Stop, decontaminate and listen: Vanilla Ice tweets from Emirates NYC flight

Vanilla Ice was okay because he was on the upper deck. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2018
0

Stop, decontaminate and listen: Vanilla Ice tweets from Emirates NYC flight

  • Vanilla Ice was on the plane, but in the safe confines of the upper deck
  • His video has since gone viral, attracting even more attention than the original story

DUBAI: It was a case of Ice – not so nice – baby for the 1990s hip hop sensation Vanilla Ice – as the Emirates plane he was traveling on from Dubai to New York became the center of a health scare on Wednesday.

The 14-hour long flight on the Emirates A380 hit the headlines when several passengers fell ill – but at the time, what many people were unaware of was that the rapper-cum-TV presenter was on the upper deck.

He had been traveling from Dubai after a day’s stopover from South Africa when the plane was met at JFK Airport by a fleet of emergency service vehicles.

Like all good 21st century celebrities Vanilla Ice’s first reaction was to take to Twitter and tell his people what was happening.

“So I just landed in New York coming back from Dubai and now I’m stuck on the runway with like 1000 police, ambulances, fire trucks, this is crazy,” he tweeted.

His claim of 1,000 police was somewhat over the top – but that didn’t stop it receiving hundreds of likes.

Of course, this didn’t stop him, and moments later he was back on Twitter with an update, reassuring us of his wellbeing.

“This is crazy. Apparently there is over 100 people sick on the bottom floor, so happy I’m up top, it’s a double-decker plane 380.”

Obviously concerned for the passengers down below in standard, he then whipped out his phone to produce a viral video which he also tweeted from the comfort of his flatbed chair.

Adding the comment: “So I just landed from Dubai and now there is like tons of ambulances and fire trucks and police all over the place”

Vanilla Ice rose to fame with his hit single “Ice Ice Baby. He later disappeared from pop stardom, but made a comeback with his own DIY show “The Vanilla Ice Project.”

At the peak of his music career he dated the Queen of Pop Madonna, but the couple split up in 1992.

It is not clear why he spent the day in Dubai, but in an earlier tweet he said it was the longest he’d ever flown for.

“Most flying I’ve ever done in my whole life, 29 hours in the air to South Africa and over to Dubai for one day then back home ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ exhausted,” – which seems odd, given he was once embarking on world tours.

An Emirates airline spokeswoman said 10 passengers fell ill on the flight from Dubai to New York. New York media outlets – and Vanilla Ice - had earlier put the number at about 100 passengers.

“Emirates can confirm that about 10 passengers on board flight EK203 from Dubai to New York were taken ill,” the spokeswoman said. “On arrival at JFK, as a precaution, they were immediately checked by local health authorities and those needing medical attention will be attended to.”

A later statement from the airline said three passengers and seven crew were transferred to hospital for medical care and that all passengers had disembarked from the aircraft.

Eric Phillips, spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said it appeared that some of the ill passengers had come from Mecca, which is experiencing a flu outbreak.

“Health officials are processing tests now to determine the cause. Symptoms still pointing to the flu,” he tweeted.

Later it was revealed the cause of the illness was “probably influenza,” New York City acting Health Commissioner Dr Oxiris Barbot said.

He said tests had been taken by officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and most of the passengers were cleared to continue their travels.

In a statement, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said that Emirates flight 203 landed at 9:12 a.m. “with a report of multiple sick passengers.”

“The plane was taken to a location away from the terminal so that medical personnel from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could board the aircraft to evaluate the situation and provide immediate assistance,” it added.

The plane’s return journey to Dubai was delayed by three hours.

Now let's remind ourselves of what he was best known for so Stop.... Collaborate... And listen:


37% of Arab women have experienced violence, UN workshop hears

Updated 20 September 2018
0

37% of Arab women have experienced violence, UN workshop hears

  • A UN workshop in Beirut has been getting to grips with a critical issue for the Arab region
  • Of ESCWA’s 22 member states, countries that are considered to have adequate laws in place include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon

BEIRUT: Arab women and their protection took center stage at a regional workshop held by the UN in Beirut this week.

Held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the United Nations House in the Lebanese capital, the workshop to support women in the Arab region was organized by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the Arab League. 

The aim was to address violence against women and highlight the role of international and regional bodies specializing in women’s issues, as well as their impact on the development of policies, strategies, national laws and standard services to address the issue.

