Miami-Style Lunch at Berries

Pisco Passion Fruit & Cuba Libre at Berries

Pisco Passion Fruit & Cuba Libre at Berries

Sunshine and a cool ocean breeze welcome you at the entrance of this hidden gem. Coconut Grove is a place in Miami that locals tend to frequent for its natural atmosphere, proximity to the bay and unique restaurants and bars. Jessica and I decided to head to Berries this afternoon for lunch, a local restaurant with rich history and a loyal customer base. This was the meal we ordered.

Jessica ordered a Pisco and Passion fruit blend while I went for the Cuba Libre (Rum&Coke) seen in the picture above. Both of the drinks were well mixed and only $5 each which is surprisingly cheap for a restaurant in the grove.

 

The Brazilian Burger at Berries

The Brazilian Burger at Berries

Berries Brazilian Burger

Berries Brazilian Burger

 

Then we split what Berries calls a “Brazilian Burger”. They use Picanha steak with Chimichurri sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, a pickle and Challah bread. It came with specially seasoned fries and we got honey mustard on the side.

 

Pisco Passion Fruit & Cuba Libre at Berries

Pisco Passion Fruit & Cuba Libre at Berries

Sometimes desert in Miami means a second round. I mean, when the drinks are such a good price it would be a shame if we didn’t indulge in a second round.

 

Jessica and I at Berries

Jessica and I at Berries

All in all our meal was great, service was fast and the atmosphere was perfect. With a World Cup match on their T.V.’s (Costa Rica v Italy) and a relaxed business crowd, this turned out to be a really nice spot. I recommend anyone who likes trying unique food and a relaxed/natural atmosphere to try this place out. Thanks for stopping by!

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Lessons of Love #4

It’s not what you said but how you said it…

Have you reached that point in your relationship where you and your partner find yourselves telling each other everything that you hate about each other? I know that I’ve certainly been there before and I began to wonder why a person who hates so many things about me would want to be with me. Telling your partner how much you hate it when they do something will do two things. First it will make you resent one another for being so negative and secondly it will start a chain reaction of telling each other all of the things that you hate about them. Plus, whatever it is that you want your partner to stop doing won’t happen because their already upset and likely not listening. This doesn’t mean that you can’t tell each other what you don’t like but it does mean that you have to communicate with each other better.

Let’s say that your partner is disorganized and constantly leaves their clothes on the floor. This frustrates the living guts out of you and you want them to stop leaving the floor a mess. Instead of telling them how much you despise it when they leave their clothes on the floor, it is much more effective to tell them that you would truly appreciate it if they would pick up their clothes. You can say something like, “John, I would really appreciate it if you could put your clothes away. I like having my floor clean and if you did that it would really make me happy.” Just by changing your words around, you avoid insulting your partner, avoid making them resent you and you still communicated your dislike of their actions.

It seems like a small thing now, but in the long run, you will both be much happier. I remember when my girlfriend and I were telling each other how much we hated things about the other feeling so upset all of the time. When we finally started changing the way that we addressed issues with each other it was like we were in a totally different relationship. I never listened to her when she said that she hated something because hearing those words made me angry from the second they were uttered and vice-a-versa. But now when she tells me that she would like it if I would do something for her because it is important to her I listen and try to make her happy.

Choosing the right words to say is a powerful tool in a relationship. If you could get to the point where you no longer tell each other how much you hate things then you will find how little you hate anything anymore. I hope that this advice helps someone out there who feels stuck in their relationship and is starting to doubt whether or not to stay in it. I would love to hear back from you guys on your relationship struggles and achievements. Did you encounter this problem and were you able to fix it? Let me know what you think and thanks for stopping by.

The Terrorist Breeding Grounds of Aleppo, Syria

Crisis continues in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad continues to wage war against his countries citizens. In 2011, several students were tortured by the government regime because of their anti-government demonstrations. Peaceful protests were held shortly after the news broke and Bashar al-Assad’s government opened fire on the citizens. Since then the crisis in Syria has escalated to outrageous proportions as the government uses any resources possible to silence the opposition to his rule. Today Syria has become a breeding ground for Al Qaeda militants as the current state of chaos gives them the foothold they need to radicalize an angered Syrian youth.

Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city, lies in ruins as Bashar al-Assad’s military bombards the Syrian Free Army on a daily basis. Chemical weapons were used against the Syrian people causing an uproar in the international community which led to the destruction of those weapons. However, Bashar al-Assad has since replaced his chemical arsenal with a new type of weapon known as a barrel bomb. Highly inaccurate and ultimately destructive, these barrel bombs are hurled by the military from their airplanes on a daily basis. Innocent citizens are being murdered by these barrel bombs which serve solely to intimidate and further suppress the Syrian people.

