Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Revolutionary Government: South Africa

AdventureMan and I have a soft spot for South Africa, not the least of which for the dramatic and radical way they transformed from apartheid government to democratic government. It is not to say South Africa has been without problems – there are still problems. But the manner in which they confronted and dealt with their past and then moved on allows change to happen, change in the heart.

 

Today’s meditation from Forward Day by Day:

FRIDAY, May 30

Psalm 85:3. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. (NRSV)

But for the grace of God and the work of extraordinary leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, the fall of apartheid in South Africa could have been marked by one of the worst bloodbaths ever seen.

 

The incendiary ingredients were all present: a repressive minority regime that ruled by violence, fear, and fiat over a majority population denied fundamental human rights and forced to live a subservient existence.

 

There was upheaval, but the nation never fell into anarchy as it radically changed its government, thanks largely to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

  

Chaired by Tutu, then the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, the commission held hearings throughout the country. Victims told their stories of torture, killing, and degradation, sometimes confronting the accused.

 

The goal was not vengeance or justice but truth-telling to clear a path for healing. Powerful emotions were released. There were tearful confessions and apologies. There was forgiveness. The people of South Africa managed to turn from their hot anger and begin building a new nation.

 

Can we do the same? Where can we forsake our anger for the liberating power of forgiveness?

 

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May 30, 2014 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Faith, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Relationships, South Africa | Leave a comment

Worst Places in the World to Work

From AOL Huffpost Business:

 

Where are the worst places on the planet to be a worker?

A new report by the International Trade Union Confederation, an umbrella organization of unions around the world, sheds light on the state of workers’ rights across 139 countries. For its 2014 Global Rights Index, the ITUC evaluated 97 different workers’ rights metrics like the ability to join unions, access to legal protections and due process, and freedom from violent conditions. The group ranks each country on a scale of 1 (the best protections) to 5 (the worst protections).

The study found that in at least 35 countries, workers have been arrested or imprisoned “as a tactic to resist demands for democratic rights, decent wages, safer working conditions and secure jobs.” In a minimum of nine countries, murder and disappearance are regularly used to intimidate workers.

Denmark was the only country in the world to achieve a perfect score, meaning that the nation abides by all 97 indicators of workers’ rights.

The U.S., embarrassingly, scored a 4, indicating “systematic violations” and “serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers.”

“Countries such as Denmark and Uruguay led the way through their strong labour laws, but perhaps surprisingly, the likes of Greece, the United States and Hong Kong, lagged behind,” wrote ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow in a statement about the report. “A country’s level of development proved to be a poor indicator of whether it respected basic rights to bargain collectively, strike for decent conditions, or simply join a union at all.”

Here’s a look at the world rankings. Darker shades represent worse protects for workers. A score of 5+ means that active conflicts, like those in Syria or Sudan, block any legal protections for workers.

 

original

 

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Cultural, ExPat Life, Statistics, Values, Work Related Issues | , , , , | 2 Comments

Greece, Italy Have the World’s Most Overweight Kids

Most people know that the United States has a childhood obesity problem. Less well known is that according to the latest data from the OECD is that we are not actually the world leaders in experiencing this issue. It’s Greece and Italy who have the most overweight kids:

Overweightkids

This may not jibe with a lot of hype about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet but it turns out that said diet may no longer be especially popular in Greece and Italy. In 2008, Josef Schmidhuber of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization said traditional eating patterns in southern Europe had “decayed into a moribund state” and drastically increased their overall calorie intake and especially consumption of animal fat, salt, and sweeteners.

 

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Diet / Weight Loss, Exercise | , , | Leave a comment

One Third of World Now Clinically Obese

From AOL News/ Huffpost:

 By MARIA CHENG

LONDON (AP) — Almost a third of the world is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades, according to a new global analysis.

Researchers found more than 2 billion people worldwide are now overweight or obese. The highest rates were in the Middle East and North Africa, where nearly 60 percent of men and 65 percent of women are heavy. The U.S. has about 13 percent of the world’s fat population, a greater percentage than any other country. China and India combined have about 15 percent.

“It’s pretty grim,” said Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, who led the study. He and colleagues reviewed more than 1,700 studies covering 188 countries from 1980 to 2013. “When we realized that not a single country has had a significant decline in obesity, that tells you how hard a challenge this is.”

