22 August 2018   Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia intends to execute Israa al-Ghomgham, a noted human rights activist in the country.  If the execution is carried out, al-Ghomgham will be the first woman ever executed for efforts to protect human rights in the country.  According to Reuters: “At least 13 women have been arrested since May. While a number have been released, nine remain held without charge.”  Human RIghts Watch describes the situation:

“The Public Prosecution, which reports directly to the king, accused the detained activists of several charges that do not resemble recognizable crimes, including ‘participating in protests in the Qatif region,’ ‘incitement to protest,’ ‘chanting slogans hostile to the regime,’ ‘attempting to inflame public opinion,’ ‘filming protests and publishing on social media,’ and ‘providing moral support to rioters.’ It called for their execution based on the Islamic law principle of ta’zir, in which the judge has discretion over the definition of what constitutes a crime and over the sentence. Authorities have held all six activists in pretrial detention and without legal representation for over two years. Their next court date has been scheduled for October 28, 2018.”

The Human Rights Report on Saudi Arabia issued by the US Department of State in 2017 notes the serious violations of human rights in the country, but the US government has yet to issue a statement on the possible beheading of a human rights activist.

Israa al-Ghomgham


Maersk is the world’s largest container shipping company and it has announced plans to send one of its container ships through Arctic waters to test the feasibility of that route.  The possibility of a northern shipping route would shave off many days of transport and only recently has become feasible because of the substantial melting of “old ice” on the northern tip of Greenland.  The Arctic Sea Ice Blog is a very reliable source of information on climate conditions in the Arctic and one of its most recent posts makes this observation:

“A quite spectacular event took place during the past two weeks, and if it had continued for a while longer, I’m sure it would’ve been reported widely. It’s something I’ve semi-jokingly alluded to when setting up this blog back in 2010, in my third blog post called Dire Straits, and a partial answer to the question commenter fredt34* asked at the time:

      “The big hole opening in East Greenland re-activated my interest for this question: will we see Greenland being circumnavigable this year? If not, when?

“That was July 23rd 2010, and now a little over 8 years later, we have almost seen it happen: a corridor of open water between Fram Strait and the Lincoln Sea (where Nares Strait starts).”

NASA released the video below in 2016 and the situation now is even more extreme.  We are not sure what the long-term consequences of sea ice melt in the Arctic will be, but many of the possible scenarios are dire.




Posted August 22, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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