This episode of Reality Check reviews some of the 2010 events covered on press TV, including: the assassination of Iranian scientist Massoud Alimohammadi in Tehran, the 31st anniversary of the victory of Islamic Revolution in Iran, the arrest of Jundallah ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi by Iran, Tehran nuclear conference and many other top events of the year.
In Turkey, the muezzin calls Muslims to prayer five times daily. But not all of them hit the correct notes. Now they are receiving singing lessons to help them stay in tune.Many muezzins in Istanbul deliver an impassioned call to prayer, but it is not always music to the ears. Overamplified external speakers also impact on the voice quality, making it sound tinny and distorted. Residents living near mosques often complain about the noise. Now the Mufti of Istanbul has decided to tackle the problem. The muezzins have been ordered to take classes. Any muezzin found unable to sing will have his voice replaced by a professional recording.
The world of today is really utterly amazing, or rather, the internet is an incredible tool for the dissemination of information. Just now I discovered this YouTube channel called the Daily Conversation: the channels presents clips of brothers Brendan and Bryce [having a conversation] and [it purports to be] a multiple-segment show about current events. Topics include news, politics, entertainment, sports, technology, science and even other YouTube videos and YouTubers. While we try to offer our unique perspective on trending stories, [the brothers] pride [them]selves in discussing things the mainstream media ignores’.
And, on the segment below they discuss rare earth metals . . .
A ‘major U.S. mine for rare earth metals has gone back into operation, adding a much needed source to offset China’s control of the unique group of materials necessary to build tech gadgets like smart phones and laptops’. The brothers were referring to a story written by Michael Kan that holds that the ‘Colorado-based Molycorp [has] resumed active mining of the rare earth metal facility at Mountain Pass, California last week. The site had been shutdown in 2002 amid environmental concerns and the low costs for rare earth metals provided by mining operations based in China. Rare earths encompass a group of 17 metals that are vital to the miniaturizing of electronic components such as magnets and capacitors. China mines more than 90 percent of the world’s current demand for them, according to analysts. But the country has been tightening control of its supplies, causing concerns among countries like the U.S. and Japan, which import rare earth metals. Those fears came into the spotlight when in September  media outlets reported that China had stopped exporting rare earths to Japan following a diplomatic spat. While Chinese officials have said the country will not use the resources as a bargaining chip, the government announced earlier this month it was raising export tariffs on certain rare earths. Molycorp, the owner of the Mountain Pass mine, is seeking to free the U.S. from it’s dependence on China for rare earth metals. By the end of 2012, the company is aiming to produce 20,000 tons of rare earths, likely enough to start meeting U.S. demand. Molycorp also plans on breaking ground to the construction of a new rare earths manufacturing facility at the site next month. China, on the other hand, produced about 124,000 tons of rare earths in 2009, according to analysts reports. The country is also the biggest manufacturer of products that use the metals’.
As 2010 draws to a close, what is the role of the United States in the world today? From the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the cuts to social programs here at home, where is there emerging hope for change around the world? We spend the hour with award-winning investigative journalist and activist Allan Nairn. “You vote for Democrat, you vote for Republican, you get the same thing on state murder, on preventable death. But we here have the right to rebel. We have to use it”.
I wrote an op-ed on Turkey’s new direction in foreign policy, “A pseudo-Ottoman policy: Turkey’s new station in the world” — http://tiny.cc/6qkki, and as it happens I accidentally stumbled across this video clip of a lecture given by Turkey’s Foreign Minister: ‘Minister Davutoğlu discussed transatlantic relations, and specifically Turkey’s role and contribution to these relations. He commented on the search for a new global order, and discussed how Turkey pursues a multi-dimensional and active foreign policy, with special emphasis on NATO and its central role in transatlantic relations (posted on 09 July 2010)’.
Last Sunday, my latest op-ed was published: “A unitary or a plurinational state? A new Turkish constitution to resolve the Kurdish issue?”, Sunday’s Zaman (26 December 2010).
If you want to read my piece, click this link: http://tiny.cc/ke6e7
EuroNews reports that at ‘least 80 people are said to have died in Nigeria’s Christmas bomb attacks and subsequent clashes between armed Christian and Muslim gangs. A government agency says its figure, more than double that published by police, is based on the number of bodies recovered. The violence happened in and around the city of Jos, which lies in Nigeria’s volatile “Middle Belt” between Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north and Christian south’.
