Prince Harry and Meghan sign production deal with Netflix

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, plant flowers and forget-me-nots during a visit to the Assistance League Los Angeles’ Preschool Learning Center in Los Angeles, California, US August 31, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 02 September 2020

Prince Harry and Meghan sign production deal with Netflix

  • They plan to focus on stories and issues that elevate diverse voices and other issues close to their hearts
  • Several projects are already in development, including a series focused on women who inspire

NEW YORK: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have a new home: Netflix.
Six months after detangling their work lives from the British royal family, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, have signed a multiyear deal to produce nature series, documentaries and children's programming for the streamer, according to a statement Wednesday.
The two, who recently relocated to Santa Barbara, California, plan to focus on stories and issues that elevate diverse voices and other issues close to their hearts. Several projects are already in development, including a nature docu-series and a series focused on women who inspire.
“Our lives, both independent of each other and as a couple, have allowed us to understand the power of the human spirit: of courage, resilience, and the need for connection,” the pair said in the joint statement. ”Through our work with diverse communities and their environments, to shining a light on people and causes around the world, our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope."
The couple also pledged to promote diversity behind the camera as their production company gets off the ground. Meghan has said she will not return to acting. She has done some voice work since the couple left the UK with baby Archie in search of their financial independence.
The prince worked closely with the filmmakers of the documentary “Rising Phoenix,” in which he also appears. It premiered last week on Netflix.
Ted Sarandos, co-CEO and chief content officer for Netflix, said in the statement that the decamped royals have "inspired millions of people all around the world with their authenticity, optimism and leadership.”
He said the company is proud they have made Netflix their creative home and looks forward to "telling stories with them that can help build resilience and increase understanding for audiences everywhere.”


Osama bin Laden’s son takes up painting

Updated 07 March 2021

Osama bin Laden’s son takes up painting

  • Omar’s works include landscapes of the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan
  • His creations including vivid depictions of the US, a country he has never visited

LONDON: Osama bin Laden’s son Omar has reportedly taken up painting as a method of coping with lockdowns introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Omar, the 39-year-old fourth son of the former Al-Qaeda leader, lives in Normandy in northern France with his wife Zaina, a painter from Cheshire in the UK.
His creations including vivid depictions of the US, a country he has never visited and against which his father waged a terrorist insurgency for many years, including the 9/11 attacks, culminating in his assassination in 2011.
Omar’s works also include landscapes of the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, where his father hid from US forces for many years.
He told Vice News that he had suffered for many years with post-traumatic stress disorder, following a childhood that saw him uprooted from his family home outside Jeddah to resettle in Sudan and war-torn Afghanistan as his father pursued his campaigns.
Omar later rejected his father and left Afghanistan following his experiences of the conflict there.
“I want the world to learn that I have grown; that I am comfortable within myself for the first time in my life; that the past is the past and one must learn to live with what has gone by,” he said. “One must forgive if not forget, so that one may be at peace with one’s emotions.”

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What We Are Reading Today: Why Not Default? by Jerome E. Ross

Updated 05 March 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Why Not Default? by Jerome E. Ross

The European debt crisis has rekindled long-standing debates about the power of finance and the fraught relationship between capitalism and democracy in a globalized world.

Why Not Default? unravels a striking puzzle at the heart of these debates — why, despite frequent crises and the immense costs of repayment, do so many heavily indebted countries continue to service their international debts?

In this compelling and incisive book, Jerome Roos provides a sweeping investigation of the political economy of sovereign debt and international crisis management, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

He takes readers from the rise of public borrowing in the Italian city-states to the gunboat diplomacy of the imperialist era and the wave of sovereign defaults during the Great Depression.

He vividly describes the debt crises of developing countries in the 1980s and 1990s and sheds new light on the recent turmoil inside the Eurozone— including the dramatic capitulation of Greece’s short-lived anti-austerity government to its European creditors in 2015.


