Friday, December 28, 2012

Welcome to the New Egyptian Democracy

I'll let the following article from the Egypt Independent do the talking here.

Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah agreed to assign a judge to investigate allegations of treason levied against Constitution Party leader Mohamed ElBaradei and former presidential candidates Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabbahi.

Al-Sayed Hamed, a member of the executive bureau of the Lawyers Syndicate’s Freedoms Committee, filed the charges along with his colleague, Nasser al-Asqalany.

ElBaradei, Moussa and Sabbahi lead the National Salvation Front, a coalition of 15 liberal parties opposed to the recently instated Constitution. They claim the constitutional referendum was rigged.

Prior to the referendum, the front led demonstrations against the Constitution in front of the presidential palace. At least ten died in the course of clashes with supporters of President Mohamed Morsy.

Hamed is also bringing charges of treason against former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan, Judges Club head Ahmed al-Zend and Supreme Constitutional Court Vice President Tahani al-Gebali.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sunset on a Lonely Beach

And again delving into the mysteries of teenage angst, another poem I penned on 10-10-99.

Sunset on a Lonely Beach 
With the soothing of waves, 
And rustling of wind. 
With the disappearance of heartached days, 
And the worries of a lifetime. 
Secluded among the minions
Of a heartless person. 
Pink tinted seas, 
Powdered skies, 
Swirl around, mingling into one
Caressing gently, the toes of an Angel, 
Silently moving the wings, 
As if prepared for flight, 
The heart soars free. 
Carried on the whispering winds, 
To uncharted domain. 
White horses run, but 
Never escaping he binding force
Of powers so great, 
And unimaginable to ignorant. 
Only those with the heart of the wild, 
And Spirit of Freedom, possess
The power of escaping, 
Cold and inhumane people. 
No consideration, to the 
Hearts of those damaged. 
It continues an unending cycle, 
Of vicious deceit, and webs of lies. 
Only to be tangled in, 
By those claiming innocence. 

Revelations on the Inner Side

A poem I wrote back in the days of teenage angst that I recently uncovered again, and feel is worth publishing!

In the Autumn leaves fall, 
But in the Spring they grow. 
A rejuvenating call, 
Omitted by the fawn to the roe, 
Is a reminder of the miracle, 
We were born into.

Were we to jeopardise this, 
Our lives would crumble. 
No more eternal bliss, 
Our steps falter as we stumble. 
Is this world we create,
Clouded by shadows? 

There is one binding force, 
Which keeps us on the road. 
An ever changing course, 
A way no one has showed. 
It is a tie strong as steel, 
But vulnerable as wool. 

As sure as the snow in Africa, 
As definite as the sun's warmth. 
Now is not getting darker, 
No longer headed North. 
The bond to keep us going, 
Is the bond of true love. 

A fruit of the Spirit, 
A gift to those who receive. 
Eternal feelings of merit, 

No reason to grieve. 
It is true love for which I seek, 

Yet may have found in you. 

A Buying Guide to Rowing Machines

Rowing machines can be great cardio exercise that will allow you to shape bother your lower and upper body. Not many gym equipment pieces can be 
compared to a rowing machine when it comes to toning and fat burning.

The machine simulates rowing action, a pulling and pushing movement. The result is you work your thighs, calves, shoulders, back and arms all at once. Our Rowing Machine Buyer’s Guide will help you select the best machine for you if you’re considering purchasing one.

The equipment can be expensive. So you want to take your time to pick the correct machine for you.

Rowing makes for an ideal cardo workout. It’s low-impact, so suitable for any age group or fitness level. Despite being safe, it’s still crucial to know how to correctly operate the machine.

Prior to purchasing, what should you consider?

How often do you intend to use it?

If you are not planning on regular usage and you are restricted in space, a collapsible rowing machine provides the perfect solution.

The machine is hydraulic, and tends to be smaller. If you’re not over-using it, the parts can last for several years before they need changing. But for everyday use, such machines are not a good choice. You’ll need a higher-end machine that is made for higher usage.

What space is available?

Remember the collapsible machines as an option. If noise is a concern, then there are also silent hydraulic models available.

