Millions of Muslims arrive at Mecca in Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrimage

TWO million Muslims from around the world have arrived in Saudi Arabia for the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage this week.

Once in Mecca — the site of Islam’s holiest place of worship — they will be reminded that the ruling Al Saud family is the only custodian of this place.

Large portraits of the king and the country’s founder hang in hotel lobbies across the city. A massive clock tower bearing the name of King Salman’s predecessor flashes fluorescent green lights at worshippers below.

A large new wing of the Grand Mosque in Mecca is named after a former Saudi king, and one of the mosque’s entrances is named after another.

Muslim pilgrims touch the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Picture: AP Photo/Khalil HamraSource:AP

It’s just one of the many ways that Saudi Arabia uses its oversight of the Hajj to bolster its standing in the Muslim world — and to spite its foes, from Iran and Syria to Qatar. Its archrival, the Shiite power Iran, has in turn tried to use the hajj to undermine the kingdom.

The Hajj has long been a part of Saudi Arabia’s politics.

For nearly 100 years, the ruling Al Saud family has decided who gets in and out of Mecca, setting quotas for pilgrims from various countries, facilitating visas through Saudi embassies abroad and providing accommodation for hundreds of thousands of people in and around Mecca.

The kingdom has received credit for its management of the massive crowds that descend upon Mecca each year — and blame when things go wrong at the Hajj.

Two million Muslim pilgrims have flocked to Saudi Arabia. Picture: AFP/Karim SahibSource:AFP

All able-bodied Muslims are required to perform the pilgrimage once in a lifetime. Saudi kings, and the Ottoman rulers of the Hijaz region before them, all adopted the honorary title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, a reference to sites in Mecca and Medina.

“Whoever controls Mecca and Medina has tremendous soft power,” said Ali Shihabi, executive director of the Arabia Foundation, a pro-Saudi centre in Washington.

“Saudi Arabia has been extremely careful from day one not to restrict any Muslim’s access to hajj so they never get accused of using Hajj for political purposes.”

The Syrian government, however, says Saudi authorities continue to place restrictions on Syrian citizens looking to take part in the hajj.

Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic ties with President Bashar Assad’s government and since 2012, requires all Syrians seeking to make the Hajj to obtain visas in third countries through the “Syrian High Hajj Committee,” which is controlled by the Syrian National Coalition, an opposition political group.

Syrian children circumambulate a model of the Kaaba in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, during an event to teach children the rites of pilgrimage. Picture: AFP/Abdulmonam EassaSource:AFP

The Hajj became further entangled in politics following the fallout between Saudi Arabia and Qatar when the kingdom and three other Arab countries cut all diplomatic and transport links with the small Gulf state this year.

In a surprise this month, Saudi Arabia announced it would open its border for Qatari pilgrims seeking to perform the Hajj and that King Salman would provide flights and accommodation to Qataris during the Hajj.

The Saudis, however, announced the goodwill measures unilaterally and did so after meeting with Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, a Qatari royal family member who resides outside Qatar and whose branch of the family was ousted in a coup more than four decades ago.

“Bringing out a senior member of the Qatari royal family member was a political coup really,” Shihabi said.

Indian vendors stand next to their goats for sale at a livestock market ahead of the sacrificial Eid al-Adha festival in the old quarters of New Delhi. Picture: AFP/Sajjad HussainSource:AFP

Others have gone further, saying that by promoting Sheikh Abdullah, the Saudis were attempting to delegitimise Qatar’s current emir.

While the Hajj is a main pillar of Islam, the custodianship of its holy sites is a pillar of the Al Saud family’s legitimacy and power. Iran has consistently tried to call that into question.

Two years ago, a stampede and crush of pilgrims killed at least 2426 people, according to an Associated Press count.

Iran, which lost 464 pilgrims in the stampede, immediately used the disaster to call for an independent body to take over administering the Hajj.

Those calls were vehemently rejected by Saudi Arabia, which accused Iran of politicising the Hajj.

