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Saudi Cleric Claims Physical Education Classes First Step Towards Infidelity and Prostitution

Abdullah Al Dawood, Saudi Islamic Cleric, Claims PE Classes For Girls Is First Step To Prostitution



Saudi Arabia is getting closer to adding physical education classes for girls to public schools, but some conservative Islamic clerics are slamming the move as a “Western innovation,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

After the kingdom’s advisory Shoura Council voted 92-18 on Tuesday to advise the Ministry of Education to look into girls’ P.E. classes, conservatives made their ire known on social media — and they got very dramatic.

“If we keep silent about the step of adding PE classes to girls’ schools then we are giving the Shoura Council a green light to continue the steps of Westernization and these steps will end in infidelity and prostitution,” tweeted Abdullah Al Dawood, according to WSJ.

Saudi Arabia is currently facing a health crisis, as a study found that a shocking 44% of Saudi women are obese.

Though gender roles remain traditional in the Islamic nation, Saudi Arabia made history two years ago when it included women on its Olympic team for the first time.

Reuters reports that the Shoura Council asked the Ministry of Education to look into gym for girls with the caveat that all classes conform to sharia regulations regarding attire and gender segregation.


April 11, 2014 Posted by | Cultural, Exercise, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Saudi Arabia, Women's Issues | | Leave a comment

Where is Rwanda and How Do They Celebrate a Genocide Anniversary?

Today the church prays for the diocese of Byumba, in Rwanda. There is Rwanda, below, right in the heart of Africa, nestled between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi.



Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 8.09.26 AMRwanda was in the news this last week for something very special. Most of our western news stations gave it zero coverage, but you could catch a glimpse online. This, from the Christian Science Monitor: on an amazing event just twenty years after one of the worst genocides in my memory. To me, it is wonderful and inspiring that they forgive one another and love one another to live in peace with one another. It gives me hope for our world.

The Monitor’s View

What to celebrate in Rwanda’s genocide anniversary

The 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide should focus as much on how the African nation worked toward reconciliation through forgiveness as on the mass slaughter itself.


This month, Rwanda marks the 20th anniversary of an event that its name is most associated with – the 1994 mass slaughter of the Tutsi minority and many in the majority Hutu. Over 100 days starting April 7, more than 800,000 people were killed, many by neighbors incited to ethnic hatred by a political elite. It is a genocide often cited since then to justify military intervention in similar ongoing atrocities.

This type of reparative justice in an intimate setting could prove useful in countries that will need post-conflict healing, such as Syria, Colombia, andMyanmar (Burma). It might also help prevent a cycle of revenge and retribution in those countries, as it has in Rwanda.

Most of Rwanda’s main perpetrators in the genocide have been tried in regular courts, either in Rwanda, Europe,, or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, set up by the United Nations. But for hundreds of thousands of others who were charged with killing, the Rwandan criminal-justice system was too weak and its jails too full. Legal trials would have taken decades. The country had to fall back on a form of community-based traditional justice known asgacaca.

Other post-conflict countries in transition, notably South Africa, have relied on a similar process with their truth-and-reconciliation commissions. But the bodies have usually been more formal and national in scope. Rwanda’s gacaca are far more personal, designed to achieve the end result of allowing people who knew each other to resume living in the same community. They also bring together an entire village to witness a confession, attest to its sincerity, encourage forgiveness by the victim, and agree on some reparation, such as helping till a victim’s fields for a time.

It hasn’t worked in every case. Many Tutsis who killed Hutus have not been tried. Many victims could not bear the trauma of hearing how their loved ones had died. And many Hutus disappeared or were able to hide from the truth.

The government under President Paul Kagame, despite its drift toward authoritarian rule, has encouraged the process by outlawing formal use of ethnic identities. “The divisionism of before is gone. All of us now have equal access to opportunities,” a young Rwandan told The Christian Science Monitor.

The gacaca rely on the guilty to listen to the stories of their victims with empathy, admit their acts with repentance, and rethink their self-identity within the community. For the victims who forgive, the process can lift feelings of rage and bitterness. Much of the justice lies in the restoration of relationships as much as in material reparations.

Rwanda is not yet a “post-ethnic” African nation. But the possibility of a future political class inciting Hutus and Tutsis to take up violence now seems slim. More Rwandans have a higher sense of identity.

