Something that you may to know about Saudi Arabia
"The Kingdom ... strongly condemns and denounces this cowardly terrorist act that is rejected by true Islamic religion as well as the rest of the religions and beliefs."
So reads the statement issued by Saudi Arabia, where I grew up, the day the offices of "Charlie Hebdo" came under attack, with the loss of 12 lives.
Last Sunday, to show further solidarity with the victims, the Saudi ambassador to France joined other world leaders in Paris for a unity rally to celebrate free speech.
This is consistent with the face Saudi Arabia presents to the outside world. Visitors to the website of the Saudi embassy in Washington are invited to "learn ... how the Kingdom´s political system is rooted in Islam´s traditions which call for peace, justice, equality, consultation and respect for the rights of the individual."
Just two days before the Paris rally, my friend Raif Badawi was removed, in shackles, from a mini-bus outside the Al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah as a large crowd gathered around him after Friday prayers. According to eyewitnesses, he closed his eyes and raised his head skyward as a security officer approached him from behind with a large cane and started to beat him. Witnesses say Raif was lashed 50 times. Afterwards, he was taken back to prison where he is serving a 10-year sentencefor blogging.
Raif´s next flogging was set to take place today, but Saudi authorities postponed it due to medical advice, his wife said. She expects he will be flogged again next weekand every following weekuntil his sentence of 1,000 lashes is complete.
Raif is officially charged with "adopting liberal thought," "founding a liberal website," and "insulting Islam." He has become the latest symbol of the two-faced policy his country takes towards human rights.
Saudi Arabia is a strong American ally that has enjoyed virtually unconditional support from the United States for decades. President Bush famously held hands with its monarch, King Abdullah, as the two strolled through his Crawford, Texas ranch during the King´s 2005 state visit. President Obama was widely criticized for appearing to bow to Abdullah at a G-20 summit in London.
In the same month that ISIS horrified the world with its brutal beheading of journalist James Foley, Saudi Arabia publicly beheaded 19 people, for crimes ranging from smuggling cannabis to sorcery. Limb amputations for theft are sanctioned by the state religion.
In addition to oil, Saudi Arabia is the world´s leading exporter of Salafism, an ultra-conservative strain of Islam. The country touts itself as the birthplace of the religion of peaceyet underlines the Islamic declaration of "Shahadah" on its flag with a sword. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi citizen, as were 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11.
Why does a world outraged by the horrific actions of ISIS and the Taliban turn a blind eye to the way this country treats its own citizens?
The first reason is obvious. It isn´t just our governments. Every time we fill our cars with gas, we all bow to the Saudi king.
The second is more complex.
Online videos of Raif´s flogging show worshipers from the mosque, including young children, running excitedly towards the square to watch the beating. Afterwards, the crowd erupts into cheers and applause, chanting "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Great!) in unison.
This isn´t surprising. The public likely considers Raif guilty of blasphemy and apostasy. A 2013 Pew Research poll found that large numbers in Muslim countries favor the death penalty for leaving Islamincluding 88% of Egyptian and 62% of Pakistani Muslims, as well as majorities in Jordan, Malaysia, Palestine, and Afghanistan.
Of course, these views don´t represent all Muslims. But contrary to what we´re usually told, they aren´t just held by a fringe minority either. Many of these countries don´t have populations willing to rally en masse to support free speech and pluralism the way France did. The change has to first come from within.
Raif has sacrificed a great deal to make this change happen. The world must support him and call Saudi Arabia out on its hypocrisy.
Some time ago, just 50 miles east of where Raif is being held today, another dissident once spoke of change, of challenging the status quo, of radical new ideas that would ultimately transform his society. He was ostracized, persecuted, and eventually driven from his city by those wanting to kill him. He was Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam; his persecutors, the Quraysh tribe of Mecca.
Muslims endeavor to emulate the life of Mohammed. Saudi Arabia has instead chosen to emulate the Quraysh.
This week, Raif spent his 31st birthday imprisoned and wounded. With enough awareness, we can put enough international pressure on the Saudi government to ensure that he spends his next one with his wife and their three beautiful children.
Ali A. Rizvi is a Pakistani-Canadian writer and friend of Raif Badawi. He grew up in Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and is an advocate for secularism and reform in the Muslim world. He is currently writing his first book, "The Atheist Muslim."
