Looking out of the window of an airplane as you fly into Kuwait, the lakes of oil that sit on the surface of the desert are a startling reminder of the ecological devastation created during the Iraq occupation of Kuwait in the late 1980s. As Saddam’s army fled Kuwait after the liberation of Kuwait in 1989 they lit the oil fields on fire creating one of the worst man made ecological disasters in human history. In 1995 Kuwait formed the Environment Public Authority (EPA) to repair the ecological damage from the war and oversee environmental standards in the reconstruction and further development of Kuwait. Though the Authority has strove to improve the environment, Kuwait is still plagued by the shadow of Saddam and the war in Iraq which continues to massively pollute both the air and water that travels into Kuwait.
Sitting in the luxurious office of the Director General of the EPA, Captain Ali Haider, surrounded by dark, rich wood and model ships, it is a far removal from the environmental devastation that surrounds the office outside in the Kuwaiti landscape. The leathery, withered complexion of Captain Ali’s face is a much more accurate depiction of the turmoil and damage that Kuwait has experienced during his many years being exposed to the environment. According to Captain Ali, “the greatest challenge that Kuwait’s environment currently faces does not come from within Kuwait, but yet travels across our borders from the devastation of Iraq.” “The pollution from the war in Iraq is endangering the lives and wellbeing of the citizens and ecosystem in Kuwait.”
The many years of conflict in Iraq has created a state of environmental Chaos. “The war has created many Oil and chemical spills in Iraq that are not properly managed to any kind of environmental standards,” Captain Ali stated. “The many problems that currently face Iraq create a state that is not capable of maintaining any kind of environmental management or standards.” Iraq is plagued by insufficient sanitary, manufacturing, and waste management dumping enormous amounts of pollutants into both the water and air. With no regard for political borders, this air and water then travels freely into the environment of Kuwait. “Kuwait has become the resting place of the garbage and pollution that is created in Iraq,” Captain Ali
The oil rich nation of Kuwait is attempting to combat these environmental challenges through constructing technologically advanced environmental cleaners along the border of Iraq. According to Captain Ali, “We have planned to build turbines that both detect hazardous pollutants and clean the air and water supplies coming from Iraq.” By placing these turbines in the rivers and water supplies they hope to be able to detect and notify the authorities in Kuwait of hazardous chemicals and pollutants that could affect the water supply. These turbines are supposed to filter the water in order to remove most normal pollutions and in case of a hazardous level of chemicals the management system should notify the authorities so that they can manage the dangerous waste.
Captain Ali states that along with the water turbines they are also planning on building wind turbines that act in a similar manner to detect dangerous air pollutants. The giant windmill like structures run primarily on wind energy and can detect dangerous air pollutants that are emitted from Iraq. “The goal is to attempt to regulate and control the pollution coming from Iraq,” said Captain Ali.
Though these turbines are a step towards protecting the air and water supply in Kuwait, “they cannot stop all of the pollution coming across our border,” stated Captain Ali. They also don’t protect against the chemicals and pollutants that steep through the desert soil and travel into Kuwait underground. The environmental condition of Iraq is not only having tragic effects on its own people and ecosystem, but is also spreading into the countries that surround it. According to Captain Ali, “Unless something changes in the stability and environmental management in Iraq, the environments of Iraq and the surrounding countries are going to experience environmental challenges and devastation for many years to come.”
Regarding the planned construction of the pollution detection turbines, Captain Ali stated, “It is an expensive and ambitious project, but we have to do what we can to protect our people and our environment from the dangerous pollution from Iraq.” “Still today the environment of Kuwait continues to suffer due to the tyrant reign of Saddam and the continuing war in Iraq.”
Oasis of Luxury and Skyscrapers
There is often lore of hallucinations and illusions appearing as an oasis to those who travel through the desert. This is the best way to explain the surreal experience of the desert land of cranes and skyscrapers, known as Dubai.
