Showing posts with label The Maghreb. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Maghreb. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More on How a Single Spot in the Sahara Desert Creates the Amazon Jungle

In case you missed it, a 2006 paper titled "The Bodélé depression: a single spot in the Sahara that provides most of the mineral dust to the Amazon forest" was recently dug up by science writer Colin Schultz. Listen below to Schultz's talk with Niagara Falls' News Talk 610 CKTB about the paper's findings:
 

As the title of the paper suggests, and as Boing Boing's Maggie Koerth-Baker helps us visualize, what "we're talking about is a patch of desert only a third the size of Florida supplying the nutrient needs of a jungle that is roughly the same size as all 48 contiguous United States." Maggie Koerth-Baker pulled this quote from the paper:
A total of 140 (± 40) Tg is deposited in the Atlantic ocean and 50 (± 15) Tg
[1 Tg = 1 million tons] reach and fertilize the Amazon basin. This is four times an older estimate, explaining a paradox regarding the source of nutrients to the Amazon forest. Swap et al suggested that while the source for minerals and nutrients in the Amazon is the dust from Africa, it was estimated that only 13 Tg of dust per year actually arrive in the Amazon. However, they pointed out that 50 Tg are needed to balance the Amazon nutrient budget. Here we show a remarkable arrangement in nature in which the mineral dust arriving at the Amazon basin from the Sahara actually originates from a single source of only ~ 0.5% of the size of the Amazon: the Bodélé depression. Located northeast of Lake Chad (17°N, 18°E) near the northern border of the Sahel, it is known to be the most vigorous source for dust over the entire globe.
   

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Libya: Smell the Jasmine, Cont'd



Above, classic tweet from last Friday moments after Mubarak stepped down. With its clampdown backfiring, abolishing Fridays may be too late for Gaddafi's 41 year-old regime. RFI:
The arrest of a lawyer and human rights activist in Benghazi sparked a protest, which turned into clashes with the police on Tuesday.


Monday, January 31, 2011

North Africa: Smell the Jasmine - The Al Jazeera Vindication

Gil Scot-Heron famous quote that The Revolution will not be Televised still holds true, according to
Al Jazeera's company rep, who admits n this piece from Wired:
Qatar-based cable news network Al Jazeera is not available on United States cable systems — except in local markets in Vermont, Ohio and Washington, D.C. But that hasn’t stopped the major American news outlets from relying on the international news network for critical reportage on the growing unrest in Egypt.Al Jazeera has more journalists on the ground, in-country, than any American news organization.“Al Jazeera Arabic and English have seven teams in Cairo plus multiple reporters in Alexandria, Suez and Ismailia,” a company spokesperson said. “The revolution is not being televised, it’s being streamed,” the rep added. In order to make the news available worldwide, Al Jazeera has decided to make its content available for “other news sources to use through their Creative Commons website,” the company said. That means news outlets are free to use the organization’s reports and live footage, without getting permission, so long as the borrowers give credit.
Jeff Jarvis fumes:
Cable companies: Add Al Jazeera English NOW! It is downright un-American to still refuse to carry it. Vital, world-changing news is occurring in the Middle East and no one–not the xenophobic or celebrity-obsessed or cut-to-the-bone American media–can bring the perspective, insight, and on-the-scene reporting Al Jazeera English can.
Naomi Klien concurs and adds:
If Egyptians can demand freedom from dictatorship surely Americans can demand Al Jazeera from their cable providers. When Egypt cuts off Al Jazeera it’s censorship. When U.S. cable providers refuse to show it in the first place it’s “just business.”
From Julia Dahl's 2008 profile of the station in Guernica:
Compared to American news channels, AJE is remarkably staid. With bureaus on four continents, and reporters based in places such as the Cote d’Ivoire, Caracas, and Gaza, AJE’s news format tends to feature long-form, on-the-ground reporting, often by area natives. Aesthetically, the channel looks nothing like the sensory assault of Fox News or MSNBC, with

North Africa: Smell the Jasmine - Aftermath of Color Revolutions

Apart from concerns that if these North African revolutions go bad, Europe will be flooded with immigrants, RT looks at why Europeans are all "meh" over these popular uprisings or so called color revolutions--Georgia had Rose; Ukraine had Orange; in the 70s Portugal had Carnations etc--taking place in North Africa. After the dust settles promises go unkempt and the problems only worsen:



IMF's almost prophetic Outlook for North Africa and the Middle East from 2010 discusses the economic problems facing these countries (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Western Sahara, Sudan, Tunisia) and at the root of these uprisings + what they need to do to solve manage them.




Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tunisia: Bouazizi, Sidi Bouzid, Social Media and the 'Struggle for Recognition'

Kareem Fahim profiles for NYT the 26 year old and dusty town that sparked a revolution. Excerpt:
His first name was actually Tarek, but he went by Mohamed. He was not a college graduate, as earlier reports had said. He had been a vendor since he was a teenager, and had worked odd jobs since he was 10, his relatives said. His father, a construction worker in Libya, died of a heart attack when he was 3, said his mother, Mannoubia Bouazizi. She later married Mohamed’s uncle. Mr. Bouazizi made it to high school, but it was unclear whether he graduated: a cousin said he devoured literature and especially poetry, but his mother said he preferred math. He had a girlfriend, but they had broken up recently. He was a soccer fan and spent much of his spare time at the Fustat cafe downtown, engaged in the local diversions of smoking and playing cards. Despite his struggles to work, he was easygoing and liked to laugh. His relatives saw no hint of depression, and though they said Mr. Bouazizi refused to pay bribes, they could not recall any time where he had made such an unyielding stand.
Al Jazeera points out that in relation to the use of social media in Iran's "Green Revolution" in 2009 and Egyptian protests in '04 and '05, what's different this time around ...


...is how much the relationship between mainstream and social media has matured. FP's/George Washington U's Marc Lynch observes:
If you go back to Egypt in 2004 and 2005, you had many of the same things you saw in Tunisia. You had activists who are using blogs, forums and various kinds of internet sites, including facebook, and you had AlJazeera and various other satellite stations covering the protests and really helping to feed this notion of a dramatic change in Arab politics. So the raw material is the same, but this time there was a much tighter integration between the 2, with AlJazeera regularly and frequently using user-generated content and rapid interaction between the two. You need to have a framing process. It's not just the pictures. It's what people make of the pictures.
And Nawaat's Sami Ben Ghabia breaks down for Riz Khan what Lynch referred to - that evolution of a "much tighter integration" ...



... between social and mainstream media this time around in Tunisia:
...The Tunisian government [which had successfully integrated ICT in education] was very successful in preventing people from within the country to access information but in the meantime they managed to create a new generation, entire youth, who are skilled at using conventional technology to bypass the filter to get access to information - that's the big irony that played during the last month... The social media aspect to this played as a way of bridging the gap between people on the ground taking [the] footage and uploading it on their facebook accounts, another team [making sure the information was accurate]. We've seen tens of facebook pages with the 'Tunisian Streets News Agency' who were [making  the information accurate]; correcting the dates, the places. And you have people who are the taking the information out of facebook and putting it on dedicated blogs, translating the information and putting it into context and making that ready for mainstream media to pick the story up - that's what AlJazeera was doing; that's what France 24 was doing. So you have multiple nodes of activists online and each of those nodes [implementing its own] strategy - you have people who are translating, people who are putting stories in context, people who were trying to build hubs with the mainstream media and pushing them to write about Tunisia. And that's when we reached an information cascade and that information cascade helped convince the Tunisian people to go into the streets.
And on why the American media missed the boat on Tunisia's revolution or why, when they finally did get a boat, they went with "twitter/facebook revolution" angle instead, Lynch boiled it down to "pre-existing narratives":
It didn't fit anyone's pre-existing political interest... Twitter and Facebook fits the pre-existing narratives about technology. I think it is a sign of the fact that very few people in Western media really understand what's happening in Tunisia.
And finally, one could also argue that the same fundamental or dynamic that motivated a 26 year old fruit seller in an impoverished corner of the world to light himself up is, on another level, the same dynamic that makes a revolution, in its bid to matter, tap into social media to bypass mainstream gatekeepers in a "... struggle of recognition." Back in The End of History and the Last Man, Fukuyama, standing on the shoulders of Hegel, explains this oft ignored driver of historical process:
Much of human behaviour can be explained as a combination of the first two parts, desire and reason: desire induces men to seek things outside themselves, while reason or calculation shows them the best way to get them. But in addition, human beings seek recognition of their own worth, or of the people, things, or principles that they invest with worth. The propensity to invest the self with a certain value, and to demand recognition for that value, is what in today’s popular language we would call “self-esteem.” The propensity to feel self-esteem arises out of the part of the soul called emos. It is like an innate human sense of justice. People believe that they have a certain worth, and when other people treat them as though they are worth less than that, they experience the emotion of anger. Conversely, when people fail to live up to their own sense of worth, they feel shame, and when they are evaluated correctly in proportion to their worth, they feel pride. The desire for recognition, and the accompanying emotions of anger, shame, and pride, are parts of the human personality critical to political life. According to Hegel, they are what drives the whole historical process.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

North Africa: Inspired Fire Sales

CNN and the Guardian have reports on incidents of self-immolation in Egypt, Algeria and Mauritania at the heels of Muhammad Bouazizi's now infamous self arson, which sparked off Tunisia's ongoing revolution. Below, India's NDTV compiles the fires:



