Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sweden at the UN

Sweden is on the United Nations Security Council, and for the first time, I finally saw them broadcast on the BBC Arabic. It was very exciting.

The man staring at his notes is Carl Skau. He is from the Swedish contingent at the UN. 

Here he is again, paying very close attention:

In this picture, there are actually two Swedish people! One is the person behind the 'Sweden' sign. The other is the person at the very end of the table. That is Staffan de Mistura. He is giving a report on the very bad and sad conditions in Syria.

The BBC Arabic was talking about how Sweden and Kuwait were trying to get a 1-month ceasefire in Syria.

Later, they talked to a UN expert called Abdelhamid Siyam. I've caught him on the BBC Arabic many times before. He was saying that Russia doesn't like this ceasefire idea, because it would apply to the Syrian government and I guess the "official" rebel forces; the completely lawless militant groups operating in Syria would totally ignore it.

New church in Egypt

Many churches in Eygpt have been blown up by militants, and many Christians killed in the process.

So, they just built a massive new church. When I listened to the report on the BBC Arabic, I thought they were saying that this church was a replacement for a church that had been blown up a year ago, during which 13 people died.

But maybe it's just a catch-all church supposed to uplift the morale of Egypt's Christians.

Either way, I think it's the largest church in the Middle East:

Here, the people are streaming in, and cheering as they do (lady with the open mouth):

The BBC Arabic also visited this lady in her home:
That is Jesus behind her. I think one of her loved ones was killed in a previous attack.

And this lady said: it's a very nice church, we really thank President Sisi.
President Sisi is like a dictator ... but I feel bad pointing out his bad side if all these people feel he did something nice to them. What's the morally correct way of addressing this?

Valentine's Day in Egypt

Apparently, it's become a really big deal in Cairo, so the BBC Arabic visited a market which becomes flooded with pink and red every February.

It wasn't always like this. This shop-owner says it was only in the last few years that there became such a demand.

This lady says she's out shopping for her friends. Just your friends? the BBC Arabic person asked. Not a "Significant Other." She just smiles and laughs.

A lot of the people out shopping are young couples in love for the first time:

This kid was reciting everything he'd bought and was doing for his sweetheart. It was a long list, I just didn't understand it.

And even though prices have been going up at the Valentine's market, people are still out shopping:

Smiling man under siege

There is a section of Damascus that has been under siege for, like, forever. So no food or medicines have gone in, and lots of people have died. This place is called Eastern Ghouta.

Every once in a blue moon, the United Nations is able to get an agreement to be allowed to send in vital supplies. The government in Syria agrees to this usually only when the number of bodies is really piling up.

Here's someone smiling from his hospital bed in Eastern Ghouta:

 Other parts of Syria, like Idlib, also came under the truce. The people in the city center below were saying that finally, they hear no more airplanes. It's a very nice clock; I'm glad it hasn't been destroyed yet.

Though looks like it has had many close shaves:

Arab and Norwegian women in sports

The BBC Arabic has a program where they talk about high-performing women in sports the world round. They talked about a horse-back rider from Egypt who does a sport called equestrian sport called 'Kalla', at least in Arabic, which she won some competitions in.

She was saying how when the sport was first introduced, men and women trained separately; and the courses for women were made easier. But since then, things have equalized.

 She says the sport taught her concentration in a whole new way.

They talked about another young Arab woman who is really good at jiu jitsu. She now teaches classes to young girls to get them involved. She talked a whole lot about how even if it's a small thing, she's going to do the best she can to make a difference and inspire young people.

But they don't only talk about Arab women in sports. They mentioned this Norwegian lady who has gotten more Olympic medals than any other:

Dinosaurs and women in Egypt

During this past week, there was something called "The Day of Women in Science," or something like that.

So the BBC Arabic got in on the act, too, and they interviewed in several different programs Egyptian women who discovered a dinosaur out in the Sahara. They discovered it, then they did the research to unearth all the bones and write up their results.

Here's the model of the dinosaur they found.

And here's one of the women scientists involved:

Her name was Sarah [Didn't catch the last name]. She says that since she was little, she wanted to know how mountains were formed. She loves fossils. A teacher inspired her to study further in this field.

She and other researchers were out in the desert when they found the dinosaur bones. They didn't know for sure it was a dinosaur; but they called for back-up, and eventually it was confirmed that it was a dinosaur.

Here they are out at the sight, organizing their materials.

Later, they talked to Sanaa El-Sayed via Skype:
She was getting her master's degree at this university in Egypt and she became part of the dinosaur research team. She spent weeks out in the desert. She says it was fun, and one thing she really liked about it was how careful, how particular, how meticulous the work required her to be.

She described the process a little bit, because the interviewer from the BBC pointed out that the dinosaur bones had been found four or five years ago; yet the news was only spreading now. Why?

So Sanaa explained: people won't pay attention to your scientific discoveries until you've carefully done all the work and published it. It took them a whole year to dig the bones up. Then they had to go around to all the museums in Europe and the US, to see if similar bones had ever been found before, and to compare. They had to make sure this dinosaur was indeed a completely new species. Then they had to write up the paper, and that also took a very long time! They had to follow all the rules about how to structure and write the paper from the different journals.

Also, this university apparently has the only department in the whole Arab world that does this kind of work. Sanaa says: if we had some more capacity and resources, then we might be able to work a little faster, and do more. But we're still proud of what we did.

And in the meantime, Dr. Sarah is hard at work training the next generation of archeologists. Here she is teaching the next group of women scientists!

Saoirse Ronan and other Oscar contenders

The BBC Arabic did program about female contenders for Oscar honors later this month. They focused on female contenders in light of the #MeToo movement. So I think they started talking about Harry Weinstein, but then they quickly switched to interviews with the director and cast of "Ladybird", and then with Meryl Streep. Can you believe all those big names are doing interviews with the Arabic news?!

They started off with Greta Gerwig, who directed "Ladybird". Have you seen it? I have not. But I like what the director said. She was talking about how much or how little the film is based on her own life. It's about a teenaged girl in high school. But lots of people like the film. Greta Gerwig said: "The more specific you make a story, the more universal it is."

Then they talked to Saoirse Ronan, the actress playing the teenage girl. Saoirse has had a profound impact on my life, for reasons too addle-brained to explain. So watched her pop up on the BBC Arabic was quite something!

Then finally, here's the BBC Arabic man interviewing Meryl Streep about her movie, "The Post". They also started talking about #MeToo. She said: Maybe what women want is not empowerment; just inclusion. 50-50% at the top levels, at the board rooms, etc. It makes the world wacky when it's out of balance. If women aren't at the leadership level, then you can't blame men for thinking women are something less.