Women are People, Not a Commodity

An extraordinary event transpired amidst the 19th and 20th centuries which altered the course of the history and transformed the world into life as we know it today. This century-long struggle has come to be known as the period of women’s suffrage movement. Prior to that time, long before any of us were born, women were once considered as a mere commodity just like a property. In fact, the United States in the early 1800s marked the era of white male dominance. It was a time when women were not permitted the same rights that men did, such as the right to vote as well as the right to own property.

Nonetheless, many women in countries all over the world are still considered inferior for the most part. Some examples of these places are Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the most infamous of all, Egypt. The society within these countries has an ostensibly innate gender-biased predisposition towards women that still subsists today. Frequent cases of domestic violence and the little to zero number of women in business and politics can be seen as the supporting evidence for the statement above, which is why an event hosted by Saudi Arabia recently has received worldwide attention.

With the rest of the world progressing so rapidly in terms of gender equality, it should come as no surprise that the women who are residing in Saudi Arabia, one of the countries in the Middle East are making an effort to improve women’s rights. The recent event is a clear illustration of this endeavor; Their first and foremost women marathon that lasts for nearly two miles. Fifteen hundred women participated in the run, ranging from professionals such as Mizna al-Nassar to other laypersons, who are there to show their support to the cause – all age groups included. Mizna al-Nassar, a twenty-eight years old prospective Olympian who, since then, has announced her plans to enter the 2020 Olympics that will be located in Tokyo, as a representative on Saudi Arabia. She is currently pursuing a career in the line of graphic design.

She successfully crossed the finish line of the al-Ahsa run within fifteen minutes, an impressive achievement that is backed by her,

“regimented food program and training schedule supervised by professional trainer,” in addition to past experience, “I have participated in the Islamic Sport Games in Baku Azerbaijan in 2017 and in the Ladies Sport Games in Sharjah in 2018,”

– she informed Al Arabiya, a news outlet that is based in Saudi.

The “al-Ahsa Runs” took place in the Eastern province of al-Ahsa, as reported by the Anadolu Agency.

Nonetheless, all participants in the run were reported to have their abayas and hijabs on in accordance with the Sharia law. Needless to say, this was not an easy race for the women, but their determination is both admirable and inspiring for all female across the world. Several months prior to this run, these women had just overcome the law that inhibits them from driving on the streets in the country. All in all, the Middle Eastern countries are really making progress towards gender equality in recent months.

While we are extremely proud of them, we cannot help but wonder why we have to fight for these entities in our lives. Why are female frequently considered as the inferior counterpart, when we are able to perform miraculous tasks such as reproduction, in addition to bearing the astronomical amount of pain that follows. Even so, women’s rights are still on the brink today in the United States as we approach the subject of pregnancy.

If we are as far ahead as we are led to believe, why do we still have to fight for Pro-Choice?

Featured Image via Flickr/Hernán Piñera

OPEC to Make Promised Production Cuts

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ reduction of crude output has made money managers optimistic about West Texas Intermediate oil prices for the first time in almost a decade. Saudi Arabia announced that over 80% of the reduction of 1.8 million barrels a day had begun. This cut will reduce output to 486,000 barrels a day, keeping in line with the OPEC agreement made last October. The cut will help oil stabilize to over $50 per barrel.

Tanker-tracker Petro-Logistics SA confirms that oil shipments from OPEC are taking a dive this month. To counter these cuts, American frackers have revived 11 oil rigs in the last two weeks.

Mike Wittner, head of commodities research at Societe General SA said, “All the signs are pointing to a pretty significant POEC cut. Until this week we were only getting data from the producers, now the tanker traffic seems to be supporting this view.”

Other members of OPEC, like Kuwait and Algeria, report making deeper output cuts this month than their agreement required. Russia similarly said that it was curbing production at a faster rate than necessary.

Khalid Al-Falih, Saudia Energy Minister, said last Sunday that adherence to the agreement has gone without incident, to the extent that it will be unlikely that the accords will need to be extended when it expires in the middle of the year.

Drilling in the U.S. shale patch has increased since the OPEC-created price rally. Rigs targeting crude oil in the U.S. rose to 566 last week, which, according to Baker Hughes Inc., it the highest rise since November 2015.

