— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for October, 2011

The Syria Situation: To Assad or Not To???

Syrian television shows pictures of thousands of Syrian people rallying in support of President Bashar al-Assad as he warns of an ‘earthquake’ if the West intervenes in the country.

The Syrian foreign minister arrived in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday, 30 October, to meet with Arab league officials. The meeting took place even as reports came in from activists that at least 10 people were been killed by Syrian government forces. In Doha the subject of discussion was how to find a solution to the eight-month uprising against the government of President Bashar Al Assad. Al JAzeera’s Omar Al Salah reports from Doha.


World’s Population Teeters on the Edge of 7 Billion

In partnership with the Pulitzer Center and National Geographic, the NewsHour explores how the composition of our society is changing as the world population reaches 7 billion people. Hari Sreenivasan has the details (27 Oct 2011).

Does the increasing human population of the earth create problems???  Does the continuous growth of humanity represent a sustainable strategy for tackling climate change and resource scarcity???  Here is comedian Doug Stanhope telling us why he thinks the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

And putting his money where his mouth is, Stanhope created ‘www.savingbristol.com, a web site dedicated to raising money to pay for an abortion for Bristol Palin, daughter of staunchly pro-life Alaskan governor and Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’ on 11 September 2008, declaring “Rather than sit back and impotently bemoan Bristol’s tragic, lonely circumstance, it is time for us — the silent majority — to unite behind this poor, imprisoned woman and save her from both a tyrannical household as well as the horrible nightmare of a forced childbirth”. On the site, Stanhope pledged: “Even if you cannot take my offer, I will still use my money or money donated through this page to pay for at least one abortion for a disadvantaged teenage girl each year for the rest of my life in the name of your mother. And in my will, I shall have a good portion of my estate turned into the Sarah J. Palin Abortion Fund that will help girls from all walks of life from destroying their lives and our natural resources by having children”. Now this initiative is run through the Lilith Fund, a Texas-based organization dedicated to helping women pay for abortions if they are unable to afford them themselves, lilithfund.org.[1]

[1] “Doug Stanhope” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Stanhope.

New Islamic Art Galleries at the Metropolitan, New York

After years of renovation, New York’s Metropolitan Museum recently opened its new galleries displaying the arts and crafts of the Islamic world.

In the New York Times, Holland Cotter writes that in “2003 the Islamic galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art closed for renovation, and one of the world’s premier collections of Islamic art more or less vanished into storage. The timing, barely two years after the events of Sept. 11, was unfortunate, if unavoidable. Just when we needed to learn everything we could about Islamic culture, a crucial teaching tool disappeared. As of Tuesday [, 25 October 2011] the learning can go forward. The Met’s Islamic collection returns to view in what are now being called the galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia. The new, much expanded installation — organized by Sheila Canby, the curator in charge of the department of Islamic art, with Navina Najat Haidar as project coordinator — is as intelligent as it is visually resplendent. The art itself, some 1,200 works spanning more than 1,000 years, is beyond fabulous. An immense cultural vista — necessary, liberating, intoxicatingly pleasurable — has been restored to the city. As its title implies, that vista has been carefully thought out and framed. Rather than presenting Islamic art as the product of a religiously driven monoculture encompassing centuries and continents, the Met is now — far more realistically — approaching it as a varied, changing, largely secular phenomenon, regionally rooted but absorptively cosmopolitan, affected by the intricacies and confusions of history, including the history that the art itself helped to create”.[1]

Cotter continues that the “Met galleries convey some sense of monumentality in a few long-familiar works. The great 11-foot-high mosaic-tiled 14th-century mihrab, or prayer niche, from a religious school in Isfahan is one. The intact wood-paneled reception hall known as the Damascus Room, decorated with poetic verses that have been placed in proper order with this reinstallation, is another. Then there are carpets, portable monuments. The Met has spectacular examples. The Simonetti Carpet, woven around 1500 in Cairo and named for a 20th-century owner, is nearly 30 feet long. In dim quarters in the old Islamic galleries it was hard to appreciate. Now displayed in a high, wide room designed by Michael Batista, the Met’s exhibition design manager, and atmospherically lighted by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, its garden-and-lawn colors — rose reds, grass greens — look tender with fresh life. Carpets like this one, emerging from imperial ateliers, are partly about look-at-me largeness. But they’re also about close-up detail, and this is the real story of the art of the Islamic world, and certainly of the examples gathered at the Met”.[2]


[1] Holland Cotter, “A Cosmopolitan Trove of Exotic Beauty – 1” The New York Times (27 October 2011). http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/28/arts/design/the-mets-new-islamic-galleries-review.html?_r=1.
[2] Holland Cotter, “A Cosmopolitan Trove of Exotic Beauty – 1”.

