. . It’s A Duck!

The last post (blogging as opposed to bugle calls) had J and me diving out of the house for a breath of fresh air between the downpouring, monsoon-like rains. We decided to wander around to our beautiful Kocadere Valley and check the water flow situation and see what we could see along the way. Flowing water is only visible in the valley after heavy rain as it generally flows underground so it would be a chance to get a few photographic impressions.

Kocadere is, in my opinion, an impressively beautiful place and it’s hard not to feel a sense of deep satisfaction at having been instrumental, along with many others, in helping to preserve its uniqueness whenever I walk there. It is, after all, the home of many rare or beautiful species of flora and fauna.

Iurus dufoureius ssp asiaticus (4)_1

Iurus dufoureius – Europe’s largest scorpion and one of the rarest

Alkanna muhglae

Alkanna muhglae – in all its glory

Lyciasalamandra fazliae

Lyciasalamandra fazliae – Fire Salamander

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rushing water and towering cliffs

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Whilst we were poking around inside the valley we spotted these beautiful Horseshoe Orchids . .

Horseshoe Ophrys

Ophrys ferrum-equinum – Horseshoe Ophrys

Horseshoe Ophrys

. . amidst masses of Crown Anemones.

crown Anemone

We also gathered an audience who were very curious about what we were up to . .

kocadere sheep
The real highlight of the day happened on the way to the valley when we had to divert off the track and through an olive grove because of flooding. There, under a couple of the trees lay a group of Ophrys (a large family usually referred to as Bee Orchids) of a species that I had not seen before.

Orchids in general and Ophrys in particular can be notoriously difficult to pigeon-hole because of their ‘life-style’ which is best described as promiscuous! Here is a quote from the research unit at Reading University;

‘Orchids can often generate great taxonomic challenges due to interspecific and even intergeneric hybridization. However they are often eye-catching and something people want to be able to identify with confidence. With Ophrys, at least, the more specimens you see the more convinced you become that the plants are not following any rule book when it comes to behaving as species, and genes flow between one species and another to form recognizable hybrids and sometime these give rise to new species.’

In other words, they sleep around a bit and not just with their own! (if I may be permitted such a politically incorrect term) Anyway, when we got home out came my various reference books and for me it has to be Ophrys isrealitica so-called because it was first recorded and tagged in Israel in 1988. I sent photos to various (orchid) groups who did not dissent and also put it up on Facebook for those who are interested because, although not rare for the Eastern Mediterranean or several of the Aegean Islands, it has not been recorded this far west here in Turkey.

There was one person who questioned the ident, but as a non-academic enthusiast without access to sophisticated DNA analysis equipment – if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck!

Ophrys isrealitica

Ophrys isrealitica

Ophrys isrealitica

And it’s another new species for Okçular – I think that is 39 now!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps the stormy weather seems to have done many strange things including messing up my previous WP theme. I’m not that enamoured of this one, but it will have to do until I summon up the will to do something about it.

Colours

The rain has been, and still is, incessant. We are pretty safe here as we are a little uphill from the village which lies on a flood plain. Even with the new drainage system, Karagöl (Black Lake), below our house, is as big as we’ve ever seen it. The occasional break in the weather is a prompt to rush out and bring another stack of logs, or, if it looks like it might last beyond half an hour, get our boots on and get out for a breath of fresh air.

Karagol Black Lake Okcular

a couple of views over Black Lake and the village

Karagol Black Lake Okcular2

When the sun shines there is no doubt that we made a fabulous choice to call this place ‘home’. That said, there have been days upon days lately when there was nothing else to do but huddle by the fire with a good book, or gaze out of the windows at a world turned grey and khaki and hope that this was not going to be another day of lightning strikes and problems for the electricity supply. Added to the oppressive weather we have had our shaky-at-best mobile internet link to the outside world reduced to a crawl for a couple of weeks. Today we have a signal again which claims to be 3G – it certainly isn’t, but at least it is working.

So, apart from building a few new nest boxes and constantly feeding the wild birds – which scoff everything we put out (a lot) in a few hours (and then stand around in the rain looking in the window in a most dejected way), what have we been doing?

sadsparrows

Walking and enjoying the beauty around us whenever we can is the answer to that. Despite the miserable weather, Mother Nature has bumbled on doing what she does so well and carpeted the area in flowers. In the absence of anything else of excitement or interest to report since I last was able to amaze and excite you with my scintillatingly witty and informative postings, here are some more boring old flower pictures taken during the odd moments when it was possible to walk without the need for flippers and a mask! The ‘Colours’ of . .

sand crocus

Sand Crocus

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sunshine00034_1

Gorse

Asphodel

Asphodel

mysterious water tunnels

J discovers mysterious water tunnel

Golden Drops

Golden Drops

sunshine00047_1

pure white Crown anemone

pure white Crown Anemone (Okçular exclusive?)

