“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Kenya president hails athletes for winning global title

Yahoo – AFP, 30 Aug 2015

Gold medallist Kenya's Asbel Kiprop and silver medallist Kenya's Elijah Motonei
Manangoi celebrate after the final of the men's 1500 metres at the 2015 IAAF
World Championships in Beijing on August 30, 2015 (AFP Photo/Franck Fife)

Nairobi (AFP) - Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday congratulated the country's athletes for their sterling performances at the world athletics championship in Beijing where Kenya won the global title for the first time.

Kenya topped the medal standings with a total of 16 medals, including seven golds, and beating athletics' heavyweights, Jamaica and the United States into second and third positions respectively.

"Our young people have once again shown that they are as good as the world's best and the brightest," said Kenyatta in a press statement.

He urged for the strengthening of the national youth development to empower as many Kenyan communities in order to make Kenya to be more competitive in future international competitions.

Kenya, which has been dominant in the middle and long distance events, achieved rare wins in the men's 400m hurdles and the javelin in Beijing for the first time.

'Largest ever' Med gas field found off Egypt: Eni

Yahoo – AFP, 30 Aug 2015

The so-called Zohr project is "the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and
in the Mediterranean Sea," ENI said in a statement (AFP Photo/Damien Meyer)

Cairo (AFP) - Italian energy giant Eni on Sunday announced the discovery of the "largest ever" offshore natural gas field in the Mediterranean, in Egypt's territorial waters.

The discovery, confirmed by Egypt's oil ministry, could hold a potential 30 trillion cubic feet (850 billion cubic metres) of gas in an area of about 100 square kilometres (40 square miles), Eni said in a statement.

The so-called Zohr project is "the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea," it said, adding the find would meet Egypt's own natural gas demands for decades.

The "supergiant" field -- potentially one of the world's largest natural gas finds -- is located at a depth of 4,757 feet (1,450 metres) in the Shorouk Block, Eni said.

The firm said it would "immediately appraise the field with the aim of accelerating a fast track development of the discovery", giving a timeframe of four years.

It added Eni's CEO, Claudio Descalzi, has visited Cairo and discussed the discovery with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab.

"This historic discovery will be able to transform the energy scenario of Egypt," Descalzi said in the statement.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, in a message to Descalzi, congratulated the oil company for the "extraordinary" discovery.

"A find of this size should be enough to cover a lot of Egypt's energy gap," Robin Mills, a Dubai-based analyst at Manaar Energy Consulting, told Bloomberg News.

"They'll likely have to meet domestic needs first, before any export plans are discussed. This will also put a damper on Israeli plans to export gas to Egypt," he added.

Egypt, the largest country of the Arab world, is of strategic and economic interest to Italy. In the past Italy invested heavily in neighbouring Libya, but for the past four years Libya has been mired in chaos and violence.

In recent years the western Mediterranean has seen seen a jump in gas exploration. In 2010, a major natural gas fields was found off Israel.

In March, British energy giant BP unveiled plans to invest $12 billion (10.7 billion euros) in Egyptian offshore gas fields with Russian partner DEA, despite the slump in world oil prices.

It said the investment in the West Nile Delta fields aims to develop five trillion cubic feet of gas resources and 55 million barrels of condensates, with output expected to begin in 2017.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lion kills guide in Zimbabwe park where Cecil lived

Yahoo – AFP, 25 Aug 2015

Cecil the lion was a major tourist attraction at Zimbabwe's Hwange National
Park before he was killed by an American dentist in July (AFP Photo)

Harare (AFP) - A lion mauled to death a guide leading tourists on a walking safari in the Zimbabwean national park where Cecil the lion lived before he was shot, police said Tuesday.

The guide was attacked on Monday after the group left their vehicle to inspect a pride of lions with cubs under a tree in the Hwange National Park, the country's largest natural reserve.

"Some cubs came near the tourists and one adult lion identified as Nxaha charged at them," police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told AFP.

"The adult lion retreated for a while and then came charging at the guide. It knocked him down and mauled him on the neck and shoulder."

The guide, Quinn Terence Swales, 40, was airlifted from the scene but pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

Owners of the safari camp confirmed the incident in a statement.

