News from Japan, Sudan and Egypt

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on November 15, 2011

JAPAN – U.S. scientist receives Kyoto Prize in technology

TOKYO | U.S. scientist John W. Cahn received Japan’s annual Kyoto Prize on Thursday, winning about $650,000 for his contributions in materials science that led to the creation of stronger, lighter alloys used in cellphones and many electronic devices.

Mr. Cahn, 83, an emeritus fellow at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology and affiliate professor at the University of Washington, was awarded the advanced technology prize and the cash gift at a ceremony in Kyoto, according to the Inamori Foundation.

Mr. Cahn was one of three winners of the 27th Kyoto Prize, which was established in 1985 and is Japan’s highest private award for global achievement.

[Cahn’s theory of spinodal decomposition allowed scientists to design new alloys for use in a range of electronic products. His work also has led to the production of better-performing metals, glass, polymers and semiconductors used widely in everyday life, the foundation said.

The prizes are awarded by the Inamori Foundation, a charitable body established by Kazuo Inamori, who founded Japanese electronic component maker Kyocera Corp.]

KAZAKHSTAN – Government prepares for growing Islamic militant threat

Kazakhstan’s security forces are on alert for more attacks by Islamic militants after a gunman killed seven people in a southern city and an anonymous caller threatened to bomb a nearby entertainment complex.

The shootings on Saturday followed a series of attacks linked to Islamic militants this year in Kazakhstan and, significantly, they also shifted the violence towards the heart of this normally peaceful Central Asian state.

Eyewitnesses described how a man armed with an automatic rifle and a grenade launcher had specifically targeted police in the city of Taraz and before blowing himself up.

Television footage later showed dead bodies lying in a leafy street, discarded automatic rifles and a police horse receiving treatment.

“A follower of jihadism carried out a series of especially grave crimes which led to the death of seven people, including five members of the security forces,” said Nurmukhanbet Isayev, Kazakhstan’s deputy prosecutor-general.

Kazakh news websites reported yesterday that just hours after the shootings the security services also evacuated an entertainment complex in Taraz after receiving an anonymous tip-off that a bomb had been planted nearby.

While previous attacks have been confined to the west of this vast country, Taraz is only 350 miles west of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city.

In May a suicide bomber attacked an office used by security services in Aktobe in the northwest and last month bombers targeted government buildings in Atyrau on the Caspian Sea coast. In both those attacks only the bomber died.

Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan has crafted a reputation as Central Asia’s most stable country. Propelled by revenues from oil, its economy is booming and before this year terrorist attacks had been unheard of.

Now, though, people on the streets of Almaty are openly talking about the country’s terrorist problem.

A previously unheard of militant Islamic group called Jund al-Khilafah claimed the Atyrau attack and pledged more violence.

The group said the attacks are revenge for a law passed by Kazakhstan’s parliament in October which restricts Muslims right to pray. Parliament said that law was necessary to clamp down on extremism.

EGYPT – New attack on Egypt gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan

A section of pipeline carrying gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan has been blown up in northern Egypt, the latest in a series of attacks.

Two blasts took place near the Mazar area, some 18 miles west of the town of Al-Arish, near the Israeli border, Reuters reports.

The attackers used remote-controlled bombs, shutting the pipeline.

This is the sixth attack on the pipeline since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

A security source told Reuters that initial investigations suggested that improvised explosive devices were positioned under the pipeline and were detonated from a distance.

Two trucks and extended wires were found at the scene, he added.

The blasts are apparently carried out by groups opposed to the sale of Egyptian gas to Israel.

There have been allegations that under former President Mubarak, gas prices for a 20-year deal struck in 2008 were set artificially low.

Jordan depends on Egyptian gas to generate 80% of its electricity while Israel gets 40% of its natural gas from the country. Syria also imports gas from Egypt.

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at WashingtonTimes.com “Briefly” and “World Scene” on Nov. 10 and London’s Daily Telegraph on Nov. 13 and London’s BBC News on Nov. 10.)

Questions

1. For each of the 3 countries, give the following information:
a) location/the countries that share its borders
b) the religious breakdown of the population
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different) [If monarch or dictator, since what date has he/she ruled? – include name of heir apparent for monarch] e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the “Geography” “People” and “Government” headings.  Go to worldatlas.com for a list of continents.]

2. For Japan:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What is the Kyoto Prize?

3. For Kazakhstan:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan has built a reputation as Central Asia’s most stable country. Before this year, terrorist attacks had been unheard of. Why has the militant Islamist group Jund al-Khilafah begun committing terrorist attacks?
c) Why did the Kazak government say they enacted the law?

4. For Egypt:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why does this latest attack on the Egyptian pipeline hurt Arab Muslim Jordan more than Jewish Israel?


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Background

EGYPT:

  • The [natural gas] pipeline has been a target for attacks by anonymous saboteurs since the overthrow of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in February, although the first pipeline attack took place days before he was ousted by an uprising.
  • Egypt and Israel have signed a 20-year natural gas deal by which Egypt would export gas to its neighbour. The deal was unpopular with the Egyptian public and critics argued the Jewish state had been offered gas at prices that were too low.
  • The Egyptian government said this month it would tighten security measures along the pipeline by installing alarm devices and appointing security patrols from local Bedouin tribes.
  • Previous explosions have closed the pipeline, run by Gasco, Egypt’s gas transport company – a subsidiary of the national gas company EGAS, for weeks. (from The Jerusalem Post)

Resources

JAPAN:  For more information on the Kyoto prize, visit the Inamori Foundation website at: inamori-f.or.jp/e_kp_out_out.html

KAZAKHSTAN: Read about the terror group responsible for the latest attacks in Kazakhstan at: longwarjournal.org.

EGYPT: For a video of the pipeline attack, go to jpost.com.