I found this article in the Weather Underground News this morning:
DOHA, Qatar — An amount of freshwater almost the size of the Dead Sea has been lost in parts of the Middle East due to poor management, increased demands for groundwater and the effects of a 2007 drought, according to a NASA study.
The study, to be published Friday in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, examined data over seven years from 2003 from a pair of gravity-measuring satellites which is part of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment or GRACE. Researchers found freshwater reserves in parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins had lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of its total stored freshwater, the second fastest loss of groundwater storage loss after India.
About 60 percent of the loss resulted from pumping underground reservoirs for ground water, including 1,000 wells in Iraq, and another fifth was due to impacts of the drought including declining snow packs and soil drying up. Loss of surface water from lakes and reservoirs accounted for about another fifth of the decline, the study found.
“This rate of water loss is among the largest liquid freshwater losses on the continents,” the authors wrote in the study, noting the declines were most obvious after a drought.
The study is the latest evidence of a worsening water crisis in the Middle East, where demands from growing populations, war and the worsening effects of climate change are raising the prospect that some countries could face sever water shortages in the decades to come. Some like impoverished Yemen blame their water woes on the semi-arid conditions and the grinding poverty while the oil-rich Gulf faces water shortages mostly due to the economic boom that has created glistening cities out of the desert.
In a report released during the U.N. climate talks in Qatar, the World Bank concluded among the most critical problems in the Middle East and North Africa will be worsening water shortages. The region already has the lowest amount of freshwater in the world. With climate change, droughts in the region are expected to turn more extreme, water runoff is expected to decline 10 percent by 2050 while demand for water is expected to increase 60 percent by 2045.
One of the biggest challenges to improving water conservation is often competing demands which has worsened the problem in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins.
Turkey controls the Tigris and Euphrates headwaters, as well as the reservoirs and infrastructure of Turkey’s Greater Anatolia Project, which dictates how much water flows downstream into Syria and Iraq, the researchers said. With no coordinated water management between the three countries, tensions have intensified since the 2007 drought because Turkey continues to divert water to irrigate farmland.
“That decline in stream flow put a lot of pressure on northern Iraq,” Kate Voss, lead author of the study and a water policy fellow with the University of California’s Center for Hydrological Modeling in Irvine, said. “Both the UN and anecdotal reports from area residents note that once stream flow declined, this northern region of Iraq had to switch to groundwater. In an already fragile social, economic and political environment, this did not help the situation.”
Jay Famiglietti, principle investigator of the new study and a hydrologist and UC Irvine professor of Earth System Science, plans to visit the region later this month, along with Voss and two other UC Irvine colleagues, to discuss their findings and raise awareness of the problem and the need for a regional approach to solve the problem.
“They just do not have that much water to begin with, and they’re in a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change,” Famiglietti said. “Those dry areas are getting dryer. They and everyone else in the world’s arid regions need to manage their available water resources as best they can.”
This is from today’s Lectionary reading on the saints, by James Kiefer; today is the feast of Saint Nicholas, and in many European countries, little children find their shoes filled with little gold coins (chocolate) or . . . sticks with coal (usually also candy, these days)
The true Saint Nicholas embodied the spirit of anonymous giving – a grace more rarely seen in these days of blogs and twitters and 15 seconds of news coverage.
NICHOLAS OF MYRA
FRIEND OF CHILDREN, GIVER OF GIFTS, CLIMBER OF CHIMNEYS, ETC. (6 DEC 326)
The story of St. Nicholas offers a possible way of dealing with the “Santa Claus” problem, to parents who do not want to lie to their children, even in fun, but do not want to say simply: “Bah, humbug! There is no such thing as Santa. Forget about him.”
Nicholas was a native of the western part of what is now Asiatic Turkey. He became Bishop of Myra in the fourth century, and there are many stories of his love for God and for his neighbor.
The best-known story involves a man with three unmarried daughters, and not enough money to provide them with suitable dowries. This meant that they could not marry, and were likely to end up as prostitutes. Nicholas walked by the man’s house on three successive nights, and each time threw a bag of gold in through a window (or, when the story came to be told in colder climates, down the chimney). Thus, the daughters were saved from a life of shame, and all got married and lived happily ever after.