Beans and peas are excellent sources of plant protein, and also provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc
Beans and peas are unique foods
Beans and peas are the mature forms of legumes. They include kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas and lentils. They are available in dry, canned, and frozen forms. These foods are excellent sources of plant protein, and also provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc. They are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution of these nutrients. Therefore, they are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Many people consider beans and peas as vegetarian alternatives for meat. However, they are also considered part of the Vegetable Group because they are excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate and potassium. These nutrients, which are often low in the diet of many Americans, are also found in other vegetables.
Because of their high nutrient content, consuming beans and peas is recommended for everyone, including people who also eat meat, poultry, and fish regularly. The USDA Food Patterns classify beans and peas as a subgroup of the Vegetable Group. The USDA Food Patterns also indicate that beans and peas may be counted as part of the Protein Foods Group. Individuals can count beans and peas as either a vegetable or a protein food.
Green peas, green lima beans, and green (string) beans are not considered to be part of the beans and peas subgroup. Green peas and green lima beans are similar to other starchy vegetables and are grouped with them. Green beans are grouped with other vegetables such as onions, lettuce, celery, and cabbage because their nutrient content is similar to those foods.
How to count beans and peas in the USDA food patterns:
Generally, individuals who regularly eat meat, poultry, and fish would count beans and peas in the Vegetable Group. Vegetarians, vegans, and individuals who seldom eat meat, poultry, or fish would count some of the beans and peas they eat in the Protein Foods Group. Here´s an example for both ways:
Count the number of ounce-equivalents of all meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds eaten.
If the total is equal to or more than the suggested intake from the Protein Foods Group (which ranges from 2 ounce-equivalents at 1000 calories to 7 ounce-equivalents at 2800 calories and above) then count any beans or peas eaten as part of the beans and peas subgroup in the Vegetable Group.OR
If the total is less than the suggested intake from the Protein Foods Group, then count any beans and peas eaten toward the suggested intake level until it is reached. (One-fourth cup of cooked beans or peas counts as 1 ounce equivalent in the Protein Foods Group.) After the suggested intake level in the Protein Foods Group is reached, count any additional beans or peas eaten as part of the beans and peas subgroup in the Vegetable Group.
GET YOUR MEDICARE READY FOR 2015 IN DUDLE
Do you make resolutions for the new year? Here are some easy ones you can keep that will help get you ready for 2015:
1. Check to see that you have the right insurance card to use when you go to the doctor in 2015. Did you change your health or drug plan during Medicare Open Enrollment? If you did and you havent received your new card or welcome packet by January 1st, contact your plan for help. If you need to fill a prescription right away, find out how to fill a prescription without your card.
If you changed from a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) back to Original Medicare, use your red, white, and blue Medicare card when you go to the doctor. Get a new card if you lost or damaged yours, or need to update your information.
2. Budget for next years Medicare Part B deductible.
Remember, if you have Medicare Part B and youre in Original Medicare, youll have to meet your deductible before your Medicare coverage pays for services and supplies. Next year, the Medicare Part B deductible will be $147, the same as it was in 2014. Plan your health care budget to account for the increased cost of doctor visits for the time that it will take to cover your deductible. Find out more about Medicare costs in 2015.
3. Schedule appointments to get any preventive tests or screenings.
Medicare covers all sorts of preventive services to keep you healthy and screenings to check for health problems, and many are covered each year at no cost to you. Ask your doctor when you should schedule your wellness visit and other screenings. You can also use MyMedicare.gov to track your visits and make a calendar of preventive services.
Talk to your doctor about these covered preventive services to find out whats right for your health needs.
4. Make sure your drug or health plan meet your needs.
If not, Medicare has a way for you to get the coverage you want instead of having to wait for the next Open Enrollment. At any time during the year, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that has a 5-star rating.
Plan ratings are based on member surveys, information from doctors and health care providers, and other sources. The plan ratings are scores that show the quality and performance of the plan, on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest rated plans.
You can make this change once per calendar year. Find 5-star health and drug plans in your area.
Remember to check www.medicare.gov for the latest Medicare news and information, and have a happy and healthy new year!