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Crude oil touted as health cure in Azerbaijan

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NAFTALAN, Azerbaijan (AFP) — Immersed up to her neck in a dark viscous liquid, Sulfiya smiles in delight, confident that the fetid substance will cure her painful condition.

Sulfiya, a Russian woman in her 60s, has travelled to Azerbaijan’s north-western city of Naftalan in the hope that crude oil baths at a local sanatorium will end her years of suffering from polyarthritis, a disease affecting the joints.

“This is so pleasant,” she enthuses, despite the reek of engine oil.

Her naked dip in oil heated to just above body temperature lasts 10 minutes, after which an attendant scrapes the brown oil off her skin and sends her into a shower.

The native of Russia’s Tatarstan region said she and her friends “have long dreamed of coming” for treatment in Naftalan.

The petroleum spa resort in the oil-rich Caucasus country is a draw for visitors despite its proximity to Nagorny Karabakh, a region disputed between Azerbaijan and Armenia in a long-running armed conflict.

After 10 days of bathing in crude oil Sulfiya says she now feels “much better” and has even reduced her medication for the polyarthritis that she has had for 12 years.

“It is a gift from God,” agrees 48-year-old Rufat, an Azerbaijani journalist and opposition party member who is undergoing treatment in the sanatorium called Sehirli, or “magic” in Azerbaijani. Azerbaijan’s vast oil deposits were discovered in the mid-19th century, making what was at the time part of the Russian Empire one of the first places in the world to start commercial oil production.

Oil exports to markets all over the world are the largest sector of Azerbaijan’s economy, but the crude that comes from subsoil reservoirs in Naftalan is not suitable for commercial use.

Instead the local oil is used to treat muscular, skin and bone conditions as well as gynaecological and neurological problems.

According to a legend, which spa staff readily tell clients, the healing properties of Naftalan’s “miraculous oil” were discovered by accident when a camel left to die near a pool of oil was cured.

The small town of Naftalan some 300 kilometres (185 miles) from the capital Baku became a popular health resort for Soviet citizens in the 1920s.

“In the past, when there weren’t any hotels or sanatoriums, people would come to Naftalan and stay with locals,” said one of the doctors at the Sehirli sanatorium, Fabil Azizov, sitting in her office under a portrait of strongman President Ilham Aliyev.

“But as time passed, sanatoriums were built and treatment methods developed.”

– Controversial benefits –

Some specialists warn the method has dangerous side effects.

“Despite the stories of past cures, the use of crude oil for medicinal purposes has been condemned by Western doctors as potentially carcinogenic,” former journalist Maryam Omidi wrote in a 2017 book published in Britain about Soviet-era sanatoriums.

In fact, the oil at Naftalan is almost 50 per cent naphthalene, a carcinogenic substance found in cigarette smoke and mothballs that in large amounts can damage or destroy red blood cells.

But doctors and patients at Naftalan brush aside any misgivings and the sanatorium even has a small museum displaying crutches that once belonged to patients who have recovered from their illnesses.

– ‘We heard gunshots’ –

During its heyday in the 1980s, Naftalan would host more than 70,000 visitors a year.

But in 1988, a bloody war began with neighbouring Armenia for the control of Azerbaijan’s separatist Nagorny Karabakh region, which unilaterally proclaimed independence from Baku in 1991. The conflict claimed the lives of some 30,000 people from both sides and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

A 1994 ceasefire agreement ended hostilities, but the arch foes have yet to reach a definitive peace deal and there are frequent skirmishes along the volatile frontline.

During the war, the sanatoriums in Naftalan — a few kilometres from the frontline — were converted into hospitals for wounded soldiers and temporary accommodation for refugees. Over the last two decades, the Azerbaijani authorities have worked hard to re-establish Naftalan’s reputation as a health resort.

They resettled refugees in other regions, demolished decrepit Soviet-era sanatoriums and built brand-new tourist facilities.

Modern Naftalan is a blend of kitsch-looking high-end spas where a week’s treatment costs some 1,000 euros, and modest sanatoriums where a week’s treatment costs around 100 euros.

The simmering Karabakh conflict may be out of sight, but guests can still feel uncomfortably close to the military action.

During one of the deadliest recent bouts of fighting in April 2016, “we heard gunshots,” said a member of staff at Naftalan’s luxurious Garabag spa, adding quickly that “everyone stayed on.”

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No challenges for Basil Waite in North East St Elizabeth

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BRAES RIVER, Elizabeth- Basil Waite who was selected by delegates in North East St Elizabeth to run as the People’s National Party (PNP) candidate in the next general elections will have no further challenges to his position.

