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Three attacks on Chinese school chilrden in 5 days 30, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in China.
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The Times of London reports that China is suffering from a spate of school attacks. The latest incident where a farmer barged his way into a local school and attacked children with a hammer before setting himself on fire occurred in the Shandong province. None of the children were seriously hurt. The day before a man wounded 29 children by slashing them with a knife in a school in the Jiangsu province. Two are still in intensive care. Emergency protective measures are being taken in schools across China.

It is interesting [if that is the correct word…] to note that one of the attackers committed the crime in revenge ‘on’ the local community for personal humiliations and that this was the same motivation attributed to Thomas Hamilton, the man who killed 16 children and one adult in a school attack in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996.

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Stop Press: Putin saves bear 29, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Russia.
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Vladimir Putin’s holiday snaps are getting ever more bizarre. Clearly he has seen some polling suggesting that Russians like men that have some kind of affinity with nature and animals. Hence Putin’s most recent snap saving a Polar Bear…

…and saving a Tiger

…and for the gay section, riding horseback

Ridiculous. What’s next? Tending delicately to budgies? Giving mouth to mouth to dolphins? Saving a kitten down a well?

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Kuwait sue Iraqi Airways for $1.2bn 29, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq, Kuwait.
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For the first time in 20 years an Iraqi Airways plane landed at London’s Gatwick Airport last week after being delayed by the ash cloud. No sooner had it landed, however, than the UK High Court issued an order seeking the immediate freeze of all Iraqi Airways assets worldwide. Kuwait Airways Co. submitted a claim to the UK court for some $1.2 billion for assets stolen by Saddam Hussein two decades ago. They claim that they ought to be allowed to take Iraqi airways planes as compensation.

On this occasion, the Kuwaitis could not seize the plane as it was leased from a Swedish company. However the director general of Iraqi Airways had his documents taken to prevent him from flying. The Journal further reports that the Kuwaiti authorities have several successful court rulings relating to the $1.2 billion figure but so far Iraqi Airways have simply ignored the demands for payments.

How in good conscience Kuwaitis can still demand money from Iraq is just beyond me. It seems utterly inhumane, wholly ruthless and deeply wrong.

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Qatar unveils stunning 2022 stadiums 28, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Qatar has unveiled the first 5 stadium designs for its 2022 World Cup bid. The stadia look spectacular and would grace any World Cup. Given Sepp Blatter’s recent comments about how the Arab world ‘deserves a World Cup’ Qatar’s supporters may well be quietly confident.

Assessing Qatar’s chance of being awarded the World Cup is exceedingly difficult. They clearly have the money to overcome any problems. An Arab world World Cup is also a popular idea among influential people at the top of the game. Qatar have played a shrewd game so far seeking to sew up votes in important voting confederation. They have attracted very popular Ambassadors such as Frank De Boer and notably Pep Guardiola, Bareclona’s legendary player and manager.

Yet, conversely, there are crushingly serious issues to overcome. Specifically, the World Cup must be held in July, a bakingly hot and muggy time of the year in Qatar. Yes, Qatar can and will throw money at this by seeking to air condition stadia or some such solution, but then run seriously afoul of green issues by – essentially – pumping out cold air into the desert. Also, Qatar’s profound lack of suitable stadia or practice pitches (64 of them, which all need to be air-conditioned) at the moment will worry judges: plans are one thing, concrete, completed, spectacular stadia another. Moreover, there are some exceedingly strong bids from countries such as England, Russia, Spain and Portugal and America.

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SNP lose absurd bid to hijack leader debate 28, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in UK.
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The Scottish National Party has lost its bid to hijack the last leader’s debate later on this week due to be hosted by the BBC. The SNP had taken the BBC to court to either try to force the inclusion of Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, in the debate or force the BBC to cut off the signal to Scotland.

The notion that Salmond would be have a podium next to Brown, Clegg and Cameron is laughable. The SNP have only 7 seats in Westminster, only contest 10% of all seats in the UK and Salmond cannot become Prime Minister, yet wanted to join in.

The idea that the SNP would cut off the BBC signal to Scotland is scarcely less ridiculous. Salmond seemingly wanted to take after his Stalin supporting father and decree what people can and cannot see. Choice…democracy…anyone? Also cutting off the BBC to Scotland cannot be done without cutting the feed for tens of thousands of people in the north of England and Northern Ireland too. But then again, one has to break a few eggs to make an omelet.

The judge, however, quickly threw out their case which cost the SNP £50,000 to bring to court. I’m sure that there’s nothing better to spend that cash on in Scotland.

Yet this is an idea and a policy in keeping with the SNP. They want to get rid of the Trident Nuclear Submarine base in Faslane. No problem, but that will instantly remove 11,000 jobs from the economy overnight. But that doesn’t matter because Salmond wants to base Scotland’s future economy on four factors. Joining Europe, using oil reserves, using their banking industry and following the example of other small countries.

