Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

I hope that everybody had a great Christmas.  Regardless of your religion - it's all about the love.

Did anyone go to the caroling in the desert this year?  Please let me know how it went.  I've always wanted to go, but I'm always out of town.  I've heard that it is amazing - people bring their own instruments and sing around campfire.  I love that.  I think it would be a great thing to do; kind of similar to New Years 2000 (Millenium) at the Pyramids in Egypt (ok, but on a much smaller scale!).

I had a ticket to go to that concert at the Pyramids, but decided not to go.  We started drinking early that afternoon and..... ok... just too damn lazy.

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family.  It snowed this morning as we were opening presents.  We had a big fire in the fireplace and it was so nice.... until that big F-ing stupid dog got into my Russel Stover chocolates that my mom gave me and gnawed his way into MY chewy caramels.  RRRRRRR.  It's ok. He only got one.  Now, he is camped outside of my bedroom door waiting for a second chance.  Aint gonna happen buddy.

When I'm here, it feels like I never left.  When I go back to Kuwait, ditto. 

Good happy wishes to everybody and merry cwimmas. :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Had Lasik - Why didn't I do it before?

If you read my blog regularly, I will tell you that I am a self-proclaimed idiot. This just proves it.  I had lasik surgery 2 days ago and it was so easy.  I've had periods worse than what I went through in the laser room.  I should have done this YEARS ago. 

I went to TLC Laser Center.  They are all over the US, but the one I went to was in Reston, Virginia, only about 5 minutes from our house.  Unfortunately, I couldn't have the actual surgery done there because of my astigmatisms in both eyes, so they sent me about 30 minutes (sans traffic) away to their Rockville center.  There are over 12,000 doctors in their network and I wish they had centers in Kuwait.  It is a little expensive, but you get life-long treatment and the treatment is awesome.

They were AMAZINGLY thorough.  I went through a gazillion tests on the consultation (back in August) and they started me on medication to ease the dry eye problems I have had.  The consultation and all the testing is free and they never pushed me on payment - no hard-sell.  They only brought up financing once. 

The post-op appointment was the day before the surgery and another battery of similar tests.  Again, no hard-sell on the payment.  They never jammed a form in my face and demanded an insurance card or anything. 

I can't tell you how friendly EVERONE at these centers were.  From the receptionist all the way through to the doctors and administrators.  They were just all kind, decent people and all of them took the time to talk to me about me and my life and what it is like living in Kuwait (and eye conditions there).   Just genuine concern and kindness. 

The day of the surgery (2 days ago), my sister went with me to hold my hand.  Okay, that and to crack jokes with me which is usually what I do when I get really nervous.  This time, oddly enough, I was quiet and couldn't talk a lot.  My sister is always there when I need her.  Always.  She had laser surgery like 15 years ago when it was pretty new around here and she always told me I should get it.  I'm the chicken in the family (yep, it's true).  This is my first surgery of any kind (ok, with the exception of having a mole removed, but that doesn't count).  My sister is a cancer survivor and has gone through so much. I was really ashamed to make any noise about being afraid or in pain. 

So, she went with me and we laughed and I took 2 doses of valium and went into happy land (they gave it to me, I didnt' buy it on the black market or anything).  She watched me for a while through a little window and said that I was very peaceful (valium). 

It didn't last long at all and contrary to what people had told me, I didn't see any eye clamps or any of the aparatus they use.  They just told me to look into the light - which is similar to the tests that you have to do, so it was no big deal. I didn't feel them "creating the flap" or any of that - which was my biggest fear.  It was  all over within minutes.  They gave me 2 Tylenol PM's and I was out for 4 hours of sleep.

I have to use eye drops for the next week, but that is the only down side.  My left eye was sore for several hours after the operation, but that was probably just where the thing held my eye open during surgery.

It is amazing how I can see now. I'm shocked.  The biggest deal was that I could see in the shower.  If you are someone who wears contacts or glasses, you'll know that you usually don't wear either in the shower.  I could see!  Amazing.  I started laughing.

This was my Christmas present from my sister:  The gift of sight.  She has done so many kind things for me in my life that it makes me weepy just expressing my gratitude.  She's an amazing person who has helped so many people.  She's my personal Oprah (and I am sure the other people who she has touched feel the same way).  I am ashamed because I never think that I am doing a sufficient job in showing her my gratitude.  I hope I do.  What a wonderful thing to do for someone.  I love you dearly, Caitie.  Thanks for allowing me to see so well.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Find an Apartment in Kuwait (Update)

I have been asked by several people recently to update my info on how to find an apartment in Kuwait.  It has now been 2 years since I moved into my place - and let me tell you - from what I hear, not much has changed.  It is still a daunting task and I pity anyone who has to go through it.

Call Ahmed Al-Enezi!  He's great.  (965) 5067-9778  (and no, I don't get a commission - I just like him)

Most of the realtors that I worked with have moved on.  Slapperella found an apartment about a year ago and I had the opportunity to meet her realtor, Zamina Huseynova of Comfort Real Estate (phone 9946-4866).  She was pleasant, professional, HONEST, and didn't waste time.  I hear she is still helping some of my friends (that I know in real life and also virtual friends).

I have checked into http://www.masahati.com/ which is very cool.  They give you a map with pop-up pictures of locations.  My friend who owns Q8Realtor tells me that they are eyeing a similar application.  However, with no exclusive listings in Kuwait, it kind of opens the door to all the little real estate monkeys to jump in and take a look at what they can show.

Personally, I still believe that there needs to be more Western real estate agents in the market (Q8Realtor - you guys are members of the American Business Council and BBF - maybe you can get working on that).

Regardless, it is going to take a lot of work to find the perfect home in Kuwait.  Drive around - look for apartments at night with the shades open and the lights on; then go ask the building guard.  If the place isn't what you want, or you feel that you have been just taken for a ride, don't waste your time being pleasant:  WALK. 

Good luck!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Office Christmas Party

Not mine, but my sister's..... O.M.G.

She had it at the house and all the halls were decked.  It looked bagorgeous all lit up with candles and fairy lights.  I LOVE fairy lights.  I love the houses in Kuwait where people are getting married and they light 'em all up with white lights.  My sister's got icicle lights on her railing of the back deck that look just magical in the snow.  Love it.

She put my measly 1kd per head Chinese party caterer to shame.  I had no idear.  There was a raw bar with shrimp, crab claws and oysters; fish, beef, mashed potatoes in the shape of pears (crunchy on the outside and just-right-mushy on the inside); veggies (lots of asparagas), and cookies.  Oh, every conceiveable type of alcohol you could imagine.  I drank a few cosmos and that just about did me in for the night.  They were gooooood.

Everybody was laughing all the time. I can't remember hearing so many people collectively laughing in a long time.  They just don't do that in Kuwait, do they?  Unless, I guess a comedy tour is in town.  That's kinda sad.

I'm missing The Man.  I think he would really love all of this and get along great with my family - most especially Alex.  I know he would love the snow (and building SNOWmen, not DUSTmen).  The dogs might freak him out, but that wouldn't last long.  He has grown to love dogs and various creatures and I'm proud of that.

So anyhoo, off to Silver Diner with Alex and then off to my moms.  Peace out.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I'll be home for Christmas....

