Qatar expats shocked after UK teacher’s suspected murder
By Yolande KnellBBC News, Doha, Qatar
The suspected murder of a young primary school teacher from south-east London has deeply upset British expatriates living in the Gulf state of Qatar.
However, two weeks after Lauren Patterson disappeared following a night out in the capital, Doha, officials have given few details about her disappearance.
DNA tests have been carried out on the remains of a body found in a remote area of desert but the results have not yet been released.
At the Newton British School, where Ms Patterson worked, one mother paid tribute to a talented teacher who she said had been a favourite of her little son.
However, staff refused to comment, saying they had been advised not to.
“We’re a small, close-knit community and we’re all in deep shock,” explained headteacher Katherine Dixon. “We are dealing with small children here.”
Security camerasWhen 24-year-old Ms Patterson went out on 11 October she had just returned from a trip home to the UK for her grandmother’s funeral.
She and a female friend decided to go to Club 7 on the seventh floor of the luxury La Cigale Hotel.
It is a popular venue where all nationalities mingle on the dance floor as DJs play ambient house music.
Groups sip cocktails around low tables decorated with colourful, illuminated ice buckets.
Everyone entering the club has their ID checked and they are watched by burly bouncers and security cameras.
It is believed that in the early hours of the morning, the two women left with two local men they knew who had offered to drive them home.
Ms Patterson’s companion was dropped off safely but she went missing.
The alarm was raised by her friend who called the police the next day.
Reports say a falconer found a badly burnt corpse shortly afterwards. Two suspects were detained although no details about them have been confirmed.
The case has been referred to the attorney general.
“Violent crime is very rare in Qatar,” public prosecutor, Mohammed Rashed al-Binali told me in his smart office surrounded by shining skyscrapers in central Doha.
“We are continuing to investigate the case. We cannot give more details at the moment but the Ministry of Interior did arrest the suspects within 24 hours.”
Alison Patterson has flown to Doha and is awaiting further news about her daughter.
She told the BBC she would only make a statement “when I feel the time is right and I have received all the information concerning Lauren”.
Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office says it is providing the family with consular assistance.
Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup, is generally considered one of the safest places in the Middle East for Westerners.
The tiny, but very wealthy Gulf state, which is the biggest exporter of natural gas in the world, relies heavily on its growing foreign workforce.
It now has some 17,500 British residents. Most are attracted by the high living standards and high tax-free salaries.
Yet work permits can be easily revoked and this makes employees from overseas very wary of upsetting the authorities.
While Qatar has recently supported opposition movements pushing for greater freedom across the Arab world, the nation itself remains very conservative and tightly controlled.
A fascinating – if long – article on how our meat is farmed and the high cost of ‘cheap’ meat:
‘Healthy’ Cows, Sick Consumers: CDC Warns of a High Cost in Cheap Meat
by Bruce Watson Sep 25th 2013 6:00AM
On the surface, it’s hard to question the cost-effectiveness of factory-farmed meat. After all, the math is pretty simple: You start with inexpensive animals, raise them at relatively minimal cost, butcher them in the cheapest way possible, and sell them for low, low prices.
But the math gets a little more complicated when you look at the long-term health impact of all that cheap meat. Of course, there are the obvious things that everyone’s already worried about — issues like cholesterol and high blood pressure and gout and whatnot — but the biggest downside comes from something that you probably haven’t considered: antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In a recent report, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that 2 million Americans are hit with antibiotic-resistant infections every year — and 23,000 people die from them.
So what causes all these outbreaks? In part, it’s our overreliance on antibiotics. Every time your doctor prescribes antibiotics to you, the bacteria in your body grow more able to tolerate them. Those antibiotic-resistant germs can then get passed on to other people, leading to the spread of harder-to-kill infections, which leads to more doctor visits, and so on, in a vicious cycle.
So, obviously, the first solution to our antibiotic-resistant bug problem is to stop overprescribing antibiotics. We should, many health experts argue, save the antibiotics for the times when we really need them.
This Little Piggie Had Penicillin …
But our overuse of erythromycin and amoxicillin is just a small part of the problem. Even if you never fill your antibiotic prescriptions — even if your doctor never writes them — chances are that you’re still consuming a huge amount of antibiotics in your food. More specifically, in your meat.
When factory farms look for ways to cut costs, space is one of the first things to go: Factory owners often crowd animals together in cramped pens. But when cows, pigs and chickens live in such cramped conditions, often with open wounds and amid ever-growing piles of feces, the barns become a breeding ground for bacterial infections. One way to cut back on this is to give the animals more space. Another way is to pump them full of antibiotics.
