Thursday, June 30, 2005

Interview with 'blatant idealist' :: The Times

The Times interviews Bush. Worth scanning. One exchange:

THE TIMES: You said you want a strong Europe. What’s your vision of a strong and integrated Europe?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My vision is one that is economically strong, where the entrepreneurial spirit is vibrant. And the reason I say that is because Europe’s our largest trading partner. We trade a trillion a year. Secondly, a strong Europe is one where we can work in common cause to spread freedom and democracy. A viable EU is very important for sending messages to places like the Ukraine, Georgia, Kosovo, that with the right decision-making by their governments that they are a part of the greater Europe, which is, I think, a really important role for the EU.
Gas stations face mandate to hire Saudi supervisors :: Arab News

Many Saudis with middle school and high school certificates were originally happy with the decision to Saudize the industry. When they applied however, they were surprised at the low salaries — SR700 a month maximum [US$187]— and the tough working conditions. Many thought it unfair that they work for long hours for such a small salary, Al-Madinah reported. . . . Abdullah Balhareth [a] gas station owner, said: “We cannot depend on Saudis to work in this job because it needs patience. It needs constant supervision on workers, honesty and a great deal of trust because they will be dealing with large amounts of cash.”
Are these Saudis currently unemployed? What is their alternative to earning $187/month? Why would Saudis be less honest and less likely to provide constant supervision? Is it because they are not subject to the same punishments for malfeasance? Would a record of dishonesty follow them if they are fired and looking for work elsewhere?

Labels: ,

'World economy defies record oil prices' :: Gulf News

That's because the increase in price is the result of an increase in demand, not a decrease supply. See this explanation. and the diagram here.
13,000 students pass UAE University exams :: Gulf News
The successful students comprised 10,919 females and 2,141 males. They also included the first batch of graduates from the College of Information Technology (CIT). The batch comprised 552 graduates, 457 female students and 95 male students.
Where are most of the males? At other schools? Or did they end their studies earlier in life? Mostly the latter.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Memorization :: google search

Click the link.

Via An Emirati's Thoughts. Thanks to Secret Dubai for alerting me to this new UAE blog.
Duff Beer economy? :: Eric Umansky: ' "It's the Duff Beer economy," says one expat. "It might all look different, but it's all coming from the same spout." '

The expat lives in the Gulf . . . of Mexico.
Female staff in Saudi MOH hospitals complain about new work shifts :: Arab News

Some patients require around-the-clock care which is conflict with the family time preferences of Saudi nurses, especially females. It appears that night nursing will not be Saudized any time soon.

Labels: ,

Saudi cleric rules it is unlawful for woman to work as pilot (GN).

quote\ Prince Waleed, who employed Captain Hanadi Zakaria to work for his company fleet of private jets, has been putting full-page advertisements in the local papers congratulating her for becoming the first Saudi woman to earn a commercial pilot's licence.

Internet sites run by extremists and conservatives have been attacking plans to allow Saudi women to pilot aircraft, prompting a Saudi cleric to issue a fatwa making it unlawful for any woman to work as pilot. . . . Shaikh Yousuf Al Ahmad, associate professor of Sharia at Imam Mohammad Bin Saud University in Riyadh, said in a statement that the contract signed by the Kingdom Holding Co. is unlawful and that women should never be allowed to work as pilots or air hostesses. He also ruled as unlawful the advertisements by the company. /unquote

Labels: ,

Government provided housing cannot be converted to cash :: KT
Al Ain Municipality’s decision to enforce a law that prevents locals from renting out their residential houses obtained under government schemes has played a great role in controlling the Al Ain real estate market as the Al Ain Municipality acted against 35 cases of residential area norm violation.
Supply and demand rules (KT). Rents drop following "termination of services of a large number of expatriates in different government departments in Al Ain within the framework of the localisation policy."
Magazine, whose mission is spelled out in its title, is banned for not adhering to its business plan. (GN)
Many states are finding creative ways to misinterpret the rules for reporting their statistics so that their school children seem to be doing wonderfully even though that often is not the case :: WaPo

Now there is a new report on how states are hiding their feeble high school graduation rates under thick glops of statistical nonsense. It is "Getting Honest About Grad Rates: How States Play the Numbers and Students Lose," by Daria Hall of the Education Trust, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that works for higher academic achievement, particularly for low-income and minority children. The report is available on the Education Trust website.

No Child Left Behind tries to encourage high schools to improve their graduation rates, but unlike its test score improvement provisions, it does not threaten much action if they don't. It turns out this is like telling all the thieves in the neighborhood that you have turned off your burglar alarm.
. . . .
States are not accustomed to having to defend their self-congratulatory statistical tricks. But the federal law has forced some of these maneuvers into the open, where curious outsiders can see what is going on.
One of my favorite things to do is hold up America and say to my college students in the UAE, look at how screwed up America can be about so many things. Implicit is: I am comfortable criticizing my own country, I can criticize my own country, I expect my own country to be the best it can be. And, think about the example I just gave you; is there a parallel in your own experience?

Here is a link to The Education Trust report "Getting Honest About Grad Rates: Too Many States Hide Behind False Data."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Krugman: Illiberal Demagogue :: Marginal Revolution

Alex Tabarrok writes:

How is it that Brad DeLong and I should agree so completely? It is because neither of us has forgotten our heritage as [liberal] economists.
Sign little old me up as agreeing with DeLong and Tabarrok. I do mind saying that Krugman's popularity with left-wing reactionaries really gets under my skin.

Read all the pixels that Tabarrok spills on the frightful Professor "The-sky-is-falling" Krugman. Maybe he should have some more of what Weitzman is having.
Saudi men and women petition rights body on women driving :: Arab News

The petition went on: “We say to those who are against women driving that they should fear God and look at the consequences of letting foreign drivers into our homes, consequences they are responsible for and will be asked about on the Day of Judgment.”
It seems God is on everybody's side.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 27, 2005

Country popularity ratings say a lot about a country's self-image :: Mahalanobis

Dumpsite Larry had recommended I blog on the recent 16-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey [pdf]. Mahalanobis beats me to it. This is my favorite bit from his observations:
Western European nations give Germany the highest global favorability ratings of any of the five leading nations (U.S., France, China, Japan and Germany) covered by the survey. Particularly striking are the differences between the self-assessments and global assessments of neighbors Germany and France. Eight-in-ten French believe the world likes their country; while only about half of Germans think the world likes theirs. But Germany’s favorability ratings exceed those of France in 10 of the 16 survey countries.
Guess which country has the highest percentage choosing "we're liked" in response to "how others feel about your country."


Chinese population explosion :: Foreign Affairs

Is Michael T. Osterholm arguing China should turn back the clock to the good old days of 1968 when it had .0066 pigs per person instead of .3907 pigs per person it has today? (Via Marginal Revolution.)


Will the ME run out of water? :: Marginal Revolution

Not if there is a market in water. But plenty of damage, some irreversible, will be done until there is one. Pity the future generation.

Some choice quotes from Marginal Revolution:

1. "Sometimes the easiest way to trade water is inside a tomato."

2. "Desalination won't solve your problems if you live in the mountains."

3. "A 10 percent improvement in the distribution of water to agriculture would double the world's potable water supply." (This last quote, is Marginal Revolution quoting Water for Sale: How Business and the Market Can Resolve the World's Water Crisis.)