... and I am!  I'm in Virginia. Got here yesterday morning, thanks to a very nice flight via United.  I feel like I have been here already for a long time. I've done a lot in less than 48 hours.

It snowed yesterday.  My mom tells me that it has been brutally cold, but it isn't really right now.  I had to sweep the snow off the car this morning (because my sister is making my nephew park his new Jeep inside so she can lock him in/know where he is at all times).  There's just a few inches of snow.  I saw deer today.  My sister has stopped feeding them in our yard because mice eat the grain/corn and then head inside for someplace warm to sleep... ew.

I bought my nephew a subwhoofer from Crutchfield and had to return it.  I forgot that it would invalidate the warranty - or so my sister tells me.  I think it might have more to do with teenager noise factor and distracted driving.  If you haven't shopped at Crutchfield, they've got great electronics and good prices. 

I wish someone had bought me a subwhoofer when I was a teenager and the radio in my 78 Trans Am was barely making it.  I miss that big, badass, noisy, flashy car.  It rocked.  I bought it from a current brigadier in the Kuwait Fire Brigade.  He was in his 20's then and still had all of his hair. tee hee.

So, we have 2 trees in the house (tree huggers!), one is fake and the other is real.  They both ba-gorgeous.  I am home for cwimmas and it really feels like it. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Radisson Blu Closing December 22nd for a year of renovations





















So 30 years worth of butts in those big blue leather chairs really made an impact. (So to speak.  Tee hee).  Looking forward to the new look. I like the hotel, but it really was time for a re-vamp.

Tony Blair's company 'to make £27m advising Kuwait on how to govern itself'

Tony Blair's company 'to make £27m advising Kuwait on how to govern itself'

By Nabila Ramdani and Tim Shipman
Mail Online
Last updated at 3:51 AM on 14th December 2010


The former prime minister’s consultancy firm has been ­advising the Gulf monarchy how to govern itself.

Such a payout would indicate that estimates of Mr Blair’s earnings since he left Downing Street – ­usually put in the £20million to £40million range – could be well below the mark.

Cultivated friendship: Tony Blair with the Emir of Kuwait in 2007

Kuwaiti sources familiar with the deal say Mr Blair’s firm stands to earn more than 12million dinars, the equivalent of £27million.

A spokesman for Mr Blair last night dismissed the claims as exaggerated but said a team from Tony Blair Associates will be working with the Kuwaitis for ‘several years’.

The extent of the former premier’s ties to Kuwait led to claims he is cashing in on the contacts he ­cultivated in government and as a Middle East peace envoy, a post which grants him access to Gulf leaders with whom he has developed financial ties.

The claims were also met with ­dismay among relatives of Britain’s war dead, who accused Mr Blair of profiting from his decision to invade Iraq – a war popular with the Kuwaiti Royal Family since it saw the end of Saddam Hussein, who invaded their country in 1990.

Kuwait was the first client of Tony Blair Associates, the London-based firm set up by Mr Blair in 2009 to recommend ‘political and economic trends and governmental reform’.

The firm was contracted to produce ‘Kuwait Vision 2035’, a report into the kingdom’s political and economic future which was delivered earlier this year.

But since then Mr Blair and his consultants have been helping to implement the report’s findings, while training a team of ‘super mandarin, British-style’ civil servants to run the country.

A government source in Kuwait said ‘at the moment they have gone over the 12million dinar mark’ for ‘on-going consultancy work related to the report’.

‘Mr Blair got the work because of his high international profile and vast experience of government,’ the source said. ‘The fact that he helped defeat Saddam Hussein’s Iraq didn’t harm his bid either.

‘He is regularly over here nowadays, as are his staff. In turn his Kuwaiti trainees have been invited to London. They will be shown around Whitehall and pick up tips learnt from Mr Blair’s time running the UK.’

During his visits to Kuwait, it is claimed Mr Blair and his wife Cherie have used – for free – the £2,000-a-night Royal Suite at the Sheraton Hotel.

Big spender: Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Saba has earmarked £45bn for new development projects

Mr Blair has gone out of his way to cultivate the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Al-Sabah, who made a state visit to Britain to meet the Queen in 2007, just before Mr Blair left Downing Street.

The Emir has moved to implement some of Mr Blair’s 2,000 recommendations. He has earmarked £45billion for 250 projects to be started over the next four years alone, including a new business hub called Silk City, a new harbour, railway and metro system.

There is also the suggestion a street might be named after Mr Blair.

There is concern in Kuwait about how Mr Blair separates his envoy work and his private business interests. He also represents the investment bank JP Morgan in the country.

‘One minute he’s earning massive profits for TBA or JP Morgan, and then he’s offering to end wars in the Middle East,’ said another source.

The extent of Mr Blair’s income is unclear since he uses a web of companies and partnerships to conduct his business.

His firm’s report has faced criticism in Kuwait, where education minister Moudhi Al-Humoud called it ‘negative’ and ‘vague’.

And Ahmad Saeid , a Kuwaiti analyst, said: ‘I’m sure I’m not the only person in Kuwait who hopes that our government’s definition of “good governance” is not the same as Tony Blair’s.’

A spokesman for Mr Blair last night dismissed the claims, saying: ‘The fees are nowhere remotely near that sum and they were in respect of a full-time team of people hired for the project over several years.

‘The work done is all a matter of public record and has been reported extensively in Kuwait and elsewhere.’

He did not respond to questions about whether Mr Blair or his staff had shown Kuwaiti officials around Whitehall.

A Kuwaiti spokesman confirmed that Mr Blair’s consultancy work was ‘on going’. He said payments were confidential.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1338368/Tony-Blairs-company-make-27m-advising-Kuwait-govern-itself.html#ixzz185bTI9jS

- - -

There was a job ad recently on LinkedIn.com.  Check out the reply-to e-mail address:

Delivery Expert
Government leadership position
A Gulf state
Minimum 1-year contract, to start asap

The Gulf state has a new vision. It will provide the foundation for future development, maximising the potential of its people, its wealth and its rich heritage. Fundamental to its success will be the continued development of a world-class team operating at the heart of the government and built upon international best practice. The Delivery Expert will have a leadership role in the drive to deliver the country’s top reform priorities and act as a key advisor on delivery. The successful appointee will lead government peers, and develop and nurture an existing delivery team in focusing relentlessly on the delivery of services to citizens. Critical to this role is building and maintaining relationships with peers in ministries and earning the trust and respect of key senior stakeholders, including high-ranking executives and Cabinet ministers. The Delivery Expert will work together with colleagues in strategy, communication, and policy functions who together comprise a recently established elite entity operating at the heart of government. Main accountabilities: Perform a leadership role in embedding the culture and practice of delivery, including setting objectives and targets, improving operations and methodologies, and affirming global best practice project and performance management in the priority reform areas Coach and mentor the existing delivery team and other colleagues on best practice excellence in delivery topics, to truly embed a culture of performance management Build and manage key stakeholder relationships at senior levels Update and advise on the priority reform areas, such as progress against targets, emerging issues, and recommendations on the way forward Challenge government entities on reform progress in a manner that is data-driven, honest and constructive (DG:  Yo, good luck with that.)

