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Opposition MHP leader slams US over arms supply to PKK-affiliate YPG

Turkey’s opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chairman Devlet Bah eli, speaking at the party’s weekly parliamentary group meeting yesterday, strongly criticized the U.S. over several matters including a recent decision to supply heavy weaponry to the PKK’s Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party’s armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG.) Bah eli also touched on the incident near the Turkish ambassador’s residence last week and harshly refuted U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent statement saying, “‘Turkish violence’ is unacceptable. Tillerson’s remarks on ‘Turkish violence’ are nothing short of a rotten claim, which is completely devoid of compassion. It is neither within the boundaries nor in the scope of the duties of the U.S. secretary of state to mention the word ‘violence’ together with Turkey,” Bah eli said. During President Recep Tayyip Erdo an’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at around 12:30 p.m. (16:30GMT) on Tuesday last week, terrorist PKK supporters, as well as some protesters carrying Armenian flags, started shouting slogans against Turkey and Erdo an at Lafayette Square Park, just north of the White House. Foreign Minister Mevl t avu o lu’s close protection team was also involved in scuffles with pro-PKK and Armenia protesters in front of the Turkish Embassy, with footage prompting a defamation campaign against Turkey circulated widely in U.S. media, and several U.S. senators calling for the ousting of Serdar K l , Turkey’s ambassador to Washington. Commenting on the matter, MHP leader Bah eli yesterday stressed: “It is an extremely cowardly and shameful attempt at self-defense to cover up the provocations and violent agitations of Turkey’s enemies in front of the Washington embassy and blame Turkey. The PKK blood in the U.S. has re-emerged and gone wild with the Turkish delegation’s official visit. The PKK has received its supplies from the White House and revealed its war weapons.”Affirming that the diplomatic note issued by the Foreign Ministry to the U.S., due to the “aggressive and unprofessional” actions of U.S. security personnel against avu o lu’s protection team, was correct and well-decided, the MHP leader criticized the U.S. for supplying arms to the PKK-affiliated YPG. “Terror groups have no place in the future of our region. It is absolutely against the international agreement for any country to cooperate with terror groups; especially the YPG/PYD,” he reaffirmed, continuing by thanking the president for his comments on YPG during his official visit to the U.S.

Turkey’s US envoy slams anti-Erdo an protesters

Meanwhile, Turkey’s ambassador to Washington on Monday condemned last week’s demonstration outside of his residence, calling it an “expression of solidarity with terrorism.”

Speaking at the annual conference on U.S.-Turkey relations, Serdar K l told attendees it was “really disappointing to see the so-called flag of the PKK, which is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, on the streets of Washington, D.C.

“We do not take it as freedom of expression,” he said. “It’s an expression of solidarity with terrorism.”

Violent clashes erupted last Tuesday outside of K l ‘s residence as President Recep Tayyip Erdo an arrived for previously scheduled meetings. In response, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to Turkey on Monday in protest against the “aggressive and unprofessional actions” of American security personnel toward the foreign minister’s protection team. Foreign Minister Mevl t avu o lu was traveling with Erdo an at the time.

After the incident, the Turkish embassy released a statement saying, “Groups affiliated with the PKK, which the U.S. and Turkey have designated as a terrorist organization, gathered yesterday without permit in Sheridan Circle in the immediate vicinity of the Ambassador’s Residence, while the president of Turkey was visiting the Residence. The demonstrators began aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president. The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense and one of them was seriously injured. The violence and injuries were the result of this unpermitted, provocative demonstration. We hope that, in the future, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that similar provocative actions causing harm and violence do not occur.”

Responding to the incident, U.S. State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon thanked K l for attempting to calm the situation at Sheridan Circle, but called the events that occurred “deplorable.””During that incident, Americans saw lawful protesters attacked at Sheridan Circle,” he said. “It is important to note that in the United States such protests are legal, protected and customary.”

According to police, out of the 11 people that were injured last Tuesday, including a police officer, nine of them were hospitalized.K l disputed Washington’s approach to combating Daesh in Syria, saying he “can hardly understand and accept the argument that the U.S had to conduct the operation on Raqqa by making use of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) since there is no alternative on the ground.

“There is Turkey and there is the Free Syrian Army,” he said pointing to their success in ousting Daesh from a swathe of northern Syria. “You cannot and you should not make use of a terrorist organization in your fight with another terrorist organization.”

Shannon stressed that the U.S. position on the PKK was unchanged and that Washington stands resolute with Turkey against the designated terror group.