Murray said there was a strong link between income and obesity; as people get richer, their waistlines also tend to start bulging. He said scientists have noticed accompanying spikes in diabetes and that rates of cancers linked to weight, like pancreatic cancer, are also rising.

The new report was paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and published online Thursday in the journal, Lancet.

Last week, the World Health Organization established a high-level commission tasked with ending childhood obesity.

“Our children are getting fatter,” Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO’s director-general, said bluntly during a speech at the agency’s annual meeting in Geneva. “Parts of the world are quite literally eating themselves to death.” Earlier this year, WHO said that no more than 5 percent of your daily calories should come from sugar.

“Modernization has not been good for health,” said Syed Shah, an obesity expert at United Arab Emirates University, who found obesity rates have jumped five times in the last 20 years even in a handful of remote Himalayan villages in Pakistan. His research was presented this week at a conference in Bulgaria. “Years ago, people had to walk for hours if they wanted to make a phone call,” he said. “Now everyone has a cellphone.”

Shah also said the villagers no longer have to rely on their own farms for food.

“There are roads for (companies) to bring in their processed foods and the people don’t have to slaughter their own animals for meat and oil,” he said. “No one knew about Coke and Pepsi 20 years ago. Now it’s everywhere.”

In Britain, the independent health watchdog issued new advice Wednesday recommending that heavy people be sent to free weight-loss classes to drop about 3 percent of their weight. It reasoned that losing just a few pounds improves health and is more realistic. About two in three adults in the U.K. are overweight, making it the fattest country in Western Europe.

“This is not something where you can just wake up one morning and say, ‘I am going to lose 10 pounds,'” said Mike Kelly, the agency’s public health director, in a statement. “It takes resolve and it takes encouragement.”

 

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Diet / Weight Loss, Eating Out, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant | Leave a comment

Pregnant Pakistani Woman Stoned by Family for Marrying for Love

From AOL Breaking News:

Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by family

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) – A pregnant woman was stoned to death Tuesday by her own family outside a courthouse in the Pakistani city of Lahore for marrying the man she loved.

The woman was killed while on her way to court to contest an abduction case her family had filed against her husband. Her father was promptly arrested on murder charges, police investigator Rana Mujahid said, adding that police were working to apprehend all those who participated in this “heinous crime.”

Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, and hundreds of women are murdered every year in so-called honor killings carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior.

Stonings in public settings, however, are extremely rare. Tuesday’s attack took place in front of a crowd of onlookers in broad daylight. The courthouse is located on a main downtown thoroughfare.

A police officer, Naseem Butt, identified the slain woman as Farzana Parveen, 25, and said she had married Mohammad Iqbal, 45, against her family’s wishes after being engaged to him for years.

Her father, Mohammad Azeem, had filed an abduction case against Iqbal, which the couple was contesting, said her lawyer, Mustafa Kharal. He said she was three months pregnant.

Nearly 20 members of Parveen’s extended family, including her father and brothers, had waited outside the building that houses the high court of Lahore. As the couple walked up to the main gate, the relatives fired shots in the air and tried to snatch her from Iqbal, her lawyer said.

When she resisted, her father, brothers and other relatives started beating her, eventually pelting her with bricks from a nearby construction site, according to Mujahid and Iqbal, the slain woman’s husband.

Iqbal said he started seeing Parveen after the death of his first wife, with whom he had five children.

“We were in love,” he told The Associated Press. He alleged that the woman’s family wanted to fleece money from him before marrying her off.

“I simply took her to court and registered a marriage,” infuriating the family, he said.

Parveen’s father surrendered after the attack and called his daughter’s murder an “honor killing,” Butt said.

“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” Mujahid, the police investigator, quoted the father as saying.

Mujahid said the woman’s body was handed over to her husband for burial.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private group, said in a report last month that some 869 women were murdered in honor killings in 2013.

But even Pakistanis who have tracked violence against women expressed shock at the brutal and public nature of Tuesday’s slaying.

“I have not heard of any such case in which a woman was stoned to death, and the most shameful and worrying thing is that this woman was killed outside a courthouse,” said Zia Awan, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist.

He said Pakistanis who commit violence against women are often acquitted or handed light sentences because of poor police work and faulty prosecutions.

“Either the family does not pursue such cases or police don’t properly investigate. As a result, the courts either award light sentences to the attackers, or they are acquitted,” he said.

