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Ukraine

Euro 2012: The 'Controversial Edition' Kicks Off

Worldcrunch

BBC NEWS (United-Kingdom), RMC (France), LA STAMPA (Italy)

Although the 14th European Soccer Championship is only just kicking off in the Ukraine and Poland, it has been the topic of headlines for many weeks now. The two countries hosting the competition are at the center of multiple controversies:

*There is a culture of hooliganism and racism among Polish and Ukrainian soccer fans. BBC One recently broadcasted an edifying documentary film entitled Euro 2012 – Stadiums of Hate. Journalist Chris Rogers spent a month in the two host countries, studying the behavior of local soccer fans. The result is particularly shocking: in the Ukraine we witness 2000 people in a stadium making Nazi salutes and attacking two Indian men - who were supporting the same team as them. In Poland, Nazi symbols are also very common in stadiums. This racist and anti-Semitic behavior was confirmed when the Netherlands team arrived in Krakow on Wednesday. The team was welcomed with "monkey noises," French website Francetv revealed. The players didn't react, and continued training on the other side of the field.

*Another topic of contention is the Yulia Tymoshenko case. The Former Ukrainian Prime Minister is currently in jail after being convicted of corruption - on charges many believe were trumped up after she accused the Ukrainian president of rigging elections. Many political leaders said they would boycott the soccer championship to protest against Tymoshenko's imprisonment. After a similar announcement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, both French President François Hollande and British Foreign Minister William Hague have announced their decision to boycott the Euro 2012, French sport radio station RMC reports.

Aside from the troubles of the two host countries, other teams are also facing controversy. The Italian team is at the center of a huge game fixing scandal. It should be noted though, that after similar scandals in 1980 and 2000, Italy made it through the final phase of the European Championships, and won 1982 and 2006 World Cups. On a much more noble note, the team took time to visit the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in Poland before beginning the competition, La Stampa reported (see video below):

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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