Who we're looking for You will have the following qualities: A motivating and inspiring leader, able to operate in a charismatic, persistent, and approachable manner A strong track record and proven expertise in delivery, gained from a senior role in a government delivery body or top-tier consultancy, and in possession of the full suite of core delivery skills and methods Strong, persuasive and focused oral and written communications skills with the ability to quickly construct logical arguments with brevity and possess excellent influencing and persuading skills Superior ability to identify and focus on highest value activities and to encourage others to do the same Willingness to coach and mentor peers Ability to challenge stakeholders appropriately and to be challenged in return. Comfortable and experienced with resolving conflicts effectively Proven ability to operate in a multicultural and fluid environment, preferably with extensive experience in the
Gulf or Middle East Spoken and written fluency in English is a must. Spoken and written fluency in Arabic is advantageous


About the role The role is a great opportunity for you to join and have a central role in a recently established delivery body, operating at the heart of government alongside complementary professional functions of strategy, policy, communications and information. The unit’s purpose is to ensure delivery of the government's priority reform areas, working with ministries and departments to drive successful reform implementation. The unit will be responsible for setting and monitoring interim reform targets, helping ministries and departments address bottlenecks and solve problems, providing regular updates to on progress, and embedding a performance management culture throughout the government.

What's on offer Excellent tax free package

Application process

Interested applicants should send a CV and cover letter detailing your suitability and likely availability to recruitment@tonyblairoffice-advisory.org no later than Friday 10th December.


- - -

Hey - so looks like they are recruiting more people to govern the country.  I wonder how many CSA employees applied.  (that was mean)  Fassssssssscinating!

I can't believe the yanks aren't in on this.  Well, okay, we had our chance.  Americans have been trying to govern Kuwait since 1991....

Paid My Electric Bill - Only took 3 days

Thanks to the diligence and perserverence of a very dear person, I was finally able to pay my electricity bill.  It only took 3 days and lots of running back and forth. Helper person was amazing and did so much of the work at the ministry.

Background:  In 11 years, I never received a bill from the Ministry of Electricity and Water.  So, to avoid the type of frustration (and a little humiliation)  that I have been through to pay it this time (every year), I just put it off.  Until.... 11 years later... they threatened to cut off my electricity and I paid up to the tune of 800 KD.

The MEW had me listed under some name that sounded vaguely like mine (but wasn't) and as a Canadian national.  No civil ID was on record with them.

Six months later, the owners of the building that I lived in informed me that I had 6 months to clear out as they were tearing the building down.  Damn.  Had I known that just 2 months before, I coulda skipped and they would never have known.

So, I procrastinated (obviously, it is what I do) and since I moved from the building in 2008. I haven't had the electricity cut off.  Granted, it is my fault that I didn't go directly to the MEW, but I didn't.  It is almost as painful (but not as scary) as going to the dentist.  Hate it.

The building I used to live in is still there, but no one has been living there since 2008. 

And let me just note that with 30 apartments at an average of 300kd/mo rent, that is just STUUUUUU-PID. +/- KD 432,000 or approximately 1.5 million in lost revenue.  They were s'posed to demolish it and build something bigger/better, but then the financial crisis hit.  The owners sold it to someone new and they are considering refurbishing the apartments (which are quite nice) and charging more rent.  Well hey - they could have done that with the tenants still IN it.

After I paid the 800kd, I only used the electricity for a few months.

I tried to pay 2 months ago and close everything with the MEW.  I went to MEW in Salmiya.  I went to the building with a technician (who wasn't actually a technician because the contract with the Egyptian technicians had run out - this dude was just trying to help) to check the meter.  "The Meter is broken.  We have to install a new meter, turn on the electricity and then see how much you used."  (- and I/me/myself would have to pay for the new meter.) Oh.My.God.  The elecricity has been turned off in the whole building!  So, back to MEW in Salmiya.  'Is there any other way I can pay this and just get it done with?'  "By our computer's calculations, you owe 180KD."  DUDE!  Like, for WHAT?  Several months?  I had a 2 bedroom apartment and lived alone.  I wasn't running the lights for the entire city of Salmiya. 

I gave in.  'Okay fine.  I'll pay the 180KD.  Where is the KNET?'  "Maam, our KNET machine is broken."  WTF!!!!!  WTF!!!!  WTF!!!!!  Is EVERYTHING broken at the MEW?  It was 1/2 an hour before the MEW office closed and everyone was already smoking and had stopped working.   I asked them if there would be a travel ban slapped on me.  They said  no.  I said, 'Maasalaama.'  AMF.

So, I told my Dear Kuwaiti Friend.  He got indignant.  "Why should you pay?!"  and got all ferocious like a lion taking care of a cub.  Me likes.  I also still had a 120-something KD deposit at MEW.  He ran over there and immediately started making friends.  I love that - sometimes it is all about talking the same talk.  He found a nice guy who wanted to help - and OMG - did he EVER! 

I went there with him this morning (only because you have to be present and sign like 20 forms to get your deposit back).  We went to have about 4 people from MEW sign all the forms.  I got out of it with only paying 6KD and I got my deposit back.  I'm still in shock.

MEW dudes:  Again, if you would make it EASY for your customers to pay their bills, your customers wouldn't MIND paying their bills. 

I will never ever ever live in an apartment in Kuwait where I have to pay for electric or water. I will never repeat this process.

- - -
Arab Times, July 26, 2010
AB obligates MoC to collect KD 80 m in overdues


KUWAIT CITY, July 26: Assistant Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs at the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) Jasim Al-Lengawi called on all consumers to cooperate and settle their bills in order to continue enjoying the services of the ministry, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily.

He said bills can be settled at various consumer affairs centers or through Internet on www.mew.gov.kw.

He pointed out that the ministry has added a new article in the contracts signed with companies that read meters to ensure that the companies’ workers are paid their salaries on time. “No payments will be given to the contractor unless he presents a statement from the bank proving that he transferred monthly salaries of his employees,” he noted.  (This is why no meter readers are available now at MEW).

Al-Lengawi earlier received an Omani delegation which was visiting the ministry under an expertise (OMG!!  What mis-informed Omanis!!!) exchange program between GCC distribution companies. The delegation visited the communication center and some emergency centers of the ministry and met assistant undersecretary for distribution networks and other officials.

Meanwhile, Assistant Undersecretary for Finance, Planning and Administrative Affairs at the Ministry of Communications Dr Waleed Al-Najjar said the State Audit Bureau obligated the ministry to collect overdue bills amounting to around KD 80 million from citizens, companies, public institutions and some expatriates, reports Al-Anba daily.

- - -
Maybe they should hire Tony Blair to figure out how to do it.
 
I just noted the MEW website cited in the article above (http://www.mew.gov.kw/).  I didn't see it posted anywhere at the ministry.  Funny that. NICE of them to advertise it so I could have tried that!  Here is a screen capture.  I don't know what my "premise ID" would have been and as it turned out, the number on the meter and the number that MEW had on record for the meter were different. 
 
Has anyone tried to pay through this website? 
 

Knowledge is Power!

The power to get you jailed, apparently.  (Photo: Arab Times)

Yet another new parliament? Sigh.

Incase you've been under a rock lately, there have been major political upheaval  in Kuwait over the past few weeks. It smells like the parliament is about to be desolved - again.  Kuwait has so much POTENTIAL and OMG - so much wasted energy.

