Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

How To Turn Kuwaiti Youth Into Law Breakers:

Lord, have mercy! Who doesn’t know that the quickest way to get young people to want to read a book or watch a movie is to BAN it?? It’s just human nature! So you take smart, tech-savvy young people and FORBID them to watch YouTube, or hey! even better – block it – and watch how fast they find a way around every attempt to block it.

There are a lot of sayings that come to mind – like “That train done left the station” or “Like getting ketchup back in the bottle” – you might as well ban water from running downhill.

Lawyer to file case against ministry over failure to ban YouTube
Al Watan staff
and agencies

KUWAIT: A leading Kuwaiti lawyer Mubarak AlـTasha has said that he intends to file a case against the Ministry of Information for not blocking the Web site YouTube or at least blocking infamous clips that are considered as insulting to Islam and the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

The lawyer said that since the ministry failed to carry out its promises, a law suit will be filed against it in order to ensure that this is legally binding, and added that the Kuwaiti Constitution protects freedom of expression, press and publication however such freedoms should not in any way insult Islam.

He added that the State needs to uphold the Constitution and respect it since law 70/2002 issued by the Information Ministry states that internet providers should not promote or encourage pornographic, indecent and antiـIslamic material.

A few months ago local newspapers reported that the ministry ordered local Internet service providers to block the Web site over clips that could offend Muslims.

“Since the Web site displays the Quran in the form of songs sung with the oud … and displays disrespectful pictures of the Prophet Mohammed … please proceed with immediate effect in blocking the Web site http://www.youtube.com,” read a copy of a memo obtained by Reuters.

However, following the circulation of this memo, the ministry went back on its decision and the site was subsequently not banned.

Last updated on Monday 24/11/2008

November 24, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Relationships, Social Issues, Technical Issue | 8 Comments

The Great Kuwait Sand and Surf Contest: Your Turn to Vote!

The deadline is here! The Great Kuwait Sand and Surf Contest is closed, and here are the entrants:

Ansam!

Q8Dutchie!

Q8Geek!

Teagirl!

MacaholicQ8!

Onlooker!

Someday/Red!

Check out their Sand and Surf photos, and then – you choose which photographer wins this round of the Great Kuwait Challenges.

November 22, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Blogging, Community, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Photos | | 17 Comments

Somalia: Pirates – and Dumping

This is a report from BBC News. I published a piece previously on Somalia on March 11, and blogger Shafi said the following:

“When wealthier nations align their fleet of vessels at Somali coast to fish illegally (estimated at around $6 million as the article says) and dump toxic waste in some parts of the water, aren’t they doing a greater evil and a major harm to the shell-shattared country and her people than the pirates for whom piracy is itself a survival method?”

The statement caught me totally by surprise. I went looking to see if it was true, and it was.

Shafi has a fascinating blog, and if you have some time, go take a look. Meanwhile, I am happy to see glimpses of a fuller picture coming forth in the news:

somalia

Ex-Somali Army Colonel Mohamed Nureh Abdulle lives in Harardhere – the town closest to where the hijacked Saudi oil tanker, Sirius Star is moored. He tells the BBC, via phone from his home, that the town’s residents are more concerned about the apparent dumping of toxic waste than piracy.

The Harardhere-born military man advises the town’s elders on security matters and is in his fifties.
Somalia has been wracked by conflict since 1991 – when its last national government was forced from power.

The super-tanker is close to our coast. It is a very, very long ship. Some time ago we had our own problems of piracy in our town but that has not happened lately.

The people who have been hijacking these ships in our seas are not from our region. We do not know any of the guys on the super-tanker and they haven’t made any contact with us.

You know, our problem is not piracy. It is illegal dumping.

These problems have been going for sometime and the world knows about it. The Americans have been here in the region for a long time now – they know about the pollution.

Instead, no, the world is only talking about the pirates and the money involved.

Mysterious illnesses
Meanwhile, there has been something else going on and it has been going on for years. There are many dumpings made in our sea, so much rubbish.

It is dumped in our seas and it washes up on our coastline and spreads into our area.

A few nights ago, some tanks came out from the high sea and they cracked it seems and now they are leaking into the water and into the air.

The first people fell ill yesterday afternoon. People are reporting mysterious illnesses; they are talking about it as though it were chicken pox – but it is not exactly like that either. Their skin is bad. They are sneezing, coughing and vomiting.

This is the first time it has been like this; that people have such very, very bad sickness.

The people who have these symptoms are the ones who wake early, before it is light, and herd their livestock to the shore to graze. The animals are sick from drinking the water and the people who washed in the water are now suffering.

TimesOnline ran an article on Somalia after the tsunami, and the contaminants that had been washed ashore:

“The current situation along the Somali coastline poses a very serious environmental hazard not only in Somalia but also in the eastern Africa sub-region,” the report says. Toxic waste was first dumped in Somalia in the late 1980s, but accelerated sharply during the civil war which followed the 1991 overthrow of the late dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Local warlords, many of them former ministers in Siad Barre’s last government, received large payments from Swiss and Italian firms for access to their respective fiefdoms.

Most of the waste was simply dumped on remote beaches in containers and leaking disposable barrels.

Somali sources close to the trade say that the dumped materials included radioactive uranium, lead, cadmium, mercury and industrial, hospital, chemical and various other toxic wastes. In 1992, Unep said that European firms were involved in the trade, but because of the high level of insecurity in the country there were never any accurate assessments of the extent of the problem.

In 1997 and 1998, the Italian newspaper Famiglia Cristiana, which jointly investigated the allegations with the Italian branch of Greenpeace, published a series of articles detailing the extent of illegal dumping by a Swiss firm, Achair Partners, and an Italian waste broker, Progresso.

The news is so much more complicated than it appears. How do we stop all these wrongful, hurtful things? Do not we have a responsibility toward the poorest nations? If we – meaning the richest nations – don’t stop this dumping now, is there not every chance in the world that it will come back to haunt us?

November 21, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Community, Crime, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Law and Order, Living Conditions, News, Social Issues | | 10 Comments

No Home Activities for Welfare Societies

A sudden and unbelievable decision bans welfare activities in private homes. This could have far reaching effects – are not most welfare activities taking place in Kuwait privately organized and funded? I have been to so many private fund raisers for charities I support – bazaars, game nights, line dancing classes – almost all in private homes. I suspect this is legislation that means well, but discourages people from reaching out to meet needs not met by the city or state.

Welfare societies banned from organizing activities in private homes
Al Watan staff

KUWAIT: Welfare and charitable societies are facing a new challenge after the Municipality has decided to suspend any such activities from taking place in private homes.

The Municipality has sent 62 official letters to the Ministry of Water and Electricity demanding that power be cut off to certain buildings in Jabriya and Salmiya after these private residencies were found to have been involved in activities of welfare societies. Undersecretary at the Ministry of Water and Electricity Yusuf AlـHajiri confirmed in a statement to Al Watan that the ministry will disconnect the electricity from properties involved in violations of housing regulations.

Representatives from a number of welfare societies and charitable organizations expressed their bewilderment at this decision and said that all their activities are licensed and were often inaugurated under government sponsorship. They added that many people will suffer from what they described as a “hasty decision.”

The decision to ban activities in private homes came directly from the Municipality General Manager Ahmad AlـSubaih who on Tuesday gave formal instructions to suspend all such activities on grounds that they violate private home regulations.

Local Municipal Councils are now able to issue violations and communicate directly with the Ministry of Water and Electricity to disconnect the power of any property which is found to be violating the terms and condition of housing tenancy.

Welfare societies and charitable organizations have already sent an official letter to the Cabinet requesting that they be allowed to expand their charitable activities and receive donations in cash to facilitate their work.

Last updated on Friday 21/11/2008

November 21, 2008 Posted by | Charity, Community, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Social Issues | 5 Comments

GKS&S Challenge: You Can Do Better!

See, it’s my challenge, I make up the rules, and wow. I am so glad I did. The first challenge came because I truly could not find a decent sunset photo, and you showed me they exist, and you showed me they could be totally WOW.

The second challenge, Sand and Surf, is because I love Sand and Surf, and I am so glad I cannot compete (it’s my contest, remember? Like it would be dirty pool for me to compete, and how would you know if I won fair and square, or if I used wasta with myself?

So just to encourage you, I am going to show some of my favorite sand and surf photos, but now that I have seen yours, I know that these are not particularly good, I just like them. YOU can do better. It’s OK with me. 🙂

Here is sand and surf and everything I love on Mnemba Island, a CCAfrica camp, off the coast of Zanzibar:
00mnemba1

Here is a scene I found here in Kuwait:
00fishpen

Here is another shot from Kuwait . . . well there is surf . . .
00fehaheelfishermen

Here is a shot from another favorite place I visit, Oman, near Sur:
00ssoman

Here is a shot taken in Seattle:
00ssseattle

And here is a shot from the Oregon beaches with a little bit of everything – sand, surf, sunset and even a dancing dog:
00oregonbeachsssunset

Have a great weekend, Kuwait.

You still have time to get your photos in. The contest will close this coming Saturday, and the poll will go up, insh’allah, the same day. (Are you thinking of ideas for the next one? I am! 🙂 )

November 20, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Blogging, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Oman, Photos, Seattle, Zanzibar | | 8 Comments

Sharing Faith

Several years ago, a woman put a book in my hands and said “I got this for you because I think you will love it.” It was kind of a shock; I didn’t know this woman all that well, but she knew me better. I loved the book, and I ordered a workbook to go with it, and I loved doing it. It was a forty day study called The Purpose Driven Life.

If you think I am trying to convert you, I’m not. Just as this woman wasn’t trying to convert me. The Purpose Driven Life is all about trying to make your walk in faith more meaningful. It starts with the premise that each one of us is uniquely created, and has a unique function to fill. The book has changed how I live my life. Intrigued? Go read the book!

I also subscribe to their daily e-mail, and today it was all about gaining wisdom from reading THE BOOK, learning from our own experiences and those of others:

Write down the major life lessons you’ve learned so you can share them with others. We should be grateful Solomon did this, because it gave us the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which are filled with practical lessons on living. Imagine how much needless frustration could be avoided if we learned from each other’s life lessons.

Mature people develop the habit of extracting lessons from everyday experiences. I urge you to make a list of your life lessons. You haven’t really thought about them thoroughly unless you’ve written them down. Below are a few questions to jog your memory and get your started:

So what?

What has God taught me from failure?
What has God taught me from a lack of money?
What has God taught me from pain or sorrow or depression?
What has God taught me through waiting?
What has God taught me through illness?
What has God taught me from disappointment?
What have I learned from my family, my church, my relationships, my small group, and my critics?

It felt like a jolt of electricity going through me when I read those questions. Sometimes, I think I am not very bright; sometimes I don’t even learn from my own experiences and mistakes! As I read these questions, I started thinking how the financial crisis has energized us and changed our plans. We thought we would have a hunk of money to work with when we retire, and suddenly that hunk has shrunk! Meanwhile, we are instigating all kinds of new strategies to make our money go farther. You would think it would be depressing, but the truth is . . . we are having fun! I’d forgotten the thrill of the hunt; getting items for good prices, finding substitutes . . . and the questions above reminded me that at one time we knew a lot about stretching money.

AdventureMan is a great cook, and truly, if we ate fewer meals out, we probably wouldn’t have to worry about our waistlines. I used to bake all our bread, when we lived in Tunis, and only had access to wonderful baguettes. I even baked English muffins, my favorite.

Every one of the questions he asked today reminded me of a lesson I had learned . . . and then kind of let go. I didn’t exactly forget, but now all these life-lessons are fresh again!

You don’t have to be Christian, or Moslem, or a even a believer to think about these questions. Take a look at the questions and see what YOU have learned from life’s circumstances.

Where do YOU find wisdom?

November 17, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Random Musings, Relationships, Social Issues, Spiritual | | 5 Comments

Erratic Vacation

Please forgive me, dear blog-friends, but we are traveling and I am not always able to connect. I know, I know, you are wondering, as I did “is that even possible? Are there places where you cannot connect in the whole world anymore?” and the answer is yes. There are times and places and circumstances where you cannot connect – or where you are just too absorbed in life itself. We are moving from spot to spot and I won’t know about connections until I get to each location.

I know many of you will also be travelling soon, or enjoying the new “Staycation,” where you stay at home for your holiday. The weather in Kuwait could not be more perfect for exactly that kind of vacation! Lucky, lucky you! Visiting friends and family, celebrating Eid with all those delicious foods! Maybe a little shopping, with gold down to around $743/oz.

We will also be celebrating with family and friends along the way, and I will keep you informed as best I can. Meanwhile, I will check in on you, too, when I can, to find out how you are doing.