Muslim pilgrims pray in front of the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Picture: AP Photo/Khalil HamraSource:AP

Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Several factors, such as body weight, family history and race and ethnicity may increase your risk of diabetes. Diabetes can be effectively managed by exercising and eating a healthy diet.
What is diabetes?

Diabetes (medically known as diabetes mellitus) is a common, chronic disorder marked by elevated levels of blood glucose, or sugar. It occurs when your cells don’t respond appropriately to insulin (a hormone secreted by the pancreas), and when your pancreas can’t produce more insulin in response.

Diabetes usually can’t be cured. Left untreated—or poorly managed—it can lead to serious long-term complications, including kidney failure, amputation, and blindness. Moreover, having diabetes increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.

Your body and sugar

To understand diabetes, it’s helpful to understand the basics of how your body metabolizes (breaks down) sugar. Most of the cells in your body need sugar as a source of energy. When you eat carbohydrates, such as a bowl of pasta or some vegetables, your digestive system breaks the carbohydrates down into simple sugars such as glucose, which travel into and through your bloodstream to nourish and energize cells.

A key player in the breakdown of sugar is the pancreas, a fish-shaped gland behind your stomach and liver. The pancreas fills two roles.

It produces enzymes that flow into the small intestine to help break down the nutrients in your food—proteins, carbohydrates, and fats—to provide sources of energy and building material for the body’s cells.
It makes hormones that regulate the disposal of nutrients, including sugars.
Cells in the pancreas, called beta cells, release insulin in response to the rise in blood sugar levels after you’ve eaten a meal. By directing sugar into liver and muscle cells, insulin promotes nutrient storage and prevents blood sugar levels from rising excessively.

Insulin also increases the uptake of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and fatty acids (the building blocks of fats) into protein and fat stores, respectively. Insulin thus serves as one of the principal gatekeepers of metabolism, promoting energy storage and cell growth.

The liver converts glucose that is not needed immediately for energy into a storage molecule called glycogen. When blood glucose levels drop too low, insulin secretion falls and your pancreas releases the hormone glucagon, which prompts your liver to reconvert stored glycogen into glucose and release it into the bloodstream.

Usually insulin and glucagon levels fluctuate in a coordinated fashion to keep your blood glucose levels within a rather narrow range. This is important because certain organs, such as the brain and kidneys, depend on a consistent, steady supply of glucose. A normally functioning pancreas ensures a stable supply of nutrients for your body.

In healthy people, insulin prevents a large rise in blood sugar after eating. The normal blood sugar level before breakfast usually hovers between 70 and 110 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Normal levels of sugar in the blood rarely exceed 180 mg/dL, even after a meal.

Events like Gourmet Escape make WA a foodie heaven for tourists

Margaret River’s Gourmet Escape beach barbecue. Photo: Tourism WA

VICTORIA has been put on notice – WA is fast becoming Australia’s go-to foodie destination.

Experts say our fine state, once the home of food blunders and limited choice, is now a hot favourite among interstate and international travellers for new and unique culinary tourism experiences.

With new eateries serving tantalising dishes made from fresh local produce in often whimsical settings, WA is quickly rising to the top.

Just ask the cohort of global food stars, including Heston Blumenthal, Rick Stein, Rene Redzepi and Massimo Bottura, who arrive this week for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape.

In fact, our food is becoming so popular and providing millions in tourism dollars that Tourism WA chief executive Stephanie Buckland said food is the future for WA tourism.

“Tourism WA is close to launching a food and wine tourism strategy which outlines ways to build on WA’s culinary credentials,” she said.

“The purpose of the strategy is to enhance the positioning of Western Australia as an extraordinary destination to experience gourmet produce, fresh seafood, premium wines and boutique beverages such as craft beers, cider and spirits.”

Last year, 1.1 million Australian visitors to WA actively sought out food and wine experiences, or determined where they were going to stay based on the culinary experiences available.