I'm not meddling, mind you - all this stuff below is from the internet.

It relates to an  incident involving police and a a group of MPs and others at a Kuwaiti Member of Parliament's  (Jamaan Al-Harbash's) diwaniya  last week. Earlier this month, pandamonium broke out at another diwaniya.   Again, if you haven't heard about this, you're missing some great WWF action.  I thought this kind of stuff only happened in say China or Korea (where lawmakers publicly beat the crap out of each other).



Oh my, it's gettin kinda jungly out here.  Kuwaiti-on-Kuwaiti violence:  Can't we all just get along?  Ever heard the adage:  United we stand, divided we fall?

Related bedtime stories:
Kuwait shuts Al Jazeera for ‘meddling’

Lawmakers among injured as police clash with crowd in Kuwait

BBC:  Opposition MPs in Kuwait have accused the government of being behind a police crackdown on a rally that left at least five people injured.

Kuwait Times:  Special Forces storm oppn rally

Jordan Times (Reuters):  Kuwait row over unrest heats up; Al Jazeera shut down

Kuwaiti MPs accuse PM over violence

Kuwait shuts down Al Jazeera office

Interior halts seminar hosted by former lawmaker Al-Nebari


and..... to top it all off.....

Blair to make $42 million telling Kuwait how to govern itself

What's that guy doing on the overpass? ...Oh snap!

I love this.  Mobile radar guns arrive in Kuwait.  Tee hee.  I especially love the fact that they're going to catch all the MORONS (as in "I'm so much more important tha you that I have to get somewhere RIGHT NOW) going up the emergency lane.  I think they should position a few permanent cameras along 5th Ring Road especially for those A-holes; and the Camry drivers (my personal pet peeve) in particular. 

The Arab Times had the story yesterday.

Do you think POlice dude is out there today in the middle of the sandstorm?  Methinks not.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Desert Ops Tactical Paintball in Kuwait

This is Mark's post from his 2:48 am Blog.  Thanks for the info, Mark, and for letting me re-post it.  I'm passing it along to all of those of you who I KNOW will love this.


Activity: Desert Ops Tactical Paintball

Back in May I posted about MILSIM and how I took part in one of their Tactical Military Simulation Games. It was amazing! I was totally surprised we had something like that in Kuwait, it was lots of fun, the weapons were very cool and realistic and the location the simulation took place at (old abandoned prison) was something right out of Call of Duty. Now this year my friends at MILSIM (which is short for Military Simulation) have introduced something new called Desert Ops Tactical Paintball for the trigger happy people. Unlike the Tactical Military Simulation Games which require a lot of patience, skill, strategy and discipline, Desert Ops Tactical Paintball is a faster paced game that’s easier to get into right from the start.
The MILSIM Paintball is located in an area near Mutlaa. You can sign up and come as an individual or group. Price is KD15 for a full day of playing. A bag of 500 balls is for KD10 and can be shared amongst the players. You need to book in advance and you can do that from their website [Here]
They have another field opening up at Shaab Park in mid January. It’s going to be the first Milsim Airsoft and Milsim Tactical Paintball field in the region. Basically real life Call of Duty stuff and it’s going to be located right near my home so I can’t wait.
For the advanced players who are interested in the Tactical Military Simulation Games (pic above) which I took part in back in May, if you’re willing to take a 2 day training program at desert Ops to get familiar with the MILSIM game play and gear then you can also email them [Here]

I got a zoo on my terrace

Did I mention that I really hate cats?

You would never know it.  Ok, I don't hate them, but I'm just not a cat person.  I'm a dog person.  They are two completely different worlds.  I'm also really allergic to most cats; although strangely enough, not often to dumpster-divers like I have around here.  Their dander must be masked under all that dirt and oil they carry around.  Dunno.

Anyhoo, Petunia gave birth (as you know because you too have no life and actually read what I write) and one died (know that too) and Louey and Dewie were the survivors.  Dewie has been really sick.  He's got kitty trots.  He's dehydrated and he hasn't gained as much as that fun-loving skamp brother of his, Louey.  So, it has been shtanky out on the terrace lately.  Petunia, that biotch, has gone in search of a new man.  She has only come around once recently looking for food.  What kind of a MOTHER are you!!!!  Shame!

I have become surrogate mom to little Dewie.  Louey is always off chasing things, but Dewie is a mama's boy. He actually follows me into the house.  Git OUT!  Desert Dawg is justifiably jealous.

So, I'm leaving in a few days to the States for Cwimmas and I would feel really really bad leaving the babies without adequate care (anyone want to babysit for 2 weeks?).  If one of them died because I didn't help it... well, I would just feel awful (again, not that I like cats so much).  My landlady promised to have her khadama come down and feed them (whew!  That is a relief.)

I finally gave in today and took the brothers to the vet - the new one behind City Center in Salmiya, The Animal House Hospital (Ishityounot - that's really the name). I didn't know it was there until The Romanian turned me onto it.  HA! No lines!  No customers.  But, I still favor Dr. Juanita at Dolhama (or whateverthefek the spelling is) and when I have time to drive down to BF, Dr. Paula, Dr. Angelo, and Dr. Stephania at IVH. Nice Egyptian vet lady at Animal House (no, she was not wearing dark sunglasses) said that stray cats are resiliant and they should be fine.

Anyhoo, I really don't know if D&L are boys or girls. Neither did the vet at the Animal House (no, it wasn't John Belushi).  She said their parts were still "too small".  (Don't even get me started on small parts....I could... I won't....)

Anyhoo, poor little Dewie... She gave him a glucose injection and then fed him some awful stuff so that he won't have diarrhea (I had to look that word up twice on spell check and Blogger still isn't accepting it). Louey was having a fit trying to protect Dewey - he was running all around the cat carrier (which I actually bought to take Limpy to have her leg amputated, but she hasn't come around recently.)

So get this shet:  I have to do the same thing 3 times a day!  I have to torture a helpless kitten by injecting him with glucose.  This is like my worst nightmare!!!  It would only be worse if someone told me to kick a puppy.  Just kill me now.

Poor little Dewie. I wrapped him in a towel and gave shim his/her injection. He made some pathetic noises and then he ran under my storage shed.  Louey came out crying miserably and I almost started crying.  He looked all over the yard (seemingly) for Dewie.  He looked down the drain pipe... howling and crying.  Oh.My.God.  I just about lost it.  I thought Dewie was dead - because I shot him wrong.

Dewie came running out a few minutes later like nothing ever happened.  ... the bellowing from Louey continued.  It turns out that he was after the chicken I left on the stairs for  (get this)  Moo.

You might ask, "Who the HELL is Moo?"  Moo is an older black and white kitten with blue eyes who just showed up about 5 days ago.  He's now really good friends with Louey and Dewie. (Butterfly, I think you should take Moo.... just sayin....)

It's really weird, but I always seem to be left with exactly 3 cats.  Isn't that odd?  Bossy Cat, Petunia, and Limpy have all gone off to do their things and now they stuck me with kittens.  WTF?  Before that, it was Petey, Paint, and Petunia.  Do you think 3 cats is an omen of some sort?

