Friday, October 29, 2010

USA - We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident...

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. 

Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner.

"Thom and Sally" 
see Sally Heming and Thomas Jefferson

A bit of Americana for your purusal.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

SAUDI ARABIA - A Spine For A Spine

Once again, let's hear it for Saudi Arabian justice!

It seems the doctors don't object to this.  Just remember that the next time you go into surgery.

And perhaps just as alarming (to me, anyway) Amnesty International, of which I am a member, is suggesting that he just be fined or flogged.  I have already posted in this blog about flogging.  Go figure.

SAUDI ARABIA: Human rights group urges authorities to flog crime suspect instead of imposing spinal cord punishment

August 21, 2010 | 7:30 am

You know a country's human rights situation is bad when even Amnesty International is urging that a guy be methodically whipped or caned on his back as a compromise to avoid an even harsher sentence.

Human rights monitors have grown alarmed over the case of a Saudi man who might have his spinal cord severed as punishment for badly injuring another guy during a fight a few years ago.

Amnesty International has urged Saudi Arabian authorities not to deliberately paralyze the man as a form of retribution for injuries he allegedly caused with a cleaver during a fight.

"We urge the Saudi Arabian authorities not to carry out such a punishment, which amounts to nothing less than torture," Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, acting director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Program, said in a statement. "While those guilty of a crime should be held accountable, intentionally paralyzing a man in this way would constitute torture, and be a breach of its international human rights obligations."

According to Amnesty International, a court in the northwestern Saudi Arabian town of Tabuk had asked hospitals whether they could mutilate the man's spinal cord as requested by his alleged victim. One hospital apparently said it could create the injury.

Amnesty said the court could decide not to impose the punishment and instead sentence the suspect to jail, hand him a stiff a fine or at the very worst, systematically whip or cane him on the back.

Basically, Amnesty, among the world's leading human rights groups, is advocating one form of torture in place of an even more horrific punishment.

The man's name has not been publicized. He was originally sentenced to seven months in prison. Amnesty says he was tried without a lawyer.

-- Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

USA - Pea In Lung

Two posts in one day.  These things usually come in threes.  We'll see.

I heard on the news about this dude who had a pea growing in his lung.  That was too good to ignore so I goggled on "pea plant in lung."  Yups, here's gramps and gramma,  too, discussing this weirdness. Honest, I couldn't make this up. How could he aspirate something as big as a pea?  From NBC New Health Check

Since a stroke a while back, I have some trouble aspirating food. I guess I'll be very careful to cough it all up, especially when eating raw seed things. And I might stop eating radish seeds entirely.

CAMEROON - Breast Ironing

How many worthy causes can one person handle?  This is the strangest I've gotten in a while.  It definitely is tragic;  it also qualifies as weird.

Feel free to take action.

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Hi Mai,

Lots of women have mixed feelings about their breasts. We push them up, strap them down...but at the end of the day, they're a part of our bodies and ourselves. Unfortunately, mothers in Cameroon have waged war against these buds of womanhood.

In an attempt to prevent sexual violence and curb teen pregnancy, Cameroon mothers are ironing their daughters' breasts. »

Girls' breasts are pressed on with hot stones to make them less attractive, a painful procedure than can cause bruises, deformities, abscesses, and even the disappearance of one or both breasts. Breast ironing starts at the first onset of puberty, and as diet in Cameroon improves, girls are starting puberty at a younger age. Girls as young as nine are having hot stones pressed against their breasts. »

Mothers may think breast ironing is "for their [daughters'] own good," but it's not a replacement for adequate sex education. Urge the UN Secretary General to speak out against breast ironing and advocate for sex education in Cameroon. »

Thanks for taking action!


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Saturday, July 24, 2010


This time, no beheadings or floggings or bulging tatoos.  Today, I have something nice-weird. Enjoy!
A smile is a curve that can set a lot of things straight.
This guy continues to amaze people with his sidewalk 3D chalk drawings.


(I have a bunch more of these, if anyone is interested.


Sunday, July 11, 2010


I'm not sure if this qualifies as weird. 

My husband asked me to create for him a graphic of Money talks, male bovine defecation walks for his blog.  I came up with this: 

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The weirdest post of all.

This is a post I hoped I would never write.  As you, my readers, know, I practice the virtue of chardi kala, translated in many different ways, but all having the meaning of eternal optimism and never giving up.  I am still practicing, but it is hard.

No doubt by now you have heard about the massive oil spill by British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico in the Caribbean Sea, truly a paradise on earth.  Or at least it was until 20 April 2010.  On that day the Deepwater Horizon oil rig - owned and run by British Petroleum - exploded, caught fire and began gushing massive amounts of crude oil into the pristine waters around it.  Eleven were killed and 17 injured.  That was tragic, but it is just the beginning.

