How to Secure a Private Apartment

home-securityIn an open society your apartment should be the sanctuary for you and your family. Your apartment is the only environment where you have control over who can get close to you or your family. Protecting your apartment and family from criminal intrusion should be high on your list of priorities. But before you make a big purchase on a security system, take a good hard look around your home. A few simple, low- or no-cost measures will significantly deter thief away from targeting your home. “The goal in home security is to make it so that the casual burglar will be deterred”.


Make home security a habit, with every member of the household—including kids—agreeing to a routine that should include such simple rules as:

  • Use door and window locks. It costs nothing and takes little energy. Make it a habit to lock every door and window when leaving, after entering, and before bedtime.
  • Do not open the door to uninvited or unwelcome visitors.
  • Close and lock the garage door.
  • Secure your home even if you’re doing work around the house and yard.
  • Use your alarm system all the time, even when you take a quick trip to the store or visit next-door neighbors.



Having a security camera can be a deterrent for burglars and other intruders. Some of them are bold enough to try to enter the house when you are home while others lurk around and wait for you to leave. Having a security camera is a way to keep them away from your home. If they are bold enough to enter the house anyway, the security cameras can help law enforcement identify the intruders and find them.


Alarm systems definitely have a place in an apartment security plan and are effective, if used properly. The reason why alarms systems deter burglaries is because they increase the potential and fear of being captured and arrested by the police.  Apartment burglars will usually bypass a unit with visible alarm decals and will look for another property without such a decal. Some people, with alarm systems, feel that these signs and decals are unsightly and will not display them. The risk here is that an uninformed burglar might break a window or door and grab a few quick items before the police can respond. Also, don’t write your alarm passcode on or near the alarm keypad.

burglar alarmsAlarm systems need to be properly installed and maintained. All systems should have an audible horn or bell to be effective in case someone does break in. However, these audible alarms should be programmed to reset automatically after one minute. The criminal will get the message and will be long gone without your neighbors having to listen to your alarm siren for hours, until it is switched off. If you use a central station to monitor your alarm, make sure your response call list is up to date. You can also consider buying a GSM alarm. This will automatically alert you and the responders  However, if you have established and nurtured your neighborhood watch buddy system, you will experience a genuine concern by your neighbor. It is not unusual to have a neighbor wait for the police, allow them inside for an inspection, and secure the residence. A good neighbor can also call friends or relatives for you, if pre-authorized by you.


Post security-company signs or window stickers near all entryways—whether you have a security system or not. Maybe you have signs/stickers on hand from a previous contract with a security firm, or maybe you can get some from a friend. In addition, post a few warning like “Beware of Dog” signs in visible spots, say at the front of the house or on a gate to the backyard.


home-security-lightingIf you don’t have them already, buy and install outdoor lighting with infrared motion sensors and install one near each point of entry. Replace any burned-out light bulbs and put your porch lights on timers. Find the best bulbs for outdoor uses.


Are the window locks operable? If not, get them fixed or replace them. Also consider installing aftermarket window locks, which let you open the window a few inches while still keeping it secure. Another alternative is to use inexpensive window-break alarms


Be a Good Neighbor

Good neighbors should look out for each other. Get to know your neighbors on each side of your apartment and the three directly across from you. Invite them into your apartment, communicate often, and establish trust. Good neighbors will watch out for your apartment and vehicle when you are away, if you ask them. They can report suspicious activity to management, to the police, or to you while you are away. Between them, good neighbors can see to it that normal services continue in your absence by allowing authorized vendors to enter your apartment.

Good neighbors can pick up your mail, newspapers, handbills, and can inspect the inside of your apartment periodically to see that all is well. Allowing a neighbor or management to have a key solves the problem of hiding a key outside the door. Experienced burglars know how to look for hidden keys in planter boxes, under doormats, and above the ledge. Requiring a service vendor to contact your neighbor to gain access will send the message that someone is watching. This neighborhood watch technique sets up what is called ‘territoriality.’ This means that your neighbors will take ownership and responsibility for what occurs in your mini-neighborhood. This concept works great in apartment communities. This practice helps deter burglaries and other crimes in a big way. Of course for this to work, you must reciprocate and offer the same services.