"It is with deep regret and great sadness that we are able to confirm the death of Quinn Swales, a Camp Hwange professional guide, who was fatally mauled by a male lion whilst out on a walking safari," Camp Hwange said.

"We can confirm that Quinn did everything he could to successfully protect his guests and ensure their safety, and that no guests were injured."

Quinn was leading six tourists when he was killed.

Charamba urged visitors to game parks to "remain wary even when the animals appear friendly because with an animal you can never predict its next move."

The killing of Cecil the lion in July provoked worldwide outrage when it emerged he was a favourite attraction among visitors to Hwange and was wearing a tracking collar as part of an Oxford University research project.

Cecil was reportedly lured with bait from the safety of the park before being killed by Walter Palmer, an American dentist armed with a bow and arrow who paid $55,000 (50,000 euros) to shoot a lion.

Palmer's guide on the expedition, Zimbabwean Theo Bronkhorst, appeared in court last month and was granted $1,000 bail pending his trial on September 28 on charges of organising an illegal hunt.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Google launches low-cost smartphone in Africa

Mobile users in six African nations are being targeted by Internet giant Google, which has launched an inexpensive smartphone with them in mind. The Android One program is designed for easy connectivity.

Deutsche Welle, 19 Aug 2015

Life without a smartphone is unthinkable for many people today. The electronic devices do everything from helping us to plan our day and keeping us connected with friends and family, to allowing us to buy things online. They can even lock our doors for us when we're being too lazy.

According to a study cited by search giant Google, 23 percent of mobile phones in Africa will be connected to the Internet by the end of this year. Now the company is trying to expand its services in six African countries, including Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Kenya with a combined population of 379 million.

The phone, which will operate on Google's Android One program is called the "Hot 2." It has been manufactured by the company Infinix and is being marketed in Africa through local sellers and websites such as Jumia.

Affordable technology

"I was given one of them. It looks cute," says Gladys Nwachukwu, business development manager at Mobility Arena, a Nigerian blog that ranks and evaluates mobile phones and technical devices.

The phone costs between 17,500 and 19,500 Naira (between 79 and 88 euros, $87 and $97), Nwachukwu tells DW, a fair price for a device that comes with such great specifications.

The phone's features, including a quad-core processor, dual SIM slots and an FM radio tuner, are tailor-made for places with low-speed Internet and power shortages. The device updates software immediately and has an extended battery life. The phone's YouTube app is designed to allow users to download videos to watch offline later - a handy feature when web access is unreliable -, Google's Vice President Caesar Sengupta said in a statement.

From Asia to Africa

These features are the reason why the phone has been so successful in Asian markets. Before the Android One, users had to make do with an unsatisfactory experience if they bought a smartphone, Mithun Mohandas, senior reviewer at Digit, an Indian technology website, told DW. Google's program, Android One, ensures that smartphone users buying any device have a satisfactory experience with the software.

'Value for money'

The fact that the phones are relatively inexpensive makes them even more attractive. Most smartphones from different companies have a "fluid-like user interface which enhances user experience to a certain extent," Mohandas said. An Android One phone is essentially a stripped-down version of such "fancy" phones and uses fewer resources, increasing the efficiency of phone apps, he adds.

However, it remains to be seen whether Google's latest presentation will be as successful in Africa as it has been in India, Indonesia and other Asian countries.

People have been responding well and saying that the phone "is good value for money," Gladys Nwachukwu of Mobility Arena said. "We are excited to have a low-budget phone," she added.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Gabon president says giving inheritance to country's youth

Yahoo – AFP, 18 Aug 2015

President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, attends a cycling event in Libreville,
in February 2015 (AFP Photo/Xavier Bourgois)

Libreville (AFP) - Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba said late Monday he would give "all his share of the inheritance" from his long-ruling father Omar Bongo Ondimba to "the Gabonese youth" in a speech marking the 55th anniversary of independence.

"I've decided with the full agreement of my wife Sylvia Bongo Ondimba and my children that my share of the inheritance will be shared with all Gabonese youth because in my eyes we are all heirs of Omar Bongo Ondimba," he said, after saying "no Gabonese must be left by the side of the road".

