Dog custody: Spain to consider pets’ welfare in divorce battles

Dog custody: Spain to consider pets’ welfare in divorce battles
Raquel holds her relative dog Nala, four month old, after she jumps the wooden fence to the playground, at Joan Miro park in Barcelona, Spain on Wednesday. (Reuters)
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Updated 05 January 2022

Dog custody: Spain to consider pets’ welfare in divorce battles

Dog custody: Spain to consider pets’ welfare in divorce battles
  • The decision follows similar moves in France and Portugal and obliges judges to consider pets as sentient beings rather than objects
  • The left-wing coalition government plans further legislation to strengthen animal rights

MADRID: Spain will consider a pet’s welfare when couples divorce or break-up from Wednesday in a legal shift that strengthens the case for couples obtaining shared custody of their animals.
The decision follows similar moves in France and Portugal and obliges judges to consider pets as sentient beings rather than objects owned by one or the other partner, a trend that was already underway before the law was passed.
“Animals are part of the family and when a family decides to separate, the fate of the animal must be regulated with the same importance as the fate of other family members,” said lawyer Lola Garcia, 42.
In October, a Madrid judge gave joint custody of a dog to an unmarried couple who sought a court ruling on whom the pet should stay with after they separated. The dog spends a month with each of them and both are legally responsible.
Garcia, whose Rights & Animals firm handled the case, considers the reform a major first step in a series of forthcoming legal changes governing people’s relationship with animals.
Pet ownership is high in Spain among European countries and the left-wing coalition government plans further legislation to strengthen animal rights, including a ban on wild animals in circuses and stopping the sale of pets in shops.
However, the nation remains polarized around the tradition of bullfighting, a hotly contested animal rights issue that is unlikely to be resolved in the near future.
Previously, a lawyer seeking joint custody of a pet had to prove both members of a couple owned the animal as an object, giving whoever had registered the pet an advantage.
Now a judge has to determine where the animal will fare better and that determination is based on the animal’s wellbeing Garcia explained.
A partner that can demonstrate financial solvency or who has been granted custody of their children has a better chance of securing custody of any pets too, as there is a special affective link between children and animals, she added.
Rodrigo Costavilas, 31, a psychologist out walking his dog in the Madrid Rio park praised the new law.
“This will help in the reduction of animals being abandoned or badly treated.”


Colombian author García Márquez had secret Mexican daughter

Colombian author García Márquez had secret Mexican daughter
Updated 18 January 2022

Colombian author García Márquez had secret Mexican daughter

Colombian author García Márquez had secret Mexican daughter
  • Márquez died in Mexico City in 2014, where thousands of his readers lined up to see his casket in a concert hall

BOGOTA, Colombia: For decades renowned Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez kept the public from knowing about an intimate aspect of his life: He had a daughter with a Mexican writer, with whom he had an extramarital affair in the early 1990s.
The closely guarded secret was published by Colombian newspaper El Universal on Sunday and confirmed to the Associated Press by two relatives of the Nobel Prize-winning author, who is famous for novels like One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.
Márquez died in Mexico City in 2014, where thousands of his readers lined up to see his casket in a concert hall. He was married for more than five decades to Mercedes Barcha and the couple had two children named Rodrigo and Gonzalo. They lived in Mexico City for much of their lives.
El Universal said that in the early 1990s Márquez had a daughter with Susana Cato, a writer and journalist who worked with Márquez on two movie scripts and who also interviewed him for a 1996 magazine story. Cato and Marquez named their daughter Indira: She is now in her early 30s and uses her mother’s surname.
Shani García Márquez, one of the writer’s nieces, told the AP that she had known for years about her cousin Indira, but had not mentioned her to the media because her parents always asked her to be discrete about her uncle’s personal life.
Gabriel Eligio Torres García, who is also a nephew of the Colombian writer, said he has been in touch with Indira Cato through social media, though he has never met her in person.
“My cousins Rodrigo and Gonzalo told me about her casually during a reunion,” he said.
Other members of García Márquez’s family, cited by El Universal, said they had not spoken about the writer’s daughter previously out of “respect” for Mercedes Barcha who died in August 2020. Torres García said that Indira Cato’s mother, Susana, had also been discrete about her daughter’s lineage, to keep her away from the media spotlight.
Indira Cato is now a documentary producer in Mexico City. She won several awards for a 2014 documentary on migrants passing through Mexico.
García Márquez’ family said they didn’t want to share her contact information because they were not authorized to do so, and the AP could not contact Indira Cato independently.
“She leads a very artistic lifestyle, like many people in this family,” said Shani García. “It makes us very happy that she has shined on her own.”


