Countries which say a Big No to #Valentinesday


Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated all over the world as a day when no powerful force on earth can stop any lovers from expressing their feelings and love. Unfortunately, there are some places where celebrating this day is considered as something against the culture and hence banned it by terming it as a crime. In case, you were on a look out for the right destination to celebrate Valentine’s Day, don’t visit to the following places, reports PolicyMic.

Malaysia

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In a country like Malaysia where Muslims account for over 60 percent of the population, celebrating Valentine’s Day is totally banned since 2005. The idea of not encouraging such day is firmly based on culture and religion followed by the dominating population in Malaysia.  As per the BBC reports, over 80 young Muslims were arrested in budget hotels and public parks and charged with being in “close proximity,” which is a punishable offense of upto two years imprisonment. Though Malaysia prides itself on being a diverse and tolerant nation, the authorities tends to make and enforce regulations over its Muslims masses.

Iran

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In an attempt to cast out Western influence from the budding minds of Iranian youth, this Islamic country has banned Valentine’s Day since 2011. The country’s lawmaker prohibits the production of Valentine’s Day gifts and also any promotion of the day celebrating romantic love and affections between a man and a woman.  The new Valentine’s Day guidelines strictly warn Iranians that legal action will be taken against the violators. According to the latest instructions, “Printing and producing any products related to Valentine’s Day, including posters, brochures, advertising cards, boxes with the symbols of hearts, half-hearts, red roses and any activities promoting this day are banned,” reports TIME. With the popularity of V-day on the rise in Iran within its 70 percent of the younger population, the ban apparently was imposed to curb it.

Saudi Arabia

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‘Nothing Reds on this day!’ says moral police in Saudi Arabia. In this Islamic nation, not just V-day is banned, even selling or wearing anything red on this day is totally a big ‘No.’ Every year on February 14th brings about the same procedure; flower shops and gift shops are prohibited from selling red roses, anything heart-shaped or red for that matter on that day by the “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice” (CPVPV) also known as the Religious Police. The penalty for violating the rules would lead to bringing the store shut down permanently. Not just that, all the schoolgirls are also prohibited from wearing anything red –not even a red scarf on this very day. The real motive behind banning anything red on this day is to discourage people from celebrating the day of love as it is a non-Islamic occasion and it may lead people to go “astray”; and also restricting people from dating or having any opposite sex attraction before marriage.

Russia

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The lawmakers of Belgorod, a small city in western Russia has banned Valentine’s Day since 2011. The local authorities stated that Valentine’s Day, like Halloween, is inauspicious for the soul and not at all a Russian tradition. Therefore, it should not be celebrated. Grigory Bolotnov, a consultant to the local government on social and religious issues said “The very atmosphere of these holidays does not foster the formation of spiritual and moral values in youth,” reports the Global post. On this day, schools and clubs have been urged to cancel any Valentine’s Day related events.

Indonesia

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Indonesia, another country in the list dominated by Muslim population,  banned with the world’s most populous Muslim country is also one such country where the celebrations of the V-Day is completely banned by the Islamic authorities, clerics and residents. The Head of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Habib Idrus Al Gadhri exclaimed “It’s Western culture and immoral so it’s ironic Muslims celebrate it,” reports CAPITAL NEWS. In some Indonesian cities such as Balikpapan on Borneo authorities would monitor cheap hotels and conduct raids on unmarried young couples.

China Passes U.S. As World’s Biggest Oil Importer


China has achieved another world-beating status its leaders don’t want: Biggest oil importer.

China passed the United States in September as the world’s biggest net oil importer, driven by faster economic growth and strong auto sales, according to U.S. government data released this week.

China Oil ImportsA city ring road becomes clogged with heavy traffic in Beijing, China Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. China has passed the United States in September as the world’s biggest net oil importer, driven by faster economic growth and strong auto sales, according to U.S. government data released this week. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) | AP

Chinese oil consumption outstripped production by 6.3 million barrels per day, which indicates the country had to import that much to fill the gap, the Energy Information Administration said this week.

“China’s steady growth in oil demand has led it to become the world’s largest net oil importer, exceeding the United States in September 2013,'” the agency said in a report. “EIA forecasts this trend to continue through 2014.”

China’s economic boom has raised incomes and increased its global influence. But it also has spurred demand for imported oil and gas, which communist leaders see as a strategic weakness.

Rising auto ownership has left China’s cities choking on smog and added to pressure on Beijing from its own public to curb pollution and from other nations to rein in surging greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States, with a population about one-third the size of China’s, still consumes far more oil per person than China does.

In September, Americans used 18.6 million barrels per day of oil and other liquid fossil fuels, while China used 10.9 million, according to the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook. U.S. production was 12.5 million barrels per day, while that of China was 4.6 million.