"All income from my part of the inheritance will be donated to a foundation for the youth and education," he said.

Gabonese President Omar Bongo 
Ondimba and his wife Josephine Bongo, 
pictured at Libreville airport, in 1983
(AFP Photo)
The president then announced that "on behalf of the children" of Omar Bongo, a property in Libreville near Camp de Gaulle would be transferred to the state for the establishment of a university.

He added that Bongo's children would give two properties in Paris that had belonged to the late president to the state for "a symbolic franc".

"These properties, which will become part of the heritage of the Gabonese state, will be assigned for diplomatic and cultural use," the president said.

"Those who were fortunate enough to have the support of their parents or the state must in turn be generous, in solidarity, especially in hard times," he said.

"I know my father, from where he is now, watches us and hears us. I also know that he approves this decision and gives us his blessing."

Ali Bongo assumed the presidency following the 2009 death of his father Omar Bongo, who had presided over the equatorial African nation and its oil and mineral wealth since 1967.

The of Omar Bongo's inheritance, which is to be split between 53 declared heirs, has not been settled.

The extent of his legacy has not been fully figured out but the assets identified so far are worth several hundred million euros (dollars).

Two French judges have been probing the source of money spent in France on luxury homes and mansions by Omar Bongo, Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema and Congo-Brazzaville's President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The charges were brought by Transparency International, an anti-corruption campaign group, which alleges several African leaders and their relatives spent state funds from their countries on lavish purchases in France.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal answers questions during a 2011 press
conference in Riyadh (AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

" .... Africa

Let me tell you where else it's happening that you are unaware - that which is the beginning of the unity of the African states. Soon the continent will have what they never had before, and when that continent is healed and there is no AIDS and no major disease, they're going to want what you have. They're going to want houses and schools and an economy that works without corruption. They will be done with small-minded leaders who kill their populations for power in what has been called for generations "The History of Africa." Soon it will be the end of history in Africa, and a new continent will emerge.

Be aware that the strength may not come from the expected areas, for new leadership is brewing. There is so much land there and the population is so ready there, it will be one of the strongest economies on the planet within two generations plus 20 years. And it's going to happen because of a unifying idea put together by a few. These are the potentials of the planet, and the end of history as you know it.

In approximately 70 years, there will be a black man who leads this African continent into affluence and peace. He won't be a president, but rather a planner and a revolutionary economic thinker. He, and a strong woman with him, will implement the plan continent-wide. They will unite. This is the potential and this is the plan. Africa will arise out the ashes of centuries of disease and despair and create a viable economic force with workers who can create good products for the day. You think China is economically strong? China must do what it does, hobbled by the secrecy and bias of the old ways of its own history. As large as it is, it will have to eventually compete with Africa, a land of free thinkers and fast change. China will have a major competitor, one that doesn't have any cultural barriers to the advancement of the free Human spirit.. ...."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sustainable farming reaping benefits for women in Cameroon

Improved soil management practices and better farming habits are putting smiles on the faces of women in Bafut, a community located about 400 kilometers (240 miles) from Cameroon's capital Yaounde.

Deutsche Welle, 17 Aug 2015

Women farmers in Cameroon

These innovations all fall within the field of "permaculture," a system of sustainable agriculture and design principles aimed at creating a more ecological relationship with the environment.

The innovation was brought to the women by Joshua Kankonko, who grew up in the area. Women say they are experiencing better harvests and putting more money in their pockets as a result. The project has been running for two years.

Kankonko is the developer behind an eco-village built using only local materials. Farmers in the village have implemented permaculture practices aimed to benefit residents through better management of soil and environmental resources. Simple practices such as composting and erosion control are helping to increase yields.

"This is the way our parents used to farm. All the kitchen waste was thrown behind the house where the vegetables were harvested. Everything that we produce, we get from the environment then we give it back to the environment," Kankonko said.

Small plots, big yeilds

Pressures on scarce fertile lands in Cameroon's northwest have historically fueled tribal conflicts. Permaculture sets out to replenish the soil and maximize yields on relatively small plots thereby limiting the need for conflict.

According to Project Coordinator Sonita Mdah Neh, one of the best ways to do this is through natural and mechanical erosion control. Natural erosion control uses plans to hold the soil and moisture together.

