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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


*Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave a closely-watched speech to supporters at Damascus University, carried live on state television, blaming the past three months of violence on an external conspiracy and "saboteurs." Assad promised to form a committee to oversee reforms, and pledged that reforms will be enacted at an unspecified date later in the year. He also blamed the chaos and violence in Syria.

*Angry demonstrations continued throughout Syria after the speech with some people holding signs reading "No to dialogue with killers."

*Al Jazeera led with the headline, "Demonstrations protest Assad's speech." Activists told wire agencies they were hearing that Syrians were angry at being called "terrorists' and "extremists' by Assad and stressed that they are only demanding "freedom and dignity." In response to the speech, the Facebook group "Syrian Revolution against Bashar al-Assad" called on Syrians to turn out and show their anger at the regime.

*Here is a screen grab from the speech, with the crawl reading: "President Assad: ‘Our prosperity is the future. We will take control of events and guide them, and not allow them to take control of us.""

*A Tweeter sarcastically called @SyriaParliament says, "What is most funny about Arab tyrants is they rule for decades, and when you ask for reforms, they say ‘give us time.""

*Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood tweets, "Brotherhood Leader: Sharia law is higher than the citizenry. Democracy cannot decide what is halal (Islamically correct) or haram (a sin)."

*Jordanian singer Wael Liddawi has a new video posted online by Play FM in Amman. It's called "What's Wrong With Us?" The song begins, "One day, I had an idea to do something. I'd like to help change my country." But people are too busy, too disinterested, too selfish for change, he sings. "We're looking out for ourselves – there is no interest in helping out the country." The video cuts to different people frowning and making an Arabic gesture for "no" when approached by Liddawi. "Let's encourage people around us and create a positive change in our country," the refrain goes.

June 20, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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