China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, is cooling but still is forecast to grow by nearly 8 percent this year, well above forecasts for the U.S.

 

The Chinese auto market, the biggest by number of vehicles sold, also is cooling but sales still rose by 11 percent in August.

Beijing is encouraging development of wind and solar power and use of autos powered by batteries or natural gas. But gasoline is expected to remain the country’s main vehicle fuel in coming decades.

The government has launched initiatives to improve China’s energy intensity, or the energy consumed for each unit of economic output. It has reported progress but still is far behind developed economies.

Until the late 1990s, China supplied its oil needs from domestic sources including the vast Daqing field in the northeast. But the economic boom outstripped its production capacity while output from existing sources is forecast to decline.

That has forced China to rely more heavily on imports, especially from Saudi Arabia and Iran. Communist leaders see that as a strategic weakness because of possible instability in the Gulf and Iran’s political isolation.

EIA noted that China’s domestic oil production was hampered over the past two months by summer flooding.

State-owned oil companies and their foreign partners are spending heavily to look for new oil sources in China and to develop alternatives such as methane from coal beds. But they have yet to find new deposits that match the size of Daqing.

Abroad, Chinese state-owned oil companies have invested billions of dollars to develop oil and gas sources in Iraq, Central Asia and Africa. Some of that is meant for export to China but much of it is sold in other markets.

At the same time, U.S. import demand has weakened as hydraulic fracturing and other technologies open up new domestic sources of supply.

American demand for oil and other liquid fuels rose by about 110,000 barrels per day, or just 0.6 percent, in the first nine months of this year, due partly to improved engine efficiency, the EIA said. It said consumption is forecast to fall by 0.4 percent next year.

Overall, the United States still should be the biggest oil consumer next year at about 18.7 million barrels per day, down from its peak of 20.8 million in 2005, according to the EIA. It said China’s consumption next should be about 11 million barrels per day.

Ten Countries with Cheapest Petrol Prices


With the advent of technology, life has become so much easier for all of us. Not long ago people used to wait for days to receive message from near and dear ones. But now, the time taken to travel from one place to another is less than time required to send a letter via post. However, with the ease of transport came the blow of rising fuel cost. The cost of fuel is the most unstable thing across the world and it depends on crude oil price, oil company cost, taxes and, exchange rate, reports Rediff.com.

Because of the presence of considerable oil reserves in home-grounds, few countries are fortunate enough to get this motor spirit at affordable prices. Read on to know the countries where petrol is cheapest in the world.

1. Venezuela

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Price per litre: 6.49 ($0.12)

It is a place where the price of most of the objects goes up other than petrol. The price of petrol has always been cheap and now it has become almost free. In Venezuela, following the official exchange rate, the premium gasoline comes at around 5.8 U.S. cents. The price of petrol has been kept constant for almost 14 years under the rule of late President, Hugo Chavez, even though the tropical capital has hit big time inflation.
Monthly income expenditure on petrol:  2.73 percent.

2. Egypt

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Price per litre: 7.30 ($0.14)

The Egyptian government is planning to cut down the fuel subsidies as a measure to control its budget deficit. The size of fuel subsidies is expected to reach 120 billion Egyptian dollars in the current fiscal. The subsidies have hit the economy hard and lead to blackouts and fuel shortages in Cairo. The next few months are expected to witness reforms like fuel-rationing card in an attempt to curb smuggling of fuel.

Monthly income expenditure on petrol: 4.39 percent

3. Saudi Arabia

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Price per litre: 8.12 ($0.15)

Saudi Arabia holds one-fifth of world’s total oil reserves and the crude from this country still influences fuel prices across the global. It is the second home to cheapest petrol in the Middle East after Egypt. The country, however, is working on methods to use wind, solar and nuclear power to produce energy and bring down the use of crude and natural gas to generate electricity.

Monthly income expenditure on petrol: 0.98 percent.

4. Qatar

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Price per litre: 9.74 ($0.18)

Prior to discovery of oil, the economy of Qatar ran on fishing and pearl hunting. In 1940, after the discovery of oil reserves, the economy of the country improved significantly. Because of the absence of income tax, Qatar is rated as one of the countries with lowest tax rates in the world. The economy is highly dependent on petroleum and natural gas and as of 2012, it has the highest GDP per capita in the world.

Monthly income expenditure on petrol: 0.40 percent

5. Bahrain

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Price per litre: 12.50 ($0.23)

Bahrain is situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. The country has been recognized as the fastest growing economy in the Arab world and is highly dependent on demand for oil. 60 percent of the country’s export, comes from petroleum production and processing. It also accounts for 70 percent of government revenues and 11 percent of its GDP.

Monthly income expenditure on petrol: 1.81 percent.