This hut was made using only
local materials.
"Natural erosion control is done with vertiva grass. We can also use pineapple, so we use what we call a plant family meaning that you put two plants together and they form a web. When they form a web, they hold the soil and water together," said Mbah Neh.

Mechanical soil control means that local, natural materials like bamboo and other woods are used to create barriers.

The project also stresses the use of organic fertilizers and the use of different plants and practices to maintain or even boost the amount of nutrients in the soil.

"A lot happens in the soil which we don't see. There are a lot of interactions between soil organisms," she said.

A revolution

The system is already working. Farmer Justina Lum hails the system. She says within two years her yields have doubled. She says even at home she switched to using traditional cooking methods.

"Smoke is channeled through a chimney and therefore our eyes are not exposed to smoke. Besides, it uses less wood and is not costly to build," said Lum.

Kankonko remembers his mother who used compost manure to fertilize her crops. As a student in the University of Yaounde, he was already making a living from township gardening. After leaving university, he decided to bring his experience home to his Bafut community.

Kankonko notes that the entire experiment has been a success story, not only improving family incomes, but also restoring the natural environment that continues to suffer from irresponsible use.

But the sustainability of the system will depend largely on youth involvement. Kankonko complains that many youths do not think there is a future in agriculture but instead leave to pursue white-collar jobs in the cities.

Related Article:

“..  Health

Normal good health is turning to simple physics for some of the simplest things. New kinds of foods are being grown with new physics, not chemistry. These will be physic-foods [Kryon name] that are not genetically altered or chemically altered, but benevolently enhanced by physics! This causes a new kind of super growth that can feed the planet in a way it's never been fed before. It will create food that is resistant to absolutely everything - insects, bacteria and disease - all through physics. Who thought of that? What you're expecting in the future regarding health is based upon the past. The big filter of past knowledge keeps you from thinking out of the box. You don't know what you don't know.  ….”

Friday, August 14, 2015

Little Angie: Asylum seeker names daughter Angela Merkel

A Ghanaian woman seeking asylum in Germany has named her child Angela Merkel. The name raised a few eyebrows at the baby registry office, but the tribute to Germany's chancellor was approved.

Deutsche Welle, 14 Aug 2015

Ophelya Ade, a woman originally from Ghana who is seeking asylum in Germany, spoke out on Thursday about her decision to give her daughter a very famous and very German name: Angela Merkel Ade.

The baby, who was named in tribute of Germany's current Chancellor Angela Merkel, was born in February in Hanover. The younger Angela Merkel and her mother live in a former hospital in Hannover that has been converted to house asylum seekers.

"She's a good woman and I like her," the 26-year-old Ade said of Chancellor Merkel.

Baby names in Germany are subject to the scrutiny of the civic registry office, and names that are too off-the-wall can be rejected, mostly on the grounds that names need to clearly identify a baby's gender.

In the case of young Angela Merkel, however, there was no question that her name was legit.

According to media reports, baby Angela has German citizenship through her father, which also secures residency for her mother.

mz/sgb (dpa, Reuters)
Related Articles:

Merkel defends gesture to comfort crying Palestinian teen

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Iraq parliament approves PM's anti-corruption plan

Yahoo – AFP, W.G. Dunlop, 11 Aug 2015

Iraqi protesters rally against corruption and poor services on August 7, 2015
in the holy city of Najaf (AFP Photo/Haidar Hamdani)

Baghdad (AFP) - Iraq's parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's reform programme aimed at curbing the corruption and government waste that sparked widespread anger and weeks of protests.

Abadi on Sunday proposed a series of measures to combat graft, streamline the government and improve services after the protests and a call from Iraq's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for drastic change.

But both Abadi's reform programme and an additional list of measures also approved by parliament only outline steps to be taken. Actually implementing them will be a difficult process fraught with potential political and legal challenges.

"It was unanimously approved," parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi announced to applause after the vote, which was held without a debate as soon as the plan was read in a session attended by 297 of 328 MPs.

Abadi issued a statement congratulating the Iraqi people on the passage of the plan and pledging "to continue the path of reform even if it costs me my life".

