Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

American Heroes: “With Your Bare Hands”

I started this Monday with a great big smile. American Heroes! Our three young men, off to explore Amsterdam and Paris, and without giving it a second thought they tackle an armed man who has already shot and injured one passenger and intends to kill as many more as he can? They disarm him, and they tie him up, and deliver him, relatively unharmed, to the authorities.

They don’t behead him. They don’t beat him once they have him subdued. They don’t treat him with gratuitous cruelty. No. They turn him over to the authorities. One hero seeks out the Frenchman who has been shot and plugs his throat wounds with his own fingers to staunch the flow of blood until he can be treated by medical professionals.

And I love what French President says to these khaki and polo-shirt clad All-Americans (from The Guardian):

“Awarding them the Légion d’honneur, Hollande said: ‘The whole world admires your sangfroid. With your bare hands, unarmed, you were able to overcome a heavily armed individual, resolved to do anything.’

Hollande praised the soldiers, saying: “In France you behaved as soldiers but also as responsible men. You put your life in danger to defend the idea of freedom.”

Referring to the bravery of Sadler and Norman, he said they did not have military training and had “doubtless never seen a Kalashnikov in their life”. He added: “They stood up and fought, they refused to give in to fear or terrorism.”

Leaving the ceremony, Norman told TV crews: “I just did what I had to do.”

That’s exactly what true heroes say 🙂

I smile, too, seeing these young men being presented their medals with everyone else in dress uniforms and suits, and they are in their polos and Khakis; polos provided, I am guessing, by the US Embassy, with French and US flags intertwined.

I imagine they are going to have a wild time in France, and I can imagine they won’t be able to buy their own wine or meals. It all makes me smile.

August 24, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Character, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, France, Interconnected, News, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Qatari Ambassador to US Speaks to Full House in Pensacola

Yesterday, the Qatari Ambassador to the United States, Mohammed Jaham Al Kawari, spoke to a packed house at the New World Landing as the Tiger Bay Club gathered to hear how little Qatar is exerting big influence in the world peace-making arena.

QatarAmbAtTigerBayClub

The ambassador has an impressive biography, and in appearance very polished, very French. He isn’t afraid to tackle the tough questions, and presents Qatar’s position in a way that people can hear and understand.

December 6, 2014 Posted by | Community, Counter-terrorism, Events, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Leadership, Middle East, News, Pensacola, Political Issues, Transparency | , | Leave a comment

ISIS War Against Women

I was told – by Saudi women, Qatari women and Palestinian women of faith, that Allah wants women to be educated. The first wife of Muhammed was a businesswoman and a prominent leader in her time. Perhaps the ISIS extremists need to spend a little more time reading the Qu’ran and hadith.

From today’s AOL News/ Huffpost

 

BAGHDAD (AP) — Militants with the Islamic State group tortured and then publicly killed a human rights lawyer in the Iraqi city of Mosul after their self-proclaimed religious court ruled that she had abandoned Islam, the U.N. mission in Iraq said Thursday.

Gunmen with the group’s newly declared police force seized Samira Salih al-Nuaimi last week in a northeastern district of the Mosul while she was home with her husband and three children, two people with direct knowledge of the incident told The Associated Press on Thursday. Al-Nuaimi was taken to a secret location. After about five days, the family was called by the morgue to retrieve her corpse, which bore signs of torture, the two people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fears for their safety.

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, her arrest was allegedly connected to Facebook messages she posted that were critical of the militants’ destruction of religious sites in Mosul. A statement by the U.N. on Thursday added that al-Nuaimi was tried in a so-called “Sharia court” for apostasy, after which she was tortured for five days before the militants sentenced her to “public execution.” Her Facebook page appears to have been removed since her death.

“By torturing and executing a female human rights’ lawyer and activist, defending in particular the civil and human rights of her fellow citizens in Mosul, ISIL continues to attest to its infamous nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total disregard of human decency,” Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. envoy to Iraq, said in a statement, referring to the group by an acronym. The statement did not say how she was killed.

