When Captain Sharifah Czarena Surainy piloted a Royal Brunei Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last month, she did so with an all-female flight crew, including Senior First Officer Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem and Senior First Officer Sariana Nordin. It was a celebration of Brunei’s 32nd independence day, and it was the first time Brunei Airlines had an all-women crew pilot a flight.
Although there isn’t a law on the books banning women from driving, Saudi clerics argue that female drivers “undermine social values.”
There is a Women2Drive campaign on social media (more than 18,000 likes on Facebook) pushing for the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. An advisory council to the king recommended in 2014 to lift the ban, but only with limitations. Women would have to be over 30 years old, refrain from makeup, and off the road by 8 p.m.
Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Co., a multinational based in the country, has pushed to hire more women and even to have men and women alongside each other in the company’s Riyadh head office. The 400 women at Olayan make up only 3% of the total workforce, but that still puts the company at the leading edge of change.
Saudis still expect women in public to wear long robes and head scarves. Unrelated men and women don’t normally mix, which has effectively limited the industries that will accept female workers
Pope Francis: he is coming to the World Meeting of Families in Ireland.
Pope Francis’s visit to Ireland next year could still include a pastoral visit to Northern Ireland, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said
Dr Martin is currently in Rome on the 10-day ad limina visit made by the Irish bishops to the Pope.
Speaking to The Irish Times he stressed that every aspect of the Pope’s visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families (WMF) in Dublin, wherever he goes, will be focused on the family.
Whilst there are no firm plans for such a trip, it might be that when the Pope travels to the North he would meet with families involved in post-Troubles reconciliation rather holding a State-type visit, he said .
Earlier on Tuesday, in a video interview posted on the official World Meeting of Families website, Dr Martin said:
“Pope Francis has now said to so many people that he wants to come to Dublin for the meeting that we can be sure that that is his intention. He said to me, I am getting on in years, I mightn’t even be alive . . .
“I think that we should pray that he will come but it is important to remember that he is coming to the World Meeting of Families and that every aspect of his visit to Ireland will be focused on the family . . .
“He is not coming, as some people say, on a Papal visit and a meeting, even if they are intimately linked with one another. I think that will make this visit of the Holy Father even more important.”
For long, commentators have speculated that any future papal visit to Ireland would include Northern Ireland, something which John Paul II wanted to do but had to abandon for security reasons during his 1979 visit.
Archbishop Martin stressed that the Pope’s visit will be “an occasion to renew confidence in the family” which would help people “understand that it is within the family that they find human fulfilment”.
The United States military has been working on laser weapons for decades, but now we finally have a sense of when Navy ships will start using super lasers on enemy targets — by 2018.
Laser weapons aren’t a new defense technology — the Department of Defense (DoD) first shot down a drone with a laser 43 years ago. At the height of the Cold War, the US military believed that lasers could help them get an edge on the Soviets, and President Kennedy approved heavy funding for laser research. In 1968, DoD’s research arm, ARPA (now DARPA), began the project Eighth Card, with the aim of putting laser weapons on US Air Force aircraft. The name was a poker reference — lasers, they believed, would be the “eighth card” that would give them the winning hand. The first successful test took place at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico in November 1973 when a large machine mounted on the ground beamed a laser at a MQM-33B drone, causing it to split into pieces.
But it took decades to develop the technology to the point where a laser weapon could be powerful and compact enough to fit onto a ship or a plane. It wasn’t until a US Navy demonstration in 2013, that the DoD finally started touting lasers as a viable weapon against fast-moving crafts and missiles.
Now it seems, the Navy is finally preparing to put super laser weapons on destroyers and cruiser warships.
This month at the Surface Naval Association national symposium, Rear Admiral Ronald Boxall, director of Surface Warfare Division, spoke of the Navy’s plans for laser technology implementation. According to the military news site Scout Warrior, Boxall said the Navy intends to shoot a 150-kilowatt laser from a test ship within the next year. “Then a year later, we’ll have that on a carrier or a destroyer or both,” he said.
That wattage could light 2,500 standard lightbulbs. A single laser beam of that much power is enough to take down an aircraft.
A 150-kw laser would be 3 to 10 times more powerful than the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) the Navy tested in 2014, which was about 15-50 kw, and struck and melted a target in the air and in the ocean.
But a more powerful beam means the vessels carrying the weapon would need to be able to supply more charge. “The Navy will be looking at ships’ servers to provide three times that much power,” Donald Klick, director of business development for DRS Power and Control Technologies, told Scout Warrior. “To be putting out 150 kws, they [the laser systems] will be consuming 450 kws.”
Most ships can’t support that kind of power, so lasers would require extra stored energy. DRS Power and Control Technologies is developing an specialized energy source for the Navy’s lasers. Klick said their system is currently capable of supplying more than 100 laser shots on a single charge.
The weaker LaWS beams demonstrated in 2014 cost about 59 cents per shot. The DoD hasn’t announced a price tag for the new 150-kw super laser beams, but it will certainly be cheaper than surface-to-air missiles, which generally cost somewhere between $115 thousand and $1.5 million each. It’s a price cut that was four decades in the making.