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Subi Memorial

Rescued from a kill shelter in Manteca, Petey Pumpkinhead III entered our lives 7 years ago. Abused by a previous owner he was skittish and nippish. That changed with love, affection and attention.

He was a majestic furry orange tabby. His coat emitted a perpetually lovely fragrance. He had the sexiest strut with an ever present erect tail and endearing behind.

Petey had simple needs. Belly rubs topped the list. He loved resting in his backyard igloo. He would prance out when I entered the yard and open wide for belly rubs and rolly polly.

He bonded with Klimey who also was rescued from a shelter. Klimey loved licking Petey and taught Petey how to love back. They were inseparable.

Petey-Weedy (as we called him) evolved into the sweetest and most gentle of companions. When hungry, he would jump into bed and delicately place his paw on my face. No histrionics, just a love tap and breakfast was on.

He loved sleeping inside the space between my legs or alongside the curve of Clara's thigh. His body language suggested the most delicious of dreams. He also had the squeakiest yawn when awakened.

Petey had a ravenous appetite and wore his weight well. That changed last October when he dropped 2 pounds in short order and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

He continued to lose weight but his sweet demeanor never changed. Although not a lap cat during his youth, lately I would place him in my lap in the back yard and we would stay together for long periods. These were cherished moments. Klimey would join us and stay by Petey's side.

Strong medication was required every 8 hours to dissipate the fluid in his lungs. No matter how much lasix was dosed, it could not stay on top of the progression of his heart disease.

Last week Petey hit a low point and could hardly breath. He hadn't eaten for 2+ days. We upped the lasix and he recovered miraculously. His breathing appeared normal and he started eating - but only food fresh out of the can. He ate more than he had in months. He had playful sparring sessions with Klimey, tons of rolly polly and belly rubs, his tail was erect and he slept next to my face the other day.

Today he had a good appetite in the early afternoon. I didn't see him the rest of the day. When the thunder rumbled and the rain came pouring down I went outside.

He was in the igloo. I tipped it and he ran inside. But something was wrong.

His breathing was labored. Petey could not catch his breath. He had breathing attacks before and I had feared the worst, yet Petey always persevered.

An hour or so later when Clara came home, Petey's condition had worsened. When he walked from under a table to lie down in the litter box that was an alarming signal. I picked him up and he let out a cry. Petey went under the bed where Klimey was and continued to make anguished yelps.

We left him alone. Petey soon emerged and we put him in a blanket by the heater.

He wanted to be left alone.

Petey-Weedy barely could walk and stumbled out the bedroom and down a few steps to the cat door. Somehow he pushed himself through. The igloo was two feet from the door.

We let him be.

An hour later Clara checked on Petey.

His fur was gorgeous. His body still warm.

But Petey had passed.

He never made it to the igloo.

Moti has been missing since Sept 2014.  On Jan 23, 2015 while walking in McClaren Park a cat resembling Moti emerged on a tree branch above a thicket of bushes. This brightened our hearts as Clara and I imagine Moti as a feline Tarzan.  Clara wrote the below poem before we confirmed the cat was not Moti.

Moti Sighting
by Clara Hsu

Who sits on a branch
above a field of thorns?
My cat. My cat.

Who listens to his names
and twitches his ears?
My cat. My cat.

His looks have changed since autumn
from living wild and eating mice.
We’re trespassing his kingdom
that can’t be bought
 any price.

Running streams.
Catnip on the hills.

Sat. nights, 8-mid, KALW 91.7 FM, S.F.
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October 17-28, 2015

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November 20-29, 2015

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Click link above to get facts about Gaza, a collaborative project by Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area (JVP-BA) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA).

Gaza Corner

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Saturdays 11p on Tangents, 91.7 fm SF, webcast at kalw.org

This weekly feature includes news and opinion from the Middle East (and beyond) often ignored by the mainstream media followed by music from the relevant cuountry or culture.

Gaza Corner was originally conceived to focus attention on relieving the humanitarian crisis in Gaza which has been under a severe blockade imposed by Israel since 2006.  Gaza Corner has evolved to include the Middle East, Magreb, Kurdistan and Turkey.

 Click headlines below for full stories.

The Middle East war on few people's radar: Yemen
combined excerpt follows recent headlines

Millions of Yemenis 'staring at famine' as war rages
(8/20/15, Al Jazeera)

WFP Warns Of Food Crisis
In Yemen Amid Challenges
In Reaching People
(wfp.org, 8/19/15)

Bloody Trail of Civilian Death and Destruction Paved with Evidence of War Crimes
in Southern Yemen
(Amnesty International Press Release, 8/17/15)
additional coverage of this report:
(Rick Gladstone, NY Times, 8/18/15)
(Al Jazeera, 8/18/15)

Yemen (uncredited)

  Yemeni Government Faces Choice Between a Truce
and Fighting On
(Shuaib Almosawa, Kareem Fahim
and Somini Sengupt, NY Times 8/14/15)

Yemen 'already looks like Syria after five years of war'
(Louisa Loveluck, Telegraph Uk, 8/19/15)

Young Yemenis walk past a tank destroyed in clashes between Houthi and opposition forces in the southern port city of Aden, Yemen Photo: EPA

A doctor's diary from Yemen tells the story of the
forgotten Arab war
(Leo Hornak, PRI's The World, 7/31/15)

Jihadis likely winners
of Saudi Arabia's futile war
on Yemen's Houthi rebels
(Kareem Shaheen, Guardian UK, 7/7/15)

another forgotten war?
Excellent interview with Brett Scott former Editor at the Yemen Times. 
Brett provides valuable background
and historical context.

