World View: Cholera Epidemic Spreads from Haiti to Cuba to Mexico

This morning's key headlines from
  • China's end of one-child policy doesn't dent Vietnamese wife trade
  • The Hijab becomes a national problem for Russia
  • Does the Koran require a woman to wear a hijab?
  • Cholera epidemic spreads from Haiti to Cuba to Mexico
  • Obamacare software contractor CGI reports unexpectedly high profit

China's end of one-child policy doesn't dent Vietnamese wife trade

China announced this week a loosening in its 30-year-old one child policy, permitting some couples to have 2 children, rather than having to stop at 1. Over the years, this policy has resulted in many news stories of government officials conducting regular forced pregnancy checks of women, all the way to grabbing up pregnant women, putting them into a clinic, and forcing an abortion and sterilization. The other part of this picture that women, wanting a son as their only child, kill their unborn daughters after getting an ultrasound, or kill their newborn daughters after birth. One trick that many women used is to take fertility drugs, hoping that their one pregnancy leads to twins or triplets. The result of the one-child policy is that there is a ratio of 1.18 males to each female in China, giving rise to significant social problems. 

The change to the one-child policy will not help the current crop of young adult males, who are unable to find Chinese wives, many of whom are "buying" Vietnamese wives. Buying Vietnamese wives is in a legal gray zone in China -- against the law, but the law is not enforced. Matchmaking brokers charge $5-15,000 to help a customer find a Vietnamese wife, which covers costs such as a dowry, wedding feast, visas and travel. But this matchmaking service is coming under increased scrutiny, as more young Vietnamese girls are being kidnapped for sale, and more Chinese males are being defrauded. Xinhua and Global Times (Beijing)

The Hijab becomes a national problem for Russia

The recent suicide bombing in Volgograd by a female suicide bomber has focused attention on women in the North Caucasus, Russia's southern provinces. Russian authorities are increasing pressure on women who wear Islamic dress, including the hijab, which covers the head, and sometimes the entire female body. In December 2012, Russia's president Vladimir Putin categorically stated at a press conference that "in our culture (when I say 'our,' I mean traditional Islam), there are not any hijabs whatsoever," which is truly a bizarre statement. Putin even forced mullahs, muftis and other religious figures to agree with Putin's assertion. Muslims were infuriated when several Muslim girls were barred from school for wearing hijabs. Putin hoped that announcing a return to the use of uniforms in the country’s schools, as it was during the Soviet period, would resolve the issue. However, in an unexpected turn, a well-known figure in the Russian Orthodox Church supported the Muslims, saying that a campaign against the hijab might end up banning Orthodox children from wearing crosses in schools. This disagreement over the hijab is just one more factor separating the Caucasian population from the ethnic Russia population. Jamestown

Does the Koran require a woman to wear a hijab?

The Jamestown article referenced above says that the Koran requires women to wear a hijab, and quotes a verse from the Koran. This was a surprise to me, because it can't possibly be true. Some Muslim countries require the hijab, some don't, but they're all Muslim countries. Based on this, I've always assumed that the Koran did NOT require women to wear a hijab. So the reference in the last article caught my interest. 

I looked up the referenced verse, 33:59, and found a web page that gives translations from different Islamic scholars. The results were quite interesting: 

  • Sahih International: O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.
  • Pickthall: O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.
  • Yusuf Ali: O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
  • Shakir: O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
  • Muhammad Sarwar: Prophet, tell your wives, daughters, and the wives of the believers to cover their bosoms and breasts. This will make them distinguishable from others and protect them from being annoyed. God is All-forgiving and All-merciful.
  • Mohsin Khan: O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
  • Arberry: O Prophet, say to thy wives and daughters and the believing women, that they draw their veils close to them; so it is likelier they will be known, and not hurt. God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.

In all cases, the translations are telling how to appear as a virtuous, respectable Muslim woman, so she will not be annoyed or molested. But there is a wide range. Muhammad Sarwar says that breast should be covered, which is pretty much the rule in Western countries. But Mohsin Khan tells women to cover their entire bodies, except for the eyes. In some cases, the advice only to when they "go abroad." 

So, as in the case of everything else these days, it all depends on your ideology. If you're a strict Muslim conservative, you'll pick the full body hijab translation; if you're more liberal, you'll pick the breasts-only translation, or perhaps something involving a hijab. As in the case of Christianity and the Bible, you can believe many things, and almost always find a verse or two that can be interpreted to support your position.

Cholera epidemic spreads from Haiti to Cuba to Mexico

Mexico is reporting 176 confirmed cases of cholera, including one death. Mexico had an outbreak of cholera between 1991 and 2002, which was finally extinguished. The new outbreak has been traced back to the United Nations soldiers from Nepal, where cholera is endemic, who were sent to Haiti to aid people following the huge Haiti earthquake in 2010. Since that time, the disease spread first to the Dominican Republican, then to Cuba, where cholera hadn't been seen in 100 years, and from there to Mexico. It's feared that vacationers to Cuba from Chile, Venezuela, Italy, Germany and Holland are inadvertently carrying the disease back home. Cholera is most often spread through food or through the water supply. It's believed unlikely that the epidemic will spread to the United States, because the water is chlorinated. World Socialist Web Site

Obamacare software contractor CGI reports unexpectedly high profit

CGI Group Inc., the main contractor for the Obamacare web site, reported better than expected profits in the last quarter, based on a 53% rise in revenues. CGI, a Canadian software company, said that bookings of U.S. government business were strong, despite the web site problems. 

Based on my decades of experience as a senior software engineer, the Obamacare web site should have cost $5-10 million, and should have been working long before now. If you take into account the enormous wastes and screwup that are typical of any government project, then the Obamacare web site should have cost $10-25 million. 

Instead, I'm hearing reports, not being denied by anyone, that the web site cost $300-600 million, and that it's a software engineering disaster. 

So here are my questions: 

  • Where the hell did all that money go? We're talking about millions of wasted dollars. Into the bank accounts of what executives or Obama administration politicians did that money go?
  • There are reports that CGI got the Obamacare deal because there's a family connection with Michele Obama. Is that true?
  • There are reports that CGI is top-heavy with executives, and that's the reason why the costs are 10X or 20X what they should have been. Is that true?
  • Based on the 3rd quarter earnings and revenues, it appears that CGI is being financial rewarded by the Obama administration for the disaster and for overcharging by 10-20X. Is anyone being held accountable for either the overcharging or the software disaster?
  • There are reports that the web site costs are expected to exceed a billion dollars within a few months. Is that true?
  • How high does the corruption and fraud go in the Obama administration?

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