Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Police Know Where We Are and Where We Go

This is not good news for people who don’t want other people knowing where they have been. I don’t see how it’s any different from cameras in big cities that are used by the police to see what cars went through at a time of a crime, for example. If you don’t have anything to hide, is this invasive? Where property crimes are increasing, where there is an increase in violent crime or assaults, these re tools to keep the majority of the population safer from the predators – in my opinion. Can you change my mind?

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From AOL Auto News:

Police License Plate Scanners Record Driver’s Locations

Unregulated cameras store information indefinitely

 

Government surveillance isn’t just in our phone records and search engine history, but on our roads as well.

That’s what the Center For Investigative Reporting found when researching the small cameras popping up on police cars across the country known as license plate scanners. License plate scanners allow police officers to quickly scan thousands of license plates a day, looking for runaway criminals or stolen cars. In California there are very few limits on these readers and almost no transparency. These cameras record time and place of your vehicle, and even can store a picture record of your whereabouts.

Michael Katz-Lacabe, a security consultant, requested the records from the San Leandro, Calif., police department of every time his car was scanned. He was amazed at the frightening amount of information police had recorded. His two cars were scanned 112 times since 2009, and average of about twice a week. There was even a picture of him and his two daughters getting out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway.

The Center For Investigative Reporting points out that the use of license plate scanners has been growing quickly and quietly across the country. Read their fascinating story here to learn more.

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June 30, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Civility, Community, Crime, Cultural, Customer Service, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Photos, Privacy, Safety, Transparency | Leave a comment

Arabs wary of expressing their opinions online

Fascinating study results published in Qatar’s Gulf Times:

 

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Northwestern University in Qatar has released new findings from an eight-nation survey indicating many people in the Arab world do not feel safe expressing political opinions online despite sweeping changes in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

From over 10,000 people surveyed in Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan and the UAE, 44% expressed some doubt as to whether people should be free to criticise governments or powerful institutions online.

Over a third of Internet users surveyed said they worry about governments checking what they do online.

According to the report, “The implied concern (of governments checking what they do online) is fairly consistent in almost all countries covered, but more acute in Saudi Arabia, where the majority (53%) of those surveyed expressed this concern.”

The study – titled ‘Media Use in the Middle East – An Eight-Nation Survey’ – was undertaken by researchers at NU-Q to better understand how people in the region use the Internet and other media. It comes as the university moves towards a more formalised research agenda and is the first in what will be a series of reports relating to Internet use.

The survey includes a specific chapter on Qatar, the only country where those surveyed regarded the Internet as a more important source of news than television. “We took an especially close look at media use in the State of Qatar – a country with one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the Arab world—and internationally,” said NU-Q dean and CEO Everette Dennis.

These findings follow a preliminary report NU-Q released last April that showed web users in the Middle East support the freedom to express opinions online, but they also believe the Internet should be more tightly regulated. “While this may seem a puzzling paradox, it has not been uncommon for people the world over to support freedom in the abstract but less so in practice,” Dennis explained.

Among other findings, the research shows: 45% of people think public officials will care more about what they think and 48% believe they can have more influence by using the Internet.

Adults in Lebanon (75%) and Tunisia (63%) are the most pessimistic about the direction of their countries and feel they are on the ‘wrong track.’

Respondents were far more likely to agree (61%) than disagree (14%) that the quality of news reporting in the Arab world has improved in the past two years, however less than half think overall that the news sources in their countries are credible.

Online transactions are rare in the Middle East, with only 35% purchasing items online and only 16% investing online.

The complete set of results from the survey is available online at menamediasurvey.northwestern.edu.  The new interactive pages hosting the survey on the website have features that allow users to make comparisons between different countries, as well as between different demographics within each country.

Dennis confirmed that the research report is the first in an annual series of reports produced in collaboration with the World Internet Project; one of the world’s most extensive studies on the Internet, in which NU-Q is a participating institution.

NU-Q and WIP signed an agreement earlier in the year, providing a global platform for the current research.

June 29, 2013 Posted by | Blogging, Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Jordan, Leadership, Living Conditions, Middle East, Privacy, Qatar, Safety, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues, Survival, Transparency, Tunisia | , , , | Leave a comment

Lamborghini Aventador: Qatari Royal’s £350k supercar towed in Knightsbridge

LLOOOLLLLL! Great story, thanks John Mueller!