Mass migrations of Syrian citizens have led to an overabundance of misplaced people who struggle to survive in neighboring nations. Aleppo itself has lost over 70% of its population since the attacks began and now what’s left is mostly sick, elderly and young citizens who were incapable of escaping the battlegrounds they once called home. Al Qaeda capitalizes on the war torn cities of Syria and has increased their support by the thousands. Offering protection, food, shelter and an opportunity to fight their corrupt government regime, many find it difficult not to join Al Qaeda’s growing forces. This build-up is now spilling over into Iraq, as newly reinforced rebel fighters take control of its cities daily.

Al Qaeda now boasts an increasingly more powerful rebel force as several raids in Iraq have equipped the group with U.S. purchased military equipment. A region wide crisis is underway and the people of Aleppo have been forgotten and overshadowed by the chaos currently taking place in Iraq. The video that I posted above shows just how hostile Aleppo has become and the daily struggle of its remaining population. Ambulances and hospitals are overwhelmed by Bashar al-Assad’s barrel bomb weapons and the destruction that they cause. With little to no coverage on these events, it’s likely that Aleppo will only continue to be the largest recruitment location for Al Qaeda’s rebel forces.

Are you from Syria or do you have family from Syria? Did you leave the country or are you still living there? I would love to hear from anyone who has any insight on the situation. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this and as always thanks for stopping by.

 

World Map of Syria

World Map of Syria

Syria's major cities

Syria’s major cities

Brazil Battles Protestors

Confronted with mounting protests and civil unrest, Brazil’s police force resorts to tear gas, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to ward off potentially violent crowds. With the FIFA World Cup just days away, authorities will do whatever they can to keep control and order in the streets. Angry protestors in São Paulo and Rio de Janiero say that they are not happy with the government’s allocation of funds. Spending billions of dollars on constructing the necessary infrastructure to support the World Cup is not seen as a priority by many Brazilians who have difficulty putting food on the table and finding jobs. Furthermore, the lack of completion of several stadiums has yet further infuriated the public as they watch their tax dollars being spent carelessly.

Subway workers at São Paulo went on strike Monday which added fuel to the fire. Construction workers desperately work as fast as possible to assure that all of the necessary infrastructure is complete before game one. After being battered by tear gas and other riot resistance weapons, the subway workers decided to call off the strike for two more days or so. They know that if they want to make their voices heard then that will be the time to do it. Authorities fear that the protests could incapacitate the city and create delays for the games.

Social media networks are buzzing with anti-FIFA sentiment. Workers Unions are taking to the streets as well as this is likely their best opportunity to take a blow at Brazil’s politicians. In Rio de Janiero, the former residents of near-by favelas are also making their voices heard. Months before the World Cup, authorities displaced thousands from their homes to make the necessary infrastructure changes to host the game. The result is hundreds of homeless Brazilians that are eager to make a statement to their government.

Each day that we get closer to game one in Brazil, everyone is wondering what will happen next. Will Brazil’s police department be able to tame the protests and assure safety for the Countries citizens and tourists? Or will Brazil’s angry citizens organize a protest so large that it could threaten the safety of the players, tourists and citizens alike?

Are you from Brazil or are you traveling there for the games? I want to hear what you have to say about these protests. Have they reached you? Do you see chaos in the streets or do you see more press then protestors? Please leave me a comment or send me a message. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

World map of Brazil

World map of Brazil

 

 

Slave Labor in Qatar?

Transporting new migrant workers to Doha, Qatar

Transporting new migrant workers to Doha, Qatar

How far would your country be willing to go in order to host the World Cup? Well, if your country is Qatar, then you could say they are willing to kill for that opportunity. Amnesty International, a transnational human rights organization, reported that over 568 workers have died since January 2012 while preparing for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. As more light is being shed on the issue, Qatar has been pressured to reform its current labor laws. While talks are underway to discuss the situation, the fact remains that nothing has been done to protect these migrant workers.

Currently Qatar has a labor law that allows corporations to control their employees’ exit visas. What this means is that by law, an employer could deny its employee the right to leave the country if they wish to do so. Recently I wrote a post on the migrant workers of Dubai, who suffer from a similar policy. Apparently, these construction corporations seek out poor immigrants from neighboring countries, mostly India, and then offer them an opportunity to provide for their families back home. These companies charge them what is known as a visa fee to cover their flight and work visa expenses, though they charge much more than necessary. Since their target employees are extremely impoverished people, the corporations offer a loan program to cover the visa fee.

Once the migrant workers arrive in Qatar, they find that they receive only a portion of their promised wage. The companies apply absurd interest rates on their visa fee loans and then withhold the promised wages so that these employees are not able to generate any real income. If they request their exit visa to return back to their country, the companies deny their request. The result is a slave workforce that is subjected to terrible living and working conditions. The companies responsible for this tragedy benefit from the free labor while Qatar benefits from the revenue of those very same companies. The fact that this is happening today in the year 2014 is beyond my comprehension.