A few problems leap to mind here.

Yes, eventually Scotland would probably be admitted to the EU. But first certain nations such as Spain need to vote them in. This cannot be done overnight. And does anyone think the Madrid wants to vote on EU accession for a separatist chunk of a European neighbour with their unresolved Basque issues? Furthermore, the EU is large these days. It’s not like Scotland could look to Ireland’s example who benefited hugely from EU membership: there is simply not enough money there to go around and what is there will surely go further East where it is needed more. Lastly, the Rectors/Principals of Scotland’s three best Universities, have, I believe, come out unanimously against Scottish Independence, realising that it would be disastrous for their coffers.

Oil? Please.

Banking on the Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland might have made some sense a few years ago but now they’re all but destroyed.

Similarly, a few years ago Scotland could perhaps have followed the example of Iceland…today? Not so much.

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Knesset spill Mossad secrets, again 28, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, UK.
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Israel’s Knesset committed its second serious breach of national security in a year after posting a list of senior Shin Bet and Mossad agents on its website. Similarly, last year they posted information pertaining to Israel’s defense related technology. This is quite the faux pas for a country with one of the most vaunted intelligence services in the world.

Curiously enough, literally minutes before I read this (via the Mideasti blog) I stumbled upon a list of 100+ MI6 agents throughout the world, their postings, ranks and diplomatic placement history. Clearly, the internet is a bad thing and should be banned.

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Brown calls voter ‘bigoted woman’ 28, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in UK.
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Gordon Brown was caught calling a voter that he just talked to ‘a bigoted woman‘. He did not realise that he still had the Sky News microphone on. He also said that the ‘whole thing’ was ‘a disaster’ and that he ‘should never have been put with her’.

The woman is then set on by grubby Sky News Conservative supporting reporters (and a BBC journalist) asking her what she thinks of it and whether she will still vote for Brown. Hmmm…

So far I have not heard the original conversation but whilst I am not Brown supporter, I do imagine that he called it as he saw it, that he believed that she was bigoted. It is somewhat annoying, therefore, that he is genuflecting and apologizing over this incident. Have some ba!!s and stick with your opinions, I feel like shouting at the dour Scotsman. Even for political reasons, it’s not as if saying something to that effect could possible make things worse for him in the polls; he’s already on his way to an absolute trouncing.

Update:

The more I read about this gaffe, the more it seems that Brown was just being, essentially, out of order. Apparently, the lady in question did very little, if anything, to deserve Brown’s remark. A big, fat apology it is then…

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Kenya expel 4 UAE ruling family members as terror suspects 27, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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Kenya are currently furiously trying to apologise and reestablish amicable relations with the Emirates after Kenyan immigration officials interrogated four members of the ruling family for hours before deporting them as suspected terrorists.

Can you imagine how indignant and splutteringly angry they must have been? I bet there was some choice language to the effect of ‘but my family could buy and sell your whole country a hundred times!’ And I wonder how they entered the country. Through customs like everyone else? Or did they try to get themselves whisked away from the airport immediately without such small formalities which are clearly beneath them?

The Emirates have responded typically maturely and sensibly by tightening visa restrictions and only allowing in Kenyan graduates.

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Russia’s missile launcher in a box 27, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Russia.
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The ever inventive Russians have designed a vastly powerful missile system that is disguised as an ordinary shipping container. Reuters reports that

One of the missiles on offer is a special anti-ship variant with a second stage which splits off after launch and accelerates to supersonic speeds of up to Mach 3.

Apparently, Emirati authorities have shown an interesting in buying the Club K system, but then again, what piece of new technology have the not shown an interesting in buying recently?

Given the high and unprecedented ease with which this system can be moved around it is causing some consternation in Washington DC where it is feared that it might get into the wrong hands i.e. Iran.

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Qatar’s obesity epidemic 27, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar, The Gulf.
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Anyone who has lived in the Gulf and has walked through a busy mall will know the scale of the obesity crisis. On an average day, the majority of the Nationals present appear to be overweight and there are always a good handful of really supersized Gulfies. The scale of this problem – pun firmly intended – has reached such levels that the venerable NYT has decided to run an article on it.

They focus on Qatar which has some of the highest obesity levels in the world. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that it’s Qatar’s (and the Gulf’s) extreme wealth that makes a significant contribution to this problem. The article also suggests that Arab custom contributes too, with eating being a focal point of family life, yet I don’t really buy that argument as Arab culture is hardly unique in this respect. Indeed, going out to dinner with a Chinese friend or boss is every much a belt-busting ordeal as it is in the Arab world.

Another aspect that the article rightly picks up on is that relating to genetic disorders. Qatar again comes high up on these kinds of lists too. Families in the Gulf are notorious for intermarrying with predictable results. Given that there are less than 250,000 Qataris, these problems are really quite serious.

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