Little cross cultural problem going on . . . no license? No registration? No problem, you know my uncle, right, the Amir of Qatar . . . LOL!

Batman wouldn’t stand for it: Police peer inside the garish car’s doors (Picture: SWNS)

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It’s hard not to notice a bright purple Lamborghini with orange trim. So the driver of this £350,000 supercar was asking for trouble when he went for a spin without a front numberplate.

Police spotted the infringement and impounded the vehicle after its 24-year-old owner – thought to be a member of the Qatari royal family – was unable to produce evidence that he had a driving licence or insurance.

Crowds gathered as the 220mph Aventador was towed away in London’s Knightsbridge.

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Arab playboys descend on the wealthy neighbourhood each summer in costly cars flown from home and often hit trouble for lacking the correct papers.

The mean machines are a draw for petrolheads but the roaring engines annoy residents.

Off we tow: The Lamborghini Aventador is loaded onto a truck (Picture: SWNS)

Dozens of onlookers gathered to photograph the scissor-doored supercar, which has been customised by a Japanese tuning company.

One fan said: ‘It is great when the wealthy foreign tourists come over to London every summer as you always see these amazing supercars.

‘The Lamborghini looked like something out of Tron, it was absolutely stunning.

‘Hopefully there was just some confusion over the correct paperwork and it will be back on the road

UPDATE:

First it was carted off on the back of a truck, then it faced the crusher, now glow-in-the dark Lamborghini is ticketed in Mayfair

  • Police impounded £350k supercar after owner failed to produce documents
  • But he was slapped with ticket just hours after retrieving it from police
  • Purple Lamborghini Aventador customised to glow in the dark
  • Owner believed to be Nasser Al-Thani, 24, of Qatar’s ruling family

By SIMON TOMLINSON

PUBLISHED: 04:49 EST, 5 July 2013 | UPDATED: 14:32 EST, 5 July 2013

He was only a hair’s breadth away from seeing his beloved £350,000 supercar crushed to a pulp after it was seized by police for driving offences.

So you might think the owner of this glow-in-the-dark Lamborghini would be a bit more careful next time.

But within hours of retrieving his purple sports car from the Metropolitan Police, he found himself on the wrong side of the law again after being slapped with a parking ticket.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2356689/Glow-dark-Lamborghini-Aventador-ticketed-Mayfair.html#ixzz2YDoRiPUh

June 29, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Humor, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Qatar | | Leave a comment

Why Did He Choose Me?

I do admit I admire the creativity of the people who send these out. This one isn’t at all creative, very straight forward, but neither is there a hook, unless, oh yeah, free money. Do the words “too-good-go-be-true” ring a bell?

Grammar, sentence structure and phrasing:  Sparse, but not bad

Content: Weak. Bank of France – in what country? Why transfer out these funds? Why did you choose me?

Appeal: None

 


 Please reply me with this email: c_noyer@yahoo.fr

Hello Friend,

I need your assistance in transferring a deceased client fund worth of 
$18,500,000.00 Million US Dollars out of my Bank here in French central bank 
(Banque de France).

If interested, kindly respond back to me immediately for further details on my 
proposed transaction.

Kind Regards,

Mr. Christian Noyer

Governor, French central bank (Banque de France)

Once again please reply me with this email: c_noyer@yahoo.fr
 

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Crime, Lies, Scams | Leave a comment

Americanah and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Rushing from one meeting to another yesterday, I had just an hour – but during that hour, Terry Gross was interviewing one of my favorite authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie does GREAT interviews. She is funny, and educated and insightful; she can talk about painful topics and make you laugh and cry with her. That interview was a blessing on my day.

I started reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie when I was in Kuwait. A good friend approached me and asked me to form a book club. LOL. This is a friend I can’t say no to. Every introverted bone in my body was screaming “NO! NO!” and I smiled at her and said “Yes.”

God is good. He laughed when I said “yes” and through the book club, introduced me to authors I might never otherwise read. The club was made up of many nationalities, and we read books from everywhere, unforgettable books. We read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “Half of a Yellow Sun.” Once you read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, there is no going back. I wonder if I will be able to hold out on Americanah until it comes out in paperback?

