You know how you don’t want to go to bed nervous or unhappy? Unfortunately, the last conversation AdventureMan and I had last night before going to bed was whether or not we needed a 24 – 32 foot articulated ladder, so we could put up our hurricane protection shields if it looks like Isaac is heading our way. (And it looks like Isaac is heading our way.)
You know how you can learn a lot from people who have been through something if you ask the right questions and then shut up and listen? We’ve learned a lot from people here in Pensacola who have weathered a hurricane or two. One thing is that you are a lot better off living a little bit inland and a little bit uphill. People who have the glorious waterfront houses are hit hard by hurricanes, and the resulting surges, and Lord have mercy, al the flooding and rain and high winds.
Another thing we have learned is that there is a difference between a hit and a direct hit. There can be some areas, right next to other areas, which suffer more damage and some areas that suffer less. While I don’t feel at all right about praying that the hardships hit somewhere else, I am praying that Pensacola be spared. Pensacola has been hard hit by hurricanes in the past, and by the economic downturn. Pensacola needs a break.
So we went out this morning after water aerobics to buy an articulated ladder, but there were none the size we need. I just figure that is a sign, plus a ladder of that size must be pretty heavy, and big – another storage issue. We did buy a couple more water storage containers and non-latex plastic gloves.
We have what we hope is a safe area in the house where drinking water and peanut butter and crackers, and tuna and canned salmon and candles and self-wind combination radios/flashights are stored in preparation. We have installed hurricane protective measures, and we are hoping they work.
Studies show that people who stay actually fare better than those who go. If you stay and are able to deal quickly with some of the problems, you can forestall greater damage. There is evidently some sort of emotional factor, too, that those who go often have a lot of stress trying to get back into their homes if there has been a lot of damage.
We listen. We plan. We hope for the best. We pray.
We make it a point, as often as we can, to do our shopping during the week, because we remember what it is like when both parents are working and you have to get everything else done – grocery shopping, dry-cleaning pick up, meal preparation, laundry, etc. after work or on the week-ends.
Lowe’s and Home Depot have special hurricane trucks coming in, loaded with large storage containers for water, lots and lots and lots of bottled water, generators, flashlights, batteries, etc. This morning, the big orders were all about plywood, stacks and stacks of plywood leaving the stores, en route to guard windows.
If we are without electricity for three days in hot, humid, rainy, windy conditions, it will be the WORST for me, especially if there are mosquitos. That’s my biggest worry. I really hate being hot.
From the Huffpost Science:
Solar Flare, Solar Storm, Sun Storm: Whatever It’s Called, Sun Activity May Yield Stellar Aurora Borealis
By SETH BORENSTEIN
WASHINGTON — The largest solar storm in five years was due to arrive on Earth early Thursday, promising to shake the globe’s magnetic field while expanding the Northern Lights.
The storm started with a massive solar flare earlier in the week and grew as it raced outward from the sun, expanding like a giant soap bubble, scientists said. When it strikes, the particles will be moving at 4 million mph.
“It’s hitting us right in the nose,” said Joe Kunches, a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo.
The massive cloud of charged particles could disrupt utility grids, airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services, especially in northern areas. But the same blast could also paint colorful auroras farther from the poles than normal.
Astronomers say the sun has been relatively quiet for some time. And this storm, while strong, may seem fiercer because Earth has been lulled by several years of weak solar activity.
There is something I need to confess, as I print my friend Amer’s most recent editorial from the Arab Times in Kuwait.
Amer is writing about the great loss of civility in Kuwait, a country where trade routes crossed, merchants ruled and differences were tolerated. While I lived in Kuwait, I was horrified at the flaunting of traffic rules and the reckless endangerment of the population because some people believed the laws did not apply to them.
Amer, with a few differences specific to Islam, your editorial, sadly, could be equally well applied many places in the United States today, where some people believe they should not have to patiently stand in line, or obey the traffic rules, or protect the quality of the food supplies or water sources that provide for the communities.
When we fail to restrain ourselves and our selfish greediness, we harm others – but we also harm ourselves. We damage the fabric of society that protects us from the chaos of anarchy. Well said, Amer.
