Reuters - Global News/Aug. 14, 2018

World & Canadian News

  • Turkey doubles tariffs

  • Saudi Arabia fake news


In the World

Turkey doubles tariffs on some U.S. imports over economy 'attacks'

Daren Butler/Reuters/Aug. 14, 2018

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey has doubled tariffs on some U.S. imports, such as passenger cars, alcohol and tobacco, in what its vice president said was a response to deliberate U.S. attacks on the Turkish economy.

The move comes amid increased tension between the two NATO allies over Ankara’s imprisonment of a pastor and other diplomatic issues, which has sent the lira tumbling to record lows against the dollar.

Last Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he had authorized higher tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey.

A decree published in Turkey’s Official Gazette and signed by President Tayyip Erdogan, doubled the tariffs on passenger cars to 120 percent, on alcoholic drinks to 140 percent and on leaf tobacco to 60 percent.

Tariffs were also doubled on goods such as cosmetics, rice and coal.

“The import duties were increased on some products, under the principle of reciprocity, in response to the U.S. administration’s deliberate attacks on our economy,” Vice President Fuat Oktay wrote on Twitter.

The row with Washington has helped drive the liraTRYTOM=D3 to record lows, with the currency losing more than 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year, prompting central bank liquidity moves to support it.

The lira rebounded some 8 percent on Tuesday, helped by news of a planned conference call on Thursday in which the finance minister will seek to reassure international investors.

Markets are concerned by Erdogan’s influence over the economy and his resistance to interest rate increases to tackle double-digit inflation.

On Wednesday, the lira traded at 6.4125 to the U.S. dollar, weakening from a close of 6.3577 a day earlier.

Erdogan has said Turkey is the target of an economic war, and has made repeated calls for Turks to sell their dollars and euros to shore up the currency. On Tuesday, he said Turkey would boycott U.S. electronic products.

And in Canada

Here’s the fake news Saudi Arabia is playing about Canada

By Josh K. Elliott/Global News/Aug. 14, 2018

Saudi Arabia is criticizing - and at times misrepresenting - Canada‘s human rights record on its state-owned news network, amid a growing feud between the two countries.

A segment on Al Arabiya TV has accused Canada of trampling on human rights in several cases, after Canada criticized the kingdom for its treatment of two feminist activists last week.

The Saudi outlet has suggested that Canada is the worst country in the world for women, that it has the highest suicide rate and that it treats its Indigenous people the way Myanmar treats the Rohingya – a Muslim minority massacred and driven out of Myanmar en masse last year.

Here’s a look at some of the claims levelled against Canada in a recent video from Al Arabiya TV, which was published in Arabic and English.

“Ironically, imprisonment of non-violent cases in Canada are revealed,” the video says.

Professors ‘arrested for their political views’

The Al Arabiya video falsely claimed that Canada has arrested or detained a number of individuals for “freedom of opinion,” including University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson and Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel.

The video shows text and photos of the individuals in question, over a background photo of a women’s prison in Edmonton. The cases appear to be false or misleading re-interpretations of legal or civil cases in Canada.

Among the outright false claims in the video are that U of T’s Jordan Peterson and Denis Rancourt, a former physics professor at the University of Ottawa, were each “arrested for their political views.”

Peterson has not been arrested for his views and remains an outspoken public figure and author.

Rancourt was fired from the University of Ottawa in 2009 and banned from campus over a dispute with the administration relating to his grading system. He was subsequently arrested for trespassing on campus.

Rancourt later lost a libel suit brought against him by another Ottawa professor, who took issue with being called a “house negro” on Rancourt’s blog. Rancourt lost his appeal in the case.

‘Arrested for freedom of opinion’

The same Al Arabiya video falsely suggests Daniel Morris, former chief of Liard First Nation in Watson Lake, Yukon, was “arrested for freedom of opinion” and imprisoned for six months. The video says Morris “called for Canada’s native population to claim their land.”

Morris was actually convicted of sexually assaulting his estranged wife in 2004. The conviction cost him leadership of the Liard First Nation, but he was eventually re-elected in 2013.

The Saudi news channel also claimed that infamous white supremacist Ernst Zundel - spelled “Ernest Zendell” in the video - was imprisoned for three years for denying the Holocaust.