This is from the National Public Radio website, so you can actually listen to the interview yourself, should you want to get to know this delightful author a little better.

‘Americanah’ Author Explains ‘Learning’ To Be Black In The U.S.

June 27, 2013 2:39 PM
Americanah

When the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was growing up in Nigeria she was not used to being identified by the color of her skin. That changed when she arrived in the United States for college. As a black African in America, Adichie was suddenly confronted with what it meant to be a person of color in the United States. Race as an idea became something that she had to navigate and learn.

The learning process took some time and was episodic. Adichie recalls, for example, an undergraduate class in which the subject of watermelon came up. A student had said something about watermelon to an African-American classmate, who was offended by the comment.

“I remember sitting there thinking, ‘But what’s so bad about watermelons? Because I quite like watermelons,’ ” Adichie tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.

She felt that her African-American classmate was annoyed with her because Adichie didn’t share her anger — but she didn’t have the context to understand why. The history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade was not taught to students in Nigeria. Adichie had yet to learn fully about the history of slavery — and its continuing reverberations — in the U.S.

“Race is such a strange construct,” says Adichie, “because you have to learn what it means to be black in America. So you have to learn that watermelon is supposed to be offensive.”

Adichie is a MacArthur Fellowship winner and author of the novels Purple Hibiscusand Half of A Yellow Sun. Her new novel, Americanah, explores this question of what it means to be black in the U.S., and tells the story of a young Nigerian couple, one of whom leaves for England and the other of whom leaves for America.

The title, she says, is a Nigerian word for those who have been to the U.S. and return with American affectations.

“It’s often used,” she says, “in the context of a kind of gentle mockery.”

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Africa, Biography, Books, Character, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Travel | 2 Comments

Fait Maison – Home Made – Label to be Required in French Restaurants

I love this article – protecting the essential nature of French cooking by requiring a home-made label on food actually prepared in the restaurant, so people will know that if it doesn’t say home-made, it isn’t. We were shocked, one year, to discover that the ravioli we loved at a little Italian restaurant in Germany came from big huge bags of frozen ravioli . . . . and although it was not a conscious decision, we never ate there again.

In another Italian restaurant in Germany, in Landstuhl, I still remember the surprise of Pumpkin Ravioli, so savory, so delicious, such a delightful eye-opener! And of course, home made.

 

This is from BBC News:

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France ‘home-made’ label to combat reheated dishes

 French MPs have approved a bill forcing restaurants to label as “home-made” dishes which were prepared from raw ingredients in their kitchen. The “fait maison” label on menus is aimed at curbing the practice of buying in pre-cooked meals from outside, microwaving them and passing them off as freshly made.

Restaurants marking dishes as “fait maison” fraudulently will be fined. The Senate (upper house) still has to back the bill for it to become law. MPs from both the ruling Socialist Party and opposition centre-right UMP called for the measure to be obligatory, overruling Business and Tourism Minister Sylvia Pinel, who did not want it to go that far. “We’re making things more transparent and restoring our trade’s respectability,” said Didier Chenet, head of restaurant federation Synhorcat. “Clients will know what to expect. The problem right now is that you push the door of a restaurant and you don’t know if there’s actually a chef in the kitchen,” he told Reuters news agency.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, France | Leave a comment

Where is Lokoja, Nigeria?

Today the church prays for the diocese of Lokoja, Nigeria. Don’t you just love technology? You can go right to Google Maps and within seconds, you know where Lokoja is, right on the banks of the Niger river, bisecting Nigeria.

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June 27, 2013 Posted by | Africa, Faith, Geography / Maps | , | Leave a comment

6000 Expats Deported From Kuwait Via Kuwait Air?

. . . Only 5 deportees allowed per Kuwait Air flight, deportees only allowed on Kuwait Air, so it takes 1200 flights just to export the deportees they have already lined up crowding the jails? Or is this 6000 already deported?

Is it orderly? Do people know why they are being deported? Do they have time to make arrangements for family and/or pets? Is there an appeal process? Are the courts also clogged? Are only illegals being deported?

Has anyone seen a breakdown of deportees by nationality?