Among Muslim hard-liners, apostasy is thought to be not just conversion from Islam to another faith, but also committing actions that they believe are so against the faith that one is considered to have abandoned Islam.

Mosul is the largest city held by the Islamic State group in the self-declared “caliphate” it has carved out, bridging northern and eastern Syria with northern Iraq. Since overrunning the once-diverse city in June, the group has forced religious minorities to convert to Islam, pay special taxes or die, causing tens of thousands to flee. The militants have enforced a strict dress code on women, going so far as to veil the faces of female mannequins in store fronts.

In August, the group destroyed a number of historic landmarks in the town, including several mosques and shrines, claiming they promote idolatry and depart from principles of Islam.

Al-Nuaimi’s death is the latest in a string of attacks by the militant group to silence female activists and politicians. In July in the nearby town of Sderat, militants broke into the house of a female candidate in the last provincial council elections, killed her and abducted her husband, the U.N. said. On the same day, another female politician was abducted from her home in eastern Mosul; she remains missing.

Hanaa Edwer, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist, said at least five female political activists have been killed in recent weeks by the Islamic State group in Mosul, including al-Nuaimi, who Edwer said was also running for a seat on the provincial council.

“But it is not just women being targeted,” Edwer said. “They will kill anyone with a voice. It is terrifying.”

The Gulf Center for Human Rights said Wednesday that al-Nuaimi had worked on detainee rights and poverty. The Bahrain-based rights organization said her death “is solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate human rights work, in particular defending the civil and human rights of her fellow citizens in Mosul.”

The Islamic State extremists’ blitz eventually prompted the United State to launch airstrikes last month, to aid Kurdish forces and protect religious minorities in Iraq.

This week, the U.S. and five allied Arab states expanded the aerial campaign into Syria, where the militant group is battling President Bashar Assad’s forces as well as Western-backed rebels. Despite making gains in some of the country’s more isolated areas, where airstrikes have paved the way for successful ground operations by Kurdish and Iraqi forces, the cities of Mosul and Fallujah remain major strongholds of the group, which has buried itself among large civilian populations.

The militant group recently killed 40 Iraq soldiers and captured 68 near Fallujah and then paraded their captives through the city in a show of brawn.

Nearly a dozen countries have also provided weapons and training to Kurdish peshmerga fighters, who were strained after months of battling the jihadi group.

In other developments Thursday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen visited northern Iraq for talks with Kurdish leaders about the fight against Islamic State extremists and Berlin’s efforts to help with arms deliveries.

Thursday also marked the start of German arms deliveries to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, with the ultimate goal of supplying 10,000 Kurdish fighters with some 70 million euros ($90 million) worth of equipment.

“We are involved with relief shipments and the airlift, but we know that this is not sufficient,” said von der Leyen. “Much more is needed to get these (millions of people) through the winter.”

___

Associated Press writer David Rising in Berlin and Bram Janssen in Irbil and an Associated Press reporter in Mosul contributed to this report.

 

September 26, 2014 Posted by | Crime, Cultural, Faith, Family Issues, Living Conditions, News, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Women's Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MERS Virus Found to be Widespread

Thank you, John Mueller, for this fascinating article from Science NOW:

Middle Eastern Virus More Widespread Than Thought

28 February 2014 12:45 pm

 

Trail of infection. Scientists have found MERS virus in camels from Sudan and Ethiopia, suggesting the virus is more widespread than previously thought.Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia CommonsTrail of infection. Scientists have found MERS virus in camels from Sudan and Ethiopia, suggesting the virus is more widespread than previously thought.

It’s called Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, after the region where almost all the patients have been reported. But the name may turn out to be a misnomer. A new study has found the virus in camels from Sudan and Ethiopia, suggesting that Africa, too, harbors the pathogen. That means MERS may sicken more humans than previously thought—and perhaps be more likely to trigger a pandemic.

MERS has sickened 183 people and killed 80, most of them in Saudi Arabia. A couple of cases have occurred in countries outside the region, such as France and the United Kingdom, but those clusters all started with a patient who had traveled to the Middle East before falling ill.

