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Reposted from GreyHawk by GreyHawk Editor's Note: Those among the GOP who continue to praise the Hobby Lobby decision seem to be forgetting their own damning hypocrisy when it comes to sex, lies and coverups. -- GreyHawk

This is a full crosspost of the original piece, originally written exclusively for ePluribus Media and only partially crossposted here The reason I thought it was worth reposting in full here is to enable more complete responding & reaction to a recent comment made by  Sen. Lindsey Graham(R-Delusional) at an appearance at the University of South Florida on 7/30/2012 ... -- GreyHawk

"Gaeity" is a term denoting joyful exuberance or merriment, but in the hands of today's Republican party, I would not be surprised to find it reinterpreted to a bastion of misleading and negative connotations almost as confusing as the definition and use of the word  gay.  The "Party of Moral clarity" has demonized the use of any word, term or action that could even hint at homosexuality in order to key into the knee-jerk prejudice of millions of "Christian" voters everywhere.  (Note that I put quotes around "Christian" -- I can't duly insult those who actually practice the teachings attributed to Christ, when I'm only targeting those who simply claim to.)  Whenever I hear GOP leaders or pundits screech about a "homosexual agenda" and accuse someone of being gay as though it is a crime against humanity (unlike torture, or melting the flesh off children), I wonder why nobody asks them to clarify.

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Reposted from Daily Kos by GreyHawk
Rancher Cliven Bundy gestures at his home in Bunkerville, Nevada April 12, 2014. U.S. officials ended a stand-off with hundreds of armed protesters in the Nevada desert on Saturday, calling off the government's roundup of cattle it said were illegally gra
The GOP's most recent grassroots hero
It would be funny if it weren't so disturbing. Republicans, their propagandists and their enablers have been whining about Republicans being called on their racism. Which was particularly revealing in the context of attempting to defend having accused President Obama of racism. All of which was the opening act to Republicans falling all over themselves in gushing support of a locked and loaded, ostensibly anti-government deadbeat social welfare recipient, who just shockingly—shockingly!— turned out to be a frothing racist.

Now, to be clear, as DCCC Chair Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) recently graciously admitted, not all Republicans are racists. But Republicans do continue to pursue racist political policies. And Republican leaders do have a problem confronting the overt racism festering within their party. And Republicans do continue to make systematic efforts to prevent black people from voting. Whether it's using the zombie lie of voter fraud as an excuse to legislate disenfranchisement or the Republican-appointed Supreme Court majority gutting the Voting Rights Act to make it easier to legislate disenfranchisement or whether it's straight up voter intimidation, Republicans use every available means to try to prevent African Americans from participating in representative government. Republicans use every excuse to prevent immigrants from becoming citizens.

But this is about so much more than policy. It's about who these people are. It's about values. It's about projecting their own lack of humanity on others, and attempting to use their historical and institutional privileges to enforce it. No matter their excuses for their racist policy positions, they reveal themselves by their repetitive habit of what too often are excused as verbal gaffes, too often excused with half-assed apologies and almost always excused as isolated incidents that are emblematic of nothing. But they are not isolated instances. They are part of a repetitive pattern. They keep happening. And they reveal the real animus behind the policy positions that do not but coincidentally hurt minorities.

Join me over the fold for more. Much, much more.

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Reposted from ePluribus Media by GreyHawk

Good morning, folks. This diary is the first one posted by ePluribus Media under this specific account name since June of 2008, so we're going to provide both a re-introduction to our organization as well as some nifty tips and tricks regarding formatting images and text on DK4. If you're simply looking for "how to" information, we'll give you a good handle and you can add your own in comments. If you're also curious about citizen journalism, the role of bloggers and online investigative reporting, we'll hopefully pique your interest there as well.

Are you ready?

Make the jump, take the plunge and hang on to your spleen (or whatever you currently use as a substitute organ).

Today's ePM diary is written and posted by GreyHawk on behalf of ePluribus Media. Any errors, bad jokes or errata are his. And if you happen to find any feathers floating about, ignore them - he's randomly molting to create a new set of quills.

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Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 04:59 AM PDT

Providence, Here I Come

by GreyHawk

Reposted from GreyHawk by GreyHawk

I'm going. I just registered for NN12 in Providence, RI. It will be my first Netroots Nation. I'm very excited & optimistic. HawkWife wants to go, too; we'll likely register her this week, hopefully before prices increase.

Are you planning to be there? Got anything planned - are you part of a proposed panel, or going to have a booth or a table? You can register now to attend - if you belong to an organization that might have compatible interests, see if they'll sponsor you.

I'm one of many people who proposed a panel. This morning, right after I'd registered, I received a notification that the panel had made it through the first round of about serendipity! (Or would that be synchronicity? A bit of both, perhaps?)