The biggest difficulty getting to this level of oversight is taking the first step. You can take it by calling your local crime prevention unit at the police department. Most police departments in large cities have neighborhood watch coordinators to help you set this up. You should invite your adjacent neighbors over to your home for coffee and begin the information exchange. You’ll be amazed how the process runs on automatic from there.

Winter Tyres Tips

wintertiresAs the winter is knocking on your door, it’s time to dress your car with proper winter tyres so it won’t skid away on a snowy or icy road. Here are a few tips on how to choose and maintain winter tyres in order to get maximum efficiency.

Choosing winter tyres

If you are looking for new tyres, you’re about to drown in a sea full of brands, models and technologies, all promising utmost performance for the cold season to come. Let’s face it; tyres aren’t really cheap, so budget has a say in your choice. On the other hand, remember that a quality set of tyres should last around three years, in normal usage conditions. Thus, making a proper investment now will keep you worry free for the next two or three seasons.

Usually, brands like Continental, Dunlop and Michelin provide premium quality tyres that perform well on snow. They do, however, come at a premium price, depending on your wheels’ characteristics.

The rule of the thumb is that more expensive tyres usually perform better, so try to go as high as your budget allows and always choose products from a renowned producer. Don’t get fooled by Chinese or Turkish no-name brands providing cheap alternatives; they are likely to fail when you need them most.

Equipping winter tyres

Now that you’ve chosen a proper winter set for your vehicle, it’s time to put them on. Take your car to a local wheel shop to have them applied. Unless you acquired winter tyres along with rims, you do have to let a technician do the switch. Once the work’s done, make sure that the tyres are equipped according to their direction of rotation. Uni-directional tyres feature an arrow on the tyre sidewall indicating the mounting direction. Equipping them the other way around results in poor performance of the wheels.

There’s a common misconception regarding the pressure required in the tyre. Normally, each tyre producer offers a maximum and minimum pressure value that must be respected when inflating the tyre. During the summer, you should apply a pressure tending towards the upper value, however winter conditions require a lower tyre pressure. A lower pressure creates a larger contact patch resulting in better grip.Take care though not to achieve just minimum tyre pressure. But there are different opinions about that; certified wheel technician should provide accurate insight on the matter.

Final considerations

You have gotten to the point where your car is equipped and ready to overcome the snowy slopes and straights. Or, is it? Always before leaving for a drive on winter roads, remember that not even the best tyres can provide grip similar to dry conditions. It is up to you, the driver, to maintain a speed from which you can safely get the car to a complete halt. Furthermore, in some heavy-snow conditions, it may be required to use snow chains to improve grip even more.


A Guide to Car and Motor Insurance

motor-insuranceHuntington News will in a string of articles focus on insurances. Insurances are important to have if things go wrong. But at the same time the wrong insurance will be a waste of money and may be useless when you need it. Our first article will be on how to find the right auto insurance. This article is written for both our US and international readers. Insurances differ in some ways from country to country, so we will try to highlight these differences when they are relevant.

How to Shop for Motor Insurance

For the most ideal transaction, shop around. Obtain numerous car insurance quotes from varied insurance firms prior to you purchasing or renewing your policy. Insurance firms are different; therefore, you can obtain a better transaction elsewhere.

Avoid being scared of changing. You can change insurance firms any time you desire; even at the middle of your car insurance policy period. If you get an improved rate, change and save.

Three kinds of car insurance exist:

  • Third party, that caters for your legal liability in case you destroy another individual’s physical belongings such as (walls, cars, gates, etc.) because of a driving accident.
  • Third Party, Fire and Theft, presents third party cover and includes a couple of helpful sections of cover – fire damage to your vehicle and theft, as well as destruction caused by stealing or attempted stealing.
  • A totally comprehensive policy is inclusive of Third Party, Fire and Theft and shall additionally pay for destruction to your personal car in case of an accident. A lot of perks are available also; for instance, it shall also offer you cover when you drive vehicles belonging to other individuals. This is helpful if you borrow another person’s vehicle and you are not covered by their insurance.

The elements below have an impact on the payment you submit for your premiums

  1. Your work
  1. Your age
  1. Your driving record

The vehicle you drive: The more expensive the car, the higher the premium. Cars of top performance are also more costly to insure, compared to their stock standard counterparts.