Dog rescued from collapsed house 6 days after landslide

Dog rescued from collapsed house 6 days after landslide
Updated 15 January 2022

Dog rescued from collapsed house 6 days after landslide

Dog rescued from collapsed house 6 days after landslide
  • A person emerged from the house Thursday carrying her alert black Labrador named Sammy
  • The Seattle Fire Department said firefighters had responded to reports of a dog possibly trapped inside the wreckage of the house

SEATTLE: A dog that was trapped for six days inside a house that collapsed last week in a landslide has been rescued, officials said.
“My baby. My baby,” home owner Didi Fritts said when a person emerged from the house Thursday carrying her alert black Labrador named Sammy, KING-TV reported.
The Seattle Fire Department said on Twitter Thursday that firefighters had responded to reports of a dog possibly trapped inside the wreckage of the house.
Veterinarians at the scene examined the dog, who seemed alert and wagged her tail after seeing Fritts, video from the TV station showed. The fire department described Sammy’s condition as stable.
The landslide on Jan. 7 caused the house to slide off its foundation, leaving James Fritts trapped inside, while his wife Didi crawled to safety.
Their other dog Lilly died in the collapse, The Seattle Times reported. Family members said they had returned daily to their house, hoping to hear the missing dog.
Rescue workers heard the dog when they arrived, David Cuerpo, a spokesperson for the Seattle Fire Department, told the newspaper.
They used chainsaws to cut through the home’s walls and flooring to get to the dog, working cautiously amid worries that the unstable home could suffer another collapse.
Rescue workers proceeded cautiously on Thursday, worried the house might suffer another collapse.


Afghan tradition allows girls to access the freedom of boys

Afghan tradition allows girls to access the freedom of boys
Updated 14 January 2022

Afghan tradition allows girls to access the freedom of boys

Afghan tradition allows girls to access the freedom of boys
  • Under the practice, a girl dresses, behaves and is treated as a boy, with all the freedoms and obligations that entails
  • Once a bacha posh reaches puberty, she is expected to revert to traditional girls’ gender roles

