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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

AUTO REVOLUTION
*The fallout from the arrest of a Saudi woman, Manal al-Sharif, continues. Last week, al-Sharif posted a video of her driving in east Saudi Arabia on YouTube. She was arrested and remains in custody for violating the public order. The Facebook reaction was swift. The "I will drive my car" group has set June 17th as the day that women in Saudi Arabia will get into their cars and drive. The administrator notes his/her views as "very conservative," and maintains that a woman should be "wearing a full head/face covering with the eyes showing while driving or else face punishment" and that women should be allowed to drive "in cities only," among other conditions.

*Khalid Hajri writes, "We are all with Manal, and for women driving freely in Saudi Arabia."

*Esmahan Ghourabi adds, "This is your right and we are with you in Arab countries."

*The "We are all Manal al-Sharif" group has more than 16,000 members, hundreds of whom have already pledged to drive on Friday, June 17th at 9:00am.

AUTO COUNTER-REVOLUTION
*The "Campaign against ‘I will drive my car" group" was recently founded to counter the pro-driving movement. It includes a poster of Manal al-Sharif with her face crossed out. The administrator urges Saudi men to do "all they can to stop women from driving." That includes using the thick wire bound in cotton that is wrapped twice around the head to hold a male's checkered headdress in place. The administrator initially posted a picture of a man beating a woman using the igal headdress, but that has since been removed.

*This YouTube video features a young Saudi man in a mask mocking women as barely capable of functioning, much less driving. If allowed to drive, the unnamed speaker says, they would confuse the gender roles, threatening the masculine supremacy of society.

PRESIDENTIAL PROSECUTION
Despite rumors in the Egyptian media that former President Hosni Mubarak could receive a pardon, he was referred to the Attorney General today for prosecution in the deaths of protesters during the January 25th revolution. An estimated 846 people were killed during the uprising. Mubarak, his two sons Alaa and Gamal and others face criminal charges of conspiring to kill civilians. Moheet newspaper reported that "the Attorney General issued a decree forming a committee of medical experts to re-examine Mubarak's health and assess the possibility of his transfer to a prison hospital."

May 24, 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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