Should I have a work-out monitor with my equipment?

Before you rush out to buy the most top-end rowing model out there, you must first consider what you need from your machine. Compare prices and options before you even head to the store, so you can avoid being pressured into an impulse buy.

Quality machines range between £200-£450. These include the basic features like functions, time, distance, speed, and calories burnt. While there are models with less add-ons, just remember you’ll always get what you’ve paid for; cheap doesn’t always mean good.

Top-end rowing machines can often tip the scale at over £1,000. But you don’t have to fork out that much cash for decent rowing equipment, particularly if it’s a new sporting endeavor for you. Don’t forget to take your estimated usage, budget, and overall fitness-goals into consideration before you buy.

The additional computer can sometimes pack on an extra £200 to the cost of your equipment.

While this might seem dear, it’s a feature many enjoy as it records and tracks your time, stroke-rate and distance. This can help you set goals and measure your progression. So take that into consideration when you’re buying.

Is variable resistance built in?

Most machines will include this option, but remember to double-check the range. Wider ranges can be beneficial as you can utilize your rowing equipment for anaerobic exercise when you increase resistance.

Do I need to test the machine?

It’s important whenever you are purchasing sporting equipment to check it first before buying. You want to make sure it’s comfortable and check the movement. If you’re purchasing online, check your local gym to see what models they have.

When these are not an option, verify the company’s returns-policy.

Is it an adjustable machine?

If you’re planning on letting other people use your machine, it’s important that the foot and seat pads are adjustable.

What’s the weight-limit on the machine?

Although oftentimes forgotten, there is a safe weight-limit for each machine. It’s possible to void your warranty if you go over this suggested limit. Make sure you check prior to ordering.

Is the cost justifiable?

Quality equipment can be expensive, so you want to make sure you’ll get your money’s worth before buying. A one-year gym membership may be cheaper than the cost of a rowing machine, and it gives you a wider choice of equipment.

What about second-hand?

Another option to purchase your equipment, but look out for damage or strange-noises. If you do purchase second-hand, do it from a private individual as opposed to a gym, as they will have undoubtedly used the machine far less.

There are many rowing machines that will be in great condition, despite being second-hand, simply due to lack of use.

Where should I place it?

Oxygen and good ventilation are important, so factor these in when you’re placing your machine. Do you want to watch TV when working out? Another thing to consider when you’re figuring out where to place your rowing machine. 

Logbook Loans Versus Payday Loans

What makes a logbook loan more suitable than a payday loan?

With the recent economic turmoil in the world, it’s little surprise that many people are struggling to find ways to get cash-in-hand quickly. For this, short-term loans have often fitted the bill perfectly.

But as many banks have also been hit by the recession, they are increasingly wary of lending to consumers. As a result individuals are forced to seek alternative means for a cash loan.

A market that cropped up to meet this need was the pay-day loan scheme. However, those that examine the terms and conditions of such loans carefully may in fact notice that a logbook loan is more suited to their needs, and comes with lower risks than a payday loan.

Here’s a few reasons that a logbook loan may be the more suitable option:

  • Interest rates are significantly reduced.
  • Although payday loans may seem a quick-fix for a cash in hand loan, many individuals fail to consider the high interest rates that such loans come with.
  • Payday loans can sometimes come with APRs topping 4,000 %, leaving borrowers paying back a substantially larger sum than they originally borrowed. It does little to help your cash flow stabilize, which is what loans are intended to do! If you don’t repay it quickly, you may find yourself facing a potentially debilitating debt.

Logbook loans however, are secured against the worth of the borrower’s car, which generally means that the APRs are far less, meaning it’s a more manageable debt and easier to pay back.

Potential for larger sums in loans

While payday loans may hold an appeal in that they require virtually no collateral, leaving it as a no-strings attached type loan, if you already own a vehicle you have a high-value asset in your possession. This asset can be used to help obtain a logbook loan, which then in turn gives you access to a greater potential sum to loan.

Although it depends on the value of your vehicle, logbook lenders may offer loans ranging from £200 up to £25,000. It doesn’t matter if you are considered to be self-employed, or if you have a less than stellar credit record. Your car is generally the second most valuable asset you would own, and you can make that asset work harder for you in securing a log book loan.

