans all kind of freedom for the Turkish people.

NC: What’s the Military doing right now? Can they play a bigger role, although Erdogan pretty much deprived them of power?

D: Well, the military is silent. I don’t know wether they can play a role. If that happens it already sounds very scary. But as you said, Erdoğan did deprive them of power. I have heard that the military house in Harbiye took some people in to protect them but they don’t interfere.

Interview with an Occupy Gezi-Protester in Istanbul

Gas-mask dervish: #occupygezi


Mathilda sez, "In this photo by Twitter user @joeman24, a gas-mask wearing Dervish dances in front of protesters in Turkey."

A gas-mask wearing Whirling Dervish shows support for protesters in #Turkey

OccupyGezi: the People's Bulldozer



Two photos from the OccupyGeziPics Tumblr show the "people's bulldozer" in action -- apparently a mechanical digger commandeered off a building site by protesters in Besiktas (one of my Twitter followers reports a rumor that it was a youth gang, and not portesters, though of course, youth gangs may be protesting too), and used to attack police barricades.

Roundup of #occupygezi

Mathilda writes,

Throughout the weekend, protests have erupted in Turkey in response to the brutal pacification of a peaceful sit-in in Istanbul. Over 1,700 people have been arested and there are multiple unconfirmed reports of people dying. The Prime Minister is blaming the entire protest on the social menace known as Twitter, which seems to be the only way for protesters to communicate (hashtag #occupygezi), as Turkish media networks seem to keep mum on the whole affair, and cell phone providers are pressured by the government to block communications.

Meanwhile, the police are using tear gas, batons and rubber bullets to pacify the growing unrest. Amnesty International claims at least two protesters died so far, and Twitter is abuzz with reports of the police firing at defenseless people and demolishing shops to get at the protesters trying to hide inside.

Protester kicking away teargas cannister


From OccupyGeziPics: an uncredited photo of a woman in at the Turkish anti-government/pro-democracy protests kicking away a tear-gas cannister. It's an amazing shot -- like something out of a Banksy stencil come to life. Do you know who took it?

A young woman kicks back the tear gas.

What is the social media style of protest?

Zeynep Tufekci's essay analyzing the role that social media played in both the #OccupyGezi and the Arab Spring explores the differences and similarities between different uprisings, and has some very incisive things to say about what social media contributes to political change movements:

It was after the Gezi protesters were met with the usual combination of tear-gas and media silence something interesting started happening. The news of the protests started circulating around social media, especially on Twitter and Facebook. I follow a sizable number of people in Turkey and my Twitter friends include AKP supporters as well as media and academics. Everyone was aghast at the idea that a small number of young people, trying to protect trees, were being treated so brutally. Also, the government, which usually tends to get ahead of such events by having the prime minister address incidents, seemingly decided to ignore this round. They probably thought it was too few, too little, too environmental, too marginal.

On that, it seems they were wrong. Soon after, I started watching hashtags pop-up on Twitter, and established Twitter personas –ranging from media stars to political accounts– start sharing information about solidarity gatherings in other cities, and other neighborhoods in Istanbul. Around 3am, I had pictures from many major neighborhoods in Turkey –Kadıköy, Bakırköy, Beşiktaş, Avcılar, etc– showing thousands of people on the streets, not really knowing what to do, but wanting to do something. There was a lot of banging of pots, flags, and slogans. There were also solidarity protests in Izmit, Adana, Izmir, Ankara, Konya, Afyon, Edirne,Mersin, Trabzon, Antalya, Eskişehir, Aydın and growing.

Is there a Social-Media Fueled Protest Style? An Analysis From #jan25 to #geziparki

Turkish Spring: Taksim Gezi Park protests in Istanbul


(Estimated 40,000 people cross the Bosphorous Bridge to join the protests/OccupyGeziPics)
Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul is alive with protest at this moment. The action began on May 28, when environmentalists protested plans to remove the park and replace it with a mall, and were met with a brutal police crackdown. Since then thousands have taken to the streets in Istanbul and other Turkish cities (though there's a media blackout on the protests, and poor Internet penetration in Turkey, which means the news is slow to reach other parts of the country).

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Tired? You're not filled with tryptophan, but with food

Somewhere around the late 1990s, blaming tryptophan consumption for post-Thanksgiving lethargy became as much of a holiday tradition as the food itself. This amino acid — present in turkey meat — is supposed to accumulate in your brain, prompting your body to use it to make extra serotonin, a chemical that can make you feel sleepy.