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Crown Anemone – three generations

Crown Anemone

Crown Anemone

Crown Anemones

deep purple Crown Anemonesuch depth of colour

OkcularOkçular

Daisy, Daisy

Daisy, Daisy give me . .

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

ophrys fusca

first Sombre Bee-orchid of the year

Giant Orchid

Giant Orchid

fritillaria carica

Fritillaria carica ssp carica

I’ve been at this since 7.30 this morning and it is now 12.30, the sun is sort-of shining, so you’ll be relieved to know that this is your lot! Apart, that is, from Donovan’s rendition of ‘Colours’ from way back when which J says I should apologise for!

 

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Gird Up (Y)our Loins

. . with apologies to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who is perhaps better known by his pen name, and to a certain walrus and carpenter of renown.

Charles Dodgsonaka Lewis Carrol

‘The time has come,’ the Boffer said,   ‘To deal with many things,   With signatures and rubber stamps,   and jumping through some rings,   With copies, forms and bureaucrats    a-pulling at our strings.’

walrus carpenter

Yes, you guessed it – we were setting out to renew our İkamet Teskeresi (residence permit). Having lived here permanently for more than 17 years we were delighted to be going after a permanent permit at just TL55, having coughed up TL4,296.04 for our previous 5 year one!

goc-idaresi-teslimthe new residence permit

Nothing is ever static and during our time here we have watched, sometimes open-mouthed, as Turkey has changed and evolved. In dealing with various bits of bureaucracy there have been good times and not so good times. I remember after one episode, in our early days, of jumping up and down and banging my head against a filing cabinet, our dear friend and helper, Emine, putting her arms around me and saying, ‘Alan, you must have acceptation!’ She was right! This country is going through some monumental changes in a very compressed time scale and not everything works out as planned or wished for.

bureaucrat

The bureaucracy in Turkey was not set up to frustrate and screw us foreigners – it frustrates and screws everybody without discrimination! That, folks, is the nature of the beast wherever you reside in the world. Mind you, you wouldn’t think so as you swan over the various forums and FB pages related to the subject here. Some people are downright offensive, using abusive language that is really unhelpful to put it mildly. An insulted civil servant is unlikely to look very favourably on you or your bits of paper, or the poor sod in the queue behind you – I know, I used to be one! Listening to some folks going on I wonder why they are here, they seem to hate everything and everyone and believe everything is done better ‘back home’!

So, gird up your loins because, whenever possible, preparation and doing things in good time is key to success and a calm life. That being the case, a few weeks back we went to our local police office and enquired from our charming and helpful police lady what we would need. We came away with the list and set about pulling it all together. Keep in mind that we are dealing with Ortaca, Muğla and different towns/areas interpret things differently. Bodrum, I understand, requires a computer generated and filled application form – Ortaca hands you photocopied forms and tells you to use a black biro to fill in the boxes. My advice is to go with what they require locally and not start arguing about what you read online. Also, have an expectation that things will change between asking what is needed and handing stuff in – it happened to us! Evolution! In a couple of years we’ll all be looking back on these turbulent times and having a good laugh! You only have to read the expectations/mission statement of the new agency to realise that.

So, having got our updated list, we set about getting as much done as we could. We already had the usual colour photocopies (x2) of passport and ikamet, biometric photos and, just in case they want it, copies of our financial situation. The new requirements were: 1. for a statement from the kaymakam that we had not needed financial assistance from the state. To get this we needed to each write a dilekçe (petition) – we were given an example and assistance to complete this; 2. from the State Prosecutor’s office, using a simple form, we obtained a chit stating that we had no convictions – past or pending (Adli Sicil Kaydı); 3. a chit from the İlçe Nüfus (area population) manager confirming our residence at our address (Yerelşim Yeri ve Diğer Adres Belgesi).

Add to the above: (x2) colour copies of your Tapu Senedi (title deeds for your house) and, in Ortaca at least, you should be set up. We have to hand a form from the SGK confirming our health care coverage even though, as UK citizens, we are exempt because of our age – you may need to produce evidence of cover depending on your age. Finally, in our case, we paid our TL55 and included the receipts, having first taken copies. Actually, we have copies of everything and then some just in case things change again over the weekend! Now, we did all that and completed our weekly market shop and were home in time for afternoon tea – so, it wasn’t that daunting!

