Friday, December 31, 2004


Hello people, I have been away for a while, hope everyone is well...
OK this post is going to be about the ways you can help with relief efforts for the victims of the Tsunami, and also a reminder that events like these should bring attention to the other tragedies happening in the world, and make us respond to them with equal compassion, not draw attention away from them. Our giving of what we can and our capacity to care should be limitless:

1- Several sites have in depth coverage, in case you want to get more info: The BBC has a lot of information and they have links to relief efforts and ways to locate those who are still missing---The WHO has a page on what kind of diseases spread through flooding disasters, so that you know what people there need---A Blog that has a wealth of info is the SEA-EAT blog --- Air America has news and you can listen to the radio shows..

2- For those of you who want to find relief agencies that are working to help the victims take a look at Doctors Without Borders, they are dedicated amazing people who are setting up relief centers/clinics and sending in medical supplies and aid, if you are a doctor or emergency worker you can volunteer to go over there and help out, through them---Oxfam, as always, is out there and helping, so give what you can---Save the Children is out there too in several regions including Madras, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand---the UN agencies involved in the disaster relief work are the World Food Programme, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization---The International Red Cross is in Sri Lanka and Indonesia---even Amazon is taking donations for the American Red Cross.

3- For those in Kuwait: Kuwait has so far pledged 2 million worth of aid, keep an eye on them so that they keep their promise---The Red Crescent can be a place you go to see how you can help---The Embassies of the countries affected by the disaster can be a source of information, ask them what they are doing to help and how you can help the victims, and help their families who might be in Kuwait---Things that are needed to be sent there, if you know someone in the area or someone who is going there, include: rehydration pills/kits, Malaria pills, paracetamols, diarrhoea pills for adults and children, multivitamins, water purification tablets/chlorine tablets, antibiotics, clothes, blankets, some places need more of some things than others so ask around..(also remember, north of our border those supplies are also desperately needed)
Indian Embassy---Indonesian Embassy---Thai Embassy---Anyone have info on the Sri Lankan embassy/consulate?
Kuwaiti blogs who also have info are Zaydoun's and Jambino's..the others out there let me know, I just haven't had enough time..

4-Lastly... disasters are taking place everyday, and they need a sustained effort from us as a world community to give relief to the victims and to help prevent them...our hearts all opened up for the victims of these horrendous floods, as they should, and it was probably very much due to the media attention and the heartbreking pictures and stories...our compassion should not end at the events that gain public attention only...or which stir us to a moment's need to do some good...let's remember the over two million dead in the DRC (Congo)--Lets remember 100,000 dead across our northern border, their wounded civillians and their devastated infrastructure---let's remember the wars that are raging all over the world that we are silent about---there is hunger that we can prevent worldwide (over six million children die each year, of hunger)---Write to the media, ask them why they don't do live coverage of suffering that goes on daily in war stricken countries? Where is their coverage of AIDS victims in Africa? Where is their coverage of hunger worldwide? Where is their coverage of the spending that goes on useless items while children and labourers and minorities worldwide become more and more needy..

The United Nations Development Program estimates that the basic health and nutrition needs of the world's poorest people could be met for an additional $13 billion a year. Animal lovers in the United States and Europe spend more than that on pet food each year

Peace everyone, let this new year be one we can all be proud of.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Mobile phone cameras have caused yet more trouble, this time in India where a seventeen year old boy has been arrested for filming a sexual encounter he had ...also arrested was the chief exec. of India's version of ebay, because a copy of the video was offered on the auction site..Condi Rice is said to have taken personal interest in the case because he is an American citizen, the story is in the Guardian---The Guardian also had an article about Iranian blogs yesterday. There are 75,000 Iranian blogs out there , bravo Iran--- A majority of Americans, according to CNN, think Rumsfeld should resign---Jehane Noujaim, who went to school in Kuwait when she was young, has followed up her hit with the highly praised Control Room, it's on DVD now---The magazine American Prospect has an article about how badly American democracy ranks among world democracies---According to a poll released by ABC and the Washington Post, Bush's approval is the lowest of any returning president ever---Newly released documents have even more prisoner abuse scandals in them---Due to continued attempts to convert Christian Copts in Egypt to Islam, the Coptic Pope has gone into seclusion to draw attention to the problem---Saad Eddin Ebrahim has been in Kuwait for the past two days, he gave a talk at KU and then at The Graduates Society (is that what it's called) and was interviewed on KTV as well---Finally, this is old news but here it is, if you're in the mood for learning, MIT has a free and open courseware site you can take a look at..

