Praying On Qasr al-Nil
February 2, 2011, 7:51 pm
Filed under: Middle East | Tags: , , , ,

One of the more memorable scenes of the Egyptian revolution will surely be that of ordinary Egyptian’s praying on Cairo’s Qasr al-Nil Bridge as members of Egyptian state police direct their water cannons at them. Truly a remarkable sight.

via Al Jazeera



Lingering Corruption in Afghanistan
December 16, 2009, 2:11 am
Filed under: Afghanistan | Tags: , ,

Corruption is one of the main factors behind the increasingly dire situation in Afghanistan.  Since 2001, billions of dollars have poured in and yet, there is little to show for it.  To a large extent, much of what hinders the present Afghan government is its inability to tackle systemic cronyism and bribery.  In fact, as more aide money comes in, such corruption has become more pronounced.  As the Washington Post noted a few weeks ago, “although [Afghan President Ahmed Karzai] announced a new anti-corruption unit this week, the president has been reluctant to fire scandal-tainted ministers in the past, and it is unclear whether he is ready to do so now.”  Because of ubiquity of the problem, writes the Post’s Joshua Partlow, “Afghans’ perceptions that they are ruled by a thieving class have weakened support for the government and bolstered sympathy for the Taliban insurgency.”



Galbraith: 2nd Stimulus Needed
December 3, 2009, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Economics | Tags: , , ,

University of Texas economics professor James Galbraith appeared on Al Jazeera today to discuss his vision for economic recovery.  The first priority, said Galbraith, is to fill state budget gaps.  While the concern over of the growing deficit and the national debt is important, ultimately, “unless they increase the scale of their effort, which means increasing the deficit and the debt in the short-runt, they’re not going to have a significant further effect.”

With unemployment at 10.2% and several states, including California, on the cusp of bankruptcy, swift action is urgently needed.  Today’s White House jobs summit is a clear indication that the administration does not want to sit idly by as the economy deteriorates.

A second stimulus, though politically unpopular, would fill some of the holes not filled by the initial round of spending.  Earlier in the week, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) told The Free Republic’s Noam Scheiber that additional funding to states was on the table.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will be releasing November unemployment numbers on Friday.

University of Texas economics professor James Galbraith appeared on Al Jazeera today to discuss his vision of economic recovery.  The first priority, notes Galbraith, is fill state budget gaps.  While the issue of the growing deficit and the national debt are important considerations, ultimately, says Galbraith, “unless they increase the scale of their effort, which means increasing the deficit and the debt in the short-runt, they’re not going to have a significant further effect.”

With unemployment at 10.2% and several states, including California, on the cusp of bankruptcy, swift action is urgently needed.  Today’s White House jobs summit is a clear indication that the administration does not want to sit idly by as the economy deteriorates.

A second stimulus, though politically unpopular, would fill some of the wholes not filled up the initial round of spending.  Earlier in the week, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) told The Free Republic’s Noam Scheiber that additional funding to states was on the table.



Self-immolation Among Afghanistan’s Women
December 1, 2009, 2:22 am
Filed under: Afghanistan, Society | Tags: , ,

While the practice of self-immolation is unfathomably horrific, it is rather common in Afghanistan where it has been done for decades.  As the condition of Afghanistan’s women continues to spiral hopelessly out of control, this horrendous and desperate attempt at escape will unfortunately become more pronounced.

Al Jazeera’s David Chater reports from Herat.

 



Unease in Zimbabwe’s Barracks
December 19, 2008, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Africa, Poverty | Tags: , , , , ,
An unidentified man carries some cash for groceries in Harare, Zimbabwe Wednesday, March, 5, 2008. The Zimbabwean currency tumbled to a record 25 million dollars for a single US dollar Wednesday as Zimbabwe battles with the worlds highest inflation currently pegged at over 100 000 percent. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Militaries are often immune from the tragedies of everyday life, especially in impoverished countries, where their ability to use force gives them a special power and position over civilians.  In many places, while the orphans and landless go to sleep with empty stomachs, the barracks often enjoy a modicum of stability.

