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Get a Clue, Filner!

“Oh, I’m so repentant, I’ll go to rehab for two weeks and never harass another woman again” LLLOOOLLLL. Puhhhh-leeeeeez, Mayor Finer, give it up. Go. Let someone younger, more enlighted . . . oh wait . . . Weiner . . . well, just go.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) said he won’t resign because of sexual harassment allegations made against him, but he does plan to attend a rehab center for 2 weeks.

Filner announced his plans in a press conference on Friday, apologizing for his actions.

“Beginning on August 5, I will be entering a behavior counseling clinic to undergo 2 weeks of intensive therapy,” Filner said.

“The behavior I have engaged in over many years is wrong,” Filner said during the press conference. “I apologize to my staff, I apologize to the citizens and staff members who have supported me over the years, I apologize to the people of San Diego, and most of all, I apologize to the women I have offended.”

Several women have made sexual harassment allegations against Filner in recent weeks. The city’s former chief operating officer Veronica “Ronne” Froman claimed Filner once blocked a doorway, ran a finger up her cheek and asked if she had a man in her life, and the mayor’s former press secretary Irene McCormack Jackson said Filner once asked her to “get naked” and kiss him.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department set up a hotline for those who have information about alleged sexual harassment by Filner.

Both the Democratic Party of San Diego and Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) have called on Filner to resign. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said Filner needs to “get a clue.”

On Thursday, Filner was removed as the keynote speaker at an event on military sexual assault.

This story is developing and has been updated.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Mating Behavior, Political Issues, Privacy, Social Issues, Values, Women's Issues | , , | Leave a comment

Saudis Say MERS Virus Not Following SARS Path

What do you think? While ministers in Saudi Arabia seem unconcerned, this virus, which appears to have originated among an as yet unidentified animal in Saudi Arabia, kills about half the people infected with it. And soon, with the Hajj, the Moslem pilgrimage to Mecca, thousands will travel to Saudi Arabia, testing the theory that this virus does not spread easily. . .

Mers: New virus ‘not following Sars’ path’
By James Gallagher
Health and science reporter, BBC News

The new Mers virus, which has killed half of those infected, is “unlikely” to reach the same scale as Sars, ministers in Saudi Arabia say.

Most of the 90 Mers cases reported so far have been in Saudi Arabia.

Mers is from the same group of viruses as the common cold and Sars, which killed 774 people.

However, a detailed analysis of the Saudi cases, published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, did warn of “major gaps” in understanding of the virus.

The Middle East respiratory-syndrome coronavirus (Mers) emerged in 2012 and has infected 90 people worldwide, 45 of them have died.

The global concern is that cases could spread much further, echoing the Sars outbreak.

Cases have been centred on the Middle East – with patients in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Additional cases in France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and the UK have all been linked to travel to the Middle East.

Researchers in Saudi Arabia have published details of the 47 cases reported in the country.

They suggest a pattern of mostly older men being infected. Most cases were also in people with other medical problems, more than two-thirds of the reported cases also had diabetes.

Low threat
The lead researcher and Deputy Minister for Public Health, Prof Ziad Memish, said: “Despite sharing some clinical similarities with Sars, there are also some important differences.

“In contrast to Sars, which was much more infectious especially in healthcare settings and affected the healthier and the younger age group, Mers appears to be more deadly, with 60% of patients with co-existing chronic illnesses dying, compared with the 1% toll of Sars.

“Although this high mortality rate with Mers is probably spurious due to the fact that we are only picking up severe cases and missing a significant number of milder or asymptomatic cases.

“So far there is little to indicate that Mers will follow a similar path to Sars.”

A report earlier this month showed that the virus struggled to spread in people.

However, it and the latest Saudi investigation both highlighted the need to find where the virus was coming from.

Prof Memish’s report said: “Reducing the rate of introduction of Mers coronavirus into human beings is unpredictable because the source of the virus is not yet known.

“We are searching vigorously for the source.”

Here is a graph from a private report called Virology Down Under, a fascinating read on the identification and development of the MERS Virus by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)..

Last Updated 19-Jul-2013
Written by Ian M. Mackay, PhD on his personal time.
All opinions are his own and do not represent medical advice or the views of any institution.:

Screen shot 2013-07-26 at 10.54.52 AM

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Health Issues, Living Conditions, Saudi Arabia, Spiritual, Travel, Work Related Issues | | Leave a comment

Pakistan’s Swat Valley Women Fight Back with Jirga

I love this. Women are using technology – and the traditional system – to persist in seeking justice for women who are often little more than slaves to their husband.

