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ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

In Saudi Arabia, a new facebook group called "The People Want The Government To Reform" has attracted more than 2,000 members in the past day.

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie

FACEBOOKED

*In Saudi Arabia, a new facebook group called "The People Want The Government To Reform" has attracted more than 2,000 members in the past day. The unnamed founders have listed 12 demands, including the formation of a constitutional monarchy, transparency, an independent judiciary, legislative elections and the end of discrimination towards women and others. A commenter named Ferzoduq al-Rass wrote on the page: "Some of us fear prison if we say what we really believe."

EGYPT'S GOOGLE MAN

*Newly freed Google executive Wael Ghonim gave his first interview after nearly two weeks of detention by the Egyptian intelligence service. Visibly exhausted and emotional, Ghonim described to Egypt's Dream TV network what it was like to be blindfolded for 12 days and unable to contact his family. Ghonim downplayed his role in the Egyptian uprising, saying "I'm not a hero. The real heroes are the people who are in the square, sacrificing their lives and exposing themselves to danger." He broke down in tears when shown pictures of fellow young Egyptians who had been killed in the crackdown.

*Ghonim may not want to serve as a leader for the revolution unfolding, but he seemed just that as he vowed the protests will grind on: "We want our rights and we will take them. End of story," he said. On the 15th day of protests, with their demand fixed on President Hosni Mubarak's immediate ouster, tens of thousands of protesters blocked new Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq from entering his office and shouted demands for the government to resign.

VIDEO

*Al Jazeera broadcast a report from the torched remains of a detention center run by the feared intelligence apparatus. "America – a country of freedom?" asked a man on the scene holding up an American-made tear-gas canister. The correspondent toured the site, and went downstairs to the underground dungeons sectioned off for women and men. Local residents led the correspondent on a tour of the site while denouncing the Mubarak regime's brutality.

ALL NEWS IS LOCAL

*One day after receiving an unusually blunt letter from 36 Bedouin tribal leaders, calling for economic and political reforms to begin immediately, Jordan's King Abdullah made a surprise (but well-staged) visit to be embraced by an elderly Bedouin woman in one of the kingdom's most impoverished villages in the northern Jordan Valley. The visit is the fourth in the past month to poor Jordanian villages. Local news website khaberni.com carefully described the visit as being "in the context of the king's ongoing communication between His Majesty and his people."

Feb. 8, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

A paper dove reads "Mariupol" at a shelter for displaced children in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine.

Paweł Smoleński

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

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Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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