Jordan Weekend Headlines #2

A little late on this post – it’s Sunday, so the weekend is officially over here in Jordan!  I can hear the sounds of shouting kids from the girl’s school down the street from us and the sound of church bells from a steeple not to far away.  A funny combination of sounds for a Sunday morning.  I did buy a paper (Jordan Times) on Friday, but it was my son’s birthday so we had a full day (Chocolate Chip pancakes in the morning, Lego Building in the early afternoon and bowling at Mecca Mall, followed by McDonald’s in the late afternoon).  But without further ado, here are a few of this past weekend’s headlines . . .

Middle class at the core of reforms – King: This is the top headline.  A bit of a recap on the king’s recent visit to France as well a bit about the worsening economic conditions that are confronting Jordan’s middle class. Jordan relies heavily on foreign oil and energy costs have skyrocketed over the past year.  Part of the King Abdullah’s discussions in France revolved around French help with establishing a nuclear energy program.  Surprisingly Jordan has 3% of the world’s uranium reserves.  I wonder how the US government will respond to this news – France helping an Arab state establish a nuclear power program.  Will they begin sabre rattling in Washington?

Peace pirates secure free exit for Gazans: In a follow-up from last weeks article on the two European ship who broke the the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the Jordan Times reports this week that the ships left Gaza peacefully with 7 Palestinians on board.  They were a 10-year old amputee and his father seeking medical treatment not available in Gaza and 5 members of the Darwish family.  (The article didn’t say this, but I am pretty sure these are relatives of the famous Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish who recently died in Texas.)  The significance of this action may be lost on those who are not familiar with the politics of entry and exit from Gaza.  Basically this is the first time a handful of Gazans have left the Strip without Israeli permission in full puclic view and with international assistance.  (obviously people have sneaked across the border before – but mostly before Gaza was completely enclosed by a “security” wall some years ago)  In somewhat related news, Egypt opened it’s border crossing with Gaza for a few hours without Israeli permission over the weekend to let people in and out to get much needed food and supplies.  (Currently the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt is only supposed to be opened with joint Egyptian-Israeli-Palestinian agreement.)  Is this a merely symbolic exodus or a much more signicant escape from the Alcatraz that is Gaza? (link here to the Free Gaza movement the group behind the “peace pirates”)

Authorities on alert as birds migration season starts: This one had an accompanying picture of an allaged flock of storks flying over the kingdom.  I say allaged because I couldn’t really make it out.  I laughed at this front page headline!  But once I read the article I realized that Jordan is a major stopping point for avian migrants, just as it has been for human migrants for centuries.  The problems associated with this has nothing to do with crime, but everything to do with avian flu.  The authorities in the headline aren’t the police or border patrol, but the Ministry of Agriculture.

Thermal low bring record high temperatures, light showers:  We didn’t see any showers, but certainly have felt the heat.  Estimates on temperature have varied.  A few people said 40C the other day, which is 104F.  I think that’s entirely possible in the direct sun.  The official high was 39C or 102, which is 6 degrees above the average high of 33C or 91F.  We’ve had the fans on and lights off which helps, but some good old-fashioned American AC would be nice.  People do have have AC but not many on our side of town.  Fortunately on Friday the bowling alley did – which we didn’t really notice until we walked out into the mall, which was actually several degrees warmer!

Thanks for reading!  Ramadan starts sometime in the next couple of days (depending on the moon) – look for some related posts in the near future.

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