All of the staff who dealt with us so pleasantly and helpfully had only been informed of the new requirements five days before – think about that for a moment!  In all our years here we have been met with mostly smiling, helpful, tea-providing civil servants on minimal salaries. It is small wonder that there has been the odd misery-arse but, do you know, I can’t recall a single one of them!

Just two more stories and then I’m done: whilst we were in the police office there was a friend there who had forgotten to renew her passport which also cancelled her ikamet. There were two fees and three fines to pay as a result which couldn’t be avoided. By the end of the day all of the paperwork had been sorted (she’d been to Istanbul and got her passport extended a few days previously) and the forms sent off to renew her ikamet and she and her husband had been provided with tea with the chief of police! Their attitude had been great throughout and they got their reward.

Next there is a friend who speaks little Turkish who decided to do all the legwork for his ikamet himself, including dealing with a supposed monster in uniform behind a desk in Muğla. He approached his meeting with her with some trepidation! Everything went like clockwork and the ‘monster’ turned out to be charming! His great attitude saw him through as well!

success2

attitude = success (mostly)

These stories confirm what we have found over nearly 18 years here – if you want respect, give it; if you want a smile, offer one; if you want to be dealt with calmly, be calm. One other thing, and I really recommend that you do this, once everything has been done and dusted – and even if there were moments when you or the bureaucrat were stressed, go back with a big box of pastries and say ‘thank you’ and smile. The effect and the ‘fall-out’ is amazing – trust me! And those behind you in the queue will tell stories about you to their neighbours and grandchildren.

Before I go, a word about ‘Girding Your Loins’ . .

Gird-Up-Your-Loins-2‘Once more unto the breech, dear friends, once more!’ W. Shakespeare – Henry V 3.1 but that’s another story.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps let me say again, this is what works in Ortaca – you need to sort out what is needed in your neck of the woods.

A Little Ray Of Sunshine

It’s been a wild and woolly few weeks with Lodos winds and storms of biblical proportions hammering much of western Turkey. It seems like only yesterday most of us were worrying about the lack of water in the country’s cracked and dried-up reservoirs. I say most because there is at least one person with a hot-line to the almighty – Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroğlu. As Istanbul’s water reserves evaporated to crisis levels, Eroğlu is quoted as saying, ‘If the water is cut in İstanbul, then I’ll cut my mustache’. He obviously knows a thing or two because . .

veysel-eroglu

. . as you can see, the minister is still sporting a fine set of bristles

Anyway, back to the immediate weather situation. As I said, it’s been a bit disruptive – J and I had managed to pull together a nice little outing to Istanbul for a few days. With a bit of juggling and goodwill from friends we had well and truly got our ducks in a row. Our young friends from Tehran were flying over to attend a concert or three in the big city. We had agreed to meet up, spend some time together and attend one of the concerts with them. Meanwhile, dear friend Ahmet of designing amazing machines fame was inked in for a great evening of feasting, raki and raconteuring. Added to that, Mark and Jolee, the Senior Dogs in Istanbul were making a special trip from their island retreat of Burgazada to meet up with us for more great chat, eating and putting the world to rights. We had our plane tickets for what was promising to be a few days crammed with pleasurable stimulation and delight!

 First indication that all was not well with the world of aviation was a call from Turkish Airlines to tell us that our flight, along with a couple of hundred others, was cancelled due to bad weather – the ‘Lodos’ was on its way!

lodos Istanbul

Lodos weather Istanbul

Now, Turkish Airlines may have been grounded but the minister mentioned above is not the only one with celestial connections – those roughie-toughies from Iran Air know that the gods are on their side too, and our young friends breezed in from Tehran – no hassle! Their problems began when they went to get their tickets for the concerts they had flown from Tehran to attend. Sorry! Not just the odd concert cancelled, the whole bloody, week-long festival had been shelved, the organisers just hadn’t bothered to tell anybody who didn’t speak Turkish. Black mark there, then !

dogs pic

Meanwhile, out on Burgazada the Senior Dogs were kennel-bound because all the ferries had been cancelled. Even if we had made it to Istanbul there would have been nothing else for it than to hunker down against the belting rain and howling wind in some local meyhane and get stuck into a bottle or three!

meyhane

trust me, Turks really know how to enjoy themselves despite a few killjoys in Ankara

I’m pleased to say that stuck down here in Okçular we were able to exercise the healthy option and take advantage on Sunday of a few hours break in the weather when the sky cleared and the sun shone. Instead of downing some spirits we lifted our spirits with a wander around to our beautiful Kocadere Valley. As ‘Bones’ used to say, ‘It’s life Jim, just not as we’ve known it these past few weeks!’ Enjoy!

crown anemone red

Crown Anemone

giant orchid

rain drops on a Giant Orchid

crown anemones

Crown Anemones

wild cyclamen

Cyclamen

sunshine0011_2

Okçular’s crown jewel – Alkanna mughlae

Sea Aster

Sea Aster

Monk's cowel

Monk’s Cowel

Giant Orchid

a beautiful Giant Orchid

Alan Fenn, stuck indoors again with nothing better to do!

