Category Archives: Iraq

Arab investigative journalism conference this week

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AMMAN – More than 200 Arab journalists are convening in Amman on Friday to discuss ways of enforcing quality in-depth journalism under the motto, “From Arabs to Arabs”.

Supported by the expertise of veteran international journalism professors, reporters and editors from 12 Arab countries are participating in the three-day conference, organised by the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) network.

Among the keynote speakers are Charles Lewis, executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop and founder of the Centre for Public Integrity in the US; South Africa’s Mondli Makhanya, chief editor of The Sunday Times; and former BBC “HardTalk” host Tim Sebastian.

The event will also feature presentations by 16 out of over 75 Arab journalists who have produced investigative reports through ARIJ on human rights, miscarriage of justice, sexual abuse and pollution, among other issues, in ARIJ’s eight countries of operation: Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain and Palestine.

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Brutal Destruction Of Iraq’s Archaeological Sites Continues

600ziggurat.jpg Ziggurat Temple image by andrewidodo

Buried in Iraq’s clay and dirt is the history of Western civilization. Great empires once thrived here, cultures that produced the world’s first wheel, first cities, first agriculture, first code of law, first base-sixty number system, and very possibly the first writing. A brutal plundering of this rich cultural heritage has been taking place in broad daylight ever since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These days Ancient Mesopotamia looks more like a scene from the movie Holes.

View slideshow and Read more at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-tucker/brutal-destruction-of-ira_b_290667.html

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For ‘Amreeka’ Director, Life As Inspiration For Art

Cherien Dabis

Writer and director Cherien Dabis drew upon her own childhood experiences as a first-generation Arab immigrant growing up in the Midwest for her feature film Amreeka. The film explores the journey of a single mom and her teenage son as they emigrate from the West Bank to America during the first Gulf War. Amreeka has garnered high praise from both critics and audiences alike.

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Daily Beast: Can USAID Survive Without a Leader?

BS Top - Goldberg USAID

Until last week, Farmer was rumored to be Hillary Clinton’s choice to head USAID, an organization that has languished without a leader for almost seven months. Then he bowed out, and Wednesday came news that he’s going to be the U.N. Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti under Bill Clinton. It’s probably a much better position for him—Farmer isn’t a bureaucrat, and Haiti, where he founded the pioneering Zanmi Lasante hospital, is by all accounts where his heart is. But it raises a question that’s being asked with increasing urgency within development circles—why can’t the Obama administration fill the void at the top of USAID?

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A very important topic since Jordan is very dependent on USAID…

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Iraqi Refugees Struggle to Adjust to Life in U.S.

Iraqi Immigrants Struggle in U.S.

Not long after the Iraq War began in 2003, Uday al-Ghanimi was accosted by several men outside the American military base where he managed a convenience store. They accused him of abetting the Americans, and one fired a pistol at his head.

Now, after 24 operations, Mr. Ghanimi has a reconstructed face as well as political asylum in the United States. On July 4, his wife and three youngest children joined him in New York after a three-year separation.

But the euphoria of their reunion quickly dissipated as the family began to reckon with the colder realities of their new life. Mr. Ghanimi, 50, who has not been able to work because of lingering pain, is supporting his family on a monthly disability check of $761, food stamps and handouts from friends. They are crammed into one room they rent in a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in a city whose small Iraqi population is scattered. And Mr. Ghanimi’s wife and children do not speak English, deepening their sense of isolation.

A report released in June by the International Rescue Committee, a refugee resettlement organization in New York, said that many Iraqi immigrants have been unable to find jobs, are exhausting government and other benefits and are spiraling toward poverty and homelessness.

“They say, ‘Let’s go back,’ ” Mr. Ghanimi said glumly. “It’s not what they were thinking. I told them, ‘Just be patient.’ ”

For years after the American invasion of Iraq, thousands of Iraqis clamored for admission to the United States and found the door all but closed — until the government reacted to widespread criticism in 2007 by making it easier for more to enter with special visas or as refugees.

But now that Iraqis are arriving in larger numbers, many are discovering that life in the United States is much harder than they expected.

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Iraq’s National Symphony Orchestra

Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra

I haven’t heard about Iraq’s National Symphony Orchestra for two years now, so it’s good to get an update. Here’s more about it in a New York Times blog:

By Steven Lee Myers

BAGHDAD – It was achievement enough that the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra managed to survive the darkest days of the war, when it struggled for supplies and electricity, when its members fled for safety abroad and those who remained practiced in secret for fear of offending militants who considered music un-Islamic.

“We were fighting against the impending doom simply by functioning,” the orchestra’s charismatic director and chief conductor, Karim Wasfi, said the other day.

Now the orchestra finds itself “out of the bottleneck,” as Mr. Wasfi put it, facing challenges in a post-conflict society that are no less daunting for being less immediately life-threatening.

Photographs by Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times Tuqa Saad Al Waeli warms up prior to rehearsal.

The orchestra is fighting for its budget, only now beginning to solicit corporate sponsorship in a country where the state once controlled all (and still does, if chaotically). Mr. Wasfi is lobbying to build an opera house in a country where electricity, clean water and garbage removal remain scarce services.

Hardest of all, the orchestra is trying to recreate a shared cultural life – “the concept of Iraq,” he said – that decades of isolation, international sanctions, war and sectarianism have thoroughly shattered.

“Iraq has achieved a lot, but it’s not yet on a solid, concrete foundation,” Mr. Wasfi said. “Stability is not related just to people not killing each other.”

The New York Times’s Edward Wong wrote movingly about the orchestra nearly three years ago , a time when sectarian bloodshed seemed to threaten its very mission: to give a troubled nation succor through music.