Loan periods are more easily managed

Payday loans are designed to be a quick-fix, that is a short-term solution. What that means, is you’ll have to repay the loan within a relatively short period of time. If the borrower cannot secure the funds to repay the loan, the interest quickly builds up. This leaves borrowers at times forced to take out a second loan merely to repay the first loan!

Lenders offering logbook loans however, can set it up so that you can repay the debt over a far greater time period, anywhere from half a year up to three. In addition, borrowers can sort out a repayment plan to match their cash-flow needs, which guarantees you can pay back your debt in a timely and stress free fashion. 

Advantages of Professional Hair Care Products

A common trait amongst women is that we all want to feel and look beautiful. How easy it would be if we could all afford a personal stylist! Fortunately, the evolution of hair care products today allow women to obtain that salon-styled look from the comfort of their home with the use of professional hair care products.

There are a number of reasons why you should opt for these hair care products over the everyday ones. The professional brands ensure that you’ll get the look you want without the fear of possible reactions to the product such as rashes. This goes for shampoos, conditioners, hair coloring kits, moisturizers, etc, the results will leave you pleasantly surprised.

But for safety’s sake, make sure you always do an allergy test prior to using these products. Professional hair care products can be stronger than the everyday products, and although it makes them more efficient, it may mean that your skin will react to the product’s ingredients. Fortunately the wide range of professional hair care products means you’re guaranteed to find the right one for you. From thick to thin hair, curly to straight, long, short, damaged, the list goes on.

Dandruff is a problem that many of us suffer from, which professional hair care products can alleviate. Exceptional products will not only help to eliminate the problem of dandruff, but also fight against it reappearing. Alongside helping relieve issues with dandruff, regular use of professional hair care products can help you say bye-bye to split ends and hair loss.

The quality of professional hair care products speak for themselves. Using products like this, you can rest assured that your perfect up-do will remain perfect throughout the duration of your party without falling down. The selection of products also help you embrace your wild side when it comes to experimenting with new hair styles and techniques. The products even protect your hair so you don’t have to worry about damage!

These days, men and women alike subject our hair to all sorts of stresses. Between daily styling to other damage, it’s a wonder some of us still have a decent set of hair at all! Professional hair care products can help protect your hair from these damaging factors, leaving you with beautiful hair everyday! Shopping for these products has never been easier than today, with the Internet allowing you to shop around and compare the huge variety of available products, and have them delivered right to your front door.

So next time you’re looking for the look of salon-styled hair, Bumble and Bumble have the ideal range of professional hair care products to meet your every need. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Alexandria Thugs Attack

I'll let the video do the talking here. This is footage from Alexandria, Egypt, after Islamists thugs were brought into town to attack the protesters. This was their reaction.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Yes, I changed my mind"

Re-posting from Al-Arabiya news, below find a post by Wael Ghoneim provided a satirical response from President Morsi.

“Why did you change your mind?” Several people that I love and respect keep asking me. “What happened to you? You seem to have become too biased!”

To those dear friends I say:

- Yes, I have changed my mind. After I read the national reconciliation initiative launched by the Facebook page We Are all Khaled Saeid before millions of people live on ONTV two weeks before I was elected, I said that as head of the Freedom and Justice Party, I agree to form another Constituent Assembly that is representative of all the Egyptian society. I did not do that.

- Yes, I have changed my mind. After I promised those who supported me in the elections two days before the results were out that I will do my best to restructure the Constituent Assembly in a way that creates balance between different Egyptian factions, I did not even try. In fact, instead of trying to resolve the crisis of the withdrawal of 26 members of the assembly, I decided the constitution is to be finished in 48 hours even if only 85 members, after calling upon reserve members to join, attended.

- Yes, I have changed my mind. After I promised following a meeting with lawyers that the constitution will not be put to referendum unless a real societal dialogue is established, I suddenly decided to set December 15 as the date of the referendum.