Anywho - having made it through only the first round of cuts, there's absolutely no guarantee that the panel will make it through to the final selection. But that doesn't mean it's not worth exploring, and below the orange sigil I'll tell you a bit about the proposed panel - Citizen Journalism: Reinforcing Our Voices Through Social Media As Core Netroots Media - and the questions I'm hoping it will answer.

Your insights & comments will be useful. If the panel is selected, we'll have made a good bit of progress toward gathering more information about what the panel means to folks like yourself. If the panel isn't selected, at least we'll have that information in order to proceed along the same path of discussion, discovery & development toward a more effective way to provide voice to more people, and to foster the development of people-powered, fact-based citizen journalism.

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Fri Nov 25, 2011 at 07:26 PM PST

Earthship COPernica I

by boatsie

Reposted from The Durban Daily by boatsie
Welcome to the launch edition of Earthship COPernica.

Please visit eCOP Week One for current Earthship.

eCOP launches into orbit November 27, beaming down full spectrum 24x7 coverage of live events, news, side events, videos and radio shows from the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, SA.

COP17 promises to be an historical event as these talks represent the last chance to ratify the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol. Just days before the conference, a group of developed countries announced plans to abandon Kyoto and begin work towards a new climate treaty which would not go into effect until 2020.

Hold onto your seats. It's going to be a rocky ride.

Over this two week period, exploratory vessels from, the Global Campaign for Climate Action, Post Carbon Institute, Oxfam, WiserEarth, tcktcktck, Transition US, Ecoequity, and environmental artist Franke James are sharing resources to provide background information, interviews, and breaking news on the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17).  eCOP is also sharing content with the People's Conference C17 and Occupy COP17.

This collaboration provides a variety of channels of educational and inspirational writing and art; radio and tv shows; and a savvy integrated social media team.  

Throughout the talks, Earthship COPernicus will be docked at The Durban Daily. Each day, one or two diaries will focus on events related to COP17.

Live and Interactive from COP17

Join OneClimate. Beginning 30 November (3pm Durban, 1PM, London 8AM New York), OneClimateTV will be Broadcasting live.

Evolving Social Media Kit

CGIAR Climate
CIFOR Forests
SEI Climate
Occupy COP17
Richard Klein

Schedule (tentative)

Schedule (ALL TIMES EST)

Sunday: ECOP Launch. Kelly Rigg: Darwin Comes to Durban: Overcoming "Survival of the Fittest" Mentality at UN Climate Talks
Monday Morning Durban Time: Franke James
eCOP: Why would Canada censor artist, Franke James? See “Banned on the Hill”
Monday: 28 November WarrenS Opening  Meatless Mondays: A Meatless COP Beach-babe-in-fl, Daily Tck
Tuesday: citisven: ecocities. Janet Redman, Institute for Policy Studies

Wednesday:  Gender @ COP17

Thursday envirowriter. Daily Tck

Friday: Oxfam. Daily Tck

Saturday WiserCOP & Daily Tck

Sunday December 3rd. CGIAR: Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2011. Oceans Day.  Heading into Week 2. TBA

Monday: Bill McKibben: The People Speak; First Global Climate And Health Summit

Tuesday: WiserEarth: WiserAfrica: ICT and Climate Change. Daily tck

Wednesday: Occupy #COP17. Daily tck

Thursday: NRDC

Friday:  Road to Rio

Saturday: Reflections & Moving Forward

3rd December

Agriculture & Rural Development Day

COP17 Side Events

3 December: Oceans Day

4 December: Climate of Change: East Africa Famine Relief Concert

Mountain Day

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Reposted from East Africa Food Crisis: 48 Hours of Action by boatsie

EID Prayer in Dadab camp for Somalian refugees. Photo by Montaser Marai

The UN announced today that famine has spread to a sixth Somalian region and that upwards of 750,000 deaths will occur within the next few months without immediate and drastic increase in aid efforts.

“We can’t underestimate the scale of the crisis,” Mark Bowden, the United Nations’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia told the New York Times. “Southern Somalia is the epicenter of the famine area in the Horn of Africa. It’s the source of most of the refugees, and we need to refocus our efforts.”

Since July, when the UN declared three regions were experiencing famine, the famine has spread throughout a third of southern Somalia, including parts of Mogadishu. Today, the UN said the entire Bay Region is impacted, an area where 60 percent of the children are severely malnourished.

Tens of thousands have died over the past few months, according to Bowden, "over half of whom are children. That translates into hundreds a day.”