We Have Lost Our Moral Compass
EVERY Ramadan we are inundated by articles and features highlighting the proper means of fasting, alms-giving, praying and other essential pillars of Islam. I am not going to do that.
Most citizens are decent, God-fearing individuals trying to improve their lot and the lives of their loved ones. I believe the Kuwaiti character in essence is one of integrity and generosity — we are a charitable people, evident by the Ramadan dinners we sponsor and the alms we pay (Zakat) — indeed we are almost always the first to rush in aid of others, local or internationally. We should be proud of this trait.
We are, however, far from perfect. Praying, fasting and spending alms on the needful are not enough to qualify us or other societies as superior Muslims.
Our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) stated, ‘The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.’
Recently, we have all been witness to a drastic deterioration in the way people treat one another and conduct their lives — a certain segment lack the proper traits, either due to absence of decent rearing, non-implementation of laws (which they view as ‘toothless’) or the gradual radicalism in society which encourages gender segregation, intolerance of foreigners and non-Islamic ideals and views.
Our society seems to have lost its moral compass; gaze around you, materialism and power is valued over integrity and honesty; harshness in tone is embraced, over humility and etiquette. An individual’s caliber is immaterial; what matters is how one can ‘benefit’ another, the extent of personal influence and how many laws one can break with impunity.
On the behavioral level, this is evident all around us, nothing is respected; people don’t wait their turn, they drive erratically, they walk into elevators without waiting for others to exit, they are rude to foreign workers, they disturb women in malls and public places, they cause a ruckus in movie theatres, road and traffic signs are ignored, municipality laws are ignored, smoking signs are ignored. The list goes on…
This personal methodology is poisoning society — we are all victims of and responsible for this collective, ethical Achilles’ heel.
Follow the law, pay your bills on time, stand in a queue, follow road signs and you’re regarded as a dimwit.
These days you get a taste of good manners when you travel to countries like the United States and the European Union where parents educate their children ‘not to point at others’, ‘scream’ and wait patiently for their turn in a queue, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’
Even progressive GCC states such as the UAE — eager to attract foreigners and investment — do not tolerate any law breaking: speeding tickets affect the validity of your car license and insurance premiums; if unruly youths disturb or sexually harass women in public, security arrests them, shaves their heads, splashes their mugs in the papers, for example. People think twice before embarking on any moves which might offend the personal space or respect of others.
It’s the atmosphere of tolerance, openness and the implementation of laws that truly make an Islamic society, not the number of mosques built or how many foreigners converted to Islam. Where is Islam if society deems Expired Food Merchants and MPs and their ‘state benefactors’ — who dabble in tens of millions of corrupt money — for example, as ‘untouchables’?
People’s behavior forces one to ditch the law because the law is not really on one’s side, it’s not really being enforced — it’s an illusion. Additionally, we need to start embarking on ‘naming and shaming’ lawbreakers and criminals instead of shielding their identities from the public, who have a right to know.
The state apparatus — traditionally infatuated with forming committees, hosting seminars and running bloated campaigns — needs to execute them properly, namely by implementing a two-track initiative: On the one hand formulating an awareness campaign on ‘Islamic Moderation And Tolerance’ by highlighting the work of groundbreaking pioneers and world-renowned Moderate Islamic voices such as our very own Dr Naif Al-Mutawa (creator of the comic book series ‘The 99’) and Dr Reza Aslan, author of ‘No God But God,’ among other accomplished intellectual luminaries — so that younger generations may be able to benefit from their stimulating, refreshing views. Simultaneously, on the other track enforcing Civic and Constitutional Laws preaching freedom of speech, equality and appropriate justice — so individuals may learn to respect state laws and tolerate differing views – they need to realize grave repercussions are incoming, leading to imprisonment or worse, if they indulge in any lawbreaking or negative antisocial behavior. Ultimately, the State needs to step up to the plate and protect society, lest individuals take the law into their own hands and mob rule surfaces.