- Yes, I have changed my mind. After I promised that I will barely use my legislative powers, I issued a Constitutional Declaration (not even a law) that strips Egyptian citizens of their right to contest my decisions. I even guarded the Constituent Assembly, which I promised to restructure, against any attempts at dissolving it.

- Yes, I have changed my mind. After I promised in a closed meeting with ten youths and some of my advisors that the constitution will be based on a national dialogue that does not exclude any of the political powers, I polarized Egyptians a few days later and almost ignited “sedition” among the people.

- Yes, I have changed my mind. My group started mobilizing my supporters in front of the presidential palace and I came out and spoke only to them. I actually said that my opposition is very limited and that my critics are not working towards the country’s best interest. Then the group mobilized more people a few days after to say that I am supported by 90% of the Egyptian people while I know I won the elections by 51%. This is exactly what the former regime used to do.

- Yes, I have changed my mind. After I promised total independence for the judiciary, I insisted on appointing a new prosecutor general who I chose and who had come straight from Bahrain to take the oath at 1:00 am in the midst of slogans chanted by my supporters. I did that without consulting anyone in the Supreme Judicial Council and as part of an “unconstitutional” declaration. I did not even say that the new prosecutor general is temporary until the constitution is finished, but made it clear he will stay through my term in office.

- Yes, I have changed my mind. A few days after the declaration was issued, I decided to act indifferently towards protestors that filled Tahrir Square and I did not even call for a national dialogue in order to resolve the crisis and avoid further escalation.

- Yes, I have changed my mind. Instead of respecting democracy and the people’s right to choose, I issued an unconstitutional declaration then gave the people the choice between a flawed constitution and a declaration that gives me powers never officially given before to any ruler in the history of Egypt. 

- Yes, I have changed my mind. After I promised that the presidency will only make decisions after carefully studying them, I decided to act without consulting anyone so that even the minister of justice and the vice-president had reservations on my decisions.

- Yes, I have changed my mind. After I promised to redress any wrong I do, I persisted and even mobilized people to support my decisions and labeled the opposition “a malicious minority” and “revolutionaries who abandoned the revolution for personal gains.”

- Yes, I have changed my mind. Yesterday when I needed your votes I told you that “our strength lies in our unity” and now I am telling you to “go to hell.”

May God guide us to the right path!

(Wael Ghoneim is an Egyptian activist. The Arabic version of the article was published in Al-Nahar Egypt newspaper on Dec. 3, 2012)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Protests Rattle Hurghada

In what has not been seen since the Jan. 28th Revolution, large protests have been held around Hurghada, both pro and anti-Morsi.

While the pro-Morsi protesters took up camp in downtown Dahar of Hurghada, the anti-Morsi protesters rallied around Sheraton Street, one of the main tourist areas of Hurghada. They started in a small square in front of the Bella Vista Hotel, and spent about an hour hyping the crowd up. By this time the protest was only a few hundred strong.

After about an hour, the protesters moved down the Sheraton street. It was truly incredible to watch. To protect the protesters from the traffic and any unwanted individuals entering the flurry, the back end was sealed by a huge banner and the sides were initially sealed off by people carrying rope. The protest soon swelled however, and a human chain was created as an add-on to the rope. The protest stretched far down Sheraton as people moved down the street, diverting traffic.

Despite there being some frustrated drivers, most who passed through honked in support of the protesters walking through the street. While the protests here don't compare at all to those witnessed in Cairo, we have not seen protests like this since one or two days during the January Revolution. It's an indication of just how serious the situation at the moment really is.

Alongside chanting "The people demand the fall of the regime," protesters had a few colourful chants. From comparing Morsi to Mubarak, and calling them both liars, "Morsi is a failure" was also chanted. Find below photos from Hurghada's anti-Morsi rally today, along with some videos. Men and women, veiled and unveiled, and even children partook in Hurghada's rally tonight.

A young boy riles up the crowd

**All photos copyright Susan Richards-Benson. Please contact me for high-res photos**

Youtube Videos:

Egypt's Media Protests Restrictions

December 4th was announced as a day of Civil Strike against President Morsi, the draft Constitution, and his decree granting him sweeping powers. Media outlets announced they planned to print blank pages, but whether or not it would actually go through was always questionable.