Scientists have uncovered more and more evidence implicating camels in the spread of the disease. They found that a large percentage of camels in the Middle East have antibodies against MERS in their blood, while other animals, such as goats and sheep, do not. Researchers have also isolated MERS virus RNA from nose swabs of camels in Qatar, and earlier this week, they showed that the virus has circulated in Saudi Arabian camels for at least 2 decades.

Malik Peiris, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues expanded the search to Africa. In a paper published last year, they showed that camels in Egypt carried antibodies against MERS. For the new study, they took samples from four abattoirs around Egypt; again they found antibodies against MERS in the blood of 48 out of 52 camels they tested. But the most interesting results came from taking nose swabs from 110 camels: They found MERS RNA in four animals that had been shipped in from Sudan and Ethiopia.

Peiris cautions that it is unclear whether the infected camels picked up the virus in Sudan and Ethiopia or on their final journey in Egypt. Abattoirs could help spread MERS just like live poultry markets do for influenza, he says. “You cannot point the finger exactly at where those viruses came from,” he says. “But I would be very surprised if you do not find the virus in large parts of Africa.”

If so, that changes the picture of MERS considerably. No human MERS cases have been reported from Egypt or anywhere else in Africa, but if camels are infected, they may well occur, says Marion Koopmans, an infectious disease researcher at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “It would be important to look systematically into that,” she writes in an e-mail. “Health authorities really need to test patients with severe pneumonia all across Africa for MERS,” Peiris says.

The researchers were able to sequence the virus of one of the camels almost completely, and it is more than 99% identical with viruses found in people. “I would be very surprised if this virus cannot infect humans,” says Christian Drosten, a virologist at the University of Bonn in Germany. But the virus also shows a few intriguing differences from known camel samples, he says. “We have to analyze this carefully in the next few days, but it looks like this sequence broadens the viral repertoire found in camels,” he says. If the viruses found in camels show more genetic variation than those isolated from humans, that is further strong evidence that camels are infecting humans and not the other way around.

Anthony Mounts, the point person for MERS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, says that it is very likely that human MERS cases occur in Africa. “Wherever we find [infected] camels, there is a good chance we’ll find [human] cases if we look closely,” he says. And humans may be exposed to camels in Africa much more often than in the Middle East: There were about 260,000 camels in Saudi Arabia in 2012, but almost a million in Ethiopia and 4.8 million in Sudan, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The more human cases there are, the higher the risk that the virus will one day learn how to become easily transmissible between people, which could set off a pandemic.

The researchers also looked at the blood of 179 people working at the camel abattoirs for antibodies against MERS virus, but found none. That shows that the virus is only rarely successful in infecting human beings, Peiris says. “What we need to find out now is the reason for these rare transmissions.”

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Africa, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Interconnected, Kuwait, Living Conditions, News, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan | , , , , | Leave a comment

One Lonely Little Snowflake Not Shown on Russian TV

Journalists are tough, and snarky. All the photos and stories coming out of Sochi about the orangey brown water coming out of the taps, doors kicked down so new TVs can be installed (better late than never) etc. These are things we take for granted when we go to other countries, especially when they are undergoing rapid construction. There are times when deadlines are not met and things do not go smoothly. (I will never forget the look on the face of our building care-taker, who had sworn to me, over and over, he had no key to my apartment, but who walked in one day when my car was at the dealership for repairs, and he thought I was gone, too.) Things happen.

But one journalist on NPR (National Public Radio) cracked me up totally talking about the opening ceremony, and how beautiful it was until the climax, and the five snowflakes morphed into five Olympic rings – or at least that was the plan. “Four rings – and one lonely little snowflake! This is the memory of the Sochi games!” he chortled, and I found myself laughing, too, at that one lonely little snowflake.

