A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘maghreb

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams considers the possibility of life not based on DNA as we know it.
  • D-Brief considers the possibility that the formation of stratocumulus clouds might be halted by climate change.
  • Karen Sternheimer writes at the Everyday Sociology Blog about the negative health effects of the stresses imposed by racists.
  • Far Outliers notes the mix of migrants in the population of Calcutta.
  • Hornet Stories notes that the Brazilian government is preparing to revoke marriage equality.
  • Erin Blakemore writes at JSTOR Daily about the gloriously messy complexity of Jane Eyre.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the growing anti-government protests in Algeria.
  • The NYR Daily notes the response of Auden to an anthology’s no-platforming of the poems of Ezra Pound.
  • pollotenchegg reports on Soviet census data from 1990, mapping the great disparities between different parts of the Soviet Union.
  • Starts With A Bang notes the mysterious quiet of the black hole at the heart of the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that Russia is growing increasingly dependent on a more competent China.
  • Arnold Zwicky writes about some of his encounters, past and present, on Emerson Street in Palo Alto.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Queens, Fort McMurray, Casablanca, Aleppo, Baghdad

  • Guardian Cities looks at prosperous Long Island City and hard-pressed Blissville, two neighbourhoods of Queens that will be transformed by Amazon moving in.
  • CBC notes how, for Fort McMurray five years after the oil boom’s end, the bust is the new normal.
  • CityLab reports on how the Art Deco Les Abbattoirs complex in Casablanca, once an emerging artist hub, has been emptied by the city government.
  • This Middle East Eye feature looks at the relief and loss felt by returning survivors in Aleppo.
  • Guardian Cities looks at how Baghdad, fragmented and impoverished by war, is fumbling towards some sort of livability.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • D-Brief suggests that, in an era of climate change, waves of simultaneous wildfires may be the new normal in California.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares some news items looking at the history of the Precambrian Earth and of ancient life.
  • The Island Review shares some Greenland-themed poems by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at how the introduced Callery pear tree has become invasive in North America.
  • Language Log considers language as a self-regulating system.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes his new magpie friend. What name should he have?
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that the democracy of Mexico is in such poor shape that, even now, the democracies of Poland and Hungary despite far-right subversion are better off.
  • Drew Rowsome reviews the 1993 novel The Night of the Moonbow by Thomas Tryon.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the falling fertility rates in Syria, and takes issue with one statistical claim.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes that gravitational waves are affected by gravity, and looks at what this implies for physics.
  • Towleroad reports that Sarah Silverman has rethought her use of the word “gay” in her comedy routines.
  • Vintage Space notes the evidence confirming that many–most, even–Apollo astronauts had tattoos.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how the boundaries of the “Russian world” continue to contract, with the status of the Russian language receding in the education and the media and the public life of neighbouring countries.
  • Arnold Zwicky considers which part of Europe Switzerland lies in. Is it central European, or western European?

[NEWS] Five mixed links: medieval cockatoos, Indonesia, Morocco and the EU, White Helmets, Hllywood

  • If an Australian cockatoo did appear on a 13th century European map, this hints at a history of medieval interaction with Australia as yet untold. The Guardian reports.
  • The effects of a powerful Indonesia–an Indonesia likely to emerge through decades of steady growth–on Australia, to say nothing of its Southeast Asian neighbours, seems to be systematically missed. ABC reports.
  • Mohammed Ben Jelloun’s Open Democracy article, looking at the surprisingly close relationship of the Sherifian kingdom with the European Union and the impact on domestic dissent, is a must-read.
  • Canada, thankfully, is taking in hundreds of Syrian White Helmets and their families as refugees. CBC reports.
  • This r/mapporn post sharing a map depicting the different California locales used by Hollywood in the 1920s as stand-ins for foreign locations is classic.

[LINK] “The death of Mohsen Fikri and the long history of oppression and protest in Morocco’s Rif”

At Open Democracy, Imad Stitou places ongoing anti-government protests in Morocco in their proper context, in the long-standing dissidence and dissatisfaction of the northern region of the Rif.

On the evening of October 28, a garbage truck crushed Moroccan fish-seller Mohsen Fikri to death in al-Hoceima city in Morocco’s Rif as he tried to protect his produce. A month has passed since the incident, but protests are still ongoing in the city. While investigations seem to be at a standstill, protesters in al-Hoceima continued their action against the authorities, end of last week. They demanded the punishment of the culprits in this crime, which they believe is premeditated, instead of offering scapegoats to alleviate the pressure in the streets. The protesters were referring to some employees and garbage collectors whom the authorities arrested on the grounds of being implicated in Fikri’s killing.

The flame of public anger in al-Hoceima city is still burning, although the situation has relatively calmed down in other Moroccan cities. In fact, relations between the Makhzen a.k.a the federal state and al-Hoceima city, or the Moroccan Rif in general, have been shaky for decades.