But the Egypt Independent certainly has. This is what you see when you open up their homepage.

It will be interesting to see how the day shapes up. Protests are planned throughout the country, with an anticipated mass-rally in Cairo planning to march on the Presidential Palace. Hurghada also has rallies planned, I hope to get out and snap some shots of that later on today. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Constitutional Referendum Leaves Country Divided

President Morsi's sweeping Constitutional Decree issued on November 21st has been met with public anger and dissent. With Egyptians again taking to the streets, a power struggle at the very street levels has begun. We saw this weekend massive liberal rallies on Friday (albeit smaller than last Tuesday's rallies), followed by the Muslim Brotherhood rallies on Saturday. While the MB's media camp has claimed over 6 million supporters showed up to rally at their protests, the liberal camp have insisted that the MB bussed their supporters in from all over Egypt - hence the mass turn-out. The picture below illustrates this.

Buses carried MB supporters to Cairo
from all throughout Egypt.

The MB protests were out to show their support firstly for President Morsi's decree, and secondly for the new draft Constitution, which was voted on last Wednesday. Many argue that this draft Constitution violates basic human rights and freedom of belief. The MB supporters however, see it as a positive step towards making Egypt a truly Islamic "free" country, and one that continues to uphold the principles of the Egyptian Revolution.

On Saturday, the Islamists made their intentions very clear. The Deputy Chairman of Egypt's Salafist movement, the more extreme arm of political Islamists, Sheikh Yasser Burhami,said: “This million man demonstration demands the application of Allah’s Shariah ... The Egyptian people chose the Islamists as their representatives in parliament and in the constituent assembly through which we suffered and tolerated a lot to produce a constitution that will pave the way for the people to apply Allah’s Shariah ... We tell the Constitutional Court that no one will defeat the people of Egypt. Thirty men and a woman who do not respect the laws of Allah will not rule Egypt by tailoring laws and regulations.” [In reference to the Constitutional Court's Judicial Board, made up of 30 male judges and one female. I won't even comment on the obvious repugnant tone of that last statement. Source]

Hundreds of thousands (note, not millions)
rally in support of Morsi on Saturday, Dec. 1
Photo by Mohannad Sabry. Source

These comments come after President Morsi approved the Draft Constitution on Thursday, less than 24 hours after having been handed it by the Constituent Assembly, who took less than 48 hours to approve the entire thing. Talk about a rushed job. Morsi has stressed that: "following the efforts of the Constituent Assembly, and after lovingly receiving this draft constitution from you today, I call the Egyptian people to vote on this constitution on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012."

To familiarize yourself with the new Draft Constitution that has so many people angry, the BBC provided a great comparison of the old and new Constitutions here. I highly recommend taking the time to read it. You can find it here, and please take note of a few important distinctions. One, the minority religions have been excluded, and in the new Constitution are no longer seen as a religious group. Note the system of politics is now based on Shura. And media freedom is no longer guaranteed, as it may be 'suspended when needed.'

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Morsi's decree, here are a few major points. He has granted himself supreme authority over all ruling and legislative bodies in Egypt. His decisions may not be repealed. He has the power to sack and appoint any government-service employee he wants - a power that he quickly used in sacking the old prosecutor general, and appointing a member of his own family to the post [ironically enough, this new PG declared he did not support Morsi's recent political moves.] In addition, he has paved the way for a re-trial of Mubarak and his top aides. To read the whole text in English, you can click here or here

The popular blogger Sandmonkey said: "Morsi can now strip people of their citizenships or hand it out to others, try them in “special courts” for vague charges, shut down private enterprises or media outlets or seize them, reshape our judiciary branches and their roles singlehandedly, and even change your last name, and no one will be able to legally question or stop his decision ... Granting yourself this level of power is so in the essence of fascism that president Morsy’s new nickname is Morsilini.  It’s as if he is stating that while the old regime was autocratic, dictatorial and secular, thankfully the revolution happened and we are no longer secular."