At present, Waite is waiting to be formally introduced by Party Leader, Dr Peter Phillips at the public session of the constituency conference now taking place in Braes River square in this parish.

The seat has been held by businessman the PNP’s Evon Redman since 2016. 

Chairman for the PNP’s Region 5, Hopeton McCatty made it known to OBSERVER ONLINE that he has voluntarily decided not to contest the seat in the next election thereby leaving the way completely clear for Waite.

McCatty said that will make Redman a one term member of parliament and there were two one term MP’s before him.

He suggested that it was amidst controversy Raymond Pryce lost the seat to Redman and it was under similar circumstances Kern Spencer lost to Pryce. 

Supporters of Waite have been hailing him as a hard-working “son of the soil,” who is expected to spend more than one term as the political representative of the constituency. 

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Man bad, woman bad

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I am ashamed that women are so simple,

To offer war where they should kneel for peace.

— Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, V, 2

 

I wonder men dare trust

Themselves with men.

— Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, I, 2

 

BOTH quotes speak of a question of violence and of trust attributed to both men and women. Who is worse? There is an age-old fallacy, perpetuated mostly by women, that men are bad. True, men are indeed bad, but men alone don’t hold the handle on badness.

What is a proven fact, far from fallacy, is that women are bad too, and if what the oldsters say is true, when dem bad, dem bad nuh yaws. That’s why I have often asked, if men are bad, who are they bad with? Certainly not themselves… well a few may go that route, as they don and doff their gay apparel, but you catch my drift.

But what do we mean by bad? The ability to do evil things, usually of a sexual nature, such as deception, sexual wildness, promiscuity, fornication, adultery, perversion, paedophilia, rape, bestiality, prostitution. That’s right, read those words again and let them soak in. For every act of badness that men are accused of doing, women are equal to the task.

If this is so, then why is it that men get the bum rap of having the exclusiveness of badness? Blame it on the sympathy factor and on the ability of women to play the victim all the time. Just check out the #MeToo Movement and see how women are unfortunate victims to bad men, sometimes from decades ago. Where is the #MeToo Movement for men?

This has been perpetuated throughout history, but true historians and those who read widely will know that badness is not confined to men only, but also to women. Some notable standouts are Mata Hari, Christine Keeler who brought down the British Parliament, Lucrezia Borgia, Annie Palmer, Delilah, and others.

Not to be taken lightly is the phrase, “The female of the species is deadlier than the male.” And even closer home, the old calypso song, “That’s right, the woman is smarter.” Hold that thought, while we check out these ticklish responses to ‘Man Rape’.

 

Hi Tony,

I must admit I don’t fully understand the idea of a woman raping a man, where the woman is impregnated and becomes pregnant. All other types of man rape I do understand. Men being raped in prison and gangland rapes of men, and I have heard of men being tortured and raped. If the man is being seduced against his will, why not overpower the woman and walk away? I am sure it must be real though, if the victims say so. I just don’t quite get it.

Sonia

 

Teerob,

I was a victim of man rape by a much older woman when I was just 13 years old. I had no idea what she was doing and my body just responded to her touch without my conscious control. She was my mother’s best friend, and also married. I have never spoken about it, but it has haunted me to this day.

Robert

 

There is this hue and cry that men are bad. You cannot go anywhere and not hear the stories of the badness that men do. “Him bad nuh yaws, have women all over the place.” “That man have six pickney with six different women. Bad.” “Him is a real womaniser, bad like sin.”

Very rarely do you hear that women are bad, yet they are the ones to point fingers and vilify and curse the men for being bad. If ever the aspect of women being bad is even broached, the standard response is: “Is man drive her to do it.” They will not accept responsibility for their badness. Interestingly, some women are drawn to bad men.

The irony is, those same women will seek out so-called bad men, as they sleep with their best friends’ husbands, or try to take away their friends’ men. What happens when badness meets badness, a convergence of sexual apocalypse, a preponderance of prurience?

So they blame it on the devil, abdicate all responsibility, play the victim. Now let me make this clear, I love women, I love female company; I always have been surrounded by girls as a boy and as a teenager. I was never one of those guys who hung out with male friends at bars and such. I was always in the company of females.

My very best friend many years ago was a woman, until she got married, and you know how that guh after that. No husband going to tolerate that. The point is, I was privy to the ways of women from an early age, saw what they did, listened to their confessions, was their confidante. One could say that I was very much in touch with my feminine side.