Islam without proper laws, justice for all and proper education is abridged, toothless — as a society we need to instill the values amongst ourselves and future generations, not just censure ‘external influences,’ the media or the West for our ills (many which are self created). Moreover, we need as a community to re-examine the way we conduct ourselves and treat others — to realize that no good can come from a society that obliquely persuades fraud, dishonesty and ill-treatment of others.
By: Amer Al-Hilal
It’s thunderstorm time in Pensacola, and what surprises me is how the sky can look relatively clear and blue, and then a big bolt of lightning strikes.
This is from today’s Bottom Line Health News:
WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES
The weather outside is frightful, inside it’s so delightful… it’s awfully early in the year to sing this song, but it’s what came to mind as I was researching this story on a particular hazard of summertime weather — lightning. It’s far more “frightful” than snow or ice — lightning can kill you instantly. While some of us may already know exactly what to do when there’s lightning around, it’s remarkable how many people don’t know or simple don’t take lightning seriously enough. I decided to seek out the latest information on staying safe.
A BOLT FROM THE BLUE
In the summer months, lightning is predictably unpredictable — there’s lots of it and you don’t always see it coming. You’ve heard the term “a bolt from the blue”… it derives from the fact that lightning has been known to light up a bright blue sky (though not so often as a dark and stormy one), and it can travel as far as 10 miles, not only vertically but horizontally as well. Hot summer weather raises the likelihood of thunderstorms, which always bring lightning (whether you see it or not).
According to the National Weather Service, lightning strikes ground some 25 million times a year here in the US, hitting an estimated 400 people and killing about 40, who typically die from severe burns, cardiac arrest and/or respiratory arrest. While 90% of those who have been hit by lightning survive, they often suffer serious side effects that can include paralysis, internal and external burns, deafness, ringing in ears, amnesia and/or confusion, personality change, depression, sleep disturbances, memory dysfunction, headache, fatigue, joint stiffness and muscle spasms.
To learn how to stay safe and what to do if you’re ever with someone struck by lightning, I consulted our contributing medical editor Richard O’Brien, MD, an emergency physician in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who told me he sees lightning victims every summer.
While everyone seems to understand that lightning is dangerous, many are unclear on what they need to do to protect themselves. So, one by one, we went through the facts that are most important to know…
ARE YOU GROUNDED?
The most important thing to understand about lightning, said Dr. O’Brien, is that it wants to find a way to get into the earth — it’s called “grounding.” The human body, water and metal all are excellent conductors of electricity and will get it to ground very effectively. Rubber, concrete and wood, on the other hand, are protective.
“When thunder roars, go indoors.” This is the catchy phrase that the National Weather Service uses to educate people on the most important thing you can do to stay safe from lightning — get out of its way. Get inside a safe building (one that is fully enclosed with a roof, walls, electricity and plumbing) or seek shelter in a car with a metal roof and the windows up (not a convertible, even with the roof up). “There is no such thing as being safe outdoors in a thunderstorm,” said Dr. O’Brien. Even if you are inside, remember that lightning has been known to strike through glass. Stay as far away as possible from windows and skylights. Lightning also has been known to strike through electrical outlets. If it hits an outside wire (phone/cable/electric), it can conduct into the jacks in the house, Dr. O’Brien explains.
Stay dry and disconnected. You can use a cell or cordless phone safely during a thunderstorm as long as the handset is not plugged in or attached to the base. Note that by using a cordless phone you still risk drawing an electrical surge to the base and destroying it. Under no circumstances should you talk on a landline. Any electrical device, handheld or otherwise including an electric stove, is a magnet for lightning, especially when it is using power. Stay out of the shower or bath and don’t use the sinks. “Lightning can come through the plumbing,” notes Dr. O’Brien. “If it hits the house, it looks for ground (your metal pipes) and if you’re in the shower, naked and wet, you’ve had it.” If you must go outdoors, remember there is no such thing as safe phone use — even a cell or cordless.
Be patient. Wait to go outdoors until you’ve heard no thunder for 30 minutes.
IF LIGHTNING STRIKES …
If you or someone near to you is struck by lightning, get help immediately. Call 9-1-1 (from a safe location if there is one!). If the person is unconscious and without a pulse, perform CPR. The 911 operator can help with advice as well. As a quick guide to CPR, the American Heart Association says to use both hands and push on the chest “hard and fast” to the tempo of the old Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive.
