News & Politics

Time to Change

by Reema on June 23, 2009

in News & Politics

Mailed to me by my friend Bill.

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I’m not going to retell the story of the 2 Kuwaiti journalist who were kidnapped and detained because it has been mentioned by Kuwaiti bloggers numerous times, here are some of these sites:
State Security Arrest, Assault Blogger And Journalist
Tortured and Detained
HARASSED AND ATTACKED BY SECRET POLICE IN KUWAIT.

My thoughts:

Of course I condemn such actions that are against human rights and freedom of expression but what amazes me is the reaction of “some” Kuwaiti commentators who were shocked at this news! Come on people did you actually believe that Kuwait was really a democratic state? I swear when ever I hear that phrase “we live in a democratic country” I just want to scream. No, the truth is Kuwait has always been a police state but we never hear of how many people that were tortured UNLESS their families are well-known and rich. I have known this for years and personally knew people who went through such horrendous experiences.

The news is not shocking to me at all especially with the way Kuwait is heading towards to. However I do applaud the number of Kuwaitis who expressed their opinions against such actions. The campaign that they started makes me proud to be a Kuwaiti. Indeed the future of Kuwait is in the hands of it’s youth only then we might see a democratic Kuwait.


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This is the latest letter Ms Katherine Phillips wrote:

Dear Barbara,

I am out of the GCC. Still worried about my safety. I met with a Human Rights Group in Kuwait last Wednesday. They wanted to help me and told me that they planned to write to the Prime Minister of Kuwait. That’s pretty high up in the political sphere. The first Minister contacted to my knowledge was the Minister of the Interior, then the Minister of Foreign Affairs, then the PM. I just work for a school and it reached these heights? That’s scary. I think to be released all it would have taken was a phone call from one of these men, but on Saturday I was told there wasn’t any hope. I think that would scare just about anyone. I know that these men were personally approached about my situation – not just in writing.

I did nothing wrong; I just made the wrong person angry. So, what do you think the political situation is for any teacher in Kuwait ?

I’m not sure how I got out of the country. I was notified by text message that the travel ban was lifted but I don’t know how long the ban was lifted. I left immediately. This entire situation is surreal. I’m just an ordinary person and I don’t know how this situation reached this level.

You and your organization mean the world to me. My friend Paula contacted you initially which was the best help, ray of hope, I have received. Don’t let others forget about me. With the timing of this ban (summer and everyone out of Kuwait ) and the parents’ connections, without you I would have been doomed.

I hope that this message is coherent enough – I’m a wreck.

God bless you. I feel the love and it’s sent back to you!

Katherine Phillips

Source: The International Schools Review

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Good news! I just read a statement from the Bayan Bilingual School that the case against Ms Katherine Phillips has been resolved 😀
Statement below:

Due to the efforts of BBS management and the broader BBS community in conjunction with expert Kuwaiti legal counsel, the situation regarding our Deputy Middle School Principal has been resolved.

We would like to thank every member of the Kuwait community and the parents of BBS students who have supported BBS throughout this process, and special thanks to the Kuwait Human Rights Society for their extraordinary support and empathy during this situation.

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This letter was emailed to me by a friend of mine which in my personal opinion is very disturbing, the letter originally was posted in the International Schools Review web page. I can’t help but feel more disgusted towards my country and people wonder why i’m always angry when it comes to Kuwaiti politics and society!

FROM: Katherine Phillips, Al-Bayan Bilingual School Middle School Deputy Principal, Kuwait
US PASSPORT NUMBER: xxxxx9279 – (contact ISR if needed)
TO: Whom It May Concern
DATE: June 21, 2007
RE: Detained in Kuwait/In Fear for My Safety

I am a Middle School Vice-Principal at Al-Bayan Bilingual School in Kuwait. I have been employed in Kuwait for 6 years at the same school. One of my primary responsibilities is student discipline. On March 8, 2006, three boys in grade 5 were suspended for fighting. I interviewed the boys, met with my principal and followed normal procedure. There is no stigma here regarding suspension. Students spend the day in the office where they study, are visited by teachers, and are taken to the canteen, etc. It’s a normal consequence for fighting; all students are aware of this and the procedure is clearly defined in our Parent Handbook.

In the afternoon of March 8th, I received a phone call from one of the boys’ fathers, Mr. Fawaz Khalid Al Marzouq, who is a powerful man in Kuwait. He called to inform me that this situation was “personal,” that he is “friends with the emir” and that he planned to “destroy” me. This conversation, which last about 9 minutes, was littered with profanities and threats.

On March 11, 2006, the parents met with me, my principal and our director, Dr. Brian McCauley, to discuss the suspension. The father requested that if there was an issue involving his child that I would call him immediately.

On April 27, 2006, I was requested to write a synopsis of events and to visit the Ministry of Education to answer questions regarding the suspension, describe the room in which the boys spent the school day and provide a copy of our handbook.