The city of Jos has been the scene of intermittent violence for a long time. But now, something new has happened: coordinated bomb attacks. The international Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera indicates that ‘Nigerian Muslim group formerly known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for series of bombings on Christmas Eve in Nigeria that left at least 38 people dead and sparked violent reprisals. In a statement published on Tuesday [, 28 December] on what is thought to be its website, the group claimed responsibility for the bombings in central Jos and two attacks on churches in Maiduguri. Nigerian police immediately cast doubt on the claim, but if the claims are true, the attacks would mark the first time Boko Haram strikes outside of the country’s predominately Muslim north. Many analysts have instead attributed the Christmas Eve bombings in Jos to the struggle for political and economic power in between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups in the region. Hundreds of people have been killed in previous clashes between the two groups’. In the past violence in Jos has been attributed to tension arising from economic rivalries between Christian and Muslim communities, and this time, it seems, Boko Haram wanted to capitalize on the bomb attacks to gain some international news coverage.
The requisite Wiki entry informs us that Boko Haram ‘is a Nigerian militant Islamist group that seeks the imposition of Shariah law in the northern states of Nigeria . . . founded in 2002 in Maiduguri by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf . . . [The organisation] opposes not only Western education, but Western culture and modern science as well. In a 2009 BBC interview, Yusuf stated that the belief that the world is a sphere is contrary to Islam and should be rejected, along with Darwinism and the theory that rain comes from water evaporated by the sun’. The BBC News Africa analyst Martin Plaut reasons that ‘[d]espite [the fact that] 12 northern Nigerian, mainly Muslim, states [have adopted] Sharia law following the end of military rule in 1999, radical Islamists like Mr Yusuf believe their governments are too influenced by Western liberal values. He has attacked Western education, including the work of the university in Maiduguri, declaring it to be haram (forbidden). His preaching attracted a number of university students, who left their studies to join his movement’.
The Voice of America reports optimistically that a ‘winter snowstorm in parts of the United States appears to have put a damper on after-Christmas shopping, but preliminary reports suggest retailers are enjoying the best holiday season in years. (27 December 2010)’. Given that consumer spending is supposed to be the engine that drives the American economy, this has go to be good news . . . . Right???
In other propaganda news, VOA states that even though one ‘year ago, on Christmas Day, al-Qaida operatives in Yemen tried unsuccessfully to take down a U.S. airliner with a suicide bomber, who came to be known afterward as the “underwear bomber.” [Now, ] [o]ne year later, the United States has substantially increased its financial assistance to Yemen and is trying to stabilize the Middle Eastern country. (27 December 2010)’.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, poses a real threat . . . For a bit of a different perspective, below I post an interview with the always knowledgeable Jeremy Scahill, originally broadcast last November, when the explosive cargo originating from Yemen had been discovered: ‘This week, two bombs were found in packages in cargo holds on two planes bound from Yemen to the US. Is Yemen destined to become a new front in the “war on terror”? According to The Nation‘s Jeremy Scahill, though “there are guys in the special forces community that have been pushing and agitating for years for a greater US military presence there,” US clandestine military actions have long extended into Yemen and other countries: “in reality though, the US has already been striking in Yemen for a couple of years. They’ve hit the country a number of times with Tomahawk cruise missile strikes and teams from the Joint Special Operations Command have been engaged in what are called kinetic operations on the ground where they’re actually hunting down and killing individuals.” Scahill joins Laura Flanders to explain how these operations have gone under the American public’s radar, and why all the US’s wars have been conspicuously absent from this year’s election campaigns.
Quite some time ago, I published a number of articles on the ongoing military engagement in the Af-Pak Theatre in the Turkish English-language daily Today’s Zaman.
“9/11 and the occupation of Afghanistan”, published on 15 September 2010:
“The war in Afghanistan: jihad, foreign fighters and al-Qaeda”, published on 29 September 2010:
“The War in Afghanistan: The legacy of Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Volatile Situation in Pakistan”, published on 07 October 2010: