Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Upcoming Execution in Iran?

Thank you, John Mueller ๐Ÿ™‚

Execution of web programmer in Iran may be imminent
By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:24 PM EST, Sat February 18, 2012

Supporters demonstrate in January for the release of Saeed Malekpour in Montreal, Quebec.
(CNN) — A computer programmer from Canada faces imminent execution in Iran for the actions of another person, which he had no control over, a human rights group says.

Saeed Malekpour wrote a program to upload photos to the Internet, an accomplishment that could cost him his life, Amnesty International reported Friday. Authorities in the Islamic Republic claimed his program was used by someone else to upload pornography and charged him with “insulting and desecrating Islam.”

Malekpour, who is a Toronto resident, was arrested in October 2008 while visiting relatives in Iran. He was convicted in a short trial and was sentenced to death in October 2011, according to Amnesty International.

Iran’s Supreme Court confirmed the sentence on January 17. Malekpour’s lawyers have been unable to ascertain the whereabouts of his court files since Tuesday and fear this could be an indicator that an executioner could carry out the sentence soon, Amnesty said. A court official suggested to the lawyers that the file had been sent to the Office for the Implementation of Sentences, according to Amnesty.

Malekpour sent a letter from prison detailing beatings and other mistreatment at the hands of Iranian prison officials to obtain a confession, said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“A large portion of my confession was extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture, threats to myself and my family, and false promises of immediate release upon giving a false confession to whatever the interrogators dictated,” the letter says.

Malekpour’s supporters have created Facebook pages and websites in his support dating to at least 2009.

Amnesty International has requested on its website that concerned individuals write Iranian authorities inside and outside the country to demand that Malekpour not be executed.

February 19, 2012 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Cultural, ExPat Life, Iran, Law and Order, Living Conditions, News | Leave a comment

Pensacola Advisories from Weather Underground

Active Advisory: Tornado Warning, Tornado Watch, Severe Thunderstorm Warning, Flash Flood Warning, Areal Flood Watch, Wind Advisory (US Severe Weather)

February 18, 2012 Posted by | Pensacola, Weather | Leave a comment

Rainy Saturday at 5 Sisters in Pensacola

It’s been rainy and dark the entire day, and I know what I need – I need to go to Five Sisters. We had planned to go to the huge Pensacola Mardi Gras Parade, but as the rain came down, my spirits were also dampened. There was a time – and I could see in AdventureMan’s eyes, he was hoping this wasn’t one of those times – when I would have said “We HAVE to go, even if it is raining!”

He has a little cold and I drift in and out of allergies, and standing a couple hours out in the rain and hollering and catching beads is probably not what mature people like us should be doing. (A part of me is greatly depressed at being so ‘mature’.)

But I know just the thing. Five Sisters. As we drive up, a parking space becomes available, always a good omen, and as we walk to the door, we are greeted with divine fragrances of smoke and grilling meat and we are starting to feel better already.

On the menu board, one of the specials of the day is BBQ Shrimp. Ummmm, ummmmmm, doesn’t that sound good on a rainy day. I order the BBQ Shrimp with cheese grits and a salad, AdventureMan orders the Seafood Platter. Bluesy music, some old hits from the 60’s and 70’s, and our food comes.

My BBQ Shrimp was AWESOME. Today it was tangy, vinegar-y and Tabasco sauce, the essence of Louisiana. It came sizzling hot, but the shrimp still had the shells on, which AdventureMan tells me is the way it comes when it is BBQ Shrimp in the South. Oh well, it is a good thing that the shells are on and I have to work to get them off before I can eat each one, if I didn’t have to get those tails and shells off I would probably gobble them down in no time at all! As it was, I was able to bring about half of the shrimp home to savor later. ๐Ÿ™‚

AdventureMan said on the way home “Oysters sure are rich, aren’t they?” I just laughed, I like oysters cooked, but mostly I like them steamed, and even then, they are so rich I can’t eat many of them. If you deep fry them, you just add rich on rich. His dish was fish, shrimp and oysters, deep fried, and some of 5 Sisters fabulous fries, which he didn’t eat, and didn’t need because there was so much seafood on the Seafood Platter:

As we left, it was still raining, one of those days that went from dark to dark grey to not-quite-so-dark grey to a couple moments of light grey and then back to dark grey and now it is almost dark once again. We don’t often have a day with no sunshine in Pensacola, and it is very very sad when that one day is the day of the Pensacola Mardi Gras Parade and it pours down rain just as the parade is starting. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. But Five Sisters puts a smile back on our faces every time.

February 18, 2012 Posted by | Aging, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Mardi Gras, Pensacola, Weather | 2 Comments

Lunch at Bangkok Garden in Pensacola

“Have you tried Bangkok Garden?” our friends asked. “They used to be down on Navy Boulevard, but got blown out by one of the Hurricanes and weren’t around for a while, then one day we saw them open again over on Fairchild.”

No, we hadn’t noticed, or if we had, we hadn’t thought it might be a really good place. The next day it was my turn to choose where we would go for lunch, and AdventureMan pretended to be enthusiastic, but Thai food isn’t his favorite. He doesn’t not like it, he just doesn’t like it the way I do. Or at least he didn’t, until we had lunch at Bangkok Garden. ๐Ÿ™‚

I wish I had thought to take a photo of the lunch menu. They had a very good selection to choose from, and the prices were $5.95 – $7.95 for a small soup, Thai spring roll, and main dish with rice.

It is family run, and they work hard. Bangkok Garden was full of working people at lunch, from delivery men to attorneys and officials. The food was served hot and fresh, and it was delicious.

I had the Basil Chicken, which was the way I like it, very Basil-y:

AdventureMan had the Cashew Chicken, which had lots of cashews, not peanuts. We had thought we would share, but the serving dishes are not really conducive to sharing a lot.

We agreed – we will go back soon. Even AdventureMan was happy. It is a real deal, delicious fresh Thai food at a reasonable price.

February 18, 2012 Posted by | Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions | 3 Comments

Malek Jandali Freedom Qashoush Symphony ู…ุงู„ูƒ ุฌู†ุฏู„ูŠ ุญุฑูŠุฉ ุณูŠู…ููˆู†ูŠุฉ ุงู„ู‚ุงุดูˆุด

We have spent many happy hours and days in Syria. We grieve for our Syrian friends, for those living in Homs and Hama, and all those seeking freedom from tyranny.

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Bureaucracy, ExPat Life, Free Speech, Interconnected, Leadership, Living Conditions, Political Issues | | Leave a comment

Wooo HOOOOO! Official Zain Kuwait Flashmob – ูู„ุงุด ู…ูˆุจ ุฒูŠู† ุงู„ูƒูˆูŠุช

I LOVE this! Thank you, Hayfa! I love it that it is real Kuwaiti’s; I can’t tell the song, but I think it is one of the National Day songs (National Day and Liberation Day are coming up, February 25 / 26) and oh, what a wonderful, fun way to celebrate.

I especially love the security guard ๐Ÿ™‚

Everyone is having such a great time!

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions | 2 Comments

Colorado Student Quits Choir Over Song about Allah

Those who do not know that there is only one God often think Allah is not the same God we worship. Those who do not know the history of Islam do not understand that all our traditions stem from Abraham, and that Islam springs from Hajar, mother of Ishmael. They do not know that the prayers start with “There is no God but Allah” and I am willing to bet that linguistically, Jahweh and Allah are related, too.

The good news is, too, that this is not an official school activity, and the student has the freedom to sing – or not to sing. My bet is that the student is missing out on an interesting opportunity to sing some very different music.

A Colorado high school student says he quit the school choir after an Islamic song containing the lyric “there is no truth except Allah” made it into the repertoire.
James Harper, a senior at Grand Junction High School in Grand Junction, put his objection to singing “Zikr,” a song written by Indian composer A.R. Rahman, in an email to Mesa County School District 51 officials. When the school stood by choir director Marcia Wieland’s selection, Harper said, he quit.

“I donโ€™t want to come across as a bigot or a racist, but I really donโ€™t feel it is appropriate for students in a public high school to be singing an Islamic worship song,โ€ Harper told KREX-TV. “This is worshipping another God, and even worshipping another prophet … I think there would be a lot of outrage if we made a Muslim choir say Jesus Christ is the only truth.”

But district spokesman Jeff Kirtland defended the decision to include the song.
“Choral music is often devoted to religious themes. … This is not a case where the school is endorsing or promoting any particular religion or other non-educational agenda. The song was chosen because its rhythms and other qualities would provide an opportunity to exhibit the musical talent and skills of the group in competition, not because of its religious message or lyrics,” Kirtland told in an email while noting that the choir “is a voluntary, after-school activity.”

“Students are not required to participate, and receive no academic credit for doing so,” he said.

At an upcoming concert, the choir is scheduled to sing an Irish folk song and an Christian song titled “Prayer of the Children,” in addition to the song by Rahman.
“The teacher consulted with students and asked each of them to review an online performance of the selection with their parents before making the decision to perform the piece,” Kirtland said, and members who object to the religious content of musical selections aren’t required to sing them.

Rahman, who has sold hundreds of millions of records and is well-known in his homeland, has said the song is not intended for a worship ceremony. He told in a written statement that the song, composed for the move “Bose, the Forgotten Hero,” is about “self-healing and spirituality.”

“It is unfortunate that the student in Colorado misinterpreted the intention of the song,” Rahman said. “I have long celebrated the commonalities of humanity and try to share and receive things in this way. While I respect his decision for opting out, this incident is an example of why we need further cultural education through music.โ€
The song is written in Urdu, but one verse translates to “There is no truth except Allah” and “Allah is the only eternal and immortal.” Although the choir sang the original version, Wieland distributed translated lyrics.
Grand Junction High School Principal Jon Bilbo referred questions to Kirtland.’s Joshua Rhett Miller contributed to this story.

Read more:

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Education, Free Speech, Living Conditions, Values | 4 Comments

Three Lies About the American Economy

Here is what makes me sad. Even though this information is available to everyone, these three misconceptions will continue to be put forth as “truth.” People believe what they want to believe, and they don’t do the research. I found this on the AOL Daily Finance page.

By Morgan Housel

At a conference in Philadelphia last October, a Wharton professor noted that one of the country’s biggest economic problems is a tsunami of misinformation. You can’t have a rational debate when facts are so easily supplanted by overreaching statements, broad generalizations, and misconceptions. And if you can’t have a rational debate, how does anything important get done? As author William Feather once advised, “Beware of the person who can’t be bothered by details.” There seems to be no shortage of those people lately.

Here are three misconceptions that need to be put to rest.

Misconception No. 1: Most of what Americans spend their money on is made in China.

Fact: Just 2.7% of personal consumption expenditures go to Chinese-made goods and services. 88.5% of U.S. consumer spending is on American-made goods and services.

I used that statistic in a recent article, and the response from readers was overwhelming: Hogwash. People just didn’t believe it.
The figure comes from a Federal Reserve report. You can read it here.

A common rebuttal I got was, “How can it only be 2.7% when almost everything in Walmart (WMT) is made in China?” Because Walmart’s $260 billion in U.S. revenue isn’t exactly reflective of America’s $14.5 trillion economy. Walmart might sell a broad range of knickknacks, many of which are made in China, but the vast majority of what Americans spend their money on is not knickknacks.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics closely tracks how an average American spends their money in an annual report called the Consumer Expenditure Survey. In 2010, the average American spent 34% of their income on housing, 13% on food, 11% on insurance and pensions, 7% on health care, and 2% on education. Those categories alone make up nearly 70% of total spending, and are comprised almost entirely of American-made goods and services (only 7% of food is imported, according to the USDA).

Even when looking at physical goods alone, Chinese imports still account for just a small fraction of U.S. spending. Just 6.4% of nondurable goods — things like food, clothing and toys — purchased in the U.S. are made in China; 76.2% are made in America. For durable goods — things like cars and furniture — 12% are made in China; 66.6% are made in America.

Another way to grasp the value of Chinese-made goods is to look at imports. The U.S. imported $399 billion worth of goods from China last year, which is 2.7% of our $14.5 trillion economy. Is that a lot? Yes. Is it most of what we spend our money on? Not by a long shot.

Part of the misconception is likely driven by the notion that America’s manufacturing base has been in steep decline. The truth, surprising to many, is that real manufacturing output today is near an all-time high. What’s dropped precipitously in recent decades is manufacturing employment. Technology and automation has allowed American manufacturers to build more stuff with far fewer workers than in the past. One good example: In 1950, a U.S. Steel (X) plant in Gary, Ind., produced 6 million tons of steel with 30,000 workers. Today, it produces 7.5 million tons with 5,000 workers. Output has gone up; employment has dropped like a rock.

Misconception No. 2: We owe most of our debt to China.

Fact: China owns 7.6% of U.S. government debt outstanding.

As of November, China owned $1.13 trillion of Treasuries. Government debt stood at $14.9 trillion that month. That’s 7.6%.
Who owns the rest? The largest holder of U.S. debt is the federal government itself. Various government trust funds like the Social Security trust fund own about $4.4 trillion worth of Treasury securities. The Federal Reserve owns another $1.6 trillion.