What We Are Eating Today: O’Dolma

Updated 05 March 2021

What We Are Eating Today: O’Dolma

O’Dolma is an Iraqi restaurant in Jeddah that offers dolma, a signature Middle Eastern dish of vine leaves, vegetables stuffed with rice, and meat.
Dolma comes in a variety of styles and flavors, with many regional specialties. O’Dolma offers the Iraqi version, which is prepared by Iraqi chefs according to an original recipe.
It is an ideal warming dish to enjoy in winter.
The restaurant’s signature dish, dolma royal, consists of layers of rolled-up dolma and vegetables filled with rice and seasoning, covered with a layer of fresh lamb ribs.
Vine leaves fattah — a layer of yogurt sauce over rows of vine leaves — is another mouthwatering choice offered by the restaurant.
The restaurant offers some trendy twists in packaging, taste and presentation. Each order is packaged in a durable box, which can be put on your dining table as a main or taken on trips.
O’Dolma has three branches in Jeddah in the North Obhur, Al-Rawdah and Al-Safa districts.


Egyptian child with SMA receives most expensive medicine in world

Updated 05 March 2021

Egyptian child with SMA receives most expensive medicine in world

CAIRO: Egyptian doctors have succeeded in treating a child with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) using the most expensive drug in the world, Zolgensma.

Nagia Ali Fahmy, professor of neurology and director of the Muscular and Neurology Unit at Ain Shams Medicine in Egypt, explained that Zolgensma, which has a value of $2.125 million per dose, is the first gene therapy of its kind in the world given to a patient intravenously in a single dose.

The drug was approved in May 2019 by the US Food and Drug Administration.

She added that the manufacturer, Novartis, offers 100 opportunities to obtain the drug free of charge in countries where it has not yet been registered, setting conditions for choosing the children who receive it, including that they should not be over two years old, and their mutation should be in the first gene. Accordingly, Ain Shams Medicine made eight applications for cases under their care, and Novartis selected one, a boy named Rayan from Alexandria, who is turning two in a few days.

SMA of the first and second types leads to the death of the child during the first two years of life as a result of the failure of respiratory functions.

Zolgensma was first clinically tested several years ago, and the first child to receive it is now five years old.

The drug treats breathing functions and motor impairment, and puts the child on a path to normal growth.

But the improvement happens gradually, during which physiotherapy and pulmonary rehabilitation therapy are performed.

Hani Aref, head of the neurology department at the Faculty of Medicine at Ain Shams University, said that SMA happens due to a genetic defect, as there is a defective gene in the body that does not allow the secretion of proteins responsible for feeding the cells connected to the muscles.

“This disease results in gradual, severe muscle weakness and it is divided into three stages depending on the severity in the gene,” he said.

“The first stage affects children immediately after birth in which the child’s condition is very difficult and the atrophy affects the breathing muscles gradually, which leads to death.

“The second stage affects children six months after their birth, and the third stage affects the child at an advanced age and results in severe muscle weakness,” he added.

“Symptoms begin with great difficulty moving, and the child cannot acquire motor skills; if he gains some of them, he will gradually lose them. Most of the children suffering from the disease are put on ventilators, but they eventually die.”


SpaceX Starship lands upright, then explodes in latest test

Updated 04 March 2021

SpaceX Starship lands upright, then explodes in latest test

  • The last two prototypes reached a similarly high altitude in December and February, but later exploded

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: SpaceX’s futuristic Starship looked like it aced a touchdown Wednesday, but then exploded on the landing pad with so much force that it was hurled into the air.
The failure occurred just minutes after SpaceX declared success. Two previous test flights crash-landed in fireballs.
The full-scale prototype of Elon Musk’s envisioned Mars ship soared more than 6 miles (10 kilometers) after lifting off from the southern tip of Texas on Wednesday. It descended horizontally over the Gulf of Mexico and then flipped upright just in time to land.
The shiny bullet-shaped rocketship remained intact this time at touchdown, prompting SpaceX commentator John Insprucker to declare, “third time’s a charm as the saying goes” before SpaceX ended its webcast of the test.
But then the Starship exploded and was tossed in the air, before slamming down into the ground in flames.
There was no immediate comment from SpaceX on what went wrong. But Musk looked on the bright side in a tweet: “Starship 10 landed in one piece!” RIP SN10, honorable discharge.”
He added: “SpaceX team is doing great work! One day, the true measure of success will be that Starship flights are commonplace.”
Musk plans to use Starships to send people to the moon and Mars.
The last two prototypes reached a similarly high altitude in December and February, but slammed into the ground at Boca Chica, Texas, and exploded.
Each of these last three test flights lasted 6 1/2 minutes.