Yeah, I know, right?  I'm PAtheTIC and I have no life.  Go ahead, say it.  It could be true.  But noooo - that's not the only thing I've got going on in my world.  I'm just not sayin about some other things.

I will tell you this - I had a GREAT time at the barbecue with my buddies yesterday.  Thanx, Spanx, for doing all the work FOR me.  Thanx Mr. Spanx for doing all the cooking.  Butterfly brought more food, as did Slaps.  The Romanian came out of her cave for a while.  Bobarino was in rare form.

And TelecommGirl, God has a plan for you, my dear friend.  It will all work out.  We love  you and we are here to support you:  24/7, 365 days of the year.

Hey, guess what happened!  It is Muharram (don't know the right way to spell that) and one of my neighbors brought me jareesh (Kuwaiti food).  I've been in Kuwait 14+ years and this was only the second time one of my neighbors brought me food.  It was so cool. I thought they got the wrong house.  Hey, rock on, Rumaithiya!   I love it here.

I said this on Facebook and I will say it again:  This has been a great year for me. Mashallah.  I've had so many blessings in so many different packages.  Even losing my job was a good thing/good time because it led to something much better and more fulfilling.  Word to the Big Man In The Sky:  Thank you for blessing my life with good friends, good times, good health, good family, good dog, (reasonably) good hair, and okay.... with a few cats too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stop the madness

I love Amer.  He tells it like it is.  the first time I met him (unofficially) was on K Street in DC.  It was late 1990 and coooold.  He stopped to give a homeless guy sitting on the sidewalk some money.  I think he's a guy with his values in check.

What the Hell is happening to Kuwait???  There are so many divisisions in this little country that it is beginning to feel like Lebanon during wartime.  Is it just me?  Isn't it a national disgrace for members of the police to beat up government officials (regardless of the reason)?  What is the future ya nas?


Free Kuwaitis from the shackles of radicalism

An Innocence Lost By: Amer Al-Hilal

Respect for human rights, democracy (embodied in our Diwaniyas and later in our Constitution) freedom of speech, gender equality, and religious and cultural tolerance — all these traits were ingrained in the Kuwaiti culture and person for hundreds of years.

These days we witness media reports of MPs attempting to pass legislation to ‘ban bikinis,’ ‘female sportswear,’ or completely eradicating the legal and constitutional presence of female parliamentarians — as if all major problems of the State: Ahmadi gas leaks, Mishrif Station pumping sewage into our waters, expired meat, visa trafficking, development and all the other major issues were already dealt with.

Some of these same individuals wouldn’t even run for Parliament in the 1970s because they regarded democratic public office as ‘unIslamic.’ Now, they are not just attempting to run the show, they are attempting to re-write history and modify the political and social structure of the State, by using democracy as a means to eradicate democracy.

These same ‘religious’ MPs who abhor even the national anthem and refuse even to stand in respect to their State, these ‘Sharia Sheikhs of Swing’ who observe female groups and file police reports about ‘lesbian gatherings’ — even though the assembly of women was at a wedding — and who attempt to free rapists and child molesters from police stations, visa traffickers, expired food merchants and other lawbreakers and criminals, not to mention defend terrorists who threaten the State and the troops of our Allies; hypocrisy at its finest.

Additionally, treating women, employees and compatriots with disdain and disrespect looking the other way whilst corruption seeps and takes hold of society — nullifies any Sharia degree or religious gravitas an individual might have.

Let us be candid, if Kuwait truly was a civilized society the MPs would have been sued, prosecuted and kicked out of Parliament for such inflammatory-jumping-the-gun statements and for attempting to influence criminal investigations. But politics is politics and deals are made, always at the people’s expense. Furthermore, tribes and political groups — some who report to and coordinate with foreign entities — currently dwarf the power of the State (much of this is the State’s doing).

Critics

Right wing critics who slam progressive Kuwaitis for encouraging respect for other cultures and religions are dismissed as “agents of Western propaganda” or ‘Liberals’ — for wanting to highlight those ideals and reinforce them — are obviously unfamiliar with Kuwait’s history and background, and are apparently not familiar with the basic tenets of Islam which value and guarantee the aforementioned rights. Maybe some are unfamiliar with history because they just got the Kuwaiti citizenship; others are familiar but think we were living in the Dark Ages then.

In any case, they are certainly not familiar with Kuwait’s real ‘tradition and customs.’ Kuwait was more of a trading and commercial hub before oil than it is now; one of the many reasons why Kuwait was a merchant city and trading post — a haven of culture and commerce for hundreds of years even prior to the advent of oil — was tolerance and openness.

Men and women shared equal responsibilities; toiling away from dawn till dusk, women taking care of the household, educating their children and were active in producing goods (i.e. embroidering the ‘Sadu’) and in commerce — they kept things together, while their partners embarked on six month or longer pearl diving or trading voyages to places as far as India and Africa. They were partners in the true sense of the word. They were equals.

We were no less Muslim then. In some ways, we were superior Muslims; we weren’t arrogant like we are now, with that wretched ‘holier than thou’ attitude; we were broke — desperate for sources of income. Kuwaitis had to interact with other cultures, learn their language and customs; it was an issue of survival, whether it was opening a trade route for water, dates, gold or otherwise. We needed others and that taught us humility and real tolerance of cultures, peoples and religions.

That great Kuwaiti attribute is being diminished by the day in this day and age.

Ultimately, Islam should not be measured by the amount of mosques that are built (even though this is a blessing to any society), how many expatriates are converted, or by the amount of Holy Quran memorization schools (even though this is a noble activity) but by treating your fellow men and women, irrespective of whether they are native or expatriate, with respect and dignity, accepting their views and their way of life even though you may disagree with them and by combating inequity and corruption.

That is real test of democracy and Islam is all about democracy, its real targets are oppression, corruption, intolerance, injustice, not impeding the construction of churches, wiping out pictures of the Virgin Mary in magazines, removing Christmas trees, impeding foreign National Day celebrations, removing horse statues from a Chinese bistro at the Avenues, forced segregation and so forth.

It is truly outlandish when Kuwaitis - true citizens of the world with their astute, cultured predispositions — have to travel to a neighboring Gulf state to see a banned film, watch a concert or buy a book. It boggles the mind. Thirty years ago we did all that here and more, without any problem — which means our original ‘traditions and customs’ were much more broadminded.

If only people took the time to learn about our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and his kind, good-humored, patient, compassionate and tolerant ways, instead of blindly following self-imposed judges, juries and executioners of society — who pass ethical judgments on so-called ‘moral pariahs,’ restricting people’s freedom of expression and worship and stifling their personal choice — Kuwait would be in a much healthier shape than it is now.

What’s happening these days in Kuwait is tragic. The potential for greatness is there but in order for us to meet the vast economic, cultural and intellectual benchmarks, our current State-wooing of extremists alongside their Parliament-supported xenophobia has to finally end and justice applied to all.

Al-Hilal can be reached at amer@hilaliya.com.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

So you want a visa to the US?

Online questions as part of the application process.  I love this stuff.  Who would answer "yes" to any of these?  In the words of Shaggy, "It wasn't me."


1. Are you coming to the United States to engage in prostitution or unlawful commercialized vice or have you been engaged in prostitution or procuring prostitutes within the past 10 years?

(I guess 11 years or more is ok... old ho's n' pimps are allowed in.)

