— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for March, 2014

Obama Talks in Brussels: Ukraine, the Crimea and Russia

March 26, 2014. Obama highlights Putin threat to EU during keynote speech in Brussels. President Obama delivers an address that touch upon the U.S.-European relations amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. U.S. President Barack Obama highlights Russian tensions during keynote speech in Brussels. Obama urges greater NATO presence in states bordering Russia.

(LATimes) BRUSSELS — President Obama is urging European and North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders to bolster the military alliance’s presence in countries in Eastern and Central Europe near Russia, part of an effort to ward off further Russian aggression in the wake of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Speaking after a meeting with European Union leaders, Obama said he has suggested that European leaders review and update their “contingency plans” at an April meeting. He said the alliance needs to “do more to ensure that a regular NATO presence among some of these states that may feel vulnerable is executed.” Obama’s made the remarks before meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the midpoint of his European trip this week. The president’s visit has been dominated by the crisis in Ukraine, and by the attempt to craft a unified U.S.-European strategy to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from another land grab in the former Soviet republic. The president has ruled out U.S. military involvement in the dispute, noting that Ukraine is not a NATO member and not covered under the treaty. Still, he has had to reassure other NATO members in Eastern and Central Europe that NATO stands ready and prepared. The White House said Obama would push NATO to step up its efforts with more visible training and exercises in the region, as well as initiating the review of defense plans and improving the readiness of the NATO Response Force. On Wednesday, Obama made an appeal to unnamed member countries that have reduced defense spending in tight economic times, taking a toll on the 55-year-old alliance. “If we’ve got collective defense, it means that everybody’s got to chip in. And I have had some concerns about a diminished level of defense spending among some of our partners in NATO; not all, but many. The trend lines have been going down,” Obama said. “The situation in Ukraine reminds us that our freedom isn’t free and we’ve got to be willing to pay for the assets, the personnel, the training that’s required to make sure that we have a credible NATO force and an effective deterrent force.”

ISIS Crucifies a Man in Raqqa

‘The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham have publicly crucified a man in Raqqa, Syria, for “purposefully killing a Muslim to take his money”. Before the crucifixion ISIS shot the man in the head from point blank range, the execution being just the latest extreme act of violence carried out by the group as they implement their fundamentalist laws (24 March 2014)’.

Ummahan Özpınar talks to the BBC

‘Afyonkarahisar’ın Değirmenayvalı kasabasında CHP’den Belediye Başkanlığı’na adaylığını koyan Ummahan Özpınar, altı dil bilen, cemaatin içinden yetişmiş bir hafız. BBC Türkçe’den Çağıl Kasapoğlu, Özpınar’la CHP-cemaat ilişkisini, projelerini konuştu (24 Mart 2014)’.