And trust me, if more men knew the inner secrets of women they wouldn’t be so smug and take women for granted. What is true is that men revel in their badness, they wear it like a badge of honour, they even have songs about it. “Me babymother say me bad, me bad, me bad, me babymother say me bad.”

The fact that a man sired a string of children with a passel of women gives him ratings, a reason to be proud. But a woman conceals her badness, perpetuating the fallacy that women aren’t bad. But they are masters of subterfuge, guile, stealth, and secrecy.

Do an experiment, ask a woman how many men she has had sex with, then ask a man. She will play down her sexual history while the man elevates his. She conceals her badness. So you would be best advised to multiply her number by six and divide the man’s number by four.

“Honey, how many men have you ever had sex with?” “Oh, just two before you sweetheart.” “How about you my love, how many women?” “Only about two hundred.” Can you imagine if those numbers were gender reversed? And yet there are men living with women whose badness surpassed even theirs, yet they would never know, for a woman’s badness is a closely guarded secret.

There are women who are ‘happily married’ yet still manage to have affairs behind their husbands’ backs. Their deeds will not be heralded or boasted about over a glass of white rum in a bar. Those secrets will be taken with her to her grave. If you know how many wives have confided that they had affairs your head would swim. They all blame it on their husbands, I suspect in order to deflect the guilt of the badness.

The very fact that Jamaica is the jacket capital of the world, where thousands of unsuspecting men are not the fathers of their children, is testimony to the badness of women. The various embassies that require DNA testing for visa applications brought this fact to the surface, as more than 35 per cent of men tested were not the real fathers.

“My word, these statistics are startling, Jamaican women really bad nuh yaws,” say the foreign scientists who do the DNA testing. It is believed that the figure may be even higher, perhaps 50 per cent, which would mean that over a half of Jamaican men are not the fathers of their children. And yet they say that men are bad.

What compounds this woman-badness is their guile, stealth, secrecy, and silence. The men had no idea that they were being duped, taken for a ride, given another man’s jacket to wear. And that’s why the badness of women is so illusory, it’s as if it doesn’t exist.

Men seem to think that it’s only they who love sex, but women love sex too, and will go to any lengths to get it, just like men. Recently, a young lady confided to me how she would leave work and go to a popular parking lot to have sex. “In the night?” I asked her. “Not at all, in the middle day of course. “Then we had ice cream after,” she giggled.

There is a merit to having tinted windows on cars. Other women will check in at hotels for an afternoon tryst or even before going to work in the morning. Remember the song, “As I was checking in with my girl, my baby was checking out with another man.”

So whenever anyone tells you that men are bad, don’t disagree, but respond by saying, “Man bad, but woman bad too.”

More time.

seido1yard@gmail.com

 

Footnote: Just recently Seido Karate Jamaica held its annual tournament at UTech, Jamaica, and I must commend the competitors, spectators, martial arts schools, judges, and especially the students of St Hugh’s High School for Girls, who were invaluable in the smooth running of the competition. Congratulations to Grand Champions Delano Francis and Marissa Jones who were true ambassadors of the martial arts, displaying poise, discipline, grace, and humility in their victories. These tournaments showcase the best martial artists in the country, but they are costly to run, so special thanks to the Sports Development Foundation and McKay Security for their invaluable assistance. These competitions bring out the best in our athletes. For the very first time in our history, karate will be represented at the PanAm Games to be held in Lima, Peru, this month.

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Besieged Puerto Rico governor goes quiet amid protests

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — In the Spanish colonial fortress that serves as his official residence, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossell is under siege.

Motorcyclists, celebrities, horse enthusiasts, and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Puerto Ricans swarmed outside La Fortaleza (The Fort) in Old San Juan this week, demanding Rossell resign over a series of leaked online chats insulting women, political opponents, and even victims of Hurricane Maria.

Rossell, the telegenic 40-year-old son of a former governor, has dropped his normally intense rhythm of public appearances and gone into relatively long periods of near-media silence, intensifying questions about his future.

For much of his 2 1/2 years in office, Rossell has given three or four lengthy news conferences a week, comfortably fielding question after question in Spanish and English from the local and international press. And that’s on top of public appearances, one-on-one interviews and televised meetings with visiting politicians and members of his administration.

But since July 11, when Rossell cut short a family vacation in France and returned home to face the first signs of what has become an islandwide movement to oust him, the governor has made four appearances, all but one in highly controlled situations.

New protests began Friday afternoon, with unionised workers organising a march to La Fortaleza from the nearby waterfront. Horseback riders joined them with a self-declared cavalry march, while hundreds of other people came from around the city and surrounding areas. A string of smaller events was on the agenda across the island over the weekend, followed by what many expected to be a massive protest on Monday.