From BBC News:

_68946917_screenshot2013-07-24at17.47.06
Tahira

Women in Pakistan’s Swat valley are making history, and perhaps some powerful enemies, by convening an all-female jirga, a forum for resolving disputes usually reserved for men. Some readers may find details of this report by the BBC’s Orla Guerin disturbing.

Tahira was denied justice in life, but she continues to plead for it in death – thanks to a grainy recording on a mobile phone.

As she lay dying last year the young Pakistan wife and mother made a statement for use in court.

In the shaky amateur video, she named her tormentors, and said they should burn like she did.

Tahira was married off at the age of 12 and died last year following a suspected acid attack

Tahira’s flesh was singed on 35% of her body, following a suspected acid attack. Her speech was laboured and her voice was hoarse, but she was determined to give her account of the attack, even as her flesh was falling off her bones.

“I told her you must speak up and tell us what happened,” her mother Jan Bano said, dabbed her tears with her white headscarf. “And she was talking until her last breath.”

Tahira’s husband, mother-in-law, and father-in-law were acquitted this month of attacking her with acid. Her mother plans to appeal against that verdict, with help from a new ally – Pakistan’s first female jirga.

Under the traditional – and controversial – jirga system, elders gather to settle disputes. Until now this parallel justice system has been men-only, and rulings have often discriminated against women. The new all-women jirga, which has about 25 members, aims to deliver its own brand of justice.

It has been established in an unlikely setting – the scenic but conservative Swat valley, formerly under the control of the Pakistan Taliban. We sat in on one of its sessions in a sparsely furnished front room. Women crowded in, sitting in a circle on the floor, many with children at their feet. Most wore headscarves, and a few were concealed in burqas.

Probing injustice
For more than an hour they discussed a land dispute, problems with the water supply, unpaid salaries, and murder. The only man in the room was a local lawyer, Suhail Sultan. He was giving legal advice to jirga members including Jan Bano who he represents.

“In your case the police is the bad guy,” he told her. “They are the biggest enemy. ” He claims the police were bribed by the accused, and were reluctant to investigate the case properly.

_68946923_screenshot2013-07-24at17.54.51
The jirga tackled land disputes, water supplies, and murder

The jirga is making history, and perhaps making enemies. In Swat, as in many parts of Pakistan, men make the key decisions – like whether or not their daughters go to school, when they marry, and who they marry. And oppression starts early. Tahira was married off at just 12 years old, to a middle-aged man.

“Our society is a male-dominated society, and our men treat our women like slaves,” said the jirga founder, Tabassum Adnan. “They don’t give them their rights and they consider them their property. Our society doesn’t think we have the right to live our own lives.”

This chatty social activist, and mother of four, knows that challenging culture and tradition comes with risks. “Maybe I could be killed,” she said, “anything could happen. But I have to fight. I am not going to stop.”

They glued [my daughter’s] mouth and eyes closed. Just her face was left, the rest was flesh and broken bones”

Taj Mehal
As we spoke in a sun-baked courtyard Tabassum got a disturbing phone call. “I have just been told that the body of another girl has been found, ” she said. ” Her husband shot her.” She plans to investigate the case, and push the authorities to act.

“Before my jirga women have always been ignored by the police and by justice, but not now. My jirga has done a lot for women,” she said.

There was agreement from Taj Mehal, a bereaved mother with a careworn face, sitting across the courtyard on a woven bed.

Her beloved daughter Nurina was tortured to death in May.

“They broke her arm in three places, and they strangled her,” she told me, putting her hands to her own throat to mimic the action. “They broke her collarbone. They glued her mouth and eyes closed. Just her face was left, the rest was flesh and broken bones.”

She speaks of her daughter’s suffering with a steady voice, but grief is wrapped around her, like a heavy shawl.

“When I looked at her, it was like a piece was pulled out of my heart,” she said. “I was turned to stone. I see her face in front of my eyes. I miss her laughter.”

Women are a rare sight on the streets of Mingora
Nurina’s husband, and his parents, have now been charged with her murder, but her mother says that initially the courts took no interest.

“Whenever we brought applications to the judge he would tear them up and throw them away,” she said. “Now our voice is being heard, because of the jirga. Now we will get justice. Before the jirga husbands could do whatever they wanted to their wives.”

Women are little seen or heard on the bustling streets of Mingora, the biggest city in Swat. Rickshaw taxis dart past small shops selling medicines, and hardware supplies.

There are stalls weighed down with mangoes, and vendors dropping dough into boiling oil to make sugar-laden treats. Most of the shoppers are men.

‘No justice’ at jirgas
When we asked some of the local men their views on the women’s jirga, the results were surprising. Most backed the women.

