Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements -

Women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements - 

Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women's male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.

The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.

"The authorities are using technology to monitor women," said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the "state of slavery under which women are held" in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the "yellow sheet" at the airport or border.

The move by the Saudi authorities was swiftly condemned on social network Twitter -- a rare bubble of freedom for millions in the kingdom -- with critics mocking the decision.

"Hello Taliban, herewith some tips from the Saudi e-government!" read one post.

"Why don't you cuff your women with tracking ankle bracelets too?" wrote Israa.

"Why don't we just install a microchip into our women to track them around?" joked another.

"If I need an SMS to let me know my wife is leaving Saudi Arabia, then I'm either married to the wrong woman or need a psychiatrist," tweeted Hisham.

"This is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned," said Bishr, the columnist.

"It would have been better for the government to busy itself with finding a solution for women subjected to domestic violence" than track their movements into and out of the country.

Saudi Arabia applies a strict interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, and is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.

In June 2011, female activists launched a campaign to defy the ban, with many arrested for doing so and forced to sign a pledge they will never drive again.

No law specifically forbids women in Saudi Arabia from driving, but the interior minister formally banned them after 47 women were arrested and punished after demonstrating in cars in November 1990.

Last year, King Abdullah -- a cautious reformer -- granted women the right to vote and run in the 2015 municipal elections, a historic first for the country.

In January, the 89-year-old monarch appointed Sheikh Abdullatif Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, a moderate, to head the notorious religious police commission, which enforces the kingdom's severe version of sharia law.

Following his appointment, Sheikh banned members of the commission from harassing Saudi women over their behaviour and attire, raising hopes a more lenient force will ease draconian social constraints in the country.

But the kingdom's "religious establishment" is still to blame for the discrimination of women in Saudi Arabia, says liberal activist Suad Shemmari.

"Saudi women are treated as minors throughout their lives even if they hold high positions," said Shemmari, who believes "there can never be reform in the kingdom without changing the status of women and treating them" as equals to men.

But that seems a very long way off.

The kingdom enforces strict rules governing mixing between the sexes, while women are forced to wear a veil and a black cloak, or abaya, that covers them from head to toe except for their hands and faces.

The many restrictions on women have led to high rates of female unemployment, officially estimated at around 30 percent.

In October, local media published a justice ministry directive allowing all women lawyers who have a law degree and who have spent at least three years working in a lawyer's office to plead cases in court.

But the ruling, which was to take effect this month, has not been implemented.


Deer attacks two men, then takes man's cigarettes -

Deer attacks two men, then takes man's cigarettes - 

Joseph Rose and Cole Kellis were leaving their home in Whitehouse on Friday morning when they noticed a deer in their front yard.

Rose approached the deer and he says the deer seemed friendly. But then Kellis and Rose say the deer then charged them and started to attack.

Rose and Kellis ran to Rose's pick-up truck to try to get away from the wild buck. The deer then "poked" Rose in his ribs, so Rose jumped out of his truck into the back-bed. Rose says he left his driver-side door open and the deer climbed in and took his pack of cigarettes that were sitting in his center console.

The deer starting eating Rose's smokes, and when Rose tried to get them back, Rose says the deer got more aggressive.

They then had to call Whitehouse police and the Game Warden. When police arrived they had to tase the deer and then Rose says it took more than 5 men to restrain the buck.

KETK spoke to Smith County Game Warden, Dustin Dockery, and he says, "Admire deer from a distance but do not approach them because they can be dangerous."


Women are over-treated for cancer -

Women are over-treated for cancer - 

ONE of Australia's top medicos has agreed with a US study on mammograms that says women are treated for cancers that are not life-threatening.

The study, led by Dr H. Gilbert Welch of Dartmouth Medical School and Dr Archie Bleyer of St Charles Health System and Oregon Health and Science University, is claimed to be the most detailed look yet at over-treatment of breast cancer.

But Steve Hambleton, federal president of the Australian Medical Association, has slammed another of the report's claims that mammograms have "done surprisingly little to catch deadly cancers before they spread".

"It is completely false screening does not pick up cancers before they spread," he said.

"Early detection plays a huge part in the fight against breast cancer, but yes, I agree there are times when there is overdiagnosis.

"Sometimes there is no way of telling if a cancer will spread. There are cases where women end up having surgery or chemotherapy when their cancers were not life-threatening.

"But while there is a small degree of harm from screening, the benefits heavily outweigh them," he said.

"It is often the fear factor and a cautiousness in patients that leads to surgeries. Patients may pressure doctors to cut out the tumours. It is a very emotional thing.

"Cancers need to go under the microscope to study them further and of course that will involve biopsies and other tests. But screening is necessary. Self-examination is not enough."

He admits mammograms are not the perfect screening tool, but reminds Australian women that detecting abnormalities helps save lives.
The breast cancer death rate in Queensland has significantly decreased and survival rates have dramatically improved, according to the Queensland Cancer Council.

It says the five-year survival for breast cancer is now 89 per cent and that has improved from 74 per cent from 1982 to 1989.

More than half of Queensland women aged 50 to 69 participate in BreastScreen Queensland.

According to the Queensland Cancer Council: "Mammograms are not 100 per cent accurate, but they remain the best method for the early detection of breast cancer."

The authors of the US report concluded that: "The good news in breast cancer - decreasing mortality - must largely be the result of improved treatment, not screening."

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