Democracy Now asks Egyptian blogger and journalist Issandr El Armrani about self-immolations in Cairo. The Moor Next Door takes a closer look at the Mauritanian immolator, Yacoub Ould Dahoud:
This is as activist as one can get. Unlike the copy-cat self-immolations in Algeria (and Bouazizi’s original) there was no apparent spark in his personal life and he was older and better off than several of the other men...
Those speculating whether other copycat human torches can spark similar popular uprisings in the despotic trenches of the Arab world, can always be referred back to the "Elephant" argument from the opening scenes of Inception:
Saito: If you can steal an idea [from someone's mind], why can't you plant one there instead?
Arthur: Okay, this is me, planting an idea in your mind. I say: don't think about elephants. What are you thinking about?
Saito: Elephants?
Arthur: Right, but it's not your idea. The dreamer can always remember the genesis
of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake.
Cobb: No, it's not.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Egypt: Youth Underground




At the National, Ursula Lindsey reviews Ahmad Abdalla's [dir. Heliopolis (2009)] new film, Microphone (produced by Mohamed Hefzy and Khaled a. Naga), which delves into Cairo's underground youth and music spaces:
It's common to hear laments regarding the decline of Egyptian cinema and music. Both fields reached iconic heights in the 1950s and 1960s, but today, or so the story goes, they are mired in the derivative and the commercial. Yet those interested in seeing a successful example of Egypt's growing independent film industry, as well as a galvanising portrait of its homegrown musical scene, should consider Microphone..... Microphone started out as a documentary about Aya, an 18-year-old female graffiti artist in Alexandria, whose work had come to Abdalla's attention. Through Aya, he discovered the city's lively collection of bands, in particular its burgeoning hip-hop scene, and decided to make a documentary about youth culture in Egypt's second city, featuring musicians, filmmakers, artists and skateboarders. Because documentary films are rarely shown in Egyptian theatres, Abdalla gave a fictional framework to his footage of musicians and kids hanging out (more).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Algeria/Tunisia: Films



"Edawaha"/Buried Secret/ Anonymes (2009) and dir. Raja Amari won the special jury's prize as well as "tomorrow's film" prize at the just concluded 37th Brussels International Independent Film Festival.



Adding to recent musicals from Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, above, Algerian dir. Dahmane Ouzid talks about his musical "Essah" (Public Space) (2010), which looks at social and gender issues surrounding the loss of public spaces in Tunisia, where, according to France 24, the musical is a bonafide hit.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

North Africa: The Sahara is the New Resource

Reuters reports that the EU subsidized Desertec consortium--consisting of 12 European companies (ABB, ABENGOA Solar, Cevital, Deutsche Bank, E.ON, HSH Nordbank, MAN Solar Millennium, Munich Re, M+W Zander, RWE, SCHOTT Solar, SIEMENS) in an effort to harvest solar energy from North Africa and cable electricity undersea to Europe--can become operational in 5 years.


With sound bytes like "the big red square (above) represents the total surface needed to provide the world's electricity supply" or "if just one percent of the Saharan Desert were covered in concentrating solar panels it would create enough energy to power the entire world" or "within 6 hrs deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes within a year," you get the feeling that the Sahara desert is now the new big deal. But the sound bytes, in terms of PR, are also trying to get ahead of all the neo-colonialism comparisons--here's one--that will be made. Below, Siemmens already put out their own clip:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Africa: Maps of the Week


Above, the map over at the Pilrimmage website, a project put together by Chimurenga magazine and the Chinua Achebe Center, to send13 prominent writers on a pilgrimage to twelve cities in Africa (and Salvador do Bahia) to, of course, tell us what we don't know about what we think we know about the continent. And below, The Moor Next Door flags the map of West Africa put together by the Economist showing cocaine routes via West African countries to the growing European markets they serve.



If West Africa is cocaine's doorway to Europe then the Maghreb is the toll and inside the booth is AQIM (or FARQaeda?). Recently AP reported, "Nobody thinks al-Qaida has cornered the Sahara cocaine trade. But most suspect AQIM gets 'protection money' for letting the caravans drive by unharmed, or rents out bases like Terargar for resupply. Officials also believe AQIM militants are increasingly "freelancing" as bodyguards hired by the cartels to protect drug shipments from rival traffickers."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

North Africa: Arab Schindlers



In Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust in Arab Lands, Historian Robert Satloff sets out to prove that not only did Jews in North Africa suffer many of same elements of persecution as Jews in Europe -- arrests, deportations, confiscations and forced labor -- but that there were also hopeful stories of "righteous" Arabs reaching out to protect them. The doc aired on PBS 2 days ago. Full documentary - here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

