Sunday , July 27 2014
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Beyond the Coast

Connecting The Dots

On September 3, a UPS plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Dubai International Airport, killing two crew members. This was a Boeing 747-400, a very dependable aircraft with a clean safety record. Initial news reports indicated that fire may have broken out in the aircraft just after take-off. Then, on Friday October 29, explosive devices were found at the FedEx facility at Dubai airport and on a UPS plane at a UK airport. Now there is talk of re-investigating the September 3rd UPS crash. One would not be a conspiracy theorist to think that these events were somehow related and something ... Read More »

“Holiday of the Sacrifice”

One of the most important holidays in the Islamic world is coming up in November. It is called the Festival of Eid-El-Adha in Arabic and Kurban Bayrami (Sacrifice Holiday) in Turkish. The festival celebrates the Biblical and Kur’anic account of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son on Mount Moriah, proving Abraham’s complete obedience to God. In the story, God stays Abraham’s hand at the last moment and provides a ram for sacrifice instead, praising Abraham for his faithfulness. Following this tradition, the head of each Muslim household hopes to sacrifice one or more sheep or ram according to his financial standing ... Read More »

Sounds, scents and images of my childhood…

It is a wonderful autumn morning in Marco Island. The Cardinals are singing as loud as they can before they attack the feeders I put out for them in the back yard. The Eastern sky is turning brilliant red, signaling the sunrise over Barfield Bay. But something seems to be missing. Other than the Cardinals’ morning songs I hear nothing else. It is very strange yet very normal in my neighborhood. The sun rises, it gets warmer and sometimes I hear the engines of a few cars in the distance. I sit back and listen carefully for familiar sounds, and ... Read More »

A “tragic swimming accident”

A couple of local fishermen walking along Cevlik beach in the Province of Hatay, near the Syrian border in Southern Turkey, came across a bloated dead body on August 16, 2010. On September 1, 2010 the Russian newspaper “Red Star” reported in a terse announcement from the Kremlin that  “Major General Yuri Ivanov, Deputy Head of GRU (Russian Military Intelligence Agency) had died in a ‘tragic swimming accident’ while on holiday in Latakia, Syria on August 8.” Nothing about this incident was reported in any USA newspapers to date, September 3, 2010. The death of such an important official of ... Read More »

More than just the Mosque…

Last week, two seemingly separate items caught my eye. One was “nationalization” of the building of the mosque/Islamic Center near WTC Ground Zero issue. The other was two pamphlets I received at home via the US Postal Service. These two events prompted me to expand my view of the situation. It has been almost four weeks since I wrote an article on the mosque which an Islamic group, called “Cordoba Project,” is trying to build insensitively close to Ground Zero. I received many emails supporting my position, and some questioning my logic. After considering the varying points of view, I ... Read More »

Till death do us part…

It was August 1975. I had just completed my compulsory military service in the Turkish Army. My wife and I were spending the remaining days of the summer in Istanbul making our plans to return back to America, when my cousin and his family arrived for a one week visit. Although regular weekly or longer family visits were common in Turkey at the time, the purpose of this visit was very special. My aunt and uncle had found a suitable candidate for my cousin, who had just turned thirty years old, to marry. The rules of an arranged marriage in ... Read More »

Mega Mosque near Ground Zero? Never!

Referring to his idea of covering the European landscape with mosques, the Islamist Prime Minister of Turkey declared: “Minarets are our bayonets; domes are our helmets; our mosques are our barracks; our believers are our soldiers”…With that, he spelled out his own version of Jihad for Islam to conquer Europe and convert the populations. For those who are not familiar with the religion of Islam; a mosque is where believers and practitioners of the religion of Islam congregate to offer daily prayers, and on every Friday noon, listen to sermons from the pulpit. Traditionally, mosques were built on conquered lands ... Read More »

Missing Afghan soldiers and Russian spies…

Last week most Americans were “surprised” to hear that up to forty-six Afghan soldiers, some of whom are pilots, went missing from Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas over a period of two years. A few days later, they were further surprised to hear the FBI announce the arrests of ten Russian spies. These spies allegedly lived every day American lives in typical American neighborhoods! If one looks at these two events separately, one may not be too alarmed. Spies have been around for as long as there have been countries and borders. Foreigners have come to America ... Read More »

The beautiful game

I played soccer since the day I could walk and kick a ball all at the same time. We called the game “football” when I was growing up in Istanbul, Turkey. I only learned that the same game was called “soccer” in America when I was twenty years old. That transformation took place when I was offered, and accepted, a full soccer scholarship to attend the University of Maryland in the summer of 1969… My first memories of playing organized soccer go back to when I was six or seven years old. We lived about a mile away from the main ... Read More »

We must support our friends…

In the early morning hours of May 31, 2010 Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) intercepted six ships heading for the Gaza Strip in international waters. These ships were known as the “Free Gaza” flotilla. The advertised purpose of the flotilla was to deliver medical and food aid to the Gaza strip. However, the real purpose of the flotilla was to break Israel’s defensive blockade of the Gaza Strip controlled by the terrorist organization Hamas. This flotilla was sponsored by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) whose ties to Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda is well documented. Weeks before ... Read More »