Invasion of the Lego Men

Thom Hartmann’s crazy alert, talking about a washed-up 8 foot Lego man. But, is it a mystery or something altogether mundane and even quite cynical???

Hartmann indicated the Dutch artist using the pseudonym Ego Leonard and . . . the news website HyperVocal put it this way: ‘The fiberglass statue, the creation of a Dutch artist, washed up on shore at the Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Florida on Tuesday. First spotted on the Zandvoort beach in The Netherlands in 2007 (Leonard has made numerous landlocked appearances in Holland as well), the bizarre creature with the “No Real Than You Are” shirt also made landfall on the shores of Brighton, England in October 2008. But just like many other non-citizens who wash up on Florida’s shores, Leonard is being held in detention. In a statement on the landing, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s office informed the public, “Mr. Leonard is being kept in a secure environment until his owner comes forward.” If and when nobody comes to claim Leonard, the sheriff’s office said he will be handed over to Jeff Hindman, the man who discovered Leonard on the beach on Tuesday morning. Hindman says he might sell him on eBay’.[1]


[1] “8-Foot-Tall, 100-Lb. Lego Man Washes Up on Florida Beach” HyperVocal (26 October 2011). http://hypervocal.com/news/2011/8-foot-tall-100-pound-lego-man-washes-up-on-florida-beach/.

Earthquake in Turkey, Natural Gas in Azerbaijan & the Future of Energy Independence

The Turkish prime minister has admitted that mistakes were made in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s earthquake. As thousands of victims in the mountainous eastern Van province queued to spend a fourth night in makeshift shelters, complaints were growing over the government’s handling. Several relief lorries – 17 from one charity alone – have been looted, while the driver of another was beaten while its load was stolen. Some victims from the majority Kurd population have accused the authorities of ethnic discrimination.

And the pro-government Today’s Zaman has even reported that the ‘Turkish President Abdullah Gül has delayed a visit he planned to pay to the city of Van on Friday [, 28 October] at the request of local authorities, who said his visit would negatively affect ongoing relief efforts. Paying heed to the request of local authorities, the Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday [, 27 October] that Gül has decided to delay his visit to a later date. Turkish officials say the death toll from Sunday’s earthquake has gone up to 534. The prime minister’s center for crisis and emergency management said on Thursday 1,650 people were injured and 185 were rescued from the rubble. On Thursday, rain and snow compounded difficulties for the thousands rendered homeless in the earthquake’.[1]  In the New York Times, Şebnem Arsu writes that “[d]ozens of countries offered assistance almost ımmediately after Sunday’s earthquake, but the government initially declined, saying it had sufficient resources. But as the level of need for shelter and supplies has become . . . clear, the government began reaching out”, adding that even an “Israeli plane  delivered seven prefabricated houses and other supplies, NTV television reported, landing in Ankara, the capital, rather than a smaller airport nearer the hardest-hit area around the city of Van. Tents and more housing supplies arrived from Ukraine, France, and the United Nations. More supplies were expected from Japan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Ireland, England, and Russia”.[2]  The Turkish news broadcaster NTV also reported that Azerbaijan, Iran, and Russia had already started delivering aid without Turkish requests or permission, a report replicated in the newspaper Zaman.[3]

Reiterating the fallout of the Mavi Marmara massacre, Arsu adds that Turkey’s “Foreign Ministry emphasized Turkey’s appreciation for the Israeli assistance but reiterated that humanitarian gestures during a natural disaster would not affect strained relations. Turkey is demanding an official Israeli apology and compensation for the relatives of eight Turks and an American citizen of Turkish descent who were killed when Israeli commandos intercepted a Turkish aid flotilla attempting to break the
blockade of Gaza last year”.[4]

Not just Israel, but also Armenia is entering the fray, as reported by the AFP: ‘Armenia is to airlift aid to Turkey to help survivors of the devastating earthquake despite decades of enmity between the two neighbours, officials said on Thursday [, 27 October]. An Armenian plane carrying 40 tonnes of emergency supplies including tents, sleeping bags and blankets was set to take off late Thursday, the emergency situations ministry in Yerevan said in a statement. The ministry said that Turkey had officially requested the aid from Armenia’.[5]

