Turkish authorities block access to Wikipedia: monitor

(AFP)
Updated 29 April 2017

Turkish authorities block access to Wikipedia: monitor

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Saturday blocked all access inside the country to the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, an Internet monitoring group said, but it was not clear why the ban had been imposed.
A block affecting all language editions of the website in Turkey was detected from 0500 GMT after an administrative order by the Turkish authorities, the Turkey Blocks monitoring group said in a statement.
Residents in Istanbul were Saturday morning unable to access any pages of Wikipedia without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), AFP correspondents said.
“The loss of availability is consistent with Internet filters used to censor content in the country,” Turkey Blocks said.
Turkey Blocks and Turkish media, including the Hurriyet daily, said the site has been blocked under a provisional administrative order that would need to be backed by a full court order in the next days.
“After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651, an administrative measure has been taken for this website,” Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority was quoted as saying.
No reason was given for the order to block Wikipedia and other websites, including leading social media, appeared to be working normally.
Turkey Blocks said the restriction was in place with multiple Internet Service Providers.
Turkey has become notorious over the last years for temporarily blocking access to popular sites, including Facebook and Twitter, in the wake of major events such as mass protests or terror attacks.
Savvy Internet users frequently resort to the use of VPNs to get around these bans although there have been complaints that the use of VPNs has now also started to be blocked.
The government says such measures are always temporary and needed for national security but critics see them as another restriction on civil liberties under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The move to block Wikipedia caused an uproar on social media in Turkey with users angrily denouncing the decision to restrict access to one of the world’s most popular websites.
Some speculated the decision may have been prompted by deeply unflattering updates by critical users to Erdogan’s Wikipedia profile after he won the April 16 referendum on enhancing his powers.
The government insists that the new presidential system — largely due to come into force in 2019 — will improve efficiency but critics fear it will lead to one-man rule.


UK, EU reach tentative Brexit deal; still needs ratification

Updated 23 min 53 sec ago

UK, EU reach tentative Brexit deal; still needs ratification

  • The key hurdle to a Brexit deal was finding a way to keep goods and people flowing freely across the border between EU member Ireland and the UK’s Northern Ireland after Brexit
  • Johnson insists that all of the UK — including Northern Ireland — must leave the bloc’s customs union, which would seem to make border checks and tariffs inevitable

BRUSSELS: Britain and the European Union finally reached a new tentative Brexit deal on Thursday, hoping to escape the acrimony, divisions and frustration of their three-year divorce battle. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson now faces the Herculean task of selling the accord to his recalcitrant parliament — including his allies in Northern Ireland.

Johnson urged parliament to back the Brexit deal he has agreed with EU leaders, after it drew criticism from many MPs.

Standing alongside European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels, Johnson said: "I hope very much now that my fellow MPs in Westminster do now come together to get Brexit done to get this excellent deal over the line."

British lawmakers on Thursday voted narrowly in favour of holding the first parliamentary session on a Saturday in 37 years, to debate the government's new Brexit deal.
Members of the lower chamber House of Commons voted 287 to 275 in favour. It would only be parliament's fifth Saturday session since the eve of World War II.
Only hours before Brussels hosted a summit of the bloc’s 28 national leaders, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted: “We have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions.”
Johnson tweeted that the two sides had struck a “great new deal” and urged UK lawmakers to ratify it in a special session being held Saturday — only the first time since 1982 that British lawmakers have been at work on that day.
“This is a deal which allows us to get Brexit done and leave the EU in two weeks’ time,” Johnson tweeted.

Sterling sank into losses in chaotic trade on Thursday on fears that Britain's Brexit draft deal might not win parliamentary approval, having earlier spiked close to $1.30 on news of the agreement.
At 1240 GMT, the pound was down 0.34 percent against the dollar at $1.2788. The euro meanwhile rose 0.69 percent to 86.88 pence.
Immediately complicating matters was Johnson’s Northern Irish government allies, which didn’t waste a minute before announcing they could not back the tentative Brexit deal because of the way it handled the Irish border.
Johnson, however, needs all the support he can get to push any Brexit deal past a deeply divided Parliament and that knowledge tempered jubilation at the EU summit. The UK Parliament already rejected a previous Brexit deal crafted by former British Prime Minister Theresa May three times.
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has been through this scenario before.
“We have this history. That is why my mountaineering temperament keeps me careful and cautious,” said Barnier, who hails from the French Alps and organized the 1992 Olympic Winter Games there.
Barnier was in the room when the leaders called each other and said Johnson “told President Juncker this morning that he believed he was able to get the deal approved,” adding Johnson said he was “confident about his capacity to convince a majority.”
The agreement must still be formally approved by the bloc and ratified by the European Parliament.
The key hurdle to a Brexit deal was finding a way to keep goods and people flowing freely across the border between EU member Ireland and the UK’s Northern Ireland after Brexit. That invisible, open border has underpinned the region’s peace accord and allowed the economies of both Ireland and Northern Ireland to grow.
Johnson insists that all of the UK — including Northern Ireland — must leave the bloc’s customs union, which would seem to make border checks and tariffs inevitable.
But Barnier said the deal “squares this circle” by leaving Northern Ireland inside the EU single market for goods — so border checks are not needed — and also eliminating customs checks at the Irish border. Instead, customs checks will be carried out and tariffs levied on goods entering Northern Ireland that are destined for the EU.
That effectively means a customs border in the Irish Sea — something the British government long said it would not allow and something Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party vehemently opposes.
DUP leader Arlene Foster and the party’s parliamentary chief Nigel Dodds said they “could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues,” referring to a say the Northern Irish authorities might have in future developments on the border.
The party said their position was unchanged after the announcement of the provisional deal.
But the EU has compromised, too, by allowing Northern Ireland special access to its single market. And the deal gives Northern Ireland a say over the rules, something that was missing from May’s previous rejected agreement. After four years, the Northern Ireland Assembly will vote on whether to continue the arrangement or end it.
Johnson — who took office in July vowing that Britain would finally leave the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal — on Wednesday likened Brexit to climbing Mount Everest.
Legislator Bim Afolami quoted the prime minister as saying “the summit is in sight, but it is shrouded in cloud. But we can get there.”