There’s no need to fear being electrocuted yourself if you touch a person who has been struck by lightning, said Dr. O’Brien — but you do need to protect yourself from another bolt of lightning. Take whatever measures you can to get yourself and the victim out of danger as fast as possible.
During these summer months, it’s important to be aware that lightning is a clear and present danger — take it seriously!
Richard O’Brien, MD, attending emergency physician at Moses Taylor Hospital, and associate professor of emergency medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College of Pennsylvania, both in Scranton.
The 0815 service this morning was glorious. We got there early, because those who had gone to the early-early service and had stayed on for breakfast would be leaving, and this is Easter – we needed a parking place. The front of the church was laden with flowers, so many flowers it looked like a private garden, and the flowers scented the entire church, an odor of sanctity.
Getting there early was a really good thing – just after we entered, the brass trio started serenading us, exultant music, full of joy and triumph, perfect way to start an Easter morning service. It’s a special treat, having music and the full choir at the 0815 service, but a member of the choir told me earlier that this is the only Sunday of the year that they sing at all three services. If you like music, oh, what a treat!
The church filled up quickly. I couldn’t help it, I had to look around to see if there were any Easter bonnets. I remember being a kid – a girl kid, that is. We always had hats for Easter. Being kind of a snotty kid, I was often critical of the one I got and somewhere along the line that tradition was discontinued. I guess it must have been discontinued widely, as there were only six ladies wearing hats (we couldn’t help it, we counted), but very nice hats they were. The little girls were all dressed in lovely dresses, some even with chiffon and lots of ribbons.
As we reached the offering, people behind us were criticizing the parents whose children were making noise.
“They should know better! Why don’t they just take them out, so they won’t bother the rest of us?”
“It’s SO disrespectful!”
There is child care available, but I personally love having the children in the service. Maybe it’s a little disruptive, but you know – we’ll live. And I just thank God they are there! I want them to be welcome! I want the parents not to have to leave, but to know their children – and their antics – are welcome! I miss our noisy services in Doha and in Kuwait, with the babies, the children. Even though they left, there was always a little serendipitous bedlam in the service to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously.
As we left, we also sighed – we miss the gorgeous colorful displays of all the saris on the high holy days, the saffrons and fuschias and peacock blues and greens and golds.
Later this afternoon, when the Happy Baby wakes up from his nap, we’ll be having Easter Dinner. He got going too fast this morning and split his lip when he fell. I remember our son at that age, and the doctor who looked at me meaningfully and asked “does your son often have bruises?” I was so offended, but all I could do was laugh – when they start running, they fall down. Once, I was right there when he tripped – inches away from me – and fell against a sharp edged table. It all happened so fast there was nothing I could do (except take him to the emergency room for stitches).
Actually, we were at a school friend’s house in Jordan, his father owned the hospital, his driver drove us, he Dad-the-doctor put in the stitches and we were back at the party before ice-cream and cake were served.
We try to protect them. We do our best. We try to teach them how to behave at public gatherings, like parades, like church, like change-of-command ceremonies, things we are not born knowing. It takes practice. Like parenting.
I am receiving hateful e-mails; e-mails claiming Barack Obama is really Muslim, and that Muslims are trying to take over America. Sometimes I wonder how well my friends really know me? Sometimes I wonder how well I know my friends, that they would be so nice and kind as I know them to be, and so rabid in their hate-filled beliefs?
When I found this article today in AOL News it comforted me . . . that this round of Anti-Islam is no where near so mindless and destructive as the hatred of the Catholics, of the Mormons, of the Jews. I can only hope that this too, shall pass.
I work at changing perceptions one person at a time. The most common question I get about living in Jordan, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait is “Weren’t you scared?” and I laugh, and point out that the crime rate in Pensacola is much higher, and that the risks of my walking alone in any of those countries was much less than here.