Jay Hatfield, a portfolio manager at Infrastructure Capital Advisors, sees good tidings, “There’s one headwind in the oil market: increased U.S. shale production. U.S. output in 2017 will be 1 million barrels a day higher than last year.”

According to the Energy Information Administration, the amount of crude oil production spike up to 8.69 million a day in the U.S. on the week of Jan. 20. This is the highest output since April.

Saudi King Invests $27 Billion Toward Public Investment Fund

This Wednesday Saudi Arabia’s king has approved a distribution of 100 billion riyals from royal reserves to be placed into a Public Investment Fund (PIF). That’s equal to $27 billion U.S.

King Salman gave a statement to news agency SPA telling them that the fund is to help support investments in not only the foreign market but the local sector as well. The PIF was established in 1971 to aid in financing development projects throughout the country. The beginning of this year the Saudi Arabian government announced that they wanted to expand the fund’s assets from $160 billion to $2 trillion.

Earlier this summer the fund bought into the U.S. for Uber for $3.5 billion, but the PIF wants to keep as much of its business locally in Saudi Arabia. Monday, PIF said it plans to buy into an investment firm called Adeptio, take over Riyadh, a financial district project that has been out of commission for some time, and buy into King Abdullah Economic City. A designated timeline for all the investments has been announced but is sure to come.

The Heir of Samsung Now Apologizes for the Spread of MERS

Recently, the MERS or the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus has been the latest lethal scare. The virus apparently takes less than five minutes to spread and creates severe respiratory problems, fever, cough and a few other symptoms.

The disease gets its peculiar name since it was recorded Saudi Arabia in the year 2012 for the very first time. After that, the disease has managed to spread to areas of South Korea and some other regions of Asian countries. The virus was brought to South Korea by a 68 year-old man who visited the Middle-East on a business trip.

This time, the heir of Samsung has actually apologized for the spread of MERS. This is because several of the infected patients are in fact from the Samsung Medical Center in South Korea.

Apparently, a patient there known as the “super-spreader” who waited for days to get a room, actually infected many. Visitors, staff members and other patients were also left affected at the center.

The World Health Organization says that MERS is starting to come under control in South Korea. About 50 people have been cured, but thousands are still under quarantine. Hopefully, the situation will be brought under control as soon as possible.

Image: Via Flickr/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District

Russia Restricts International Web Services

On Tuesday, July 1, the Russian State Duma, or parliament, passed the first bill requiring that the personal data of all Russians be stored inside the country, according to Tech Crunch. If the bill is enforced, the effect would be felt across a wide range of industries that Russians are involved in. Every online service, from Facebook and Google to small-scale apps and websites, will need to have physical servers within Russian borders.

The new rule does not stop there; companies that are not from Russia would not be allowed to send data outside of Russia unless they can guarantee that it will be stored in Russia. The push to store Russian’s data in Russia is a part of an initiative to restrict Internet use. Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to have squeezed shut the funnel of information to quiet people who oppose his position on a variety of issues.

Coincidentally, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is a resident of Russia. Snowden was awarded the German “whistleblower prize” in 2013 for his “bold efforts to expose the massive and unsuspecting monitoring and storage of communication data, which cannot be accepted in democratic societies.”

If the law passes, online organizations have until September 2016 to comply with the new guidelines. Some officials feel that Russia is taking notes from China and their stringent Internet policy, sometimes referred to as the Great Firewall of China. China has taken the most extreme approach to Internet censorship to date. Hot keywords and phrases like “Tibetan independence” and “democracy movements” won’t garner any web results in China.

While Chinese engineers find new ways to lock information away from the average citizen, hackers, or hacktivists, look to free up sensitive information through software. Hacktivist Bill Xia shared just how tough the Chinese government is in terms of web restrictions.

“They are very smart… We have to move very quickly,” Xia said, according to ABC News.

China and Russia are not the only countries with stringent demands on Internet access. Cuba’s rules on web usage are among the most stringent in the world—a special permit is required to use the Internet and all emails are monitored. Saudi Arabia has plans to regulate YouTube channels through the General Authority for Audiovisual Media, a recently formed watchdog.