“It’s a very good thing,” said one fruit seller, “women should know about their rights like men do, and they should be given their rights.”

Another said: “The jirga is good because now finally women have someone to champion their cause.”

The response from the local male jirga was less surprising. They were dismissive, saying the women have no power to enforce their decisions.

Most local men who spoke to the BBC expressed support for the women’s initiative

That view was echoed by the prominent Pakistani human rights activist Tahira Abdullah. “I don’t see it as more than a gimmick,” she said. “Who is going to listen to these women? The men with the Kalashnikovs? The Taliban who are anti-women? The patriarchal culture that we have?”

Ms Abdullah wants jirgas stopped whether male or female. “The jirga system is totally illegal, and has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It can never be just. There are several extremely notorious cases where we have noticed that women do not get justice from jirgas, neither do non-Muslims.”

One of those cases took place last year in a remote region of northern Pakistan where a jirga allegedly ordered the killing of five women – and two men – for defying local customs by singing and dancing together at a wedding.

And there are regular reports of jirgas decreeing that women and young girls be handed over from one family to another to settle disputes.

But for some, like Jan Bano, the women’s jirga is bringing hope. Every day she climbs a steep hill to visit Tahira’s grave, and pray for the daughter whose voice has still not her heard. Her video recording was not played in court.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, Family Issues, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Pakistan, Political Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

World’s Most Expensive Cities for Expats

From AOLs Daily Finance Page:

Luanda

By Mark Johanson

Where is the world’s most-expensive city for expatriates? It’s not notoriously pricey Tokyo. It’s not wallet-shrinking Sydney, Moscow or Oslo. And it’s definitely not surprisingly cheap New York City. Rather, it’s an African seaport you’ve probably never heard of: Luanda, Angola.

This finding from U.S. consulting firm Mercer underscores its annual survey’s purpose: to assess the cost of living around the world so that multinational companies and governments can determine appropriate compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. After all, more than half of oil-rich Luanda’s 5 million residents live below the poverty line.

“Despite being one of Africa’s major oil producers, Angola is a relatively poor country, yet expensive for expatriates since imported goods can be costly,” Barb Marder, senior partner and Mercer’s global mobility practice leader, said. “In addition, finding secure living accommodations that meet the standards of expatriates can be challenging and quite costly.”

Mercer noted in the survey that the difference in cost of various everyday items could be dramatic from country to country. The average cup of coffee, for example, costs about $1.54 in Managua, Nicaragua, while it costs $8.29 in Moscow. A fast-food hamburger meal in Kolkata, India, costs $3.62, compared to $13.49 in Caracas, Venezuela. A ticket to the cinema, meanwhile, can run between $5.91 in Johannesburg and up to $20.10 in London.

Cost of accommodation was another major factor Mercer looked at, and a one-month unfurnished luxury rental in Hong Kong topped the world at about $7,092 — more than 20 times as much as in Karachi, Pakistan. Yet, it was Moscow that crept in just below Luanda as the second-most expensive city for expats, followed by Tokyo, Chad’s capital city of N’djamena, and Singapore.

“Recent world events, including economic and political upheavals, which resulted in currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices have impacted these cities making them expensive,” Marder explained.

Mercer assessed a total of 214 cities across five continents for its 2013 survey, analyzing data from March 2012 to March 2013. Cities were then ranked by the price of housing, transport, food, entertainment and clothing, and ordered on the joint cost of 200 items compared to the benchmark, New York City.

“Given the increasing numbers of business travelers, global ‘commuters’ and longer-term expatriates, companies are keeping a close eye on the cost of living for international assignees in different cities around the world,” Marder said, explaining the purpose of the study. “Organizations need to evaluate the impact of currency fluctuations, inflation, and political instability when sending employees on overseas assignments while ensuring they can facilitate the moves they need to drive the business results by offering fair and competitive compensation packages.”

Nathalie Constantin-Métral, principal at Mercer with responsibility for compiling the survey ranking, said that, overall, cost of living went up across parts of Europe, while it went down in much of Asia. Japan dropped significantly from last year due to a weakening of the yen against the U.S. dollar.

In the Americas, meanwhile, South American cities were the most expensive for expatriates, while Canadian cities moved down in rankings due to a slight decrease of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar. New York remained the most-expensive urban center in the U.S.

“Overall, U.S. cities either remained stable in the ranking or have slightly decreased due to the movement of the U.S. dollar against the majority of currencies worldwide,” Constantin-Métral said. “Yet several cities, including New York, moved up in the ranking due to a rise in the rental accommodation market.”

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Food, Shopping, Statistics, Work Related Issues | , | Leave a comment