November 17, 2008 Posted by | Community, Eid, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Holiday, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Relationships, Thanksgiving | 11 Comments

Someday(Red) Challenges the Pros! Great Kuwait Sand and Surf Challenge

Just when I thought nothing more was going to happen – Someday(Red) sends in this total WOW and asks if it is appropriate for the Great Kuwait Sand and Surf Challenge.

somedayredsandandsurf

Appropriate? Readers, what do you think? Remember, in this round, it does not have to be taken in Kuwait (remember the last one it was a CHALLENGE to find a great sunset in Kuwait) but it has to be taken by someone connected in some way to Kuwait. Or living here. Or Kuwaiti. Or someone who lived here and is now away at school. It’s a little looser this time.

As for me, it just totally knocks my socks off. I feel like I am THERE. Someday(Red), where is this taken? I can hear the waves!

November 16, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Holiday, Photos | | 7 Comments

Review Nikon D700

This is just an excerpt from a lengthy and in-depth review at The Blog at Wired.com of the Nikon D700, a total wow of a camera.

d700

There are plenty of reviews and incredibly detailed spec sheets for the D700 already online, so I’ll just cover a few of the quirks and delights I have found so far. In short, though, the D700 kicks ass. It’s easy to use, and takes an incredible picture, even in the dark.

That Sensor
The headline feature of the D700 is its full-frame sensor, which is the same one you’ll find in the flagship D3. You only get 12 megapixels, but they’re big pixels, and their light-gathering ability is extraordinary. The top ISO available on the D700 is a staggering 25,600, a full eight stops faster than ISO 100.

At that setting, though, the pictures are terrible. Convert them to black and white and they look exactly like they have been through a photocopier. A photocopier that is running out of toner. That said, even this is better than the results that the Canon G9 gives at just ISO 1600.

Drop just one stop, to ISO 12,800, and things are a lot better. The pictures are still noisy but Nikon has tweaked its noise reduction algorithms to mimic film grain, or so it seems. The EXPEED processor has no mercy with color noise, but is a little easier on the luminance noise. What does that mean? It means that the nasty stuff is cleared out, leaving a grainy but pleasing result.

Drop the ISO to 6400, the highest setting with an actual number (Nikon uses names like H0.3 for the more sensitive settings) and you’d never know you were shooting at more than 800. This, combined with a fast lens (a 50mm ƒ1.8, for example) means you can shoot in ambient light, handheld, at night. And coupled with the heavy body, which steadies things, you can handhold to some pretty slow shutter speeds, too. If you were to add a shake-reducing lens into the mix, you’d likely have no trouble with shooting 2001’s monolith in a black hole. At midnight.

Read the rest of the review HERE.

November 16, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Photos | , | 11 Comments

Man Jumps to Save His Honor

From today’s Arab Times. Rape is despicable, whether committed on man, woman, or child, daughter, sister, son, brother, neighbor, domestic or wife. Despicable. It’s a crime of power, of humiliation, of ownership and it is robbery as well as assault.

Man dies saving ‘honour’
KUWAIT CITY : The Court of Appeals Monday set Nov 19, 2008 to issue a verdict in a case of four Kuwaitis and two Bedoun, who have been convicted of causing the death of a Kuwaiti man after they kidnapped him and tried to rape him.

Case papers indicate on April 20, 2007, five of the six men agreed to kidnap and rape the victim. One of the accused talked to the victim from the Internet chat room and pretended to belong to the third gender.

The man invited the victim to his place to have sex. He went, along with another accused and took the victim in the car of the latter to a flat which was rented by yet another accused for the purpose of prostitution.

When they arrived at the place, one of the accused locked the door of the apartment and others who had been hiding in the apartment showed up. When they tried to rape the victim, he jumped out from the ninth floor window and fell to his death.

On June 18, 2008, the Criminal Court sentenced the first, second, third and fifth suspects to 15 years in jail. The court sentenced the fourth suspect to seven years in jail. The court sentenced the sixth suspect to three years in jail and ordered the deportation of the fifth and sixth suspects after serving the sentence.

The session was presided over by Judge Faisal Khuraibet.

By Moamen Al-Masri
Special to the Arab Times

November 16, 2008 Posted by | Community, Crime, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Social Issues | | 4 Comments