(Komal Qureishi, dawn.com, 5/24/15)

combined excerpt;
(Dore notes are in parentheses)

The head of the International Red Cross, Peter Mauer, after a visit to Yemen said entrenched poverty, months of intensified warfare and limits on imports because of an international embargo have contributed to "catastrophic" conditions.

"The images I have from Sanaa and Aden remind of what I have seen in Syria," said Maurer. "So Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years."

The World Health Organization reported on August 17 that more than 4,300 people have been killed and over 22,000 injured in Yemen,
since March 19.  An estimated 1.3 million people have been displaced by the war.

British Dr. Natalie Roberts who is in Yemen with
Doctors Without Borders, has worked in conflict zones before. But she says Yemen's war zone is unlike anything she has seen elsewhere. "What's really surprising to me here is that I've never seen so few [aid workers and journalists] on the ground. Syria, when I was there, was counted as the most dangerous conflict in the world — but Yemen? I just haven't met anyone."

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, and has been politically unstable since the Arab Spring. But civilian casualties increased dramatically starting March 26 when
the United States green-lighted a Saudi-led military coalition (with American made fighter jets and weaponry).  They began bombing towns and villages to try to defeat a rebel force known as the Houthis under the name Operation Decisive Storm. (What has been decisive is the horrendous cost to civilians.)

United Nations humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, told the Security Council that “the scale of human suffering is almost incomprehensible.” Four out of five Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance, and nearly 1.5 million people are internally displaced.

In a report issued last August 18, The United Nations Children's Rights & Emergency Relief Organization, UNICEF, reported as many as eight children are being killed or maimed every day in Yemen. Nearly 400 children have been killed and over 600 injured. Aid workers have previously estimated that a third of all fighters sucked into the country’s war are under 18.

Yemen is now one of the world’s most acute humanitarian catastrophes, with 80 percent of its 25 million population in dire need of food and other emergency relief. Essential services including access to clean water and electricity are cut off and food prices have sky-rocketed. Nevertheless, Yemen's war still gets limited attention from an international media preoccupied with the threat from Islamic State’s advances in Syria and Iraq.

“Yemen is the Mexico (Dore note: I would have analogized Haiti) of the [Arabian] Gulf,” said Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni expert with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. “It’s not on the border of Israel and our blood type is not oil+, so nobody cares what’s happening there.”

The conflict has left Yemen on the brink of a famine.  Millions of women and children are facing possible starvation in Yemen, Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the UN's World Food Program said. WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Even before this crisis began, Yemen had one of the highest malnutrition rates in the entire world according to Cousin.

“Right now, the conflict-driven convergence between the lack of staple food, access to clean water, and a diminished fuel supply create the dawn of a perfect storm for the most vulnerable Yemeni people,” said WFP Executive Director Cousin.

WFP estimates that the number of 'food insecure' people in Yemen is now close to 13 million, including 6 million who are severely food insecure and in urgent need of external assistance – that is one in five of the country’s population.

More than 1.2 million children are suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and over half a million children are severely malnourished. “The damage to Yemen’s next generation may become irreversible if we don’t reach children quickly with the right food at the right time. We must act now before it is too late,” said Cousin.

On August 17 Amnesty International issue a 46 page (PDF file) report titled: 'Nowhere Safe for Civilians': Airstrikes and Ground Attacks in Yemen

(press release here)

The detailed report highlights the impact of unlawful coalition airstrikes in densely populated residential neighborhoods, and attacks by Huthi loyalists and anti-Huthi armed groups operating on the ground, who have carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks in civilian areas.

“The report depicts in harrowing detail the gruesome and bloody trail of death and destruction in Ta’iz and Aden from unlawful attacks, which may amount to war crimes, by all parties.”

Amnesty International investigated eight airstrikes by the (American supported) Saudi Arabia-led coalition which killed at least 141 civilians and injured 101 others, mostly women and children, during a research mission to Yemen in June and July 2015. The evidence gathered reveals a pattern of strikes targeting heavily populated areas including civilian homes, a school, a market and a mosque. In the majority of cases no military target could be located nearby.

“Coalition forces have blatantly failed to take necessary precautions to minimize civilian casualties, an obligation under international humanitarian law. Indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amount to war crimes,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International.

Fighters from both parties routinely used imprecise weapons including rockets, mortars and artillery fire in densely populated residential areas. Such indiscriminate attacks may amount to war crimes.

The Obama administration has supplied weapons to Saudi Arabia and provided the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis with intelligence and logistical support. But American as well as British diplomats have been encouraging the combatants to make political concessions, believing neither side is likely to prevail in the war, according to (unnamed) analysts.

An escalation of the war would benefit Al Qaeda’s powerful franchise, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which has seized territory during the conflict and has remained largely unchallenged amid the chaos.

The Islamic State (IS) has claimed recent, bloody suicide bombings in Houthi mosques and Sana’a when it once had no known presence in the country.

All the while the war is tearing at the fabric of Yemeni society. wounds that may never be healed at the war’s end and threatening Yemen’s future unity.