Cycle Recycle

I have a deep aversion to parting with things – J says I’m a compulsive acquirer and hoarder, which is hurtful because I firmly believe that if I hang on to something long enough I will eventually find a use for it. When something breaks down and is unrepairable I strip it for every nut, bolt, rubber foot, clip, plug and cable I can find and store all these bits and bobs neatly in containers to await the day of their recycling.

bins2

I use old ice cream containers but you get the idea

I think such frugality saves fuel on trips to the purveyors of these things and is therefore good for the planet. It is also why, when I do have to buy some new bits I always double up on what I need for the job. As I say, they’ll come in handy at some time.

Anyway, let me get back on track – as some of you know, J has been having treatment from a physio team in Muğla on a daily basis. This is now week three of being heated up, pulsed with electricity, gently twisted and manipulated by a charming lady, cranking a wheel, stretching up a ‘finger-ladder’, pulling a strip of giant balloon elastic and hauling her arms up and down on a pulley-thing. We both realise that doing this daily journey for any length of time is not realistic so I began to cogitate on how to bring as much of this equipment home as possible.

Yucelen physio

We made the charming physio a very good offer but she declined with a blush – I think I may have phrased the offer too loosely! So, I took some photos of the gear and, when we got home, I wandered into my workshop and assessed the stock situation.

physio wheel

IMG_7356_1

IMG_7358_1

So it was that a bicycle wheel, a few bits of steel, a couple of wheels from a garage door and a rack for ‘clocking-in’ cards were recycled and pressed into service.

DIY physio exercise wheelfresh coat of paint, looks like new!

DIY physio exercise wheel

J up to speed!

IMG_7366_1

DIY physio exercise gearthat works too!

DIY physio finger ladder‘clocking-in’ card rack – don’t ask – it’s an antique!

IMG_7387_1efficacious!

Now, I went through my electrical bits and I reckon I have everything I need to knock together one of those things that make your muscles jump about and I did offer to fix J up really good. I feel a bit miffed because, after all I’ve done, she declined!

junk1

frank1

Personally, I rated my chances . .

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Truckin’ Hell!

physio wheelJ has been having physio at a hospital in Muğla every day these past couple of weeks. There’s a lot of pushing, pulling, twisting and turning of items reminiscent of the crank in Victorian prisons. It’s just a bit of a driving chore that, for me, has been relieved by the pleasure of spectacular views as we travel the D550 road that starts (or ends) from the Marmaris turn off of the D400. As it climbs behind the village of Akyaka, it zig-zags through a series of billiard-table smooth hairpins before peaking at 670mts above sea level. It is, in my opinion, a beautiful piece of highway engineering.

 

sunset

We’ve watched it grow over the years from a bumpy, pot-holed little lane into a wonderful, motorway class super-highway! It has real ‘Weeeeeeeee!’ qualities – especially on the downhill run when every bend seems to open up ever more glorious vistas over the Bay of Gökova. If you get your timing right the sunsets are amazing.

So, ‘Why ‘Weeee!’ and not ‘Ahhhhh!’?’ you may well ask. That has much to do with the fact that sweeping bends and hairpin bends are great levellers of the playing field between our FIAT Doblo and your average BMW 5 series! Now, with ‘duel’ lanes up and down, trucks grinding up or down using their crawler gears are no hindrance to anyone and so there is much less risk to other road users from self-flagellators chancing life and limb with idiotic, penile enhancing overtaking manoeuvres. Driving is very pleasurable.

That said, since the road has been upgraded, we have often commented on the lack of any run-off areas and the chances of a runaway truck looming in the rear-view! So, we were pleased to see a run-off of a standard to match the quality of the road being constructed just prior to the last hairpin. Compared with the mound of sand currently provided on that bend it is an impressive bit of gear!

truck run-off Gokova hillImpressive as the engineering is, it has come a little bit late for these guys just a few hundred metres further down at the bend.

truck crash

truck crash2

truck crash3

the driver and his mate have finished with the police and are sitting awaiting the salvage crew – the cab hangs over the abyss!

truck crash5

J’s nifty camera skills have brought you these world exclusive pictures.