Ms Buckland said visitors are attracted to local and authentic produce in beautiful surroundings.

“The research shows culinary events are also popular,” she said.

The Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival is another draw for foodies. Photo: Tourism WASource:Supplied

“One of the most successful examples is the Margaret River Gourmet Escape. In just its third year, it is firmly established as one of the Asia Pacific’s leading culinary events.”

US-based French chef Eric Ripert, who has spent the past week in WA, said the quality of WA food and wine was “amazing”.

The co-owner of New York restaurant Le Bernardin, which ranks 18th on the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, said chefs in the US were “definitely” trying to connect with people in WA to get their produce on the menu.

“Currently we don’t use WA produce (in my restaurant) but I intend to after this trip,” he said.

On Tuesday, Josh Whiteland, of Koomal Dreaming, took the high-profile chef on an Aboriginal native food forage.

“I tasted kangaroo for the first time in my life,” Ripert said. “And I love it.”

In 2013, more than 16,000 people attended the Margaret River Gourmet Escape and generated $10.5 million in direct visitor expenditure in the Augusta-Margaret River region.

Last year, a total of $8.3 billion was generated in visitor spending in WA, supporting 91,000 jobs for West Australians.

WA’s food retail industry averaged a $960 million turnover a month during the 2012 financial year, which equates to an annual turnover of more than $11 billion.

Almost Alcoholic

It is very possible to have a drinking problem that is not defined or described as “Alcoholic.” Many people use alcohol to deal with stress but do not realize that it exacerbates the problems in their lives. There are techniques and therapies available to help you to lessen your dependence on alcohol and rediscover balance in your life.
Are you Almost Alcoholic?

Some people believe there are only two kinds of people in the world: alcoholics and non-alcoholics. Many also believe that we are either born alcoholics or we are not. This has been a prevailing view for a long time, and though this statement may seem dramatic to some, it does have some basis in reality. Those who hold these beliefs tend to be people who have experienced or witnessed the most severe symptoms and/or the most severe consequences of drinking, such as:

Being unable to stop drinking, beginning from the first time he or she had a drink
Repeatedly having blackouts (i.e. can’t remember the next day what happened) after having only a few drinks
Being arrested multiple times for driving while intoxicated
Becoming violent on more than one occasion when drinking
We know from our own clinical experience that there are people who develop severe alcohol drinking patterns and behaviors such as the ones just described. These are true alcoholics. However, there are also a large number of people who don’t meet the accepted criteria for diagnosing alcoholism, but fall into a grey area of problem drinking. These are the almost alcoholic.

True alcoholics vs. almost alcoholics

Anyone who drinks heavily is at risk for adverse health consequences, but some people appear to face a heightened risk for developing alcohol-related health problems. The reason appears to be largely biological, though environmental factors also likely play a role in this difference. Researchers have found, for example, that people differ in how their bodies metabolize alcohol. Since our biological make up is determined at birth, there is some truth in the idea that we have certain traits that make us more (or less) vulnerable to the effects of alcohol.

Our discovery of the almost alcoholic came through our many years of working not only with people who had the kinds of drinking problems just described, but also with a much larger group of people with a variety of drinking patterns that didn’t meet the criteria for alcoholism. As noted earlier, the majority of this larger group came to us not because they were concerned (or because others had expressed concern) about their drinking but for help with some other problem. The connection between the problems they sought help for and their drinking emerged later. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Jennifer’s story

Jennifer, 41, was married with two children, an eleven-year-old son and a nine-year old daughter. Jennifer’s was a typical, two-income contemporary family. She had a middle management job in a large real estate development and management company, while her husband, Dan, worked in the information technology department of a large university. As was true for most of the couples they knew, they struggled with balancing the demands of work with those of parenting, not to mention housekeeping. They enjoyed their life in a comfortable suburban community with good schools and access to recreation; at the same time, both Jennifer and Dan sometimes expressed that they found life on a “treadmill” difficult.