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The weather is an amazing thing..Blue skies today, after the grey of yesterday...there was a plane coming in through the clouds yesterday and it shook so much that a poor woman wouldn't stop screaming..hope the flight attendants helped her kindly...and what is this thing about people being stuck in traffic for four hours? Didn't we learn anything from the floods we had that last time, 5 or so years ago? Why would drizzle like this cause such blockages and delays? I tried every single street in one flooded part of town and they were all blocked by cops or well meaning people because there were huge puddles..In other countries it rains so much that people have to drain overflowing pools and they can still drive safely, and the pool here did not rise an inch..and I have to say we do love melodrama..people coming back with war stories about their day on the road...stories coming from the diwaniyas about everybody's day...I have heard that some people started crying in their cars and had to be rescued by family members walking to get them..I can understand that, being stuck in your seat for four hours is a pretty claustrophobic experience..And of course I love the comeback of the paternalistic "we are thankful to the Kuwaiti sha3b for their patience and their understanding"..Look I love rain, and I love clouds and there is nothing more beautiful than a storm..although yesterday is better described as drizzle, and I was pretty cheerful at the weather because I didn't really get caught in it..BUT, delays and flooding and traffic at a standstill and people trapped at work like some people I know in Shuwaikh, what's that about? Over some drizzle..
Just read an article about a news station called Ammanet, these guys are really doing a helculean job of getting the news out there...the English versions of some stories are on Eye on the Media...the reporters are on the field, they shoot write and edit their own stories...check them out...their story is on World Changing
As for the news: There is a debate you can watch between one of Saddam's lawyers and a US attorney who helped set up the legal system in Iraq...interestingly, they both say trials can't start next week , although there might be a pretend start for PR reasons (the transcript is also available to read)----The Kerik scandal just keeps getting more hysterical see The Independent---the Village Voice reports that "As of August, sewage from Baghdad's 3.8 million people was flowing untreated into the Tigris River"---The Guardian has a lengthy account of the mystery of Arafat's death---Fake cigarrettes pretending to be major brands are even more dangerous than the originals, so if you wanna kill yourself faster, there's an even better way now...
Have a good start to the weekend everyone..

Monday, December 13, 2004

Foreign Policy magazine has a 7 page article on blogs and blogging---Mahmoud Abbas has apologised for Palestinian support of Saddam H. During the invasion 14 years ago..After Kuwait said that it was not expeting a formal apology---A jointly made Palestinian-Israeli film by a Palestinian director who belives in non-violent struggle is showing at the Dubai Film Festival---The Daily Star has an article about AUK, and an article about Jean Said Makdisi's new book which "contradicts popular beliefs about premodern Middle Eastern society"
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the scene of one of the worst tragedies of our time..the past six years has seen 3.8 million people die there as a consequence of the ongoing war...For a brief and interesting history of the problem, go here...if you're the type to get drawn to a topic after seeing a movie, then take a look at Lumumba and if you like mysteries here's a BBC article on the questions surrounding Lumumba's death...
A Charity benefit opera and Kuwaiti music event will take place at the Marriott And 15KD entry fee will go to the Human Rights org. (Tuesday night)
That's the only info I have on that, anone who has more details let us know
Tonight 'Bas Ya Ba7ar' at Dar Al-Athar 7pm

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Morning folks, I read a strange article in the Kuwait Times about bottled water..Apparently a Kuwaiti family were nearly poisoned by dirt and insects in bottled water from Saudi. The company in charge told the father to stop making such a big fuss and then when the father informed him that his child almost died, the company representative told him it would be no more than losing a dog..hhmm..really guys? Well, the family will be suing the company..

Are we really surprised that in this world we have created, profits come over people? Are we surprised that poisoned people are not as important as the bottom line? Why would we be? Is there anything on our store shelves that doesn't poison you one way or another? When companies take shorcuts, is that done for the good of the consumer or for an increase in profits? The documentary The Corporation shows you that if the the corporation were a person, it would be clinically diagnosed as a 'psychopath'..The documentary has been getting great reviews.

From crimes like Bhopal (see the post on it below), to scandals like Enron, to the poisoning of communities like Woburn, MA described in A Civil Action to all the the chemicals we eat and drink everyday..are we really surprised? The question is why we continue to allow it...or why we just sit back and say, well thats what we have, and there's no changing it..or even, "ma feenna shay, ka 3aysheen wishzeenna! there can't be any problems"..The whole idea of just looking for profit (which tends to be very limited to few people, and also short term) instead of taking into consideration the effects these products will have on our health and the environment should have become extinct by now. But because we continue to be silent, continue to make lazy choices and continue to say 'well that's the way of the world', companies, corporations and profit seekers will not have to stop doing what they are doing. I hope the case against this water company comes to something, but will it be a loud enough shout for others to hear?

To read more about the way we have poisoned ourselves read the classic Silent Spring...and Trust Us We're Experts, watch Supersize Me and read Fast Food Nation and Affluenza: The all Consuming Epidemic...

To get an idea of how corporations are making sure that nothing stands in the way of business and profits, not the environment, not human rights, not sovereignty of states, not law..see: The Yes Men---This is What Democracy Looks Like---Bretton Woods Project----Corpwatch..