Alan Fenn and J looking forward to another round tomorrow!

Extinction

There have been five previous mass extinctions in the relatively short history of life on earth. The biggy came at the end of the Permian Period around 250 million years ago when an estimated 96% of all species were wiped out! That might seem like a lot and a long time ago but it’s a drop in the bucket and the blink of an eye in the 4.5 billion years since Mother Earth coalesced from the womb of our sun.

Amazing as the figures are, they are controversial for some. There are those out there who, according to biblical calculations, put the age of the earth at 4000 BCE + 5 days (prior to the creation of Adam on the 6th day).

Creation Museum

a scene from the Museum of Creation somewhere in Texas where they know about these things!

I’m not here to discuss pseudo-science or the co-existence  of humans and dinosaurs and so I stand by my figures and move on . .

It is estimated that there are currently 8.7 million species (excluding bacteria) living with us on planet Earth. It’s an estimate because we haven’t had the time to track them all down. Species have gone extinct since they ‘jelled’ in the primordial soup, it’s a normal and natural selection process – some make it and some don’t! The background, pre-human extinction rate stood at 0.1 per million species per year – pretty minuscule you might think. That said, species are presently going extinct at a rate that is approx 1000 times greater than the background rate! We are losing what we have never known we had faster than we discover new wonders and the cause of this staggering increase in die-off is us – you and me and the corrupt system that rules us!

Australian humpback dolphin

new species – Australian Humpback Dolphin

Edwardsiella anemones

new species – a sea anemone that lives on the underside of sea-ice

Liropus male skeleton shrimp

new species – Skeleton Shrimp

I’m not here to waffle on about climate change; burning less fossil fuel, saving the Amazon or the plastic gyres in the oceans – it’s too late for all that! Scientists first reported on human-created climate change effects back in the late 19th century – nobody in a position to do anything cared then and nobody in a position to do anything cares now. Anyway, it’s too late – unstoppable Anthropomorphic (human-induced) Climate Disruption is a fact. Extreme weather is here to stay and it is and will continue to get worse. Methane gas, a far stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, is erupting from the melting tundra leaving great sink holes.

siberian sink2

methane

doesn’t look so dramatic, but trust me, it is!

The same gas is ‘boiling’ out of the Arctic ocean at phenomenal rates – this whilst lobbyists for fossil fuel corporations and their lackeys in parliaments around the so-called ‘developed world’ deny there is even such a thing as climate change!

We are in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction!

So, if it’s unstoppable, what should we do? Be kind to those species, including our own, that surround us. Care for and enjoy this still beautiful planet whilst you still can. Go out and discover something new – it might not be a new species but it could easily be a new view from a new place or you could smile more often for no better reason than when you do there’s usually someone who will smile back. Your day and theirs will be a little brighter!

moody Okcularmoody Okçular

walk with a viewalways look on the bright side of life . . de-dum de-dum-de-dum-de-dum

J and I did just that one day last week when Mother Nature eased off a bit and relaxed – a new view from a new path, about 40 minutes drive away from home, that led to a small but significant discovery. As we passed a vertical buttress of rock I spotted what happens to be one of the rarest plants on the planet.

kocagol walk alkanna

did you spot it yet?

alkanna mughlae

Alkanna mughlae – a new location – has it made your day too?

First discovered some 15 years ago in two isolated and still secret locations in Muğla Province here in SW Turkey, I was lucky enough, 10 years back, to find it growing in profusion in Kocadere Valley near my house. What we have on this latest find is a colony of no more than half a dozen individuals of this critically endangered endemic by the name of Alkanna mughlae. So, not a new species but a new location for a fragile survivor and that has me smiling and happy. So happy that today I made Chelsea Buns!

chelsea buns

chelsea buns and coffee

Jolly nice they were too! As Nero once famously said, ‘ You hum it son, I’ll play it!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps J has just proof read this – she says I’m weird but the grammar is OK!

Scumbags!

I’ve been called a few things in my time – time spent as a soldier and then as one of Her Majesty’s prison officers tends to have that result! Yesterday J, who was a teacher so she’s used to being called names as well, and I decided it was well past time to acquire another one. So we headed off for Dalyan’s İztuzu Beach with Fethiye friend Chrissy who, I’m sure, has never been called a bad name in her life! We were going to support the group Save Iztuzu Dalyan fighting to save the beach on their ‘open day’.

protesters arrive at Iztuzu beach dalyan

getting there any way they can

Iztuzu Beach dalyan

Iztuzu beach protest Dalyan

J signs attendance register for the day number 3081 and a long queue behind waiting (and Chrissy from Fethiye)

The world famous beach has been under threat from various ‘projects’ of late, the latest of which would have done more than plonk a rather inappropriate turtle-shaped extension to the much valued sea turtle research and rehabilitation centre on a site overlooking the beach.  In a very questionable ‘tendering’ process the running of the beach and its facilities were to be privatised and handed to an entity called DALÇEV that wasn’t even in existence until two days after it won the ‘tender’. How amazing is that!