The city of Dubai has become the business and financial hub of the Middle East, attracting business executives and practitioners from around the world. The population surprisingly consists mainly of expatriates, primarily from south and Southeast Asia, but also with over 100,000 western, mainly British expats. Thus a westerner definitely does not feel out of place amidst mainly English speaking foreigners and surrounded by western brand products and chain restaurants.
Dubai contains the most ambitious real estate and construction projects in the world, including the man made palms islands and the construction of the soon to be tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai. Dubai is evidence of the incredible human achievement that is possible with the combination of grand vision, provided by the ruler Sheikh Mohammed, and billions of dollars of financial backing provided largely by the ruling family of the oil rich country of the United Arab Emirates.
The intrigue of the city has also started to lure more than just business professionals. Modern jetsetters who are seeking luxurious pampering, sun and beach, and world class entertainment are flocking to discover the phenomenon of the fastest growing modern city in the world.
For those who wish to escape the never ending gray winter of the UK, there is no better time to discover the grandeur and audacity of Dubai than in April. The first evidence of an arrival in Dubai is the warmth of the sun on the skin and the vast blue skies stretching from the shallow, green waters of the gulf to the dusty white sand dunes. The best times to venture around Dubai are in the late fall and early spring, due to the extreme heat of the extended summer.
Dubai is not a city for culture lovers or history buffs and is often referred to as soulless. What it does offer is lavish shopping, fine dining, majestic hotels, increasingly vibrant nightlife and entertainment venues, and of course the almost endless sun and revitalizing sea. It is not characterized as a youthful party destination, partly due to its alcohol regulation, but rather as an elite, young professional’s retreat for sipping cocktails in luxurious surroundings while watching yachts and Rolls Royces travel by.
Dubai is a city of consumerism and luxury brands, evident from the ostentatious automobiles and highbrow brands of jewelry and clothing. The main places of interest for shopping are the opulent Mall of the Emirates and the highly themed labyrinth of the Ibn Battuta Mall. Both contain most of the world’s high end brands captured within enormous and grand surroundings. Marble floors and mahogany align the corridors through the Mall of the Emirates, leading to an expansive glass dome in the central courtyard that rivals many world capital buildings in grandeur. The mall emanates a sensation of prestige, wealth, and consumerism. Parking in the six story parking deck is difficult because it is always full causing people to wait and fight over spots and park on the curbs or anywhere they can find a spare space. Ibn Battuta Mall on the other hand, has expansive parking lots that seemingly continue into the horizon, which allows for ample parking but can lead to a half a mile walk in order to reach the mall. But once inside the disneyesque themed environment, featuring the pseudo surroundings of great ancient empires such as Egypt and Arabian souks, it is as entertaining to walk through as the shopping itself. The Mall even contains an illusionary sky with clouds that move along the ceiling in the main food courtyard.
For those that seek a more traditional Arabic shopping experience there are a number of souks scattered around the city. The knock off brand souk is very popular with expats and contains a plethora of small shops that offer various knock off brand clothing, jewelry, and purses. The world famous gold souk with mounds of gold jewelry as soon as you walk through the gates is also a popular shopping destination.
For those who prefer adventure Dubai has unique offerings including indoor snowboarding and skiing at the Mall of the Emirates, dune boarding excursions, and camel or four wheel trekking across the sand dunes. Dubai is the only place in the world where you can snow ski and snowboard on sand dunes on the same day. The experience of a winter wonderland in the middle of the desert is a rare experience.
There are also the beaches, most notable along the Jumeirah Beach area, known for its western patronage. The beaches offer both relaxed sunbathing and water sports including sailing, snorkeling, and jet skis. The combination of a beach filled with women in bikinis alongside women wearing traditional Arab burkas creates an interesting combination of cultures.