Saturday, December 11, 2004

What a beautiful day, take a look out the office window, or step outside and take a deep breath and smile..Isn't this planet just a wonderful place to be?...
(when you don't think about all the damage we have done to it)

So what's in the news?

The Independent says this:

"They are a billion strong. Diseased, malnourished, uneducated, they are a people on the run from wars that take the lives of their brothers and sisters. And they are all children - half the children on earth today"
Maybe you think 'that's terrible, but it's far from here and what can I do about it" ..until you read page twelve of Al-Qabas today and you hear about the ghetto/slums we have here:
الصليبية في حالة طوارئ00 من ينقذهابطالة وجرائم ومخدرات وفراغ ومعاناة إنسانية مستمرة
«يا أخي نريد من يحمينا..لا يوجد أمن، نخاف على أولادنا وبيوتنا، كل يوم تحدث جرائم وسرقات»
أطفال الصليبية تفتك بهم «الأمية»..بعضهم تجاوز عشرة أعوام ولا يعرف القراءة والكتابة، أولياء أمورهم يرونهم ويتمزقون ألما، أي مستقبل لهؤلاء المساكين سوى التحلق حول إشارات المرور كما يفعل الطفل محمد وأشقاؤه، يذهب سائقو السيارات إلى بيوتهم، يراقبون أولادهم وهم ينامون، وحده محمد يظل في الشارع يرفض «دينارا» واحدا أعطي له من دون مقابل، وقال بكبرياء يلفه الحزن «الله يخليك أخذ الخلطات وخلصني حتى أروح البيت
Till when will we continue to accept this? to make excuses for it (oh they haven't really been here long, they threw away their passports)? These human souls are here, they need jobs and educations and respect.
France is starting a French language news channel next year, to add some diversity to the CNN and FOX swamped world--- diseases from dead bodies, sewage in the streets and rabid animals means the 250,000 falluja refugees have to wait before returning to what's left of their homes---It was ten years ago today that the Russians re-invaded Chechnya--on this day in "1986: U.N. agency UNICEF, promoting child education, established. The program becomes a center of U.S. refusal to pay its U.N. dues, with the U.S. claiming that UNICEF programs were socialist and anti-American"(WFC)

And just some lighter stuff so you don't feel like the world is just too depressing (which it isn't, if we don't want it to be)-
  • A German company is planning to launch a new web service, Cybersky, that will allow you to watch TV shows from almost anywhere in the world, for free..
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) was in Dubai this week and spoke about the need for more starring roles for women in Hollywood films...and a film-makers' guild might be set up soon in Dubai..
  • Watch the Daily Show for a good laugh.

Peace everyone, and have a sweet day under these blue skies..

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

News in Brief

Another cloudy day, and people turning three highway lanes into 5 and slowing everyone down..

The news: Kuwaiti co-ops are recalling chicken meat due to a salmonella infection--A chemical commonly found in shampoo,methylisothiazolinone (MIT), may cause brain damage according to research at Pittsburgh University---Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRINFO), titled "The Internet in the Arab World: A New Space of Repression?" finds many of the area's estimated 14 million Internet users facing shutdowns of Web sites, the closing of Internet cafes and prosecution for a variety of crimes, real or imagined.---The US is also flexing it's muscles on that front, seeking to limit the freedoms of the internet"I know that these actions will be controversial in this age when we still think the Internet is a free and open society with no control or accountability," Tenet told an IT security conference" ..

As for the news to our North:

  • "Forty-six eminent figures including military men, ex-diplomats and bishops have written to Tony Blair urging a inquiry into civilian deaths in Iraq"BBC
  • The 1000th US soldier dies in combat in Iraq, while the death toll from both combat and other causes in the war totals 1,275, while 9,765 US troops have been wounded. (The Guardian)
  • The CIA says that Iraq looks bad and is getting worse..(International Herald Tribune)
  • "Devastation, bitterness for Fallujah residents" (Kuwait Times)

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

The clouds are great, and the weather smells like rain.. A thing I love here in Kuwait.

Ok guys the news goes a little like this, Al-Hayat reports that the Jon Stewart's book has been named book of the year by Publisher's Weekly--- Eight Us Soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait plan to sue the army for not letting them go home after their enlistment ended---If climate change isn't dealt with properly, populations in low-lying areas by the water will be forced to migrate. Bangladesh is one such place---Rich countries, who are richer today than they have ever been, are breaking promises they made to aid the poor, which Oxfam says will lead to the deaths of 45 million children by 2015..