“To the PKK we want to be perfectly clear: Violence against innocent civilians is never justified, and the United States has been and always will be unequivocal in our strong condemnation of the PKK,” he said.

‘Fight against FET must continue without hesitation’

Meanwhile, Bah eli drew attention to the necessity of maintaining the fight against the G lenist Terror Group (FET ) and said, “It is the honor and historic duty of the Turkish government to find each FET member and collar them. Showing mercy to traitors is a betrayal to the oppressed.” Bah eli further noted that counterterror efforts against FET must continue rigidly and without any hesitation.

Government tech positions tougher to fill in Trump era

Right after President Donald Trump took office, Mikey Dickerson traveled to Silicon Valley to make a pitch for the U.S. Digital Service, a program he’d run that’s brought hundreds of technologists to Washington to improve the government’s clunky computers and unsecured networks. As a political appointee, Dickerson’s job ended in January, yet he volunteered to recruit for the program. Then Trump signed his initial travel ban on Jan. 27.

“Prior to that day, I was willing to meet with people and tell them about my experience, but not after that,” said Dickerson, a 38-year-old former engineering manager at Google who went to Washington to supervise the effort to rescue the Obamacare website after its debut. With protests breaking out over Trump’s ban, Dickerson said he didn’t feel that he could recommend working in the new administration to his old colleagues. Government work has always been a tough sell for technology whizzes. The pay is lousy compared with what top engineers and developers can make in the private sector, and the work can be frustrating — with workers more likely to be fixing old systems than developing new ones.

After the failed rollout of the healthcare.gov website in 2013, the Obama administration created programs such as the Digital Service to recruit talented people in the tech industry who could inject some startup know-how into government. Now many are wondering if they should stay.

“Technologists were overwhelmingly opposed” to Trump’s candidacy, said Herbert Lin, a cyber research fellow at Stanford University. The administration is “doing things that have the potential of creating more barriers.”

Recruiting is becoming even harder among computer wonks, many of them young, liberal and at odds with Trump’s positions on issues from gay rights and abortion to net neutrality. In California’s Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley, Trump won just 20.7 percent of the vote, compared with 73.4 percent for Hillary Clinton. Tensions between the new administration in Washington and the technology community have played out in headlines: Facebook let employees take time off to join pro-immigrant protests. Amazon and Apple stood by their pledges to fight climate change as Trump reversed Obama’s policies. A lawyer-turned-venture capitalist vowed to give $1 million to charity if Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, who’s serving on White House advisory panels, agreed to “dump Trump” by condemning the president’s climate change policies.

On April 28, the president signed an executive order establishing the American Technology Council to help the federal government deliver better digital services. The council will report to the White House’s recently created Office of American Innovation, run by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. The White House also is inviting technology CEOs to meetings in June to discuss modernizing government digital services. But according to current and former employees of the U.S. Digital Service and 18F — a General Services Administration initiative to help federal agencies build and buy digital services — Trump’s policies have already hurt their ability to retain staff. The Digital Service had 101 employees at the White House as of March 15 — 18 fewer than on Jan. 15, days before Trump’s inauguration, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News through Freedom of Information Act requests. At 18F, the number of employees dropped to 157 on March 15, from 166 two months earlier. While there’s turnover with every presidential transition, Dickerson said he knows of about 15 people who’ve left the Digital Service since Trump became president because they disagreed with him. Others have decided to leave over fears that working under the Trump administration will hurt their job prospects in Silicon Valley.

David Eaves, a public policy lecturer at Harvard University, said tech initiatives under Obama persuaded software engineers to give back through public service. But the Trump administration “hasn’t really built its brand around notions of public service,” Eaves said.

“The big question is, will they be able to recruit?” Eaves asked. “They’re going to have to find a message that makes them appealing.”

The Obama-era programs have their critics as well, who say the federal technology stints are too short, typically lasting six months to a year, so those who take part spend much of their time just trying to learn how the federal bureaucracy works. It’s also daunting to ask tech workers to take a pay cut and relocate — at their own expense — and to give up their privacy to get the top-secret security clearance that’s required. Still, teams from the Digital Service and 18F have helped agencies assess digital tools and applications, and developers to build more secure solutions, according to Grant Schneider, the acting U.S. chief information security officer.

“The incoming administration is very interested in what are the tools and capabilities across the federal government” in technology and cybersecurity, Schneider said in an interview. “They’re going to assess the tools that are available against the tools that they’re going to need.”