Both are unique owners: Interest paid on debt held by federal trust funds is used to cover a portion of federal spending, and the vast majority of interest earned by the Federal Reserve is remitted back to the U.S. Treasury.
The rest of our debt is owned by state and local governments ($700 billion), private domestic investors ($3.1 trillion), and other non-Chinese foreign investors ($3.5 trillion).

Does China own a lot of our debt? Yes, but it’s a qualified yes. Of all Treasury debt held by foreigners, China is indeed the largest owner ($1.13 trillion), followed by Japan ($1 trillion) and the U.K. ($429 billion).

Right there, you can see that Japan and the U.K. combined own more U.S. debt than China. Now, how many times have you heard someone say that we borrow an inordinate amount of money from Japan and the U.K.? I never have. But how often do you hear some version of the “China is our banker” line? Too often, I’d say.

Misconception No. 3: We get most of our oil from the Middle East.

Fact: Just 9.8% of oil consumed in the U.S. comes from the Middle East.

According the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. consumes 19.2 million barrels of petroleum products per day. Of that amount, a net 49% is produced domestically. The rest is imported.

Where is it imported from? Only a small fraction comes from the Middle East, and that fraction has been declining in recent years. Last year, imports from the Persian Gulf region — which includes Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — made up 9.8% of total petroleum supplied to the U.S. In 2001, that number was 14.1%.

The U.S. imports more than twice as much petroleum from Canada and Mexico than it does from the Middle East. Add in the share produced domestically, and the majority of petroleum consumed in the U.S. comes from North America.

This isn’t to belittle our energy situation. The nation still relies on imports for about half of its oil. That’s bad. But should the Middle East get the attention it does when we talk about oil reliance? In terms of security and geopolitical stability, perhaps. In terms of volume, probably not.
A Roomful of Skeptics

“People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe,” said Andy Rooney. Do these numbers fit with what you already believed? No hard feelings if they don’t. Just let me know why in the comment section below.

Motley Fool contributor Morgan Housel owns shares of Wal-Mart. Follow him on Twitter @TMFHousel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wal-Mart Stores. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart.

See full article from DailyFinance:

February 14, 2012 Posted by | Cultural, Financial Issues, Lies, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Social Issues, Statistics, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

World Press Best Photo of the Year

I love this photo. It has the essence of true art; it is immediate and compelling, and pulls you in. Or at least it pulls me in. It reminds me of the Pieta (see end of article)

From the Huffington Post on AOL News:

New York Times photographer Samuel Aranda was announced the winner of the iconic World Press Photo competition on Friday.

The 55th annual jury of the World Press Photo contest selected Aranda’s photograph of a woman consoling an injured male relative in Yemen as 2011’s photo of the year. The woman is covered almost entirely by her burqa, by exception of small parts of her face and arms that seem to sneak out from beneath her robes. Aranda took the photograph in a Sanaa mosque that was being used as a hospital by demonstrators protesting against Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Times’ Lens blog described the winning photograph as having the “feel of a Renaissance painting.” Mr. Aranda told the Times that it was one of the first shots he took during his two months on assignment in Yemen. “The woman is not just crying. It was something more. You can feel that the woman is really strong,” Aranda said of the female subject in his photograph.

The World Press Photo competition is one of the most famous competitions for photojournalists in the world. The award-winning photographs are made into a traveling exhibition, which visits more than 45 countries over the course of the year. Click over to the World Press Photo website to view all the winners and exhibit schedule.

February 10, 2012 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Photos, Public Art | 5 Comments

Cramming for the Exam

“I’m cramming for my exam” I said to AdventureMan, as he eyed my plate full of vegetables and my WonTon soup broth.

“What exam?” he asked.

“I have a follow up with Dr. Internal Medicine, and I need to get my blood tested in two weeks. In two weeks I can make sure my cholesterol and blood sugar and blood pressure are all in line,” I told him.

My sister, Big Diamond, told me that it only takes two weeks of proper eating to get the numbers right. I did it last time and it worked. Now and then, between exams, I eat something too sweet, or too white, or too high on the glycemic index, but not the two weeks before my blood test! No no no!

Whoda thunk I would reach this ripe, mature age and still have to worry about exams?

February 10, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Circle of Life and Death, Health Issues, Living Conditions | Leave a comment