I would hate to be the person responsible for that snowflake, or any of the hotel problems. It may be modern day Russia, but heads can still roll 😦

As it turns out, the Russians never saw that. They saw a doctored tape from the rehearsal, when all went as scored:

Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony

Report from Huffpost via AOL:

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Smoke and mirrors? Russian state television aired footage Friday of five floating snowflakes turning into the Olympic rings and bursting into pyrotechnics at the Sochi Games opening ceremony. Problem is, that didn’t happen.

The opening ceremony at the Winter Games hit a bump when only four of the five rings materialized in a wintry opening scene. The five were supposed to join together and erupt in fireworks. But one snowflake never expanded, and the pyrotechnics never went off.

But everything worked fine for viewers of the Rossiya 1, the Russian host broadcaster.

As the fifth ring got stuck, Rossiya cut away to rehearsal footage. All five rings came together, and the fireworks exploded on cue.

“It didn’t show on television, thank God,” Jean Claude-Killy, the French ski great who heads the IOC coordination commission for the Sochi Games, told The Associated Press.

Producers confirmed the switch, saying it was important to preserve the imagery of the Olympic symbols.

The unveiling of the rings is always one of the most iconic moments of an opening ceremony, and President Vladimir Putin has been determined to use the ceremony as an introduction of the new Russia to the world.

Konstantin Ernst, executive creative director of the opening ceremony, told reporters at a news conference that he called down to master control to tell them to go the practice footage when he realized what happened.

“This is an open secret,” he said, referring to the use of the pre-recorded footage. The show’s artistic director George Tsypin said the malfunction was caused by a bad command from a stage manager.

Ernst defended his decision, saying that the most important part was preserving the images and the Olympic tradition: “This is certainly bad, but it does not humiliate us.”

NBC was to air the ceremony in the U.S. on tape delay later Friday.

Glitches are not uncommon at Olympic opening ceremonies.

There was a minor controversy over trickery involving the fireworks at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, after it was revealed that some of the display featured prerecorded footage.

Fireworks bursting into the shape of gigantic footprints were shown trudging above the Beijing skyline to the National Stadium near the start of the ceremony. Officials confirmed that some of the footage shown to TV viewers around the world and on giant screens inside the stadium featured a computer-generated, three-dimensional image.

In addition, a tiny, pigtailed 9-year-old girl in a red dress who sang “Ode to the Motherland” was lip-synching. The real voice belonged to a 7-year-old girl who was replaced because she was deemed not cute enough by a member of China’s Politburo.

At the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Luciano Pavarotti’s performance was prerecorded. The maestro who conducted the aria, Leone Magiera, said the bitter cold made a live performance impossible.

___

Associated Press writers Stephen Wilson and Oskar Garcia contributed to this report.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, News, Technical Issue | , , , | Leave a comment

One Night in Hawali; Cops Book 995 “To Fight Chaos On the Roads”

From today’s Kuwait Times:

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???

September 15, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Crime, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Law and Order, News, Safety | | Leave a comment

Qatar Congestion Eases (FAIL)

This totally cracked me up; the Qatar Gulf Times publishes an article about how smoothly traffic flowed on the day the Indian schools opened, noting that Arab and Independent schools will open on succeeding days. They published this photo with the article:

2017785c-6323-46aa-bfa1-0a5602c8a70d
Morning rush hour traffic on a Doha street yesterday. PICTURE: Najeer Feroke.

LLLOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Doha, Law and Order, Lies, Living Conditions, News, Qatar | 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

Qatar Emir Meets with Family to Plan Step Down

Honestly, who would want to be King? All those events and ceremonies, living your life in a fishbowl? Never a week went by in Doha without rumors of a new wife, speculation about an old wife, and comments on the Emir’s appearance. He has ushered Qatar through perilous times; few “blessings” are as two-sided as new wealth. He is looking healthier and happier than I have ever seen him; maybe he is looking forward to a life of privacy and leisure 🙂 We wish him well; we wish him safety and health and all good things. From today’s Doha News:

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, will meet with members of the ruling family and several Qatari advisors today, government-funded channel Al Jazeera reports.

Over the past two weeks, several foreign diplomats have said that a transition of power in Qatar is imminent. 