Because of this and similar stories, Nicholas became a symbol of anonymous gift-giving. Hence, if we give a gift to someone today without saying whom it is from, it can be called “a present from Saint Nicholas (or Santa Claus).” Some parents explain this to their children and invite the child to join them in wrapping a toy (either something purchased for that purpose, at least partly with the child’s allowance, or else a toy that the child has outgrown but that is still serviceable) or an outgrown but not shabby item of the child’s clothing, or a package of food, and then going along to donate it to a suitable shelter that will give it to someone who will welcome it. This gift is then called “a present from Santa,” so that the child understands that this is another name for an anonymous gift given to someone whom we do not know, but whom we love anyway because God does. (Presents within the family can be “From Santa” or “From Santa and…”)
Pictures of Nicholas often show three bags of gold next to him, and often these bags have become simply three disks or balls. Nicholas became the patron of an Italian city (I think Bari, which is where his body is now buried) that was a center of the pawnbroking business, and hence a pawnbroking shop traditionally advertises by displaying three gold balls over its front. It is thought that some persons looking at pictures of Nicholas confused the three round objects with human heads. Hence there is a story of a wicked innkeeper who murdered three boys and salted their bodies to serve to his guests, to save on the butcher’s bill. Nicholas visited the inn and confronted the innkeeper, who confessed his crime, whereupon Nicholas prayed over the brine-tub and the three boys leaped out unharmed. Other stories have him saving the lives of three innocent men who had been condemned to death. Still other stories have him coming to the rescue of drowning sailors (could this be related to the brine-tub incident?). Nicholas has always been popular with children, mariners, pawnbrokers, the Dutch, the Russians, and recently, the department-store owners. (American readers may remember the story of the brine-tub through reading it as children in the book The Dutch Twins, by Lucy Fitch Perkins, author of The Spanish Twins, The Italian Twins, and many similar books, all children’s favorites in the middle of this century. They may now be banned as politically incorrect — I have no idea. If your children know the brine-tub story, from this book or elsewhere, they may be interested to know how it may have originated.)
In many countries, Nicholas visits children on his feast day, 6 December, and brings them gifts then. In these countries, there is usually no exchange of Christmas presents, but there may be gifts again on January 6, the feast of the coming of the Wise Men, who brought gifts to the Holy Child of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In America, it may be thought necessary to yield to outside pressure and let Nicholas distribute gifts on December 25.
If you want to show your children (or yourself) how Nicholas is remembered by Christians with a background different from your own (unless, of course, this IS your background), you might want to attend an East Orthodox service at this time. Many Eastern Orthodox congregations have services on the evening before 6 December that feature “visits from Saint Nicholas.” He appears as a bishop, with no red suit. The faithful leave their shoes outside the church door, and find in them afterwards gold coins (actually chocolate wrapped in gold foil) representing the gold dowries of the three daughters. To find a service and inquire what it is likely to be like, look up CHURCHES, ORTHODOX in the Yellow Pages. For an English-language service, “Orthodox Church in America” or “Antiochan Orthodox” parishes are likely choices, but do not overlook other possibilities.
We are told, but it is uncertain, that Nicholas was imprisoned for his faith before the accession of Constantine, and that he was present at the Council of Nicea in 325. We may note in passing that the picture of him as roly-poly is a late development. Early stories indicate that he was generous to others, but not given to self-indulgence. Indeed, even as an unweaned infant, he fasted regularly on Wednesdays and Fridays.
by James Kiefer
“Turkish media are reporting the apprehension of two suspects in the Sept. 11 attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya,” NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul.
He tells our Newscast Desk that:
“A Turkish television channel reports that the Tunisian men were apprehended at Ataturk Airport while trying to enter the country on fake passports. A Turkish newspaper added that the suspects were taken to an Istanbul police station for questioning. There was no immediate confirmation from the police, nor any details as to why the men are considered suspects in the attack.
“Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomatic staff were killed in Benghazi. Although the violence began amid a protest against a video that mocks Islam, U.S. authorities later concluded that the Americans died as the result of a planned terrorist attack.”
As we reported Thursday, an FBI team spent about 12 hours at the attack site this week. In the three weeks since the Americans were killed, however, the consulate had been only lightly secured and it’s likely that much of the evidence was either taken away or disturbed.
Let’s hear it for facial-recognition software . . . .
Not all women will show this kind of courage and determination when bullied and intimidated by a powerful rapist. Now, she faces the penalty, but her actions have ignited a debate in Turkey. I found this on Huffpost, a re-publication of a CNN story:
A 26-year-old Turkish woman, who was impregnated by her rapist, reportedly shot and beheaded her alleged attacker to protect her honor. The case has forced the country into a new round in the intensifying debate over abortion.
Nevin Yildirim, a mother of two from Turkey’s Yalvac district, faces charges of murder for the August killing of 35-year-old Nurettin Gider. Yildirim, according to CNN, is at least five months pregnant and claims she was rape-impregnated by Gider.
Yildirim told police that Gider, a father of two who was married to her husband’s aunt, first raped her in January, when her husband left town to work a seasonal job.