6. Libya

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Price per litre: 12.50 ($0.23)

Libya has the largest oil reserves in entire Africa and its economy primarily benefits from oil sector which accounts for 97 percent of export and 80 percent of GDP. It is also a major contributor of light to the global supply. Because of its small population and handsome revenues from energy sector, Libya is one of the countries with highest per capita GDPs in Africa.

Monthly income expenditure on petrol: 3.32 percent.

7. Turkmenistan

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Price per litre: Rs 14.31 ($0.26)

Turkmenistan has the fourth largest oil reserves in the world. It has an oil reserve of about 700 million tons. The extraction of oil started in 1909 in Cheleken and it took a leap with the discovery of oil fields in Kumdag and Koturdepe. Most of its oil is refined in Turkmenbashy and Seidi refinaries. It exports oil to Europe through Caspian Sea via canals.

Monthly income expenditure on petrol: 17.79 percent.

8. Kuwait

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Price per litre: 14.31 ($0.26)

With a GDP of $167.9 billion and per capita income of $81,800, Kuwait stands as the 5th richest country in the world. The major export products are petroleum and petrochemical products and the country earns about $94.47 billion on exports. The government of Kuwait is trying to make the country a regional trading and tourism hub and less dependent on oil for its growing economy.

Monthly income expenditure on petrol:1.2 percent.

9. Algeria

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Price per litre: 14.31 ($0.26)

Algeria is the 10th country in the world with the largest natural gas reserve of 160 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources. It ranks 14th in petroleum reserves and about 60 percent of its budget revenues comes from petroleum. The hydrocarbon is also responsible for about 30 percent of its GDP and 95 percent of export earnings.

Monthly income expenditure on petrol: 11.85 percent

10. Iran

ir
Price per litre: 17.93 ($0.33)

The economy of the country is dependent on state ownership of oil, village agriculture, small scale private trading and, service venture. The GDP was about $482.4 billion in 2011, while in 2006 about 45 percent of the government’s budget came from oil and natural gas reserves. The European Union restriction on Iranian crude has led to a steep fall in the value of rial.

Monthly income expenditure on petrol: 6.53 percent.

The Future of Indian Power: Hard vs. Soft


There has been considerable talk over the past few years about India as a “global soft power”. This is a reference to the spread of certain aspects of Indian culture (such as Indian cuisine, music, and dance) throughout the world and its rising popularity in the West. It is also a reference to Bollywood and its growing international fan base that now includes Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. The spread of these elements of Indian culture and “Indian-ness” is often hailed as Indian “soft power”, as it was by Shashi Tharoor (watch his TED speech on the subject here). However, I take a slightly different stance. I view Indian soft power as virtually non-existent in its current state, and I also feel that it is unlikely for India to become a true global soft power anytime soon (though it does have the potential to become one). Instead, India’s rise to global power status – if and when it happens – will be due to its increasing hard power, and India for the foreseeable future will have to rely on hard power to project its influence abroad.

In order to analyze hard vs. soft power in the Indian context, it is first important to understand what “hard” and “soft” power exactly refer to, and how they differ. “Hard” power refers to the use of military and/or economic means to exert one’s influence upon another. In practice, the application of “hard” power tends to be fundamentally coercive in nature. The Indian covert support of the Mukti Bahini and later the overt military intervention into Bangladesh, the Soviet threat to use nuclear weapons against Britain and France during the Suez Crisis, and the imposition of economic sanctions on socialist Cuba by the United States are all examples of the utilization of “hard” power. “Soft” power, on the other hand, refers to the ability to attract and “seduce” (as opposed to coerce) other parties. The American political scientist Joseph Nye, who first coined the terms “hard” and “soft power, identified three categories of soft power: culture, political values, and policies. The utility of each of the three elements depends on their ability to attractExamples of “soft” power may include the extensive Wahhabi influence throughout the Islamic world due to Saudi state sponsorship, the emergence of Marxist-Leninist states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America based on the model of the Soviet Union, and the ability of the United States to historically attract large numbers of immigrants because of its sociopolitical values and free, democratic society.

While examples of both hard and soft power abound in history as well as in the present day, there is no simple way of measuring power or identifying the factors and conditions that lead to it. A country’s hard power is a rough aggregate of various factors, including its GDP, total population, defence budget, technological prowess, energy production and consumption, and others. Statistics that attempt to measure hard power include the National Power Index and the Composite Index of National Capability, both of which list India as the world’s third most powerful country based on their criteria.