 

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Generational, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Pakistan | , | 2 Comments

AOL Mailbox Scam

 

 

This one almost gets me every time. I always check the details – that does not look like an authentic AOL Team e-mail address. These scammers are sometimes better than other times.

 

Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 11.18.23 AM

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Crime, Lies, Scams | | Leave a comment

Study Highlights Health Risks Specific to Women

This was fascinating to me because most of the research on aging has been done on males. Most medicinal dosages are based on male tests, and males respond differently to medications than females. Here are some results from a study done on only females. From AOL EveryDay Health:

older-women-laughing

For most of medical history, scientific research had largely been conducted on white men, which makes it pretty difficult to know how to treat conditions that affect other populations, particularly women. Take menopause: For years, doctors prescribed long-term use of hormones estrogen and progestin to help women manage symptoms during and after menopause because it helped women feel better. But in 1991, researchers wanted a definitive answer as to whether hormones used to ease menopause’s symptoms were helping women more than they were hurting them. So, the National Institutes of Health launched the largest study ever focused exclusively on women to answer that question. 

Dubbed the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), the research project recruited 68,132 postmenopausal women to participate. They were divided into groups, some taking just estrogen, some taking estrogen and progestin, and some taking placebos. After over a decade of observation, the researchers stopped the trials early, in 2002 and 2004, because it was so clear that hormones posed serious health risks to the women. However, researchers have continued to follow up with these women in the years since, and have also tested other health interventions on the group, including low-fat diets and taking vitamin D and calcium. In 1998, an observational component of the WHI launched, with another 93,676 participants, to study even more aspects of women’s health. Much of the data collected over the years is now accessible to other researchers, too.

This has created a glut of women-specific health information that has paid off in big ways. In fact, the findings from the WHI have prompted a net economic return of $37.1 billion dollars, or $140 for each dollar that was spent on the trial itself, according to a new paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. That’s because the results have led to better treatment and care for millions of women, decreasing healthcare spending and increasing quality of life.

Here are some of the most important WHI findings:

1. You probably shouldn’t take hormones for longer than you have to. Long-term use of estrogen and progestin increases the risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots, though it decreased the risk of hip fractures and colon cancer in the main WHI trial. While these results have caused doctors to largely stop prescribing long-term hormone replacement, individuals are encouraged to make a personal decision based on their own risk factors. For example, if a woman has a very low family history of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, but a high risk of colon cancer and osteoporosis, she may choose to take the hormones, which are thought to be safe when prescribed for just a short time around menopause, to manage symptoms. They may also extend the life expectancy for women who have had hysterectomies, the data revealed, so be sure to talk to your doctor about your specific needs.

2. Low-fat diets are good, but not enough to reduce your risk of some cancers or cardiovascular disease. The researchers asked some of the participants to eat a low-fat diet, and then compared how this affected their risk of various diseases. They found that a low-fat diet alone was not enough to significantly impact women’s risk of cardiovascular diseasebreast cancer, orcolorectal cancer, according to the results published in JAMA. The researchers concluded that more dramatic lifestyle changes, including increased exercise, might be necessary to affect risk of developing these diseases.

 

3. Taking vitamin D and calcium may not be worth it. Some of the women in the study were given calcium and vitamin D supplements, while others were not. The results showed that the supplements did increase the bone density in the hip, but they didn’t significantly decrease the number of hip fractures the women experienced. Nor did taking the supplements lower the risk of colorectal cancer, according to the paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine. They did, however, increase the risk of kidney stones.

4. Ditch diet soda. Post-menopausal women who reported drinking two or more diet sodas per day had a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and other heart problems, research from the WHI showed. While the researchers couldn’t show a direct connection, there are plenty of other reasons to avoid fake sugar.

5. If you’re at high risk for melanoma, aspirin might help. Researchers analyzed the data from the WHI observational study, and found that women who took aspirin regularly had a 20 percent lower risk of melanoma than women who did not. The correlation was strong — the longer the women took the drug, the lower their risk. Aspirin comes with its own benefits (preventing subsequent heart problems) and harms (increased risk of bleeding), so talk to your doctor before adding it to your routine. 

May 26, 2014 Posted by | Aging, Circle of Life and Death, Health Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Women's Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership – A Memorial Day Meditation

This is today’s Forward Day by Day reading, and I think it is perfect for Memorial Day, a day in which we celebrate those who fought and gave their lives that we might live free:

MONDAY, May 26    Rogation Day

Matthew 13:14. You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive.