Sabbah's blog has more.
Is Dubai worth copying? :: Arab News
Emiratis living in Dubai have become foreigners in their own country, representing a tiny minority of the city's population. Statistics indicate that natives make up a mere two percent of Dubai's total population. Imagine a place where 98 percent of the population are foreigners whose presence is dictated by transient interests. As for the number of UAE citizens compared to the overall population, they account for no more than 10 percent.
The figures given are gross exaggerations. What's the point of exaggerating when the true numbers are astonishing enough?

The question is whether the foreign presence will, in the long run, compensate for the diminishing role of citizens and their ability to run own affairs by themselves? It is a question facing not only Dubai but also every other Gulf country.
Let's put the question to a popularly-elected government where the voters are the citizens.
'Visionary business tycoon' strongly reacts to UAE-US FTA negotiations :: Khaleej Times

"It would be like a basket ball match between the UAE and the National Basketball Association (NBA)," he compared the disadvantage the country's businesses would be having after the conclusion of the FTA with the US.
Let's not forget the purpose of economic competition. Economic competition is not a spectator sport. Its purpose is to benefit consumers with better quality products and services at lower prices, not to protect competitors from competition.
No higher ed accreditation-free zones: Ministry:: Khaleej Times

QUOTE\ “No college or university located in the Free Zones of Dubai or any other emirate is above the accreditation rules,” he disclosed, cautioning parents and students to ensure that they join only accredited and recognised institutions in the UAE.

Several universities and colleges operating as branch campuses of reputed foreign institutions also need to be accredited by the CAA to ensure that the campus in the UAE is licensed by the Ministry of Education and will offer quality programmes and maintain high academic standards, the professor pointed out.

He admitted that there were several universities and colleges operating without being accredited by the Commission, but it will be the students who will suffer in future because credits of non-accredited institutions cannot be transferred for higher studies in accredited institutions within the UAE. Besides, the degrees will also not be recognised and accepted by institutions overseas if they are not attested by the Ministry in the UAE. /UNQUOTE


Rent control in Ajman :: Khaleej Times
QUOTE\ The articles of the decree stated that an owner of a real estate is not allowed to raise the amount of rent by more than 20 per cent at the end of the agreement. He also cannot ask the tenants to vacate the premises until the tenant violates the condition of the tenancy contract signed at the time of leasing out the premises. The decree also states that a tenant is responsible for paying bills of all utilities including water, electricity and gas and other services that is provided for good maintenance of the real estate. /UNQUOTE
Census 'will highlight imbalance'

QUOTE\ The first census in 1968 found the UAE had a population of 180,964, of whom 114,033 were nationals comprising 63 per cent of the total population, and 66,931 were expatriates.

This UAE national domination disappeared in 1975, Al Shamsi said, when the UAE population rose by 300 per cent and the total population was 557,887, of whom 356,343 were expatriates comprising 63.8 per cent of the UAE's total population. /UNQUOTE
Flag burners unite :: Armavirumque

It's an interesting point Mark Steyn and others are making. Isn't it a good thing that the option exists to reveal how one feels about America? How else can we reveal who we are unless we have the choice to burn the U.S. flag, or not?
Who are Americans to think that freedom is theirs to spread? :: NYT Magazine

QUOTE\ If democracy within requires patrons without, the only patron left is the United States. While Americans characteristically oversell and exaggerate the world's desire to live as they do, it is actually reasonable to suppose, as Americans believe, that most human beings, if given the chance, would like to rule themselves. It is not imperialistic to believe this. It might even be condescending to believe anything else. If Europeans are embarrassed to admit this universal yearning or to assist it, Americans have difficulty understanding that there are many different forms that this yearning can take, Islamic democracy among them.
. . . .
Michael Ignatieff, a contributing writer, is the Carr professor of human rights at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He is the editor of the forthcoming book ''American Exceptionalism and Human Rights.'' /UNQUOTE
The 'Polish Plumber' :: New York Times

The term "Polish plumber" was coined in March by Philippe de Villiers, the head of the right-wing Movement for France party, in response to a European Union proposal known as the Bolkestein directive, which would make it easier for workers to live in other member countries and receive the same salaries and benefits as if they had never left home.

The thinking behind the directive was that if goods could move freely across the borders of European Union countries, why not services?
. . . .
Under the treaty that allowed Poland and nine other countries to join the European Union last year, older members of the union can restrict access to their labor markets for up to seven years. Only Britain, Ireland and Sweden have allowed in workers from the new members.

But labor has always been one of Poland's most important exports. In a sense, the "Polish plumber" is much more than that, because in most cases he is also an electrician and sometimes even a mason, carpenter, painter and roofer as well.

"It's ridiculous, truly bizarre to say Polish plumbers are dangerous for France," said Wieslaw Zieba, 55, who has worked in France as a plumber and electrician for 25 years. "Some of the things that have been said by political figures border on the xenophobic. This is a country that desperately needs more plumbers. But it's not a noble profession that everyone wants to follow. You have to clean up after flooding and unblock toilets."

Indeed, according to the French plumbing union, there is a shortage of 6,000 plumbers, and there are only about 150 Polish plumbers in France.

When Mr. Zieba first came to Paris, he said, he had no friends, knew no French and slept in the Metro. He now has dual Polish-French citizenship and runs a thriving business that also does masonry, carpentry, plumbing and electrical work.

But the fear of cheap imported labor in France is so profound that it has dominated the discourse about the troubled French economy.

I thought the European Union idea was emulation of the economic success flowing from the degree of free trade and mobility within the Etats Unis. The U.S. has lots of natural advantages, but it also has the man-made ideas of Alexander Hamilton.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sabbah's Blog comments on this Arab News article titled "Closing the doors on Saudi women."

Labels: ,

Jordan Blogger meet up :: Jordan Planet: "a portal for Jordanian blog writers. It aims to open a window to the thoughts and lifes of those writers."

Is a meet up in the future for UAE bloggers?
Today's Quote(s) ... :: The Amateur Economist & Curmudgeon: : "'Did you hear that we're writing Iraq's new Constitution? Why not just give them ours? We're not using it anymore.' -- Jay Leno (1950- ) Comedian"
What's a good blog? :: New Economist

A good example of what he's talking about in the New Economist. Among the items there that catch my attention today:

Brown: "Europe must reform and reform quickly": "With Chirac seemingly intent on wrecking the UK Presidency, one wonders just how much headway Blair and Brown will make in the next six months. But at least they are clearly staking out the case for a more flexible, competitive and modern Europe."

The failure of Live Aid: "Sometimes aid can do more harm than good, particularly when well-intentioned but naive amateurs are involved."

EU's rules on work don't work: "During their recent referendum campaign the French were, according to press reports, terrified of losing jobs to the proverbial 'Polish plumber' (an attitude that would mystify the average Londoner, who can't do without them). But they need not have been so worried. While in theory the European single market allows workers to take up jobs anywhere in the Union, in practice it is much harder."

There's a reason New Economist is on my regular roll. He's one of my reliable human browsers, and he offers it up with some spicy commentary.
Fuel Warehouse :: Peter Davidson

A gas station with class. Makes you want to linger and go inside. Where they can sell you some high margin items. I wish them luck. I get positive externalities from good architecture.