Is it any wonder that the liberals are so angry? That Egypt is once again standing on a precipice? Tomorrow a general Civil Strike has been called for, as the liberals gear up to try and topple the new tyrant. However, with all this going on, I remain focused on the referendum set for the 15th of December. If past behaviour is anything to go by [and with the MB you can pretty much be assured of this] they will pay people to go and vote "YES." Many in the liberal camp are already calling for a boycott. To that I have one thing to say: 

Did you not learn from the last time? 

The liberal boycott is what helped Morsi come to power to begin with. While many liberals will argue that voting somehow validates Morsi's decree or the grossly nonrepresentational Constitutional Court, not voting is simply, well, stupid. Not voting ensures that this restrictive Constitution will be passed. Not voting will lead to more unrest.

And let me be clear, while voting "NO" means that the power falls back to Morsi, who then has to HIMSELF [not by public vote - wtf?!] pick a new Constitutional Court, leaving Egypt in the same position it found itself in when picking between Morsi and Shafiq. How can you pick the lesser of two evils in this situation? 

In the end, I'll let this graph do the talking. It boils down to simple mathematics. By voting "NO" at least you buy yourself additional time to sort this situation out. By not voting, you can look forward to many years of autocratic Islamist rule, while occasionally rallying in Tahrir in a feeble attempt to admit "maybe we [the liberals] screwed the pooch on this one" (again). Please don't let it happen. 

By Mona A. Ghani



Friday, November 30, 2012

Only in Egypt

In another edition of Only in Egypt, this photo today comes from Tahrir Square's protest. In an attempt to combat sexual harassment and civil unrest in the square, a group calling themselves "Tahrir Bodyguards," have been created.  Using Social Media to bring together volunteers, today they decided to go one step further to create an observation post to gain a better birds-eye view of Tahrir.

I guess engineering and safety standards when it comes to construction are not at the top of their list. But at least the observer is wearing a reflective yellow safety jacket!

Tahrir Bodyguards have a Twitter account, @tahrirbodyguards, but due to continued problems with the account being suspended by Twitter, they have also created a Facebook page. Good luck everyone in Tahrir today. Despite my jest, Tahrir Bodyguards - I hope you make a difference! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Care and Respect for Senior Pets

This article is a great resource for anyone with older four legged friends. Written by the talented Melissa Hathaway who provides a few tips on how to best help and maintain a healthy senior pets.

Care and Respect for Senior Pets

When humans get older they need more specialist care and this is completely true of our four legged friends too.

When dogs get on in years they deserve the same respect, care and love that any family member would receive. They have been a loyal friend and character all their lives and now it is time to repay them with some love, care and attention.

How old is your dog?  

Many people use the “one year of a human’s life equates to seven of a dogs” way of working out how old a dog is, but to be more accurate different breeds of dogs age in different ways. Cross breeds often age at a later stage than pedigree breeds and smaller dogs aren’t considered senior until later than large dogs. As a rough idea you can begin to think of your dog as heading towards his senior years at around seven. From then on just keep a closer eye on them and look out for any signs of aging. You may also be able to discuss the details of a senior care programme with your veterinarian. Noticing changes early in your pet can improve their quality of life in their senior years. 

Signs of a senior

You may notice that your dog’s movement is slowing down a bit and they may be experiencing a bit of stiffness, particularly in cold, wet weather. They many want to take less exercise and this is the time you also need to be careful about weight gain. Dogs can suffer from arthritis just the same as humans and this can impair their movement. Some drug treatments could help to reduce pain and improve your dog’s quality of life and some physiotherapy treatments can make a big difference. Exercise a senior pet little and often, about 20 minutes, two to three times a day is ideal.

With less exercise, you are going to have to be careful with what you feed your dog. Cut back a little on those treats and tit-bits and it may be a good idea to put them on a senior diet which is lower in calories but full of the essential vitamins and minerals. Speak to your vet to find the perfect diet for their needs.

Your senior dog could also have some deterioration of their eyes and ears. Dogs are very good at adapting and using other senses but they may also become a little more anxious and worried about dangers. Reassure your pet when out on walks in busy areas.

