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Seniors Particularly Vulnerable in Sandy’s Aftermath

Posted on 30 October 2012 by admin

For Immediate Release
October 31, 2012

Older adults left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy will likely suffer disproportionately in the days ahead, based on data from other recent natural disasters.

For example, three quarters of those who perished in Hurricane Katrina were over the age of 60, according to the spring 2006 edition of Public Policy & Aging Report from The Gerontological Society of America (GSA). Similarly, a recent issue of the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences reported that the May 2008 earthquake in Wenchuan, China, was associated with a twofold increase in the one-year mortality among a group of residents in their 90s that lived nearby.

“Right now, most people who are responding to the hurricane are not trained in the needs of older adults,” said Lisa M. Brown, PhD, a co-convener of GSA’s Disasters and Older Adults Interest Group and an associate professor at the University of South Florida. “Likewise, very few geriatricians and gerontologists are trained in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.”

The interest group will next meet during GSA’s upcoming Annual Scientific Meeting, which will take place from November 14 to 18 in San Diego. Brown leads the group with fellow GSA member and co-convener Maggie Gibson, PhD, of St. Joseph’s Health Care London in Ontario, Canada.

The two also will chair a symposium, “Older Adults and Disasters: Are Gerontologists Paying Attention?” in San Diego. During this session, expert presenters will discuss the social, mental, and physical health concerns of older adults at all stages of a disaster and explain the critical role of gerontologists in shaping public health preparedness and responsiveness to disasters. They will also identify why older adults remain unusually vulnerable, relative to children and younger adults, during catastrophic events.

“We don’t have continuity in the disaster infrastructure for older adults. Our efforts tend to be more reactive post-disaster than proactive pre-disaster,” Brown said. “More research in this area will result in targeted policies and refined programs that would enhance existing systems of care.”

There also is a growing field of literature that outlines necessary steps for elder disaster preparedness in the face of an emergency. The Public Policy & Aging Report demonstrated that multi-tiered evacuation plans, pre-existing social networks, and “go-kits” can be used to assist elders at critical moments. These kits may include detailed contact information for family members; contact information for relevant health care providers; high-nutrient foods; and a week’s supply of all prescription and over-the-counter medications, including a list of medications, the required dosage, and times of administration.

The American Red Cross, at, currently is accepting funding donations to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and also is encouraging individuals to give blood due to a high number of blood drives that were cancelled by the inclement weather.

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,400+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

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Somalia guerrilla artists dare to paint reality

Posted on 29 October 2012 by admin

Thursday, September 20, 2012
By Robyn Dixon

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The guerrilla artists come out in the darkness of the Mogadishu night. Three of them are old hands with a brush, but they’ve never been out on such a crazy mission at a time when sensible people stay indoors.

They gather for work in a converted garage, with a wildly paved floor and clutter of paint pots dribbling gaudy colors. Muhiyidin Sharif Ibrahim, 62, uses an old car seat as a chair, reflectively sharpening a pencil with a razor, then honing it to a perfect point by scraping it on the stone floor. He delicately sketches out his next work on a scrap of cardboard with his long, thin fingers.

The artists paint by daylight, then load the canvases on a big truck and, with the help of students they’ve taken under their wing, plant them around the city.

No one here has seen anything like it. The political paintings that pop up every few days are like brave flags, cheeky and revolutionary.

They take potshots at the most dangerous people, like Somalia’s blood-sodden clan warlords and its ever-present Islamic militants, who still maintain a shadowy presence here.

The men have lived their lives in a country with no tradition of artistic freedom or democracy. When a tiny window of freedom cracked open in recent months in Mogadishu, it seemed like a last chance to be who they really wanted to be.

Ibrahim, who once was among Somalia’s most famous artists, claims to have painted the first official portrait of the country’s first president. Adan Farah Affey, 50, started out as a young artist in the propaganda department of the ruling party but resigned because he wasn’t allowed to depict the truth. As for Mohamed Ali Tohow, 57, his real passion was portraits, but he enjoyed his day job, painting advertising billboards, until the day the Islamists threatened to kill him.