Yildirim said Gider threatened to kill her children if she alerted anyone to the crime. The rapes allegedly continued over the course of the next several months and Gider reportedly threatened to publish photos he took of Yildirim’s pregnant body if she did not do as he said, Turkish broadcaster DHA reported.
On Aug. 28, Yildirim claims spotted Gider climbing up a wall behind her house and grabbed a rifle that was hanging on the wall.
“I knew he was going to rape me again,” Yildirim said at an Aug. 30 preliminary hearing.
Yildirim allegedly shot Gider twice and chased him from her property. She claimed in court he was armed at the time.
“He fell on the ground. He started cussing,” she said. “I shot his sexual organ this time. He became quiet. I knew he was dead. I then cut his head off.”
Witnesses told police they saw Yildirim walk into the village square, carrying Gider’s bloody head by his hair.
“Don’t talk behind my back, don’t play with my honor,” Yildirim allegedly told witnesses in the square as she threw Gider’s head to the ground. “Here is the head of the man who played with my honor.”
Authorities arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and Yildirim was taken into custody without incident.
“He kept saying that he would tell everyone [about the rape],” Yildirim told authorities, according to Doğan News Agency. “My daughter will start school this year. Everyone would have insulted my children. Now no one can.”
“I saved my honor,” she added. “They will now call [her children] ‘the kids of the women who saved her honor.'”
According to CNN, Yildirim went to a health clinic for an abortion prior to the murder but was turned away because she was 14 weeks pregnant at the time. In Turkey, abortion is only permitted during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Anything beyond that requires a special circumstance.
Turkey’s abortion debate has now been re-kindled as the public prosecutor’s office considers Yildirim’s request. Authorities are waiting for experts to weigh in on her mental stability.
“The extremity of Nevin’s actions show the extent of the trauma the rape has caused,” Dr. Gürsel Öztunalı Kayır, Foundation for Women’s Solidarity, told International Business Times. “We shouldn’t be distracted by the murder; if she wants to have an abortion following months of abuse, she should have the right.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, considers abortion “murder” and wants the practice outlawed. Melih Gökçek, mayor of the capital, Ankara, supports the proposed ban, saying a mother who considers abortion should “kill herself instead and not let the child bear the brunt of her mistake,” IBT reported.
Women’s groups in Turkey consider Yildirim a heroine. The case also resonates in the United States, where abortion remains a topic of heated debate.
I have a young Kuwaiti friend who told me she used to LOVE Monte Cristo sandwiches until she learned they had ham in them, and then she couldn’t eat them anymore. I wonder if they would taste OK made with turkey ham? This is today’s recipe from allrecipes.com; my sweet daughter-in-law got me started and now they send me recipes with pictures every day!
Monte Cristo Sandwich
SUBMITTED BY: CJO PHOTO BY: gapch1026
2 slices bread
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
2 slices cooked ham (turkey ham 🙂 )
2 slices cooked turkey meat
1 slice Swiss cheese
1/2 cup milk
Spread bread with mayonnaise and mustard. Alternate ham, Swiss and turkey slices on bread.
Beat egg and milk in a small bowl. Coat the sandwich with the egg and milk mixture. Heat a greased skillet over medium heat, brown the sandwich on both sides. Serve hot.
This book was on my (huge) “Read Me” stack, and I picked it up for a change of pace. As I started reading, I wondered “how did this get there?” My first instinct was it was a recommendation from Little Diamond. As I was reading, however, I came across a segment that was what our priest had read in church around the Feast of the Epiphany about the birthplace of the wise men who came seeking the Christ Child after his birth. I wrote down the title and ordered it from amazon.com (which has some copies used from 72 cents).
William Dalrymple wrote this book when he was a mere 22 years old. He and a travelling companion took off to trace Marco Polo’s journey from Jerusalem to Xanadu, where he was taking oil from the sanctuary lamp to Kubla Khan.
In a world where we have all been taught to be so careful, they take incredible risks. They travel on the cheap – staying in fleabag hotels, sometimes sleeping “rough”, i.e. out in the open. They travel any way they can – an occasional train, but more often a truck, a bus, whatever is going their way. One very long segment they travelled on top of a pile of coal.
They travel from Jerusalem up through Syria and into Turkey, then turn east and cross Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan to China. They have some amazing adventures, see some astounding scenery and because of their mode of travel, have a lot of time to talk with their travelling companions or people in the cities where they are staying.