Not surprisingly, most factory farm operations go for the latter. In fact, the meat industry currently uses 80 percent of all antibiotics that are consumed in the US. All those drugs keep the animals relatively disease-free — and help keep meat cheap. But it’s not exactly an impressive price cut for the customer: According to one estimate, the use of antibiotics on farms saves the average meat-eating consumer $5 to $10 a year.
And those minor savings may come at a huge cost. Sloppy slaughtering methods often contaminate meat with antibiotic-resistant bacteria from the animals’ colons and stomachs. And, even if factory-farmed meat makes it to your grocery store without becoming contaminated, there are other ways animal waste enters the food cycle: Water and manure that are left over from factory animals often get used on crops, further spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
So What Can You Do?
As I’ve pointed out in the past, there are a few ways to protect yourself. To begin with, you can ensure that your meat is cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F — both at your home, and in any restaurants that you visit. Unfortunately, while this will kill any bacteria hiding inside your burger, it will also transform it into a well-done hockey puck.
Maybe you should just stick to the brisket.
You can also try looking for organic meat. While a little more expensive, it is produced without antibiotics, which lowers your chance of encountering antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For that matter, you may want to think about using organic vegetables — or, at least, carefully washing your fresh produce.
Another option is to get involved. Last week, I wrote about new USDA procedures would cut inspections on chicken and pork, and would allow Chinese poultry to be sold in American markets. Since these plans also reduce the number of USDA inspectors — among the few barriers between you and food poisoning — they could directly affect your health. If you get a chance, you may want to tell your congressman or senator that you’ve got some problems with this.
Given the huge lobbying efforts behind the USDA’s inspector cuts and opening the U.S. to Chinese chicken imports, chances are that both policy changes will happen. Even if they don’t, however, it never hurts to be safer with your food.
Bruce Watson is DailyFinance’s Savings Editor. You can reach him by e-mail at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.
KUWAIT: Traffic police in the area of Hawalli have set a record by booking 995 drivers and motorcycle riders in a one-day campaign to fight chaos on the roads. “A large team of traffic policemen was deployed in the area to check the extent of discipline and compliance with the law on the roads,” security sources told local daily Al-Rai. “The policemen detained 20 people and impounded their cars. Among them, there were five people who did not have a driving licence, seven who were utterly reckless in their driving, three who staged a race and five who did not have licences to ride their motorcycles,” the sources said. According to the figures he revealed, 23 cars and five motorbikes were impounded in the crackdown conducted on Friday.
Lesser violations included uninsured vehicles, tinted windows, not wearing seat belts and parking in areas for people with special needs, the sources said. Traffic officers in Kuwait have been actively engaged in relentless campaigns to restore order in a sector plagued by a high toll of accident fatalities, reckless driving and non-compliance with administrative procedures. Foreigners who repeatedly broke the law have been deported for endangering lives while citizens have been deprived of their vehicles or licences.
Abdul Fattah Al Ali, assistant undersecretary for traffic and the force behind the campaigns, who had come under attack, mainly from the opposition, for his strong approach towards foreign drivers who commit several traffic offences, said that the trend to end the chaos and impose road discipline would continue.
“I am not an abusive person, but I do apply the law and assume my responsibilities to save lives and protect people from reckless drivers,” he said. “The expatriates who do not respect the law should be sent home. We will deport the irresponsible expatriates who do not respect the laws of the country,” he said. “We have also extended the vehicle impounding period from two to four months and drivers can now be held for 48 hours for the sake of the investigation and the normal procedures.”
The crackdown led the authorities to discover that 20,000 forged driving licences had been issued since 2010. “We have withdrawn 7,000 forged licences, and we are working on tracking down and cancelling all the others,” Al-Ali has said.
He added that expatriates summoned to the traffic directorate should come forth and hand their licences, assuring them that there would be “no questions asked”. However, those who fail to show up to hand back the licences will face forgery charges and will be deported, he said.
Comment: 20,000 forged licenses??? 20,000???
From the Kuwait Times, an awesome statistic. In just months, the Al-Ali states the traffic deaths per month have dropped from 50 to 19. That’s incredible:
Traffic chief criticizes ‘non-cooperative’ departments
KUWAIT: Maj Gen Abdulfattah Al-Ali has been credited for positive changes seen on roads around Kuwait ever since he assumed post as Undersecretary Assistant for Traffic Affairs at the Interior Ministry five months ago. The senior official recently said that he did not come up with anything new but merely made sure that the existing laws were enforced. Al-Ali was interviewed by Al-Qabas as he spoke of efforts which have helped reduce traffic violations by 30 percent, cut road deaths and eased traffic jams. “We still have a long way to go because traffic awareness does not happen overnight”, he said, “and there is a lot of work to do before we can reach a level of contentment”.