The amount of oil gushing into the Gulf is estimated at somewhere between 1,475,000 and 4,200,000 gallons per day ( 5,583,432 and 15,828,729 liters/day).  No one knows how much oil is in this well, how long it can keep gushing.  Years or decades, if it is not somehow stopped.  So far nothing has worked.  In fact, efforts have actually made it worse. 

Here's a nice little widget to help you calculate.

Those are pretty dry figures for most people, so here's a more graphic look.  This is what the spill looks like right now (30 June 2010): 

I realise that most of my readers really can't relate to southern Louisiana, so here is the spill in other locations where I have readers:

If I happened to miss your locale, go to Ifitwasmyhome to move the spill to wherever you live.

Perhaps you'd like to see it as it happens.

If that's not enough to bring it home to you, here are a few oil-soaked pelicans.  I find this horribly painful to look at.

In addition, massive amounts of methane gas has been released into the water.  This may well turn out to be even more dangerous than the oil.  The methane depletes the water of oxygen, leaving all the sea life devoid of the element that is necessary to all life on earth. It is feared that the methane will cause a dead zone where nothing can live, possibly for decades.  Also, scientists believe that a huge methane bubble is forming under the water.  When it bursts, it could release a tsunami of 20-60 ft (6.1-18.3 m), certainly enough to engulf most of the Caribbean islands.  For more information on the gas leak, go here: 
Gas Leak 3000 Times Worse Than Oil

And, by the way, with our current technology we have no way to cap or contain the methane.  

I guess that's not enough bad news.  It is now hurricane season.  (For those of you in Asia, those are typhoons.) There will be hurricanes. In fact, the first one is blowing right now.  Hurricane Alex did not move close to the spill, but there will be another hurricane and another and another.

The next thing to consider is the ocean currents.  The Gulf Stream is an ocean river that runs from the Caribbean to Europe.

Eventually this oil and methane and all their problems will reach Europe.  They will also travel up the Atlantic coast of North America all the way to Canada and all points north. No one knows how much of the ocean will die.  Certainly a large part of the Caribbean Sea will and it will take decades to recover.  In the meantime the many people who make their livings along the Gulf, either fishing or in the tourist trade, have lost their means of livelihood.  It is even possible that the land they live on will become uninhabitable.  Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana has been alerted that a mass evacuation may become necessary, if a hurricane again hits the state.  It is likely that once gone, the people will not be allowed to return due to the toxic oil and gas along the coast.

The earth is one big ecosystem, based primarily on our oceans.  If a large part of one ocean dies, that will have a cascade effect on the rest of the planet.  How far could this go? Worst case scenario:  Bye-bye.  "Not with a bang, but a whimper."  If you don't recognise those lines, they are the conclusion of T. S Eliot's poem, The Hollow Men. To hear the whimper go to Power Without Petroleum and listen hard at 0:25. 

Best case scenario:  the southern coast of the United States becomes uninhabitable for a period of time and much of the sea life in the Gulf of Mexico dies, with devastating consequences to the people who now live there.  As it is impossible that there be no hurricanes in the season, we can be sure that the winds will carry the oil throughout the region,  damaging all it touches.  That damage cannot be estimated at this time, except to say it will be extensive.

This morning (1 July 2010), going through my inbox, I found this article in the daily UN bulletin:  

Biologists find 'dead zones' around BP oil spill in Gulf

Methane at 100,000 times normal levels have been creating oxygen-depleted areas devoid of life near BP's Deepwater Horizon spill, according to two independent scientists

As long as I can remember, the scientists have been screaming "Wolf!" alerting us to this or that which they claim is going to wipe us out.  As I child I grew up with "nuclear annihilation."  That was the biggie.  There have been others:  the hole in the ozone layer, swine flu (twice), bird flu, global climate change and I'm sure others that I have forgotten. And it seems, life causes cancer.  There is truth in all  these scientific assertions, but there was also something we could do to stop or at least alleviate the disaster. As I see it, this is different because we are helpless to do anything except pray.  Of course, I am not a scientist, and the only way I see out of this is divine intervention.  Even if the spill can somehow be stopped, we can do nothing about the methane.  This is the time more than ever before that we need to dig deep within ourselves and find the high spirits, the chardi kala, that is a part of us.   It takes courage to look tragedy in the face and carry on without panic or depression.  

And what caused all this?  Of course it was British Petroleum cutting corners on safety to save money and increase profit.  It was Pres. Clinton who authorised the deep sea drilling.  It was Pres. George W. Bush who so favoured the oil interests and permitted a lack of oversight to allow BP not to follow the safety measures.  It was Pres. Obama who did not immediately step in to correct this corruption from the previous administration.  But it was also all of us who are dependent on petroleum, who refuse to cut back on our usage, we who demand more and more.  In the end, if we had not demanded this oil, if we had lost our lust  it, BP wouldn't have been able to make the profit that drove them to build this rickety structure upon the rickety structure of our economy.  So what now?  We have learned why greed is such an evil thing.  Whither our good, green beautiful earth?

I keep thinking about the ending of Dr. Strangelove.  (A great movie.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend you see it while you still can.)