If you're into "ideas and commentary on advertising, branding, marketing, technology and culture," check out the rest of this blog.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I wonder whether the Iranian polling stations in UAE worked as well as the one in Arizona.
Landslide? :: Publius Pundit

Publius Pundit has lots of links supporting the notion that it was the boycott of voting that was the true landslide, and the world's press has missed the story. Read and decide.
IMF tells rich countries their cotton subsidies harm the world's poor :: The Peninsula

-QUOTE- Rich countries must end subsidies to their cotton producers if African countries which grow the crop are to lift themselves from the spiral of poverty, the head of the IMF said yesterday.

Rodrigo Rato, in an article for the French daily Le Figaro, said African countries had accepted the need to reform their cotton sectors, and the International Monetary Fund was offering them loans on concessionary terms to do so.

But he said they could not succeed so long as rich nations continued to drive down world prices with huge subsidies to their own cotton producers. "It goes without saying that Africa cannot get out of this situation alone," Rato said. "In the framework of the negotiations under way at the WTO (World Trade Organisation), industrialised countries urgently need to end the subsidies which distort trade." -UNQUOTE-
Sharjah replanning under consideration :: Khaleej Times

QUOTE\\ The report highlighted the main policies adopted in the Directorate of Town Planning and Survey (DTPS), and the main problems and obstacles existing in the DTPS. . . . Ali bin Mohamed bin Saeed, Head of the Recommendation Committee, said that the Sharjah DTPS is a government department playing a significant role in handling the transactions of clients wishing to process their transactions, and it has played a crucial role in planning the main roads and highways in Sharjah. "But we know that there are certain challenges and obstacles preventing the directorate from accomplishing various works and projects within the scheduled time," he said, adding: "Since the establishment of the Consultative Council, a number of recommendations were issued, but they failed to achieve the desired results. . . . we have decided that the geographic location of the emirate must be taken into consideration while planning the emirate. Besides, a population growth study must be prepared to set a proper plan that can absorb the growth, with comprehensive research to overcome the traffic jams and unbearable bottlenecks." //UNQUOTE
Trends in Outbound Travel from the UAE :: Gulf News: "The UAE's 4 million population represents 1.5 per cent of the Middle East's total population. But it also represents 12 per cent of the total Middle East's outbound market, Market Vision report says. In the GCC, the UAE represents 12 per cent of Gulf's population, but 18 per cent of the region's outbound travel."

I'll see you in September.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Internet-filtering in the UAE :: Or Does It Explode

The report features a list of some of the 1,347 blocked websites, including:,,,, the Israeli Knesset website, and
We are well on the way to an inversion of the classic Left-Right divide :: The Times

Gerard Baker, US Editor of The Times:

These days if you’re in favour of policies designed to promote global economic integration, policies that have led hundreds of millions in Asia, Latin America, and Africa out of the misery of grinding poverty, and have significantly lifted the standard of living of workers in the West too; if you support change to topple tyrannical regimes and give some hope to people who have suffered in fledgling democracies, you’re now more likely to be considered a conservative.

Via The Eclectic Econoclast.
Saddam's jailers feed him American junk food :: CNN

High in salt, transfatty acids, etc.
Naming names continues :: Khaleej Times: "The Abu Dhabi Misdemeanour Court has fined a man Dh1, 000 for calling his wife names in public. Hassan Hamid was accused by his wife, Salwa, of insulting her in public. The woman told the court that the husband used foul words, including calling her 'a whore'."
``It doesn't matter if anything makes money in Abu Dhabi,'' says Anthony Harris, a former U.K. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates who now works as a consultant for Dubai. (Bloomberg.) . . . . The region's oil wealth spills out onto streets clogged with Porsche Cayenne sport-utility vehicles and Mercedes-Benz coupes. In Dubai, restaurants and hotels are packed. The city's Sho-Cho bar is filled with young women who sip $12 vodka Red Bulls and tuck into $100 meals of sushi and sashimi. ``It's a really lively place with lots of beautiful people right by the sea,'' says Omar Ghobash, 34, a Dubai resident who runs a consulting firm that encourages international universities to set up campuses in the emirate. ``What more could you want?''

Thursday, June 23, 2005

ID theft racket at Indian call centre :: The Register

Amicus, an information technology workers union,
said the case highlighted possible data protection risks about moving financial services overseas. "Companies that have offshore jobs need to reflect on their decision and the assumption that cost savings benefiting them and their shareholders outweigh consumer confidentiality and confidence."
Are workers in India more prone to commit crimes? Why? Do they have less to lose if they are caught? Are they less likely to get caught?


SCOTUS OKs personal property takings :: CNN

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a key swing vote on many cases before the court, issued a stinging dissent. She argued that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.

The lower courts had been divided on the issue, with many allowing a taking only if it eliminates blight.

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

She was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Too bad the minority wasn't the majority.
The Perils of Not Thinking :: Arab News

Abeer Mishkhas,

Newspapers recently carried the story of a famous religious scholar — a sheikh — who gave a lecture in a mosque. During the lecture, he was interrupted by a group of young men who shouted at him and expressed their contemptuous rejection of his opinion. Though in a mosque, one of the young men angrily waved a small knife at the sheikh who was forced to stop his lecture. He was then escorted by security from the mosque in order to avoid a worsening of the situation. The reason for the young men’s inexcusable reaction was, as far as most people are concerned, inconsequential. The sheikh was speaking about his belief that drums are not forbidden. To say such a thing to people who have always been told — and have always been taught — that music is completely haram (not allowed) was a genuine shock.
. . .
We live in a society that, for the most part, believes uncritically that there is only one possible opinion and that to say or think or write something different is wrong and even worse, should not be tolerated but should be punished. . . . It seems that we have come up with the idea — and the practice — of holding only one possible opinion and now we are facing the consequences. If the young men in the mosque were violent, it is because of their lack of self-assurance plus their own certainty about their beliefs. This has been the cornerstone of their education from the first day of it and it seems they have learned the lesson very well indeed. They have never had an opinion of their own — they have always been told what opinion to hold — and to propose something new means that they have to think and analyze.

Daytime v. nighttime population of Dubai:: Khaleej Times

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Juma Alhosani, Head of Production and Trade Statistics at the Centre, claimed that the emirate’s population is often ‘misquoted’ to be 1.3 million or more, which was probably “the day-time population of Dubai”, which includes residents of neighbouring emirates who come to Dubai everyday for work. While the centre clarified that the ‘floating population’ in Dubai is not taken into consideration, the quarterly report, however, does not mention the centre’s estimate of the emirate’s daytime population.

With scores of development projects being carried out in the emirate, a higher rate of population growth is expected, and the projected population figures for the emirate are indicative of this growth rate.
If you build it they will come?

Explaining the census methodology followed by the authority to collect data on the emirate’s population, Alhosani said it is based on surveys and does not account for those with Dubai residence visas living in the neighbouring emirates. “The day-time population of Dubai is higher because many people living in neighbouring emirates commute to Dubai and work here. Our focus is essentially the night-time population, which is the real population of the emirate, and data on this is collected through our surveyors” he explained.
Your residence visa is a work visa saying in which emirate you are allowed to work. Your residence does not have to be in the emirate where your residence visa is assigned. Got that?