From the Kuwait Times

6,000 illegal residents deported in 6 months – Jails getting overcrowded

KUWAIT: Nearly 6,000 people were deported over the past six months of crackdowns on illegal residents in Kuwait, a local daily reported yesterday, quoting Interior Ministry statistics as of June 23. According to a source, who agreed to provide the statistics to Al-Qabas on the condition of not being named in the report, as many as 25,000 expatriates were arrested during security campaigns carried out since the beginning of the year across Kuwait.

The source said around 15,000 people were later released after their employers submitted documents to prove that the workers were living legally in Kuwait. In other cases, workers whose visas had recently expired were released after their employers gave assurances to renew their visas immediately.

The source also revealed that some employers were required to sign undertakings that they would not to allow their employees to work in other firms before the workers were officially released.

In addition to people with expired visas, the continuing crackdowns are targeting expatriate laborers reported missing by their employers, as well as people holding Article 20 visas (for domestic helpers) but working in private firms, for which visas are issued under Article 18 of the labor law. However, the source stated, such security campaigns could be put on hold until further notice, with jails getting “overcrowded with detainees.”

The source indicated that nearly a thousand employers were blacklisted for allowing domestic workers to work for others. Furthermore, he said cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs resulted in the blacklisting of nearly 500 companies found guilty of visa trafficking.

The source also indicated that Kuwait Airways is currently the only airline used to transport deportees. A maximum of five deportees per flight are allowed, he added, in order to avoid trouble inside the airplane.

Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra Al- Rashidi had announced in March the government’s intention to deport 100,000 foreigners this year, as part of a plan to reduce the expatriate population in Kuwait by one million within a decade.

The Interior Ministry never confirmed that the ongoing crackdowns on illegal residents were part of the deportation plan. In response to criticism from rights groups inside and outside Kuwait, Al-Rashidi later identified “marginal labor forces” as the target of the plan.

Kuwait is home to 2.6 million expatriates, who make up 68 percent of the country’s 3.8 million population.

Nearly 90,000 of them live illegally in the country, according to official numbers.

June 26, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Law and Order, Leadership, Social Issues, Work Related Issues | 5 Comments

Saudi Arabia Welcomes Friday-Saturday Weekend

From Doha News:

 

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has issued a royal decree to change the country’s weekend to Friday-Saturday, effective June 29, state news agency SPA reports.

The move, which puts KSA in line with the rest of the GCC countries, was made “for the sake of putting an end to the negative effects and the lost economic opportunities” due to the difference in workdays between the nation and the rest of the world, Riyadh Bureau reports.

It will apply to all government bodies and monetary agencies, including the central bank and stock exchange, SPA said. But schools and educational institutions will maintain the Thursday-Friday weekend until the beginning of the new academic year.

According to Riyadh Bureau:

The change will align banking and business days with most other countries in the region, as well as being closer to the workweek of international financial markets and businesses. Oman was the latest GCC country to shift its weekend to a Friday start last May.

KSA, Qatar’s giant neighbor the west, has been mulling a shift for more than five years, but didn’t move forward previously due to resistance from religious leaders.

Read more: http://dohanews.co/post/53674862889/saudi-joins-rest-of-gulf-with-shift-to-friday-saturday#ixzz2XGgRsogw

June 25, 2013 Posted by | ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues | Leave a comment

DON’T Take your Vitamins :0 :0

This is a shock; thank you Hayfa for this up-to-the-minute article from the New York Times. Contrary to all we’ve believed for many years, taking some vitamins – including C and E – shortens your lives. Who knew??

PHILADELPHIA — LAST month, Katy Perry shared her secret to good health with her 37 million followers on Twitter. “I’m all about that supplement & vitamin LYFE!” the pop star wrote, posting a snapshot of herself holding up three large bags of pills. There is one disturbing fact about vitamins, however, that Katy didn’t mention.

Derived from “vita,” meaning life in Latin, vitamins are necessary to convert food into energy. When people don’t get enough vitamins, they suffer diseases like scurvy and rickets. The question isn’t whether people need vitamins. They do. The questions are how much do they need, and do they get enough in foods?

Nutrition experts argue that people need only the recommended daily allowance — the amount of vitamins found in a routine diet. Vitamin manufacturers argue that a regular diet doesn’t contain enough vitamins, and that more is better. Most people assume that, at the very least, excess vitamins can’t do any harm. It turns out, however, that scientists have known for years that large quantities of supplemental vitamins can be quite harmful indeed.

