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Geopolitics

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

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

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

POPULAR THREAT

The Facebook page of the "Syrian Revolution 2011" currently features a menacing message promising surprises for the Syrian regime. The message reads: 

"On this day, Tuesday, April 5, 2011, and after putting our faith in God, we shall surprise the oppressive and terrorist police state in Syria with a number of gifts to be delivered by the free people of Syria to Bashar al-Assad in response to his humorous speech, which seems to have only amused the corrupted idiots lined up on the benches of the so-called People's Assembly. Today they will know that the people of Syria are not cowards and that martyrdom for the sake of a free nation is a dream and a goal for all protesters. We shall build the future for our children ... reclaim the rights of our fathers ... Revolution until victory."

POPULAR SCRIPT

A work of Arabic calligraphy done in the colors of the Syrian flag reads: "A traitor in red is he who beats his own people." In the upper left corner, the small writing reads, "The Syrian people know their path."

QATAR EMIR SPEAKS

*Some in the Arab media have been questioning Qatar's seemingly contradictory motives by propping up Libya's rebels, while participating in a Gulf-mediated peace process between Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition that would likely keep Saleh in power. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamid al-Thani, told Al Jazeera that it is the weakness of the Arab League that explains why the West is intervening in Qatar. The emir said he hopes changes will occur at the League so it can play its proper role.

SAUDI WOMEN SPEAK UP

*A group of Saudi women protests in front of the Ministry of Civil Service to demand better benefits and pay.


*Meanwhile, three female Saudi bloggers launch Saudi-leaks.org to monitor what happens after enormous spending projects are announced with much fanfare in the media. One of the top stories notes that the official media is calling the new Ministry of Education headquarters "complete." Saudi-leaks reports that after an expense of $133 million, only four floors and the basement are done, a far cry from what the completed building was supposed to look like in the picture (also posted).

April 5, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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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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