Saturday, August 4, 2007

Weekend News Roundup

Eternity for Atheists

"Is God necessary for immortality?"

Travel: (This trip sounds like it sucks, big time - and I'm a Greek! The author even provides advice on how to do an "educational vacation." This sounds like a busman's holiday!)

The Zeus Trip

"It takes a little homework, but knowing the difference between Agamemnon and Hercules can turn a family trip to Greece into a real education. Just be sure the lesson plan includes some time on the beach."

On this trip to Egypt, the beggars were the ones who gave

"Being a veteran traveler as well as having once lived in Egypt for a year, I was no stranger to children begging or people asking me for help. But seldom had I been so moved by the sincerity of the plea.

In my broken Arabic I asked when they had last eaten – about 16 hours ago, they said – and then I turned to look through the window beside us. For the boys, to look through this window was to gaze upon a world inaccessible to them; for me, it was to see familiar ground."

Bread graft taxes Egypt's poorest

"Officials say corruption is worsening a wheat shortage. Government-subsidized flour, meant for poor Egyptians, is often sold on the black market.

As central as bread is to life here, so too is corruption in the subsidized flour system. Many public bakeries, which receive cut-rate flour from the government, sell their flour on the black market to private bakeries. To compensate for the lack of ingredients, the public bakeries, who cater to the poor, often make bread smaller and lighter and sometimes simply bake less.

One sack of subsidized flour costs about 16 Egyptian pounds, or almost $3. A sack on the black market fetches almost ten times as much.

To cheat the system, black market flour dealers sometimes bribe bakery inspectors, who work for low state wages, say sources in the government."

Muslim sex therapist breaks taboos

"Cairo-based Heba Kotb tackles sensitive questions within the framework of Islam."

Bush Aide Blocked Report

"A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.

The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate. A copy of the report was obtained by The Washington Post."

The draft can be found here.


  1. The story about the two boys in Egypt begging for food struck me as unique. On more occasions than I could count, a mother would send her children out to beg for money. We often forget that there is a population of street kids in Cairo, and from the sounds of this article, I believe they fell into that category.

  2. I've seen a few here in Maadi, but I've seen more of them when I'm out in other areas. It's the same in Baku, where they will literally tug on your pants or purses. I have a hard time turning down a mom with a child, but I get pretty angry when I see kids out begging, and their parents sitting idly by on the curb (very common in Baku).