Amidst all this outpouring of neighbourly love and goodwill, the hard-nosed world of commerce does not sit still either. In the Asia Times Online Robert Cutler states that “negotiations between Azerbaijan and Turkey over natural gas deliveries have been successfully concluded, the Turkish government announced on October 26, a day after Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened the first meeting of the Azerbaijan-Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council in Izmir. The negotiations had lasted almost two years. The question of gas quantities was not settled and will be discussed later, the Turkish newspaper Sabah reported, quoting Erdogan”.[6]  Taking the Russo-Turkish rivalry into account,
and arguably also keeping Nabucco, the Trans-Balkan Pipeline and the Iran-Iraq-Syria project at the back of his mind, Cutler adds that “it is expected that Turkey, which already receives 6.6 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) of natural gas from Azerbaijan’s offshore Shah Deniz One field, will add 6 bcm/y to that volume from Shah Deniz Two. This long-anticipated development was presaged also at the end of last month, when the Turkish energy firm BOTAS informed Russia’s Gazprom that it would not  exercise an option to extend a contract for 6 bcm from Russia through the Blue Stream natural gas pipeline underneath the Black Sea between the two countries. Further discussion of quantities must now await the decision by the Shah Deniz consortium concerning that choice. British energy firm BP holds a 25.5% share of the Shah Deniz consortium and is its operator. Norway’s Statoil also holds 25.5%. Other participants include Azerbaijan’s SOCAR (10%), France’s Total (10%), Iran’s NICO (10%), and Turkey’s TPAO (9%), and Russia’s Lukoil (10%). The negotiations on gas deliveries had been given new impetus following a  summit meeting between Aliev and Erdogan in late July. Afterwards, diplomatic and industrial figures from both countries went on the public record to say, and to say repeatedly, that the agreement would soon be ready. Talks resumed in early August, three weeks before the date formally set for them to start again, following the instructions from the two leaders. The refinery is being  built by the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) and the Turkish energy company Turcas Petrol, at a cost of almost US$5 billion. It is Turkey’s largest private sector investment and will create 10,000 construction jobs, according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. It is planned that by 2015 the complex will include a refinery, an oil processing facility for almost 70 million barrels of oil, and a container terminal with integrated port and logistic area. Associated with it will be a technical and vocational school named after Heydar Aliev, leader of post-Soviet Azerbaijan from 1993 until his death in 2003 and father of the current president, where students will also receive training in the Azeri language, which is highly mutually intelligible with Turkish. Economists project that the complex will decrease Turkey’s current account deficit by $2 billion, decreasing the country’s imports of such products as jet fuel and naphtha. The Turkish newspaper Zaman, which is close to government circles, noted that the facility, to be called the Star Refinery, will not depend upon a single source. Rather a “flexible production process” would be able to handle the various grades of crude from Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq (Kirkuk), and Russia (Urals blend)”.[7]  It would appear that Turkey’s future as an energy hub is all but secure . . .


[1] “Turkish president delays Van visit to facilitate post-quake relief efforts” Today’s Zaman (27 October 2011). http://www.todayszaman.com/news-261102-turkish-president-delays-van-visit-to-facilitate-post-quake-relief-efforts.html.

[2] Şebnem Arsu, “Aid Arriving in Turkey Quake Area” The New York Times (27 October 2011). http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/28/world/middleeast/israeli-earthquake-aid-arrives-in-turkey.html.

[3] “Türkiye seferber oldu” Zaman (25 October 2011).

[4] Şebnem Arsu, “Aid Arriving in Turkey Quake Area”.

[5] “Armenia to aid foe Turkey after quake” AFP (27 October 2011). http://www.brecorder.com/world/europe/33388-armenia-to-aid-foe-turkey-after-quake-.html.

[6] Robert M Cutler, “Azerbaijan, Turkey sign gas delivery deal” Asia Times Online (28 October 2011). http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/MJ28Ag01.html.

[7] Robert M Cutler, “Azerbaijan, Turkey sign gas delivery deal”.

Debris From Japanese Tsunami Headed For Hawaii & U.S. West Coast

The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Fukushima Prefecture and has led to the world’s most dangerous nuclear disaster, still unfolding, is really a poisonous gift that keeps on giving. The below news report explains further.