As the world helps Rwanda mark the 1994 genocide, it should also spread the lessons of this post-genocide reconciliation. Dispute resolution is a common technique in every society, whether in families or courts. But when almost every village in an entire nation goes through it, the lesson is worth repeating elsewhere.


April 11, 2014 Posted by | Africa, Charity, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Cultural, Events, Faith, Leadership, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Values | , | Leave a comment

This ‘Commercial’ Will Make Your Day

April 10, 2014 Posted by | Character, Charity, Civility, Faith, Financial Issues, Leadership, Relationships, Spiritual | , , | Leave a comment

Please: ‘Condescend’ to Me With Equal Pay

It happened to me. I was working in the best job I ever had, working harder than I had ever worked and loving the work I was doing. Then raise time came, and I got a raise, but I knew it was not as much as the young guy who had started after I started. I liked the young guy; we worked together a lot and we worked together well. Sometimes he disappeared, sometimes for a long time. As it turned out, he suffered from depression, and I ended up doing a lot of his work.


So I confronted my boss, and said it was unfair that he had gotten the larger raise and I the smaller. My boss said “Intlxpatr, you have a husband who makes a lot of money and this young man is just getting started.” It had nothing to do with merit, quality of work, productiveness – it had to do with me being a woman who had a husband who provides for me. I know that to some of you reading this, that makes sense, but to me, even from the time I was a young girl, it makes no sense at all. You pay what the work is worth, regardless of sex. Regardless of nationality. Regardless of marital status.  That’s FAIR.

I didn’t quit. The boss moved on and the next boss gave me a giant raise to stay. I loved that job :-)


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WASHINGTON — Democrats’ push for pay equity between men and women is “condescending,” one of the top women in the House Republican leadership argued Tuesday, suggesting that the campaign for equal pay for equal work reflects a lack of understanding of women’s contributions to the workforce.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), the GOP conference’s vice chair, made her comments flanked by her fellow leaders in the House at their weekly news conference, and suggested that the campaign for equal pay for equal work reflects a lack of understanding of women’s contributions to the workforce.

“Please allow me to set the record straight. We strongly support equal pay for equal work, and I’m proud that I live in a country where it’s illegal to discriminate in the workplace thanks to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Jenkins. “Some folks don’t understand that women have become an extremely valuable part of the workforce today on their own merit, not because the government mandated it.”

Jenkins went on to belittle Democratic efforts on the issue.

“Many ladies I know feel like they are being used as pawns, and find it condescending [that] Democrats are trying to use this issue as a political distraction from the failures of their economic policy,” Jenkins said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday morning, appeared to slam the Democrats’ push as cheap political showmanship and accuse Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who had just addressed the issue, of playing games.

“Yesterday, here in the Senate, Republicans were hoping the Democrat Majority Leader would finally work with us to pass a job creation package that contains ideas from many of our members — legislation with provisions several key Democrats support too,” McConnell said. “But that’s not what the Majority Leader chose to do. Instead of focusing on jobs, he launched into another confusing attack on the Left’s latest bizarre obsession. Democrats chose to ignore serious job-creation ideas so they could blow a few kisses to their powerful pals on the left.”

However, shortly after this story was posted, McConnell’s office said his remarks were being misconstrued. Spokesmen pointed to his use of the word “yesterday,” and said that he had been referencing Reid’s Monday speech targeting the billionaire Koch brothers, rather than his procedural motion, also on Monday, to begin work on the Democrats’ Fair Pay Act.

According to many independent assessments, women who do the same job as a man are often paid significantly less, on average earning just 77 cents to a man’s dollar. Even when many of the factors that lead women to make different job choices are controlled for, significant gaps remain.

Jenkins did not address the issue of women getting paid less for the same job, but suggested that women simply tend to choose different jobs.

“When it comes to employment, the fact is many women seek jobs that provide more flexibility for their family over more money, which is the choice that I made as a young working mom,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins’ and McConnell’s opinions notwithstanding, women overwhelmingly backed the Democratic ticket in the last election, running up the largest gender gap in the history of Gallup polling. Women supported President Barack Obama over GOP nominee Mitt Romney by a 12-point margin.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) chose his words more carefully than his colleagues at the press event when asked whether there was anything in terms of legislation that Republicans would consider doing to address the gap.