After the sun goes down from a long day of shopping and the night life begins there are a number of fine restaurants and hotel bars that allow a traveler to relax and recharge before going out to the clubs or concerts. Alcohol in Dubai is restricted to Hotels, clubs, and the Duty free Airport shops. If you would like to choose when you have a drink it is a good idea to pick up a bottle of alcohol when you arrive at the airport, because it is not available to be purchased at regular stores. Most of the most well known international casual and fine dining chains are present throughout Dubai. The area surrounding Dubai Creek offers many fine dining options that can be enjoyed along manmade canals with gondola style boats, called abras, passing by against the backdrop of the self proclaimed seven star Burj Al Arabia, supposedly the most luxurious hotel in the world. After dinner there are many clubs that provide music and dancing of all styles. Dubai also draws many of the world’s greatest musicians to both small and stadium size venues.
After a long night a return to your luxurious hotel for a quality night sleep is greatly appreciated. The tremendous quality of service to take care of your every need at the hotels and throughout your time in Dubai provides the sensation of celebrity status. From Dubai there are also the other close destinations of the more traditional sort in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and the mountains of Oman. With all of these offerings there is truly no other oasis quite like Dubai in the world.
New Invention Can Predict human Action
Researchers at the University College of London, under the leadership of Dr. Albert Schizzer, yesterday announced the development of a new brain scanning technology that allows for human intention to be able to be read and analyzed. This revolutionary new invention poses all new possibilities for the understanding of human behavior as well as creating many ethical questions. According to Dr. Schizzer, “This technology will redefine comprehension of human intention and how the brain creates and acts upon this information.”
The team has been developing this new technology for over five years and has reported the completion of the first successful tests in reading human intention. Dr. Schizzer has stated that he is very pleased with the results of the successful run of trial cases and the return of data generated by the testing.
Dr. Schizzer reported at a press conference at UCL that the technology functions as a magnetic scanner similar to an EKG that scans the part of the brain where intention is developed. The output image of the brain is displayed on a computer screen in various shades of colors. These various colorings have been determined to be associated with different intentions. Through tracking actions after a scan the device can track its read with the action, thus creating a dictionary of sorts of scan and action. Dr. Schizzer declared that this dictionary is the key to understanding the relationship between intention and action.
Dr. Schizzer gave the example that if someone was going to sneeze there will be a distinct colorization in the part of the brain where intentions are developed. Through this devise it is possible to know someone is going to sneeze before they do it.
“Though we have just began to test and understand this new technology, the implications of its success are staggering,” Dr. Schizzer stated. “Though we have been working on this for five years, we are still only at the beginning. The first step, however, has been a giant leap forward.”
The implications of this technology are that we soon might be able to understand what humans are going to do before they do it. There are many Minority Report style ideas associated with this development in the prevention of crime. There are also possibilities of increased lie detection, improved psychological analysis, and medical treatments for mental illnesses.
Along with the astonishing possibilities there are also many stifling ethical concerns regarding this technological development. Should humans have the ability to know what another human is going to do before the do it? How can someone be held accountable for an action that is only in conception rather than in action? According to Rev. Herman Alister, “there are many ethical, philosophical, and religious questions that arise with this debate. Should it not be left to God know the future and what we are going to do?”
A member of the Association of Humanist Studies, Dr. Philbet Richardson stated that, “human’s fate is not something that can be measured or analyzed by a machine. It has to be played out in order to see what and why humans act in the manner that they do.”
“While there might be many practical applications for this technology in elevating human suffering, this technology should not be feared or viewed in terms of a predicting the future, but instead as a tool for gaining a better understanding of human behavior and intention,” Dr. Schizzer stated.
The President of UCL, Dr. Hubert Remmington, stated that, “I am very proud of this team and what they have achieved. UCL is a leader in medical technology development and this new technology is evidence of the success and inventive nature of our team of scientists.”
This new development in the relationship of technology and understanding of the human brain is still in its infancy and yet provides many possibilities for future progress in interpreting human intention. The full implications of these successful trials and the future of this technology is something that this devise can not yet foresee.