It is considerably more difficult to identify the underlying factors of soft powers than that of hard vague, owing to its more vague and imprecise nature. Nevertheless, I will attempt to ascertain specific conditions that enable an entity to exercise soft power.  One of the most important prerequisites for becoming a major soft power is to have “native ownership” of an ideology that can be used as a means of influence; that is, the ideology should be recognizable as a distinct and unique attribute of that particular country. During the Cold War, for example, the United States and Soviet Union represented the de facto embodiments of capitalist democracy and Marxist socialism, respectively. As mentioned earlier, Marxist-Leninist states emerged around the world during this period (including Cuba, Angola, and Vietnam, among others) and allied themselves with the USSR; likewise, newly-formed capitalist democracies like those of the three principal powers of the defeated Axis alliance (Germany, Japan, and Italy) came under the fold of American soft power in the post-WWII world and became close allies of the U.S. On the other hand, it would be virtually impossible for a country like Pakistan to exercise any meaningful soft power based on ideology, since Pakistan’s ideology is based on Islamic ‘nationalism’ where it views itself as part of a greater ‘Ummah’, but is certainly not recognized by the members of the ‘Ummah’ as its leader. In other words, Pakistan does not have native ownership over its own ideology, which inevitably leads to Pakistan associating itself with other, more influential members of the ‘Ummah’ like Saudi Arabia and Iran, at the obvious expense of its own subcontinental origins.

Another important condition in developing soft power is to have a universal ideology whose values can cut cross national, cultural, and ethnic borders and attract a diverse array of peoples. Countries that promote such universal values often tend to be pluralistic and inclusive in nature and held together by a shared ideology and political values, as both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. in our previous example were (the U.S. is only about 60% white, while only about half the population of the erstwhile U.S.S.R. was ethnic Russian). On the other hand, countries that promote ethnocentrism and militaristic ultranationalism, as Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan did, will find it difficult to exert soft power, since such attitudes are inherently counterintuitive when it comes to attracting and co-opting other peoples. Such countries would be forced to rely on hard power to project their influence, which would historically fail all three of the main Axis powers in the long run since their hard power could not compete with that of their enemies.

In addition to the ideological and political aspects of soft power, it is also important to look at the nature of cultural soft power. Many aspects of American “culture”, such as Hollywood, MTV, Coca-Cola, and brand-name jeans are often touted as being elements of American “soft power”. Fundamentally, however, such superficial, materialistic aspects of American “culture” cannot and do not promote pro-American attitudes among foreigners. It would not be totally uncommon to find that some of the most virulent anti-American protestors in Pakistan, Iran, and elsewhere may also be avid fans of Hollywood flicks or regularly drink Coke. Although these aspects of American culture may be popular throughout the world, they cannot be considered to be aspects of “soft power”. Instead, meaningful cultural soft power would be able to significantly influence the paradigm of other cultures, as the major religions of Christianity and Islam have influenced numerous cultures around the globe.

Now that we have a better understanding of the difference between hard and soft power, and the underlying features of both, we can return to the specific case of power projection in the Indian context. The development of Indian soft power will rely ultimately on the promotion of meaningful cultural and/or political values that will attract people of other nations towards India. Just as the spread of superficial American “culture” cannot count as soft power, the promotion of meaningless, superficial aspects of Indian culture like food, cuisine, dance, etc. will not increase India’s power on a global scale. Nor does Bollywood, the supposed “holy grail” of Indian soft power, provide the necessary “muscle” for such power projection, since Bollywood only depicts the abovementioned superficial aspects of Indian culture. The immense popularity of Bollywood in Pakistan and Afghanistan, for example, has not turned Pakistan into a pro-Indian country, nor does it prevent Afghans (including the educated elite) from spitting on the floor whenever a Hindu idol is shown on TV. The fact is that the Indian entertainment industry has virtually no ability to influence the paradigm of its viewers, and can only bombard them with superficial trash. Perhaps if Bollywood placed less emphasis on petty song-and-dance numbers and focused more on producing movies that depict India’s history, culture, and values in a more profound fashion, such paradigm shifts can take place among international audiences. But Bollywood in its current state is far from being a true vehicle for exercising Indian soft power.

India may currently have close to zero soft power, but that does not mean it cannot become a major soft power sometime in the future. On the contrary, India has perhaps the greatest potential for exercising genuine soft power out of all developing countries. One major factor in India’s favor, which would in many other cases be an impediment, is its diverse and pluralistic society. As mentioned above, such societies are naturally able to attract other peoples and nations since they tend to be less discriminatory and more inclusive than homogeneous, ethnocentric societies. The definition of an “Indian” is fundamentally open-ended, universal, and expansive, just as the definitions of “American” or “Soviet” are/were. The elastic nature of these terms allows a person to become “Indianized”, “Americanized”, or “Sovietized” while still retaining aspects his/her indigenous culture, which is why we can see labels such as “Chinese-American” or “Soviet Armenian”. By looking into Indian history, we can also find examples of the spread of ‘Indian-ness’ to other countries. The time when Indian civilization enjoyed the greatest influence and soft power was the time when Buddhism was actively patronized by various Indian kings and spread throughout Asia. Since Buddhism is a universal ideology and is unrestricted by any borders whether they are of caste, ethnicity, language, or other, it was able to attract adherents from many different cultures. Indian universities, in the form of Buddhist mahaviharas such as those at Nalanda, Vikramashila, and Odantapuri, were the Harvard, Oxford, and Yale of the Classical period, attracting students from numerous distant countries. Indeed, there was a time when Indian soft power in the form of Buddhism was felt from the Caspian Sea to Japan and from Siberia to Indonesia, with India being regarded as the spiritual and cultural center of the world. Buddhism in India has since disappeared into the pages of history, but the fundamental Buddhist ideals of multiculturalism and all-inclusiveness still define Indian society today, and can form the basis of future Indian soft power.