This Iranian source seems to have the gender numbers reversed.
Dignity of labour :: Khaleej Times

SHARJAH — UAE nationals, both females and males, should have respect for dignity of labour and not shy away from any job, however menial it may seem, Salha Ghabesh, General Secretay of Sharjah Supreme Family Council, has said.

“They should not refuse to work in minor posts and should know that working in a genuine profession, even if they are minor jobs like watchmen, cleaners, plumbers and electricians which do not require education, is far better than staying at home waiting for a high salaried job,” Ghabesh told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of a women’s gathering at Sharjah Ladies Club. “The council is giving high priority to the issue of employing UAE nationals in minor posts since the UAE youth should not be ashamed of working in such genuine professions,” she said.

“I know it sounds very hard for some young UAE nationals to work in such posts which they don’t prefer. But they should know that our Prophets and our fore-fathers worked as shepherds and they were strong enough to face the challenges of life without feeling inferior to others. What mattered to them was their contribution to their country and not how much they earned. The new generation feels ashamed getting into these professions because they feel these are jobs which don’t give them respect, and can be done by labourers from other countries,” she said.
Sewage company will cater to capital's growing needs :: Gulf News

It is significant that this is not a government enterprise even though in many parts of the world water and sewage are government owned and managed. The choice here, however, was to use private enterprise even in the face of concerns of unemployment amongst citizens. Traditionally here the government has provided jobs for its citizens to the point that fewer than 2 percent of private sector jobs today are held by UAE nationals. The government resisted the temptation to play into demands for more government jobs. The government jobs that would have been created will be private sector jobs.
AUSharjah applications up 20% :: AMEInfo: "The American University of Sharjah has a 20% rise in applications compared with a year ago, reported Director Dr. Winfred Thompson. The AUS has a very lavish campus on the outskirts of Sharjah and full international accreditation for its courses."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Brawling UAE national youth :: Khaleej Times
DUBAI — An Egyptian security officer who tried to break up a brawl between two groups of UAE national youth at Marina Club here last Thursday, paid a heavy price. He lost an eye in the rescue act. . . . Speaking about the incident, he said his boss asked him to disperse a brawling group in the club. “We are used to such things as they are part of our duty, but this time, it was different,” he said, adding that when he asked the groups to move out and continue with their fight, the youngsters, many of them drunk, used abusive language against him and assaulted him. His colleagues gathered and tried desperately to pull him out of the crowd. One of the youngsters later identified as Khalifa Al Mazrwai hit him with an empty bottle in the right eye. . . . Hazim recognised the accused who hit him with the bottle in an identification parade. He claimed that family members and friends of the accused visited him at the hospital and requested him not to press charges, but he rejected their plea.
It is rare for the media in the UAE to name names or to be specific when a negative story involves national youth.
Condoleezza Rice minces no words :: TigerHawk


"For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither," Rice said. "Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people."

we are explicitly willing to sacrifice stability for change in Muslim political society. Disorder in a fascist society is often (although not necessarily) the friend of the true democrat. The next time, therefore, you hear somebody complain that American policy has made the Middle East less stable, remember that instability is the understood consequence of our policy, not evidence that the policy has failed.
Harvard econ prof: should be paid for taking manure all these years :: The Boston Globe

Weitzman said, he has been doing Rockport a favor by removing the manure -- from town-owned land and Lane's property -- because the waste was piled too close to vulnerable wetlands and was leaching into a nearby pond.

''I am a professor of economics, and my specialty is environmental economics," Weitzman said. ''I ought to be thanked by them for removing a potent pollutant."

The Harvard professor has been trucking the stuff 10 miles away to his $970,000 Gloucester home, a 13-acre spread on an island surrounded by marsh and wetlands.

Weitzman said he carefully stores it behind his house, several acres away from sensitive waterways.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Kuwait's first female Cabinet member took the oath of office in parliament yesterday over the shouts of Islamist and tribal lawmakers opposed to women's participation in politics :: Gulf News
"If she is not registered, she is not a voter," lawmaker Deiffallah Bou Ramia shouted during the oath-taking. . . . The Cabinet and pro-women's rights members counter that registration is not a requirement for being an "eligible voter."

"Tell me, is Shaikh Nawwaf [Al Sabah, the interior minister] registered?" roared liberal legislator Mohammad Al Saqr. "You just want to wage war!" The prime minister, Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, said: "I would like to tell you that I am not registered, if there is a law against this, then we [unregistered Cabinet members] will all have to walk out of this parliament."
Interview with James J. Heckman :: The Region-FRB Minneapolis

Read the whole thing; I provide a sampler below.

On discrimination:

Markets do many useful things, but they did not solve the problem of race. Not in America. That's probably heresy to admit it as a Chicago economist, but I became convinced that a doctrinaire notion that markets would solve the problem of discrimination is false. Civil rights legislation and civil rights activity played huge roles in eliminating overt segregation in the United States. On the other hand, I also believe that affirmative action in the post-civil rights era has played very little role in elevating the status of blacks. It is important to notice that many blacks are not in the workforce, and the trend of workforce withdrawal even among prime-age black males has increased over the past 20 years. Since their wages are missing, we don't know what true black-white gaps are.

I'm still very interested in the question of black-white disparity, but I think about it quite differently than I used to. The blatant discrimination that existed in the South before Title VII was in large part eradicated by civil rights legislation. It's far less of an issue today. There's still disparity, of course, but it's not now primarily due to discrimination. I now think it's much more due to the differentials in family environments and the fact that the initial life circumstances of racial and ethnic groups are very unequal. And understanding that, I think, is the source of solving the black-white problem, not new civil rights laws, and certainly not affirmative action laws.
On nature and nurture:

Enriched early intervention programs targeted to disadvantaged children have had their biggest effect on noncognitive skills: motivation, self-control and time preference. We know that there's a scientific basis for this finding. The prefrontal cortex, which is a center of these noncognitive skills, matures late. The executive function, the very definition of ourselves as people, the way we motivate ourselves, these things are malleable until quite late stages—into the 20s, according to research by neuroscientists. This means that in principle we can modify these behaviors. Noncognitive skills are powerfully predictive of a number of socioeconomic measures (crime, teenage pregnancy, education and the like) as I show in a recent paper with Jora Stixrud and Sergio Urzua.

Kids in the Perry Preschool Program, an early childhood intervention, are much more successful than similar kids without intervention even though their IQs are no higher.
. . .
If we don't provide disadvantaged young children with the proper environments to foster cognitive and noncognitive skills, we'll create a class of people without such skills, without motivation, without the ability to contribute to the larger society nearly as much as they could if they'd been properly nurtured from an early age. Neglecting the early years creates an underclass that is arguably growing in the United States. The family is the major source of human inequality in American society.
. . .
And you ask, what do the GEDs earn? They earn what high school dropouts who do not get GEDs earn, once you adjust for their somewhat higher cognitive ability. And what's the difference between GEDs and high school graduates? Well, GEDs have the same Armed Forces Qualifying Test (an achievement test) scores as high school graduates who do not go on to college, so they're just as smart as those people. But they lack something. They're missing motivation, self-control and forward-lookingness. I call these noncognitive skills. In recent work with Jora Stixrud and Sergio Urzua, we find strong evidence of pervasive importance of noncognitive skills as the key to explain success and failure in socioeconomic life.

