Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Saturday, 5th July 2008

Saudi man and woman face flogging for research work
RIYADH: A Saudi appeals court is due this week to review the case of a biochemist and his female student sentenced to jail and flogging after a lower court ruled their research contact was a front for a telephone affair.
The man was sentenced to 8 months in prison and 600 lashes and his student to 4 months in prison and 350 lashes last November for establishing a phone relationship that led her to divorce her husband.
London-based Amnesty International says it will consider the two as prisoners of conscience if the verdicts are carried out.
"The charges ... do not correspond to recognisable criminal offences," the group said in a statement in April.
A spokesman for the government's Human Rights Commission said he was not immediately able to comment.

A new era for zeppelins?
PARIS: Imagine gliding in a floating hotel over the Serengeti, gazing down at herds of zebra or elephants; or floating over Paris as the sun sets and lights blink on across the city as you pass the Eiffel Tower.
Such flights of fancy may one day be possible, if the dream of Jean-Marie Massaud, a French architect, comes true.
As the cost of fuel soars and the pressure mounts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, several schemes for a new generation of airship are being considered by governments and private companies. "It's a romantic project," said Massaud, 45, sitting amid furniture designs in his Paris studio, "but then look at Jules Verne."
It has been more than 70 years since the giant Hindenburg zeppelin exploded in a spectacular fireball over Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36 crew members and passengers, abruptly ending an earlier age of airships. But because of new materials and sophisticated means of propulsion, a diverse cast of entrepreneurs is taking another look at the behemoths of the air.
Massaud, a designer of hotels in California and a stadium in Mexico, has not ironed out the technical details, nor has he found financiers or corporate backers for his project — to create a 690-foot zeppelin shaped like a whale, with a luxury hotel attached, that he has named Manned Cloud.

Babies' deaths cast shadow on Egypt's health care
CAIRO: The video shows a poorly lit hospital nursery filled with premature babies in incubators. Doctors are frantically trying to resuscitate some babies while others wail in the background after a night-time power cut.
"God help us! Five are suffering from (cardiac) arrests?" a voice in the background says angrily. "We can handle one or two at most, but five?"
"This is natural, doctor. It's been an hour and a half," says another male voice, apparently referring to the length of the power cut.
A mobile phone camera caught this scene at Cairo's state-run Al-Matariya Educational Hospital in late May on a night when the electricity was cut for nearly three hours after midnight and back-up generators failed to work.
Doctors at the hospital said the outage led to the deaths of four infants. The health ministry, which has referred the matter to the public prosecutor for investigation, says two babies died but that was before, rather than during, the power cut.

Nude girl art row flares in Australia
CANBERRA: A photograph of a nude 6-year-old girl on the cover of a high-brow Australian art magazine on Monday sparked an uproar after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called it disgusting, infuriating liberal art critics.
This month's taxpayer-funded Art Monthly Australia magazine placed the photograph of the young dark-haired girl on the cover, sitting and with one nipple showing, to protest censorship of a recent photo exhibition featuring similarly naked children.
"I can't stand this stuff," said Rudd, a staunch Christian whose centre-left Labour government won a sweeping victory over conservatives last year, in part on a vow to reinvigorate Australia's small but influential arts community.
"We're talking about the innocence of little children here. A little child cannot answer for themselves about whether they wish to be depicted in this way," Rudd added, as officials said they would review the magazine's funding.
Magazine editor Maurice O'Riordan said he hoped the July edition of the monthly magazine would restore "dignity to the debate" about artistic depictions of children and anyone else.
Australian Catholic abuse victims want apology from Pope
SYDNEY: Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and brothers in Australia, like Jose Respall who still vividly recalls being fondled at age 11, are calling on Pope Benedict to apologise when he arrives in Sydney on Sunday.
"I was touched in the groin and inside of my thighs," said 45-year-old Respall, recalling how a Marist brother teacher abused him and his classmates in a Sydney school in 1974.
"He was blatantly open, he would tuck your shirt in, in the playground. Everybody knew about what was going on yet nothing was done," Respall told Reuters in an interview on Monday.
Respall said some of his school friends wrote swear words on the inside of their thighs, hoping the brother would be offended and not molest them.
"As you go through life you don't want to remember these things. It's an horrific experience to be touched and molested at a very young age," said Respall.