The walls of their garage studio are decked out with giant canvases, ready to hang in the streets of the capital. One depicts a crowded city street with men on bicycles or pushing wheelbarrows, women in traditional Somali dress, buildings free of bullet holes and destruction, and a giant yellow sun like a beach ball. Its message is peace.

Another depicts a rural woman with a generous basket of fruit, a pretty red necklace and a wisp of hair straying idly from under her head scarf. There’s an undercurrent of socialist realism in its idyllic vision of rural womanhood and agricultural bounty. But the woman’s lush beauty would be enough to get an artist killed if it was displayed in an area controlled by the Shabab, the Al Qaeda-linked militia that until recently imposed a reign of terror on Mogadishu and still controls much of the country’s south. The Shabab believes women must be fully covered in billowing garments.

As Mogadishu slowly staggered back onto its feet, a nongovernmental organization, the Center for Research and Dialogue, developed a plan to commission its artists to paint posters promoting peace, and provide support for their work.

Ahmed Adde, 45, was given the task of tracking down the well-known artists from the old days. Adde, an artist himself, didn’t know whether they were alive, dead or had fled. When he got in touch with them, they tried to brush him off.

“The old man was afraid,” Adde says, referring to Ibrahim. “Actually, we were all afraid. We were reluctant.”

“I’ve seen their trouble, how they’re harassing people and killing people,” Ibrahim breaks in, referring to the Shabab, which still carries out regular suicide bombings and political assassinations in Mogadishu, even though it has fled the city.

Still, Ibrahim says he is optimistic. “I want to return to my career,” he says, offering his shy, gap-toothed smile like a gift. “I want to show the people how bad the troubles were and how bad the wars were and how bad it is when everything’s destroyed. That’s the message we’re going to send to people.”

Ibrahim never finished high school, but was plucked from obscurity as a talented artist, given a post in the government’s Information Ministry and promoted because of his abilities.

He was 19 when Maj. Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre, or Comrade Siad, as he was known, seized power. The dictator’s cult of personality meant there was plenty of work for artists, who would paint him in Stalinist poses, looking serious and stately, or laughing, or holding children and looking paternal. But artistic freedom was a mirage.

“I painted Barre hundreds of times. There had to be a portrait of him in every office. People were constantly coming saying, ‘I want a portrait of the president,’” Ibrahim says. “You had to be careful. You had to try to make him as handsome as possible. You had to paint him looking elegant. You could not show any signs of age.

“You’d attempt it many times. Before you showed people, you had to check it again and again.”

After Barre was ousted in 1991, all semblance of governance disappeared, clan warlords held sway, and the only way to make a living was to paint shop-front signs and advertisements. A transition government controlled little territory. Then came the Shabab, which won control of most of the country in 2009 and banned the depiction of the living form as un-Islamic.

Ibrahim went into hiding, but in secret he kept painting his favorite subject, camels, which in Somali’s oral poetic tradition have always represented nationhood: tough, independent and willful. He worked in a little room at home, hiding his art, which he covertly sent to friends overseas.

“I had to do it. I had a will and a passion to draw. It’s something that comes from the heart,” he says.

Affey practiced and practiced drawing as a boy. It was only when people began praising his work that he realized he was an artist. He got a job as a political cartoonist in the propaganda department of Barre’s Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party, but didn’t last long. When he tried to lampoon the problems of clanism and nepotism, he was ordered to stop. He resigned and tried farming for a while.

After the collapse of the state in 1991, he barely eked out a living drawing political cartoons for magazines, and says his marriage failed because there was never any money.

From then on, artists worked on a knife edge.

“We were free to do posters and draw cartoons, but you had to be very careful not to insult somebody,” says his colleague, Tohow. “I had to consider what I was doing.”

After years of war, famine and plunder by warlords, radical Islamists began to emerge around 2000, including groups that later morphed into the Shabab. In some cases, the Islamic leaders improved security. But after a while, their harsh punishments and rigid social control made them unpopular.

“When the Shabab came, I had to shut my door and work in secret because they were killing people,” Affrey says. “I was so scared. At the time, staying alive was all that mattered. The Shabab was against artists and intellectuals.”

Roadblocks around the city were manned by trigger-happy militias, mostly teenagers. Under the warlords and later the Shabab, youths were associated with sudden, unpredictable violence.