Though Cantor demurred from offering new ideas, he did tweak the White House, noting reports that women working there get paid about 88 cents on the dollar, compared to men.

He said a better idea than passing new laws was trying to enforce the old ones.

“I point to the White House, and say what it is that they’re doing? They’ve got a problem in the White House,” said Cantor. “Let’s put the politics aside.”

He suggested that repealing part of Obamacare would help, and pointed to a bill the House GOP passed last week that would change the definition of full-time work in the law from 30 hours a week to 40.

“If you look to see those most impacted, it’s women. Sixty-three percent of those impacted by the 30-hour workweek rule are women,” Cantor said. “If the Senate Democrats would pick [the bill] up, we could help women right now.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers must provide health insurance for full-time workers, currently defined as people employed more than 30 hours per week. Republicans argue that because of that, employers are pushing people — in this case, mostly women — into part-time work, although independent fact-checkers havefound that claim to be false.

This article was updated after a spokesman for McConnell clarified the intended meaning of his remarks.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. 


April 8, 2014 Posted by | Family Issues, Financial Issues, Leadership, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | 2 Comments

Qatar Teacher’s Murderer Sentenced to Death

From Doha News:


After verdict, Patterson family worries justice won’t be served



Alison Patterson, mother of Lauren Patterson.

At this time last year, Alison Patterson was celebrating Mother’s Day in the UK with two of her three children. Her eldest daughter Lauren was working in Qatar, and sent a gift and a card home, as she always did when she was away.

Today, things are very different for the Patterson family. Daughter Lauren was killed in October by acquaintances in Doha, and on Thursday, a criminal court here found two Qatari men responsible for the 24-year-old teacher’s murder.

One of the defendants, 22-year-old Badr Hashim Khamis Abdullah Al-Jabar, was given a death sentence.

Badr Hashim Khamis Abdullah Al-Jabar

The other, 24-year-old Muhammad Abdullah Hassan Abdul Aziz, was handed a three-year jail term for helping Al-Jabar burn Patterson’s body, which was considered damaging and erasing evidence.

At the time of the sentencing, Alison Patterson told media that “justice was served” in the case of Al-Jabar, but that she was deeply upset with Abdul Aziz’s lighter sentence.

In an interview with Doha Newstoday, Patterson said she is worried that neither of the convicted men will pay for what they did to her daughter.

“Is it something that’s just been said – and that’s never going to happen?” she asked.

At the root of her doubts is a scene she witnessed after Thursday’s verdict inside the courthouse. Patterson had gone in search of her two younger children, and ended up passing a sitting area where the defendants were being held.

“They were just laughing and joking with each other,” she said. “It just almost makes me feels that they were laughing at what happened. They have no respect for the sentence they’ve been given.”

Another issue that troubles her is that Qatar has not executed any prisoners in more than a decade, according to Amnesty International.

Prior to her daughter’s death, Patterson said she never gave the death penalty much thought. But after being told that Al-Jabar sexually assaulted her daughter, stabbed her to death and then attempted to burn her remains at a farm outside of Doha, she said she supported the punishment.

“Lauren came home in a box the weighed 7 kilos,” Patterson said with regards to her daughter’s remains. “She weighed 50 kilos when she died.”

Other questions

Patterson has also been unable to shake an argument she read on a recent blog post about her daughter’s case on “Muslims Worldwide,” which she found while googling Lauren’s name.

The site appears to be full of hate speech about Islam and its adherents, but the post on Patterson struck a chord with Lauren’s mother because it questioned whether the quick sentencing of Al-Jabar was done so that officials could close the book on this crime, which the prosecutor called “heinous, foreign and shocking to a society as conservative as Qatar’s.”

The blog post reads:

“Sharia gives no justice to a kafir (non-Muslim/non-believer). And it never gives a death sentence to a Muslim over a crime committed against a non-Muslim…

So why would they announce the ‘death penalty’ if it is not given out? To appease the media. This case has been circulating all over the world. Arabs can’t stand negative media attention…These Arab countries make bogus claims of justice only to get the media off their back. In reality they keep them in prison and release them after 1-2 years.”

The last sticking point is that the verdicts must pass through two appellate courts here before they’re officially final, meaning closure could be some ways off for Patterson and her family.


