US senator pregnant, set to be first to give birth during term

This file photo taken on October 9, 2016 shows Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth during a Coordinated Victory Fund Event in Chicago. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2018
0

US senator pregnant, set to be first to give birth during term

WASHINGTON: Good news from Washington.
US Senator Tammy Duckworth, a decorated Asian American army veteran and double amputee, announced Tuesday she was pregnant with her second child.
The 49-year-old Democrat from Illinois stands to be the first senator to give birth during her term.
“Wanted to share some exciting personal news...” she tweeted, alongside a picture of two grownup ducks and a young duck joined by a plus sign to a baby duck, and a caption that read: “Duck, duck, duck...duckling!“
Duckworth told the Chicago Sun-Times she was expecting her second child, another girl, in April — a few weeks after she turns 50.
“Bryan and I are thrilled that our family is getting a little bit bigger, and Abigail is ecstatic to welcome her baby sister home this spring,” she added in a statement, referring to her husband and three-year-old daughter.
Ten members of Congress have given birth in office — but they all belonged to the chamber’s House of Representatives.
“As tough as it’s been to juggle motherhood and the demands of being in the House and now the Senate, it’s made me more committed to doing this job,” the Sun-Times quoted her as saying.
An Iraq war veteran and retired US army lieutenant colonel, Duckworth lost both her legs when the helicopter she was co-piloting was shot down by insurgents in 2004.
She entered the House in 2012 and then the Senate in 2016, where she is one of the 100-strong chamber’s 22 women.
Born in Thailand to a Thai mother and American father, she is the joint second Asian American woman to serve in the Senate, alongside Kamala Harris.


No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

Updated 21 January 2019
0

No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

  • The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths
  • With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw

BAGHDAD: Roaring along Baghdad’s highways, the “Iraq Bikers” are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their shared enthusiasm to help heal Iraq’s deep sectarian rifts.
Weaving in and out of traffic, only the lucky few ride Harley Davidsons — a rare and expensive brand in Iraq — while others make do with bikes pimped-up to look something like the “Easy Rider” dream machines.
“Our goal is to build a brotherhood,” said Bilal Al-Bayati, 42, a government employee who founded the club in 2012 with the aim of improving the image of biker gangs and to promote unity after years of sectarian conflict.
That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics.
“It is absolutely prohibited to talk politics among members,” Bayati told Reuters as he sat with fellow bikers in a shisha cafe, a regular hangout for members.
“Whenever politics is mentioned, the members are warned once or twice and then expelled. We no longer have the strength to endure these tragedies or to repeat them,” he said, referring to sectarian violence.
With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw.
But while their style is unmistakably US-inspired — at least one of Bayati’s cohorts wears a helmet emblazoned with the stars and stripes — these bikers fly the Iraqi flag from the panniers of their machines.
The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths. One of their most recent events was taking part in Army Day celebrations.
Some are in the military, the police and even the Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Shiite militias which have taken part in the fight to oust Islamic State from Iraq in the last three years.
“It is a miniature Iraq,” said member Ahmed Haidar, 36, who works with an international relief agency.
But riding a chopper through Baghdad is quite different from Route 101. The bikers have to slow down at the many military checkpoints set up around the city to deter suicide and car bomb attacks.
And very few can afford a top bike.
“We don’t have a Harley Davidson franchise here,” said Kadhim Naji, a mechanic who specializes in turning ordinary motorbikes into something special.
“So what we do is we alter the motorbike, so it looks similar ... and it is cheaper.”