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proposed a series of measures to combat 
corruption, streamline the government and improve services after weeks of protests
 and a call from Iraq's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for drastic
change (AFP Photo)

Later in the day, the premier called in another statement for the country's anti-corruption body to present the names of those suspected of wrongdoing so they can be prevented from leaving the country and referred to the judiciary.

One of the most drastic of Abadi's reform proposals, which were approved by the cabinet on Sunday, was a call for the posts of vice president and deputy prime minister to be eliminated "immediately".

UN welcomes reforms

Abadi's plan also calls for an end to unofficial but prevalent "political and sectarian quotas" for senior officials, for increased oversight to prevent corruption, and for services to be improved.

Juburi had urged MPs to sign off on the reforms, but said that a "complementary" parliamentary reform plan was needed to add to and "adjust" Abadi's measures in keeping with the law and the constitution.

Iraqi lawmakers take the oath collectively during a parliamentary session 
in Baghdad on June 14, 2010 (AFP Photo/Ali al-Saadi)

That plan overlaps with Abadi's proposals on various points, while adding others.

New measures include calling for "negligent and corrupt" ministers to be presented for no-confidence votes, the "activation" of a law providing for the removal of excessively absent MPs, and limits of two terms for the premier, president and parliament speaker.

The parliamentary plan was also read and approved without debate, and the session -- most of which was taken up by the reading of the two plans -- ended some 30 minutes after it began.

The acting head of the UN Iraq mission, Gyorgy Busztin, said in a statement that he welcomed Abadi's reform proposals.

An Iraqi man listens on his portable radio
 to the speech of parliament speaker
Salim al-Juburi in downtown Baghdad on
August 11, 2015 (AFP Photo/Sabah Arar)
Busztin said that dissatisfaction over corruption "can be manipulated by terrorist groups for their own ends," at a time when the country is battling to regain ground from jihadists from the Islamic State group.

The approval is a victory for Abadi, but the question now becomes how thoroughly the measures will be implemented, and what politicians and other officials may do to try to thwart them.

Thousands protested

"All Iraqi politicians officially support reform and the fight against corruption but they all engage very heavily in corruption," said Zaid al-Ali, author of "The Struggle For Iraq's Future".

"They have to say that they support reform, but they will work against it."

Ali also said that removing the post of vice president would require an amendment to the constitution, a process that includes a popular referendum that is unlikely to be held at this time.

Iraqi men demonstrate in support of Prime 
Minister Haider al-Abadi's reform plan at 
Baghdad's Tahrir Square on August 9, 
2015 (AFP Photo/Haidar Mohammed Ali)
Amid a major heatwave that has seen temperatures top 50 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit), protesters have railed against the poor quality of services, especially power outages that leave just a few hours of government-supplied electricity per day.

Thousands of people have turned out in Baghdad and cities in the Shiite south to vent their anger at the authorities, putting pressure on them to make changes.

Various parties and politicians have sought to align themselves with the protesters' calls for reforms to benefit from the movement and mitigate the risk to themselves.

People have protested over services and corruption before, but the demonstrations failed to bring about significant change.

Protestors' demands were given a boost on Friday when Sistani, who is revered by millions, called for Abadi to take "drastic measures" against corruption, saying that the "minor steps" he had announced were not enough.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Married by a woman: a quiet Palestinian revolution

Yahoo – AFP, Majeda El-Batsh, August 7, 2015

Tahrir Hamad (left), the first Palestinian woman justice of the peace, pronounces
Thaer (right) and Rawan (2nd left) man and wife (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Holding the young couple's identity cards in one hand and the Koran in the other, the Palestinian justice of the peace pronounces Thaer and Rawan man and wife.

It's an everyday scene at the Islamic sharia law court in the West Bank city of Ramallah except for one glaring difference -- the justice is a woman, the first in the Palestinian territories licensed to perform Muslim marriages.

Tahrir Hamad (left) with Thaer (right) and
 Rawan (centre) after pronouncing them 
man and wife at the Islamic sharia law
 court in the West Bank city of Ramallah
on August 6, 2015 (AFP Photo/Abbas
Wearing a long black robe decorated with the Palestinian flag and with a keffiyeh scarf draped over her shoulder, Tahrir Hamad, 33, is leading a quiet revolution in Palestinian society.