The daughter of the young clergyman looked and she did perceive.

She had taken a bus trip with her father to their home country so she could obtain an identification card at the age of eighteen. Before the bus left, the driver asked if someone would pray for a safe journey. Her father walked to the front of the bus and led the passengers in prayer. Later, at a rest stop, the priest noticed some trash littering the area. After other passengers walked past heedlessly, he scooped it up and put it in a trash bin. 

The acts seemed minor, and he thought no more about them. But later, his daughter asked him to read her homework—a profile of a leader. He did and was humbled and amazed. 

The profile was about him. Citing those two examples and others, the daughter described how his behavior reflected his values. She wrote, “Leadership is not a title, but it is about the way you live your life.”

She had done much more than see her father’s actions. She had perceived their meaning and importance in the context of their faith.

 

May 26, 2014 Posted by | Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, Environment, Faith, Hygiene, Interconnected, Leadership, Lectionary Readings | Leave a comment

Crime to be “Happy” in Teheran?

From today’s Kuwait Times:

 

TEHRAN: The arrest of six Iranian youths for dancing to US singer Pharrell Williams’ hit “Happy” in a video that went viral highlights the rift between conservatives and youths fascinated by the West. Recorded on a smartphone and uploaded multiple times on YouTube, the clip shows three girls dancing and singing along to the song in a room, on rooftops and in secluded alleys with three young men. For the youths, the homemade video now watched one million times was merely an “excuse to be happy”, but for the Iranian authorities it was “vulgar” breach of the Islamic republic’s values. Originally posted online in April, the clip gradually spread online before it led to the arrest of the dancers and their director on Tuesday for having “hurt” the country’s strict moral codes, according to Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia.

The youths appeared on state television repenting for appearing in the clip, after the girls failed to properly observe hijab, a series of rules that oblige women in Iran to cover their hair and much of their body when outside.

Their arrest sparked international fury and criticism in the media and online, with many Iranians expressing shock and some observers questioning whether it was a “crime to be happy in Iran”. Supporting the young Iranians, Williams himself chimed in and hit out at their treatment, saying on Twitter and Facebook: “It’s beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.” Reports emerged Wednesday night that the dancers were released on bail, with one of the arrested girls, Tehranbased fashion photographer Reihane Taravati, saying on Instagram: “Hi I’m back.” The arrests came after President Hassan Rouhani-a selfdeclared moderate who claims to be for more social freedomsreiterated in a weekend speech his calls for a relaxation of Internet censorship. Rouhani’s statements have irked the conservatives, who have long imposed limitations on the Internet, blocking millions of websites particularly social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as YouTube. — AFP

 

May 23, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Civility, Community, Crime, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Experiment, Faith, Family Issues, Humor, Iran, Living Conditions, Movie, Music, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

UN Will Help With Transfers?

This has to be the real thing, right? It says United Nations – that has to be the real deal. . . right?  But I didn’t deposit any funds or invest in Nigeria . . .
From: Ms. Carman L. Lapointe.
UNITED NATIONS OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL OVERSIGHT SERVICES
Internal Audit,Monitoring,Consulting And Investigations Division.
 
 
 
My name is Ms. Carman L. Lapointe, from the United Nations. It is a distinct pleasure to write you again and as you are well aware many foreigners have invested thousands of United States Dollars into Nigeria transactions in Hopeless Dreams to have none of them become a reality.
 
 
Right now, as directed by our secretary general Mr.Ban Ki-Moon, We have agreed with the Nigeria Government that US$100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars Only) would be paid to you through the Western Union Money Transfer Via special arrangement as first installment.
 
 
This is to enable you have enough funds to pay for the Tax Clearance and bank charges before you will receive the balance of US$4.1M (Four Million One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars Only). Please take note that you will pay US$185 only, being Notarization fee and this is the only financial obligation that you will undertake to receive the US$100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars Only) through the Western Union Money Transfer.
 
 
Lastly,i will like you to reconfirm your information to me such as your full name, address and telephone number so that I will proceed with your Western Union Money Transfer within the next 24 hrs and the transaction information will be released to you.
 
 
I await your response for further proceedings.
 
 
Sincerely yours,
 
 
Ms. Carman L. Lapointe
{Under-Secretary-General}
United Nations

May 20, 2014 Posted by | Crime, Financial Issues, Nigeria, Scams | Leave a comment