The Scientific American elaborates: ‘Debris from the devastating tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 has turned up exactly where scientists predicted it would after months of floating across the Pacific Ocean. Finding and confirming where the debris ended up gives them a better idea of where it’s headed next. The magnitude 9.0 quake and ensuing tsunami that struck off the coast of Tohoku in Japan was so powerful that it broke off huge icebergs thousands of miles away in the Antarctic, locally altered Earth’s gravity field, and washed millions of tons of debris into the Pacific. Scientists at the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa have been trying to track the trajectory of this debris, which can threaten small ships and coastlines. The new sightings should help the scientists predict when the debris, which ranges from pieces of fishing vessels to TV sets, will arrive at sensitive locations, such as marine reserves. (Scientists estimate the debris will wash up on the Hawaii Islands in two years and the U.S. West Coast in three.)’.[1]

The report goes on to say that the ‘first landfall [of Fukushima debris] on Midway Islands is anticipated this winter. What misses Midway will continue toward the main Hawaiian Islands, where it is expected to hit in two years, and then on to the West Coast of North America in three years’.[2]


[1] “Fukushima Debris on Course to Hit U.S.” Scientific American (18 October 2011). http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fukushima-debris-on-course-hit-us.

[2] Fukushima Debris on Course to Hit U.S.”.

The Battle of Brooklyn Bridge

Keith Olbermann talks to Will Bunch, the author of the 99cent e-book The Battle of Brooklyn Bridge.

‘Will Bunch is senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily News – where he writes the popular political blog Attytood – and a senior fellow with Media Matters for America. He shared the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting in 1992 when he was at New York Newsday. His books include The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama, and Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy. His articles have also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, The Los Angeles Times, American Prospect, American Journalism Review, and elsewhere. He lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with his family . . . To those among us who get their news via mainstream channels–television, newspapers, public radio–the “battle of the Brooklyn Bridge” may have come as a shock. The movement called Occupy Wall Street had received precious little media attention until Saturday, October 1, 2011, when an idea that arose at Adbusters–a semi-obscure, anti-capitalist magazine based in Vancouver, BC–galvanized hundreds of New York City protesters, who then attempted nothing more than to march across one of the most hallowed symbols of accomplishment in the United States. On the bridge itself, police arrested more than 700 protesters, as is now well known, and thanks to viral videos, the whole world was watching. In The Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge, Will Bunch captures the spirit of the day from the sympathetic viewpoint of those who claim that “We are the 99%.” And how. His extended essay–part reportage, part oral history–nails the screaming immediacy of the events with the eloquence of scholar and the pace of a straightforward thriller. As of its publication date, the long-term import of this this event has yet to play out, but Bunch’s gripping narrative of the day’s events will provide a lasting testament to those who were there, and an eye-opening call to attention for the rest of us. –Jason Kirk . . . On the rain-soaked morning of October 1, 2011, the couple hundred protesters camping out in a concrete park in Lower Manhattan and calling themselves Occupy Wall Street were a ragtag army of young revolutionary dreamers, whose declared war against corporate greed and appalling income inequality was mostly ignored by the media and struggling to get any traction with America’s battered middle class. By nightfall, the Occupy Wall Street movement had captured the national imagination – exploding onto the front page and sparking a wave of protest in all 50 states. This is the remarkable story of the tense few hours that changed everything: “October 1, 2011: The Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge.” In this instant history, you’ll see the dramatic showdown between marchers and a wall of New York Police Department officers, resulting in 700 arrests, through the eyes of the everyday Americans who lived it – an idealistic and daring college radical, a salty-tongued retired Vietnam-era lawyer on a quest for social justice, the shy  theatrical props manager taking part in his first protest, and many more. “October 1, 2011” goes behind the headlines to show a miscalculating NYPD struggling to protect the status quo, to reveal the improbable sparks touching off a new American revolution, and to relive the life-altering choices faced by average citizens trapped inside a police “kettle” as a damp darkness descended on the Brooklyn Bridge. But most importantly, it recasts the Occupy Wall Street movement as a struggle over something even more fundamental than economic injustice: A yearning by ignored and unheard Americans to simply reclaim the public square – the battle that came to a head on a Saturday afternoon high atop the most famous bridge in the world’.[1]


[1] “October 1, 2011: The Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]” amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/October-2011-Battle-Brooklyn-ebook/dp/B005Y27VLU.