In June 2006, the father transferred his children to a different private school in Kuwait. Also, we received notification from the Ministry of Education that in-school suspensions were no longer to be applied; instead, parents must be contacted to take their children home.

In February 2007, I learned that a case had been filed against me at the Jabriya Police Department in Kuwait; the charge was “illegal detainment” of his son on March 8, 2006. I answered questions in my director’s presence and the Consul from the US Embassy, Mr. Sonny Busa. My lawyer was also present. The police did not suggest that there was any reason for me to be concerned as all of the questions were answered to the apparent satisfaction.

On June 13, 2007, I was at the Kuwait International Airport intending to fly to Bahrain. I was stopped at immigration where I was informed that there was a case against me, pending further investigation and that a travel ban had been placed on me. I had not been informed. My lawyer had not been informed. This travel ban was placed upon me
15 months after the boy was suspended. The parent said that he would make this personal and this seems to be what he is intent upon doing.

On Saturday, June 16, 2007, I visited the American Embassy where I met with the Vice Consul, Mr. Jared Caplan, who informed me that he sympathized but could do nothing to lift the travel ban. He suggested that I get an older Kuwaiti man to appeal to Mr. Marzouq. I was told on Wednesday that my file would be transferred to another agency for review so the ban could be lifted. Five working days later, the whereabouts of my file are uncertain. I have been told that my file is in 2 different places; this seems to be a delay tactic. Why? Because I angered an influential Kuwaiti national who is at the top of the social register both locally and at the US Embassy?

On I visited the office of a police inspector named Falah Al Otaibi, whose office is in Salmiya. He is a police official who was to evaluate my file and determine if I could leave or not. He stated that he didn’t have my file. I visited him on June 17th and 18th. On June 18th, not five minutes after I left his office with my director, the Business Officer of my school and another school representative, I called Mr. Jared Caplan, Vice-Consul at the US Embassy to gain his insight into the situation and to see if any progress had been made to help me leave. He was completely aware of my visit to Mr. Al Otaibi’s office and instructed that I not return as it “interfered.”

Several Kuwaiti families are aware of my situation but they are not in a position to help or they don’t want to get involved. They have ALL said that I should go to my embassy because my embassy can help me. The fact that the embassy can’t seems shocking to everyone. Many people also question why this accusation from Mr. Marzouk is placed solely on me – not the school, not the principal, not the director of school. I feel that I am being used as an example because I am a single, American woman and he wants to show others that he can do what he said which is to “destroy” me.

Yesterday, June 20, 2007, I received a paper from Mr. Al Otaibi’s office in Salmiya which lifted the travel ban. This waiver had been granted by the Kuwait Minister of the Interior. Not long after the Minister released me, he reverted his decision at the request of the Marzouq family or his representatives. I went to the airport last night, only to learn that I couldn’t leave.

I am in fear for my safety. If the Embassy can’t help me, then who can? I contacted the FBI in Riyad, Saudi Arabia yesterday and talked to “Mike” who couldn’t give me his last name. He was non-committal but did suggest that he thought the embassy should be able to get me out.

Mr. Sonny Busa has informed me that they are “working on it.” That seems a little vague and I am not sure if the US Embassy completely realizes the level of danger that I feel that I am in. Why does Mr. Marzouq want me in Kuwait during the summer when no one from my school will be in country to offer their support? To make me feel vulnerable? He is well-connect and his friends are supporting his mission to damage me in any way that he can. What’s next?

I do not feel safe. I am not safe. I need someone from the US to acknowledge the urgency of my situation and coordinate my release. I committed no crime. I am simply the victim of “wasta” which roughly translates into “influence/pressure” at a high level.

My mobile phone number is: 965-6298331

Fawaz Khalid Al Marzouq: Another Kuwaiti fucktard who thinks he’s all high and mighty.

UPDATE: I just emailed this story to Oprah Winfrey maybe she could do something to help this poor woman.

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Key U.S. allies added to slavery blacklist Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar are among seven nations demoted in a State Department report on human trafficking.
By Matthew Lee The Associated Press

Washington – The Bush administration on Tuesday added seven nations, including several key U.S. allies in the Middle East, to its human trafficking blacklist for failing to halt what it called the scourge of “modern-day slavery.”

Countries on the list are subject to sanctions for not doing enough to stop the yearly flow of roughly 800,000 people, 80 percent of them female and up to half of them children, across international borders for the sex trade and other forms of forced and indentured labor.

Among U.S. friends getting a failing grade were Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, which along with Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Malaysia joined for the first time such perennial offenders as Myanmar, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria in the State Department’s annual “Trafficking in Persons Report.”