Anyway, once the word got out the s^*t hit the fan! Locals, many of whom have cut their environmental protection teeth on other hugely successful campaigns such as the defence of Yuvarlakçay, swung into action. So much has been learnt in the last few years by the small local team that guides this local movement of local activists protecting their local environment and local interests that it is hard not to believe that they can ‘do it again’. That would be a mistake, especially now that so much is micro-managed in Ankara. As someone once said, in a very different context, ‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!’ or words to that effect. Turning your back on the ‘money-grubbers’ and their facilitators in offices far away, even for a moment, can be catastrophic in any battle by the people, against those who seek to take what is, or should be, ours by right.

iztuzu Beach Dalyantwo of my great mates from the media reporting for DHA (c and r)

Speaking of ‘money-grubbers’ reminds me that a few days ago one of the partners of the company that didn’t exist when it won the non-competitive, sorted over a glass of tea, tender Tweeted his opinion of the protesters who had camped out through the freezing weather to try and prevent any further breeches of court orders by the company that didn’t exist when it won the . . (suck in a deep breath!) He described them as, and I quote, ‘Yavşaklar’ - that’s Scumbags in plain English! This from people who turned up at the beach barrier at midnight, threatened the municipal guardian, cut the padlock and drove three vehicles, rally-style, onto a protected beach, before action by locals forced the intervention of the jandarma and the courts to reinstate the status quo.

oruc3

oruc1

oruc2

scenes from the ‘rally’ on Iztuzu by the ‘responsible’ developers

So, what does ‘status quo’ mean for the campaign? It means that the company that didn’t exist when it won the dubious tender has to wait the outcome of the court ruling about the legality of the tendering process. Meanwhile the protesters agreed to withdraw their 24 hour ‘guard’, the jandarma were able to go back to barracks and the beach has been reopened to the public. Make no mistake, the locals are not blinking. There will be an alarm system in place, just like Yuvarlakçay, to thwart any further midnight raids. For now the legal process holds sway, but should it go against the will of the locals then watch out for fireworks because civil court actions by the locals’ beach protection platform against individuals and various bureaucrats will swing into top gear.

Anyway, back to this ‘Scumbags’ thing; J and I have been absent from the local protest scene for a while – there are various personal and other reasons for that. However, when some arse calls people I know and respect ‘Yavşaklar’ because they happen to believe that the beach is not for private profit and exploitation, then it was time to stand with them.

ju suis Scumbag!Je Suis Scumbag!

I hope it doesn’t come to it, because I hope they win this fight by a knock-out in this round, if not, I guess you’ll see this Scumbag huddled round the braziers at midnight listening to another Scumbag playing the saz and mourning his lost love – and that’s a promise!

manning the barricades Iztuzu Beach dalyanScumbags mourning their lost love(life) – it’s cold!

To keep up with what’s going on with the beach and to give support to those who are fighting to protect this globally renowned asset and Turkey’s first Specially Protected Area ‘friend’ them on Facebook and sign and share their petitions – here and here you may not be able to be here in person but you can be here in spirit. There are more of us than they think!

The photos are from many sources, I hope they will not be too angry that I’ve not credited them individually. Thanks to each of you.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

1984 Revisited

It’s hard to know where to begin with this post as it is so removed from the guff I usually ramble on about. So, bear with me as I struggle to put some order to it . .

Awaiting the Report Stage in the House of Commons is Home Secretary (Minister of the Interior) Theresa May’s ‘Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill 2014-15‘. (the link will take you to a PDF of the full bill) ‘So what!’ I hear you say, ‘Countering terrorism and providing security at home has got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?’ I would argue that countering the UK’s foreign intervention policies would do more to counter terrorism and improve security at home than any other factor in any equation you care to consider. But that is not the way these things work!

That said, the point of this post is to draw the attention of any of you who haven’t ‘yawned-off’ by now to the above mentioned Theresa May bill. It is probably the most insidious and subversive piece of legislation ever to passage through the so-called Mother of Parliaments. If any single thing marks the beginning of the fulfilment of George Orwell’s prescient predictions in ‘1984’ it is this bill.