During the interview Al-Ali criticized several state departments who he accused of being ‘non-cooperative’ with proposals to address the traffic jam problem. “There are ministries who remain unwilling to take simple decisions that can help reduce traffic congestions”, Al-Ali said. He also criticized the Kuwait municipality for allowing contractors to build apartments without allocating enough parking space. He also indicated that efforts to license parking lots with a capacity of 120 vehicles are often rejected. On Tuesday Al-Qabas published figures that Al-Ali mentioned during the interview, including withdrawal of 4,000 driver’s licenses which were obtained through wasta, as well as reducing a monthly rate of issuing licenses from 7,000 to 1,200. The official credited extensive traffic campaigns for reducing the average road deaths from 50 to 19 per month.
The General Traffic Department in the Interior Ministry launched extensive campaigns last April and these have resulted in thousands of traffic tickets, millions of Kuwaiti dinars collected in fines, and the deportation of thousands of expatriate drivers, in addition to firmer penalties against Kuwaiti offenders. No timetable is set for the end of campaigns and Major General Al-Ali has repeatedly indicated that crackdowns will continue as part of the department’s efforts to reduce traffic jams, curb the number of road fatalities and fight traffic offenses. Al-Ali also spoke to Al-Rai daily who quoted his statements yesterday in which he reiterated that fines should be paid to avoid a travel ban and suspension of license.
According to the senior official, the Interior Ministry has so far managed to collect KD 38 million out of KD 41 million it is owed, and withdrew more than 7,000 out of nearly 20,000 forged licenses issued since 2010. Meanwhile, Al-Watan quoted an Interior Ministry source yesterday who blamed state departments for “failure of implementing the General Traffic Department’s plans to reduce traffic”. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the source stated that unnamed state departments have been ignoring offers to change timings that the traffic departments have been proposing since 2005. Major General Al-Ali attended a meeting last week with officials from the Ministry of Education and the Civil Service Commission, but no consensus was reached to change schools timings ahead of the beginning of the academic year. —
You would love Edmonds, Washington.
It is a picturesque village. Along Main Street, and Fifth Avenue there are corner gardens, maintained by the city. This year, they are planted primarily with white flowers, big, fluffy flowers which make all the other flowers POP! with color. Overhead, from the lamp posts, are huge hanging baskets, full of a variety of plants, mostly purples, blues and fuchsias. The overall effect is stunning.
On our way to her manicure-pedicure, I drove Mom around looking at the sights. Down at the Edmonds Beach, I was shocked to see an eagle, perched on a piling. The shot isn’t very good, I jumped out of the car in a hurry and snapped, not taking enough time, but I was so surprised – I had never seen an eagle there before.
After lunch, as we headed out, we saw people touching up one of the murals Edmonds has painted on the sides of buildings there:
Here is another one, nearby:
I love it that this sweet little town, with its ferry coming faithfully in and out, preserves its identity and character in the face of changing times.
I know, I know, it is not a funny headline. But here is the thing. People have egos. You might wonder why anyone would stay in the face of a threat so grave. It isn’t by coincidence that so many prisoners were busted out of prison – hundreds in Iraq, in Yemen, also if I remember correctly, in Pakistan.
These countries, under international understandings and agreements, provide security for one another’s embassies. Like WE provide security for the Saudi and the Yemeni and French diplomats in the United States. When a country suffers massive prison breaks, it is only prudent to wonder how well they might be able to protect international diplomats – it’s all security.
But – and here is why a very serious headline can make me laugh so early in the morning – who wants to be “non-essential?” I’ve lived through similar situations; people want to think themselves important – you would be surprised how many people will choose to stay, knowing the dangers, because they want to consider themselves “mission-essential”.
WASHINGTON — The State Department on Tuesday ordered non-essential personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen to leave the country following the threat by al-Qaida that has triggered temporary shutdowns of 19 American diplomatic posts across the Middle East and Africa.
The department said in a travel warning that it had ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen “due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks” and said U.S. citizens in Yemen should leave immediately because of an “extremely high” security threat level.
“As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation,” the travel warning said.
The U.S. Embassy is located in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen.
The State Department on Sunday closed a total of 19 diplomatic posts until next Saturday. They include posts in Bangladesh and across North Africa and the Middle East as well as East Africa, including Madagascar, Burundi, Rwanda and Mauritius.
This is only an excerpt from AOL/Huffpost World News where you can read the rest of the story by clicking the blue type here.