I tell them about my time with women in those countries, the many kindnesses I received, the fun we had working and playing together. They know I am religious. It puzzles them that I can find being around people so different from me comfortable. I tell them how we share values, how being around religious women from Qatar is easier than being around non-believing American women. It’s the stories that make the difference. I can understand why Jesus spoke so often in metaphors. You have to find some way to explain that people can understand, some way they can visualize and connect to what may seem alien and strange.
Senior Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Aug. 19) — Are Muslims the new Jews? Or Irish Catholics? Perhaps Mormons? Or are they really the war on terror’s Japanese?
Religious experts and historians say: all of the above.
The still-unfolding controversy over plans to build an Islamic center near ground zero is just the latest chapter in a long saga of religious and ethnic misunderstanding that experts say goes back to the nation’s earliest days.
Fear of foreigners dates to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which were aimed at French immigrants suspected of disloyalty, said American University historian Allan Lichtman. “Then it was the Irish, the Germans, and the Catholics, and the Jews,” he said. “These waves of xenophobia are as American as apple pie unfortunately.”
Despite the appeal of blaming the overheated rhetoric over the dispute in lower Manhattan on the still raw emotions left over from the Sept. 11 attacks, antipathy toward Muslims predates the furor around the proposed Park51 Islamic center.
A Gallup Poll conducted late last year found 43 percent of Americans admit to feeling some prejudice toward followers of Islam. That’s more than twice the number who feel that way about Christians, Jews or Buddhists.
Acts of vandalism against mosques are rising. Plans to build new ones sprout not-in-my-backyard protests and even calls to outlaw them. Muslim women complain that bans on head scarfs trample their religious rights. In Florida, congressional candidate Allen West, who has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, has said Islam is not a religion but “a totalitarian theocratic political ideology.”
Blogs such as Stop Islamization of America and Creeping Sharia have helped lay the foundation for the controversy. And the culture war promises to grow even hotter. A fundamentalist Christian pastor who describes Islam as “of the devil” has called for an “International Burn a Quran Day” to mark the ninth anniversary of 9/11 next month. A more mainstream minister, Franklin Graham, was booted from a prayer service at the Pentagon, where Muslim prayer is welcome, after he called Islam “evil.”
Yet is any of this new? While nearly one in five believe, incorrectly, that Barack Obama is a Muslim, this is not the first time a president has been suspected of lying about his religion. Anti-Semites and Nazi sympathizers spread false rumors in the 1930s that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a mainline Episcopalian, was Jewish.
The latest debate reveals “the dark underbelly of the American psyche,” said Boston University religion professor Stephen Prothero, author of “God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter.” “We keep imagining that we’ve outgrown our religious bigotry and we haven’t. It keeps getting tested for each new religious group.”
Everything old is new again
Scholars liken today’s Muslim bashing to similar episodes in American history. In the 19th century, the nativist Know-Nothing Party wanted to prevent immigrants, especially Irish Catholics, from coming to America. Prejudice against Mormons forced them to flee west to Utah. Anti-Semitism spawned lynchings as, of course, did racism.
In 1924, Congress clamped down on immigration from eastern and southern Europe — home to such “undesirables” as Italians and Jews — as well as all of Asia. And after the attack on Pearl Harbor, more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast were forced into internment camps for the duration of World War II.
Today’s debate over the mosque “is very mild compared to some of these previous episodes,” said John Green, a University of Akron political scientist who studies religion and politics. He notes that religion, ethnicity and race are often conflated to produce a conflict between new groups and old groups.
“Each of these episodes has its unique circumstances,” he said, “but they appear to be most severe when the unpopular group is linked to national security and the definition of the nation. 9/11 is a good example and many of these episodes were associated with wars. Other were linked to other crises like state rights, civil rights, immigration and communism.”
Louise Cainkar, a Marquette University sociologist, sees similarities to anti-German sentiment during World War I and against the Japanese in World War II but says neither were as “strong or pervasive” as the feelings about Muslims. The only thing that comes close, she said, was the anti-Catholic movement of the 19th century that lingered in a less-virulent form until 1960, when presidential candidate John F. Kennedy had to affirm publicly that he would take no orders from the pope.