“Violence against women is one of our key pillars, and we chose the topic based on the request from our Arab member states,” said Mehrinaz El-Awady, director at the ESCWA Center for Women. “Most of our work is related to eliminating violence. We do studies and a lot of capacity-building on certain topics.”

The center conducted a number of studies on the topic this year, adding to its seven years of cumulative work on the issue. The studies are complemented by workshops to fill the knowledge gap. 

“There are a lot of initiatives done by national women’s machineries, which are the government offices, departments, commissions or ministries that provide leadership and support to government efforts to achieve greater equality between women and men, but they are not all aligned with international institutions, policy and gender equality in general,” El-Awady said. “There are specific requirements for legislation on violence against women, and we have six Arab countries that have done this legislation, yet we need more alignment on these legislations, to have a broader definition on violence against women.” 

She spoke of the potential in Arab countries to eliminate violence, which the UN wishes to build on. “We’re introducing international instruments on violence against women and key pillars that should be legislation on the topic,” El-Awady said. 

“It should cover prevention, protection, prosecution and rehabilitation, and we’re picking some of the examples of countries that have done legislation, allowing them to present the newly developed laws so other countries that haven’t had a law would be encouraged to follow the same path.”

Of ESCWA’s 22 member states, countries that are considered to have adequate laws in place include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon. In 2013, Saudi Arabia passed legislation to protect women, children and domestic workers against domestic abuse. It was followed earlier this year by an anti-harassment law. 

Other countries are said to deal with violence against women under the penal code, which ESCWA is advocating against. “When you have violence against women in a penal code, it loses the privacy,” she added. “It’s not violence from an intimate partner.”

According to UN Women, one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once, mostly by an intimate partner. In some countries, that figure is as high as 70 per cent. Globally, almost four in every 10 female homicide victims are killed by intimate partners.

Violence against women has risen in the past few years in the region, which, according to the World Bank, has the lowest number of laws protecting women from domestic violence in the world. UN Women estimates 37 per cent of Arab women have experienced violence, with indicators that the percentage might be higher. 

“The region has had a prevalence of violence against women, and it’s one of the things we’re trying to support countries (in),” El-Awady said. 

“We hope Arab member states are more sensitive to the requirement of legislation on violence against women and start the consideration of having a protection order with the legislation to complement it. There’s a momentum and Arab countries are now more alert — it’s a phenomenon that requires attention from them.” 

Women and girls make up 70 per cent of all known human-trafficking victims. Adult women constitute 50 percent of the total number of trafficked people, while two in three child victims of human trafficking are young girls. 

Rapists are often shown leniency or even acquitted in the Arab region if they marry their victims. In Morocco, Article 475 of the penal code, which allowed rapists to avoid prosecution if they marry their victims, was repealed in 2014 following the suicide of a rape victim who was forced to marry her rapist. Today, 700 million women have been married under the age of 18, and 14 percent of Arab girls marry under the age of 18.

“Violence against women has multiple consequences, at the individual level, within the family, community and wider society,” said Manal Benkirane, regional program specialist at UN Women’s Regional Office for Arab States. “It can lead to fatal outcomes and have a significant burden on the economy. Despite the ongoing efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls in the region, its prevalence and social acceptance remain high.”

She stressed the importance of having enabling legislative frameworks to change the social norms and acceptance of violence, and to ensure women’s access to services that meet their needs. “Otherwise, women in the region end up being violated twice, first when they are subjected to assault, and second when they are denied their right to care and support,” she said. “This workshop offers the space for participating countries to share their experiences, achievements but also challenges they faced in addressing violence in the region.”

More than six in every 10 women survivors of violence refrain from asking for support or protection. The remaining ones who speak up turn to family and friends.

Globally, the total direct and indirect costs of violence against women for countries are estimated to be as high as 1 to 2 percent of their gross national product, which amounts to millions of dollars worldwide. 

“Violence against women (has) become a critical issue in the Arab region,” said Shaza Abdellateef, head of women in the women, family and childhood department at the Arab League’s social affairs sector. 

“This is especially pronounced under the recent circumstances that some Arab countries suffer from, with the spread of armed conflicts, refugees and the increase of violence against women, including domestic violence. It is one of the most important issues in the Arab region today.”