These findings have major implications for American educational policy—for example, the No Child Left Behind Act, and all the related policies which are predicated on the assumption that we succeed with an educational intervention if we improve on test scores.

On public job training:

I think these observations on human skill formation are exactly why the job training programs aren't working in the United States and why many remediation programs directed toward disadvantaged young adults are so ineffective.
. . .
Cognitive skills such as IQ can't really be changed much after ages 8 to 10. But with noncognitive skills there's much more malleability. That's the point I was making earlier when talking about the prefrontal cortex. It remains fluid and adaptable until the early 20s. That's why adolescent mentoring programs are as effective as they are. Take a 13-year-old. You're not going to raise the IQ of a 13-year-old, but you can talk the 13-year-old out of dropping out of school. Up to a point you can provide surrogate parenting.

So, coming back to job training and other interventions targeted toward disadvantaged adolescents, mainstream discussions miss the basic economics of the skill formation process.

On communicating economic ideas:

We should recognize the fundamental intelligence of most people. Some people are smarter than others, of course, but there's such a thing as common sense, and common sense often prevails. If you can appeal to that common sense, you've done your job as a communicator. An appeal to common sense should not end the discussion. One has to back up any claims, especially empirical claims. Thus, for many, it is “common-sensical” that reducing class size raises test scores of students and is a policy worth funding. When the common sense is tested against data, the effects of classroom size reduction are second order in character, especially compared to the effects of early childhood interventions that cost the same.
Abu Dhabi University unveils master plan :: AME Info

UPDATE: A commenter suggests looking here for cautionary anecdotes on ADU's performance. (Broken link fixed.)
Rice stakes out the core principles of the Bush administration's democracy campaign for the Middle East :: WaPo

Throughout the Middle East the fear of free choices can no longer justify the denial of liberty," Rice told an invitation-only audience of government officials, academics and diplomats at the American University here [Cairo], citing disturbing practices in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. "It is time to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy."
. . .
As is her style, Rice was more forceful in the question-and-answer session in both defending U.S. policy and acknowledging shortcomings in America's past. At one point, she cited the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who she said was responsible for her having the position she holds now. He "always talked about making America true to ourselves," she said.

Labels: , ,

Lessons of Calif.'s Toll Lanes :: WaPo:
Toll lanes are the way to go. (Pun intended.)

"Our goal is to maximize the number of people through the 91 corridor."

And that means charging to use it. Otherwise, congestion will result.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Islamic economics, "Islam & Mammon" by Timur Kuran :: Dynamist
Do Islamic banks want a universal ban on interest by any bank?

Islamic banks are enjoying the profitability of their niche; they have customers willing to pay a premium in order to do Islamic banking. The profits of these banks would be eroded if more banks offered Islamic financial products. Are Islamic banks lead by idealists who desire all banking to be Islamic, or is an Islamic bank just as likely as a conventional bank to be motivated by profit?

View from the front porch: late night (9pm!) bingo. Posted by Hello

Timberville Fire Department was victorious in the antique category. Posted by Hello

Parade contestants parked in the sideyard of your host at EmEc.
The Impala convertible was the winner. Posted by Hello

Orkney Springs Fire Department Carnival Posted by Hello

In the background is the summer residence of your host at The Emirates Economist. There was a parade and carnival the day after I arrived back from the UAE; mere coindence I assure you. This picture is taken from the Bingo hall. To the right is the hamburger stand. On the left is the BBQ chicken stand and the homemade ice cream stand. Grapenut ice cream. Yum.
Sharjah Police deny issuing travel ban on reporter :: Gulf News

"Sharjah police have been closely following with deep concern what was written in Arabic and English local dailies about the travel ban and the detention of the reporter at Dubai International Airport.

"The police would like to clarify the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the reporter and Gulf News UAE Editor Duraid Al Baik for publishing the defamatory report, mentioning she was assaulted because of her ethnic background, referring also to her nickname, her profession and place of work.

"The police asked both of them to come to Sharjah police for investigation. As there was no response Sharjah police issued an arrest warrant against them," the statement said.
The plaintiff is quoted in The Khaleej Times:

Iqbal Al Tamimi, a TV journalist and one of Sharjah slasher’s victims, has asserted that she was quoted without her knowledge or consent by the local daily Gulf News. Speaking at a Press conference organised by the Sharjah Police yesterday, she said: “The report written by Basma Al Jandly was false and fabricated, and most of the information stated were incorrect and inaccurate. I have never met the reporter nor did she call me for a comment.” Al Tamimi said: “The fabricated Gulf News report published on February 25 mentioned that the assault could be motivated by my political or ethnic background, but this was totally wrong.

She said that several media organisations had called her for her comments but that she had refused to provide them with information, because the Sharjah Police had requested her not to talk on the issue with the Press, as it would affect the investigation process and might cause the attacker to assault her again.

“All reporters from other newspapers who called me for a comment respected my explanation and no one published anything despite the fact that most of them had the correct information which they obtained from other sources including the hospital,” said Al Tamimi. “On February 25, I was shocked to read the fabricated report published by Gulf News which contributed to damaging my reputation. My services were terminated from several media establishments where I was working as a contributor, because I refused to give them my comments and then it had appeared in the Gulf News.”
. . .

Al Tamimi lodged a complaint against the Gulf News reporter on March 2 for defamation and for quoting her without her permission. Al Tamimi, a widow with three children, said that although she couldn’t have enough money to hire a lawyer to defend her in the court, she would not have hesitated to lodge a court case, even if she had to sell the house of her children in her home country.
No American 'Gulag' :: WaPo

Pavel Litvinov, who was a dissident active in human rights causes in the Soviet Union, now lives in the United States. He writes:

by using hyperbole and muddling the difference between repressive regimes and the imperfections of democracy, Amnesty's spokesmen put its authority at risk. U.S. human rights violations seem almost trifling in comparison with those committed by Cuba, South Korea, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

The most effective way to criticize U.S. behavior is to frankly acknowledge that this country should be held to a higher standard based on its own Constitution, laws and traditions. We cannot fulfill our responsibilities as the world's only superpower without being perceived as a moral authority. Despite the risks posed by terrorism, the United States cannot indefinitely detain people considered dangerous without appropriate safeguards for their conditions of detention and periodic review of their status.

Words are important. When Amnesty spokesmen use the word "gulag" to describe U.S. human rights violations, they allow the Bush administration to dismiss justified criticism and undermine Amnesty's credibility.

Labels: ,

68 remember one father on Fathers Day :: 7Days: "Members of the biggest family in the UAE, from the eight month old baby girl to 35 year old Ayoob wished a happy Fathers Day to their aging and handicapped father who is nevertheless getting ready for his twelfth marriage."


Input substitution and grade inflation :: Economist's View

Mark Thoma notes a connection between job security and grade inflation:

During the time grades were increasing, budgets were also tightening inducing a substitution towards younger and less permanent faculty. I broke down grade inflation by instructor rank and found it is much higher among assistant professors, adjuncts, TAs, instructors, etc. than for associate or full professors. These are instructors who are usually hired year-to-year or need to demonstrate teaching effectiveness for the job market, so they have an incentive to inflate evaluations as much as possible, and high grades are one means of manipulating student course evaluations.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Orwell lives :: WaPo: "Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has reversed a decision to close the state's Prevailing Wage Office following the discovery of a 1997 law that requires the office to employ at least five inspectors."
Is there something wrong with picking cherries? :: WaPo

Is there something morally wrong with charging different customers different prices without their knowledge? I don't think so.

