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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


A R A B I C A
ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie

TUESDAY
The online engine of the Syrian revolution, the Syrian Revolution against Bashar al-Assad Facebook group, each week builds up to a Friday of protests under different banners, last week's being the "Friday of International Protection." The group bills the event, and somehow, protesters on the ground get the message, shouting slogans and holding up banners reflecting the latest cause.

The group (now with more than 280,000 members) is calling for Tuesday protests under the banner "Tuesday of Anger Against Russia – Stop supporting the killings." Protests are urged "in cities across Syria." Organizers note that "signs should be in Arabic and Russian." Comments include: "May Russia fall" and "the Persian enemy is a more savage and despicable killer than Israel."

THUGS
This blood-red notice posted on the group's page reads: "Shabiha (thugs): Collect and circulate their names in all cities." The caption below asks Syrians to collect any information they can about these so-called civilian "thugs' perpetrating violence on behalf of the regime – their names, contact information, places of work, anything. "We investigate and don't release names without proof," the adminstrator writes.

TOURISM
Tourism in Egypt has dropped by more than 35 percent since the January 25th revolution, official figures reveal. In the second quarter of this year, 2.2 million tourists entered the country, compared with 3.5 million during the same period last year.

TEMPLATE
As revolutions and upheavals ripple throughout the Arab world, it may be comforting to some to note that coverage of the meetings of Arab leaders remains stuck in the same template used by both state media and privately owned newspapers for at least the past three decades. It is worth visiting this "news' story about a meeting between the Saudi king and the Qatari emir it reflects the bland diet of non-news force-fed to Arabs for years. Satellite television and revolutions have not altered the frozen-in-time template. Yet when protesting Arabs demand dignity, that means, among other things, no longer being insulted by reports such as these that deny the public any sort of information about what their leaders are doing:

"Qatar emir leaves Saudi Arabia after two-hour visit"

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, departed from Jeddah this evening after a short visit to Saudi Arabia where he met with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and discussed…events transpiring on the regional and international levels and the position of the two of them, in addition to the prospects of cooperation between the two countries and ways of enhancing them in various fields. The article then went on to list, name-by-name, all the officials in attendance.


Sep 12, 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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