Japan Photos

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I got back from Japan two nights ago. It was a great trip, taking me to Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. 

I'd been to Sapporo, Osaka and Kyoto once before, in 2007, but I'd never been to Tokyo. As was the case back then, this trip was made in connection with the Slavic Research Center at the University of Hokkaido.  The folks at the SRC have made an incredible contribution to the study of Islam in Russia, and in addition to running their own symposia over the years they've also formed partnerships with other universities in Japan to hold a number of joint conferences and workshops. I feel incredibly grateful to have been included in this one.

US helping to patrol border inside Iraq

Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010

According to the New York Times, the US military is going to begin patrolling the unofficial 'border' which separates the areas of northern Iraq from the rest of Iraq. 

This northern front, or “trigger line,” dates to the American invasion in 2003. As Saddam Hussein’s army collapsed, Kurdish forces called the pesh merga pushed from their three provinces in the north [note from Jim: these are Dahuk, Arbil, and Sulaymaniyah] and occupied sections of Nineveh, Kirkuk and Diyala Provinces that the Kurds had historically claimed.
They have controlled the areas ever since, despite calls by Iraq’s government and regional Sunni leaders for them to withdraw to the “green line” that established the internal Kurdish boundary before 2003.

Releasing Mehmet Ali Agca

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mehmet Ali Agca has been released from prison after serving only ten years of his sentence for killing Turkish journalist Abdi Ipekci in 1979. 

Agca released after serving just 10 years

Agca (pronounced "Ah-jaa") who is now 52, is better known internationally as the man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981. After serving 19 years in a jail in Italy for his assassination attempt on the Pope, Agca was pardon at John Paul II's request and then transferred to a Turkish prison in 2000 in order to serve his punishment for killing Ipekci ("Ee-pek-chi"). 

Back from Istanbul/Going to Japan

Sunday, January 17, 2010 

Happy New Year! I hope you're all doing well. 

Things are good with me. As I mentioned in my previous post,  I spent a week in Istanbul over New Year's as part of a project I'm working on for the SSRC's "Teaching Islam in Eurasia" project. It was great to be back in Istanbul, but pretty hectic as well. The weather was often great, and I met up with a lot of friends. But perhaps most important of all, I ate and drank really well. 

 I bought a lot of stuff in Beşiktaş: two kilims, a Turkish tea pot, a new watchband--many things. But I did not buy any fish.