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France Divided: Huge Rally Against Gay Marriage, While Lesbian Film Wins Cannes

LA CROIX(France), LE PARISIEN(France),AFP

Worldcrunch

PARIS - Some 350 people were arrested over the weekend in Paris, during protests against gay marriage. Meanwhile in the south of France, the Cannes Film Festival celebrated gay romance, awarding the top Palme d’Or prize to a love story about a lesbian couple.

Despite the law being officially enacted last week, the dispute over same-sex marriage is still shaking France. Police estimated that up to 150,000 joined marches on Sunday to demand the withdrawal of the law. Organizers claimed they were closer to one million.

After the rally, clashes erupted between far-right groups and the police. French authorities said they had made a total of 293 arrests and that six people were injured in the course of Sunday's demonstration: four police officers, an Agence-France Press (AFP) photographer and a protester, the AFP reports. A total of 350 arrests were made over the weekend.

#PHOTO: Riot policemen arrest a far-right protester in Paris on the sidelines of demos against gay marriage law twitter.com/AFP/status/338…

— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) 26 mai 2013

#PHOTO: #AFP photographer beaten up by far-right protesters during demo against gay marriage law. #manifpourtoustwitter.com/sarnaudAFP/sta…

— AFP Photo Department (@AFPphoto) 27 mai 2013

"These incidents were provoked by several hundred individuals, most from the extreme right and the (nationalist) Identity Bloc, who violently attacked police," said Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

The first gay wedding will be celebrated this week and Valls ensured that “no disturbance from far-right groups would be accepted”, Le Parisien reports.

This country's strong divide over the issue of same-sex marriage was also on display at the world's premiere film festival. The Cannes jury, headed by Steven Spielberg, awarded its highest prize to a gay-themed film. “Blue is the Warmest Color,” by French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche, celebrates a love story between two young women.

#PHOTO: "Blue is the Warmest Colour" scooped the top Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival. #Cannes2013twitter.com/AFPphoto/statu…

— AFP Photo Department (@AFPphoto) 26 mai 2013

Accepting the prize, Kechiche said: "I should like to dedicate this film to the wonderful youth of France whom I met during the long period while making this film. Those young people taught me a lot about the spirit of freedom and living together,” La Croix reports.

France is now the ninth country in Europe, and 14th in the world, to legalise gay marriage.

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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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