Mahmut Efendi Cemaati” Mahmud Efendi Hazretleri insanları sadece sözüyle değil, hâliyle de ilme ve ibadete teşvik etmiş, başladığı hiçbir ibadeti bırakmamış ve istikametiyle görenleri gayrete getirmiştir. Farz namazların evvel ve âhirindeki sünnet namazların hâricinde teheccüd, işrak, kuşluk, evvâbîn, tahiyyetü’l-mescid ve abdest şükür namazı gibi nevâfili hiç terk etmemiş hatta bir defasında “Kuşluk namazını terk edeceğine Mahmud ölsün daha iyi” buyurmuştur. Pazartesi-perşembe orucunu, ramazanın son on günü îtikâfı terk ettiği görülmemiştir. Hadîs-i şeriflerde zikrolunan nâfile namaz, oruç ve zikir gibi ibadetlere devam etmiş, Müslümanları da teşvik etmiştir.  Üstad Hazretleri’nin unutulmuş sünnetleri diriltmesi, sünnetlerden mâadâ edeplere bile farz gibi riayet etmesi Müslümanlar tarafından sevilip takdir edilmesine vesile olmuştur. Türkiye’de “Takva” denilince, “Sünnet-i seniyyeye ittibâ” denilince akla gelen ilk isim olması bu dikkatinin netîcesidir. Bir ara cemaatinin “Mahmudçular” ismiyle zikredildiğini duyduğunda çok üzülmüş ve cuma hutbesinde şunları söylemiştir: “Mahmudçular diyorlar. Allâh aşkına! Ben yeni bir din mi îcad ettim?! Rasûlüllâh (Sallâllâhu Aleyhi ve Sellem)in günlük hayatta tatbik edilen dört bin küsur sünneti vardır, dördünü terk ettiğimi gören arkamda namaz kılmasın.” . . . Mahmud Efendi Hazretleri şer-i şerîfi bütün olarak gördüğü için sadece ilimle meşgul olup ibadette, zikrullâhın medresesi mesâbesinde olan tarîkat vazîfelerinde, dîni tebliğ etmekte ve emr-i bi’l-mâruf nehy-i ani’l-münker yapmakta gevşeklik gösterilmesini asla tasvip etmezdi. Bu mevzû ile alâkalı sarf ettiği şu sözleri zikretmek O’nun yolunun bir nebze olsun anlaşılmasına yardımcı olacaktır. “Yatmadan evvel biraz ders (tarîkat virdi) ile meşgul olalım. Teheccüd namazından sonra devam edelim. İşrak vakti bitirelim. Ondan sonraki bütün vakitlerimizi ilme harcayacağız.”  “Zikrullah, Efendimiz (Sallâllâhu Aleyhi ve Sellem)e en büyük ittibâdır. Rasûlüllâh (Sallâllâhu Aleyhi ve Sellem) zikirsiz durmazdı. ‘Rasulullah (Sallâllâhu Aleyhi ve Sellem) bana zikri emretti ben de zikrediyorum’ demeli ve sabah akşam durmadan Allâh-u Teâlâ’yı zikretmeli.” Emr-i bi’l-mâruf ve nehy-i ani’l-münker yapılması gerektiğini beyan ederken şöyle derdi: “İstanbul’un bütün evleri medrese olsa emr-i bi’l-mâruf ve nehy-i ani’l-münker olmasa bir değer ifade etmez. Allah aşkına acıyın bu insanlara. Sel gibi cehenneme akıyorlar.” Üstadı Ali Haydar Efendi’den şu sözü çokça naklederdi: “Dîn-i Mübîn-i İslam’ın devam ve bekası emr-i bi’l-maruf ve nehy-i ani’l-münkerin devam ve bekasına, Dîn-i Mübîn-i İslam’ın inkırâzı (yıkılması) ise emr-i bi’l-mâruf ve nehy-i ani’l-münkerin terkine bağlıdır”.[1]

[1]“MAHMUD EFENDİ KS CEMAATİ” facebook. https://www.facebook.com/mahmudefendi.cemaati.

RT Conspiracy: Liz Wahl’s Resignation and the Neocons’s Cold War Obsession

As a reminder, I would like to quote the Guardian‘s Rory Carroll, who earlier this month reported from Los Angeles that an “American anchor for the Kremlin-funded news channel RT has quit on air and accused the network of “whitewashing” Moscow’s military intervention in Crimea. Liz Wahl, a Washington-based correspondent for RT-America, part of the network formerly known as Russia Today, told viewers on Wednesday she was resigning because of its coverage of President Vladimir Putin’s actions in the Ukrainian region. Veering off script, Wahl said: “I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin. I’m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I’m resigning.” As the daughter of a military veteran and the wife of a military base physician the network’s coverage of a potentially explosive crisis presented ethical and moral dilemmas, she said. Wahl cited another RT host, Abby Martin, who made headlines on Tuesday [, 4 March] when she declared: “Russian intervention in the Crimea is wrong.” In a tweet she later called Martin “my girl” and commended her for going “spectacularly off-message”. Wahl, a self-described “Filipina-Hungarian-American”, also alluded to Moscow’s bloody intervention in Hungary in 1956. “Just spoke to grandparents who came to US as refugees escaping Soviets during Hungarian revolution. Amazing to hear amid new Cold War fears,” she tweeted”.[1]

And now that the dust has somewhat settled, ‘RT’s Sam Sacks reports on . . . new developments . . . [in the case surrounding] ‘Liz Wahl’s [spectacular] on-air resignation from RT gained her praise across the mainstream media, but there are now questions being raised in a piece by Truthdig.com over her resignation. Alleging this a part of a neocon plan by the Foreign Policy Initiative and James Kirchick to demean Russia and discredit RT, the piece connects the dots between the affiliations that question Kirchick’s and others impartiality’.