Dowd: The ideal husband
This past weekend, we Americans celebrated our great American pastime: messy celebrity divorces.
There's the Christie Brinkley/Peter Cook fireworks on Long Island and the Madonna/Guy Ritchie/A-Rod Roman candle in New York.
So how do you avoid a relationship where you end up saying, "The man who I was living with, I just didn't know who he was" - as Brinkley did in court when talking about her husband's $3,000-a-month Internet porn and swinger site habit? (Not to mention the 18-year-old mistress/assistant.)
Father Pat Connor, a 79-year-old Catholic priest born in Australia and based in Bordentown, New Jersey, has spent his celibate life - including nine years as a missionary in India - mulling connubial bliss. His decades of marriage counseling led him to distill some "mostly common sense" advice about how to dodge mates who would maul your happiness.
"Hollywood says you can be deeply in love with someone and then your marriage will work," the twinkly-eyed, white-haired priest says. "But you can be deeply in love with someone to whom you cannot be successfully married."
For 40 years, he has been giving a lecture - "Whom Not to Marry" - to high school seniors, mostly girls because they're more interested.
"It's important to do it before they fall seriously in love, because then it will be too late," he explains. "Infatuation trumps judgment."
I asked him to summarize his talk:
"Never marry a man who has no friends," he starts. "This usually means that he will be incapable of the intimacy that marriage demands. I am always amazed at the number of men I have counseled who have no friends. Since, as the Hebrew Scriptures say, 'Iron shapes iron and friend shapes friend,' what are his friends like? What do your friends and family members think of him? Sometimes, your friends can't render an impartial judgment because they are envious that you are beating them in the race to the altar. Envy beclouds judgment.
"Does he use money responsibly? Is he stingy? Most marriages that founder do so because of money - she's thrifty; he's on his 10th credit card.
"Steer clear of someone whose life you can run, who never makes demands counter to yours. It's good to have a doormat in the home, but not if it's your husband.
"Is he overly attached to his mother and her mythical apron strings? When he wants to make a decision, say, about where you should go on your honeymoon, he doesn't consult you, he consults his mother. (I've known cases where the mother accompanies the couple on their honeymoon!)
"Does he have a sense of humor? That covers a multitude of sins. My mother was once asked how she managed to live harmoniously with three men - my father, brother and me. Her answer, delivered with awesome arrogance, was: 'You simply operate on the assumption that no man matures after the age of 11.' My father fell about laughing.
"A therapist friend insists that 'more marriages are killed by silence than by violence.' The strong, silent type can be charming but ultimately destructive. That world-class misogynist, Paul of Tarsus, got it right when he said, 'In all your dealings with one another, speak the truth to one another in love that you may grow up.'
"Don't marry a problem character thinking you will change him. He's a heavy drinker, or some other kind of addict, but if he marries a good woman, he'll settle down. People are the same after marriage as before, only more so.
"Take a good, unsentimental look at his family - you'll learn a lot about him and his attitude towards women. Kay made a monstrous mistake marrying Michael Corleone! Is there a history of divorce in the family? An atmosphere of racism, sexism or prejudice in his home? Are his goals and deepest beliefs worthy and similar to yours? I remember counseling a pious Catholic woman that it might not be prudent to marry a pious Muslim, whose attitude about women was very different. Love trumped prudence; the annulment process was instigated by her six months later.
"Imagine a religious fundamentalist married to an agnostic. One would have to pray that the fundamentalist doesn't open the Bible and hit the page in which Abraham is willing to obey God and slit his son's throat.
"Finally: Does he possess those character traits that add up to a good human being - the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous? Or is he inclined to be a fibber, to fits of rage, to be a control freak, to be envious of you, to be secretive?
"After I regale a group with this talk, the despairing cry goes up: 'But you've eliminated everyone!' Life is unfair."

IW: That's me, trying to sleep in the back of our car. The tent door had been left open, it was like a pond inside.


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