In Zimbabwe however, soldiers from the ZNA have begun rebelling against the government of Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe, precisely because they too are feeling the effects of the government’s tragic mismanagement of the economy.  Though largely confined to Harare thus far, and comprised of lower ranking soldiers, the situation is worrisome for Mr. Mugabe and the ZNA.  Earlier in the week, Air Force Commander Perrance Shiri was shot in the arm in an apparent ambush.  Frustration with the longstanding economic crisis, which has made the Zimbabwean dollar worthless, has pushed segments of the military onto the streets, where they have battled with their fellow soldiers in violent street clashes.

Earlier in the day, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced a $10 billion note, which is the equivalent of $20 dollars. Banks have increasingly been unable to meet withdrawal demands and while new currency, according to the Reserve Bank, will “ go a long way in improving workers’ access to cash”, unless the political impasse is solved, it is likely that the Reserve Bank will be forced to take more action in the coming weeks and months.  The government has blamed some of mess on black market currency dealers.

To make matters worse, while Mr. Mugabe has offered to make his opposition rival, Morgan Tsvangirai the Prime Minister, Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has threatened to withdraw from a possible unity government unless 42 abducted members of the party are freed in the coming weeks.

“The MDC can no longer sit at the same negotiating table with a party that is abducting our members and other innocent civilians and refusing to produce any of them before a court of law”

Al-Jazeera’s Jonah Hull speaks with several disillusioned soldiers in the South African town of Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal.



Dream Deferred for Brazilian Immigrants
August 20, 2008, 12:22 am
Filed under: Economics, Latin America | Tags: , ,

For decades, deteriorating economic conditions and instability, have compelled millions of Latin Americans to emigrate to the United States in the hopes of achieving the ‘American Dream’. Nowadays, the faltering U.S. economy has led some to reconsider, and many immigrants, including Brazilians, are leaving the United States and heading back to Brazil, where a strong and rapidly growing economy awaits them.

Al-Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo explores this trend.



Gavage in Mauritania
August 17, 2008, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Africa | Tags: , ,


from themuslimwoman.org

The nation of Mauritania faces a myriad of social, political and economic problems, which has greatly impacted it’s ability to develop. While most Mauritanians live and work in urban centers, a sizable number still depend on agriculture and animal husbandry, specifically in rural areas where the government has had little influence in affecting policy. One area where this is most apparent has been with gavage, or the practicing of force feeding. In his book Mauritania, Alfred G. Gerteiny wrote this of gavage:

Women are subjected to gavage-that is, forced feeding, in order to gain weight. Fathers send daughters 10 or 11 years of age to live with herdtending dependent aznagui who see to it that the girls gain weight … often by being tied to the ground, and, to expand their stomachs, given nothing by water for three days. Then they are crammed with milk, usually camel’s milk.

Though decades have passed since Gerteiny wrote of the practice, gavage still occurs. In Mauritania, women who are overweight, or in some cases, obese, are considered beautiful and alternatively, women who weigh what we here would consider a healthy weight are shunned. In recent years, the government and NGO’s have forcefully led a campaign to discourage the practice. The forceful feeding of adolescent girls creates a plethora of health complications as the young girls mature into women. In the larger cities, the practice has visibly been cut, both by a changing of the times and by the discouragement of the practice. However, things are different in the desert, where people continue traditional practices.

One woman told the BBC:

“I make them eat lots of dates, lots and lots of couscous and other fattening food,”

But even in the cities, the reduction in gavage has not impacted the allure of obesity, which is still a pervasively dominant paradigm.

One woman told the Christian Science Monitor.

“The real gavage is on the point of becoming extinct. But there’s a new method … They take pills, some of them ones you usually give to an animal.”

While the practice of force feeding has reduced, obesity is still seen as a sign of beauty and women continue to go to great lengths and widths to gain weight. Al Jazeera explores the issue of gavage and the changing psyche of Mauritanians in their Africa Uncovered series.

Part 1

Part 2