Several technology leaders hired under Obama are still on the job. Matt Cutts, a 15-year veteran at Google who headed the company’s web spam team and joined the Digital Service last year at the Pentagon, is now its acting administrator. As of April 19, the program had more than 170 people, including those at the White House and affiliated workers deployed at other federal agencies.

“Now that the freeze is over, we have a number of qualified applicants we will be bringing on board,” Cutts said. He said there’s a “strong appetite in the tech industry to work on impactful problems” while conceding that Trump’s initial freeze on federal hiring, since rescinded, made it difficult to replace departing staff. In blog posts and social media, some who stayed on said they view their work as nonpartisan.

But on social media, Digital Service alumni and employees tout their past work, including digitizing and improving the process for U.S. refugee admissions, with comments such as “we don’t work on this anymore.” Other current or former employees say they want assurances they wouldn’t have to work on parts of the Trump agenda they oppose, such as the border wall or databases they fear could be used to discriminate against Muslims.

It’s unclear what Trump’s new initiatives will do or how they’ll fit with existing efforts, including the Digital Service and 18F. Dickerson said until it’s known how Trump plans to use the programs, he won’t recruit for them.

“The first problem to solve is perception,” said Dickerson. “They haven’t provided any insight into what they want this team to do.”

SundayMonday Business on 05/22/2017

Tessier to receive Legacy Award for his work with veterans

Tessier To Receive Legacy Award For His Work With Veterans
NASHUA – During an intense combat mission in Vietnam, city resident Tom Tessier promised himself that if he made it out alive, he would do something good for others.

Five years ago, Tessier made good on that promise while helping to organize the Nashua chapter of Veterans Count, a program of Easterseals New Hampshire that helps soldiers and their families before they are deployed, during deployment and when they return home.

“Veterans won’t ask for help – they are trained to get things done,” said Tessier, a city native who served five tours in Vietnam. “We have a very high population of veterans in New Hampshire and a lot of them fall through the cracks.”

Next month, Tessier will receive a 2017 Granite State Legacy Award for his charitable work, which helped raise about $1.6 million in the past five years to help veterans. The award celebrates the accomplishments of the state’s most distinguished citizens who have given the most to New Hampshire through business, philanthropy, politics and more. Tessier, 70, is a partner with the financial services firm Weisman, Tessier, Lambert & Halloran.

His work with Veterans Count, alongside Sy Mahfuz, owner of the Persian Rug Gallery, has become a model for other states looking to form similar Veterans Count initiatives.

“My guidance counselor in high school told me I would never amount to anything. That is when I decided to join the military,” Tessier said. “When you are young you just do it – you don’t really think about it.”

Tessier spent 18 months at a nuclear missile base in Tucson, Ariz., and with strategic air command and security. His father served in World War II and his grandfather served in World War I.

“I thought it was my turn. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do,” said Tessier, a member of the Air Force 377th Security Police Squadron that fought in the Battle for Tan Son Nhut, one of the largest ground battles in U.S. history.

“But I was scared to death to come home,” he said. “There, in Vietnam, I had responsibilities and respect. Coming back home and the thought of college seemed more difficult to me than war.”

Tessier eventually graduated from New Hampshire College while working as a security guard at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Merrimack. He worked at other positions before eventually realizing his passion for financial services.

“I just decided to work my tail off to build a practice. Now, I do what I enjoy. I am not afraid to take on a challenge,” he said. One challenge, presented to him five years ago, sought to raise $100,000 for Veterans Count and was met with eagerness and determination.

Tessier said he thought about his 3-year-old brother, who died from leukemia while Tessier was deployed.

“I didn’t get to go home to his funeral,” he said, adding there are families throughout New Hampshire that have similar stories and need assistance with financial struggles during times of deployment. Veterans Count offers critical services to military families, helps veterans transition into stable civilian careers, deal with combat injuries and face issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Tessier said.

“My legacy, I guess, is just trying to make this place a better place to live and it is an ongoing and never-ending mission,” he said. “I have one speed – full blast, and sometimes that can be detrimental.”

The Granite State Legacy Awards are given to New Hampshire residents who have made significant contributions over an extended period to their profession, community and state. Presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader and sponsored by Eastern Bank, the annual awards program was launched in 2012. The New Hampshire Union Leader and Eastern Bank are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of these distinguished residents.

This year’s awards will be presented Wednesday evening, June 7, at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and include hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.

To register for the event, visit unionleader.com/legacy[1], call 206-7834 or email [email protected]

[email protected]

References

  1. ^ unionleader.com/legacy (www.unionleader.com)
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