2. Do you seek to engage in espionage, sabotage, export control violations, or any other illegal activity while in the United States?


3. Do you seek to engage in terrorist activities while in the United States or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities?


4. Have you ever or do you intend to provide financial assistance or other support to terrorists or terrorist organizations?

YesNo

Explain


5. Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization? Have you committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings, political killings, or other acts of violence?

'Divorce according to the Kuwaiti family code' Lecture

The TIES Ladies Club warmly welcome all women on Friday, 17th December from 6-8.30PM to join them for a lecture on 'Divorce according to the Kuwaiti family code' by guest speaker Dr Eissa Al Enezi, Head of International Law Dept at Kuwait University. Lecture will be in English and a complimentary dinner will follow lecture.


TIES Center, Villa 64, Street 413, Block 4, Shuhada. Tel. 25231015/6, 97144138. Email: info@ties-center.net

- - -

.... just sayin....

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah's museum shop is having a sale!

From my new pal at DAI: 

DAI is constantly trying to reach out and involve the Kuwaiti public with our activities, lectures, and events.  There will be books and accessories from our store at very low prices! We hope that you would be able to join us!

Please note that the date has been changed to the 18th of December.

Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah
Historic Americani Hospital Building
Tel: +965 22400992/ 22400963/ 22400965 ext 17
PO Box 23996 Safat 13100 Kuwait

Website: http://www.darmuseum.org.kw/
Blog:  http://www.daikuwait.blogspot.com/

Iraq, Kuwait dust may carry dangerous elements

Iraq, Kuwait dust may carry dangerous elements

Army Times
By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Dec 7, 2010 22:04:18 EST

Researchers studying dust in Iraq and Kuwait say tiny particles of potentially hazardous material could be causing a host of problems in humans, from respiratory ailments to heart disease to neurological conditions.

After taking samples, scientists found fungi, bacteria and heavy metals — including uranium — that could all cause long-term health effects.

“You can see the dust,” said Dale Griffin, an environmental public health microbiologist with the U.S. Geologic Survey. “It’s what we can’t see that will get you.”

Three recent reports detail the problems, and Griffin said there are more to come.

Capt. Mark Lyles, who chairs the medical sciences and biotechnology department at the Center for Naval Warfare Studies, part of the Naval War College, co-authored with Griffin a report that they presented last year at the International Seminars on Planetary Emergencies in Italy.

The paper summarized their analysis of sand samples taken in 2004 in Iraq and Kuwait, which revealed a “significant biodiversity of bacterial, fungi and viruses of which 25 percent are known pathogens.”

Just as troubling, according to the paper, was the presence of 37 elements — including 15 bioactive metals, including uranium, known to cause serious, long-term health effects in humans.

Some of the toxins may occur naturally in the soil in the Middle East, and some may come from refineries or factories in industrial areas, Griffin said. He also said the toxins could have been exposed or loosened as U.S. Humvees and tanks churned up the hardened desert top layer that has held dust down for centuries.

In a separate study, Griffin researched dust in Kuwait and around the world, and reviewed other studies, and found that bacteria can be carried by the wind. He said that finding contradicts military researchers during the 1991 Persian Gulf War era who did no microbiological research because they incorrectly concluded the region was too hot for anything to live in the desert sand.

A recent Military Times analysis of military health data from 2001 to 2009 showed the rate of respiratory issues among active-duty troops rose by 32 percent; cardiovascular disease rose 30 percent; pregnancy and birth complications were up 47 percent; and neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, were up nearly 200 percent.

The National Research Council of the National Academies released a report this year that said the Defense Department’s Enhanced Particulate Matter Surveillance Program needs to be reworked, and that the military lacked sufficient data to properly study the health effects of particulate matter exposure.

That report came in the wake of two other military studies — one that looked at various health concerns, and another that looked specifically at heart and respiratory issues. Neither had found any connection to exposure to particulate matter.

But the National Academies report stated that “a large body of epidemiologic research has shown associations between short- and long-term exposures to particulate matter and a broad array of respiratory and cardiovascular effects in the general population and in susceptible people.”

The tiniest particles — up to 1,000 of which can sit on the head of a pin — embed deeply in the lungs along with whatever matter they carry. Griffin said he worries that the combination of bacteria, fungi and metal found in Iraq and Afghanistan can further complicate the health risks to U.S. combat troops.

Noting the rise in respiratory and heart problems over the past decade, Griffin said, “If you look at the [civilian] population, you don’t see these numbers.”

Service members are generally “a healthy group, too,” he added. “You would think they’d be less susceptible.”

Heavy metals

Microbiologists Dale Griffin of the U.S. Geologic Survey and Capt. Mark Lyles of the Naval War College analyzed dust samples taken in Iraq and Kuwait in 2004 and found a wide range of heavy metals at rates in excess of World Health Organization maximum safe exposure guidelines. Some don’t even have maximum exposure guidelines because they are not expected to be present in airborne dust. The elements of “greatest concern” and the proportions found in dust samples:

• Arsenic at 10 parts per million: poisonous and can cause long-term health effects or death.

• Chromium at 52 parts per million: linked to lung cancer and respiratory ailments.

• Lead at 138 parts per million: can lead to headaches, nausea, muscle weakness and fatigue.

• Nickel at 562 parts per million: can lead to lung cancer, respiratory issues, birth defects and heart disorders.

• Cobalt at 10 parts per million: can lead to asthma and pneumonia.

• Strontium at 2,700 parts per million: linked to cancer.

• Tin at 8 parts per million: can cause depression, liver damage, immune system and chromosomal disorders, a shortage of red blood cells, and brain damage that can lead to anger, sleeping disorders, forgetfulness and headaches.

• Vanadium at 49 parts per million: can cause lung and eye irritation, damage to the nervous system, behavioral changes and nervousness.

• Zinc at 206 parts per million: can cause anemia and nervous system disorders.

• Manganese at 352 parts per million: linked to metabolic issues, Parkinson’s disease and bronchitis.

• Barium at 463 parts per million: can cause breathing problems, heart palpitations, muscle weakness and heart and liver damage.

• Aluminum at 7,521 parts per million. Aluminum was of particular concern to Lyles and Griffin because the metal has recently been linked to “multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.”

- - -
 
Okay so THAT explains it....

Save the Shoes!

From the Arab Times today:


Women ‘friends’ in free-for-all over boyfriend in Salmiya

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 6: Two women who pulled hair, grabbed and beat each other with shoes at an unidentified location in Salmiya have filed complaints against each other at the Salmiya Police Station, reports Al-Rai daily. Both women are believed to be best friends and the fight took place when one of them saw her boyfriend romancing with her friend. Both women have submitted medical reports showing injuries on their bodies.

_ _ _

I still don't get why women here don't blame the man. They always blame other women for the cheatin.  Whaaat - did the girl point a gun to his head and say, "Romance me!  Romance me."  Girlfriend puhleeze:   Beat the crap out of him and save your shoes!  Shoes are a terrible thing to waste.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Holidays in the middle of the week just suck

So today is New Years day (Islamic new year).  I went around saying, "Happy New Year" to my buds (they already know that I'm not right in the head).  It didn't feel like New Year's day either.