Zundel served two years in a Canadian prison, starting in 1985 after he was convicted of knowingly publishing false news in the form of pamphlets denying the Holocaust. The conviction was quashed in 1987 and a new trial was ordered over procedural errors with the case.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1992 that it was unconstitutional to criminally punish someone for publishing fake news.

Despite the Supreme Court win, Zundel continued to fight the government over his views, both in Canada and, later, in the United States. The U.S. eventually deported him to Canada, then Canada deported him to Germany in 2005. A German court convicted Zundel on 14 charges of inciting hatred, including denying the Holocaust, which is a crime in Germany.

Zundel was jailed in Germany for five years and released in 2010. The native German died in his home country last year.

‘Protesting against abortion’

The video cites the cases of activists Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons, who it claims were arrested “for protesting against abortion” and sentenced to 10 years.

Each woman has spent more than a decade behind bars for offences related to their activity around abortion clinics. However, that time has been accumulated through several shorter sentences, not single sentences of 10 years each.

Court documents show Wagner and Gibbons have each been convicted of violating court orders prohibiting them from protesting outside specific abortion clinics.

Wagner once entered an abortion clinic and told several patients they were committing murder.

Gibbons violated a court order in 2008 that prohibited her from hold a sign outside an abortion clinic.

The feud between Canada and Saudi Arabia erupted last week after Canada criticized the Saudis for arresting activist Samara Badawi, sister of blogger Raif Badawi.

Raif Badawi was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for promoting secularism and freedom of religion.

John Baird goes on Saudi TV to criticize Trudeau’s handling of dispute

By Maham Abedi/Global News/Aug. 14, 2018

Former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird appeared on a Saudi Arabian news channel over the weekend, criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau amid a diplomatic spat between two countries.

Baird, who was foreign affairs minister in Stephen Harper’s government, told Al Arabiya English that Trudeau should visit Saudi Arabia’s royal family personally in order to resolve the dispute.

“I think the very best thing that Canada can do is for our prime minister to visit the kingdom, and sit down with the king and have an honest discussion of the challenges in our relationship.”

Trudeau has refused to apologize about the tweet that started tensions earlier this month, saying that Canada stands by calls made by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland for Saudi Arabia to release jailed activists.

“We continue to engage diplomatically, but as I’ve said, Canada will always be very clear on standing up for human rights,” Trudeau said Monday, when asked about the diplomatic dispute.

Baird indicated during his interview over the weekend that the Canadian government should not have criticized Saudi Arabia on Twitter, but rather had a private discussion on the matter.

“When you have concerns, raise them directly leader to leader or foreign minister to foreign minister,” he said.

However, Baird made a similar call on Twitter to have jailed activists released when he was foreign minister in January 2015.

“Canada is deeply concerned by flogging of @raif_badawi – it is a violation of human dignity and freedom of expression,” wrote at the time.

The former Tory minister noted both countries are part of the G20, and have several shared interests.

“We’ve obviously badly insulted our friend and ally,” he said.

Al Arabiya wrote about Baird’s interview on its website Saturday, summarizing Baird’s interview.

“He felt that differences of views must be discussed between leaders or foreign ministers in person, and not through sending out tweets,” the article read, without mentioning that Baird did the same years ago.

The article also claimed that British newspaper The Guardian has reported that this spat with Saudi Arabia has made Canada “an isolated nation.”

While Al Arabiya, which is based out of Dubai, is not officially the country’s state news organization, it is owned by members of the Saudi royal family.

Baird has been outspoken about the issue on other news networks as well. Last week, he spoke to Business News Network, saying that the Canadian government has not “handled this issue well.”

The former minister’s appearance on the Saudi channel raised eyebrows for some, with NDP MP Charlie Angus criticizing him for playing a part in “Saudi propaganda.”

“John Baird stands to lose a cash cow so he goes on Saudi propaganda TV grovelling for the regime and selling Canada down the river,” Angus tweeted Monday. “Remember when Baird said Conservatives said would engage in “principled” foreign affairs. Cash is the principle.”

In the days since the conflict began, Saudi Arabia has taken several moves to express its anger over the tweet sent by Canadian officials.

Saudi Arabia has kicked out the Canadian ambassador, plans to pull out thousands of students and medical patients from Canada, and is suspending Saudi airline flights to and from Toronto.

While Trudeau refuses to apologize, Saudi officials have said it’s up to Canada to make things right.

“Canada has made a mistake and needs to fix it,” the country’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said last week. “The ball is in Canada’s court.”