KABUL, Afghanistan: In a Kabul neighborhood, a gaggle of boys kick a yellow ball around a dusty playground, their boisterous cries echoing off the surrounding apartment buildings.
Dressed in sweaters and jeans or the traditional Afghan male clothing of baggy pants and long shirt, none stand out as they jostle to score a goal. But unbeknown to them, one is different from the others.
At not quite 8 years old, Sanam is a bacha posh: a girl living as a boy. One day a few months ago, the girl with rosy cheeks and an impish smile had her dark hair cut short, donned boys’ clothes and took on a boy’s name, Omid. The move opened up a boy’s world: playing soccer and cricket with boys, wrestling with the neighborhood butcher’s son, working to help the family make ends meet.
In Afghanistan’s heavily patriarchal, male-dominated society, where women and girls are usually relegated to the home, bacha posh, Dari for “dressed as a boy,” is the one tradition allowing girls access to the freer male world.
Under the practice, a girl dresses, behaves and is treated as a boy, with all the freedoms and obligations that entails. The child can play sports, attend a madrassa, or religious school, and, sometimes crucially for the family, work. But there is a time limit: Once a bacha posh reaches puberty, she is expected to revert to traditional girls’ gender roles. The transition is not always easy.
It is unclear how the practice is viewed by Afghanistan’s new rulers, the Taliban, who seized power in mid-August and have made no public statements on the issue.
Their rule so far has been less draconian than the last time they were in power in the 1990s, but women’s freedoms have still been severely curtailed. Thousands of women have been barred from working, and girls beyond primary school age have not been able to return to public schools in most places.
With a crackdown on women’s rights, the bacha posh tradition could become even more attractive for some families. And as the practice is temporary, with the children eventually reverting to female roles, the Taliban might not deal with the issue at all, said Thomas Barfield, a professor of anthropology at Boston University who has written several books on Afghanistan.
“Because it’s inside the family and because it’s not a permanent status, the Taliban may stay out (of it),” Barfield said.
It is unclear where the practice originated or how old it is, and it is impossible to know how widespread it might be. A somewhat similar tradition exists in Albania, another deeply patriarchal society, although it is limited to adults. Under Albania’s “sworn virgin” tradition, a woman would take an oath of celibacy and declare herself a man, after which she could inherit property, work and sit on a village council — all of which would have been out of bounds for a woman.
In Afghanistan, the bacha posh tradition is “one of the most under-investigated” topics in terms of gender issues, said Barfield, who spent about two years in the 1970s living with an Afghan nomad family that included a bacha posh. “Precisely because the girls revert back to the female role, they marry, it kind of disappears.”
Girls chosen as bacha posh usually are the more boisterous, self-assured daughters. “The role fits so well that sometimes even outside the family, people are not aware that it exists,” he said.
“It’s almost so invisible that it’s one of the few gender issues that doesn’t show up as a political or social question,” Barfield noted.
The reasons parents might want a bacha posh vary. With sons traditionally valued more than daughters, the practice usually occurs in families without a boy. Some consider it a status symbol, and some believe it will bring good luck for the next child to be born a boy.
But for others, like Sanam’s family, the choice was one of necessity. Last year, with Afghanistan’s economy collapsing, construction work dried up. Sanam’s father, already suffering from a back injury, lost his job as a plumber. He turned to selling coronavirus masks on the streets, making the equivalent of $1-$2 per day. But he needed a helper.
The family has four daughters and one son, but their 11-year-old boy doesn’t have full use of his hands following an injury. So the parents said they decided to make Sanam a bacha posh.
“We had to do this because of poverty,” said Sanam’s mother, Fahima. “We don’t have a son to work for us, and her father doesn’t have anyone to help him. So I will consider her my son until she becomes a teenager.”
Still, Fahima refers to Sanam as “my daughter.” In their native Dari language, the pronouns are not an issue since one pronoun is used for “he” and “she.”
Sanam says she prefers living as a boy.
“It’s better to be a boy ... I wear (Afghan male clothes), jeans and jackets, and go with my father and work,” she said. She likes playing in the park with her brother’s friends and playing cricket and soccer.
Once she grows up, Sanam said, she wants to be either a doctor, a commander or a soldier, or work with her father. And she’ll go back to being a girl.
“When I grow up, I will let my hair grow and will wear girl’s clothes,” she said.
The transition isn’t always easy.
“When I put on girls’ clothes, I thought I was in prison,” said Najieh, who grew up as a bacha posh, although she would attend school as a girl. One of seven sisters, her boy’s name was Assadollah.
Now 34, married and with four children of her own, she weeps for the freedom of the male world she has lost.
“In Afghanistan, boys are more valuable,” she said. “There is no oppression for them, and no limits. But being a girl is different. She gets forced to get married at a young age.”
Young women can’t leave the house or allow strangers to see their face, Najieh said. And after the Taliban takeover, she lost her job as a schoolteacher because she had been teaching boys.
“Being a man is better than being a woman,” she said, wiping tears from her eye. “It is very hard for me. ... If I were a man, I could be a teacher in a school.”
“I wish I could be a man, not a woman. To stop this suffering.”


Lebanese government apologizes for mistaking Kuwait’s flag for UAE

Lebanese government apologizes for mistaking Kuwait’s flag for UAE
Updated 14 January 2022

Lebanese government apologizes for mistaking Kuwait’s flag for UAE

Lebanese government apologizes for mistaking Kuwait’s flag for UAE

The Lebanese government apologized on Thursday for mistaking the Kuwaiti flag for that of the UAE during the opening of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Hospital Center for treating coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the capital Beirut.

The apology, posted on the official Twitter page of the Lebanese prime minister’s office, came after a picture of the incorrect flag circulated on social media. 

The former Lebanese Ambassador to Jordan Tracy Chamoun slammed the government for the debacle, saying in a tweet: “Unfortunately, some people running the state today are without a brain.” 

 

Lebanon’s Directorate of Protocols and Public Relations at the Presidency of the Lebanese Council of Ministers said in a statement that the incident “required clarification and apology.”