Whilst we in Turkey are distracted by the antics of the current president more and more draconian laws are being passed. As those in the US were (and probably still are) agog at Kim Kardashian’s arse, Obomba signed into law the National Defence Authorisation Act which effectively stripped the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In the UK it’s immigration and UKIP that provide the main distraction. Behind the smokescreen the government is quietly putting in place the legislation required of a founding member of Oceania.

1984_map

Oceania-blue, Eurasia-red, Eastasia-green, disputed-white

Oceania, you may recall from ‘1984’ was the entity made up of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Does that ring any bells re: the present make-up of the English speaking, Anglo-Saxon ‘Security Five’? It was the land of ‘Newspeak’, the ‘Inner Party’, ‘Outer Party’, the ‘Proles’ and ‘Big Brother’. The UK (Airstrip One in the novel) was on the front line of the War Against Whatever. Ding-dong-ding-dong!!

So, let’s get back to the legislation; at first glance it appears to deal with such matters as surveillance, withholding passports, travel documents, other travel restrictions, etc of suspected terrorists. Fair enough, you might think. But then, on page 13 of the bill we get this:

PART 5

RISK OF BEING DRAWN INTO TERRORISM

CHAPTER 1

PREVENTING PEOPLE BEING DRAWN INTO TERRORISM

21 General duty on specified authorities

(1) A specified authority must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

(2) A specified authority is a person or body that is listed in Schedule 3.

Which puts a duty on those who run said specified institutions (which I’ll come to) to report those they consider at risk of being radicalised or drawn into terrorism ie Thought Crimes. Specifically, “due regard” to prevent people under whatever care the institution provides for them, from developing or holding what the British government considers to be “extremist” viewpoints as defined by them. Is that thought crime or not? These are not people who have done anything wrong. They are just being fingered by some largely untrained person as being potentially problematic at some point in the future. What marks some potential future terrorists? It’s the way they think, the way they react to authority, the way they question the system.

So, what are these ‘institutions’? There are all the usual ones that you’d expect, local authorities, prisons, etc but there are also the following, and this is the really scary, Big Brother bit.

Listed under Education, child care etc on Page 47 of the bill:

The governing body of an institution within the higher education sector within the meaning of section 91(5) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.

A person with whom arrangements have been made for the provision of education under section 19 of the Education Act 1996 or section 100 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (cases of illness, exclusion etc).

The proprietor of—

(a) a school that has been approved under section 342 of the Education Act 1996,

(b) a maintained school within the meaning given by section 20(7) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998,

(c) a maintained nursery school within the meaning given by section 22(9) of that Act,

(d) an independent school registered under section 158 of the Education Act 2002,

(e) an independent educational institution registered under section 95(1) of the Education and Skills Act 2008, or

(f) an alternative provision Academy within the meaning given by section 1C of the Academies Act 2010.

A person who is specified or nominated in a direction made in relation to the exercise of a local authority’s functions given by the Secretary of State under section 497A of the Education Act 1996 (including that section as applied by section 50 of the Children Act 2004 or section 15 of the Childcare Act 2006).

Think about that – heads of schools and even those who run Nursery Schools are going to be required to finger those children they suspect of having subversive thoughts and to hand them over to so-called panels that will be set up for what? Re-education? And those at the head of these institutions will feel compelled to act on their ‘suspicions’ because if they don’t there will be those below keen to appease the powers-that-be and further their own career in the ‘Party’. No doubt, as is normal with these things there will be performance related benefits or penalties to encourage the wavering to fill their quotas. The country will be over run by informants and amateur Thought Police. Is that ‘Orwellian’ or what!

1984 youth

remind you of the Hitler Youth, Young Communists, Pol Pot’s young murderers?

Mind you, not all ‘institutions’ will be compelled to comply with the law when it is enacted, and it will be! Here is a list of the exemptions from page 14 of the bill – you’ll find it revealing:

(2) The power under subsection (1) may not be exercised so as to extend the application of section 21(1) to—

(a) the exercise of a function referred to in section 21(4);

(b) the House of Commons;

(c) the House of Lords;

(d) the Scottish Parliament;

(e) the National Assembly for Wales or the Assembly Commission within the meaning of the Government of Wales Act 2006;

(f) the General Synod of the Church of England;

(g) the Security Service;

(h) the Secret Intelligence Service;

(i) the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ);

(j) any part of Her Majesty’s forces, or of the Ministry of Defence, which engages in intelligence activities (ie SAS, SBS my emphasis).

Did you get that? The Government, Parliament, MI5, SIS, GCHQ and even the bloody Church of England cannot be held responsible if they fail to prevent someone becoming radicalised or turning to terrorism (as defined by the above list of exemptions) but the head of a nursery school can! When you consider that British Special Forces training salafist, jihadi terrorists in Jordan and Qatar are exempt but you are not, that’s pretty rich.

