Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

93°F / 34°C

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The forecast for today was 84°F/ 29°C, but my place is heating up; it feels a little STEAMY. Weather Underground: Kuwait says it is 93°F / 34°C – and it is only March 11. Isn’t this a little early to be having this kind of weather? Doesn’t Spring last just a little longer? I remember back in October/November when it would get below 100°F and we would all start to talk about how much cooler it was feeling. This just isn’t right!

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March 11, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Weather | 9 Comments

Pirates!

BBC has been running a radio series on pirates, how we came to see pirates mostly deriving from Treasure Island, and romantic literature. Here is a recent article, however, on modern day piracy, which is alive and well, particular off the Horn of Africa / Somalia. Scary stuff. Did you know that 90% of the world’s cargo is moved by sea? And I recently heard that for Kuwait, the percentage of goods delivered by sea was 99%. This article begins a three part series on modern day piracy:

No vessel is safe from modern pirates
By Nick Rankin
BBC World Service

Pirates are not just mythological characters with peg legs, parrots and pistols. They now carry AK-47s and use speedboats to rule the high seas of the world.

Robbery of the high seas is not confined to 18th-Century history and literature or Hollywood films – it is still very much alive today.

Ninety percent of the world’s trade is still moved by sea, so it is not surprising that piracy against cargo vessels remains a significant issue.

It is estimated that seaborne piracy amounts to worldwide losses of between $13bn and $16bn a year.

Piracy peaked in 2003 with 445 attacks around the world and since then, they have more or less steadily come down.

In 2006, there were 239 attacks. Last year, the number increased slightly to 249.

Although attacks have decreased from the early 1990s, Rupert Herbert-Burns, a maritime security expert at Lloyd’s Intelligence Unit, says piracy is still a worrying problem.

“Attacks rose by 14% towards the end of last year, largely due to attacks off the Horn of Africa, specifically in Somali waters or in the territorial waters off Somalia,” he said.

You can read the rest of the article HERE.

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Crime, Financial Issues, Geography / Maps, News, Social Issues, Travel | , | 9 Comments

Corruption at the Morgue

Where is the Kuwaiti detective novel? I follow Guido Brunetti in Donna Leon’s series on Venice, Dave Robicheaux, the James Lee Burke detective in a small town just outside New Orleans, and now, Investigator Chen, who is a chief investigator in China, but where, oh where is the Kuwait detective / mystery? It is just waiting to be written.

In yesterday’s Kuwait Times is an article I would love to link you to, but it isn’t there, not even when I search “female coroner” from the headline on page 3. Did you know Kuwait had a female coroner, a la Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan and Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpatta? As you read the article, it makes sense, as the bodies are kept semi-segregated in the morgue, and women work on women (some of the time) and men on men.

I’m impressed. Any time a woman takes on a traditionally men’s job, it takes a whole lot of courage. I imagine the requirements to be a coroner here are similar to other countries – you have to have a medical degree (be a doctor) and then have advanced training in forensics. So when Nawal Boshehri speaks out, I listen. She’s got my attention.

Nawal Boshehri says conditions in the morgue are awful. From a personal point of view, she has been sexually molested by her superior and frozen in her position over false accusations that she has not been going to work or signing in or out. She has asked the minister of interior to look into her complaints.

As an institution, she reports serious issues – labs that lack necessary equipment, to do tests, such as those that measure drugs and alcohol in the bloodstream, outdated machinery, rusty machinery, lack of ventilation (in a morgue! horrors!) and she states they are constantly in fear of getting infections.

She claims that reports have sometimes been manipulated and twisted to give prosecutors the wrong technical information that would sometimes end up setting a guilty person free, and that one time they certified a murder had been insane without him ever having been examined by any mental health professionals. She was once asked to provide a report that made one citizen swap places with the assaulted expatriate, so that the assaulted expatriate would appear to be the guilty party.

She adds that she fears for her life. She says “a senior coroner at the department falsified reports, namely those related to detainees, who underwent police brutality during interrogations. He usually did this as favors to his colleagues to help them get promoted instead of being punished for their brutality.” She added that because she has reported these things, she fears for her own life.

Every nation has corruption. Corruption is chaotic, and when you get serious about rule of law, you still have corruption, but you do your best to root it out. You report it when it happens. I think that Nawal Boshehri has enough confidence in Kuwait’s institutions to go public with her allegations. While it may appear dirty laundry, that she CAN go public is a very positive sign. I can imagine she fears for her life, and yet, she seems to be fighting to retain her job. That’s very brave.

That the Kuwait Times will publish the article on page three, in three columns, that is also very brave, and speaks well of the increasing confidence in a free press.

Wouldn’t this make a great detective novel?

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Biography, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Crime, Customer Service, Kuwait, Living Conditions, News, Political Issues, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , , | 8 Comments