On July 29, she became the first, and so far the only, woman appointed as a "mazouna" - a Muslim official authorised to carry out marriage and divorce.

Until now in the Arab world only Egypt and Abu Dhabi have appointed women to the post.

The reason there are not more, she says smiling, is cultural rather than theological.

"The only obstacle comes from our patriarchal society, because there is no religious or legal reason that prevents women from filling this post."

Her conviction has been forged during 10 years of Islamic studies, culminating in a master's degree in Islamic law.

She explains it to couples planning their weddings so they can decide whether to let her officiate or use one of the four male justices at the Ramallah court.

No reason to object

Rawan (right) signs an official document
after Tahrir Hamad (left) her and her
husband Thaer man and wife (AFP Photo/
Abbas Momani)
In the week since she began, she has performed eight marriages and had two categorical refusals.

One of those who objected, she says, "could not give a reason. He just said, 'I don't want a woman performing my marriage and that's it!'"

Such an attitude, she says, is the exception rather than the rule.

"People come to get their wedding contract signed and leave when they have what they want. Whether the signature is that of a man or a woman is not a problem for them."

Some, like newlyweds Thaer and Rawan Schuman, are proud to have been married by a woman.

Of Palestinian descent but living in the United States, they have come for the summer to marry in their ancestral homeland.

"This is amazing. I'm totally defending the rights of women and this is great," says Rawan, 24.

"It furthers the cause of women in Palestine."

Tahrir Hamad is the first woman appointed as a "mazouna" - a Muslim official
authorised to carry out marriage and divorce (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Her Brazilian-born dentist husband Thaer, 26, is also enthusiastic.

"The Palestinian people are smart people, respectful people, educated and it’s a great thing that they are progressing and I support it," he said.

In the traditionally closed male world of the secular courts, three women have already made a breach and are serving as judges in civil law cases.

In approving marriage contracts, Tahrir Hamad is also helping ensure the future rights of the bride.

The document prepared for Tayssir Hamad and Faten al-Deik stipulates that after marriage the bride will continue her doctoral studies, then go to work.

Any decision to quit at a later stage will be bride Faten's alone, it states.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Another US hunter suspected of killing lion in Zimbabwe

One more US hunter is believed to have shot down a lion in Zimbabwe, according to Harare's park authority. The killing follows the death of Cecil the lion, who fell to a Minnesota dentist last month.

Deutsche Welle, 2 Aug 2015

A second US hunter is believed to have killed a lion without a permit in Zimbabwe, using a bow and arrow several months ago.

Zimbabwe's National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) reported that the hunter was Jan Casmir Seski, a resident of Murrysville, Pennsylvania. The officials said Seski's illegal hunt took place in April in Hwange National Park.

"When hunters come into the country, they fill a document stating their personal details, the amount they have paid for the hunt, the number of animals to be hunted, the species to be hunted and the area and period where that hunt is supposed to take place," Caroline Washaya Moyo, spokeswoman for Zimparks told journalists.

"The American conducted his hunt in an area where lion hunting is outlawed," Moyo said. "The landowner who helped him with the hunt also did not have a quota for lion hunting." Headman Sibanda, the landowner, was arrested in connection with the case and was helping the police, officials said.

Cecil's brother Jericho alive

Zimbabwe's government is also seeking the extradition of dentist James Palmer, accusing him of not being authorized to kill the lion named Cecil a month ago. The animal was popular for his distinctive black mane and a favorite among park visitors.

Cecil was lured out of Hwange and wounded with an arrow fired from a bow before being shot with a gun, Harare's conservationists said. Palmer has defended himself, saying he relied on professional guides to ensure that his hunt was legal. His local guide, Theo Bronkhorst, is scheduled to appear in court on charges of "failing to prevent an illegal hunt."

The government has now suspended hunting of lions, elephants and leopards in the Hwange area. In a breath of relief for conservationists, Zimparks officials dismissed the rumor that Cecil's brother, Jericho, had been killed over the weekend.

"The lion known as Jericho is still alive and being monitored by Brent Stapelais of the Lion Research Project," officials said.