So, when the principle at your local nursery fingers your child, grandchild (or great grandchild in my case) what happens to them? Pages 16-17 give you the answer:

CHAPTER 2

SUPPORT ETC FOR PEOPLE VULNERABLE TO BEING DRAWN INTO TERRORISM

28 Assessment and support: local panels

(1) Each local authority must ensure that a panel of persons is in place for its area—

(a) with the function of assessing the extent to which identified individuals are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism, and

(b) with the other functions mentioned in subsection (4).

(2) “Identified individual”, in relation to a panel, means an individual who is referred to the panel by a chief officer of police for an assessment of the kind mentioned in subsection (1)(a).

(3) A chief officer of police may refer an individual to a panel only if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the individual is vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.

(4) The functions of a panel referred to in subsection (1)(b) are—

(a) to prepare a plan in respect of identified individuals whom the panel considers should be offered support for the purpose of reducing their vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism;

b) if the necessary consent is given, to make arrangements for support to be provided to those individuals in accordance with their support plan;

(c) to keep under review the giving of support to an identified individual under a support plan;

(d) to revise a support plan, or withdraw support under a plan, if at any time the panel considers it appropriate;

(e) to carry out further assessments, after such periods as the panel considers appropriate, of an individual’s vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism in cases where—

(i) the necessary consent is refused or withdrawn to the giving of support under a support plan, or

(ii) the panel has determined that support under a plan should be withdrawn;

(f) to prepare a further support plan in such cases if the panel considers it appropriate.

(5) A support plan must include the following information—

(a) how, when and by whom a request for the necessary consent is to be made;

(b) the nature of the support to be provided to the identified individual;

(c) the persons who are to be responsible for providing it;

(d) how and when such support is to be provided.

(6) Where in the carrying out of its functions under this section a panel determines that support should not be given to an individual under a support plan, the panel—

(a) must consider whether the individual ought to be referred to a provider of any health or social care services, and

(b) if so, must make such arrangements as the panel considers appropriate for the purpose of referring the individual.

(7) In exercising its functions under this section a panel must have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State about the exercise of those functions.

(8) Before issuing guidance under subsection (7) the Secretary of State must (whether before or after this Act is passed) consult—

(a) the Welsh Ministers so far as the guidance relates to panels in Wales;

(b) the Scottish Ministers so far as the guidance relates to panels in Scotland;

(c) any person whom the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

. . prepare a plan for the identified individual . . they are talking about Re-education Centres people! Thought Control! ‘Give me the boy and I’ll give you the man.’ as the Brothers of the Society of Jesus were wont to say!

Rat Mask 1984if you think this is far-fetched consider that extraordinary rendition, waterboarding, rectal feeding, attack dogs, rape, etc are all ‘acceptable’ forms of enhanced interrogation. Who dies from extra-judicial killings by drones is discussed at the normal Tuesday meetings in the Oval Office!

1984_by_Schritt

1984 is a little behind schedule but has hit the jet stream and is making up for lost time!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Fun Guys

It’s been a bit wild and woolly down here in Okçular these past few days – howling gales and torrential rain – fairly normal for the time of year! I can often be found, book cast aside, standing with my nose stuck to the window feeling glum.

stormy Okcular

the aftermath

Being shut in with J for a few days can lead to some interesting, usually suppressed, behaviour surfacing. Scrabble is a good example and is a sure indicator that life is not normal!

Okcular after the storm

the aftermath of the aftermath

Anyway, even stormy weather passes eventually, the sun comes out and we are able to venture out into the verdant, green, dripping forest that is our backyard. So, bank the fire, put your wellies on and join us, as it turns out we met some really fun guys . .

Fruity Brittlegillhere’s the first of the fun guys by the name of Fruity Brittlegill

Common Puff Ball

and his sidekick Common Puff Ball

Gilded Brittlegill

Gilded Brittlegill

the Gilded Brittlegill twins

fungi

any idea who this fun guy is?

Meanwhile the sun continued to shine . .

Okcular in the sun

fungi

some of the fun guys wear beautiful, frilly petticoats

slime fungiwhilst others are really slimy types

cup fungi

don’t know who this guy is

Crested Coralone of the nicest of the fun guys, Crested Coral

Hope you enjoyed meeting the guys. Whilst none of them are magic, they can have some really interesting effects on you if you join them in a meal – I wouldn’t take a chance on any of them.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

'burası Türkiye!' – 'this is Turkey!' – living, loving and travelling Turkey

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