North Africa: A World War II Game Tackles the North African Campaign


Some game reviewers were already getting tired of every World War 2 game being set in Europe; bemoaning the fact (here and here) that the war stretched across the planet from North Africa to the Pacific theater. Well, it seems the gods of fair representation in gaming have heard and have replied with Theater of War 2: Africa for the PC:



Seems no Africans fought in the Northern Campaign though.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Africa: Some Films Showing at the Helsinki African Film Fest - 7-9 May 2010

Clouds Over Conakry (2008), dir. Cheick Fantamady Camara (Guinea)



Waiting for Men (2007), dir. Katy Lena Ndiaye,  (Senegal, Mauritania, Belgium)

Bab'Aziz - The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul (2005), dir. Nacer Khemir (Tunisia)



Africa Paradis (2006), dir. Sylvestre Amoussou (Benin)



fest prog - here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Algeria: Boutef's Anti-Corruption Czar Problem

Africa-Asia Confidential  looks into the corruption--involving Chinese companies and European middlemen--that plagues Africa's largest construction project - the East-West Highway. This portion stood out:
Before his landslide victory in the April 2009 elections, President Bouteflika promised a sweeping anti-corruption campaign, although few expected the latest wave of high-level investigations and prosecutions... Much of the impetus for the probes comes from Major General Mohammed 'Tewfik' Medienne, who has used his control of the Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS) to monitor Algeria's leading politicians, securocrats and businessmen and to intervene in national and regional politics. Medienne's officers operate in Mali, Mauritania and Niger and he has become a key ally of the United States in joint operations against Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. Although Boutef's government is due to preside over a phased retirement of Algeria's most senior generals, the President remains extremely wary of Maj. Gen. Medienne's power and influence in the country.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

North Africa: The French Legion in 1912

Chris Schweizer's protagonist Peter Corgan joined the French Legion to escape, but in 1912 he is facing down Tauregs and at a loss at what France wants in the sands of North Africa.


Graphic Novel Reporter on Corgan's March:
.... Schweizer obviously did a lot of research into the politics of North Africa in the early 20th century, so his details ring true. He draws a thought-provoking parallel between the attitudes of the North African peoples and the French from that time period and the attitudes of those in the Middle East and those in America and Europe today. Conflicts go on, people misunderstand each other, whether on purpose or unintentionally, and hatred spreads. It’s an old story and a new one at the same time.
Oni Press' 26 page review - here- and Schweizer on preference of b&w over color.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

North Africa: Desert Crossing

NYT Lens/ Alfredo Bini

NYT Lens showcases the photojournalism of Alfredo Bini, who embeds himself with a convoy of migrants crossing the Ténéré desert last April in hopes of getting to Libya and crossing the Mediterranean to find work in Europe.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

West Africa: Cocaine 4 Guns

AP reports the UN claim that Latin American cocaine coming to West Africa on its way to Europe is now being exchanged for guns.

Huh? Even with the FAR-Qaeda picture, somehow it still doesn't compute.

BBC's Akwasi Sarpong asks Dr. Kwesi Aning of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Western Sahara: Morocco's Comfortable Diplomatic Position


Fast forward to 2:54mins in the latest "Week in the Maghreb" report from France 24 for a piece on the new round of talks conveyed by Christopher Ross, being held in New York (Feb 10-11) to "resolve the dispute over Western Sahara's status." More - here.

The report advances Morocco's side of the issue and with the accepted fact that Al-Qaeda is now operating in the Maghreb, one can see why succumbing to the Moroccan offer of autonomy rather than the Sarawi goal of sovereignty seems, if not the cleanest, definitely the quickest way to settle the dispute and, more importantly for the United States, avoid the possibility--however slim--that Sarawi discontent will morph into an Al-Qaeda recruitment goldmine - that argument, btw, didn't come about naturally, rather it was pushed -  here , for example - and repeated still it stuck. Sarawi supporters tried to put their own twist on the "fear of terrorism"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

North Africa/ France: The Real Debate

AFP already spoke to Sub-Saharan African immigrants in France about Sarkozy's whole debate over French nationality.

France 24 speaks to France's North African immigrants, some of whom feel the debate's tongue-in-cheek  title is deceptive and a waste of time, because what the debate is really about is how to integrate Islam into Europe and Western culture - "that's the real debate."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mali: Festival-du-Desert, 2010



Like the Paris-Dakar Rally, which was moved to South America, the Festival in the Desert, which used to take place at the Tuareg outpost of Essakane (3 days from Timbuktu Bamako), was also moved closer to the city of Timbuktu, Mali, because of security concerns. Part of the festival's legend was it was a music lovers' oasis partly due to how much traveling it took to get there, plus the fact that it brought revenue to the Tuareg and the municipality of Essakane.

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