In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1994, 29,000 Finnish men, all smokers, had been given daily vitamin E, beta carotene, both or a placebo. The study found that those who had taken beta carotene for five to eight years were more likely to die from lung cancer or heart disease.

Two years later the same journal published another study on vitamin supplements. In it, 18,000 people who were at an increased risk of lung cancer because of asbestos exposure or smoking received a combination of vitamin A and beta carotene, or a placebo. Investigators stopped the study when they found that the risk of death from lung cancer for those who took the vitamins was 46 percent higher.

Then, in 2004, a review of 14 randomized trials for the Cochrane Database found that the supplemental vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene, and a mineral, selenium, taken to prevent intestinal cancers, actually increased mortality.

Another review, published in 2005 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that in 19 trials of nearly 136,000 people, supplemental vitamin E increased mortality. Also that year, a study of people with vascular disease or diabetes found that vitamin E increased the risk of heart failure. And in 2011, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association tied vitamin E supplements to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Finally, last year, a Cochrane review found that “beta carotene and vitamin E seem to increase mortality, and so may higher doses of vitamin A.”

What explains this connection between supplemental vitamins and increased rates of cancer and mortality? The key word is antioxidants.

Antioxidation vs. oxidation has been billed as a contest between good and evil. It takes place in cellular organelles called mitochondria, where the body converts food to energy — a process that requires oxygen (oxidation). One consequence of oxidation is the generation of atomic scavengers called free radicals (evil). Free radicals can damage DNA, cell membranes and the lining of arteries; not surprisingly, they’ve been linked to aging, cancer and heart disease.

To neutralize free radicals, the body makes antioxidants (good). Antioxidants can also be found in fruits and vegetables, specifically in selenium, beta carotene and vitamins A, C and E. Some studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower incidence of cancer and heart disease and live longer. The logic is obvious. If fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, and people who eat fruits and vegetables are healthier, then people who take supplemental antioxidants should also be healthier. It hasn’t worked out that way.

The likely explanation is that free radicals aren’t as evil as advertised. (In fact, people need them to kill bacteria and eliminate new cancer cells.) And when people take large doses of antioxidants in the form of supplemental vitamins, the balance between free radical production and destruction might tip too much in one direction, causing an unnatural state where the immune system is less able to kill harmful invaders. Researchers call this the antioxidant paradox.

Because studies of large doses of supplemental antioxidants haven’t clearly supported their use, respected organizations responsible for the public’s health do not recommend them for otherwise healthy people.

So why don’t we know about this? Why haven’t Food and Drug Administration officials made sure we are aware of the dangers? The answer is, they can’t.

In December 1972, concerned that people were consuming larger and larger quantities of vitamins, the F.D.A. announced a plan to regulate vitamin supplements containing more than 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin makers would now have to prove that these “megavitamins” were safe before selling them. Not surprisingly, the vitamin industry saw this as a threat, and set out to destroy the bill. In the end, it did far more than that.

Industry executives recruited William Proxmire, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin, to introduce a bill preventing the F.D.A. from regulating megavitamins. On Aug. 14, 1974, the hearing began.

Speaking in support of F.D.A. regulation was Marsha Cohen, a lawyer with the Consumers Union. Setting eight cantaloupes in front of her, she said, “You would need to eat eight cantaloupes — a good source of vitamin C — to take in barely 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C. But just these two little pills, easy to swallow, contain the same amount.” She warned that if the legislation passed, “one tablet would contain as much vitamin C as all of these cantaloupes, or even twice, thrice or 20 times that amount. And there would be no protective satiety level.” Ms. Cohen was pointing out the industry’s Achilles’ heel: ingesting large quantities of vitamins is unnatural, the opposite of what manufacturers were promoting.

A little more than a month later, Mr. Proxmire’s bill passed by a vote of 81 to 10. In 1976, it became law. Decades later, Peter Barton Hutt, chief counsel to the F.D.A., wrote that “it was the most humiliating defeat” in the agency’s history.

As a result, consumers don’t know that taking megavitamins could increase their risk of cancer and heart disease and shorten their lives; they don’t know that they have been suffering too much of a good thing for too long.

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Paul A. Offit is the chief of the infectious diseases division of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the author of the forthcoming book “Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine.”

June 25, 2013 Posted by | Health Issues, News | Leave a comment