“If you saw a youth, you’d feel frightened,” Affey says. “A young guy who you’d never believe could kill you, could just come and assassinate you.”

In 1997 in the central town of Galkayo, an artist painting a billboard was dragged down and beheaded because his work gave offense to a religious sheik. The man had been Tohow’s teacher.

In 2000, Tohow narrowly escaped the same fate. He and others had depicted a woman on a billboard clad in the traditional rural Somali style, her shoulders and neck showing. A group of religious men ordered him to take it down.

“They came to me and said, ‘If we see this hanging again we’ll arrest you,’ so we decided to turn the billboard over. It scared me so much because I knew these people were against artists and poetry. It showed me how easily they could come and kill me.”

When the Shabab abandoned Mogadishu a year ago, the artists cautiously emerged, looking for jobs painting advertising murals on small shops and businesses.

“I came out of hiding … but people didn’t know me anymore,” Ibrahim says. “They’d forgotten me.”

Despite the risks they take with their guerrilla art, the three men have more freedom than they have ever known.

“We can paint. We can draw. If you go into the street you can see what we did,” Tohow says. “Of course, something could easily happen to us. We heard some assassinations are taking place. But it’s better than it was.”

“It’s like you’ve been dead and you’re back to life again,” Affey says.

The artists know they won’t be around forever. So they are training a new generation, apprentices who also provide a lot of the muscle power to put up the canvases at night. The older men find themselves sharing paint pots with the kind of young men who once terrified them, like Suleyman Yusuf, 20, who never went to school, but is one of their best students.

Yusuf was paid $2 a day as a member of a militia in Mogadishu from 2009 to 2011 and manned a checkpoint.

“Everyone was afraid of people at the checkpoint because we had guns and we could shoot at them at any time. It made you feel powerful. At the time, I believed I was the most powerful man in the city. It felt good to have that kind of power.”

Now that Mogadishu is more peaceful, Yusuf is hoping to work as a commercial artist after training with Ibrahim, Affey and Tohow.

“I feel great when I’m with them and they’re showing me what to do. We learn how they mix paint and how human beings’ faces are shaped. We’re improving and later we will be able to do what they do.”

Affey believes he can help change Yusuf, and others like him, by teaching him.

“For art, you have to focus. Art teaches you about life. You’re drawing life, so you can’t just go and kill someone. If you want to be an artist, you have to learn to be gentle and wise.”

The teachers, Yusuf says, have taught him respect.

“If I didn’t admire them, I wouldn’t bother to turn up. These are the only guys I have ever really admired.”

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Local hero receives national honor for preventing carbon monoxide poisonings

Local hero receives national honor for preventing carbon monoxide poisonings

Posted on 25 October 2012 by admin

FEMA award for saving lives in Somali community during last winter’s storm

When an ice storm walloped the Puget Continue Reading

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Update on Seattle Jobs Plan

Update on Seattle Jobs Plan

Posted on 19 October 2012 by admin

Standing with business, labor and community leaders two years after the launch of the Seattle Jobs Plan, Continue Reading

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Madaxeynaha Cusub ee Soomaaliya oo u Muuqda Mid Siyaasad Jilicsan!

Posted on 30 September 2012 by admin

Madaxweyne Xasan Sheikh Maxamud oo durba markii la magacaabay wareysi dhinacyo badan taabanaya siiyey idaacadda VOA, ayey codkiisa iyo sida uu u hadlayey u muuqday inuu ahaa mid aan siyaasaddiisa si xor ah u cabbiri karin, hadalkiisuna u badnaa af-gobaadsi. Sida isuguba qirtay Xasan jagadaan ka hor howlo siyaasadeed ma soo marin, waxana ay u muuqataa inuu jagadaba ku helay ka carar laga cararyey in Shiikh Shariif mar kale soo noqdo.

Dhinaca horumarka waxa uu ku soo koobay oo kaliya inuu suurto gelinayo in dadka Soomaaliyeed ee dalka gudihiisa jooga uu u suurto gelin doono iney habeenkii saxan ay ku caheeyaan hortooda ooli doono taasi oo lagu fasiri in ujeedkiisu ugu weyni yahay in quutul daruuri la helo oo aan dib u dhis dhaqaale oo wayn qorshuhu ugu jirin. Dib u heshiisiintu waxa uu sheegay iney qaadan karto muddo 40 sano ah, iyadoo ay noola muuqato sida xaqiiqda ah in ummadda Soomaaliyeed aaney colaad dhex oolin.