In contrast to heterogeneous and inclusive societies, cultural expansion by homogeneous and more exclusive and ethnocentric societies tends to be much more ‘zero-sum’ and ‘total’; rather than co-opting other foreign cultures and peoples, they tend to be subjugated and assimilated into a greater whole. The expansion of Chinese civilization is one of the best examples of such assimilation, with the process of Sinicization continuing to this day in frontier regions like Tibet and Xinjiang. Given the inherently coercive and one-sided nature of such expansion and assimilation, it is not too surprising that China has historically not enjoyed the same level of soft power of more pluralistic, inclusive societies like those of India, the former Soviet Union, or the United States. Indeed, it has been greatly influenced by ideological and cultural aspects from each of the three mentioned powers (Buddhism, Marxism-Leninism, and capitalism respectively), but has not reciprocated the exchange by exporting ideologies of its own to any of the three powers.

Having examined the status of India’s soft power in the past and present, we can now begin to draw conclusions about the future of Indian power. India’s entertainment industry will continue to define India for foreigners, but as described previously, this will not be an effective means of power projection. Instead, India’s diverse and pluralistic society, and the fact that such a society has remained in one piece in spite all odds, can serve as a much more potent platform for exercising soft power. India might have some things to teach to the rest of the world when it comes to multiculturalism, especially in a world that is rapidly globalizing and one in which individual societies are dealing with alien ones on an unprecedented scale. On the other hand, however, India itself still faces numerous internal problems, and India is still far from serving as an effective model of a pluralistic society. It seems to me that India, at least for the near future, will have to continue to rely on its ever-expanding hard power as a means of influence.

Saudi father gifted Dh3.3 million for pardoning son’s killer


A large Saudi tribe gave presents worth more than Dh3 million to a local man for pardoning the killer of his son following mediation efforts by tribal leaders.

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Mohsen bin Hadeed Al Mukati went to court in the western Saudi town of Taif and pardoned the killer of his son without demanding diya (blood money), prompting the judge to abolish a death sentence against the killer, a relative of the victim.

Al Mukati agreed to pardon the defendant, who killed his son during a fight several years ago, following mediation efforts of more than a year by some tribal chiefs and dignitaries to persuade him to drop the case.

“The tribe then staged a big party to honour Al Mukati for his gesture that saved the life of the defendant…during the party, tribal chiefs gave him presents worth nearly SR3.3 million (Dh3.25 million) in addition to a Jeep 2013,” Sabq daily said.

Under Islamic law, which is strictly enforced in conservative Saudi Arabia, a convicted killer can escape execution and walk free in most cases if pardoned by the victim’s relatives in return for blood money.

Saudi Arabia asked to lift driving ban on women


A human rights group in Saudi Arabia has pressed the Shura (Consultative) Council to launch a debate on the right of women to drive.

The move by the Saudi Committee for Human Rights is based on a study supported by 3,000 Saudi men and women from various parts of the country.

They have called for an open debate to allow women to drive ‘in accordance with religious and social norms’, Gulf News reports.

Under the by-laws, the Shura Council has to respond to all questions, queries and petition.

According to Saudi news site Sabq, Sulaiman Al Zayadi, the former head of the rights and petition committee that submitted the petition and requested a date to debate on the issue, said debating the issue of allowing women to drive gives the Council greater credibility.

He added that if women were given the right to drive it will promote trust among the people who will view the Council as their representatives who are ready to engage in the debates they suggest.

The petition was handed before the end of the last session to the committee that approved it and suggested its debate by the Shura Council members.

The study argued that local social and economic developments in Saudi Arabia and the international covenants endorsed by the Saudi kingdom require that Riyadh allow women to drive cars.

According to the report, the study said that an advisory and executive committee should be set up by Saudi Arabia to draw the religious, social and security regulations to allow women to drive as a prelude for social changes that will make the society more recipient to the idea of women driving.

