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Germany

Gunter Grass: Provocative New Verses On Israel, Masturbation, Pope

DIE WELT, FRANKFURTHER RUNDSCHAU(Germany)

Worldcrunch

The new book of poems, Eintagsfliegen (Ephemera), by German Nobel prize winner Günter Grass, 84, is already causing controversy.

Reviewers who received advance copies describe "touching texts about aging and death," and call the collection "a declaration of love to Germany." But the poem called A Hero In Our Time is bound to cause a new round of trouble for the laureate, with the poem described by one critic as "awkward for Israel" in its celebration of convicted spy Mordechai Vanunu. Grass calls the Israeli nuclear technician and peace activist, who served 18 years for revealing atomic secrets to the British press, a "hero and model" and calls for the "divulgence of military secrets" worldwide.

Earlier this year, Grass’s poem What Must Be Saidcaused a furor by portraying Israel as a danger to world peace, describing a “first strike” against Iran by a nuclear-armed Israel as one that could “wipe out the Iranian people.”

His former ties to the Nazi Waffen SS coupled with some of his writings has made Grass persona non grata in Israel.

Following the latest writing, Herzl Chakak of the Hebrew Writers Association in Israel said that Grass is pursuing "an obsessive campaign to shame Israel," reports
Frankfurter Rundschau.

The new collection of 87 poems is being released in time for Grass’s 85th birthday on October 16.

But this time, Israel is not the only one that could take offense to Grass’s writings. The writer also has a go at the Catholic Church that no longer condemns masturbation as a severe sin: "Even our Pope can now do without shame what he has done from early on: We see him smiling, liberated, freed from sin…"

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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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