I find it very upsetting that this situation is not making the news. My hope is that whoever reads this post and my other post on Dubai will spread the word about this. As of today, it’s estimated that 1.4 million migrant workers are constructing the 2022 World Cup stadium and surrounding structures in Qatar. If these companies continue their enslavement practices and Qatar does nothing to stop them, then who will? How many more will have to die or suffer for the World Cup before action is taken? If you’re an avid soccer fan and were planning on attending this event, you should know that the stadium was built on the blood, sweat and tears of enslaved migrant workers.

Are you from Qatar or India? Have you ever heard about these practices? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this situation. Thank you for stopping by and if you like this post or any others make sure to subscribe to my blog.

Article Sources:

1.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-pressed-to-protect-world-cup-workers-1.1327507

2.

http://www.amnesty.org

World map of Qatar

World map of Qatar

Migrant workers in Qatar resting on site

Migrant workers in Qatar resting on site

 

Migrant workers in Doha, Qatar

Migrant workers in Doha, Qatar

Map of Qatar

Map of Qatar

Cannibal Warlord, General “Butt Naked”

Do you remember the last time that you ate a child’s heart so that you could be invincible in battle? Can’t recall ever doing so? Well take a look at this documentary that I found on youtube.com. The documentary was produced by Vice News, a news agency that does in depth reporting across the globe. In this documentary Shane Smith, Vice News co-founder and field correspondent, travels to the west African nation of Liberia to investigate the so called Cannibal Warlords that live there. Let me warn you that the documentary has some strong content.

After exploring several parts of Liberia, Shane Smith lands a shady interview with former General “Butt Naked.” The general, who gave himself the name “Butt Naked”, explains the origin of his name to Shane. He tells the reporter that he chose this name because of his combat strategy during Liberia’s civil war. A strategy in which he would instruct his rebel soldiers to strip down completely before battle. Once fully nude, he would have his soldiers bring an innocent child to him for ritualistic purposes. He would then cut the child’s heart out of his/her chest, while still alive, and have each of his soldiers consume a piece of it. General “Butt Naked” explained to his soldiers that this sacrifice would bring them magical powers in combat and make them invincible. Only then would the General and his soldiers go into battle, while still completely nude I should add. This ritual of sacrifice was repeated before every single battle, thus causing the needless slaughter of hundreds of innocent children during the war.

Today General “Butt Naked” spends his days preaching to his community. He converted to Christianity after the war and now preaches at churches around Liberia about his struggle with his violent past. Former victims of his cannibal rituals say that he converted to Christianity only to avoid punishment for his war crimes. So the former general’s life is now in constant danger of attack from people affected by his military past. According to him these are false accusations. He says that the reason he converted to Christianity was so that he could be a better person and more importantly a better father to his young daughter. Though he takes the full blame for his actions, he recognizes that if his parents would have raised him instead of abandon him, then he might be a different man today. That thought is what motivates him to be a better father and a better person with the help of Christianity.

I tried to put myself in his shoes and imagine what life must have been like for him in Liberia. I wonder what kind of trauma he experienced before deciding that killing children and eating their hearts was the right thing to do. Maybe he’s just a psychopath with no remorse, incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. However it seems odd to me that a person who is incapable of knowing right from wrong would choose to devote the rest of his life to Christianity seeking forgiveness for his sins. The question of whether or not this man should be executed for his crimes remains a mixed issue. Does punishing a person’s ignorance with death solve the issue of ignorance? Does not punishing this man solve the issue of ignorance? I’m not sure what the solution is, if there even is a solution, but what I do know is that this country and its people are completely foreign to me. I will pray for them and hope that change comes sooner than later…

I would love to hear from someone living in Liberia. If you are from there or have family that lives there, please reply to this blog post. I want to hear your story and know what it is like for you as a citizen of Liberia. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Post Sources

cia.gov

youtube.com

Liberia in Africa Liberia with neighbors

Source (Picture 1)                                                                              Source (Picture 2)

 

 

15 Quick Facts about Liberia

Official Language: English (Though only 20% of the population exclusively speaks English)

President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 (She was reelected in 2011 with 90.7% of the total vote in her favor)

Religion: 85.6% Christian, 12.2% Muslim

Total Population: 4,092,310

Capital: Monrovia

Median Age of Population: 18 years old (U.S. median age: 37 years old)

Sanitation Facility Access: 18.2% of the total population (81.8% with no access to restrooms or sewage infrastructure)

Health Expenditures: 19.5% of GDP

Physician Density: 0.01 Physicians/1000 people (Whatever you do don’t get sick in Liberia)

Education Expenditures: 2.8% of GDP

Total GDP: $2.89 Billion U.S. Dollars (Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth: $26.6 Billion U.S. Dollars)

Average Annual Income (Per Person): $700.00 U.S. Dollars (Qatar’s average is the highest at: $102,100 U.S. Dollars)

Privately Owned T.V. Stations: 3

Total Internet Users: 20,000 people (That’s less than 1% of the entire population)

Transnational Issues: Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Civil Unrest, Refugee Disputes with Neighboring Countries