Vehicle Location: You shall pay extra if you keep the vehicle in a location where crime is rife or park it at night on the street.

Purpose you utilize the car for: You will pay extra, for instance if you intend to utilize the car for business delivery intents.

The excess set-up you select: The more the excess, the less the premiums.

Satellite Tracking and Gear Locks: Shall assist to lower your premiums.

In case you are purchasing another vehicle, do not overlook to shop around for insurance!

For someone who is purchasing a vehicle for the first time, the procedure can be a hard decision. A lot of purchasers do not know that they should have insurance prior to driving their latest vehicle from the showroom floor.  The financial institutions offering the funds for the purchase shall be adamant about this so as to facilitate the safety of their latest asset.

auto-insuranceDo not simply give in to the initial offer presented to you; obtain a minimum of 3 quotes prior to reaching a decision. Sites like DurchblickerBilforsikring, Chill, and Money Supermarket provide insurance comparison services. But do not forget to contact insurers directly to get quotes from them too. But remember: ‘A lot of finance institutions or banks are associated with an insurance firm or brokerage company. So, new purchasers might experience pressure to obtain insurance cover via the supplier the bank prefers.’

It is vital to be aware that it is not possible to implement this and the client is the one who should decide. This makes it necessary to shop around for quotes that are competitive to make sure you are presented with the most ideal transaction; in regard to cover as well as cost.

‘This is mandatory for youthful drivers, since they are regularly fined for their age and absence of driving experience, leading to increased premiums and excesses.’

Cash purchases are not excluded from the requirement of insuring their latest car. Hijackings and thefts remain a reality and the increasing number of vehicles on the road places all drivers at increased danger of getting into an accident.

Selecting an insurance product which is appropriate in regard to value adds, budget and excess to be paid is a meticulous decision. With the correct advice, it can be made logically and safely.

A lot of youthful, first-time purchasers discover that buying insurance via a direct insurer is in reality, an easy procedure.

It is possible for them to attain a customized insurance solution which meets their particular requirements. Using direct insurance, extra charges are not paid by clients to obtain what they require.

Any driver on the verge of going to buy a new car would be advised to think of the direct insurance advantages, which entail saving time and cost.

Fall Fashion 2016

Fall is an absolutely ideal season for fashionistas to experiment with their fashion tastes and try new and bold trends. This is because fall is all about wearing different trends and trying on different colors. Fashionistas do not play it safe in fall when it comes to experimenting with color schemes, designs, trends etc. Unlike summers and winters, fall does not require you to carry either really summery or heavy clothes. The weather is moderate and therefore you can dress whatever way you want. This is a great perk when it comes to fashion in fall. This gives you the liberty to try different things and colors. Fall fashion this year is full of surprises and fresh trends. In our article today, we will look at some of our favorite fall trends for 2016.

Pumpkin Spice:

Brownish orange color is really trending high for fall fashion 2016. This color totally complements the season and goes with the vibe of it. Brownish orange looks great on all skin tones and complements every body type. From formal or casual clothing, pumpkin color – as we will like to nickname it – looks absolutely breathtaking. A lot of women usually wear colors like black, navy blue, burgundy etc. in this season. Therefore, this color is a breeze of fresh air and a unique touch to the season’s fashion feel.

Pumpkin SpicceSkirt Suits:

Pant suits for women made a lot of waves in the fashion world. They were the perfect corporate wear attire. However, for fall this year, skirt suit has taken the place for pant suits. Skirt suit consists of a three piece attire with a midi skirt, collar shirt (or any other type of shirt) and a blazer/coat, completed with a bow, tie or bow-tie or none. This look is perfect for formal get-togethers and corporate events. It looks effortless and sharp.


Bohemian Chic

Boho fashion has been on top of the fashion charts for a lot of time now and it is not going away any time soon. Bohemian fashion has to do with flowy and feathery looks, floral prints, amazing cuts etc. Bohemian fashion is basically inspired from gypsies and hippies and looks really amazing. Boho fashion is also hot this fall 2016. Flowy skirts with floral printing and other intricate designs and unique cuts is trending. Bohemian fashion is not just restricted to clothing; it also looks great when it comes to hair, jewelry, shoes and even makeup.

