Islam no longer a footnote in Abu Ghosh, as its vast mosque nears completio

If all goes according to plan, by the end of the year a mega mosque — second in size only to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount — will open in the Arab village of Abu Ghosh outside Jerusalem, largely funded by the Islamic Republic of Chechnya.

Located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) west of Jerusalem on the main highway to Tel Aviv and with a population of just over 6,000, Abu Ghosh — renowned for its hummus restaurants, classical music festival and ancient picturesque churches — boasts close relations with its predominantly Jewish surroundings. Somehow, Islam was always a footnote in the village’s public image. But that may change soon.

Construction on the mosque, tentatively referred to as “the Mosque of Peace,” began two years ago, is currently in full swing, and is expected to end by October, Abu Ghosh Mayor Salim Jaber told The Times of Israel. He said the municipality decided to construct a new mosque to accommodate local worshipers, who have been forced to pray on the sidewalks on Fridays and holidays for lack of current prayer space in the town.

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Bogota, a city breaking free of its past

notes from camelid country

I have a confession. I really like Bogota. It is a weird, fascinating and vibrant city that has seen terrible times and now appears to have faced-down its past and is looking to the future with renewed confidence. Still, there is no way around the fact that Bogota has a reputation that would give pause to even the most hardened traveller. A reputation for violence, drugs and crime that is well deserved. Except these days, maybe that should read ‘was’ well deserved.

My first visit to Bogota was several years ago for work. During a free afternoon I took a cab to the historic colonial district of Candelaria. I walked around, strolled up and down streets and at one point a policeman came over to me and asked where I was going. I pointed up a street that looked fairly nice and he simply shook his head and drew his finger across…

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Chemotherapy #5: The Musical Slash Educational Film from 1954

I'm 25 and my boobs are trying to kill me.

I’m back in California as of yesterday around 8pm, but I’m still on East Coast time. As a result, I woke up stupid early this morning and made a playlist for today’s chemotherapy session. I wish I could embed it, but Spotify won’t let me. If you’d like to listen, click here:

CHEMOTHERAPY: THE MUSICAL

It’s a weird, chill, eclectic collection of tunes including Rihanna and Of Monsters and Men and Lymbyc System and tons of other stuff. I’m usually on a ton of drugs during chemotherapy, so…it kind of sounds like music you’d listen to while you’re on drugs.

I cannot believe this is my second-to-last chemotherapy. Someone told me very early on in my treatment that actually, the hardest day for a cancer patient is the final day of chemotherapy, and I’m finally starting to understand what he meant. I mean, this is what people talking about when…

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Whose genome is it anyway?

Inspiring Science

Angelina Jolie at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Fifteen years ago it was the stuff of science fiction.  Now, you can just swab your cheek, send it to a company and, for only a few hundred euros, have your DNA analyzed.  You’ll find out about your ancestry and your predisposition towards certain inherited diseases or conditions (from cancer and diabetes to myopia).  You’ll also learn if you’re a ‘carrier’ — that is, if you’re carrying a gene that won’t affect you but might affect your children.  You can even get information about more light-hearted issues like whether you’re likely to have fast- or slow-twitch muscles or your ability to taste certain bitter flavours.  The technology is pretty great, but it also raises some interesting questions which I thought would be worth discussing (especially since I really enjoyed our previous discussion).

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