f is for funding palestinian sesame street. [npr]

npr fresh air reports on palestinian sesame street’s ongoing funding struggles. listen here or at npr.

leila ahmed reminds us alebert hourani thought veiling was a fast-disappearing practice in most arab societies. [bbc]

interesting bbc interview ith leila ahmed about her book on the veil – a quiet revolution and fp article by her.

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death for dignity.

respect and thanks.

who won the egyptian revolution? [making contact podcast]

reese elrich checks in on egypt.

listen here or at making contact.

repost repose | dxb graffiti.

ht grapeshisha.

martin wolf, george shultz, paul volcker, kofi annan, fernando henrique cardoso, ernesto zedillo, javier solana: end war on drugs.

the ft’s martin wolf in his inimitable way joins the growing chorus of decriminalization voices after a new report by the global commission on drug policy:

  • None of this is new. But from such a group it is surely revolutionary.

    Some of the points are particularly compelling. Consider the huge costs of criminalisation, for example. In the US, the number of people in prisons has risen from 300,000 in 1972 to 2.3m today, the highest rate of incarceration in the world, overwhelmingly because of the war on drugs. One in 31 US adults is now in jail, on probation or on parole. Though African Americans are just 14 per cent of regular drug users, they account for 37 per cent of drug arrests and 56 per cent of those in prison. It is amazing that more Americans do not find this scandalous. However other countries have followed a similar route, including the UK, with devastating consequences. In some countries, minor drug suppliers are even executed, which is truly horrifying.

    Again, some of the experiments with harm-reduction approaches have been remarkably successful. The report notes, for example, that the Swiss heroin substitution approach, which targeted hard-core users, has substantially reduced consumption and the number of new addicts. It has also secured a 90 per cent reduction in property crimes by those participating in the programme. Countries such as the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Australia, with active needle-exchange programmes, have about a fifth of the US levels of HIV-prevalence among those who inject drugs.

    In July 2001, Portugal became the first European country to decriminalise use and possession (as opposed to supply) of all illegal drugs. Since then, use has risen slightly, but fully in line with the increase in other similar countries. “Within this general trend,” says the report, “there has also been a specific decline in the use of heroin, which was in 2001 the main concern of the Portuguese government.”

    Yet another important point is the irrationality of the categorisation of drugs. Expert ranking of the harmfulness of drugs puts alcohol, for example, well above many illegal substances, such as cannabis.

  • marina ottaway [the economist]

    marina ottaway speaks arab spring to the economist:

    palestinian non-violent resistance.

    the success of non-violent movements in parts of the middle east will leave powerful marks on how incumbents are challenged from here on out.

    the economist:

    democracy in america’s matt steinglass adds:

    hendrik hertzberg at the new yorker:

    ahdaf soueif gives 2011 edward said memorial lecture at columbia [audio]

    edward said memorial lecture: ahdaf soueif on “notes from the egyptian revolution”.

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    apologies for poor audio quality.


    i was a scrawny little kid. used to get beaten up as a freshman at highschool all the time. dad never let my mum complain, said it would build character. one of the giant to me at the time gcse students took pity on me for some reason resulting in slightly fewer bruises from the bus rides home.

    we developed a fond friendship over the following years. in his final year at school he had an accident working the lathe in the school workshop and died instantly.

    this was my introduction to death. we were only peripheral friends but i felt a deep emptiness and it took me a little while to work my way through the emotions.

    there were only a couple of hundred kids in my high school total but from then on there were usually a couple of deaths a year, often car-related, this was dubai after all. each one a progressively lesser impact. later my grandfather passed by which point i was left only feeling sorrow for those grieving; my mother and her family.

    one of the first winters upon returning to dubai from university, my high school geography teacher, perhaps forty-ish at the time, seemingly healthy, collapsed, completely alone, in the middle of the desert where he was participating in a relay triathlon. there are few who will play larger roles in my life; he taught, inspired, loved and more. our friends who were racing with him came over to my house later that evening to break the news. he meant so much to us, they wanted to be there for me, all around me, as i found out.

    i smiled, breathed deeply, hugged each one of my friends, and sat down still smiling. that moment, the first death of my young adult life, inspired so much: artistic explorations, entrepreneurial ventures, adventures in love. it continues to inspire much of my life and i know lives of our mutual friends.

    he’s never really left us. and this understanding of what death isn’t remains with us.

    one of those friends who shared the news with me saw his little brother pass this morning in yet another car accident. i write this for him.

    © creative commons. 2008 avantcaire . shukran