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Terror in Europe

The Bataclan, Aching To Rock 'n' Roll Again After Paris Attack

British rocker Pete Doherty is signed up for a November gig, though other artists have opted out of playing in the venue where terrorists killed 90 people last year.

The Bataclan is still shuttered from the outside.
The Bataclan is still shuttered from the outside.
Léna Lutaud

PARIS — The Bataclan concert hall is set to reopen a year after Islamist militants attacked the venue, killing 90 people there last November. The restoration work inside the historic venue in eastern Paris is now coming to an end. The team is finally ready.

All that's missing? The artists.

Many French musicians who have been invited to perform over the past few weeks have declined. They said their reluctance was not out of fear but that they weren't comfortable with the idea of celebrating in the same venue that saw so many innocent people massacred.

The historic music hall, which first opened in 1865, has hosted such legendary performers as Jerry Lee Lewis, the Velvet Underground, The Clash, And Prince. American rockers The Eagles of Death Metal were performing on Nov. 13 when Islamic terrorists stormed the theater, opening fire and taking scores hostage as part of a coordinated attack in and around Paris that killed a total of 130.

Jules Frutos, one of the Bataclan's managers, says he's facing difficulties he had not foreseen. For the upcoming winter and spring season, only 15 artists, most of them British, will perform.

"I think that I overestimated the artistic demand," says Frutos, saying that he assumed that a call from him or the other manager of the Bataclan, Olivier Poubelle, would be enough to convince artists to perform at the venue. "But I was wrong."

The reluctance of technicians and production crews has been another obstacle. "The murder of a dozen (colleagues) that everyone knew was a traumatic experience," says Pierre-Alexandre Vertadier, the chief executive of Decibel Productions.

The employees of the production companies owned by Frutos and Poubelle want to continue to organize new events at the Bataclan. "Our teams were on the front line that night in November," he says. "The shock is not the same and their way to overcome what happened is not either."

Moreover, the manager's earlier concerns about ticket sales is slowly fading as the scheduled shows are selling out. "The public has expressed a strong will to come back and it feels very good. There are good things to come," Frutos says.

Vertadier is also enthusiastic about the future of the concert hall. "The venue will be revived. It's just a matter of time," he says.

British rocker Pete Doherty is the first artist scheduled to perform at the Bataclan on Nov. 16. Other shows might happen before that but the dates for those are yet to be fixed.

"Each performance will be like the first one for both the artists and the crowds," says Frutos.

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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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