17 September 2008

Separation of Church and State

A non-Muslim couple have been fined 1000 dirhams (about $275) for drinking juice in public in Dubai during Ramadan. You see, Dubai law (not just religious tenets) prohibits eating and drinking before sunset during Ramadan. It is punishable by one month in prison and fines up to 2000 dirhams.

This is why our Founding Fathers insisted on the separation of church and state.

11 September 2008

Where I Was Then

I was working in the 50 story building owned by a major oil company in New Orleans. I had dropped my wife off at the airport that morning. She was going to Connecticut via Atlanta for a meeting. I first heard about the towers when I went downstairs to the coffee shop. I came back to my office but was unable to get into CNN to get the news. I had to go through BBC to find out what had happened. Shortly after that, the major oil company decided to evacuate the building feeling they may be a target as well so I left the office and walked to my car. While I was walking, my wife called me. She had finally gotten to a phone and was stuck at the Atlanta airport. I told her I was on my way and would find her - somehow. As I left NOLa, I saw that the Superdome was surrounded by State Police. I wasn't sure what I would find on the highway, whether it would be roadblocks or crazy people, but I headed for Atlanta some 8 hours away with the clothes on my back and no side arm.

It turned out that all the police were on duty guarding buildings so I had a free run on the interstate. I put the hammer down, set the cruise control on 80, and went to get my wife. She eventually called me and told me she was in a Holiday Inn. It seems the mayor had asked local hotels with empty rooms to send vans to pick up people at the airport and take people out. My wife got a ride and a room. Thank you Mayor of Atlanta and Holiday Inn.

My wife told me that the airline had told them very little - only that they had to land as a problem in the northeast had grounded all air traffic. The passengers soon learned what happened when they started making phone calls about their changed plans. She sat on the runway for a few hours before getting to a gate. Then all passengers were told to get out of the gate area and go to the main lobby of the Atlanta airport.

We spent the night at the hotel and then drove home the next day.

09 September 2008

Sex on the Beach

Michelle Palmer, the female half in the “Sex on the Beach” scandal in Dubai, failed to show up in court for her scheduled hearing citing “stress”. The hearing has been postponed until October 7.

PE wonders what Dubai is trying to prove by keeping Michelle and Vince Acors, her partner in crime, hanging around awaiting trial in the Emirates. They were arrested on July 5 and have been in limbo, stuck in Dubai, since then. They have lost their jobs and reputations. They face jail time followed by deportation. The news story mentions a lack of any DNA evidence indicating that sex, in the classic sense (meaning penetration and ejaculation), had taken place. This means that Michelle was subjected to a vaginal swab, possibly against her will, to gather this evidence. The accused admit to heavy petting and that’s all. The only witness is the policeman that found them. The case is weak but the Dubai legal system has pounced upon it like a pit bull on a mouse.

This continuation of this story in the international press is damaging Dubai’s reputation as a progressive and rational nation. Dubai needs to let this case drop from the news by deporting them and never allowing them to return. Why Dubai wants to keep hammering home the point that “public displays of personal affection” are illegal is beyond me. And in addition, it’s a waste of time and legal resources.

Ramadan is an excellent excuse to show some mercy and send them home.

03 September 2008

Trade with Iran

There is a very good article about the cross Gulf trade between Dubai and Iran. The most amazing thing is that it happens out in the open along Dubai Creek. PE remembers seeing dhows from Iran in Dubai back when they were holding the US hostages and pictures of the Eye-o-tolla (sp) were all over the creek. (PE was in Dubai when the rescue operation failed)

Trade between the two countries has been going on for centuries. I always thought it was a few sailing vessels but the article outlines the sheer extent of trade that is taking place.

It might help explain why the fundamentalist Muslims leave Dubai alone.

Oh, the major Navy base mentioned in the story is merely a single dock out on the edge of Jebel Ali with no logistics support (cranes), maintenance buildings or any permanent structure. The biggest installation there is the USO tent. So, if you happen to be a US citizen and you are in the Emirates, drop a donation off at the USO because they are the only folks taking care of our guys over there.

01 September 2008

Head Count

Five people were executed in Saudi Arabia. They were mostly for drugs with a rapist thrown in for good measure. Year to date total is 71.

There was finally news about the Kohail brothers, two Canadians convicted of murder in The Kingdom because of a death that occurred during a brawl. The older brother got his appeal approved but the younger brother, who was sentenced to 200 lashes and 1 year in prison, may get retried as an adult, which seems in violation of anyones double jeopardy rule.