Indian oil refineries carry on negotiations with the OPEC countries for increase in supply of crude oil


The Indian oil refineries are carrying on negotiations with the OPEC countries for increase in supply of crude oil starting from April 1, 2013 in connection with decrease of imports of oil from Iran.

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Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq already expressed readiness to increase export of oil to India for compensation of its losses in case of termination of deliveries of crude from Iran. Such guarantees of the countries of OPEC increase chances of accession of India to the international sanctions against Iran.

Till date New Delhi, despite the international economic sanctions imposed on Tehran reduced purchases of the Iranian crude oil only in insignificant volumes. According to the Indian representatives, the republic recognizes only UN Security Council endorsed sanctions, rather than those by the USA and the European Union.

7 Innocent Gestures That Can Get You Killed Overseas


 
If you’ve ever had your penis cut off and/or been executed while on holiday, you’ll probably know that it’s easy to offend people from other cultures. Unless you learn the ways of the place you’re visiting, even the most well-meaning tourist can regularly find his oesophagus stuffed with burning goat. But surely just plain common sense and good manners will save you, right?Wrong.

Extend Your Hand, Palm Outward in Greece

What you think you are saying:
“Phew! That was a heck of a moussaka. I’d eat another portion, but I’m completely stuffed.”

What you are actually saying:
“Phew! That was a heck of a moussaka. I’d eat another portion, but I’m too busy rubbing handfuls of shit in your face.”

What the hell?
In Greece, the “hand out” gesture is known as the moutza, and it dates back to the time of the Byzantine Empire, when criminals would be paraded through the streets on horseback, their faces blackened to indicate their shame. If they were lucky, the blackening agent would merely be charcoal. If they were unlucky, it would be a substance much, much worse …

SHIT, is what we’re saying here. Their faces would be covered in SHIT.

If you really want to piss a Greek person off, you can go for the double moutza, which features both hands splayed above your head. However, this will also make you look like a backup dancer from Cats, so it’s your call.

Give the Thumbs-Up In The Middle East

What you think you are saying:
“Ayyyyy! I’m the fuckin’ Fonz!”

What you are actually saying:
“Ayyyyy! I’m going to jam my thumb in your anus!”

What the hell?
It’s not just the Middle East. This seemingly universal gesture is also hideously offensive in West Africa and South America, whose citizens would doubtless get really confused if they ever watched Ebert and Roeper. “This movie is great, Bill! So great that I’d like to anally rape it with my thumb!”

The thumbs-up sign has been confusing people for thousands of years. Contrary to Hollywood legend, Roman gladiators were not spared by a thumbs-up, but by a hidden thumb. If the origins of both gestures are linked, we can only assume this meant, “Do not kill the prisoner, he seems the perfect solution to the emperor’s arthritic finger.”

Finish Your Meal In Thailand / The Philippines / China

What you think you are saying:
“This is a delicious meal. I mean it. I’m not the kind of guy who would lie about something like this. In fact, your meal was so fucking fabulous that I am going to finish every last morsel and then lick the plate so bright that it reveals the face of God.”

What you are actually saying:
“You call yourself a host? I came here for a meal, not some Lilliputian hors d’oeuvre that wouldn’t satisfy a mouse after a sizable brunch. Look at me. No, in the eyes. You disgust me.”

What the hell?
It is always important that the host provides you with tasty food. However, in countries where steak in bleu cheese sauce costs approximately the same as a lung transplant, it is more important that the host provides you with enough food.

In China, if you finish every last bite of your meal, you are implying that you weren’t given enough. Therefore, even if the meal is the most sexually delicious thing that has ever slid down your throat, you should still leave one last morsel on the plate to stare up at you mournfully while you eye it with ill-concealed resentment.

That said, the Orient isn’t as uptight as this example suggests. In China it’s considered perfectly good manners to talk with your mouth full and to burp after your meal. Farting seems to vary according to the situation and your current company, so ask ahead of time. Lighting the fart is frowned upon in almost all provinces.

Say “Hi” to a Member of the Opposite Sex in Saudi Arabia

What you think you are saying:
“Hi Steve! How’s things? Fancy getting a decaf latte?”

What you are actually saying:
“Hi, Steve! How’s things? Fancy booking a hotel room so that I can do immoral sex acts on you in the name of Satan?”

What the hell?
According to sharia religious laws, it is deeply immoral for a woman to greet a man in public, or associate with any man other than her husband without an escort. In February 2008, one American woman openly conversed with a man in Starbucks, and was promptly arrested, strip-searched and forced to sign false confessions.

Though, perhaps this is nitpicking considering women are not allowed to drive, vote, own shops, testify in court or ride bicycles there. Bizarrely, it’s perfectly fine for women to fly high-powered jet planes, although they’re clearly fucked if they feel like taking a bicycle to the airport.

