‘Pray, pray for everybody in Florida’
“I said let’s go and live the good life in paradise, and here we are” said a woman who moved with her husband to Naples in Florida from New York. Flooded streets, a storm surge of over 10 feet, floating appliances and furniture, swamped homes and boats– and this isn’t even the full extent of the 400-mile-wide storm’s wrath. At least 3.3 million homes and businesses across Florida have lost power, curfews imposed in Miami, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and almost 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to evacuate, including 6.4 million in Florida alone. In Miami, a woman in labour was guided through delivery on the phone, as Irma battered the state from coast to coast.
“Pray, pray for everybody in Florida…This is a life threatening situation,” Governor Rick Scott told the media. While the worst of the storm may have passed over, people are now worried about the storm surge. “People are worried about the winds of 150kph, which are predicted in Tampa, as well as the rainfall, and the highest concern is the storm surges,” said a reporter reporting from Tampa.
Women from Israel’s ultra-orthodox community say ‘enough’ to abuse
After ten long years of enduring physical, verbal and sexual attacks, and wearing a diaper because her husband would decide when she would use the toilet, Reut, who belongs to Israel’s deeply devout and insular ultra-Orthodox community, decided to run away to a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. And she is not the only one in the community to face this kind of humiliating violence. Some would say it’s the norm. Yet, Rabbis and community leaders turn a blind eye to the abuse, lest the community would get a bad name.
But as the deeply insular community begins to open up, emotionally and physically battered women are beginning to recognise the options they have outside of torturous marriages. “Domestic violence is universal — it happens in every part of society. But we have noticed an increase in the number of Haredi women seeking help in recent years,” says an official from the Ministry of Social Affairs. If the state’s shelter home list is anything to go by, there’s already a waiting for women seeking to flee abusive homes.
In the Middle East, Trump tried and failed
At least Trump tried. But his attempt to break the stalemate dividing the Gulf countries since June has, in fact, failed. He jumped into the fray last week offering his services as a mediator. Soon enough, he predicted a “quick victory”. But it ended in a bitter exchange of jabs.
He arranged a call between the leaders from Qatar and Saudi Arabia – a reassuring development considering the countries spoke on the phone for the first time in months. Hours after the call, however, the same old cycle of acrimony and accusations ensued. While an official Qatari statement said the emir “welcomed the (Saudi) proposal” to appoint two peace envoys, the Saudis accused them of distorting facts. They weren’t the first ones to bow, the Saudis retorted. They went a step further and suspended the hours-old dialogue. “Given the hypersensitivity of both sides to appearing weak, it makes the problem considerably harder to solve,” a research fellow explains.
Pope Francis changes the words in which Roman Catholics worship
Pope Francis has never been shy to reform the church. Now, he has made a vital change in the way Roman Catholics pray. How? He just amended the Vatican law, giving national bishop conferences more power to translate liturgical language.
While conservative opponents have always thrown their weight behind the Latin Mass, catholic progressives have been advocating for contemporary idioms, as opposed to what they perceive as “a heavy and out-of-touch hand from Rome”. So the amendment comes as a significant development in the liturgical rupture that has divided even the highest echelons of the church for decades. It’s also in keeping with Pope Francis’ reformist history. From challenging Rome’s bureaucracy, to underscoring the need to evolve and accept homosexuals and the divorced, Francis has often been on the side of reforms.
After generations-long strife for Kurdistan, finally a referendum
The outcome of the referendum on turning the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan into an independent state might be a forgone conclusion. The government in Baghdad has already hinted at not recognising the results of the vote, and almost every major player in the region has opposed the vote, which could further fragment the volatile region. Yet, for Kurds, the dream of statehood is real. And the vote is the realest manifestation of their generations-long strife for independence.
“If you look at our history we have been mistreated throughout history…We as a nation have every right to self-determination,” said the chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security. Indeed, even as strategic impediments remain, there are many who believe that it is only a matter of time before Kurds have their own country. “Did the U.S. have a constitution when it declared independence? No. Before African countries declared independence did they have everything in order?” asks the governor of Kirkuk.