The chorus calling for Rossell’s resignation was joined Friday by Puerto Rico’s non-voting member of Congress, Jenniffer Gonzalez; US Senator Rick Scott of Florida; and New York congresswomen Nydia Velzquez and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

The crisis has even cut back Rossell’s affable online presence. The governor normally started every day by tweeting “Good morning!” to his followers around 5:00 am. The last such bright-and-early message came on July 8. The tweets from his account have dwindled to a trickle since then, and each one is met by a flood of often-abusive responses from Puerto Ricans demanding he resign.

Rossell’s secretary of public affairs, Anthony Maceira, told reporters Friday that the governor was in La Fortaleza working on signing laws and filling posts emptied by the resignations of fellow members of the leaked chat group.

The head of Rossell’s pro-statehood political party said a meeting of its directors had been convened for coming days, although the agenda was not disclosed beyond “addressing every one of the complaints of our colleagues”.

Rossell offered a press conference on July 11 to address the arrest of two of his former department heads on federal corruption charges. He also asked the people of Puerto Rico to forgive him for a profanity-laced and at times misogynistic online chat with nine other male members of his administration, short selections of which had leaked to local media. Two days later, at least 889 pages of the chat were published by Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, and things got much, much worse for Rossell.

In the chats on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, Rossell calls one New York female politician of Puerto Rican background a “whore”, describes another as a “daughter of a bitch” and makes fun of an obese man he posed with in a photo. The chat also contains vulgar references to Puerto Rican star Ricky Martin’s homosexuality and a series of emojis of a raised middle finger directed at a federal control board overseeing the island’s finances.

The next day, Sunday, Rossell appeared in a San Juan church and asked the congregation for forgiveness, without informing the press. The church broadcasts its services online, however, and his remarks became public. On Monday, July 15, Rossell gave a notably non-confrontational interview to a salsa music radio station. The governor’s spokesman said the questions had been “negotiated” between Rossell’s press team and the station. That night, thousands swarmed Old San Juan to demand his resignation.

On July 16, Rossell held a press conference and faced aggressive questioning about the chat scandal and the corruption arrests. Later that day, an ally tweeted a photo of Rossell embracing Wilfredo Santiago, the obese man whom the governor had mocked in one of the most infamous sections of the chat.

Since then, it’s been silence. There has been a handful of tweets, press releases, and statements, some saying he won’t resign but mostly about purportedly routine meetings of administration officials.

His official spokespeople aren’t answering many questions, and even his whereabouts are mostly unknown.

The governor’s press secretary, Dennise Prez, announced Friday night that she was resigning because she could no longer stand the insults and personal abuse directed at her this week by fellow Puerto Ricans.

Rossell was raised in the public eye, as the youngest son of Pedro Rossell, who served as governor from 1993 to 2001. One of Puerto Rico’s most charismatic and controversial governors, the elder Rossell launched a string of large-scale infrastructure projects that swelled the public debt and ensuing bankruptcy that his son has inherited.

Known widely as “Ricky”, the younger Rossell started his political career in his father’s pro-statehood New Progressive Party. Trained in biomechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Michigan and Duke, he launched his campaign for governor in 2015 with little previous history of public service.

Deflecting questions about whether he owed his success to his connections, Rossell portrayed himself as an affable technocrat with solutions to Puerto Rico’s debt and crumbling infrastructure, who, by less than 3% of the total votes cast, defeated David Bernier of the Popular Democratic Party, which advocates greater Puerto Rican autonomy from the mainland United States.

Until now, Rossell’s greatest challenge was Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, destroying the island’s power and communications systems. Rossell came under heavy criticism for mismanaging the crisis, particularly for understating the deaths from the storm. While some of his deputies were vilified, Rossell seemed to emerge relatively unscathed, perhaps due to his friendly and non-confrontational manner with critics, opponents, and journalists alike.

The father of two young children, he often posts their photos online, along with images of his wife and their two rescue dogs, a Siberian Husky and a Yorkshire Terrier. Rossell once halted a press conference to help local journalists move their equipment out of the rain.

Among the greatest shocks of the leaked chats for many Puerto Ricans was the puncturing of that image of low-key charm by the misogyny of online conversations.

“He was making an effort, carrying out his governor’s role,” said Jessica Castro, a 38-year-old San Juan resident attending a Friday evening protest with her family. “He was mocking everyone behind their backs, the people who believed in him. People are really disillusioned. He’s got to go.”

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