In other news:

Dadaab refugees face sexual violence on camp journey

Reports filing in on women walking with children for over 30 days being attacked and raped at gunpoint. Estimates are that almost 80 percent of new arrivals at Dadaab are women and children who are traveling without a male companion.  One woman, who made the journey with five grandchildren and one small cousin, told CBC's Carolyn Dunn: ""I was raped by seven men. One at a time, one at a time."

Follow the CBC Journalist tweeting live from Dadaab.

As reports continue to file out of East Africa on the disproportionate impact of the food crisis and drought on women, a report issued this week out of Pakistan Women unseen victims of resource wars linked to climate change confirms just how significant a role gender continues to play in the regions of the world most vulnerable to global warming.

According to an official report prepared by the Environment Wing, climate change could hamper the achievement of many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including those on poverty eradication, child mortality, malaria, and other diseases, and environmental sustainability. The report of the Environment Wing said like other poor countries, climate change is harder on women in Pakistan, where mothers have to stay in areas hit by drought, deforestation or crop failure.

Many destructive activities against the environment disproportionately affect them, because most women in Pakistan are dependent on primary natural resources: land, forests, and waters. In case of droughts they are immediately affected, and usually women cannot run away. Men can trek and go looking for greener pastures in other areas and sometimes in other countries.


World Risk Index

The UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security in Bonn has released a World Risk Index(WRI) to assist and shape responses to disasters. The WRI takes into account natural hazards as they relate to the unique vulnerablities of individual countries and is expected to assist aid organizations in jump starting responses to disasters.


Eritrea. Next Country to face Food Crisis

The BBC reports that despite government claims of a bumper crop, evidence is mounting that 2 out of 3 Eritreans may be experiencing acute hunger. A FEWS Satellite revealed below average rainfall from June to September and each month over 900 cross the country's militarised border.


Horn of Africa Timeline

The Telegraph has compiled a detailed overview of the food crisis in East Africa, beginning in February 2011 when the UN reported that over a six month period, over 30% of the Somalian population was experiencing acute malnutrition.

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Reposted from East Africa Food Crisis: 48 Hours of Action by boatsie

Maasai herding’, painting by Kahare Miano (photo credit: ILRI/Elsworth).

As the CGIAR Consortium prepares for its Thursday live interactive panel on challenges and solutions to the Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa, the Famine Early Warning Network (FEWS NET) reports that reliance on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate model for long term climate adaptation and mitigation in East Africa greatly exacerbated the current crisis.

In a Nature News article We thought trouble was coming,  FEWS Net's Chris Funk says because agencies working in the Horn of Africa relied upon the IPCC's prediction of increased precipitation in East Africa, they failed to heed early warnings of severe drought and wide-spread food insecurity.

The global climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were never intended to provide rainfall trend projections for every region. These models say that East Africa will become wetter, yet observations show substantial declines in spring rainfall in recent years. Despite this, several agencies are building long-term plans on the basis of the forecast of wetter conditions. This could lead to agricultural development and expansion in areas that will become drier. More climate science based on regional observations could be helpful in addressing these challenges.

While the IPCC's 2007 4th Assessment report, in its section Mean Precipitation, does suggest a potential increase in precipitation in some areas of East Africa, upon evaluating all the data available at that time, the IPCC scientists concur:

While this result is generally consistent with the underlying GCMs and the composite MMD projections, there is a tendency for greater Sahel drying than in the underlying GCMs, providing further rationale (alongside the large spread in model responses and poor coupled model performance in simulating droughts of the magnitude observed in the 20th century) for viewing with caution the projection for a modest increase in Sahel rainfall in the ensemble mean of the MMD models.

The IPCCs Fifth Assessment Report is currently underway but is not scheduled for release until 2014.

Funk, a member of University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Geology Climate Hazard Group, said FEWS began issuing early warnings last year after evaluating the impact of the La Niña weather system on East Africa.  

FEWS NET runs a food-price tracking system that showed that the price of maize (corn) in Kitui, Kenya, had soared by 246% in 12 months. And the value of a goat in Bardera, Somalia, usually sold to buy grain, had halved. Satellite measurements of vegetation health tracked the emerging drought in disturbing detail. FEWS NET put out a second alert on 7 June that warned: “This is the most severe food security emergency in the world today, and the current humanitarian response is inadequate.”

Along with faulty climate modeling, which resulted in the unsustainable expansion of rain fed agriculture crops in dry pastoral ecosystems, Funk reports that population expansion and more frequent droughts have overwhelmed local agriculture systems.

Emergencies such as the one in East Africa will become more common unless there is a focus on improving agricultural production. Ironically, the fact that crop yields are low creates a tremendous opportunity for improvement. A 50%, or even 100%, increase in yields is feasible . . . . In the long term, a more resilient system is needed, rather than an increase in the number of emergency grain shipments. Then, when disaster strikes, surplus food can be moved around the region—from Tanzania to Somalia, say.