2007 Budget Portrayal in UK Newspapers
Through analyzing articles in both the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian newspapers it is evident the degree of political play involved in the delivery of the 2007 budget. The Chancellor is not the only one that plays in politics; however, the newspaper publications themselves seem much more interested in supporting their benches rather than delivering an unbiased portrait of the budget. This is apparent in the manner in which the budget has been reported through numerous articles in both of these publications with variant political stances. Through analyzing the coverage in these newspapers it is easy to deduce which side of the bench these two newspapers support as well as what issues they champion.
The Daily Telegraph, owned by the Barclay brothers, is arguable the most conservative broadsheet newspaper in the UK and has strongly fought against what it sees as the liberal establishment. It has a historical editorial stance supporting conservative values such as anti-European, anti-immigration, anti-abortion, pro-family, pro-tax cuts and pro-monarchy. In November 2006 The Daily Telegraph was the highest selling broadsheet with an average daily circulation of 901,238, with 61% of its readership supporting the conservative party (wikipedia 2007). The Telegraph is sometimes satirized as the “Torigraph” due to the fact that its articles usually seem to follow the conservative party line if not acting as a soap box as the voice of the Tories (wikipedia 2007).
The Guardian on the other hand, owned by the Guardian Media Group, is generally sympathetic to the political sentiments from the middle ground liberals to the left wing end of the political spectrum. In 2000 it was recorded to have an 80% Labour voting readership, which today is more split between Labour and Liberal Democrats (wikipedia 2007). The stereotypical reader is said to be a sandal wearing liberal that believes in alternative medicine and defends the low income worker (wikipedia 2007).
This historical divide in political stance between the two publications has remained evident through the coverage of the 2007 budget. There are some similarities between the coverage of these publications in the sense that both newspapers seemed to portray the 2007 budget delivered by Gordon Brown as mainly a political maneuver. With the Chancellor set to take office as Prime Minister supposedly around June 2007, the budget was declared by both papers as being a political strategy to propel Brown into office and defend the next general election.
This can be seen in the Guardian for example in the article “For Richer, For Poorer” which states, “You don’t have to be one of those obscenely overpaid City analysts to recognise that the number one thing on Gordon Brown’s mind yesterday was politics” (2007). The article continues, “For Mr. Brown the challenge was to use his 11th budget to propel himself finally into the leadership of his party and the premiership” (2007).
This can also be seen in numerous articles in the Telegraph. For example the article “Masterstroke bombs with people who really count” declares, “As Gordon Brown sat down after delivering his final Budget, the immediate reaction on the Labour benches was that he had pulled off a political masterstroke” (Johnston 2007).
Both publications outline a similar political strategy underpinning the budget. The depict that Brown preemptively struck against the Conservative Party by offering many of the tax cuts that the Tories planned to run on in the next election. Through reshuffling the budget to create certain tax cuts for working families and corporations, Brown decreased the distance in economic stance between the different parties, thus nullifying it as an issue in the next general election. “This was meant to be the launch pad for Mr. Brown’s premiership, changing the political terms of trade between Labour and the Tories” (Johnston 2007).
Furthermore, both newspapers report strategies that portray Brown as attempting to undermine the next person that assumes the position as Chancellor. The Guardian declares, “As Tory MPs asked each other if it was a snap election budget (it isn’t), others asked if Mr. Brown was not trying to tie his successor’s hands, whoever he turns out to be. Of course he was” (White 2007). Similarly, the Telegraph reports “It was a deceitful, callous display, designed to ensure that whoever succeeds him at the Treasury takes the blame for his mess” (Halligan 2007).
The various articles in both publications report a similar strategy behind the 2007 and depict political maneuvering as been the main motivator of its delivery. Where the publications have differed in their coverage has been in the political spin that they have placed on the issue through the depiction of Gordon Brown and the ideological faults that each has found in the budget.