Dan and Jen had met in college during their junior years and married a year after graduating. As college students, they’d enjoyed partying as much as most of their friends, but had never gone “over the top” with it. They’d each known the occasional hangover, especially as freshman, and both enjoyed meeting friends for tailgating parties at football games after graduation.

Jen did not drink at all during her pregnancies. However, after her second child was born, and after she returned to work following a six-week maternity leave, she joined Dan in his routine of sipping a glass of wine while they “decompressed” after work. That meant unloading the kids, making dinner, supervising homework, getting ready for the next day, and so on. Then, after the kids were in bed, Jen would have a second glass of wine, and sometimes a third. She told us that for a number of years this was an effective way for her to release the stress that built up over the course of the day. She also felt that the third glass of wine helped her sleep better.

When Jen sought therapy, it was not because of her drinking—which she still regarded as normal, and indeed helpful, given her high-pressure lifestyle. Jen was referred by her primary care physician, with whom she had shared her concerns about not sleeping well. Not sleeping well left her feeling “wired” the next day. That pattern then led her to feel increasingly depressed, which was reflected in a shortened temper (especially with the children), chronic feelings of fatigue, and a complaint from Dan that their sex life was “evaporating.” She’d asked her doctor about sleeping medications, or perhaps an antidepressant. The doctor said she would consider that, but first she wanted Jen to talk with a counselor.

Jen is a good example of this large group of people whom we have come to know well in our offices, people whose drinking emerges as a factor in their presenting problems. She did not make an appointment with a counselor because she was worried about her drinking.

Parks For People: Send us your best WA National Parks photo

Parks for People winner: Aimee Middis encounters wild crocs at Windjana Gorge National Park in the Kimberley.

NOW this is a great snap. This week’s Parks for People photo competition winner is Aimee Middis, who sent in a picture taken by her boyfriend of her getting up close with the wildlife at Windjana Gorge National Park in the Kimberley.

“My boyfriend Cass knows all about crocs and he spotted them and told me they were Johnstone River crocodiles, which are pretty harmless,” Ms Middis said.

Parks for People runner up: Rod Bennett’s photo of Trish at Mitchell Falls in the Mitchell River National Park.Source:Supplied

“He insisted I get up close and personal for a photo. I was nervous, but he said it was fine and I trust him.’’

Ms Middis, from Darlington, has won a three-night trip to the Purnululu World Heritage site, including a scenic flight over the Bungle Bungles.

This week’s runner-up is Rod Bennett, who sent in a great shot from Mitchell River National Park. He has won a two-night bush retreat package at Bramley National Park.

● The Department of Parks and Wildlife says people should keep well away from the water’s edge when visiting crocodile areas. In the Kimberley, these include rivers, creeks and the ocean.

There’s still time to win in The Sunday Times and PerthNow Parks For People competition, which is in its final week this week.

PerthNow will choose a favourite photo to become the Parks For People Pic of the Day. The best pictures of the week go on to win major prizes, and all winning shots will feature in a giant free wall poster in next Sunday’s paper.

This week’s top prize is a luxury Karijini Eco Retreat in Karijini National Park worth more than $5,000

Among the standout entries so far this week is this picture of paradise sent in by Craig Spittles.

Craig Spittle and partner Joanne Armstrong toast their holiday at Banksia Cove – D’entrecasteux National Park in Walpole.Source:Supplied

“We saw this amazing sunset light up Chatham island in the background so we rushed up to the campsite and grabbed a couple of drinks, set the camera up on a tripod and set the timer,’’ Craig explained.

“It was a fantastic few days. We had the whole campsite and beach there to ourselves for three days. The waves were washing up off the rocks into this little rock pool creating a natural spa for us to enjoy.

“Money can’t buy this sort of experience. We love WA and the adventures and experiences that are on offer for the adventurous spirit.’’

Understanding Addiction

Addiction involves craving for something intensely, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences. Addiction changes the brain, first by subverting the way it registers pleasure and then by corrupting other normal drives such as learning and motivation. Although breaking an addiction is tough, it can be done.