On its dedicated website, the Foreign Policy Initiative states that the “United States–and its democratic allies–face many foreign policy challenges. They come from rising and resurgent powers, including China and Russia. They come from other autocracies that violate the rights of their citizens. They come from rogue states that work with each other in ways inimical to our interests and principles, and that sponsor terrorism and pursue weapons of mass destruction. They come from Al Qaeda and its affiliates who continue to plot attacks against the United States and our allies. They come from failed states that serve as havens for terrorists and criminals and spread instability to their neighbors. The United States faces these challenges while engaged in military operations across the globe, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. The sacrifice of American lives and significant economic expenditure in these conflicts has led to warnings of U.S. strategic overreach, and calls for American retrenchment. There are those who hope we can just return to normalcy–to pre-9/11 levels of defense spending and pre-9/11 tactics. They argue for a retreat from America’s global commitments and a renewed focus on problems at home, an understandable if mistaken response to these difficult economic times. In fact, strategic overreach is not the problem and retrenchment is not the solution. The United States cannot afford to turn its back on its international commitments and allies–the allies that helped us defeat fascism and communism in the 20th century, and the alliances we have forged more recently, including with the newly liberated citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our economic difficulties will not be solved by retreat from the international arena. They will be made worse”.[2]

RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan came out and wrote this in the aftermath of the Liz Wahl debacle: “These days it takes a lot of courage to work for RT. Never before have I seen RT and its journalists bullied like this. See for yourselves what they did to poor Abby. First, she openly voiced disagreement with Russia’s stance on air – and was virtually made an American hero. But then Abby reminded everyone how much she disagrees with America’s stance as well, adding she takes pride in working at RT, where she is free to express her views. Less than an hour passed before Abby had her name dragged through something I have difficulty finding a decent name for this late at night. The US mainstream media even went as far as claiming we had orchestrated the whole thing as a publicity move. They labelled Abby a conspiracy theorist, bringing to light her past as an activist. In less than 24 hours, they first sang her praises and then excoriated her. All of this in front of her colleagues, including Liz Wahl. How do you think they felt watching that? . . . This is all typical of a media war. We’re not the first and we will not be the last to go through this. During the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera staff in Lebanon made headlines by resigning en masse. Their Egyptian colleagues followed suit. Over twenty journalists resigned citing disagreement with the channel’s editorial line. That this happened without any pressure from the world mass media was due to the fact that, throughout the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera was completely in tune with the global mainstream. So no one sought to criticize the channel, on the contrary, everyone praised its coverage. A couple of minutes after Liz made her statement, we found all the major news media in the world – as our exhausted spokeswoman put it, “CNN, NYT, pretty much everyone” – glowing with schadenfreude, as they lined up for official feedback from RT. This included those who had ignored the news of the Ashton-Paet phone leak revelation, as if it didn’t happen. A rival media anchor’s resignation is certainly much more newsworthy and more relevant to the Ukraine crisis than two European leaders saying opposition henchmen may have been killing people”.[3]

[1 Rory Caroll, “Russia Today news anchor Liz Wahl resigns live on air over Ukraine crisis” The Guardian (06 March 2014). http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/06/russia-today-anchor-liz-wahl-resigns-on-air-ukraine.

[2 “Mission Statement” The Foreign Policy Initiative. http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/about.

[3 Margarita Simonyan, “About Abby Martin, Liz Wahl and media wars” RT (06 March 2014). http://rt.com/op-edge/about-liz-wahl-media-wars-126/.

Afghanistan Minerals Today

‘Afghanistan is estimated to have $3 trillion worth of mineral deposits, which through years of insecurity have remained unexploited. Gold, iron ore, copper ore, emeralds, lapis, rubies as well as natural gas are all found in the north of the country. Now with help from advisors from the US Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), the Afghanistan Geological Survey is gaining the skills it needs to explore and exploit the country’s resources. Geologists and drillers are being trained to investigate sites to test for the presence of resources (10 March 2014)’.

As long ago as 2011, I already posted an entry on Afghanistan’s underground wealth,[1] and last year, Al Jazeera reported that the “US estimates that Afghanistan could be sitting on deposits worth $1 trillion. That includes gold, iron ore, uranium and precious stones, including emeralds. But for now, agriculture remains Afghanistan’s biggest export earner with fruit and nuts, tobacco and wool topping the list’.[2]  The Vancouver-based journalist Kerry Hall added last year that “Afghanistan hopes to rely on its natural resources to support the national economy following the pull-out of NATO forces in 2014. Current mining revenue in the country is estimated at $146 million annually. By 2024, the finance minister estimates mining will contribute $4 billion to the government and $20 billion to the overall economy”.[3]

[2] “Afghanistan pins hopes on natural resources” Al Jazeera (01 Feb 2013). http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2013/02/20132115352982835.html.

[3] Kerry Hall, ” Afghanistan mineral deposits estimated at $1 trillion ” Mining (09 April 2013). http://www.mining.com/afghanistan-mineral-deposits-estimated-at-1-trillion-dollars-82470/.

Listening Post: Control, conflict, conglomerates & Tayyip Erdoğan

‘In a special edition, we unpack the Turkish prime minister’s relationship with the media landscape in which he operates (8 March 2014)’.