Photographs by Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times Students and teachers practicing.

Even with today’s vastly improved security, the orchestra’s home in a former royal concert hall near the edge of the Old City still feels like an oasis of civility and cosmopolitanism – something evident from a lone trumpeter practicing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” to the full orchestra rehearsing Dvorak’s “New World” symphony.

At the height of the sectarian bloodshed in 2006 and 2007 the orchestra dwindled to just 43 members; violence and checkpoints meant as few as 17 made it to some rehearsals.

Photographs by Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times Dua’a Majid Hussien Al Azawi, a young oboe player in the orchestra, prior to rehearsal.

There are 85 members now, including 13 who recently returned from self-exile in Syria and the United Arab Emirates. (During rehearsal Mr. Wasfi chided one whose playing was off, “Are you thinking of Syria?”) The dearth of musicians also forced the orchestra to find and train aspiring young people; the youngest member is only 15. Mr. Wasfi dreams of building a full philharmonic orchestra with 120 players.

Its foundation seems firm at last. The Ministry of Culture pays the members’ salaries, the equivalent of roughly $1,000 a month. Members carry their instruments openly into the concert hall. The orchestra has 14 concerts planned in the coming year, as well as 10 chamber performances, around the country.

Photographs by Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times Nubar Bashtikian prepares for rehearsal.

The most recent was July 16 in Sulaimaniya, in the northern Kurdish region, sponsored by Asiacell, a mobile telephone company, which will cover its travel costs. The playlist included Verdi, Liszt, Strauss, Webber, Gershwin and Dvorak, as well as Iraqi classical music.

For the first time, Mr. Wasfi has even negotiated performances in the next year in the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf, where conservative religious values still dominate. “There’s no indecent music,” he said, explaining his delicate negotiations with religious leaders there.

Photographs by Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra rehearses under the direction of Karim Wasfi.

Iraq remains a troubled place, but the orchestra should be a bridge to a better future, as he explained, “when we have an opera house, when attending a performance and opening a gallery is part of your normal life, when political leaders fight in the parliament and not in the streets, when they set aside their differences and attend a concert.”

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UNDP: Insecurity due to unemployment, environmental degradation, lack of healthcare and legal rights is hindering progress in MidEast

Jordan Times

By Taylor Luck

According to the UNDP Arab Human Development Report 2009: Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries, which was launched yesterday in Beirut, insecurity due to unemployment, environmental degradation, lack of healthcare and legal rights is hindering progress in the region.

“The security of people themselves is threatened not just by conflict and civil unrest, but also by environmental degradation, discrimination, unemployment, poverty and hunger,” Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States and UN Assistant Secretary General Amat Al Alim Alsoswa said in a statement received by The Jordan Times.

“Only if these sources of insecurity are addressed in a holistic manner will the people of the Arab region be able to make progress in human development,” he added.

According to the study, the region’s economic progress is tied to the fluctuations of the demand for oil, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of Arab exports, with Arab countries home to the highest regional unemployment rate in the world, some 14.4 per cent, compared to a world average of 6.3 per cent.

One in five people in the region live under the international poverty level of $2 a day, and many more live in nationally determined conditions of poverty, leading to undernourishment, it said.

Jordan along with Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Yemen witnessed increases in the number of undernourished citizens, according to the report, as the number of undernourished persons across the region rose by 5.7 million between 1992 and 2004.

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Read more about the report and download it…

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Honoring World Refugee Day

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By Queen Noor of Jordan

For 35 years, my home has been one of the world’s major conflict regions, home also to over 10 million refugees and displaced inhabitants. World Refugee Day (June 20) is a time to honor and support these individuals and families who persevere through devastating tragedies.

I have lived and worked with the nearly 6 million Palestinian refugees and now nearly 5 million displaced Iraqis, many from each group now making their homes in Jordan. I have also worked with displaced people from Afghanistan, Colombia, Somalia, and those seeking safe haven during the first Gulf War. I have witnessed first-hand the anguish of those uprooted from their homes — people who have had their lives threatened, homes bombed, and family members kidnapped or murdered.

The global displacement crisis is both a humanitarian and a security issue. History shows that mass migrations pose a serious threat to regional stability, as we have seen in Palestine, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and West Africa. The Middle East is particularly vulnerable as ongoing tensions are further strained by such large scale displacement.

Read more on this June 20, 2009 World Refugee Day

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Obama’s Address in Cairo

Watch the Obama Speech in Cairo and read the transcript here. https://i1.wp.com/media.economist.com/images/ga/2009w23/Obama_Top.jpg

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News2you: Best of the best in Jordanian Media

News2you's Best of the Best in Jordanian Media

Here is News2you’s best of the best in Jordanian Media:

1) Best journalism writing and analysis: Al Sijill Newspaper

2) Best columnist in Arabic: Jamil Al Nimri (Al Ghad newspaper)

3) Best columnist in English: Nermeen Murad (Jordan Times)

4) Best cartoonist: Emad Hajjaj (Al Ghad Newspaper) 

5) Best Arab Twitterer:  The Arab Observer

6) Most user-friendly and in-depth newspaper website: Al Sijill Newspaper (View the newspaper in PDF)

7) Best investigative Arab journalism website: ARIJ

For Journalists:

1) Best Sociologist in Jordan to interview: Dr. Musa Sheitwei

2) Most cooperative in visits and interviews: Jordan Police and Security Department (Media Office)

3) Best Human Rights Advocate to interview: Nisreen Zerikat (National Center for Human Rights)

4) Smartest journalism students in Jordan : Yarmouk University (Media Department)

5) Best Blogger: Naseem Tarawneh (Get the news and the scoop)

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