Many changes inevitably come with age as they do with all of us, but there can also be medical problems that arise with age. An older dog’s immune system may not be so good at fighting off diseases and internal organs can deteriorate. If you notice a particular change in personality with your pet, it could be a sign of illness. Get them checked out by your vet. 

Paying for those expensive bills

An increase in visits to the vet can become expensive and even insurance premiums can escalate with a pet’s age. It is even more important to do your research when it comes to finding the right Pet Insurance for an older dog. It is best to insure your pet as early as possible as some policies won’t insure dogs over seven or eight years old, but if you have left it till later, don’t despair, with a little bit of research you should be able to find a policy to suit you. When taking out a policy ensure that it offers comprehensive cover and that it suits all your needs. Some policies cancel insurance as your dog gets older, so look into this if you want it for the long-term. Most pet insurers will exclude pre-existing conditions from the cover, so bear this in mind as you may need to save separately for this. 

Don’t let them be forgotten

When it comes to choosing a new animal, senior pets can often be overlooked. The thrill of taking a cute puppy into the home often wins. Adopting a senior animal can have many benefits. You already know the size of the pet. They will probably already have had some training in obedience and socialisation and they are likely to be house-trained. Many have lost their homes through no fault of their own but due to owner circumstances and they offer ready-made companions. Many rescue homes have lots of loveable older companions waiting to live out their senior years with a caring owner. Take a look at some of the adoption sites and shelters and you won’t be able to resist those loving eyes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TIME'S Person of the Year

It's that time of year again where TIME magazine is preparing to select their Person of the Year. Last year's announcement came at a critical time in the Arab Spring, when 2011's person of the year was declared as "The Protester." Of course this was not limited solely to the protesters in the Arab world, as we have seen protests around the globe over the past few years. But to select the protesters as 2011's Person of the Year was a monumental acknowledgement of the power that organized individuals can have together.

This year the race is on, and perhaps (for me) the most surprising candidate was Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. From their website, they say: As always, TIME's editors will choose the Person of the Year, but that doesn't mean readers shouldn't have their say. Cast your vote for the person you think most influenced the news this year for better or worse. Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 12, and the winner will be announced on Dec. 14.

"For better or worse." Taking that last bit into consideration, perhaps Morsi is deserving of the title. After all, since Mobarak no man has brought Egypt so close to the brink of a civil war. Between his recent Constitutional Declaration that granted him sweeping powers over everything in Egypt (even more power than Mobarak had) to his half-assed backing of the cease-fire in Gaza - between playing nice to the US and EU to keep the funding while his party the Muslim Brotherhood pledge undying allegiance to the people of Palestine's rights to defend their country -Morsi certainly has left an impact.

I said it when he was initially elected, and I'll say it again now (particularly as it seems he may get recognized as TIME's Person of the Year ...). Why is it that the Egyptian people are so quick to forget that the root of their problems lies NOT at the top political tiers of society? The root of their problems is not who Egypt is allied with. It is not about where Egypt will get its next hand-out from - speaking of hand outs, all the $$ sent from the EU to Egypt, I'd love to see a break down of where that has gone so far ... that is aside from purchasing Turkish drones.

The core issues in Egypt lie in the societal infrastructure. Grassroots is where the problems lie. Yet as happened in the time of Mobarak, and in the period of elections both parliamentary and presidential, the Egyptian people have been distracted by issues that really DO NOT impact their day to day life! Will it help the poor kids living in the streets if Mr. Morsi utilizes foreign funding to purchase weapons? Does it help with the traffic congestion and rubbish in Cairo? Does it address the growing trend of illiteracy?

Of course not, but let's go ahead and just distract people with senseless issues. Let's convince the lower class that the bikini-clad Westerners are all foreign elements and spies here to take over their country. Let's get them arguing about how late a coffee shop should be allowed to stay open. Let's have them believe that the sale of alcohol in the beach bars and hotels is the reason that Egyptian society and its corresponding problems continue into a deeper downward spiral.

I mean, taking all that into consideration, of course he deserves TIME'S Person of the Year award, right? After all, he's made such a huge difference in the everyday lives of Egyptians - just like he promised he would... Back to the streets they go!