Speaking to Doha News, Patterson’s partner Kevin Crotty said they were grateful for all the Qatari government has done to ensure a speedy trial.

“They’ve been more than generous and more than reasonable,” he said. “Everything’s been done that should have been done. But them (the defendants) smiling – and the lighter sentence for the second one… Ultimately, we’ve always felt the political angle was there. Is there something that we should worry about?”

The Pattersons’ lawyer, Sami Abu Shaikha, has said he plans to appeal Abdul Aziz’s three-year sentence, asking for a more severe penalty.

Meanwhile, Alison Patterson, who has started smoking again after 15 years due to the stress of all that’s happened, said she knows that whatever the outcome, the pain will likely never go away.

“There will never be peace. (But) I just really don’t want to be let down,” she said.


April 6, 2014 Posted by | Crime, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Safety | 10 Comments


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This happens.

A very average day, nothing spectacular posted. All of a sudden, a spike in stats so obvious . . . but my WordPress doesn’t say where it is coming from, Stat Counter doesn’t say where it is coming from or what it is about. I am stumped!

Update: They are all coming from Germany. Spammers? Hackers? Did I write something about Germany? (That’s just me puzzling out loud . . )

April 4, 2014 Posted by | Blogging, Germany, Statistics | | Leave a comment

Spring: Hope Eternal

Yesterday we had a crew at our house helping us get the gardens cleared out and some replacements put in. Most of our plants had survived the first great freeze, but the second freeze did them in – or so we thought.

Even the bougainvillea, which people assured me would not thrive in Pensacola, shows signs of coming back. The Plumbago, originally a native of South Africa, is showing some tiny signs of resilience. The grasses survived; we even took part of the Pampas grass and started a new area elsewhere. The mints, the lavender, the thyme, oregano, cilantro, the parsleys, the rosemarys – they thrived. The sages are coming back with a vengence. The drift roses are blooming early. It is truly a fabulous Spring, full of hope and a little replanting.

One of our very favorites, the Mona Lavender (which is not a lavender at all, but a gorgeous shrubby plant) totally bit the dust. My cherished begonia looks melted. I have accepted that it’s not coming back.



Pensacola this week is a sea of azaleas. Who knew azaleas came in so many vibrant colors? While many yards are that intense fuchsia, there are also yards full of white, pink, deep coral, light coral, deep burgundy azaleas. I smile every time I see them and think of our Saudi friend living here, who called them Ah-za-LEE-as. We call them that now, too, just between AdventureMan and me. :-)

I can only guess that something in the great Pensacola freeze ignited in the azaleas an urge toward survival that resulted in the most amazing display of luxurious, abundant blossoms I have ever seen.





April 4, 2014 Posted by | Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Florida, Gardens, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Weather | Leave a comment

Blinded by the Light . . .

Yesterday I had my annual eye exam. This is the South. I could hear them all talking in the back, talking about personal things, and OTHER PEOPLE! I used to run a library, and one of the very very first things I would tell my library workers was NO PERSONAL CONVERSATIONS when we had the library open. Keep your private life private! I’m not all about the library being quiet, but I am about it being not-annoying. Hearing gossip, hearing details of your last medical procedure, hearing about Maizie, bless her heart, who just lost another husband – these things are not my business, nor the library customer and are not appropriate for a discussion where the public may be listening in, even when they don’t want to be.

OK, OK, I know these are dated professional standards, but I can’t help it. Please. Do not burden me with overhearing your latest disaster unless we are friends and sitting down together over a cup of coffee.

At 30 minutes past my appointment time, I went back to see if my paperwork had been misplaced only to be told they were just a little behind and I would be taken soon. Fifteen minutes later I was in the office.

Now, when they dilate your eyes, you can still drive yourself home. It was a little bright, but I managed. Things are a little blurry.

Fast forward to last night, driving home, WOW. Every streetlight, every headlight, even the beautiful thin crescent moon had a spiky halo. It was like I had that sparkle lens you can put on your camera, only this was on my eyes.


This morning when I got up, I thought it would be all over, but my eyes are still dilated, and still sensitive. They must have given me a wallop of a dose.

But for the drive home, it was all Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds . . . it was so incredibly beautiful, it felt sort of surreal.