CGIAR Consortium's Thursday press conference Research Options for Mitigating Drought-induced Food Crises focuses on solutions and challenges, and is informed by research on such topics as reintroducing traditional dry-land crops; implementing food storage systems; climate change and farming; micro-irrigation and the successful use of plant varieties; and inspiring and engaging youth in sustainable agriculture. (See Links Below.)

The meeting, which takes place at the ILRI campus in Nairobi, will be hosted on the Consortium's Horn of Africa page, where a live video link and chat channel provide opportunity for Q&A for remote participants.  (Times: 10:30-12:00 Nairobi time; 09:30-11:00 CET; 07:30-09:00 GMT; 3:30- 5:00 EST; 0:30 - 2:00 PST ).  Participants can submit comments or questions ahead of time on the HOA landing page; during the live event, questions can be submitted in real time via Twitter or the chat channel on the page.

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Reposted from EcoJustice by boatsie

The final figures are in! Oxfam America announced last week that contributions received directly from Daily Kos for the August 6-7 #48forEastAfrica action netted $7,135!

We're not stopping there!  We're going for $10,000!

In other feedback from participants, Oxfam International, which wrote about the event and participated in the weekend social media action on Twitter, reports that visits to were double the average weekend traffic and that twitter tracking revealed between 600-700 uses of the #48forEastAfricahashtag  through Monday Aug. 8.

Note: While we were unable to figure out how to track the # of tweets and RTs en toto, a Google search on the hashtag #48forEastAfrica today shows 28,000 results!

Oxfam International's Digital Campaigner Richard Casson says:

Also, in terms of donations, as OI doesn't take donations directly we don't have any figures for how much was raised or whether it went it up over the weekend.  But what I would say is that normally traffic to our donation page on (which then refers users on to national donations pages) would drop over the weekend, but this Saturday and Sunday it stayed consistently high.

Additionally, other #48forEastAfrica participants raised $7,500 for Médecins Sans Frontières /Doctors without Borders (MSF) over the weekend of action.  

Several of the #48forEastAfrica participants were guest bloggers at Daily Kos. These included:  

• Samantha Bailey -'s Africa coordinator, Reporting from the Frontlines
• Laura Heaton - Enough Project Interview with Somalia Expert Ken Menkhaus
• James Greyson - BlindSpot:  Look both ways before you cross
• Daisy Carlson -  Cool HIVE: Blogathon Makes a Difference to a Child's Life

One of the most powerful reports was written by Oxfam intern Sophie McGrath, who works in the agency's Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, headquarters:  <

In 48 hours of blogging for East Africa’a personal experience of the food crisis with Oxfam in Ethiopia, Sophie describes her initial experience of the drought three months ago:

At this point, the drought there was not yet a crisis, and there was still hope that things would get better. ‘We are waiting on the rain’ said Hanura, a grandmother and carer of five. But though it did come in the end, it wasn’t long or heavy enough to change anything – for the cattle, most dead or dying, or their owners, losing their lifeline, their income to buy food, and walking half the day to get water.

On my last day, I’d just finished talking with Hanura when I heard a commotion in the distance – I thought it was a fight. But when my colleague and I approached we found an incredible sight: forty-odd women (and children) standing in a long line, clapping and swaying and chanting our names. They’d come to meet us and thank us for listening to their problems and requests. It was incredible – smiling, joyful people in bright psychedelic robes that dazzled against the pale sand and the pale sky like a vision. And then suddenly it was over, and we watched them disperse into the pale landscape.

As of August 7th, her report from Addis Ababa provides an inside look at how Oxfam switched into high gear in response to the crisis:

Three months on, I am also now helping in a more direct way: supporting Oxfam’s drought response in Ethiopia, chipping my own bit off the mountain of work that providing life-saving support on this scale requires. Here in the Addis Ababa office, I’m surrounded by people working an ungodly amount of hours seven days a week, every week, with teams on the ground across the worst-hit areas, giving life-saving assistance to those who need it most: from rural communities to Somali refugees in Dolo Ado refugee camp. Water, food vouchers, cash transfers, water-purifying tablets, latrines, refugee protection, the list goes on. I’ve watched the response gather pace with excitement: one day plans on paper, the next teams of experts arriving in the field, new boreholes meeting  thousands people’s daily water needs, 600 tonnes of supplies arriving in Dolo Ado…


Do I hear $10,000?

Let's raise another $3,000 for the #48forEastAfrica campaign to support the work of Oxfam in the Horn of Africa.

