shukor in space
America Abroad

Islam and the cosmos

While Europe was in the Dark Ages, scientific discovery was blooming in the Islamic world. Now, centuries later, some Muslim countries are making new investments in space exploration.

The Takeaway

PTSD and Guns, Nuclear Security, GOP Convention Tour

July 19, 2016:

1. The GOP Convention Heats Up on Day One (12 min)

2. Dallas, Baton Rouge Killings Stir Debate on Vets, PTSD and Gun Violence (6 min)

3. Normal Life on Hold for Citizens of Istanbul and Ankara (4 min)

4. Coup Attempt Raises Concerns About NATO Nukes in Turkey (6 min)

The Takeaway

Turkey Quashes Coup; Erdogan Vows ‘Heavy Price’ for Plotters

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Forces loyal to Turkey’s president quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left at least 265 people dead and 1,440 wounded Saturday. Authorities arrested thousands as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that those responsible “will pay a heavy price for their treason.”

The chaos came amid a period of political turmoil in Turkey – a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group – that critics blame on Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule. Staying in power by switching from being prime minister to president, Erdogan has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents, restricted the news media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels.

The government has also come under pressure from the millions of refugees in Turkey who have fled violence in neighboring Syria and Iraq, and a series of bloody attacks in Turkey blamed on the Islamic State group and Kurdish rebels.

Erdogan was on a seaside vacation when tanks rolled into the streets of Ankara and Istanbul. He flew home early Saturday and declared the coup to have failed.

“They have pointed the people’s guns against the people. The president, whom 52 percent of the people brought to power, is in charge. This government brought to power by the people is in charge,” Erdogan told large crowds after landing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

The uprising appears not to have been backed by the most senior ranks of the military, and Turkey’s main opposition parties quickly condemned the attempted overthrow of the government. Gen. Umit Dundar said the plotters were mainly officers from the Air Force, the military police and the armored units. 

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said 161 people were killed and 1,440 wounded in the violence, and 2,839 plotters were detained. A source at the office of the presidency, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, said the toll of 161 “excludes assailants” – which could mean the death toll is much higher.

Yildirim described the night as “a black mark on Turkish democracy” and said the perpetrators “will receive every punishment they deserve.”

Turkey’s NATO allies lined up to condemn the coup. President Barack Obama urged all sides to support Turkey’s democratically elected government. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he spoke to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and called for the Turkish people to respect democracy. 

There have long been tensions between the military – which saw itself as the protector of the secular Turkish state – and Erdogan’s Islamic-influenced AKP party. 

Government officials blamed the coup attempt on a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan has often accused the cleric and his supporters of attempting to overthrow the government. Gulen lives in exile in Pennsylvania and promotes a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.

Gulen, however, said he condemned “in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey” and sharply rejected any responsibility for the attempted coup.

“Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force,” he said. “I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly.” 

“As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of hav…

The Takeaway

Michael Ian Black, Puerto Rican Voters, A Lost Future

June 30, 2016:

1. As Crisis Mounts, Puerto Ricans Come to The Mainland With An Eye on November (13 min)

2. Turkey: A Lost Future (7 min)

3. A Massive Crisis of Governance in Illinois (4 min)

4. What’s a Donald Trump? Michael Ian Black’s New Children’s Book Isn’t for Kids (12 min)

The Takeaway

Turkish MP: Turkey Nearing Civil War

Click on the audio player above to hear this interview.

The 1916 signing of the Skyes-Picot agreement divided up the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, creating the borders of modern day Iraq, Syria, Armenia, and Palestine, among other countries. But left out of the negotiating were one of the regions largest ethnic groups: The Kurds.

One hundred years later, the estimated 20 million Kurds living in modern Turkey—about 18 percent of the population—are still left fighting for both autonomy, and their very existence.

After a historic peace between the Turkish state and Kurds broke down last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been increasingly forceful with the Turkish Kurds.

Under a guise of anti-terrorism measures, widespread curfews, crackdowns against thousands of academics, and the death of over 1,000 people—the majority of whom were Kurdish civilians in urban areas—have all contributed to a tense situation for any Turk who speaks out against the government, and particularly for Kurds, who hope that the era of the Skyes-Picot is coming to an end.

But meanwhile, Hisyar Özsoy, a Kurdish member of the Turkish parliament with the HDP party, says that the situation is escalating every day, and that Turkey could very well be on the verge of civil war. 

The Takeaway

Ankara Attack May Complicate U.S.-Turkish Relations, Fight Against ISIS and Assad

Click on the audio player above to hear this interview.

In the Turkish capital of Ankara, a car bomb exploded as a military convoy drove by late last night. At least 28 people were killed, and the Turkish government is blaming a Syrian-Kurdish militant group for the attack.

Those same militants are allies of the United States in the Syrian Civil War. Turkey has been shelling Kurdish units in Northern Syria, even as the U.S. backs them in fights against government forces and the Islamic State.

Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has the details on the attack in Ankara and how this may complicate the U.S.-Turkey relationship.

See Also: Turkish MP Says Nation is Nearing Civil War

The Takeaway

The End of Average, Reimagining Fashion, Westminster Rejects

February 17, 2016: 1. An Outsider’s Perspective on an Insider Candidate | 2. Immigration Envy Grows as Cubans Get Easy Access | 3. A Best in Show Pooch and Plenty of Westminster Rejects | 4. When High Fashion Meets a Wheelchair | 5. The End of Average | 6. Turkish MP: Turkey Nearing Civil War

Prerna Junior High
America Abroad

Global Girls’ Education: Breaking Down Barriers

The numbers are staggering. Worldwide, 58 million primary school-age children are not in school. More than half of these children are girls, and 75 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.