And since personalized pricing generally means more customers are served it's generally more efficient also.
Child support laws may reduce unwed fathers :: WaPo
File under: unintended consequence, pleasant; people respond to incentives

The percentage of unmarried births in the United States has increased from 10 percent in the 1960s to about a third of all births today. Because children of single parents run a higher risk of poverty, academic failure and other problems, lawmakers seek policies that will discourage unwed births - usually focusing on the mothers.
Researchers said their study recognizes the father's responsibility.

"Decisions about sexual intercourse and marriage involve two people," said study co-author Irwin Garfinkel, a Columbia University professor and one of the nation's top experts on child support.

The study, which has not yet been published, looked at a nationwide sample of 5,195 women of childbearing age using data from 1980 to 1993.

It did not show whether tougher child support laws prevented pregnancies or encouraged marriage. Plotnick said the data limited the researchers to observing a strong correlation between tough child support enforcement and fewer out-of-wedlock births. Whether that is caused by fewer unmarried people getting pregnant or more couples marrying when the woman is expecting, he could not say.



Saturday, June 18, 2005

Domestic work is an international market :: Arab News

Saudi Arabia is home to some 350,000 Sri Lankans, of whom 250,000 are maids.
. . .
According to an announcement made Thursday by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh, the minimum wage set for domestic aides, effective from July 1, shall be $150 per month as against the current $100. . . .The new salary structure is being implemented on a proposal made by the country’s Labor Minister Athauda Senevirathne who said most Sri Lankan workers in the Middle East have been receiving a monthly pay of $100 for over 18 years.
. . .
If Sri Lanka insists on the new salary scale, the chairman said, the Kingdom would be “reluctantly compelled” to turn to countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines for recruitment of maids. “No country is indispensable in this trade. The market is wide open,” he added.
. . .
The Lankan mission here receives some 40 runaway maids daily, of whom 50 percent are handed over by the government-run Women’s Welfare Center for repatriation.

Labels: ,

Economics jokes can be costly :: Khaleej Times

The UAE Printing and Publishing Law, 1980, is cited as a handicap. Article 81 states that it is prohibited to publish news that causes harm to the national currency or causes damage to the national economy. In effect, therefore, pretty much anything from exposing insider trading to making a joke about UAE’s latest real estate project could land you in hot water.
Emphasis added by The Emirate Economist.
Press freedom in UAE and access to information :: Khaleej Times

Some items from this long article on press freedom in the UAE.

1. "Restrictions on access, and press laws that bring editorial matters in the realm of criminal law are major handicaps for the media in the country, the journalists were quoted as saying in an analysis report on the media freedom in the UAE, published in Time Out Dubai journal."

2. "It said in one of its recent online survey, over 80 per cent of the respondents had agreed that UAE’s “heavy censorship” was “a real cause for concern”. “Much has improved since 1994, but the UAE still ranks as astonishingly dismal 137th in the world on respected free-speech organisation, Reporters Sans Frontiers’ Press Freedom Index, sitting below such havens of tolerance as Yemen, Sudan and Egypt,” the analysis said."

3. "“The problem (in the UAE) is restriction of access,” a highest-ranking Arab with the Reuters wire services and a former bureau chief here, was quoted as saying. “There was a big accident at the dry docks and they didn’t allow us to go there”, he said, referring to the 2002 flooding. “And, yet, you won’t find a Soviet-style ministry in the UAE,” he said by way of praise in passing. "

4. "The analysis notes that one reason for the fear is the fact that some 90 per cent of the journalists in UAE are non-local, and therefore need a visa to work."


New protections instituted for UAE media :: Gulf News

The media community yesterday praised Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, for ordering police departments in the UAE to draw up a new mechanism to deal with the press and cases against journalists.

Shaikh Saif personally intervened after a Gulf News reporter was detained at Dubai International Airport and prevented from travelling on an official assignment following an arrest warrant issued by Sharjah police.
Other related stories can be found by following the link above.
GCC enters used car market :: Khaleej Times

Residents of the six GCC states may be forced to buy brand new cars as traffic chiefs in these wealthy countries have fixed the life expectancy of saloon cars to five years only. This rule, which is part of a unified GCC traffic law reviewed by the officials during their meeting here in Abu Dhabi, means that used cars may not any more be registered in these countries. The officials also fixed the life expectancy of buses at seven years and trucks for 15 years, Brigadier Suliman Saleh bin Jailan, Director of Traffic Department in Kuwait, and head of the Kuwaiti delegation to the meeting which concluded yesterday, told your favourite No. 1 newspaper Khaleej Times.
There is a legitimate concern driving the suggestion of such a heavy-handed approach. There are a number of unsafe vehicles on the roads. In my casual observation many of the trucks and truck trailers are in poor condition and create a hazard for all others using the highways. As well, there are ex pats just well enough off to afford a car, a car in poor condition. Notice that resorting to a fix time limit on vehicles would be an indication of a lack of confidence that a system of inspections would not be subject to great abuse.


Stellar Tower to dominate skyline in Abu Dhabi as a tribute to Zayed :: Gulf News

The 255-metre Stellar Tower in the centre of the city will house shops, offices, a restaurant and a 300-bed hotel. . . . The building will have a wide base - with conference and leisure facilities surrounding a large octagonal atrium - along with a narrow stem and a wide top. James Thomas, a partner at Make and the building’s lead architect, said Stellar Tower was designed to act as a memorial to Shaikh Zayed. . . . “Stellar Tower will be a green building, with sea-water cooling and with wind turbines at roof level to provide half the building’s power. People are realising that there has got to be a sustainable way to create buildings in the Middle East,” he said.
Amsterdam Airport
Bathrooms open to the public

At first, I thought my eyes were deceiving me.

Irrespective of gender, the sinks and mirrors in the mens and ladies sectors are open to public view. And the mens urinals, too; although in their case they are judiciously located so the man's back is to you. Toilets are individual closets as it were so there is privacy of a kind.

I think the cleanliness of the mens room is explained by this open to the public design. Perhaps, too, there's more rapid turnover in the ladies room for this reason.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Gulf News reporter detained after complaint over story

A Gulf News reporter was detained at Dubai International Airport yesterday and prevented from travelling to Greece on an official visit following an arrest warrant issued by Sharjah police. . . .
Sharjah police had earlier warned Bassma Al Jandaly, staff reporter, and Duraid Al Baik, UAE Editor, over an article published in February about a man who was stabbing women in Sharjah
. . .
Dubai's CID had informed Gulf News in March that Sharjah police wanted to arrest Al Jandaly and Al Baik after a complaint was made against them over the article. Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief of Gulf News, wrote a letter to Brigadier Ali Saleh Al Mutawa, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah police, asking for clarification.