Over-the-Ankle Boots:

When Kim Kardashian wears it, it is definitely a style statement already. Over-the-ankle boots are a big hit in the fashion world this fall. Mule heels and peep toed over-the-ankle boots looks especially chic and can be worn with jeans or even with shorts or a dress. Wear this hot trend this season and add a spark to your style quotient.











Basic Leggings:

Yes, you are reading it right. Leggings too are a style statement this fall. You can pair a nice and comfy pair of black legging with absolutely anything. You can wear it with a crop-top, a duster coat, a denim jacket, a kimono, anything; the possibilities are endless.


Unlicensed Travel Agents at Work

A standardized law that basically allows agents to sell travel insurance without having the need to flash a license has just been adopted by 31 states in the U.S., after five years of effort by the United States Travel Insurance Association (USTIA) and American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) to simplify all state laws and regulations about the sale of travel insurance. This so-called standardized law is a model law adopted by the entire NAIC or National Association of Insurance Commissioners that aims to give unlicensed agents the right to do basic sale of travl insurance plans.

The most recent state to adopt the said law is Delaware. It was able to adopt the brand new law last summer, which was officially used on January 2015. The said law allows travel agents to offer insurance to eager travelers who desire to have a reliable travel insurance plan before they leave the country or their hometown.

In large part, through the said law, travel agents are given the opportunity, despite their lack of license, to provide generational information, collect premiums, and process applications filed by clients who want to purchase a reliable insurance plan. This tactic is entirely different from what the law states regarding the role of licensed insurance agents who get to do the following activities: sell, solicit, and negotiate.

In summary, the model law specifies that agents can sell travel insurance to their customers for as long as travel insurance company administrators commit to doing their jobs by ensuring that all of the unlicensed travel agents under its wing are trained to a certain extent. More importantly, administrators are also practically obliged to keep a list of their official agents that are allowed to sell insurance plans in an attempt to disseminate valuable information about travel insurances.

The Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Allianz Global Assistance, Jack Zemp, had once confirmed that travel agents’ job do not, at all, entail any professional acts that can only be performed by a real insurance agent. Instead, it is a profession primarily focused on organizing quality trips and highlighting the role of travel insurance as an element of any type of trip worthy of purchase. ASTA’s senior, John Pittman, believes that even though unlicensed agents can enjoy a lot of time on their own, they still have to wait for the participation of the insurance provider whenever specific questions about the coverage of the travel insurance has been asked by a customer.

As of now, there are still nineteen states that are not yet adopting the model act of granting unlicensed travel agents the freedom to sell travel insurance plans. Because of this, the aforementioned model act shall not be applicable to any other locations outside the thirty one states any time soon. Thus, an agent has to have a license and retain that same license as he stays on a state where unlicensed travel agents are not allowed to sell anything. According to USTIA’s committee, all those who have purchased travel insurance from unlicensed agents basically have the same benefits as those who have acquired one through the help of licensed travel agents.

In countries such as Denmark car insurances (bilforsikringer), are mandatory. But trave insurances are not. This means that every year people who are not insured get to pay large amounts for treatment if they get injurued on their holiday.

Read more here:

Travel Weekly

The State of Journalism in Yemen

yemenThe wave of unrest that began in January 2011 to the transition of power in Yemen from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to newly-elected President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in 2012 signified the people’s dream for freedom from a 33-year dictatorship. But hopes for a better Yemen have been crushed by the atmosphere of anarchy, total lawlessness and violence which has claimed the lives of 25 journalists in 2015 alone, following the resignation of Hadi on January 22, 2015 after Shiite Houthi rebels stormed his home, forcing him to flee Yemen.

The attempted assassination of Mansour Nour, the continued imprisonment of prominent Yemeni journalist Abdul Elah Haider Shaye and the recent kidnapping of Yemeni journalist Waheed al-Sufi are just a few examples of the true state of security which mirrors the decrepit conditions of press freedom in Yemen. Air strikes spearheaded by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of 10 countries directed towards Houthi-controlled territory in an attempt to restore President Hadi to office, as well as public protest calls addressed to Houthi militants calling for the release of imprisoned journalists have fallen on deaf ears. Instead, extremists are responding with journalist- centered violence in an attempt to put a cap on press freedom and objective reporting in Yemen.