Religion and politics have often mixed in America, with uneven results. After 9/11, President George W. Bush rejected the formula that Islam equaled terrorism and spoke out loudly in favor of religious tolerance. In the current debate, political rhetoric has ranged from far right to moderate middle to wishy-washy to impassioned.
But Prothero was struck by two reactions “by politicians who should know better” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Both men oppose the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan and both are Mormons.
“It’s unconscionable and frankly shocking that any Mormon would speak on this issue the way Romney and Reid have spoken. Don’t they remember that the founder of their religion was assassinated by an anti-Mormon mob?” said Prothero, who also wrote “Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — And Doesn’t.”
Yet he said the men are typical of Americans who live in one of the most religious countries on earth but are “astonishingly ignorant” about religion. He noted that Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, who heads the Cordoba Initiative behind the proposed Islamic center, is a Sufi. Sufism is a tolerant strain of Islam that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida consider an infidel religion and whose shrine in Pakistan was recently the target of a double suicide bombing.
“I find the lack of memory frightening,” Prothero said. “This is a classic moment when it helps to remember something about American history – that our freedoms have been hard won.”
Muslims in America
Akbar Ahmed, chairman of the Islamic studies department at American University and a former Pakistani diplomat, visited 100 mosques in 75 cities over the last year for his new book, “Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam.” What he found in interviews with Muslims and non-Muslims, native-born and immigrant, was a common feeling of being under siege from a faltering economy, natural disasters and two wars at a time when the first non-white president in history “has become a lightening rod for everything that is going on in America.”
But he said the controversy “is not just about one mosque, although that is a very special and sensitive one because of 9/11. It is much more.”
Ahmed said Muslims haven’t had the chance to go through “the process of Americanization that successive waves of immigrants” did before them.
When the Immigration Act of 1965 opened the door for the first time to people from Third World countries — many of them Muslims — the doctors, lawyers and engineers who came “flew straight into the American dream,” Ahmed said. “Nobody challenged them. They didn’t go through the century-long process that Italians and Jews did” to be accepted. But when 9/11 happened, “People said, ‘Who are these Muslims? We don’t know anything about them’ ” and some quickly equated the 19 hijackers with all Muslims in America.
“Some Muslims have been here five generations,” Ahmed said, “but today they are all under a cloud.”
Cainkar, author of “Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience after 9/11,” noted that Arabs have lived in America for more than a century but anti-Arab feelings intensified only after the Six-Day War in 1967 and have since combined to inflame ill will toward Muslims. Today, she said, those speaking out against the proposed mosque are motivated by more than just religious beliefs.
“Some have foreign policy interests. Some think a strong America means controlling Muslim movements and countries. Some support Israel and so understand that to mean opposing Muslims. Some have a conservative view of American society and think it should be Euro-American. Some don’t like people of color. Some believe Jesus is our savior and other religions are false. Some just like to hate,” she said.
“It is not really about Muslims at all — they actually know very little about them.”
You see it all the time, at the roundabouts. Those fellows – it’s always guys – in the hot cars, the Porche, the Cayenne, I don’t even know all the names. The light turns red; they don’t care. They see a gap, they go.
I would love a look at the statistics. I would love to see who is getting all the fines for jumping the red lights. I bet 90% are all the same nationality.
And now they want to LOWER the fine for running the red light???
Just when Qatar has proudly announced that traffic deaths are falling dramatically with the ENFORCEMENT of the new, stricter laws?
No! No! A moderation of this fine is a step backward! Please, please, don’t do it!
Lower fine proposed for running a red light
The Advisory Council seeks a review of the traffic law
By Nour Abuzant
The Advisory Council has proposed a review of the traffic law with a stress on reducing the current fine of QR6,000 for jumping the red signal, a member of the council said yesterday.
According to him, the draft proposal recommended a significant cut in the fine and suggested that the penalty be structured around a more practical model based on the circumstances of the violation and the number of times a motorist committed the same offence.
Senior officials of the Traffic Department had defended the stringent rules which came into force in October 2007, saying they had been issued to combat the mounting number of traffic accidents which claimed scores of lives on the country’s roads.