In it he said the newspaper would deal with the complaint according to the UAE's publication laws and issue a correction if the article was incorrect or inaccurate. Gulf News received no response from Sharjah police. Abdul Hamid's assistant followed up the case for three days with police.
Final section of Ski Dubai structure in place :: skipressworld
File under: Dubai, big

The completion of the building means that a further 3,000 car parking spaces can be added on the site where the slope was built and more shops can be completed in the huge Mall of the Emirates, the largest shopping mall outside North America.
Blogging will be light to nonexistent the next few days.
The corny case for energy independence :: Knowledge Problem

Ethanol is nothing more than a rent-seeking wealth transfer from the distributed and disorganized drivers to the highly organized and lobby-happy large agriculture industry. Rent seeking is waste. In this case it's waste falsely draped in the mantle of green energy and national security, but waste it is nonetheless.
The End of Europe :: Robert Samuelson

Mild-mannered Robert Samuelson is pessimistic about Europe's future.

Unwilling to address their genuine problems, Europeans become more reflexively critical of America. This gives the impression that they're active on the world stage, even as they're quietly acquiescing in their own decline.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Yes, it may be a safe and unique investment for your billions of Saudi riyals, but do you have a cunning plan for parking?

Labels: ,

UAE poultry cartel in dispute with Dubai cooperative :: Khaleej Times

There is a "uniform price policy" for poultry sold at retail in the UAE. It is not clear who sets this policy or what the consequences are for those who do not conform to the uniform price.

The Emirate Poultry Producers Association is not happy that the Union Cooperative Society in Dubai is selling poultry at prices below the uniform price. Several UAE Ministries have issued directives for the formation of a "permanent committee for the poultry industry." It's immediate purpose is to "study the urgent disputes of poultry producers and distributors." It "will be armed with wide-ranging powers and its decision on any dispute will be binding on all parties."

The so-called "erring" producer, Al Safa of Oman, distributed - the article uses the perjorative "dumped" - its poultry through the Union Cooperative Society.

Now, "the UCS in Dubai is studying proposals to establish its local poultry farm to meet the local market demand. 'The price of the new product will be less than the prevailing market prices by 15 to 20 per cent,' said Mohammed Al Thani, Director-General of UCS in Dubai."

I read his statement to mean the UCS is not planning to conform to the "uniform price policy" and the dispute with the EPPA will continue.

Recently, the UAE has criticized distributors for taking "advantage" of growing demand by increasing prices for food. The UAE is experiencing the same sorts of contradictions in government policy that is common in other countries, including the USA. As in the USA, some government agencies are charged with protecting consumers by fostering competition amongst producers; other agencies are charged with protecting producers - and often it is producers of agricultural products - from competition.

Labels: , , , ,

Tough words by UAE education minister :: Gulf News

Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Education, attacked the examination and evaluation system adopted by the ministry.
. . .
"Exam papers are poor and do not evaluate students' achievement. The entire teaching and evaluation systems are appalling. They allow every student to pass whether he or she studied or not," Shaikh Nahyan said after a tour of a number of secondary school exam centres early this week.
. . .
He said the evaluation system must be improved. "It is unfortunate that the country spends huge funds on schools, educational aids and teachers and at the end of the academic year exams of secondary schools just suit primary school students."

Shaikh Nahyan told Gulf News last week he plans from the next academic year to make exams focus on what a student has learnt and not what he or she has memorised.
Read the whole thing.


Grading effort :: Inside Higher Ed

Benedict is only the fourth college in the AAUP’s history that has been deemed worthy of special condemnation after already being on the censure list, where the college has been since 1994 because of its policies on faculty appointments. The more recent controversy involves Benedict’s policy of grading freshmen and sophomores as much on their effort as on their actual accomplishments. Professors complained that the policy forced them to pass students whose achievement did not come close to demonstrating basic concepts of their courses.

The AAUP found that Benedict’s president dismissed professors and demoted department chairs who disagreed with the grading policy, which was adopted without faculty input.
Meanwhile, we have this from The Economist, as quoted by Mahalanobis:

The American educational establishment's weakness for airy-fairy notions about the evils of standards and competition is particularly damaging to poor children who have few educational resources of their own to fall back on. One poll of 900 professors of education, for example, found that 64% of them thought that schools should avoid competition.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Schizophrenic smoking policy :: Secret Dubai

The interesting question to me is, what is the source of the indecisiveness? It seems to be all too easy to write laws and to suspend them. Would a more deliberative process produce better governance?
Memo suggests oil-for-food link to Annan :: DailyComet
"Investigators of the U.N. oil-for-food program said Tuesday they are "urgently reviewing" new information that suggests U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan may have known more than he revealed about a contract that was awarded to the company that employed his son."

"French President Jacques Chirac, right, listens to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan during a conference devoted to the so-called Global Compact, a voluntary charter of rules of ethics for businesses, Tuesday June 14, 2005 in Paris. (AP/Michel Euler)"
Terrorism and educational attainment :: NYT

We examined the educational backgrounds of 75 terrorists behind some of the most significant recent terrorist attacks against Westerners. We found that a majority of them are college-educated, often in technical subjects like engineering. In the four attacks for which the most complete information about the perpetrators' educational levels is available - the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the 9/11 attacks, and the Bali bombings in 2002 - 53 percent of the terrorists had either attended college or had received a college degree. As a point of reference, only 52 percent of Americans have been to college. The terrorists in our study thus appear, on average, to be as well educated as many Americans.
. . .
Peter Bergen, the author of "Holy War Inc.," is a fellow at the New America Foundation. Swati Pandey is a research associate there.
Challenges Facing Saudi Women :: Arab News

According to social scientists, the reasons why the abuses and violations have gone unchecked are the inefficiency of our Shariah courts, the absence of law enforcement mechanisms and the unwillingness of society at large to admit and deal with the problem.
. . .
Discrimination against women continues to be a major problem that Saudi society needs to confront and deal with. Though women constitute more than 50 percent of the population, their potential is far from being fully realized. They continue to struggle to attain the rights of equality and justice which Shariah law guarantees them.

Experts say that the best way to increase awareness of rights among Saudi women is to begin educating them at a very early age — in elementary schools, for example. Girls are taught home economics but are not taught any subjects that would empower them or teach them to become independent voices, demanding their God-given rights as men’s equal partners.

The real challenge facing society today is the need to reveal the violations committed against women in the name of Islam; they must be made aware that they do have a choice, that they do not have to accept in silence a life of abuse. We need to change the attitudes of men who view women as “inferior in intelligence and religious thinking.” Religious scholars and educators must speak out against men who manipulate women for their own selfish ends. The media also has its role and must expose the self-styled “pious” men who advocate the marginalization of women, who claim that men are superior and thus, that men must dictate how women should live.

Recent studies have shown that many women suffer abuse within their families and are desperate for a better life but find no justice in Shariah courts and have no place to turn to for help or assistance. Many endure unspeakable hardships due to poverty and neglect while the self-appointed guardians of morality allege that Islam forbids a woman from seeking work or driving herself to a safe place in order to escape an abusive man.

In spite of being educated, there are some people in our society who adamantly oppose change and insist on following traditions that have no basis at all in Islam. These people interpret Islam in the most unyielding, intolerant and narrow way; as a result, they vehemently oppose the empowerment of women. They believe that women must be kept under the control of male guardians, regardless of those males’ manipulative characters or domineering tendencies. The time has come when we must rescue women from being at the mercy of a male guardian who may be violent, inhumane and untrustworthy.
. . .
— Samar Fatany is a radio journalist. She is based in Jeddah.
Read the whole thing.