Even now, journalists in Yemen are living with intimidation, threat, and fear of violent reprisal which not only affect them, but are also carried to family, friends and colleagues. Questions to which they have no answers are raised in their minds, foremost of which is, how they can remain safe and still perform their civilian duty of truthful conflict reporting. Another question is, whether this stressful day-to-day living under threat would negatively affect future generations of journalists operating in war-torn countries and cause them to be content with watered-down facts in exchange for their safety. They have seen too many examples of colleagues who continue the work in spite of the risks, out of love for the job. Yet, they see the very same people eventually buckle down from the psychological toll of living under constant threat, leading them to realize that being a journalist in Yemen is a real challenge, and it is no longer enough to have courage and experience because war could kill.

The four greatest risks to journalists today in the order of importance are: Surveillance (33%), Imprisonment (29%), Murder (22%) and Kidnapping (16%). The risks are evenly distributed and not confined to well-known international media personnel or foreign correspondents; the reality is that nine out of ten are local media men covering local news.

Even if they have learned to live with the hazards of competent journalism, phone tapping, roving bugs, surveillance cameras, cell-site location information, call and email records still remain a stark reality the moment they enter into a conflict area. If journalists intend to protect themselves, they have to adopt stringent measures to protect the identity of their sources through secure and untraceable tip lines, surveillance-resistant equipment such as state-of-the-art encryption software, cell-site location information and gap computers, blending into the local population to stay out of the discerning eye of government surveillance. Journalists traveling to Yemen ofte do hostile environment awareness training before arriving.

Despite previous indications of radical changes in Yemen’s government information mouthpiece in the form of news and television channels, the journalists’ high hopes that media is going in the right direction has been squelched. Journalists and cameramen covering military operations, indiscriminate filming of bombing sites, reporting demonstrations protesting issues that affect the Yemeni population and documenting politically sensitive issues such as terrorist networks, corruption, civilian conflicts and anything which would put the government in a bad light, all meet the same fate.

Abdul Elah Haider Shaye, who attracted international renown for reporting the true circumstances of the 2009 bombing of Al Majallah village in southern Yemen, and his exclusive interview with a top Al Quaeda official, put him in bad graces of the Yemeni government, resulting in his imprisonment. He was convicted by the Specialized Criminal Court for Terrorism in January 2011 and sentenced to up to five years in prison. He would have been released by virtue of a presidential pardon a month after his conviction, but former Yemeni President Saleh recanted his decision following intervention from U.S. President Barack Obama, and to this day, concerted action to demand his release have been unsuccessful. Just barely 8 months before Shaye will have served the full 5-year sentence, the journalist community watches with apprehension the final outcome of Shaye’s ordeal when someone else is holding the key.

This is the reality of the plight of journalists in Yemen, and in any other conflict area for that matter. Their profession, albeit a noble one is not without its hazards, but each one can provide a support system for another and adopt measures to lessen the risks and ensure their safety.