What causes addiction?

The word “addiction” is derived from a Latin term for “enslaved by” or “bound to.” Anyone who has struggled to overcome an addiction—or has tried to help someone else to do so—understands why.

Addiction exerts a long and powerful influence on the brain that manifests in three distinct ways: craving for the object of addiction, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences.

For many years, experts believed that only alcohol and powerful drugs could cause addiction. Neuroimaging technologies and more recent research, however, have shown that certain pleasurable activities, such as gambling, shopping, and sex, can also co-opt the brain.

Although a standard U.S. diagnostic manual (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition or DSM-IV) describes multiple addictions, each tied to a specific substance or activity, consensus is emerging that these may represent multiple expressions of a common underlying brain process.

New insights into a common problem

Nobody starts out intending to develop an addiction, but many people get caught in its snare. Consider the latest government statistics:

Nearly 23 million Americans—almost one in 10—are addicted to alcohol or other drugs.
More than two-thirds of people with addiction abuse alcohol.
The top three drugs causing addiction are marijuana, opioid (narcotic) pain relievers, and cocaine.
In the 1930s, when researchers first began to investigate what caused addictive behavior, they believed that people who developed addictions were somehow morally flawed or lacking in willpower. Overcoming addiction, they thought, involved punishing miscreants or, alternately, encouraging them to muster the will to break a habit.

The scientific consensus has changed since then. Today we recognize addiction as a chronic disease that changes both brain structure and function. Just as cardiovascular disease damages the heart and diabetes impairs the pancreas, addiction hijacks the brain. This happens as the brain goes through a series of changes, beginning with recognition of pleasure and ending with a drive toward compulsive behavior.

Pleasure principle

The brain registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a psychoactive drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal. In the brain, pleasure has a distinct signature: the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex (see illustration). Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens is so consistently tied with pleasure that neuroscientists refer to the region as the brain’s pleasure center.

All drugs of abuse, from nicotine to heroin, cause a particularly powerful surge of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. The likelihood that the use of a drug or participation in a rewarding activity will lead to addiction is directly linked to the speed with which it promotes dopamine release, the intensity of that release, and the reliability of that release.

Even taking the same drug through different methods of administration can influence how likely it is to lead to addiction. Smoking a drug or injecting it intravenously, as opposed to swallowing it as a pill, for example, generally produces a faster, stronger dopamine signal and is more likely to lead to drug misuse.

Brain’s Reward Center

Addictive drugs provide a shortcut to the brain’s reward system by flooding the nucleus accumbens with dopamine. The hippocampus lays down memories of this rapid sense of satisfaction, and the amygdala creates a conditioned response to certain stimuli.

Learning process

Scientists once believed that the experience of pleasure alone was enough to prompt people to continue seeking an addictive substance or activity. But more recent research suggests that the situation is more complicated. Dopamine not only contributes to the experience of pleasure, but also plays a role in learning and memory—two key elements in the transition from liking something to becoming addicted to it.

According to the current theory about addiction, dopamine interacts with another neurotransmitter, glutamate, to take over the brain’s system of reward-related learning. This system has an important role in sustaining life because it links activities needed for human survival (such as eating and sex) with pleasure and reward.

The reward circuit in the brain includes areas involved with motivation and memory as well as with pleasure. Addictive substances and behaviors stimulate the same circuit—and then overload it.

Repeated exposure to an addictive substance or behavior causes nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain involved in planning and executing tasks) to communicate in a way that couples liking something with wanting it, in turn driving us to go after it. That is, this process motivates us to take action to seek out the source of pleasure.

$40 million upgrade of Fitzgerald River National Park gives Hopetoun new life after BHP mine

The new lookout at Cave Point is part of the $40m upgrade. Picture: Supplie

A WA town that had its “darkest hour” when the local nickel mine shut down is open for business again after a $40 million national park upgrade.