Dear President Calderon…

There are a number of low points in our history where Americans may have thought, “We finally hit rock bottom.” The Japanese decimation of the US fleet in Pearl Harbor, our retreat from Vietnam and radical Islam’s attack on September 11 comes to mind. I also add the following events as low points: American hostages taken in Iran followed by the failed rescue attempt in the desert and the tragedy in Somalia (Blackhawk Down!). However, I never felt as outraged and disgusted as when I watched in horror the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, holding American sovereignty in contempt when ... Read More »

Living through a military coup…

This month, Turkey marks the 49th anniversary of its May 27, 1960 military coup, remembered as a breaking point in its political history and a longstanding determining factor in Turkish politics. The first of its kind in the history of the Republic of Turkey, the 1960 coup resulted in the prosecution of 592 people and execution of three leading political actors. The notorious coup was a breaking point in Turkish politics, as many political parties and their leading actors determined their policies in accordance with its outcomes, with some still continuing to do so. On May 27, 1960 the military ... Read More »

The Legend of Leander’s Tower

I grew up in the wonderfully magical City of Istanbul. The first 20 years of my life I played soccer in her streets, ran up and down any one of the seven hills she sits on and drove around the new and old parts of the city. One of the most intriguing, mysterious and romantic sights in Istanbul for me had always been what was called “Kiz Kulesi,” in Turkish meaning “Maiden’s Tower,” located on a tiny islet near Uskudar on the Asian side of Istanbul, with a history spanning over 2,500 years. The tower is also referred to as ... Read More »

The feeling of being an American…

It was a cold December day in 1979 when I landed at JFK airport in NY and stood in the line marked “Citizens Only.” Showing my brand new blue USA passport to the previously dreaded immigration officer was a proud moment for me; I was an American returning home from a business trip. For such a seemingly mundane event, it may be difficult to appreciate the feelings and thoughts that I am about to describe. It was about a year before, on November 17, 1978 when I had stood before a Federal Judge in Hackensack, New Jersey and was sworn ... Read More »

Reflections on China

This is the first of a short set of articles comparing glimpses of China 30 years ago with today’s China. In 1980 I began a series of business/pleasure trips to Asia centered on obtaining U.S. aviation rights to serve China. The first articles are condensed from extensive notes taken in 1980. The later set is based on a trip in April-May 2010. Beijing – 1980 April 13, 1980 The clouds break shortly after we passed over the coastline. Below us we see the flat, rather dull face of Northeastern China. It looks like the Midwest during late fall. The ground ... Read More »

Focus on the Caucasus…

While the world’s focus was on Iran and Afghanistan for the last year or so; some important and rather ominous things have been happening in a part of Russia called the Caucasus. This particular region of Russia is geographically and demographically closer to the greater Middle East than to Europe and thus influenced more by radical Islamic fundamentalism in general and the Iranian regime of Mullah’s and their attempted influence in the area in particular. What has been taking place in parts of Russia may actually be closely related to people and events in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan In ... Read More »

A Time To Cry…

Today, there are many fellow citizens who experienced the moment of saying “good-bye” to their loved ones before they sent them off to fight in a war and defend our country and our principles. Having personally experienced this rather traumatic moment which comes with mixed emotions, I truly identify with them. There have always been wars for whatever reason, somewhere around the world and there have always been those who had to go through the emotions of looking at their loved one’s faces and wondering if this was the very last time they would see them or if they came back would ... Read More »

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a simple but dangerous man… Part II

“We think the era of utilization of force and pressure in international relations has ended. Today, the will of the people will prevail, as it did in the election in Iran.”  That is what Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran told the reporters after the latest so-called elections in Iran. There was no “will of the people” in the elections in Iran. Candidates were handpicked by the Mullahs in charge and ballot boxes had more ballots cast than the total sum of the population in the area. Dissidents were beaten or shot to death. International observes were ... Read More »

Iran: Hostages to Nuclear Weapons – Part I

Many Americans today may recall the events that took place in Iran between the years 1960 to 1979, and the accompanying terrible images in newspapers and on TV of 53 Americans being held hostage by so-called student demonstrators in the American Embassy for 444 days. Some, including the author of this article, strongly believe that Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the sixth and current President of Iran was one of the student leaders of the hostage-takers. I traveled to Iran on many occasions from 1975 to 1979 and befriended a number of businessmen and their families. Some of them have visited me in ... Read More »

The Origin of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is observed on February 14 in the USA and in many countries around the world. How and when did this tradition start? There are many different beliefs about this. Some authorities trace the tradition to an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia to ensure protection from wolves. During this festival young men struck young women with strips of animal hide and women believed that this made them more fertile. Others link it to an old English belief that birds chose their mates on February 14th. Many others connect the event with one or more saints of the early Christian ... Read More »