UN fight against ISIS Funding Resources

The financial reports about the funding of the terrorist group ISIS suggest an unprecedented magnitude of wealth that has been accumulated by the group. Apart from its illegal oil trafficking revenues, which generates 30 to 60 million dollars each month, the militant group has added about 25 million dollars to its financial reserves in the form of ransoms. The group continues to grow in number with supporters from over 80 countries joining the cause.
Most of the resources are generated by the ISIS held regions and this significantly compounds the problem of stemming the inflow of financial resources to ISIS. The most important one being the illegal trafficking of oil from ISIS captured territory, across the Syrian and the Iraqi borders.
The biggest market of oil is presently in Turkey due to the countries incredibly high oil prices. Many reports have suggested that the oil is smuggled through the Turkish/Syrian border. ISIS is thought to be in control of approximately a dozen oil producing wells in the regions it has captured. The revenues being generated from this illegal oil trafficking of the oil has been assessed in value of up to two million dollars per day.
These figures have dropped as of result of the US leading an air strike on the oil fields being controlled by ISIS in an effort to curb the financial resources flowing to the extremist militant group. These attacks have, however, not been very effective against ISIS while the people in the region continue to suffer.
Oil trafficking is not the only source of income for the extremist group. ISIS receives substantial amounts in donations from its supporters all over the world. They have also resorted to the use of social media to appeal for funds from their supporters, which has also led to recruitment of many devotees. These believers in the ISIS cause are strategically placed worldwide in an effort to generate more funds.
Though they deny it vehemently, the group is also involved in criminal activities like looting in its captured territories, which is another source of income for the group. The looting of banks in Iraq and Syrian occupied territories has added millions of dollars to the ISIS’ funding reservoirs, according to financial analysts.
From withdrawal of money from the banks to toll tax collection from the local residents of the ISIS controlled territories are taxed heavily which further adds to their funding resources. Together these funding resources have made ISIS one of the most resourceful, extremist militant groups of all time, allowing them to increase the scope of their activities.
In the middle of last year, the United Nations Security council unanimously reached the decision of imposing resolution 2170 whereby the extensive abuse of human rights in the ISIS held territories was condemned and the countries were called upon to play an effective role in curbing the financial, as well as social media support of ISIS originating from these regions.
In its efforts to isolate the ISIS terrorists, earlier this year UN Security Council took significant steps whereby the financial resources of the group were to be targeted. The condemned funding methods included black market oil trafficking, international donations and looted resources from the occupied territories.

The Council has declared that any country that has trade involvement with ISIS will be considered support for the terrorist organization. Thus measures have been taken to ensure that the ISIS funds and accounts have been frozen all over the world. In addition, adding the leaders of ISIS to the terrorist watch list significantly limits their free movement across the globe.
The Council has also expressed its concern over the looting of items that hold cultural heritage from the occupied regions and have strictly advised the countries not to participate in the trade of these items.
The council has developed a policy that it is a breach of international law for anyone who funds ISIS with foreign private donations, in addition to anyone who pays a ransom for an individual that has been kidnapped.
ISIS is one of the most dangerous and calculating terrorist groups that the world has ever witnessed. Defeating them will require all countries to work together, concentrating their efforts on this important cause, albeit time consuming, it will ultimately result in the restoration of peace to the Middle East and the world at large.

Polio in the Middle East, the vaccination campaigns are working

Preventive vaccination campaign against polio that was conducted for twelve months in eight countries of the Middle East was able to stop the progression of the disease in this region of the world, after the appearance of more than thirty-eight cases in Syria and Iraq.

According to experts from the World Health Organization and UNICEF, other preventive vaccination campaigns against polio have yet to be conducted over the coming months.

The disease appears to be limited according to the experts who met recently in Beirut. In a statement released by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, they explain that following the diagnosis of the cases mentioned above, a wide vaccination campaign was conducted in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Gaza and the West Bank, targeting some 27 million children aged between 0 and 5 years. More than a year has passed since the onset of the last case in Syria and nine months since the last case in Iraq.

“Under normal circumstances, we would have said that the epidemic was stopped”, said Maria Calivis, Regional Director of UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa. “But since the conflicts continue in the area, UNICEF and its partners will spare no effort to ensure the protection the children need against this terrible disease.”

According to the experts gathered in Lebanon, many children could not receive regular vaccine, because of fighting in Syria and Iraq. This is the reason why other vaccination campaigns have yet to be conducted over the next few months, they said.

According to Chris Maher, head of department of eradication of the disease at WHO, the next step is to “reach all children in the region, even those living in the most conflict-affected areas.”

It should be recalled that WHO had confirmed the outbreak of the disease in Syria in late 2013, reporting at least ten cases of paralysis, that is to say, almost fourteen years after the disappearance of the disease in 1999. The resurgence of polio is mainly due to the deterioration of health facilities and lack of vaccination campaigns. The WHO said that the virus came from Pakistan. The disease also affected Iraq where vaccination has sometimes been hampered in some places because of the war.

Polio is a highly contagious disease that results in flu-like symptoms with fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, neck stiffness and pain in the limbs of the body. The disease is caused by poliovirus that multiplies in the intestine and is transmitted primarily through fecal-oral route. Not everyone develops the disease. Nevertheless, when mention of a reported case of polio, that is to say a case of paralysis due to the virus, this means that 200 people are already infected.