Breaking the Set #339: Ukraine, Crimea, Abby Martin and the New Cold War

‘Abby Martin Breaks the Set on the Media Craze over RT, the Dangers of Pesticides, Academy Award Distractions, AIPAC 2014, and a Small Victory for Barrett Brown (6 March 2014)’.

Class, Race, and War. | Resistance Report One-Hour Pilot (3 March 2014)

Host Dennis Trainor, Jr. navigates a lively panel discussion with Nicole Carty (The Other 98%), Julianna Forlano (Absurdity Today), and Joel Northam (Resistance Report contributor). Special guests also include Mychal Denzel Smith (The Nation), Kateryna Ruban (expert in Ukraine and Russian history), and Cheri Honkala (Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign).

Segment 1 | The Myth of a Post Racial America

Segment 2 | Ukraine: A Grassroots revolution or a Coup Orchestrated by the West?

Segment 3 | Raise the Minimum Wage or Guaranteed Income for All?

Segment 4 | Housing: Market Commodity or Human Right?

Segment 5 | Cheri Honkala Interview

Segment 6 | An Open Letter To The Middle Class

Concentrated Solar Power or High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal Power Plants

About five years ago, the organisation Greenpeace released a report on Concentrating Solar Power, which starts off by declaring that “CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) systems produce heat or electricity using hundreds of mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays to a temperature typically between 400 and 1000ºC. There are a variety of mirror shapes, sun-tracking methods and ways to provide useful energy, but they all work under the same principle. Individual CSP plants are now typically between 50 and 280MW in size, but could be larger still. CSP systems can be specifically integrated with storage or in hybrid operation with fossil fuels, offering firm capacity and dispatchable power on demand. It is suitable for peak loads and base-loads, and power is typically fed into the electricity grid”, and in suitable alarmist fashion the report continues that the “planet is on the brink of runaway climate change. If annual average temperatures rise by more than 2ºC, the entire world will face more natural disasters, hotter and longer droughts, failure of agricultural areas and massive loss of species. Because climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels, we urgently need an energy revolution, changing the world’s energy mix to a majority of non-polluting sources. To avoid dangerous climate change, global emissions must peak in 2015 and start declining thereafter, reaching as close to zero as possible by mid-century. CSP is a large-scale, commercially viable way to make electricity. It is best suited to those areas of the world with the most sun; Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East, parts of India, China, Southern USA and Australia, where many are suffering from peak electricity problems, blackouts and rising electricity costs. CSP does not contribute to climate change and the source will never run out. The technology is mature enough to grow exponentially in the world’s ‘sun-belt’ . . . In the last five years [2004-09], the industry has expanded rapidly from a newly-introduced technology to become a massproduced and mainstream energy generation solution. CSP installations were providing just 436 MW of the world’s electricity generation at the end of 2008. Projects under construction at the time of writing, mostly in Spain, will add at least another 1,000 MW by around 2011. In the USA, projects adding up to further 7,000 MW are under planning and development plus 10,000 GW in Spain, which could all come online by 2017. According to the Global CSP Outlook 2009, under an advanced industry development scenario, with high levels of energy efficiency, CSP could meet up to 7% of the world’s projected power needs in 2030 and a full quarter by 2050. Even with a set of moderate assumptions for future market development, the world would have a combined solar power capacity of over 830 GW by 2050, with annual deployments of 41 GW. This would represent 3.0 to 3.6% of global demand in 2030 and 8.5 to 11.8% in 2050”.[1]

And now, as reported by Computerworld‘s Lucas Mearian, “IBM, working with other researchers, has announced an ‘affordable photovoltaic system that can concentrate solar radiation 2,000 times’. A byproduct of the system is that it also produces a massive amount of heat. That heat can be harvested to perform other functions, such as desalinating water and creating cool air in sunny, remote locations where they are often in short supply, the IBM researchers said. The High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system can convert 80% of the incoming solar radiation into useful energy”.[2]

Mearian continues that the “HCPVT system uses a big mirror that looks like a satellite dish to concentrate sunlight onto a small semiconductor chip, which then converts that light into energy. Because of the high concentration, along with energy, heat is also concentrated and must be dissipated so it doesn’t melt the system. That heat can be used for other processes, such as desalination (evaporating saltwater to make potable water), according to Bruno Michel, a lead scientist with IBM Research, Zurich”.[3]  The above-quoted Greepeace report, in turn, adds that “We have known the principles of concentrating solar radiation to create high temperatures and convert it to electricity for more than a century but have only been exploiting it commercially since the mid 1980s. The first large-scale CSP stations were built in California’s Mojave Desert. In a very short time, the technology has demonstrated huge technological and economic promise. It has one major advantage – a massive renewable resource, the sun – and very few downsides. For regions with similar sun regimes to California, concentrated solar power offers the same opportunity as the large offshore wind farms in Europe. Concentrating solar power to generate bulk electricity is one of the technologies best-suited to mitigating climate change in an affordable way, as well as reducing the consumption of fossil fuels. CSP can operate either by storing heat or by combination with fossil fuel generation (gas or coal), making power available at times when the sun isn’t shining”.[4]