But, as this RiskBites video and a very excellent article by Matt Shipman both explain, there's actually a simpler explanation for the sleepiness you feel after eating two helpings of turkey, trimmings, and pie. Simply put: You ate too damn much.

Many people gorge themselves at the Thanksgiving table. During the resultant digestive process, the body diverts as much as 50 percent of its blood to the small intestine, to maximize absorption of calories and nutrients. That means there is less blood available for physical activity. Furthermore, most traditional Thanksgiving meals are high in fat and protein content, which actually slows down the digestive process. So your body is going to be diverting blood to the small intestine for a longer period of time.

Unfortunately, pointing this out to the family members sprawled on your living room furniture will not make you sound nearly as clever as the tryptophan myth does. And the bit about the blood flow to the intestine might get you (slowly, sluggishly) lynched. Maybe, instead, you can just recommend a nice walk.

Read the rest of Matt Shipman's piece on tryptophan, including an interaction between mashed potatoes and turkey that could, conceivably, cause tryptophan-induced sleepiness.

Baraklava Obama

Boing Boing pal Joe Sabia, a storyteller and video director who collaborates with us to produce Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America, sends this snapshot from Istanbul. He's in Turkey for an international storyteller's convention.

"While visiting a hip Baklava spot in Istanbul," says Joe, "This chef proudly walked out exhibiting his political creation: Barack Obama made completely from baklava."

As an aside: looks like the chef used the same Associated Press photo as reference material that got Shepard Fairey in so much trouble. Can you barter for photo licensing with tasty sweets?

Turkish bootleg Star Wars figures of the 1980s


Here's a rare complete photographic catalog of Uzay, the Turkish bootleg Star Wars figurines, which are delightfully shonky and off-model.

No line of unlicensed Star Wars figures is as sought after as the Turkish line known as Uzay. Produced sometime in the latter part of the 1980s, the primary charm of the Uzay figures lies in their blister card art; not only are the card images incredibly cheesy, at their best they border on the psychadelic. To some collectors, a figure like the Imperial Gunner, the blister card of which shows the figure standing beside a cleverly-photographed calculator, is just too goofy to resist. And don't get me started on the Chewbacca blister. Do you think they really have gourds on Kashyyyk?

Trying to complete a set of Uzay carded figures is a daunting task; it might even be impossible. For one thing, the figures are exceedingly rare. Although certain figures, such as the AT-AT Driver and Stormtrooper, have turned up on the collector's market with some degree of frequency, others, among them the mysterious Head Man figure, are thought to be one-of-a-kind pieces....and their owners are often not easily persuaded to sell. Additionally, the packages of these figures are quite fragile; their bubbles, for instance, are made from a very weak and brittle plastic, which often breaks given the slightest abuse. In short, if you're a collector who wants to start collecting Uzay figures, you'd better be prepared to 1) spend a lot of money, and 2) accept lesser-condition pieces when the situation necessitates it. But don't worry, such concessions are made in the interest of collecting high quality, beautiful merchandise, right? Um...right?

The Comprehensive Guide to Uzay Carded Figures (via IZ Reloaded)

Woman terrorized by Godzilla, the turkey from hell

Everything about this video news report by Eric Seals of the Detroit Free-Press is awesome.

Edna Geisler, 69, of Commerce Township has been stalked for two months by an aggressive male wild turkey (a "tom") who "lurks in her front yard, screeching at her constantly, even jumping out occasionally and attacking her when she dares wander outside alone."

His name: Godzilla.

"I'm afraid to go out of my house," said Geisler. "I have to go to the post office at 6 o'clock in the morning to avoid him."

7.2 earthquake hits Turkey, more than a thousand feared dead

A man carries an injured girl after an earthquake in Tabanli village. REUTERS/Abdurrahman Antakyali/Anadolu Agency.

Turkey's Kandilli Observatory estimates that 1,000 or more people were killed today in a powerful earthquake in southeast Turkey's Van province.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told reporters some 10 buildings had collapsed in Van city and around 25-30 buildings collapsed in the nearby district of Ercis.

The USGS estimates the quake magnitude at 7.2, with a depth of 20 km (12.4 miles), 17 km (10 miles) NNE (32°) from the city of Van.

More immediate coverage: Reuters, AP, CNN.

Turkey's Hürriyet daily newspaper has coverage. For those interested in viewing local broadcasts, TRT-TV is the transmission to try and find via satellite or online re-streaming services.

More photos below.

Rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris after an earthquake in Tabanli village. REUTERS.

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