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Bahrain tables anti-Israeli law 26, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Bahrain, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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Reports indicate that Bahrain is considering jailing people for substantial amounts of time if they have “any form of cooperation with the Israeli entity.” In addition to a mooted 3-5 year jail sentence there will be potential fines of up to $25,000 and an offenders may well have their labor license revoked for up tp 10 years.

This bill follows on the heels of a similar Kuwaiti measure last month. Both were introduced (I think I am right in saying) by the Shia members of Parliament. Both too are – obviously enough – purely symbolic gestures and will in no way, shape or form contribute meaningfully to the rectification or resolution of the Israel-Palestinian situation. Instead, such measures appease much of the local population as an anti-Israeli ticket perennially does in the Arab world. Indeed, it is the very definition of a circus in the bread and circuses analogy.

In Bahrain there is, however, an extra angle to it. For such a law, were it to be enacted, would curtail the powers of the government too. However, being as it is being introduced by the Parliament, this is clearly part of some kind of power-play to hamstring their ‘rival’ legislative center.

In terms of the Bahrain-US relationship, such a law would be very poorly received in Washington. However, with the US well ensconced in Manama and currently building/renovating extra port space to expand, Bahrain (or rather, forces within the country) can, crudely speaking, displease the US on points such as this with relatively little come-back: there is very little that America can do.

Lebanese reporter spared flogging in Saudi 26, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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The Lebanese reporter for LBC sentenced to 60 lashes for hosting a show in which a Saudi man discussed his sexual exploits has been spared the lashes by Saudi King Abdullah. Abdul Jawad, a divorced father of four, was not so lucky and has been sentenced to 1000 lashes and four years in prison. This is, however, lenient by Saudi Wahhabi standards as he could have theoretically faced the death penalty.

The only thing that, as far as I see, these two are guilt of is crass and utter stupidity. Discussing premarital sexual exploits, showing off how easy he found it to get a woman using his phone and displaying (blurred out) sex toys and lubricants on a TV show shown in the Kingdom seems to me to be essentially ludicrous.

Plainly stupid: more room for fatties on planes 26, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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There’s a reoccurring story over at Slate centered around whether fat people should have to pay more for services because they are fat. The simplest example of this is with health-care. In America if you are fat you will pay more for your health care. To me, in just about every way, this is a non-argument: if you are fat statistics unequivocally dictate that you’re going to need more healthcare. You are, therefore, simply paying more for more health care. I don’t see the problem.

The latest in this quasi-series is a simply staggering article, even by the usually curious standards of fat-logic. Using the analogy that tall can people pay for better legroom on a plane, this article is actually arguing that plane manufacturers should adapt plane designs and configurations to accommodate fat people.

Most of them [fat people] don’t need two seats side-by-side any more than we long-legged guys need two seats front-to-back. Like us, they just need a few extra inches. … If United can swap out a row of three normal coach seats for two wide ones, two fat people should be able to buy those seats for an extra 50 percent instead of an extra 100 percent. That’s the simplest nonbinary solution. But if the flight is full, or if swapping out a seat row is too difficult, here’s an alternative: Let other passengers sell part of their seat width to those who need it.

A few points to think about:

1) There are already seats with extra room in Business and First Class.

2) Yes, these seats are more expensive, but that is life. Is the author suggesting that because fat people have eaten themselves to a state where they can’t fit in a seat they should be rewarded and have the luxury of a larger seat at a what amounts to reduced rate? Would they get one and a half servings of food too?

3) At a time when aviation is struggling massively (pardon the pun) and American aviation more so, is it really a good idea to add more costs onto such business? For surely if the actual costs or reconfiguring/retro-fitting planes were to be recouped by the airlines/manufacturers they would essentially be charging Business class prices…

4) Another passenger should sell part of their seat width. Has this person ever been on a plane? Who could or would sell a few inches of their seat? Unless they’re a child or vastly anorexic this is just impossible.

5) A tall person is born tall, it is not (since the rack went out of fashion at least) something that a person can affect one way another. Fatness, on the other hand…

The Hummus Wars 26, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Lebanon.
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As if the Middle East was not replete with Iranian nuclear tensions, an at times simmering Sunni-Shia cleft, potentially catastrophic fallout from the bungled Iraq invasion and occupation, seismic demographic pressures, entrenched and visceral conflicts between moderates and hard-line Islamists not to mention the open sore at the heart of the region’s issues, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, now, to this panoply of ancient, modern but always passionate clashes can be added the Hummus Wars.

Israel and Lebanon both claim to be the founding, symbolic and real home of Hummus and Tabouleh. In recent months, there has been a steady escalation of articles and angry cooks from each claiming that  Hummus is, clearly and obviously, an Israeli/Lebanese dish.

Only yesterday (25/10/09) the BBC ran a video clip of Lebanese chefs making that largest ever pot of Hummus. One of the proud organizers, against the backdrop of a “Hommos and Tabouleh are 100% Lebanese” sign affirmed that these tasty products are manifestly Lebanese. What makes this clip extra sweet (or tasty, one might be tempted to say) is that this largest pot of Hummus ever wrested the title away from the Israelis.

Well, clearly enraged by that, today I learned that Israel are not going to take such a slight lying down. Thankfully, rather than resorting to military means as is their usual wont(…), the Qnion announced that this time Israel has instead decided to launch a Hummus themed resort, proving once and for all that Hummus is in fact Israeli.

Your as ever intrepid war correspondent will keep you apprised of the latest fronts and battles. Watch this space…