Here are a few reasons why:

"Safia Adem mourns the death of her son Hamza Ali Faysal, 3, in a camp of displaced Somalis within the rubble of the Cathedral of Mogadishu on August 13, 2011 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The malnourished child died of sickness two weeks after fleeing with his family from famine and drought in far southern Somalia. The US government estimates that some 30,000 children have died in southern Somalia in the last 90 days from the crisis."

Photograph: John Moore: Gettty Images.  See Time Magazine: Somalia: One Mother’s Unspeakable Loss

• Over 30,000 children have already starved to death over the past three months in East Africa.
• 3.7 million Somalians, more than 1/3 of the country's population, need emergency aid.
• In what is now being called the world's worst humanitarian crisis, over 12 million people are impacted by the worst drought in 60 years
• Although al Shabab has withdrawn from Mogadishu, they are still operating north of the capital, where drought conditions are also present.


Somalia famine predictions ignored

Eight months ago the warning signs of an impending famine in Somalia --  an escalating food crisis, ongoing drought and geopolitical instability -- were overlooked by donor agencies, an oversight which has resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths, writes Al Jazeera's Isaiah Esipisu.

Oxfam spokesperson Anna Ridout tells Al Jazeera that the situation "would not have been this bad if there was emergency response for prevention, despite the conflicts in the country."

Currently, with famine declared in a number of southern Somalia districts, Esipisu reports that the UN estimates nearly half of Somalia's population faces the potential of famine and 310,000 of the country's children are severely malnourished. In some regions, the deaths of children under five are three times higher than what the UN Children's Fund defines as famine: (where famine equals two fatalities out of 10,000, current rates are six out of 10,000).

According to Oxfam, the UN announcement, which is the first one in the region this century, should be a wake-up call to the rest of the world.

"There has been a catastrophic breakdown of the world's collective responsibility to act. 3,500 people a day are fleeing Somalia and arriving in parts of Ethiopia and Kenya that are suffering one of the driest years in six decades. Food, water and emergency aid are desperately needed. By the time the UN calls it a famine it is already a signal of large scale loss of life," Oxfam said.


African Drought Victims Create World's Largest Refugee Camp
By LISA FRIEDMAN of ClimateWire

Valerie Amos, the United Nations' undersecretary-general for humanitarian and emergency relief, said that from Mogadishu to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya -- now the world's largest -- it is clear that relief efforts are working, but more is needed.

Speaking upon her return from Somalia and Kenya, Amos described Dadaab as "more a city than a camp," with new arrivals from Somalia arriving, and dying, each day.

"I met one woman who had lost all four of her children on the journey from Somalia to Kenya," Amos recounted. "There's a tremendous amount of work going on in Dadaab to keep the camp and refugees in supplies. In the weeks ahead, we also need to step up our efforts to ensure the host communities in areas accepting refugees are being helped, as well."


The East African reports on A day at Dadaab: Five stages of desperation. Follow the excrutiating step-by-step process refugees face upon arrival at the camp -- from fingerprinting to nutritional screening  ("This is the first time small wails can be heard from the children who up to this point have been eerily quiet. Those labelled as severely malnourished are taken to a hospital in the camp where medical attention is given to them. Here it was rare to see the face of a man.") to food distribution to wrist banding -- only to be shuffled once again to the outskirts of the camp because of space limitations.



Daily Kos coverage of the crisis in the Horn of Africa began through the Ecojustice Group, which launched the #48forEastAfrica initiative.  

Active Participants in the weekend of action included, Oxfam International, WiserEarth, tcktcktck, DeSmogBlog, The Enough Project, BPI Campus, and Climate Change: The Next Generation


Next Steps: How you can help:

1. Donate now by clicking on the link below. REMEMBER TO ADD $.01 to your donation to enable Oxfam to keep track of all Daily Kos donations.
2. Follow the instructions below the fold to change your Daily Kos signature for a few weeks.
3. Participate in the #48forEastAfrica twitter campaign to direct traffic back to the coverage of the crisis at Daily Kos.
4. Sign up to write a diary. #48forEastAfrica hopes to publish one diary a  week to continue raising awareness and funds for the crisis in East Africa. (Indicate interest/availability in comments below or drop me an internal email)


Remember to add $.01 to your donation so it ends up being $5.01, $20.01, $50.01, $100.01, and so on.  This will enable Oxfam to keep track of all Daily Kos donations.

Please read this if you live outside the United States - to make a donation, click this link and scroll down a bit to find your country.  If not listed, please Google Oxfam in your country.