Spurred on by D'n'G, I caught Tru Calling on showtime yeaterday since it coincided with me collapsing on the couch after an odd day...I noticed that it falls into two categories that seem to be popular these days Morgue/coroner shows and supernatural powers shows...Along with sitcoms about portly men with pretty wives, these seem to be the hottest storylines...It seems like TV folks like to copy themes about as much as we here like to steal the titles of movies and stick them on hairdressers' shops..It was an ok show, nice to see Ms. Dushku after the cancellation of the pretty great Buffy series..Now that was a show!...Also, where are the shows that fall in between idiotically lightweight silly, and pure creepy? Where are the Cheesy but satisfying Remington Steele's and Murder She Wrote's?? The quirky Seinfeld's and the light and breezy Friends (yes even with its shamefully all white all living in sweet apartments without really working cast, you still kinda looked forward to the laughs even if you sometimes didn't admit it)... ..Roswell and Dark Angel were good but short lived, Will & Grace is funny and is really Karen&Jack, Nip/Tuck is sorta good. People are addicted to 24 which I found to be a waste of 24 hours...what other shows are out there?

Thursday, December 2, 2004

"Alice was 25 when she left her job in Manila, the Philippines. She is a qualified civil engineer, yet her salary was not enough to pay for her four brothers and sisters to go through school. When she saw an advert offering well-paid posts as civil engineers in Kuwait, she contacted the recruitment agency immediately. She had to pay half the agency's fees up front, agreeing to repay the rest on taking up her position. But when she arrived in Kuwait she was told to sign a contract to work as a domestic servant. The agency refused to allow her to return to the Philippines, insisting that she take up the post and pay them the money she owed."(

"Philippine Labour Attaché Leopoldo de Jesus revealed that the number of runaway maids during the past two months reached 260...
..Of around 73,000 Filipinos working in this country over 40,000 are engaged in household services. Many of them, however, have been experiencing mistreatments and abuses from their sponsors. "(Kuwait Times)

"Two million Asian maids are subjected to physical abuse, beating, sexual harassment, rape in Gulf states" (Middle east News)
"Kuwait is issuing new regulations to improve working conditions for more than 400,000 Asian domestic servants...the law would stipulate a minimum wage, a weekly rest-day, a limit on working hours and payment of overtime"(Jazeera)
Number of years that these standards have been international law:
The International Labour Organization (ILO) regulations recommend the following with regard to work conditions:
  • limit the hours of domestic workers by specifying:
    -a forty hour work week, with adequate remuneration for overtime work;
    -the specification of the maximum hours of work permitted per day;
    -a fixed uninterrupted rest period of eight hours per day;
    -a limition on the hours spent "on call" and adequate remuneration for those hours;
  • ensure that minimum wage laws and regulations apply to domestic workers and that domestic workers are included within the minimum wage fixing system, having due regard to the general level of wages in the country, the cost of living, social security benefits, the relative living standards of other social groups and economic factors;

(From HRW report about Abuse In Saudi Arabia)

Reports and articles to look at:


"On July 1, 2003, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families* will enter into force. Its primary objective is to protect migrant workers, a particularly vulnerable population, from exploitation and the violation of their human rights...

...At present, the impact of the Convention remains limited, given that it has not been ratified by countries in either Europe or North America, where nearly 60% of the world’s migrants live (56 and 41 million respectively), nor by other major receiving countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, Israel, Japan or Australia." (UNESCO)

Abuse happens worldwide, including in Europe and the US, but this is about abuse here because we live here..and it's shameful.

Something with your morning coffee..

في التاسعة من صباح يوم الاثنين الماضي وبينما يهم صديقي بركوب سيارته للانطلاق الى مكتبه الخاص رن جهازه النقال· رد على المتصل فإذا بصوت نسائي ناعم: "هل نستطيع أن نأخذ من وقتك دقائق جزاك الله خير؟"· "تفضلي"، رد صديقي· فعاجلته المتصلة: "إحنا - جزاك الله خير - وقفية بنك الفقراء الخيري تابعين لجمعية الإصلاح الاجتماعي وعندنا نظام الوقفية الشاملة وقيمة السهم (200) دينار، بإمكانك - جزاك الله خير - أن تتبرع بعدد لا محدود من الأسهم لدعم هذه الوقفية··" قاطعها صديقي متسائلا: "وماذا تعملون بهذه المبالغ
بعد جمعها؟"، أجابته على الفور: "نبني فيها عمارات، ومن الإيجارات - جزاك الله خير - نصرف على الفقراء، وهذيلا الفقراء - جزاك
الله خير - بدعائهم راح تدخل الجنة أنت وعيالك
أكد مستشار اللجنة البيئية البرلمانية د· شكري الهاشم بأنه أجرى دراسة على عينة عشوائية أثبتت بأن الشعب الكويتي كله مصاب
باليورانيوم المنضب
نسبة الإصابة بالسرطان أكثر من 160-180% عن المعدلات الطبيعية
حجم الإصابة السرطانية زاد أكثر من 360% عن سنة 1992