The protests started out with slogans demanding a transparent and impartial investigation to expose the circumstances of Fikri’s death. But they soon escalated into calls for a comprehensive trial of the political regime as a whole, its politics and its behavior towards a marginalized region that has been deliberately shunned from the state’s general policies. This reaction did not come as a surprise. In fact, by exploring the Rif’s rebellious history against the authorities, one realizes that the crushing of Fikri was an opportunity to evoke this painful past and the feelings of oppression, disdain and discrimination that are deeply-rooted in the consciousness of Rifians since the country’s nominal independence in 1956.

Between 1958 and 1959, an uprising broke out as a natural reaction to the behavior of the new authorities that rose to power as a result of the Aix-Les-Bains negotiations. These authorities disbanded the Moroccan Army of Liberation and killed many of its men, in addition to oppressing, abducting, and torturing their opponents, especially sympathizers with the military leader Mohammed Bin Abd El-Karim El-Khattabi and those espousing his thought. Many Rifians were also forbidden from participating in regulating their region’s affairs or contributing to the rule of their country. They were not integrated in the different governments that were formed during the years 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1958.

The uprising was fiercely oppressed by the army, even using aircrafts flown by French pilots. Hundreds were killed and thousands were arrested and wounded. Abd El-Karim estimated the number of detainees in the wake of the Rif uprising at 8420. After that, the region was under a tight economic and security blockade until the January 1984 uprising that erupted as a result of the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions in Morocco. The January uprising, which students in several Rifian cities spearheaded, was also violently oppressed by the authorities of King Hassan II who gave a famous speech in the wake of the incidents which claimed the lives of many and wounded others. In his speech, he described Rifians as “scum” and other slurs that are still engraved in their memories. One cannot ignore the sporadic events that Rifians lived through during the so-called “new era” such as the al-Hoceima earthquake in 2004 and the arson of five men in 2011 inside a bank in the city during the February 20 protests.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 2, 2016 at 7:15 pm

[LINK] “Should we solar panel the Sahara desert?”

The Dragon’s Tales linked to a BBC feature discussing the idea of covering North Africa’s Sahara desert with solar panels, to generate energy for profitable export to Europe. The people interviewed, including proponent Dr. Gerhard Knies, seem at worse cautiously positive about the idea.

“Fifteen minutes after I learned about the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, I made an assessment of how much energy comes from the sun to the earth. It was about 15,000 times as much as humanity was using, so it was not a question of the source, it was a question of the technology.

“When the climate change issue became more prominent, I said we have to pull forward this solution, because it solves the industrial vulnerability problem of our civilisation, and at the same time, the climate vulnerability.

“My strategy was to look for amplifiers. A very good one was The Club of Rome, with its president, Prince Hassan from Jordan. We had a seminar with experts. We included European participants, but also people from North Africa, Jordan and the Middle East. They all said ‘Yes, that would be great for us to have such a thing.’

“We did a study so that we had numbers which are scientifically sound, based on the present knowledge in a clear way. We got support from Greenpeace and from several scientific institutions and big companies.

“We didn’t want politicians in the game; it should just be scientifically sound and economically viable. But politicians liked it, and when the Desertec Industrial Initiative launched in Munich in July 2009, we were flooded with politicians. When they see the potential for a solution they get interested.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 5, 2016 at 4:16 pm

[ISL] “The Jewish and Muslim merchants of Djerba”

Via Facebook’s Stephen comes the Rik Goverde’s Middle East Eye report on the history of the Jews of Djerba, a Tunisian island known for its merchant diasporas.

These are busy times for Nissem Bittan, a Jewish jewellery salesman in the heart of the old city of Houmt Souk. Customers keep walking into his shop, which seems to be constructed solely out of lavishly plastered ceilings and walls and handcarved wooden showcases.

The customers dig deep in their pockets and take out jewels and gold they want to sell. It’s just before Eid al-Adha and people on Djerba are running out of money. On the island just off the coast of Tunisia tourism is the main source of income, but it became almost non-existent after terrorists hit the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March and the beaches of Sousse in June, leaving almost 60 dead in total.

“People don’t have money but they still want to buy a sheep for their family (as part of the Eid tradition). So they sell their jewelry to us,” says Bittan, a 52-year-old in shorts and a striped shirt who was born and raised on Djerba.

Bittan runs one of the many jewellery stores in the old city of Houmt Souk, the small capital of Djerba. In those narrow streets, Jews and Muslim merchants have been working side by side for centuries, relatively secluded from the outside world. He has Muslim friends, Bittan says, although they don’t really come over to each others houses for dinner a lot and “there are certainly no inter-marriages” between the two religious groups. “In Tunis that might happen… maybe,” he says. “The Jews there are a bit more liberal. But here, no. It’s a religious thing, we don’t blend. But we still respect each other.”

Written by Randy McDonald

October 3, 2015 at 3:53 am