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Fri Jul 29, 2011 at 03:10 PM PDT

East Africa Famine: Epic Crisis

by rb137

Reposted from EcoJustice by boatsie

James Orbinski, former director of Doctors Without Borders [MSF], describing a day in the life of an MSF physician in Somolia, circa 1992, in Triage: James Orbinski's Humaritarian Dilemma.

Somalia's refugee crisis persists today, and is pushed further into criticality by the drought. There is no food, there is no water, there is no security.

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Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 03:58 PM PDT

Somalia: This is the Children's Famine

by boatsie

Reposted from EcoJustice by boatsie

Somalia suffers from worst drought in century: Women rush to a feeding centre after the soldiers of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) cannot contain the crowd in Badbado, a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IPDs). Photograph: UN Photo / Stuart Price.Photo by Africa Renewal

As the UN officially declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia, the WFP yesterday announced plans to begin airlifting highly nutritious foods for malnourished children in Mogadishu "within days."

Currently, twenty-five percent of Somalia's population has been displaced by the worst drought in Horn of Africa countries in over 60 years. Over the past two months, more than 78,000 Somalis have traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya seeking food, water, and medical assistance.

The decision by the Al-Shabaab to allow limited international humanitarian aide inside Somalia highlights the severity of the situation in the country which is most severely impacted by the East African drought.

According to BBC, Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage denies famine exists in Bakool and Lower Shabelle,  the two UN identified districts, and although the terrorist group has lifted some restrictions on international assistance, 3.7 million Somalis are in dire need of life saving assistance. The WFP, one of many organizations operating under strict restrictions in the region, last night  issued an urgent appeal for increased access.

"We are appealing to all parties who have an interest in this situation to allow us to go in there and to get the aid in, in as fast and efficient a manner as possible," WFP's Africa spokesman David Orr told BBC.

Today, amidst unconfirmed reports that drought has already claimed the lives of over 10,000 Somalis since June, heavy rainfall added to the misery in Mogadishu, where 10,000 families from the famine struck regions already reside in 50 camps.  Thousands more from "Bay, Bakool, Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba and Upper Juba ... remain without shelter, food, water, proper sanitation and bathing," according to Speroforum World Africa.

"The government is doing its best, but the problem exceeds all expectations", said the Minister of local health of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG). In recent months, according to TFG, thousands of people have died, mostly children, in the south of the country due to causes related to malnutrition.

Sofia, six, carries her little sister Suada, 24 months old, to the Save the Children outreach center in Lagbogol, Kenya. Their mother left with their surviving livestock and Sofia is now in charge of looking after her sister. Photo By Save the Children España

In a statement released yesterday evening following her visit to Somalia, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran called the situation "critical. At one of our feeding sites in Mogadishu, where we are supplying food for hot meals, I met a woman who had lost children as they trekked out of the famine area in search of food."

WFP's Benjamin Makokha said the agency is battling to keep up with the needs of the people in the region.

"The needs are immense," Makokha told AFP. "Everyday the situation grows worse."

Covering the situation in Kenya, Pretoria News' Ephrem Rugiririza writes about the impacts of Drought Killing Livestock: uprooted and ravaged pastoralist communities, relocating as their herds die off. One cattlekeeper tells Rugiririza he is using the horns of his four remaining cows to move close to 150 carcasses while others report seeing giraffes and hyenas rotting in the bush.

The monotony of the flatlands are broken only by dry and stunted trees.

The skin is stretched tight over the bones of cattle carcasses, half hidden in the sand.

For many in this vast and arid region, the rains are a distant memory.

"My younger students have never seen drops of water fall from the sky since they were born," said Adan Mohamed, headmaster at the school in the village of Lokulta.

"I'm sure that when it rains, many will cry."


East Africa famine: Our values are on trial: This is a children's famine, and it shines a light into the empty places of our conscience

This is the children's famine. Running from conflict, and sick with hunger and thirst, people are fleeing to the borders or the aid camps, many children dying on the way or too weak to survive once they get there. In some areas one in three children is seriously malnourished and at severe risk of death. In October the rains will come, most likely bringing epidemics of malaria and measles. Some of the children just lie down and wait for death, which is likely; or mercy, which is elsewhere.


Horn of Africa Famine: Millions at Risk in "Deadly Cocktail" of War, Climate Change, Neoliberalism (Democracy Now Reports)

The United Nations has called an emergency meeting to discuss the Horn of Africa drought, which it says has already claimed tens of thousands of lives. Famine was declared in two regions of Somalia on Wednesday where 3.7 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Another eight million people need food assistance in neighboring countries including Kenya and Ethiopia. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls the situation a "catastrophic combination of conflict, high food prices and drought" and has appealed for immediate aid. We go to Nairobi for an update from Kiki Gbeho of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. We also speak with Christian Parenti, author of "Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence." "This was predicted long ago by people on the ground," Parenti says. “It’s a combination of war, climate change and very bad policy, particularly an embrace of radical free market policies by regional governments that mean the withdrawal of support for pastoralists, the type of people you saw with their dead cattle."