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April 4, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Bureaucracy, Cultural, Customer Service, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Privacy, Rants | , | Leave a comment

The Clothes Dryer

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I was talking to my Mom last night, asking her how her mother coped with having twins. She was trying to remember if her mother even had a washing machine, and thought not. She was only four, but she remembers a woman who came in and did ironing every day, and she thought maybe she also did all the laundry.

Imagine. Imagine doing diapers for twins by hand, in a wash tub with a wash board. It gives me shudders, but women worked harder in those days, life was physical. They also died a lot younger. Hmmm . . . having said that, my grandmother lived to 105.

Clothes dryers came much later. Even today, most women in the world hang their clothes to dry, some even lucky enough to have special racks or lines for that purpose, others hang them over shrubs and bushes and fences surrounding their homes.

Today’s meditation from Forward Day by Day caught my attention; in Germany the last time I lived there, I did without a dryer, hanging my clothes on racks, and I did just fine. I had the time, I had the space and it was just a different pace of life.

Mark 8:34. If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

A few years ago, a young husband and wife started an intentional community in rural Ohio. They share the house with others committed to simple living, to daily prayer and worship, and to issues of justice, especially around hunger and care of the earth. The farm not only yields enough to feed the members of the house and volunteers, but also supplies thousands of pounds of food each year to the local pantries.

I was struck by one story about their common life. They decided to get rid of the clothes dryer. After all, it’s not a vital machine, they determined. They could use a clothesline and conserve energy and money. Hanging clothes to dry would be an exercise in patience, in slowing down, as well as in planning and coordinating the wash with others in the house.

This small sacrifice provides powerful insight into the faithful witness of this group of people. I don’t know if God wants me to give up my clothes dryer (please, God, I hope not). But I do believe God calls us to sacrifice, to make hard decisions, to give up important things, so that we can take up the cross and follow Jesus.

April 3, 2014 Posted by | Aging, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Survival, Work Related Issues | 2 Comments

Swapnil Chaturvedi: Private Excretion

There really are everyday heros, if you have the eyes to see. This man is bringing dignity to the poor, who have no place to pee and poop privately. He left a fine job in the United States to start a campaign to provide private toilets for the countless poor in India who live without any toilets at all, and are forced to perform their daily functions in public.

Swapnil Chaturvedi’s life had all the trappings of the American dream — a college degree, prestigious engineer job, wife and daughter.

But when he returned home to India in 2007 after four years of living comfortably in the U.S., he was horrified by the country’s lack of basic sanitation, and decided to leave his cushy life behind to help, Mental Floss reported.

Fifty-three percent of Indian households defecate in the open, because they don’t have access to working toilets — a practice that leads to malnutrition, stunted growth, poor cognition, disease and other hampering conditions, according to the World Bank.

Even when there are toilets available, many locals decline to use them because they’re not vented properly. Women and girls often choose to defecate outside because the communal restrooms aren’t secure — leaving users vulnerable to getting harassed and attacked by onlookers.

“Men often gather around toilets and if we ignore them they try to touch and feel us,” Afsana, a young resident of Bawana, told CNN-IBN.

Women like Afsana are the reason that Chaturvedi has committed to his work.

“If somebody asked me why I started this business, there is only one reason: for women’s dignity,” Chaturvedi said in an interview about his company.

In 2011, he launched Samagra Sanitation –- a program based in Pune that works with existing communal restrooms and incentivizes locals to change their hygiene habits.

The company improves ventilation, accessibility and cleanliness in communal bathrooms. It also turns locations into community centers that offer rewards program for users, among other perks, to inspire people to take advantage of the facility, according to the company’s website.

Samagra, which is a Gates Foundation grantee, dubbed its program the “LooRewards Model.” It has already gotten involved in three slums in Pune, providing services to more than 3,300 people daily.

But Chaturvedi says he’s just getting started. He wants to see his program expand to help more than 50,000 people daily, which is why he launched an IndieGoGo campaign in the hopes of raising $50,000 to achieve his goal.

“We can live without Facebook, we can live without smartphones,” he said. “But we cannot live without relieving ourselves.”

To contribute to the IndieGoGo Campaign, click here

April 2, 2014 Posted by | Character, Charity, Civility, Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Health Issues, India, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Social Issues | Leave a comment


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