Preventive vaccination campaign aims to create this intestinal immunity. According to the national immunization schedules worldwide, every child should receive the injectable vaccine. But it provides individual protection to the child, and does not prevent it from being a carrier of the virus, hence the importance of these massive campaigns within which the oral vaccine is administered to children. This actually allows creating the intestinal immunity, preventing the virus to multiply. There is a catch, however. The oral vaccine may represent a risk for people with severe immune deficiency (cancer, AIDS…), since it is composed of attenuated viral strains. If they receive the vaccine, these children will develop a vaccine-associated paralysis, that is to say, they will develop the disease in response to the vaccine. That is why this category of children was excluded from the vaccination campaigns against polio that were conducted to date in Lebanon.

There is no treatment against polio. It is only possible to prevent it through vaccination. Some symptoms may nevertheless be relieved with medication (such as antispasmodics to relax the muscles). The WHO says, “Polio does not respect borders – every unvaccinated child is exposed. For every case of paralysis, between 200 and 1,000 children are infected without symptoms. It is therefore difficult to detect polio and also difficult to prevent the virus from traveling. Children living in areas with low levels of immunity are particularly vulnerable. Eradication of the virus is the best defense against polio imports. It is only once this goal is achieved that all children are protected.”





The Middle East is definitely obese!

According to a recent study that gathered private data and trends among 188 countries, it was found that more than 58% of the men and more than 65% of women across the Middle East and North Africa suffer from either overweight or obesity in 2013. More than three-quarters of the countries in the region have seen their rates of overweight and obesity increasing by more than 50% for both men and women. Altogether, there are 259 million people suffering from obesity or overweight in the Middle East. 180 million people are actually overweight and 79 million people suffer from obesity.

The study was published under the name “Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013”*. It was conducted by the Health Metrics and Evaluation Institute (IHME) at the University of Washington and published in The Lancet on May 28th, 2014.

According to the study, the prevalence of overweight and obesity of adults in North Africa and the Middle East increased from about 53% to 62% during the study period. In 2013, the prevalence of overweight and obesity rate among men was almost 59%, while it was higher among women, approaching 66%. In this region, Kuwait has the highest prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults in general.

During the 33 years of research, many Middle East countries showed a large increase in global obesity rates, including Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait. The top three countries in terms of increasing prevalence of obesity among men in 2013 are Qatar (44%), Kuwait (43%) and Bahrain (31%). The rate of obesity among women exceeded 50% in three countries in the Middle East, which are Kuwait (59%), Libya (57%) and Qatar (55%).

In most countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates, rates of overweight and obesity reached more than 50% in both men and women.

Overweight and obesity are some of the major health issues for children in the Middle East and North Africa. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the region among children dramatically increased from approximately 19% to 25% during the study period, making the region occupy the third place in terms of regional spread of obesity and overweight in 2013.

The top three countries in terms of increasing prevalence of overweight or obesity among girls are Kuwait (46%), Oman (42%) and Libya (42%). The countries with the highest rates among boys are Qatar (34%), Libya (33%) and Lebanon (33%).

In Egypt, approximately one-third of boys and 40% of girls suffer from either overweight or obesity. Approximately 40% of Saudi girls also suffer from overweight or obesity. And it is the same situation for nearly a quarter of boys.

What should we do to fight obesity?

The World Health Organization defines overweight and obesity as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health” stating that “The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended”.

Governments at all levels should act on the problem of obesity as they do to counter an outbreak of infectious disease or to protect the population of a toxic substance in the environment. They had to pass legislation to reduce smoking, as they were also right to mandate the wearing of seatbelts. The current situation of excess weight in the population has developed over several decades, especially because our environment has become absolutely unhealthy. Slowing weight gain and reversing the situation cannot be done in a few years. The impacts of these actions will certainly take place gradually. An annual improvement, however small it may be, will result in health benefits and considerable long-term economic benefits for the entire society.

By taking measures to promote the health of the population, governments play their role, which is not limited to looking after people who already became ill. Diseases caused by tobacco are in decline, deaths caused by drunk driving too. These successes are largely due to government policies and, of course, citizens who supported them. It will be the same for the obesity epidemic.