Sixteen states in all – four more than in 2006 – were given so-called Tier 3 status in the 236-page survey of global efforts to combat trafficking in people, many of whom are seeking to escape poverty in Eastern Europe and South and Southeast Asia and are sold into the commercial sex trade or manual labor or are mistreated as domestics.

Despite the additions, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said “more and more countries are coming to see human trafficking for what it is – a modern- day form of slavery that devastates families and communities around the world.”

Countries with Tier 3 ranking “do not fully comply with the minimum standards (to fight trafficking) and are not making significant efforts to do so,” which makes them eligible for U.S. economic sanctions.

Three countries that had been placed on Tier 3 in 2006 – Belize, Laos and Zimbabwe – were promoted to Tier 2 this year for improving their records, according to the report. Tier 2 countries are those that do not fully comply with minimum standards but are making significant efforts to do so.

The recognition is rare U.S. praise for Zimbabwe, long singled out by Washington for harsh criticism on its overall human rights record, a point noted by Rice’s point man on the trafficking issue, Mark Lagon.

The seven newcomers to Tier 3 were all demoted from “Tier 2 watchlist” status, which now covers 32 countries, including India, Mexico and Russia, that have been cited for poor anti- trafficking records for numerous consecutive years.

Bahrain, the Persian Gulf home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, was cited for failing to crack down on human traffickers who are bringing in men, women and children for forced labor or commercial sex work, the report says.

Malaysia made its first appearance on “Tier 3” for its failure to protect and identify victims of trafficking, many of them Indonesian domestics.

Source: The Denver Post.

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LOL!

by Reema on December 11, 2006

in Humor, News & Politics

What can i say this pic explains everything hehehehe


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Why choose death?

by Reema on November 18, 2006

in Memoriam, News & Politics

Malachi Ritscher, 1954-2006.

Although it deeply saddens me that you chose to end your life your last note made me cry, such powerful words, indeed what have we become that even one man can’t bare to live in this chaotic world……i wish he didn’t sacrifice himself he would have done much more if he was alive but who knows maybe his death would cause those in denial to face the harsh reality.

I chose to post his suicide note because his message deserves to be spread

My actions should be self-explanatory, and since in our self-obsessed culture words seldom match the deed, writing a mission statement would seem questionable. So judge me by my actions. Maybe some will be scared enough to wake from their walking dream state – am I therefore a martyr or terrorist? I would prefer to be thought of as a ‘spiritual warrior’. Our so-called leaders are the real terrorists in the world today, responsible for more deaths than Osama bin Laden.

I have had a wonderful life, both full and full of wonder. I have experienced love and the joy and heartache of raising a child. I have jumped out of an airplane, and escaped a burning building. I have spent the night in jail, and dropped acid during the sixties. I have been privileged to have met many supremely talented musicians and writers, most of whom were extremely generous and gracious. Even during the hard times, I felt charmed. Even the difficult lessons have been like blessed gifts. When I hear about our young men and women who are sent off to war in the name of God and Country, and who give up their lives for no rational cause at all, my heart is crushed. What has happened to my country? we have become worse than the imagined enemy – killing civilians and calling it ‘collateral damage’, torturing and trampling human rights inside and outside our own borders, violating our own Constitution whenever it seems convenient, lying and stealing right and left, more concerned with sports on television and ring-tones on cell-phones than the future of the world…. half the population is taking medication because they cannot face the daily stress of living in the richest nation in the world.

I too love God and Country, and feel called upon to serve. I can only hope my sacrifice is worth more than those brave lives thrown away when we attacked an Arab nation under the deception of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’. Our interference completely destroyed that country, and destabilized the entire region. Everyone who pays taxes has blood on their hands.

I have had one previous opportunity to serve my country in a meaningful way – at 8:05 one morning in 2002 I passed Donald Rumsfeld on Delaware Avenue and I was acutely aware that slashing his throat would spare the lives of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people. I had a knife clenched in my hand, and there were no bodyguards visible; to my deep shame I hesitated, and the moment was past.

The violent turmoil initiated by the United States military invasion of Iraq will beget future centuries of slaughter, if the human race lasts that long. First we spit on the United Nations, then we expect them to clean up our mess. Our elected representatives are supposed to find diplomatic and benevolent solutions to these situations. Anyone can lash out and retaliate, that is not leadership or vision. Where is the wisdom and honor of the people we delegate our trust to?

To the rest of the world we are cowards – demanding Iraq to disarm, and after they comply, we attack with remote-control high-tech video-game weapons. And then lie about our reasons for invading. We the people bear complete responsibility for all that will follow, and it won’t be pretty.