To read more, or to vote on if you believe Morsi should be voted Person of the Year, click here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Casting for High Risk International Jobs

I received this e-mail the other day, and have been given permission to re-post it. I'm sure there are at least a few readers of this blog that might qualify for this, right? Red Varden Studios are currently casting for a new show that will be targeting the same audience as the "adventure" shows like Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, Gold Rush, Storm Chasers, and Ax Men.

While you don't need on-camera experience, you must be comfortable in front of a camera. Naturally, otherwise why would you apply for a reality TV series :).

They are specifically seeking Americans who are working abroad in "high-stakes international jobs." If you think you fit the bill for this, then get in touch with Red Varden Studios.  They want to know your story, what city and country you are living in, and the best way to contact you. So go on, send on your info here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Public Pressure Triumphs for Red Sea Poisoning Campaign

For animal owners in the Red Sea, the campaigns of poison that are waged throughout the year are one of your biggest fears. Many dog owners will neglect taking their dogs out at all for fear of them ingesting poison. Recently the bait has been covered with powdered strychnine, rendering it far more deadly. An animal need only sniff at the poisoned bait, and death can occur in a matter of minutes. Our vet here was completely baffled, he'd never seen anything like it before.

In the beginning of the month rumours surfaced that the government in the Red Sea was planning a mass-poisoning campaign to begin around the 15th of November. It didn't take long for the Facebook Animal Activists parade to begin. FB pages were flooded with requests to email the relevant authorities in Hurghada. The scope went far wider than just the ex-pats living here. Tourists were threatening to boycott the city due to the gross animal cruelty that the government was planning to enact. Thousands of emails from around the world flooded the inboxes of officials in Hurghada, some tothe point that the email inboxes were bouncing the messages back due to a lack of space!

I was one of those many emails, and was absolutely delighted to receive this notification in my inbox today, sent from the

Complaints sent to the E-Portal stopped Stray dogs poisoning campaign in Hurghada
In a response to the many complaints sent to the Electronic Portal of Red Sea Governorate by a lot of tourists and foreign inhabitants of different nationalities, who threatened not to come to Hurghada again, in addition to the frequent requests of Humane and animal protection societies,  the portal put the whole matter to the Governor and the Secretary General of Red Sea who made the following decisions:
  1. The  campaign of stray dogs elimination should be stopped all around the Governorate.
  2. The manager of Veterinary Medicine Directorate in Red Sea is to prepare a study about the application of stray animals neutering Program.
  3. Veterinary Medicine Directorate in Red Sea is to cooperate with the volunteer civil societies to implement this program.

So to everyone who sent an email, I thank you and applaud you. Together guys, we may have just done it and succeeded the government here that poisoning campaigns are NOT the way forward. From what I've read, HEPCA will coordinate with Blue Moon Animal Shelter and the local government vets to re-start the TNR programme that was suspended a few months ago. 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Where to Go: The Good Shepherd

Most of us ex-pats here know the feeling. The moment you step off the plane back into Europe or wherever it is that you may be from, most of us have a hankering for pork products. Bacon, chops, salami, you name it. I found a butcher in Cairo that used to sell pork products, but the problem was that most of his pork meat came from the pigs in Manshiet Nasser - aka garbage city - so you know what those pigs were fed! :-|

In Hurghada, The Good Shepherd butcher offers you the choice of premium pork meat, imported directly from Europe. Yes, it's a little bit pricey, but let's be honest here, wouldn't you pay for a decent BLT every once in a while? ;)

The Good Shepherd - "Think Pig," is located in Hadaba and has a huge variety of meats and cold cuts available on its menu. It's not only limited to pork products, and offers chicken and beef too. Check out a sampling of their price listings and pork products below, taken from their Facebook page.

German style cold cuts & bacon

So where are they exactly? You will find The Good Shepherd at Building 244, Mohamed el-Masy Street, in Hadaba, Hurghada. For more information you can contact them either via their Facebook page, or on 065 345-0977. They offer delivery of pork products throughout Hurghada, so go on, give them a try, you know you want to ;)

For more information and a "360" look of the butchers, you can check out the review on 360 Tourist Guide here.