The articles in the Guardian general depict Gordon Brown as being both successful and competent in his political play. “Mr. Brown gave one of his best parliamentary performances in ages: a couple of decent jokes, a lighter touch, a bit of mischief, some weighty blows and the brilliantly timed surprise of a Nigel Lawson-style income tax cut in the final sentence…Mr. Brown produced a political tour de force” (For Richer, For Poorer 2007). The Guardian also harped on the economic success of Gordon Brown’s time in office.
“Michael Heseltine used to say that he would gladly abandon horse trading over budgets in return for an extra percentage of growth. The Brown era has delivered that and, though the chancellor has scarcely ever used the R-for-redistribution word, he remains determined to remind Labour voters what he has done for the poor as well as for the wealth-creators” (White 2007).
An article even went so far as to compare Brown’s performance to that of a successful footballer.
“It was a good way for Gordon Brown to hang up his boots. After delivering enough budgets to fill a football team, the chancellor’s announcement that he intended to cut the basic rate of income tax by two pence was like Alan Shearer thundering home a last-minute goal in his final match at St James’s Park” (Elliott 2007).
These examples portray the overall image of success that the Guardian painted of Gordon Brown’s delivery of the 2007 budget.
The Telegraph, on the other hand, depicted a much different picture. The overall image of Gordon Brown in the articles is one of a conman, whose attempt to fool the masses has disastrously failed. “The Conservatives today renewed their assault on Gordon Brown’s 11th and final budget, dubbing it a “con trick…Mr. Brown had confused the electorate into thinking that taxes were coming down” (Iggulden 2007). The Telegraph’s articles also portrayed the political move as a failure. “Judging by the findings of the first poll since the Budget, it bombed…the closer he gets to No 10, the more alarmed the country becomes. Even though Mr. Brown wrong-footed the Tories with his basic rate tax cut, they do not seem to have suffered much” (Johnston 2007). They also attacked his overall success with the people by stating, “fewer people than at any time in the last 10 years think he is doing a good job, though they still outnumber those who think he is doing a bad job…Mr. Brown is more unpopular than he has ever been” (Johnston 2007). Looking at the extremely contradicting portrayals of Gordon Brown in the two newspapers makes it seem as if you are almost looking at two different people and two different budget deliveries.
Along with creating extremely different images of Gordon Brown, throughout their coverage the two publications also found differing faults with the 2007 budget. The Guardian’s articles mainly discussed the issue that the tax cuts did not end up being of benefit and actually was to the detriment of many low income earners. “For low-paid workers such as Carolyn, by-passed by the tax credits system, the budget tax cut is more likely to be a tax rise…Carolyn is one of many people who fall through the tax credits net” (An actor’s unkindest cut of all 2007). Overall the failure of the budget in the eyes of the Guardian articles was that it failed to benefit many members of the low income, while instead being a greater asset for those in the upper echelon.
The Articles in the Telegraph took a different point of view on the budget and instead emphasized the Tory stance that the budget was filled with “stealth taxes.” “The Conservatives claimed yesterday that Gordon Brown had hidden no fewer than 40 new “stealth taxes” in his Budget this week” (Carlin 2007). Another article depicts the amount in pounds in hidden taxes and states that, “Gordon Brown was accused yesterday of helping to shatter faith in politics amid new claims that his Budget concealed £15 billion of “stealth taxes”” (Carlin and Thomson 2007). The Telegraph even went to the degree of including an article that listed all of the “stealth taxes” perceived by the Tory party. Throughout the coverage this political buzz word of “stealth taxes” appears over and over again.
From analyzing the articles in the Guardian and the Telegraph about the budget 2007, it is obvious the degree of politics that are involved in newspaper publications in the UK. Instead of reporting news from an unbiased point of view, these newspapers choose to report events according to their political line and sentimentalities. The depiction of Gordon Brown and the main concerns over the budget were at complete odds in the two different publications. After this analysis it is understandable how the Telegraph could be satirized as the “Torigraph” and the Guardian known as a newspaper for the sandal wearing liberal.