Citing “trusted sources” regarding its information about Monday’s meeting but not elaborating any further, Al Jazeera implied that the talks would revolve around the Emir’s succession plans.

Details about the upcoming changes in government are unclear. But the Emir is expected to cede power to his fourth son, 33-year-old Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, while the Prime Minister/Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, is said to be stepping down.

If the reports are true, the succession would be a historic event for Qatar and the Middle East, a region where rulers normally reign until death.

According to AFP:

“The emir is convinced that he should encourage the new generation. He plans to transfer power to the crown prince, Sheikh Tamim, and to carry out a ministerial reshuffle to bring a large number of young people into the cabinet,” a Qatari official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The Emir himself was a young 43 years old when he took power from his father in a bloodless coup on June 27, 1995, according to the Amiri Diwan’s website.

Though Al Jazeera’s report came in around 1am Monday, online reaction has already been building, with many Qataris expressing sadness about the potential end of Sheikh Hamad’s rule.

UPDATE | 12:20pm

Two hashtags in English and Arabic, #ThankYouHamad and  #شكراً_حمد, expressing gratitude for the Emir and his rule are trending in Qatar on Twitter.

Read more: http://dohanews.co/post/53723624652/report-qatars-emir-to-meet-with-ruling-family-members#ixzz2X8XZKABA

June 24, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Community, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Interconnected, Leadership, Living Conditions, News, Political Issues, Qatar, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Maldives President Urges Patience in Lashing Sentence of Rape Victim

Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the beauteous land . . .

Little drops of water, in the form of expressions of international outrage against the sentence of 100 lashings for a 15 year old girl, impregnated by her stepfather, who bore his still-born babe, and was ordered punished by the court system for immorality. A call to express outrage by boycotting travel to the Maldives seems to have gotten the attention of the government. It appears they will try to find a way to avoid this grueling punishment . . . thanks to the attention being paid.

From the English edition of Haveeru Online:

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik on Tuesday urged patience from the international community in the case of the 15 year old alleged rape victim who received a flogging after being convicted of adultery in a separate incident.

The conviction had sparked an international outcry and condemnation from rights groups such as Amnesty International. While an online petition condemning the Maldives over the sentencing has received over two million signatures. The petition, started by New York-based campaign group avaaz.org, calls on President Waheed to intervene and has been signed by over two million users.

“We appreciate the international compassion for this young woman and ask for your patience as this case moves through the judicial system,” President Waheed said in a statement.

“Currently the case is being appealed and I have urged the judiciary to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.”

“This case should never have been presented in the courts and we are working to ensure that cases like this are never brought to the courts again.”

In the statement, President Waheed also assured that the young woman remains under the care of the Gender Ministry and is receiving the appropriate physical and psychological counseling at this time. 

“As both the President and as a father, I am fully committed to protecting and advancing the rights of women and girls in the Maldives and throughout the world and share your deep concern about this young victim.”

In its attempt to pressure the Maldives government to overturn the sentence, Avaaz had called for tourism to be boycotted.

“Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let’s build a million-strong petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law,” Avaaz said on its website.

In that regard, President noted that the Maldives is a young democracy working to balance religious faith with new democratic values and asked the international community to support as partners as the country works through this challenge. 

“A boycott on tourism will only serve as a setback to the economic opportunities and rights we are all striving to uphold for women, girls and the hardworking Maldivian people in general,” Waheed stressed.

The 15 year old girl who gave birth and buried the baby in Shaviyani Atoll Feydhoo had been sentenced to eight months under house arrest and 100 lashes after the Juvenile Court found her guilty of pre marital sex.

Prosecutors have maintained that the 15 year old was charged with adultery over another case which came to light during the investigation of the buried baby.

The baby born last June was found buried in the bath house of the girl’s home. The child delivered out of wedlock was dead at the time of discovery. Charges have been filed against the 15 year old’s mother and step-father over the deliberate murder of the baby.

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Crime, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Law and Order, Leadership, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, News, Social Issues | 4 Comments