Advisory Council member Mohamed al-Hajery, who was one of the 20 citizens felicitated by the Traffic Department for their clean traffic record yesterday, told reporters on the sidelines of the ceremony that the House preferred a more pragmatic approach to the issue.
The awarding ceremony was part of Qatar’s celebration of the GCC Traffic Week, currently being held under the slogan “Beware of Other’s Faults”.
“The tendency of my fellow members is to take into consideration the number of previous traffic violations and the circumstances involving the jumping of the red-light,” al-Hajery said.
“You cannot treat someone who jumped the signal after a minute the light turned red and after a fraction of a second it turned red from orange,” he said.
“I think that the appropriate fine for a driver who jumped the red light without a criminal intention is QR1,500 – QR2,000.”
Al-Hajery stressed that his pleading for a more lenient treatment did not mean he was promoting traffic violations. “Anyone who deliberately jumps the signal should be treated like a potential killer and no mercy should be shown to him.”
He said he was in favour of treating each case of jumping the red light individually.
The Advisory Council members had on February 19, 2008, refused to ratify the 2007 law, arguing that “ it did not strike a balance between the crime and the punishment”.
In late July 2008, the Advisory Council members gave the law a “test period” that ended in October 2008, to check the effectiveness of the law.
The law had introduced for the first time a negative points system that might lead to the suspension or cancellation of driving licences.
The Advisory Council member said that he was personally against the system. He explained: “Sometimes, the (negative) points are registered in the driver’s account and sometimes against the owner of the vehicle. In some cases, your son drives the car and you sustain the points. It is an ineffective system and should be re-examined.”
However, Traffic Department director Brigadier Saad al-Kharji on Sunday said he was not aware of any intention to reduce, at least for the time being, the current fines.
“Anybody who respects the traffic regulations has nothing to fear,” he said arguing that after two and half years of its implementation, the law had “proved effective in reducing the number of casualties, if we take into consideration the increasing number of vehicles in the country”.
He said: “Our target is to save lives on Qatar’s roads and there is no fine that can equal the life of a human being. It is not true that our aim was just to collect money.”
I have always avoided Salwa any way I could. I might cross Salwa, but only as a last resort. Salwa Road is a death trap, an unlimited speed zone, a cat and mouse game zone, a chicken-game road and a training ground for some of the worst maintained tiny little cars I have ever seen. Between the aggressive drivers with their big attitudes and big cars and the POS cars, it’s a nightmare.
The nightmare is getting worse.
This is from today’s Peninsula:
Salwa Road roundabouts to be converted as tunnels
Web posted at: 3/8/2010 4:58:36
Source ::: THE PENINSULA
DOHA: Several major roundabouts on the Salwa Road — Ain Khalid, Al Aziziya, Central Souq and Qatar Decor — will be converted as tunnels.
The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) will start working on the project by the end of this year, official sources at Ashghal told Al Sharq.
Tenders for the project have already been floated. The project comes as part of the next phase of the Salwa International Road development project.
The project will help overcome the traffic jams on this important road. Conversions and alternative roads will be provided during the work as the roundabouts will be removed completely.
The sources promised that delays like those happened in the case of the February 22 road and Industrial Area intersection will not happen in the case of the new project.
Several nationals and residents were highly critical about the delays in these two major projects. Jabber al Khayareen, owner of a show room on the Salwa road said that they had suffered losses due the long road closure.
The shopkeepers had been complaining about the long closure of the Salwa road but officials were turning a deaf ear to their complains, he said.
He cited the heavy traffic jams at Ain Khalid roundabout after opening the Industrial Area flyover as an example of bad planning. The road which was closed for a long time opened to see heavy traffic from the new flyover to a bottleneck of the narrow road and a small roundabout.
He was also critical about the partial opening of main roads before completion of sideways and roundabouts and related service roads.
Another national, Mohammed al Nuaimi hoped that that new road projects would take into consideration the expansion of the Doha city and the increase in its population.
Yousef Al Sharhani, another national, said there was some improvement in the traffic scenario after Ashghal resumed works on various infrastructural projects and completed some of the major road projects.