I am blown away that an unmarried couple would cross Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. I guess they told people they were married to share a room (they were on a budget) and they were only friends, not a couple, but what a risk. I am astonished that they were never asked to produce a marriage license or any proof of marriage when they stayed in hotels. I am astonished at the girls (one left in Lahore and another joined him, but these are girls who are friends, not anything more) would travel on the backs of trucks full of men, and never blink an eye.
The book is occasionally hilarious. Most of the hilarity results from foods they have to eat – sometimes it is the only food available – or from misunderstandings because of lack of a common language, or due to their frequent bouts of diarrhea, what I really liked about the author was that he was rarely pompous, and when he is funny, it is usually about some conversation he has had, or some mistake he has made.
One of my favorite parts of the book happens in Iran:
As we sat waiting for the bus to Tabriz, the next town on Marco Polo’s itinerary, we watched the mullahs speeding past in their sporty Renault 5s. Iran was proving far more complex than we had expected. A religious revolution in the twentieth century was a unique occurence, resulting in the first theocracy since the fall of the Dalai Lama in Tibet. Yet this revolution took place not in a poor banana republic, but in the richest and most sophisticated country in Asia. A group of clerics was trying to graft a mediaeval system of government and a pre-medieval way of thinking upon a country with a prosperous modern economy and a large and highly educated middle class. The posters in the bus station seemed to embody these contradictions. A frieze over the back wall of the shelter spoke out, in the name of Allah, against littering. On another wall two monumental pictures of the Ayatollah were capped with the inscriptions in both Persian and English:
BEING HYGENIC IS DIRECTLY RELATED ON THE MAN’S PERSONALITY
ALLAH COMMANDS THE RE-USE OF RENEWABLE RESOURCES.
We had expected anything of the Ayatollah. But hardly that he would turn out to be an enthusiastic ecologist.
The challenge of this journey is to follow as closely as possible the path Marco Polo took, but two segments of the journey go through off-limits areas. They find a way into one, to discover later it is an atomic testing area, and the second, at the very end, around Xanadu, they find receptive Chinese officers who take them to have a brief glimpse of the ruins of Xanadu while booting them out of the area. As they stand in Xanadu, they repeat a poem that every American child grows up with in English Literature:
In Zanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of gertile ground
With walls and twoers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills.
Where blossom’d many an incense-bearing tree:
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
I liked this book. Dalrymple is a history major, and often quotes from historical – even obscure – texts to illuminate what he observes. I think I may look at a couple more he has written since.
First, apologies – No matter how many photos I take, you can’t begin to imagine the scope of this event. Three sisters, out of a family of ten brothers and sisters, gather the clan and provide a truly old fashioned Southern Thanksgiving on a large country estate. While the photos are mostly of food, the most important element of the gathering is the love that brings and binds this family together.
The weather was magnificent, allowing people to be inside and out, the kids out playing chase, football, exploring the grounds, sitting on the old swing, etc. Out in the way-back, men started shucking oysters for the pre-meal appetizers around 9 in the morning.
While the three sisters are pulling together all the last minute details, there is already an abundance of food to keep people nibbling while anticipating the main meal, served around 1:00 in the afternoon.
As people arrive, they bring more food – mashed potatoes, sweet potato casseroles, green beans, turnip greens, collard greens, creamed corn, creamed onions, all in slow cookers to keep them warm until dinner-time.
Meanwhile, things are heating up in the command center (kitchen) as time nears to get the food on the groaning tables:
Frying up turkey breast meat:
Usually, the men carve the turkeys – this year, a smoked turkey and a deep fried turkey:
Getting close to dinner time, people start gathering closer to the house:
Just before the dinner is served, the organizers thank the guests for coming and the food is blessed. Now here is where I really need to apologize – there are no dessert photos, and the desserts were magnificent. But once you have filled your place with turkey, dressing, vegetables, salads – and you have to take a little bit of everything so you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings – then you need to sit a while before you think about dessert. Actually, I didn’t even have any room for dessert! So I missed out on taking dessert photos, and for that, I totally apologize.
Then, about an hour after dessert, the family photos are taken. First, all the surviving and attending brothers and sisters, then each family, with various children and their families attending. This tradition is a lot of fun, but takes another hour or so. At the very end, we take photos of the three sisters who spend weeks and hours organizing the annual event, coordinating all the food, cooking for days and cleaning up afterwards. These women are my heroes – it is an unbelievable amount of work, and they do it out of love for their family:
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Kuwait – Istanbul Istanbul – Kuwait
Thursdays DEP: 07:55 / ARR: 11.30 DEP: 12.15 / ARR 15.45
Saturdays DEP: 18.15 / ARR: 21:50 DEP: 22.35 / ARR: 02.05
Mondays DEP: 18.15 / ARR: 21:50 DEP: 22.35 / ARR: 02.05