Related: Women driving not a priority: Prince Naif.

He said he was surprised the matter had been raised in the Shoura Council. Referring to the council member who brought the issue up, the prince said: “Does he understand what the priorities are? We consider this issue to be a secondary issue, not a priority. These matters are decided by taking into consideration the public interest and what is dictated by a woman’s honor.
. . .
The interior minister also pointed out that opponents of the public interest were using the controversy to promote women driving as a viewpoint of society. He said women are held in high esteem in the Saudi society. “This is a public issue and must be tackled considering woman’s interests and their situations. Women are dear to us and they have a prominent position. Nobody should doubt that. Our men sacrifice their lives to protect women’s honor,” he added.

Labels: ,

Shut down desalination plants that flout norms :: Khaleej Times

Does The KT have this right that these bottling plants are desalination plants?

This guy must be wired if he drank all that coffee. He may soon be rich.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Christian rock festival in Morocco :: NYT

This is an odd one:

"It's not my business," said Mr. Youness, an 18-year-old Muslim and heavy-metal fan. "I just want to listen to the music."

But Mr. Boudde had a question: "What are 'evangelicals'?"

Last weekend's concert, organized by several American evangelical groups and the Moroccan government and called the Friendship Fest, was staged despite criticism from Moroccan Islamic groups and opposition political parties. Seven American Christian bands alternated with Moroccan groups. The event drew more than 15,000 Moroccans a day, police officials estimated, as well as dozens of evangelical Christians from around the United States.

The concert was about more than power chords for Jesus. From the evangelists' perspective, it was an opportunity to gain a foothold in a relatively liberal Muslim country and give religious priorities a more central role into American foreign policy.
What are 'evangelicals'? I should know, but I don't really. They are a source of puzzlement for me.

Thanks to Soccer Dad for the link.
Losing our country (U.S.)? :: Annotated Times

What bloggers right, left and center are saying about a recent Paul Krugman op-ed.

UPDATE: The link seems to break (goes out of date). The Annotated Times is a compiler of blogotary on the NYT sorted by article/op-ed. Looks useful if you are looking for multiple views on a single article. I've put it on my regular list of sites to check.
National fishermen object to monopoly by Asians :: Khaleej Times

Asians also have a "monopoly" over donut shops in California, shrimping on the Texas Gulf Coast, and convenience stores in New York City. (Not a monopoly at all, but an unusually high proportion choosing that line of business.) In Fujairah, I would suspect that there are national partners behind the Asian fishermen, but the article does not address the question of why those partners are not themselves active in fishing or why they are not the object of the complaints by the national fishermen.

Labels: , ,

Power grid planned :: Khaleej Times

DUBAI – The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority will have a power grid between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in place by the first quarter of 2006 to take care of any eventuality like the June 9 blackout in Dubai. In fact, the power grid project was to be taken up in August, but the implementation was put off following changes in the course of the pipelines, Dewa sources told Khaleej Times.

Meanwhile, a Swedish company has been asked to go into the reasons for the failure of the main sub-station at Jebel Ali, which led to the June 9 power breakdown, affecting the entire city.
Abu Dhabi city is about 100 kms from Dubai city with little development between. Sharjah city is adjacent to Dubai city. Aren't the benefits is interconnection is this direction stronger. Are there plans to link the Dubai and Sharjah systems?
Spray-On Mud Makes a Splash :: Wired
It's sold as a must-have accessory to give urban SUVs a whiff of the outback. But U.K. officials say drivers who use spray-on mud to avoid identification by police speed cams face hefty fines for obscuring their license plates.

Targeting self-conscious 4x4 owners whose rugged vehicles seldom see obstacles bigger than a speed bump, the enterprising British e-tailer behind Sprayonmud sells the scent of the countryside in a squirt bottle.

For 8 pounds (about $14.50), buyers get 0.75 liters (.85 quarts) of genuine filthy water, bottled from hills near the company's premises on the rural England-Wales border.
Via Marginal Revolution "markets in everything."

Given the level of speeding tickets distributed via police speed cams in the UAE there should be a large market for Sprayonmud here:
DUBAI — Incidents of Radar violations have witnessed a significant rise during the first four months of this year compared to previous years' statistics and averages, said Brigadier Engineer Mohammed Saif Al Zafin, Director of the General Traffic Department. "Radars in the emirate have caught 255,018 overspeeding cars, an average of 63,000 violations monthly and 2,125 daily," he said.

The previous year's statistics showed that this type of violation was a major traffic offence. "Over one and a half million overspeeding violations were reported during the past two and a half years with a monthly average 40,000 violations and a daily average 1,333," Brig. Eng. Safin said.
Unintended consequences get public airing :: NYT Magazine

If a new, independently produced cigarette like Fact -- or, just as likely, a product from a big tobacco company backed by enormous marketing resources -- promises to lower the odds of disease for smokers, couldn't it increase cigarette consumption? This is what most scares antitobacco policy makers. The more successfully a cigarette reduces risk, the more it might encourage smokers not to quit. Or lure ex-smokers to resume their habit. Or make kids smokers. It might, in other words, do exactly the opposite of what it is intended to do. In a worst-case scenario, it could reverse a half-century of antismoking education, policy and litigation in a flash.
Why stop there? What about seatbelt laws? What about lite beer? What about debt forgiveness?
Hundreds of women protest sex discrimination in Iran :: NYT

The protest was the first public display of dissent by women since the 1979 revolution, when the new regime enforced obligatory veiling. "We are women, we are the children of this land, but we have no rights," they chanted. More than 250 marched outside Tehran University, and about 200 others demonstrated two blocks away after hundreds of riot police swarmed in and barred them from joining the main protest.
. . .
Iranian law stipulates that the value of a woman's life and her testimony in court are half those of men. Iranian men can marry up to four wives and have the right to divorce any of them at will. A woman inherits half of the share her brothers receive and needs her husband's permission to work outside the home or to leave the country. Women are rarely promoted to high positions, and despite their relatively high levels of education, they make up only 14 percent of the government employees.
. . .
A group of women activists found the courage to force their way into the stadium to watch a soccer game between Iran and Bahrain on Wednesday for the first time since the Islamic Revolution banned women from watching games at the stadiums. For four hours, they carried signs that read, "My right is also human rights," and "Freedom, justice and gender equality."

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Falling fertility rate in the UAE :: Gulf News

The authors of a Tanmia report warned that policies were needed to address declining fertility rates. Statistics reveal that UAE women are having less children from 7.2 children on average in 1985 to 4.6 now.
Legal action against traders if they don’t control prices :: Khaleej Times

I hope our principles of economics students can explain why this is not a good idea:

SHARJAH — The Market Control Section of Sharjah Municipality has issued warning letters to a number of traders and companies reported to have increased the prices of products following the recent hike in the salaries of government employees. The letters said they would have to face legal action if they failed to keep prices stable.

And then there's this:

According to recent statistics, the UAE is considered as one of the countries with the highest waste rate per person, meaning people were purchasing things even if there was no need.

Please, Khaleej Times, be more specific. Whose recent statistics?