Waxa uu sheegay in dagaalka Shabaab uusan istaagi doonin ilaa Ajnabigu dalka ka baxaan, iyadoo dhinaca kale dowladdiisu dalka ku soo gureyso ciimado fara badan oo ajnabi ah oo ay ugu horreeyaan kuwa dowladaha dariska inala ah oo cadowtooyo dhul innaga dhaxeeyo. Taasi waxa ay meesha ka saartay in Xasan yahay mid waddani ah oo ummaddiisa u danqanaya doonaya in dhiig qubashada istaagto. Kala go’a dalka iyo midnimada meel adag kama istaagin, balse waxa uu ku raacay maamulka qaldan ee Hargeysa riyadiisa ah inuu sii kala durjiyo ummadda Soomaaliyeed oo aaney jirin wax ay ku kala qeybsamaan. Waxa intaa dheer Xasan Shiikh Maxamuud uu u muuqdo nin aan ciyaari karin shaxda siyaasadeed ee u baahan kal adeyg iyo aragti dheeri. Soomaaliya ceelkii ay ku dhacday goor dhow kama soo bixi doonto ama marka ay ugu yar tahay 4ta sano ee soo socota. Mar haddii madaxeynihii sidan yahay, nooma muuqata inuu yahay mid maamuli kara xittaa deegaanka uu ka soo jeedo ee sababteeda uu jagada ku helay. Waa ayaan darro, waana in samirka la badiyaa.

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Bill Clinton oo Seattle Yimid

Bill Clinton oo Seattle Yimid

Posted on 30 September 2012 by admin

Madaxeyne Bill Clinton ayaa dhowaan booqasho ku yimid Seattle isagoo gacan siinaya ninka u tartamaya inuu madax u noqdo gobolka Washington ee lagu magacaabo Jay Inslee. Continue Reading

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Ciyaartoy u Ciyaaray Caruur Soomaaliyeed!

Posted on 30 September 2012 by admin

Voices of Strength: A Mini-festival of Contemporary Dance & Theater by Women from Africa waa koox dumar ah oo ka yimid meelo kala duwan ee qaaradda Afrika ah. Waxa ay dhowaan booqasho ku soo mareen xarunta Somali Community Coalition Services ee ku yaalla SeaTac halkaasi oo ay ku maaweeliyeen caruur Soomaaliyeed kuna la kulmeen dad iyaguna waaweyn oo matalayey bulshada Soomaaliyeed ee ku dhaqan gobolka Washington. Waxa lagu casumay cunto Soomaali isugu jiray bariis, baasto, iyo sanbuus, hilib, digaaga, iyo ido.  Kooxdu waxa ay bandhig ka sameeyey Moore Theatre oo ka mida tiyaatarrada ugu caansan Seattle labo habeen oo is xigta. Sawirkan waxa qaaday oo ugu deeqay Runta Andrew Matson oo ka tirsan Seattle Times qeybteeda farshaxanka iyo muusigga.

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Doodaha SomTv Seattle oo Xabeeb Car-cartan Cusub Geliyey!

Doodaha SomTv Seattle oo Xabeeb Car-cartan Cusub Geliyey!

Posted on 30 September 2012 by admin

Masawirka waxad ka arki kartaan Mustafe Kaid oo bidix ka qoslaya indhahana ku haya is heysadka Xabeeb  (Midig) iyo Mohamud Yusuf Makis oo ah Continue Reading

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Disillusioned by Obama, Muslim Voters Face Tough Choice

Disillusioned by Obama, Muslim Voters Face Tough Choice

Posted on 30 September 2012 by admin

New America Media, News Report, Zaineb Mohammed

At a time when U.S. Muslims and mosques are increasingly under attack, Continue Reading

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Celebrating our new Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

Celebrating our new Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

Posted on 30 September 2012 by admin

On October 18 we were joined by over 200 community leaders to celebrate the inauguration of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), Continue Reading

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