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Stoning the Sultan

Perhaps you have seen in the news that Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, Stephen Fry, Richard Branson and many other celebrities are boycotting the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles over a controversial new penal code instituted by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah.

The new law, announced last month and being “phased in” starting this month, provides “stoning to death” as the penalty for homosexuality; among other crimes such as adultery, blasphemy and declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim.  The previous punishment was a maximum ten-year prison sentence.

The United Nations has condemned Brunei for adopting this new code. A UN Spokesman said, “Under international law, stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited.

From what I understand, the most egregious of the corporal punishments won’t begin for 12-24 months as “Phase two” and “Phase three.” That is the silver lining, I guess.  It gives the world plenty of time to respond to this medieval nonsense.

To wit, The New York Times reports:

In the last week, an escalating boycott of the Dorchester properties decreased the company’s revenue by about $2 million, said Christopher Cowdray, a Dorchester executive in London. Cancellations at the Beverly Hills Hotel accounted for almost all of the dropoff.

The only way our world will change is if we take a stand for something greater than ourselves and stand up to those who think they can impose their religious beliefs on the world.

So with that being said, I would also like to point out to my fellow travelers that the Dorchester Collection of Hotels is owned by the sultan of Brunei through the country’s sovereign wealth fund. The Dorchester Collection includes the 2 hotels in Los Angeles as well as others in Paris, London, Rome, Milan, Geneva and Ascot, England.

Below is the list of hotels to boycott—along with The Beverly Hills and Hotel Bel-Air. Until the sultan decides to join the rest of us in the 21st century, please do not give him your business and pass this along to your friends.

PARIS

Le Meurice

Hôtel Plaza Athénée

LONDON

The Dorchester

45 Park Lane

ROME

Hotel Eden

MILAN

Hotel Principe di Savoia

GENEVA

Le Richemond

ASCOT

Coworth Park

If you would like to read more about this issue, I recommend the following articles:

Dorchester Collection boycott calls grow due to Brunei law

Sanctioning the sultan

Brunei Returns to the Stoning Age

 


An American Lost in Paris – 19e Arrondissement

Sunday’s in Paris are calm and lazy days. Hardly anything is open and the “vibe” on the street is casual and unlike the rest of the week.

Today, I thought I’d take the bus to one of the parks near me and balader (stroll around.)  Turns out, everyone in Paris had the same idea!  I guess I figured out why the streets are “empty”…. everyone is at the park!

Today was gorgeous; somewhat warm and sunny.  So maybe that’s why the park was overflowing. Who knows? I’m still learning about Paris.

Grab your lover and your kids and let’s stroll around Parc des Buttes Chaumont in the 19th Arrondissement.

If you take the bus to the Mairie du 19e, it drops you off right in front of the park.  I’m not sure if it’s there all the time but there’s a mini-ammusement park in front of the Mairie with games and rides for the kiddies. I’ve recently learned that France is one of the *few* countries where their birth rate is equal with their death rate and I can tell you, at least in the 19th, there are children and schools everywhere!  But, I digress.  Here’s the Mairie!

Buttes Chaumont is large with trails all over that take you extremely high up for beautiful views of the park and the city. Here you can see the high point as well as the low paths:

The path at the bottom of the photo leads to a large cave that is the terminus of this waterfall:

You can kind of see down into the cave here:

Looking into the cave:

Waterfall in the cave:

All over the paths are *concrete* fences that are made to look like they’re made out of tree trunks. I’m not sure if the photo does it justice. The detail is incredible and none of them really look the same!

Sorry about the weird angle of this next photo. I was trying to get the lookout point (upper left) and everything else. In the middle of the photo off in the distance is the Mairie and just to the left of that is a beautiful blooming tree with pink flowers. I don’t think it’s possible to get over there but I’d love to sit under it, smell the blossoms, read my Kindle and think.  I think that officially makes me a gay geek!

This photo is from the lookout point at the top. It’s one of my favorites. See Sacre Coeur there in the middle?  You can click on the photo if you want a larger version of it.

 

Down below, there was a very animated storyteller giving the kiddies a little performance. You can’t really see it but he has a small wooden xylophone that he plays in between story segments.  I dropped 2 euros in his basket to encourage him to keep doing this.

As you can see, the kids were captivated.  Myself, I was captivated by this daddy.  Hello, daddy!  (Aren’t I terrible?)

It’s closed for winter but not far away was a little outdoor theater for the kiddies. I bet they do puppet shows there in the spring so I’m looking forward to coming back then.

Closed for the winter.

Lots of games and other things for the kiddies to do; even in winter!

Walking home, I went through la Cité de la musique.  Hmm, it occurs to me I should get on their mailing list, huh?  Here I’m crossing the canal (note the people everywhere!):

Hmm, can one get SHOT taking pictures of cute French military men?  Yes, I’m aware I’m incorrigible.  But, look at him!

Almost home now… There’s not much open on Sundays in Paris but I love cute little shops like this. Every day they schlep their wares out onto the sidewalk and then back inside at night.  Remind me to NOT ever work in a shop!

You know what else is open on Sundays?  Les pâtisseries!

Lemon tart with meringue…I bet it’s like a mini lemon meringue pie!  Yum.  I wanted to get it but I almost always get a lemon tart so I thought I’d try something new…an Opéra.  No, I’ve never had one.  In fact, I haven’t had *most* of what’s in this case.  Sorry there’s no photo of the Opéra, it was so delicious that I forgot to take a photo before I crammed it down my throat!

So that’s how I spent part of my Sunday. What do you think?  Too many photos?

Each Sunday I want to go to a different arrondissement and try to get lost; which, you can’t really do in Paris because there is always a Metro nearby to take you home.  Today, I walked home because I wasn’t far and I knew where I was.

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Joseph Burch