I called lots of people.  Slaps, Spanx, The Romanian and a few others were still in their PJs at 1:30 pm.  Granted, 1:30pm is still the middle of the night for The Romanian, but still.  We were all in the same mood:  sleepy and grumpy.

You can't really do anything on a middle of the week holiday but just stay home and chill/eat.  It feels like a Saturday (Kuwait version of Sunday) on a Tuesday.  Now I'm just all discombobulated and I don't know how I am going to feel for the rest of the week.

Calgon, take me away.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Ahmadi Music Group Seasonal Concerts

Carols and songs, festive cheer, yummy finger buffet after each concert. All welcome.


Friday 10 December, 5pm and 7.15pm,

Saturday 11 December, 5.30pm

At The New English School Jabriya.

The afternoon concerts are suitable for everyone including families with small children and will have a surprise visit from Santa…

The evening concert is aimed at a more adult audience, and will include a musical performance by the chamber orchestra. (No Santa at this one.)

Tickets: 5KD adults, 3KD children, under 5s free if they are sitting on an adult’s knee. If they need a seat they will need to buy a ticket or the system won’t work.

Box office: 6618 4192.  email: invitations@ahmadimusicgroup.com

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Baby got.... Earworms

I'm one of those people who constantly gets songs stuck in their head.  I found out from a friend recently that this is called, "Earworms".  I frickin HATE that term.  Its disgusting.  I'm a visual person; I see the picture and it grosses me out.  Anyhooo, for weeks now (no thanks to earworm friend), I have had Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" stuck in my head.  Either he or I will start singing it at work.  Sometimes, we'll be around someone who doesn't speak much eeengliss and he'll look at me (straight-faced) and quote the lyrics in a manner that would make it appear that we were discussing work.  

...and I crack up.

So, this has been going on for weeks and weeks now.  We have turned other people on to the song.  Once you hear it, it is kind of hard to let go of. 

Over the weekend, I was with The Man and we were doing nothing particularly engaging and my earworm buddy sent me an SMS, simply asking, "Do you like big butts?"

.... and I crack up.

The Man asked me what was so funny.  So, I tried to explain it to him.  'It's a rap song about big butts.' and I sing a few bars.  Him:  "That's not a song."  I'm like yeah, it is.  Him: (long pause, funny face...) "Does he like YOUR big butt?"  Me:  'Firstoff, I do not HAVE a big butt and secondly, it is really a song. Serious.' Him:  Still odd/quizical look on his face.

... and I crack up.

I
like
big
butts

Pandemonium all Over Kuwait After the Gulf Cup Win

Our lovely camel has returned.... (tee hee)

Congratulations, Kuwait, for winning the 20th Gulf Cup over Saudi Arabia!  This is the first time in 10 years and you know that the partying was going to be off-da-chain.

The din from the car horns can be heard all over Kuwait.  I'm in Rumaithiya off the Co-ops Road (which is an extension of the Gulf Road) and the noise is CRAZY.   People are lighting off fire works, spinning their tires, honking horns, and playing loud music while cheering.

ChillNite blog has a short video clip of what it sounds like in Salmiya (let me just say THANK GOD I moved out of there!).  Another clip on Buz Fairy blog shows the game win.

Mabrooooook ya Kuwait!

There is finally a REAL pet shop in Kuwait! PetZone

There is a new pet store in Rai.  I noticed it the other day on the way back from the HAvenues.  It's on the little road between True Value/Subway and 60/Ghazali on the right.

I stopped in to check them out and spoke to the French vet, Dr. Mohammed, who took time to show me around and tell me how the shop came about.  He said that he was hired to work for two young, forward-thinking Kuwaiti men who wanted to create a pet store in Kuwait with international standards. He said that he wouldn't have come to work at Pet Zone if it hadn't been done right.   They designed the shop for comfort of the pets and the pet food (like Eukanuba for example) is all internationally certified.  It's a very nice place.  I liked what I saw.  They have a spacious cattery (behind glass so people can't disturb or infect cats) and large cages for birds.  They've got a fish section, a rodent section, a plant section, a bird section.  They will also offer on-site grooming services.

Dr. Mohammed said that they will become involved in educating the public on pets and pet care.  The shop also sells posters of various types of animals - helping to show young people different species.

I don't know who you two Kuwaiti men are, but you have the Official Desert Girl Seal of Approval.  Way to make a difference in your country, my friends!

Here are some pics.





Association of the US Army

Regardless of what  your political views are, this is just a good way to help a few soldiers feel more comfortable, away from home and their families.  Most of them are just young people.

----

The Association of the US Army regularly holds events in Kuwait aimed at supporting the troops through goodwill. There are several ways in which you/your company can assist (either in Kuwait or from outside):

• AUSA-K holds an annual golf tournament and banquet in March in Kuwait. Approximately 500 troops are invited to attend. This allows them to get off base (which is rare) and have a nice evening out. AUSA-K solicits companies for cash sponsorship and give-aways for the troops. A raffle is held (donated gift items) and gift bags are often given to the troops at the tables. A similar event is held at Thanksgiving and AUSA-K hold barbecues for the troops during the year.

• AUSA-K requests catering (from local restaurants) or cash donations for smaller events through the year (freedom walk, National day, etc. - please refer to the AUSA-K website for more information). We are currently seeking small gift items (marketing/promotional give-ways are always welcome) to be given away to soldiers in gift bags.

• Clothing Locker: AUSA provides civilian clothing to troops departing through Kuwait (often from Iraq) for emergency leave, so they travel in comfort (and do not have to wear their uniforms on commercial aircraft). You/your company can either make cash donations to AUSA-K (as we regularly buy clothing for the locker); or you can send clothing directly to the military. Required clothing: polo shirts with collar, khaki/cargo/or sport trousers (no slacks or dress shirts please) in various sizes.

• Kuwaiti local companies are urged to donate Kuwaiti/local gift items. The soldiers almost never get off post to see what Kuwait has to offer.

Note that donations to AUSA and its chapters are tax-deductable.
Staff of AUSA-Kuwait is not paid:  positions are staffed by volunteers.
Individual membership to AUSA-K is only 9 KD/year.

We love our sponsors! Sponsors are always recognized at AUSA events. Company/organization logos are used on AUSA placards at events.

For further information or to send donations, please contact: milprirlw@aol.com
Website: www.ausa-Kuwait.com

Please feel free to pass this along to other individuals, companies, etc. who you feel may be interested in assisting. Visit our website for a complete listing of activities and events. (Note that locations/venues for upcoming events are not advertised for the security of the soldiers and guests.)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

More on Bikinis

I love it that this is the top issue in Kuwait right now. Everybody is talking about it in all the newspapers, on TV, and in the diwaniyas. 


Hot swim-wear lawmakers
Ali Al-Baghli, Arab Times


APPARENTLY, we live in an ideal nation in which no problem exists because our lawmakers have allegedly solved all of them, including the spread of expired food items in the local market, gas leakage, and deteriorating educational services. They have also guaranteed a fair treatment for Bedouns, ended the domestic labor crisis and granted the expatriate workers all their rights.

After this, a certain parliamentary group looked everywhere but they were taken aback as they could not find any unresolved issue in the Kuwaiti society, except the swimming attire of women.