It stated that the error occurred due to the confusion of an employee who had placed the flag of Kuwait next to the Lebanese flag instead of the UAE flag.

6 debacles and diplomatic goofs that happened

1. Bahrain welcomed Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi by playing the chords of Egyptian musician Raafat Al-Hagan instead of the Egyptian national anthem during his official visit in 2018.

 

2. The Egyptian military band mangled the Russian national anthem during President Vladimir Putin visit to Egypt in 2015. The performance went viral on social media and was labeled a “train wreck.”

 

3. During the Rio Olympics in 2016, the wrong Chinese flag was used several times. The wrong flag used during the opening ceremony and two medal ceremonies. Chinese state TV posted this picture of the wrong flag's first outing with the caption: "The national flag is a symbol of a country! No mistakes are allowed!"

4. A group of Turkish demonstrators were mocked after a video of them setting what they thought was a Dutch flag on fire circulated online. Social media users were quick to reveal it was actually a French flag.

 

 

5. US President Bush took the podium in Nashville in 2002 to speak before a group of schoolchildren, parents and teachers where he gets a famous saying completely wrong. He says “There's an old saying in Tennessee,” then after a series of awkward pauses he continues with: “I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me... You can't get fooled again!’” For the record, the correct rendering of the aphorism is: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

 

6. British Prime Minister David Cameron and his delegation offended Chinese officials by wearing poppies during a visit in 2010. In Britain this is a symbol of those who have died fighting for their country. However, Chinese officials asked the delegates to remove the poppies before Cameron’s official welcome at Beijing’s Great Hall because the flower symbolises their defeat against Britain in the Opium War fought from 1839 to 1842. Awkwardly, the British officials refused. 

Visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) walks beside Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) while wearing a poppy on his lapel to honor British war dead at a review of the honour guard welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2010. (AFP)

 


Prince Andrew gives up military titles, patronages: Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II's second son Prince Andrew, who is facing a US civil case for sexual assault, has given up his honorary military and charitable roles, Buckingham Palace said. (AFP/File Photo)
Queen Elizabeth II's second son Prince Andrew, who is facing a US civil case for sexual assault, has given up his honorary military and charitable roles, Buckingham Palace said. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 13 January 2022

Prince Andrew gives up military titles, patronages: Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II's second son Prince Andrew, who is facing a US civil case for sexual assault, has given up his honorary military and charitable roles, Buckingham Palace said. (AFP/File Photo)
  • The move comes a day after his lawyers failed to persuade a US judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit against him

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II’s second son Prince Andrew, who is facing a US civil case for sexual assault, has given up his honorary military and charitable roles, Buckingham Palace said on Thursday.
“With The Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen,” a statement said.
“The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”
The announcement came after a judge in New York on Wednesday ruled against the 61-year-old prince, who had tried to have the case against him thrown out.
Andrew, a former Royal Navy helicopter pilot who flew in the 1982 Falklands War, is accused of sexually assaulting Virginia Giuffre when she was 17.
Giuffre alleges the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein lent her out for sex with his wealthy and powerful associates.
Andrew, who is ninth in line to the throne, was forced to step back from royal duties in late 2019, after a disastrous television interview in which he tried to defend his links to Epstein.
Public outrage at the time saw several charities and associations distance themselves from him, and he has since repeatedly denied Giuffre’s allegations.
He has rarely been seen in public since the television interview.
On Thursday, he was seen being driven from his house near Windsor Castle, west of London, an AFP photographer said.
The announcement came after more than 150 Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and British Army veterans wrote to the Queen, calling on her to strip Andrew of his ranks and titles in the armed forces.
The 95-year-old head of state is commander-in-chief of the army, navy and air force.
“Were this any other senior military officer it is inconceivable that he would still be in post,” the veterans wrote in a joint letter made public by the anti-monarchy pressure group Republic.
“Officers of the British armed forces must adhere to the very highest standards of probity, honesty and honorable conduct.
“These are standards which Prince Andrew has fallen well short of,” they wrote, adding that he had “brought the services he is associated with into disrepute.”
Senior members of the British royal family have typically been appointed as honorary heads of military units, with the Queen’s approval.
Andrew was honorary colonel of the Grenadier Guards, whose soldiers guard Buckingham Palace in their distinctive bearskin hats and red tunics.
Royal patronages are associations with charities and other organizations.