The point being, if you’re a woman and are planning a move to Saudi Arabia, offending them with the whole public greeting thing is probably the least of your problems.

Give an Even Number of Flowers in Russia

What you think you are saying:
“Darling, this week has been the most wonderful of my life. Since I first felt the sweet joy of your caress, I have truly come to know what it is to love and to be loved. Please accept these half-dozen roses as a symbol of my eternal tender devotion.” (Lean forward for kiss.)

What you are actually saying:
DEATH! DEATH! DEEEEEEAAAAAAAATH!!!!!!

(Lean forward for kiss.)

What the hell?
In Russia, even numbers of flowers are only ever given at funerals, and such a gift is seen as inviting death, which you obviously don’t want to do unless you’re banging a goth chick.

Choosing the right gift seems to be a minefield of morbidity everywhere you go. Never give a clock to a Chinese person, as the word “clock” is almost identical to a word for “death.” Don’t wrap your present in white paper there either, as this suggests funerals. And for God’s sake, don’t give anyone in Bangladesh white flowers or they will presumably be obliged to buy a spade and bury themselves while muttering at you reproachfully.

You know what, screw giving a gift. You may come across as a selfish douchebag, but at least no one will hail you as the fourth horseman of the apocalypse.

Give a Gift With Your Left Hand, Pretty Much Anywhere

What you think you are saying:
“Thank you very much for letting me marry your daughter. She is very beautiful. In gratitude, please accept this dainty, yet tuneful instrument. Did I mention that I’m left-handed?”

What you are actually saying:
“Thank you very much for letting me marry your daughter. She is the most worthless heap of dog vomit I have ever encountered, and I dearly wish that she would die. In gratitude, please accept a generous portion of my own effluence. Did I mention that I hate you?”

What the hell?
Toilet paper may have been around in China since 589 AD, but for much of the world, it remains a prohibitively expensive luxury. In places such as India, Sri Lanka, Africa and the whole of the Middle East, doing anything with your left hand is seen as unclean, as it is (as least symbolically) your ass-wiping hand.

Eating out? Don’t even think about using your left hand. It’s better to come across as some kind of retarded monkey child than to imply that you rate your host’s food on the same level as a lightly-steamed assburger.

Of course, poop is not the only reason left-handedness is bad. According to the Qur’an, Satan himself was a southpaw, which is why he was able to successfully fool the right-handed batter that is mankind.

Give the “OK” Sign in Brazil

What you think you are saying:
“Hi Brazil, I’m US President Richard Nixon, and I’m feeling terrific!”

What you are actually saying:
“Hi Brazil, I’m US President Richard Nixon, and I’m feeling that you should all go fuck yourselves!”

(Note: The above examples are only valid if you are US President Richard Nixon)

What the hell?
In Brazil, the “OK” gesture is roughly equivalent to the finger in the US, which means you should not use it when your hotel manager asks you how your room is, unless you want to tell him that it’s purple and velvety and recently molested his wife.

The most famous incident of a misapplied “OK” sign was, in fact, Nixon’s visit to Brazil in the ’50s. While alighting from the aircraft, he lifted both hands to the cameras and double-fingered the entire nation. Nixon went on to greet the Brazilian Prime minister with a savage kick to the testicles, and concluded his visit by urinating from the window of a moving limousine.

If you’re visiting Brazil, you should also never touch any food with your fingers. Even stuff like pizzas and burgers should be eaten with a knife and fork. Not that you’ll ever need to apply this knowledge, because after reading this article, you’d be insane if you ever travel abroad again.

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Ten Countries with Highest Illicit Financial Flows


Currencies are the most important medium of exchange. Any nation’s growth depends on the value of their currency.
But in recent times, it is found that more than the growth of the nation, people are concentrated on their own growth. This is the reason why many countries are not able to develop and the common population is still striving for food.
As recorded by Global Finance Integrity for the period of 2001-2010, here is the list of the 10 countries with maximum flow of unlawful money as reported by Yahoo.

1. China
Amount: $ 2.74 trillion

The most populated country in the world which has one of the wonders of the world, ‘The Great Wall’.  China is also known for their technology, martial arts and the second largest country by land area. China’s fame is an unending list.
This nation also tops the list of unlawful money. Between the years 2001-2010, this nation’s unlawful outflow was estimated to be $ 2.74 trillion.

2. Mexico
Amount: $ 476 billion

The name ‘Mexico’ itself is enough to reflect colorful-decorated flavored cuisines, chocolates, music, mariachis and many more. It is the world’s eleventh most populated country in the world.
In tourism based income, Mexico holds the twenty third rank in the world. Well, Mexico is also popular for its crime rates. Drug trafficking and other narcotic related problems are the major issues in Mexico.