The Zurich-based IBM researcher Bruno Michel stated that the “Sun is the

most abundant energy we have. We get 85,000 terawatts of energy [from the Sun] on the face of the globe, and we only need 15 terawatts. So we only need a fraction of .3 or .4% of the surface of the earth in order to provide all our energy. So we could build a solar power station in unused land in the Sahara, for example, to provide enough energy in the long term to replace all of the fossil and nuclear energy”.[5]  The Sahara as the world’s one and only power-station . . . Michel’s words sound good, but in order for such a project to come to fruition a lot of obstacles will have to be removed first: territorial, political, social and the opposition of the fossil fuel lobby of course . . .

In fact, the SSB or Sahara Solar Breeder project has been underway for a while now . . . the former television meteorologist and climate activist Anthony Watts informs us that the “Sahara Solar Breeder Project is a joint initiative by universities in Japan and Algeria that aims to build enough solar power stations by 2050 to supply 50 per cent of the energy used by humanity. The idea is to begin by building a small number of silicon manufacturing plants in the Sahara, each turning the desert sand into the high-quality silicon needed to build solar panels. Once those panels are operating, some of the energy they generate will be used to build more silicon plants, each churning out more solar panels and generating more energy that can be used to build even more plants, and so on. Hideomi Koinuma at the University of Tokyo leads the Japanese end of the project. He admits that making silicon panels from the rough sands of the Sahara or other deserts has not been attempted before, but says it is a logical choice . . . Koinuma wants to use “high-temperature” superconductors to distribute the power as direct current – more efficient than a conventional alternating current. Despite their name, high-temperature superconductors typically operate at around -240 °C, and the long power lines will require a formidable cooling system”.[6]

[2] Lucas Mearian, “IBM solar energy tech claims to harness power of 2,000 suns” Computerworld (24 Feb 2014). http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9246558/IBM_solar_energy_tech_claims_to_harness_power_of_2_000_suns.
[3] Lucas Mearian, “IBM solar energy tech claims to harness power of 2,000 suns”.
[4] Concentrating Solar Power, p. 11.
[5] Lucas Mearian, “IBM solar energy tech claims to harness power of 2,000 suns”.
[6] Anthony Watts, ““Sahara Solar Breeders” don’t sand a chance” Watt Up With That (03 Dec 2010). http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/03/sahara-solar-breeders-dont-sand-a-chance/.

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey

‘Astrophysist Neil deGrasse Tyson tells Christiane Amanpour that science and math are the engines of tomorrow’s economy. (28 Feb 2014)’.

Continuing with the plug for deGrasse Tyson’s new show Cosmos: Here he talks to the well-known journalist Bill Moyers on his show Moyers & Company, a weekly series of smart talk and new ideas aimed at helping viewers make sense of our tumultuous times through the insight of America’s strongest thinkers.

Lynn Sherr, writing in the ‘most widely read magazine in America’ Parade, calls deGrasse Tyson “a science rock star whose passion for the laws of nature is matched by his engaging explanations of topics ranging from the mystery of dark matter to the absurdity of zombies. Starting in March [2014], he will become an even bigger cultural phenomenon as he hosts Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, a 13-part, prime-time series airing on both Fox and the National Geographic Channel that will, in Tyson’s words, help you ‘understand your relationship to other humans, to the rest of the tree of life on Earth, to the rest of the planets in the universe, and to the rest of the universe itself. I want it to get inside your skin. I want you to be so affected that the world looks completely different’ . . . It has been 34 years since PBS aired the original Cosmos series, subtitled A Personal Journey and hosted by Carl Sagan, another popularizer of science (and frequent Parade contributor) and one of Tyson’s mentors. The 1980 Cosmos riveted some 750 million viewers in more than 175 countries and became an Emmy and Peabody award–winning megahit; its accompanying book occupied the New York Times best-seller list for more than a year “.[1]

[1] Lynn Sherr, “Neil deGrasse Tyson: Cosmos’s Master of the Universe” Parade (11 January 2014).  http://parade.condenast.com/249139/lynnsherr/neil-degrasse-tyson-cosmos-master-of-the-universe/.