Hopetoun and nearby Ravensthorpe, 590km southeast of Perth, was brought to its knees when more than 600 jobs were lost in the 2009 mine closure.

But shire president Ian Goldfinch said today marked the start of a “new era” with the official opening of a project to make the stunning Fitzgerald River National Park more accessible.

New infrastructure at Barrens Beach. Picture: Supplied

New infrastructure at Barrens Beach. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

About 80km of new roads, camping grounds, signs, picnic areas, lookouts, carparks and walk trails were bought with $40 million in joint state and federal government funding.

“We’re well and truly open for business. It’s the start of a new era,” Mr Goldfinch said.

“The publicity of BHP closing down put a big black ring around Hopetoun. It was really a disaster for us. We were in our darkest hour.”

But a visit by Mr Barnett prompted the shire to ask for funding to make tourism, not mining, the centrepiece of the local economy.

“He said, ‘What to you really want?’. We said, ‘Make the park into the jewel of the crown for Ravensthorpe-Hopetoun,” Mr Goldfinch said.

“It took a little while and there was some frustration … but now we have that jewel.”

The Fitzgerald River National Park has more than 2000 species of flowers, phenomenal coastal and inland views, mountains to climb and river gorges to explore.

The nickel mine is operating again after it was bought by Canadian company First Quantum.

The Barnett Government launched a $21 million Parks for People package last year to create more high-quality, low-cost accommodation options for visitors to the state’s national parks.

Over the past month, The Sunday Times and PerthNow have been running a Parks for People photo competition.

The final week’s winner was Allan Coupland for his picture at Karijini National Park. The runner-up was Linda McKenna for her shot at Warren National Park.

This week’s winning photo by Allan Coupland.

This week’s winning photo by Allan Coupland.Source:Supplied

How to Start a Walking Program

The next time you have a check-up, don’t be surprised if your doctor hands you a prescription to walk. Yes, this familiar activity is now being touted (along with other forms of regular physical activity) as “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.”
Walking can have a bigger impact on disease risk and various health conditions than just about any other remedy that’s readily available to you. What’s more, it’s free and has practically no negative side effects. Walking for 2.5 hours a week—that’s just 21 minutes a day—can cut your risk of heart disease by 30%. In addition, this do-anywhere, no-equipment-required activity has also been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and keep you mentally sharp. Even a quick one-minute jaunt pays off. A University of Utah study in 2014 found that for every minute of brisk walking that women did throughout the day, they lowered their risk of obesity by 5%. No more “I don’t have time” excuses!

Walking: An ideal form of exercise

Have you ever resolved on New Year’s Day to start exercising more—only to find that you didn’t have the time or couldn’t afford expensive lessons, classes, or gym fees? Maybe concerns about injuries kept you on the sidelines. Walking could just be the way to keep your resolution. Here’s why:

You already know how to do it. Just put one foot in front of the other. There’s no learning curve like you would have if you took up a new activity, such as Zumba or tennis.
You can do it anywhere. Step out your front door. Take a walk from where you work. You can walk around areas that you frequent, such as the grocery store, a shopping center, a place of worship, or the homes of friends and family.
You don’t need any special equipment. If you’re walking for exercise, it’s best to have a comfortable pair of shoes, preferably sneakers. But that’s it! While there are some items of clothing and gear that can make walking more enjoyable, they are not essential.
It’s gentle on your knees—and the rest of your body. Unlike running, you keep one foot on the ground at all times when you’re walking, making it a low-impact, joint-friendly type of exercise.

Uber is getting rid of a creepy tracking feature in its app

File photo: The logo of Uber is seen on an iPad, during a news conference to announce Uber resumes ride-hailing service, in Taipei, Taiwan April 13, 2017. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

As Uber looks to mend its reputation with consumers, it is getting rid of a feature embedded in its app that allows it to track riders after they have left the ride.

In an interview with Reuters, Uber’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan said the move is part of improving customer privacy, since he joined the ride-sharing giant two years ago.