This is not the end for Mexico. With a possession of $ 476 billion, Global Financial Integrity has ranked Mexico as the successor of China in the list of illicit money.

3. Malaysia
Amount: $450  billion

Malaysia is one of the Asian countries with the best infrastructure. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories.
From 1957 to 2005, Malaysia had one of the best economic records in Asia. In 2011 the Gross Domestic Product of Malaysia was about $450  billion, the 3rd largest economy in ASEAN and 29th largest in the world.
Malaysia is also growing at a higher rate as an eco-tourist spot. It’s multi-ethnic culture and the natural beauties attracts most of the tourists.
This country has been awarded with the third rank in this list.

4. Saudi Arabia
Amount: $ 210 billion

The home to the most inherited sites for the Muslims, Saudi Arabia inherited wealth in the form of oils. It is the second largest oil reservoir in the entire world. Saudi Arabia also has a huge amount of gold mines.
Saudi Arabia has a per capita income of $24,200 (2010).
The outflow of Saudi Arabia’s black money is estimated to be $ 210 billion and the Global Financial Integrity has ranked them as number four in this list.

5. Russia
Amount: $ 153 billion

Russia has been a pioneer nation in the world of science. The world’s first human spaceflight was launched by Russia.
Russia is the world’s largest reserves of mineral and energy resources. It is the global leader in producing oil and natural gas.With time, Russia was able to maintain their image as a ‘Super Power’ nation. It is said that Russia has the largest stock pile of weapons of mass destruction.
With so many glories, Russia has been placed on the fifth rank among the nations having an impactful outflow of illegal money. It is ranked fifth in this list with an estimated amount of $ 153 billion.

6. Philippines
Amount: $ 138 billion


Philippines is naturally gifted with natural recourses. Its rainforests serves as the home to many diverse range of plants, birds, animals and sea creatures. The geographical location of this country has made it prone to earthquakes and typhoons.
It is one the primary exporter of electronic products and semiconductors, garments, petroleum products, fruits, transport equipments, copper products, etc.
Starting form 2001 till 2010, the amount of illegal money flow if Philippines was estimated as $ 138 billion.

7. Nigeria
Amount: $ 129 billion

Nigeria got its name from the ‘Niger’ river and obtained freedom in 1960. Today, Nigeria is the largest trading partner of the U.S.
The Citigroup estimated that Nigeria will get the highest average GDP growth during the period 2010-2050.
Crimes in Nigeria are mostly focused on drug trafficking, illegal export of heroin from Asia to Europe.
With an outflow of $ 129 billion, Nigeria stands in the seventh place in this list.

8. India
Amount: $ 123 billion

India is the largest democracy in the world and the second most populated nation.
With all the natural recourses, India has become on the fastest growing economy in the world. India is the home some of the global leaders like RIL, Tata, Wipro, Infosys, etc.
Talking about India, its colorful tradition and culture has been attracting tourists from each and every corner of the globe.
According to the recent study by the Global Financial Integrity, India had an illegal outflow of $ 123 billion and is ranked eighth.

9. Indonesia
Amount: $ 109 billion

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country. In terms of GDP, Indonesian economy is the sixteenth largest in the world.
The gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated about $1 trillion and the debt ratio to the GDP is 26%.  And the country’s major export commodities include oil and gas, electrical appliances, plywood, rubber, and textiles.
Indonesia has an illicit outflow of $ 109 billion and is placed in the ninth position worldwide.

10. United Arab Emirates
Amount: $ 107 billion

UAE is one of the largest producers of oil and natural gases. Before oil was discovered, the UAE economy was dependant on fishing.UAE is one of the most favorite holiday spot across the globe and in terms of tourism revenue, UAE tops the chart.UAE is also the home to some mega structures like the ‘Burj Dubai’, ‘Palm Islands’, ‘World Island’ and the ‘Burj-al Arab’.UAE scored the tenth rank in this list with an outflow of $ 107 billion between 2001-2010.

Saudi Arabia: For the first time women are appointed to parliament


24.04.2009 саудовская аравия женщина глаза хиджаб бурка ислам мусульманство мусульманка

Saudi King Abdullah has for the first time appointed 30 women to the country’s parliament, according to a royal decree. The decree gives women a fifth of the Shura Council, which is the formal parliament of the conservative, oil-rich kingdom but has very limited powers. All its 150 members are appointed by the king.

In 2011, Abdullah pledged to allow women to run for and vote in municipal elections, the country’s only polls, as part of his reform drive. The next election is set for 2015.

Saudi Arabia remains the only predominantly Muslim country that has yet to allow women the right to vote.

Saudi women are also not allowed to drive, and cannot travel unless they are accompanied by a male guardian or are over 45 years of age.

Moscow times

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