Have the Arab Springs dried up?

The fourth anniversary of the Arab Springs was celebrated in Egypt with a climbing death toll that just reached 17. A further 50 people were injured with the greatest degree on unrest being reported in the Matariya district, Cairo.

Far from peaceful, the demonstrations were marred with bombings. There was also causalities in Giza, in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and in a village west of Nile Delta where two people were killed.

The political context for the demonstrations must have Egyptians wondering if their country will ever be a truly peaceful place. It has been four years since Hosni Mubarak was ousted and two since the then-army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ousted elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July 2013.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, sits as the sixth president of Egypt after running for elections. He resigned from the military and democratically earned the post he removed from his predecessor. As a leader he is adored by some and hated by many. His strong stance against the Muslim Brotherhood and speeches which can be construed as motivational or dissident, depending on your point of view, appeal to some and appal others.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called for an Islamic reinvention, during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“The terrible terrorist attacks and this terrible image of Muslims led us to think that we must stop and think and change the religious discourse and remove from it things that have led to violence and extremism” He said.

In a region where religion and politics are intertwined to the detriment of both Indoctrinations and a political leader is assessed, more so on their piety than policies, one begins to wonder, at what a reinvented Islam could look like.

Thought provoking speeches aside Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been accused of suppressing journalist freedoms. Human rights watch released a damning report that details scores of detainees dying and wasting away in government custody; many of whom are members of the imprisoned Muslim brotherhood. He has also been accused of prosecuting government critics and gay people.

He shows little reluctance to jail people on political grounds and the twenty three people still sit in jail, who were arrested June 21 for protesting, anti-protesting laws.

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are the three Al-Jazeera journalist jailed for supposedly aiding a terrorist organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood. Their charges include publishing lies that harmed the national interest and supplying money, equipment and information to 16 Egyptians.

A statement from Al-Jazeera said: “Baher, Peter and Mohammed have been unjustly in jail for over a year now.

“The Egyptian authorities have a simple choice – free these men quickly, or continue to string this out, all the while continuing this injustice and harming the image of their own country in the eyes of the world. They should choose the former.”

It’s business as usual in Egypt. The Arab spring’s anniversary a yearly reminded to all Egyptians that in spite of their best efforts these monstrosities still occur in their country. Political stability seems an unachievable goal and whoever finds their way into office be it through uprisings or democratic election is more determined than their predecessor to persecute, control and imprint backwards ideologies on the nation.

The Arab Springs briefly had massive momentum. It saw the ousting of the ruler in Tunisia, with the jasmine revolution/ Sidi Bouzid Revolt, long-time President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. The country now has free and democratic elections. After a troubling three years in which their economy plummeted, jobs were lost and living conditioned worsened the country optimistically took to the polls again in 2014. In the hope that with time and consistency democracy might hold the answers.

Libya is still struggling with local conflict. Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s is dead but the countries problems refused to die with him. The country is at war with its self, split into fractions it is now a constant battle field, with electricity for less than four hours a day, schools have been disband the economies in tatters and two thirds of its people are below the poverty line. The political situation in the country is too complicated to go into but the ousting of a dictator has created a power vacuum in which several struggle for control.

Yemen, began their revolution at the same time as Egypt. The protests, initially protesting poor living condition and unemployment grew to calls for the stepping down of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and after 33 years in power he signed The Gulf Cooperation Council Agreement. The last three years in Yemen have seen some progress with the creation of a transitional unity government, and the completion of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), a complete break with the past is yet to be seen. The country is yet to see any political restructuring and officials are still appointed based on their alliances and status with the parties.

Civil uprisings also occurred in Bahrain and Syria. Major protests broke out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan; and minor protests had occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara, and Palestine.

While some progress has been made the Arab springs failed to bring about any real order and prosperity. The yearly riots and violence to commemorate the anniversary are only taking lives and completely devoid of any kind of structure or political motive.

The problems of the region continue to scroll along the teleprompts of foreign news channels and collectively the world shakes its head and wonders. Paralysed by the extremes of religion and culture. It must be frustrating, the perpetual death, violent protests, corrupt officials and failed democracies. How and when will these problems ramify themselves? If overthrowing governments and civil uprisings can’t fix the region, what will?