Save the Children: An Audio Update From Ethiopia

In this podcast Duncan Harvey, Save the Children’s Deputy Country Office Director in Ethiopia, Michael Klosson, Vice President for Policy and Humanitarian Response, and Charles MacCormack, President, describe the worsening situation for children affected by the epic drought in the Horn of Africa and what you can do to help children children survive until the rains come.

Chronicles of a "drought widow:
Joy Portella reports from Kenya for Mercy Corps

This week in the town of Hadado, I met one of the women I’ll call a “drought widow.” Zeynab Hassan is a middle-aged mother of five children who range in age from seven to 20 years old. Zeynab is relatively new to Hadado. She and her sister’s family moved here from what used to be nearby grasslands when both of their husbands left. The men are now wandering with their remaining animals to search for water and food.

That was one month ago. I asked Zeynab when her husband will return and she only shrugged, saying, “I have no idea.”

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Reposted from EcoJustice by boatsie

Children aged five and under are especially vulnerable to malnutrition and the illnesses that frequently accompany it, such as pneumonia and diarrhoea. Here, two-year-old Aden Salaad looks up toward his mother as she bathes him in a tub at a Doctors Without Borders hospital. Photo by Yonzi

As scientists rally around the notion that the Horn of Africa Famine is not attributable to climate change but rather to a particularly virulent La Niña event, meteorologists in Lagos, Nigeria, have no problem equating the torrential rainfalls currently crippling Lagos to the changes in climate associated with global warming.

In fact, AllAfrica reports that the Nigerian House of Representatives Wednesday pressured President Goodluck Jonathan to sign Nigeria’s National Climate Change Commission Bill to accelerate interventions as extreme flood events increase in both intensity and frequency.

Meanwhile, Alternet reports from Lagos on growing concerns regarding the rapid spread of water-borne illnesses perpetuated by flood-contaminated drinking water.

“We might also experience a little dry season in this month of July, but because of climate change we might get it earlier or later in the month," Abayomi Oyegoke, the chief meteorologist of the Central Forecast Office of Nigeria Meteorological Agency told Business Day newspaper.

As environmentalists step up the call for early warning systems to help all vulnerable countries and regions prepare for extreme weather events resulting from climate change, the potential famine in the Horn of Africa is still being tied to La Niña. NASA's Earth Observatory provides an analysis of the situation:

A typical December in much of East Africa is rainy, the end of a 3-month rainy period before a dry stretch that usually lasts from January to March. In 2010, however, the rains were erratic and ended in early November. December was hot and dry. Two thirds of Somalia received less than 75 percent of normal rainfall, reported the UN-funded Somalia Water and Land Information Management program. Without rain, the pastureland and cropland in the region produced poor crops and little grass for livestock, leading to food shortages and livestock deaths, said the United Nations.

Poor or failed rainfall during the short rain growing season (October to December) is a classic La Niña signal. In late 2010, a strong La Niña cooled surface waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, while allowing warmer water to build in the eastern Pacific. The pool of warm water in the east intensifies rains in Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Domino-style, this pattern also increases the intensity of westerly winds over the Indian Ocean, pulling moisture away from East Africa toward Indonesia and Australia. The result? Drought over most of East Africa and floods and lush vegetation in Australia and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Oxfam East Africa Appeal - special report from Wajir, Kenya

The best news today is the BBC report that  Kenya will be opening the Ifo II camp, which can house 80,000. The camp had remained closed over fears that its opening would encourage more Somalis to cross the border, but Kenya's prime minister says the enormity of the humanitarian crisis has changed his government's position. UNHCR  will oversee the relief efforts in Ifo II.

Many of the arrivals have walked for days or weeks, desperate to escape not only from the drought in Somalia but also its long civil war. Photo by Yonzi.

In a local report on the food crisis in Kenya, Vision Africa talks to people like Florence, headteacher at Nairobi's Seed of Hope Centre, who says a 2kg bag of maize flour, a staple used for porridge and ugali, has increased in price from about 60 cents to $1.70 over the past four years.  

This makes it all the more important for our feeding programs to continue to ensure that children are eating at least one decent meal a day. However, our projects are struggling to stretch their budgets to buy the vital supplies they require.