“We’ve been building through the turmoil and challenges because we already had our mandate,” Sullivan told the news outlet.


Uber had originally tracked riders for five minutes after they left the trip, but will no longer do so as part of the update. The company believed that by tracking users for five minutes after the trip ended, it ensured customer safety, but Sullivan noted that message was never made clear.

The move is expected to be announced Tuesday and rolled out to iPhone users some time this week. Sullivan also said that the move would be coming to Android devices eventually, but did not give a timeframe.

San Francisco-based Uber has come under heavy scrutiny in recent months as it attempts to rebuild its reputation following revelations of sexual harassment at the firm.  In February, Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, wrote a lengthy blog post detailing her experience at the company, calling it a “very, very strange year.”

The company has experienced signifcant management turmoil, with former CEO Travis Kalanick ousted from the top job earlier this year amid pressure from investors. Kalanick was also spotted on video, arguing with a driver over the fare he was being charged.

Uber is expected to name Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as its new CEO after a long search for Kalanick’s replacement, which included former GE CEO Jeff Immelt and HPE CEO Meg Whitman.

The pending move was confirmed in an email from IAC Chairman Barry Diller, who noted that nothing is finalized just yet. Internet conglomerate IAC spun off Expedia in 2005.


“As you probably know, Dara Khosrowshahi has been asked to lead Uber,” Diller wrote in an email to IAC employees seen by Fox News. “Nothing has been yet finalized, but having extensively discussed this with Dara I believe it is his intention to accept.”

Khosrowshahi, who has a public-facing Twitter account, has been “liking” several tweets that mention him as the next Uber CEO.

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On Tuesday, Khosrowshahi gave an interview with The Wall Street Journal, saying he would accept the job once his contract is finalized.

Some applauded the move, noting Khosrowshahi is not the typical Silicon Valley executive.

Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson noted Khosrowshahi wasn’t reported as being in the running to replace Kalanick, who still sits on Uber’s board.

Khosrowshahi has several positive attributes, including the ability to run “a successful and profitable public company, something Uber hopes to be over the next few years. He’s also not cut out of the typical Silicon Valley ‘bro’ mold, being an immigrant and a person of color,” Dawson wrote in comments obtained by Fox News.

Global stocks higher as investors shrug off Korea tensions

SEOUL, South Korea –  Global stocks were higher Wednesday as investors hunted for bargains and shrugged off geopolitical tensions a day after North Korea fired a missile that flew over northern Japan.

KEEPING SCORE: European markets opened higher. Britain’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.4 percent to 7,363.12 in early trading and France’s CAC 40 was up 0.4 percent at 5,053.99. Germany’s DAX gained 0.6 percent to 12,014.66. Futures showed Wall Street was due to open with moderate gains. S&P futures rose 0.1 percent and Dow futures added 0.2 percent.
ASIA’S DAY: Asian markets finished mostly higher. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.7 percent to 19,506.54 and South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.3 percent to 2,372.29. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.2 percent to 28,094.61 while Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.1 percent to 3,363.63. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was flat at 5,669.70. Stocks were higher in Taiwan and Singapore but lower in Indonesia.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Markets have made the judgment that the post-missile test reactions of the U.S., the U.N. and North Korea do not warrant a move to full ‘risk off’ mode in stock markets at this stage,” Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a commentary.

NORTH KOREA: Investors were not swayed by the latest developments in North Korea. Its leader, Kim Jong Un, called for more weapons launches targeting the Pacific Ocean to advance his country’s ability to contain Guam, a day after the North flew a ballistic missile over Japan. The missile launch jolted world markets when it took place Tuesday. U.S. President Donald Trump said North Korea had signaled its “contempt for its neighbors” and that “all options are on the table” in terms of a U.S. response. The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the launch.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 26 cents to $46.18 per barrel in New York. The contract gave up 13 cents to close at $46.44 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 40 cents to $51.26 per barrel in London.