It is strange that most if not all of this destruction is instigated by people who claim to believe in God, or Allah. Many sane people turn away from religion, faced with the insanity of the ‘true believers’. There is a lot of confusion: many people think that God is like Santa Claus, rewarding good little girls with presents and punishing bad little boys with lumps of coal; actually God functions more like the Easter Bunny, hiding surprises in plain sight. God does not choose the Lottery numbers, God does not make the weather, God does not endorse military actions by the self-righteous, God does not sit on a cloud listening to your prayers for prosperity. God does not smite anybody. If God watches the sparrow fall, you notice that it continues to drop, even to its death. Face the truth folks, God doesn’t care, that’s not what God is or does. If the human race drives itself to extinction, God will be there for another couple million years, ‘watching’ as a new species rises and falls to replace us. It is time to let go of primitive and magical beliefs, and enter the age of personal responsibility. Not telling others what is right for them, but making our own choices, and accepting consequences.

“Who would Jesus bomb?” This question is primarily addressing a Christian audience, but the same issues face the Muslims and the Jews: God’s message is tolerance and love, not self-righteousness and hatred. Please consider “Thou shalt not kill” and “As ye sow, so shall ye reap”. Not a lot of ambiguity there.

What is God? God is the force of life – the spark of creation. We each carry it within us, we share it with each other. Whether we are conscious of the life-force is a choice we make, every minute of every day. If you choose to ignore it, nothing will happen – you are just ‘less conscious’. Maybe you are less happy (maybe not). Maybe you grow able to tap into the universal force, and increase the creativity in the universe. Love is anti-entropy. Please notice that ‘conscious’ and ‘conscience’ are related concepts.

Why God – what is the value? Whether committee consensus of a benevolent power that works through humans, or giant fungus under Oregon, the value of opening up to the concept of God is in coming to the realization that we are not alone, establishing a connection to the universe, the experience of finding completion. As individuals we may exist alone, but we are all alone together as a people. Faith is the answer to fear. Fear opposes love. To manipulate through fear is a betrayal of trust.

What does God want? No big mystery – simply that we try to help each other. We decide to make God-like decisions, rescuing falling sparrows, or putting the poor things out of their misery. Tolerance, giving, acceptance, forgiveness.

If this sounds a lot like pop psychology, that is my exact goal. Never underestimate the value of a pep-talk and a pat on the ass. That is basically all we give to our brave soldiers heading over to Iraq, and more than they receive when they return. I want to state these ideas in their simplest form, reducing all complexity, because each of us has to find our own answers anyway. Start from here…

I am amazed how many people think they know me, even people who I have never talked with. Many people will think that I should not be able to choose the time and manner of my own death. My position is that I only get one death, I want it to be a good one. Wouldn’t it be better to stand for something or make a statement, rather than a fiery collision with some drunk driver? Are not smokers choosing death by lung cancer? Where is the dignity there? Are not the people the people who disregard the environment killing themselves and future generations? Here is the statement I want to make: if I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country. I will not participate in your charade – my conscience will not allow me to be a part of your crusade. There might be some who say “it’s a coward’s way out” – that opinion is so idiotic that it requires no response. From my point of view, I am opening a new door.

What is one more life thrown away in this sad and useless national tragedy? If one death can atone for anything, in any small way, to say to the world: I apologize for what we have done to you, I am ashamed for the mayhem and turmoil caused by my country. I was alive when John F. Kennedy instilled hope into a generation, and I was a sorry witness to the final crushing of hope by Dick Cheney’s puppet, himself a pawn of the real rulers, the financial plunderers and looters who profit from every calamity; following the template of Reagan’s idiocracy.

The upcoming elections are not a solution – our two party system is a failure of democracy. Our government has lost its way since our founders tried to build a structure which allowed people to practice their own beliefs, as far as it did not negatively affect others. In this regard, the separation of church and state needs to be reviewed. This is a large part of the way that the world has gone wrong, the endless defining and dividing of things, micro-sub-categorization, sectarianism. The direction we need is a process of unification, integrating all people into a world body, respecting each individual. Business and industry have more power than ever before, and individuals have less. Clearly, the function of government is to protect the individual, from hardship and disease, from zealots, from the exploitation, from monopoly, even from itself. Our leaders are not wise persons with integrity and vision – they are actors reading from teleprompters, whose highest goal is to stir up the mob. Our country slaughters Arabs, abandons New Orleaneans, and ignores the dieing environment. Our economy is a house of cards, as hollow and fragile as our reputation around the world. We as a nation face the abyss of our own design.

A coalition system which includes a Green Party would be an obvious better approach than our winner-take-all system. Direct electronic debate and balloting would be an improvement over our non-representative congress. Consider that the French people actually have a voice, because they are willing to riot when the government doesn’t listen to them.

“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government… ” – Abraham Lincoln

With regard to those few who crossed my path carrying the extreme and unnecessary weight of animosity: they seemed by their efforts to be punishing themselves. As they acted out the misery of their lives it is now difficult to feel anything other than pity for them.

Without fear I go now to God – your future is what you will choose today.

source here and the full report.

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