The last time drought hit Kenya, I remember sitting down with the headteacher of a primary school in Kambiti which neighbours our Percy Davies School for children with special needs. He told me, sadly, that attendance levels at his school were falling day by day as children were sent out to find food instead of going to school. His school didn’t offer a feeding program so there was no incentive for parents to send their children to school as they would go hungry all day and possibly not have anything to eat at night other than boiled unripe mangoes. This really highlighted the importance of feeding programs…as well as ensuring that children are fed, in times of crisis it can mean that their education continues.

Children receive Plumpy'Nut nutritional aid in Ethiopia. Photo by USAID Africa

Reporting today from Kenya’s Dadaab camp, The Guardian’s Kristin Davis writes of being totally “unprepared for the utter sense of panic in the people I met there. These were the newcomers, people who could not fit into the largest refugee camp in the world. Because they could not fit, they were left outside in the nothingness that surrounds the camp. Their unbelievably difficult journey towards food, water, and shelter had led them to none of those things.”

They were panicked because many had lost children during the journey to Dadaab, and many children were dying on arrival. Past the point where food and water could bring them back to life. They were panicked because hyenas circle the area every night looking for the weakest of the children. The women I met are mostly alone, trying to protect babies and small children by themselves with nothing but thorny twigs. Most of these women have collected "unaccompanied minors" along their journey to the camp. These children are no relation to the women who now try to keep them alive. They are probably orphans. But that will take some time to sort out.
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Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 04:04 PM PDT

East Africa: Famine II

by boatsie

Reposted from EcoJustice by boatsie

Khadra Suleiman, at Ali Hussein IDP camp, Somaliland. Ali Hussein camp is one of several large camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) on the edge of Burao town. Some people have come from Mogadishu and South Central Somalia to escape the conflict, others have come because of drought.. Mother-of-five Khadra Suleiman is struggling to cope with the rising cost of living in the camp – particularly the cost of food: .(continue reading Oxfam report 7/13/2011)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon this morning called an emergency session of the heads of UN agencies to lay out a ground plan to address the need for urgent assistance to the people in the region.

""We must do everything we can to prevent this crisis deepening," he said. "The human cost of this crisis is catastrophic. We cannot afford to wait."

The 30-mile-long Dadaab Refugee Camp is ground zero in the relief effort for victims of the East African famine, now being called the "worst humanitarian disaster in the World."  With a population of over 400,000, the three Dadaab camps   – Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley –  are now home to the third largest population center in Kenya, after Nairobi and Mombasa.

The famine's epicenter lies in the nomadic region along the shared borders of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. The lives of 11 million people are threatened by this crisis, attributed to the combined impact of the worst drought in 60 years and the high cost of food resulting from global food insecurity.  link

Somalia, already devastated by ongoing violence and displacements from two decades of civil war, is the worst impacted country, with close to 2000 Somalis arriving daily in Southeast Ethiopia and 1400 seeking assistance in Kenya.  (source)

“Looking around, we mainly see women and children,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Elhadj As Sy, who has just visited Dadaab. “They are again the ones that are hardest hit by this triple shock of drought – which is related to climate change – [plus] soaring food prices and the armed conflict in Somalia.”

In an interview with Al Jazeera,  Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says existing camps have reached capacity and that the makeshift settlements of thousands of huts made from tree branches, covered by UN-supplied plastic sheets, are "catastrophes waiting to happen."

"The children are presenting with skin complications where their skin is peeling off mainly due to deficiency in micro-nutrients," Dr Milhia Abdul Kader said. "They are coming in a very bad shape. (Source: All Africa from Al Jazeera)

“The most impressive thing, for me, is that the poorest mothers in the worst cases of deprivation still love their children and want the best for them,” said Mr. As Sy. “They want them to be well fed, well-educated and to grow up with a future. To listen to all their stories, with smiles on their faces and hope for the future, is a true source of inspiration for all of us.”. Source: Relief Web

Climate Change & East Africa Drought

As they awaite the 2014 IPCC 4th report, climate scientists are not yet willing to officially attribute the two year drought to climate change, with many pointing to existing climate models which predict more precipitation for East African countries. Standing by the tenant that a single event can not be attributed to climate change, most attribute this extreme record-setting drought to an extremely strong La Niña event.

The current La Niña event, which began in 2010, is one of the strongest since the 1970s, says Jan de Leeuw,  ILRI operating project leader. Like El Niño, he says,La Niña occurs in cycles “we don’t understand ... We are in a period now of more frequent La Niña events, but such a situation was there from 1950 till 1976 also.”

NASA defines the current situation as follows: “The pool of warm water in the east intensifies rains in Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Domino-style, this pattern also increases the intensity of westerly winds over the Indian Ocean, pulling moisture away from East Africa toward Indonesia and Australia. The result? Drought over most of East Africa and floods and lush vegetation in Australia and other parts of Southeast Asia.”

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