Remain in chardi kala, my dear brothers and sisters! 


the fire - United States Coast Guard (via Wikipedia)
dead fish - Sean Gardner (Reuters)
the pelicans - Charlie Riedel (AP)
the earth - courtesy of NASA

Sunday, June 13, 2010

SAUDI ARABIA - Breast Milk Makes A Son

Just when it seems Saudi Arabia can't get any weirder!...

(Please forgive the lack of an illustration.  Every picture I could think of posed a danger of my arrest.)

Saudi Clerics Advocate Adult Breast-Feeding

(June 5) -- Women in Saudi Arabia should give their breast milk to male colleagues and acquaintances in order to avoid breaking strict Islamic law forbidding mixing between the sexes, two powerful Saudi clerics have said. They are at odds, however, over precisely how the milk should be conveyed.

A fatwa issued recently about adult breast-feeding to establish "maternal relations" and preclude the possibility of sexual contact has resulted in a week's worth of newspaper headlines in Saudi Arabia. Some have found the debate so bizarre that they're calling for stricter regulations about how and when fatwas should be issued.

Sheikh Al Obeikan, an adviser to the royal court and consultant to the Ministry of Justice, set off a firestorm of controversy recently when he said on TV that women who come into regular contact with men who aren't related to them ought to give them their breast milk so they will be considered relatives.

"The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman," Al Obeikan said, according to Gulf News. "He should drink it and then becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come in contact with the women without breaking Islam's rules about mixing."

Obeikan said the fatwa applied to men who live in the same house or come into contact with women on a regular basis, except for drivers.

Al Obeikan, who made the statement after being asked on TV about a 2007 fatwa issued by an Egyptian scholar about adult breast-feeding, said that the breast milk ought to be pumped out and given to men in a glass.

But his remarks were followed by an announcement by another high-profile sheik, Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini, who said that men should suckle the breast milk directly from a woman's breast.

Shortly after the two sheiks weighed in on the matter, a bus driver in the country's Eastern Region reportedly told one of the female teachers whom he drives regularly that he wanted to suckle milk from her breast. The teacher has threaten to file a lawsuit against him.

The fatwa stems from the tenets of the strict Wahhabi version of Islam that governs modern Saudi Arabia and forbids women from mixing with men who are not relatives. They are also not allowed to vote, drive or even leave the country without the consent of a male "guardian."

Under Islamic law, women are encouraged to breast-feed their children until the age of 2. It is not uncommon for sisters, for example, to breast-feed their nephews so they and their daughters will not have to cover their faces in front of them later in life. The custom is called being a "breast milk sibling."

But under Islamic law, breast milk siblings have to be breastfed before the age of 2 in five "fulfilling" sessions. Islam prohibits sexual relations between a man and any woman who breastfed him in infancy. They are then allowed to be alone together when the man is an adult because he is not considered a potential mate.

"The whole issue just shows how clueless men are," blogger Eman Al Nafjan wrote on her website. "All this back and forth between sheiks and not one bothers to ask a woman if it's logical, let alone possible to breastfeed a grown man five fulfilling breast milk meals.

"Moreover, the thought of a huge hairy face at a woman's breast does not evoke motherly or even brotherly feelings. It could go from the grotesque to the erotic but definitely not maternal."

Al Nafjan said many in the country were appalled by the fatwa.

"We have many important issues that need discussing," Al Nafjan told AOL News Friday. "It's ridiculous to spend time talking about adult breast-feeding."

Unlawful mixing between the sexes is taken very seriously in Saudi Arabia. In March 2009, a 75-year-old Syrian widow, Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi, living in the city of Al-Chamil, was given 40 lashes and sentenced to six months in prison after the religious police learned that two men who were not related to her were in her house, delivering bread to her.

One of the two men found in her house, Fahd, told the police that Sawadi breast-fed him as a baby so he was considered a son and had a right to be there. But in a later court ruling, a judge said it could not be proved that Fahd was her "breast milk son." Fahd was sentenced to four months in prison and 40 lashes, and the man who accompanied him got six months and 60 lashes.

The original adult breast-feeding fatwa was issued three years ago by an Egyptian scholar at Egypt's al-Azhar University, considered Sunni Islam's top university. Ezzat Attiya was expelled from the university after advocating breast-feeding of men as a way to circumnavigate segregation of the sexes in Egypt.

A year ago, Attiya was reinstated to his post.

Friday, May 28, 2010

INDONESIA - Smoking Toddler - Indonesia

2-Year-Old Toddler Smokes 40 Cigarettes Per Day!

This is strange and weird and also tragic. Also disgusting.

I suppose I shouldn't be moralising.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


A powerful commentary about one of the cruelest "sports" on earth.  Right there with dog fighting, cock fighting, bear baiting, etc.  Please check out:  The Extreme Cruelty of Bull Fighting

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I saw that Pakistan banned Facebook because of that "Draw Mohammad" contest.  This is my response.