It seems there is nothing in their minds but the feminine aspects of every issue. All you hear from them are their plans to enact laws, such as prohibiting the mingling of male and female students in private schools and universities, in addition to 13 regulations on various occasions.

We should also bear in mind that almost all the books, which were banned from the international book fair, contain sexually provocative terms that purportedly pollute the minds of the populace. MPs Al-Harbash, Al-Sawagh, Al-Muslim, Al-Tabtabaei and Al-Sultan have a special project - the ratification of a bill forbidding women from wearing ‘inappropriate’ swimming attire. They argued women should not expose certain body parts and refrain from engaging in impudent acts. Anyone proven to have violated this rule will be imprisoned for one year or fined KD 1,000!

Read More...

Read more (Arabic) about one lawmaker MP's (a founder of the no-bikini initiative)  trip to Cancun.  Cancun?  Are there mosques in Cancun? hmmmmmmm.....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Taliban Tactics

MPs eye law change to control female ‘beach-wear ... behavior’

Making waves
Arab Times
KUWAIT CITY, Nov. 29: Islamist MPs on Monday condemned what they say is a noticeable increase in indecent behavior perpetrated by women along the coast of Kuwait. They suggested an additional article to the penal code, allowing coast guards or men to take the necessary actions in order to maintain public order and moral respect.

Members of the Development and Reformation Bloc, MPs Dr Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, Falah Al-Sawagh, Jamaan Al-Harbash and Faisal Al-Muslim as well as MP Khalid Sultan said that women are currently wearing indecent clothing, acting immorally, committing immoral acts.

They added that they have also noticed women getting romantically involved with the opposite gender and singing and dancing in public as well as accompanying their pet dogs to the beaches along the coastal areas of the country.

According to the MPs, they’ve submitted the new amendment to the law in order to prohibit women beachgoers, whether on the main shore or on territorial islands and on beach areas assigned for women, from wearing inappropriate swimsuits, nudity, revealing the chest area and immodest behavior.

Violation of the law is punishable by either imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding KD 1,000 or both.

Liberal MP Dr Aseel Al-Awadhi opposed the suggested law, which fails to touch upon the moral conduct of men and their manner of clothing, saying that it is in clear violation of the Constitution as it intervenes in the personal freedoms of individuals. It imposes an unacceptable guardianship on the people of Kuwait, she added.

“The bill is worded loosely and does not include the MPs recommendations of appropriate swim attire. It could be misused and will contradict personal freedoms allowed by the Constitution,” Al-Awadhi said.

--- end ----
 
"They added that they have also noticed women getting romantically involved with the opposite gender and singing and dancing in public as well as accompanying their pet dogs to the beaches along the coastal areas of the country."
 
1)  Would they prefer that women get romatically involved with members of the SAME gender?  This makes no mention if they are single or married.
2)  "Accomopanying their pet dogs...".  Oh, so I am REALLY immoral.  I do that all the time.  Would they prefer that we walk goats or sheep?  Since when does walking your dog become immoral behavior???
 
WTF dudes!  Why don't we blast Kuwait back several thousand years?  I have a novel idea:  why don't we track the behavior of MPs?  For example - credit card purchases and travel to say..... Phuket....

Why are women being singled out for behavior?  Has anyone taken a look at the behavoir of the male population?  It's a domestic issue or it's just boys being boys.Why not publish NAMES AND PHOTOS of "eveteasers" (of all ages) - and especially those that lead to traffic fatalities?

Seriously, aren't there more important issues to address in Kuwait?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Camera Ban - by Amer Al-Hilal

This is a re-print from my friend, Amer Al-Hilal, who shares the same confusion as I do as to where this country that we love is headed....

I took a few pics of the sunset this weekend with my mobile phone and I was worried that the CID would jump out of the bushes with the handcuffs.  (When my own CID man refuses to use them for "recreational" purposes....)

Camera ban regressive idea ‘Don’t stifle home-grown talent’

For a country that possesses a Constitution which safeguards civil liberties and freedom of speech, Kuwait sporadically sure likes toying with those liberties such as tentatively banning the Blackberry service, shutting down You Tube, impeding public gatherings and marches, banning and censoring books, literature, films and magazines which are available elsewhere in the Gulf.


This week according to media reports, and highlighted extensively in local Weblogs and Twitter, a palpable growing outcry is directed at the tentative plans by The Ministry of Information, Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Finance to outlaw public photography and relegate it to journalism purposes only. This has allegedly resulted in the ban of Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLRs) in public places. If this charade is true, then it bodes ill for this country, another regressive move into the annals of ignorance.

During the 1980s video cameras and photographic equipment were also shunned by the authorities. I remember visiting Failaka in 1985 and being confronted by a military officer who demanded I hand in my bulky video camera until I left the island. These types of infringements in the name of security were insignificant — we still had an attempt on HH the Amir, explosions at Foreign Embassies in Kuwait and an actual invasion.

Why does this country always attempt to stifle home-grown talent? Banning cameras in public places is demoralizing to all the passionate, talented young Kuwait men and women who have excelled in this field and love their hobby, not to mention visitors who attempt to document their travels here. Moreover, banning DSLR cameras is irrational and counterproductive if you think about it; in this day and age of iPhones, Blackberries, 5 MP plus camera phones, Google Earth and the like, anyone can take photograph of anything, quietly, without fanfare, which makes the potential DSLR ban even more preposterous.

I have just returned from a trip to Dubai where I witnessed dozens of tourists proudly using their cameras to document Burg Khalifa and the other picturesque locations. No one stopped them, impeded them or asked them what they were doing and you know why, because they respect people’s rights and are intent on making their country more appealing. UAE is able to manage security matters confidently because they have proper security and ID processes in place: eye scanners at airports and entry points, proper electronic government, high fines for breaking the law, a brilliant CCTV system in place in every street corner (not the shoddy black and white choppy, streaming-like quality of the limited equipment we have here) — they truly invest in their infrastructure, maintain it and upgrade it.

If Kuwait is serious about its security then it should invest in the same caliber of CCTV and not the bargain basement tenders that usually go towards ineffective systems (i.e. Highway signs with the useless ‘no mobile’ plasma screen) belonging to members of the matching ministry who want a ‘piece of the action’. The sad reality is the government sector here would rather ban something than actually strive to improve it through sheer hard work and effective processes. It’s just easier to ban; a question of laziness and neglect.


Needless to say, Kuwait seems unfazed when foreign jets infiltrate our airspace and take aerial shots of our oil refineries and military installations, or when agents and their local conspirators are found to possess blueprints and photographs of said installations, but no, lets go after the ‘little guy’, the amateur photographer or tourist on the street taking pictures. It’s a hypocritical, spineless action by the authorities.

Moreover, I suspect the issue is not just relegated to security, a myriad of reasons could have led to the support of this ban, fundamentalists who felt cameras and pictures are a ‘Tool of the Devil,’ government officials and ministries disgraced at seeing shots of Kuwait’s dilapidated infrastructure, environment and mismanagement on weblogs, internet forums and magazines. You cannot conceal the squalid side of Kuwait; it is there for everyone to see.
 
Furthermore, this law against public photography will not be enforced, just as seatbelt, no mobile while driving, no litter, no smoking areas, and other ‘laws’ cannot be enforced in this Land of Confusion.