Editor's Picks 1 June 2013

Collection with 9 media items created by Editor's Picks

01 Jun 2013 08:00

Thumb sm
Female Monks in Thailand 1
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
01 May 2013

Two Bhikkhunis (female buddhist monk) visited Ven. Dhammadarsa Bhikkhu (male buddhist monk) at Wat Plak Mai Lai, a forest monastery in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. May 2013.

Frame 0004
Fracking Up Fares
Fares, Aswan
By zeer news
01 May 2013


In 2009, the company DANA GAS (UAE) started shale gas explorations near Fares, a small agricultural village on the West Bank of the Nile, 75 km North of Aswan.
The company employed a controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", which uses a mixture of pressurized water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in the shale rock. 
The village was soon flooded with groundwater and in January 2013 orchards, crops and houses were destroyed. 
Residents do not have results from the water tests that the government was supposed to carry out.  In addition to ecological concerns, property owners whose land was affected have received very little compensation from the gas extraction company (Dana Gas) or from the Egyptian government. The clean up efforts promised by the government have come to a halt and it is not known if and when they will resume. 

The case of Fares, however, differs from other documented cases of damages caused by fracking. 

The flooding is believed to be the result of seismic testings, a straightforward operation conducted prior to the extraction to determine the size of the shale. 

Therefore, this case shows:

  • how monitoring of the fracking operations --known to be possibly harmful for water reserves -- was poor or non-existent in an area close to the Nile

  • media usually focuses on fracking's direct effects. In Fares, however, damage was caused by a subsidiary effect of fracking

  •  land grabbing - although not through acquisition, but through destruction - occurred without compensation for the villagers and the denial of any responsibility on part of the company

  • the Egyptian government - under Mubarak, the SCAF, and the Muslim Brotherhood - failed to stand up against the company and protect its citizens

  • environmental concerns not only for the village's proximity to the Nile, but also for the destruction of many mature and rare trees


00:00 - 00:17
Images of Upper Egypt, Map of Fares

VO: "75 km north of Aswan lies Fares, a village of 30,000 inhabitants, on the west bank of the Nile. Renowned as one of the principle producers of mangoes and dates in Egypt, the majority of Fares' residents are employed in the agricultural sector, making fields and crops the crux of the village's economy."

00:18 - 00:35 Images of the flooded fields, Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hamid

VO: "However, in January 2013, flooding of groundwater devastated fields and orchards, and destroyed houses and local buildings in the village. The flooding has been attributed to the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations by the company Dana Gas, whose extraction site, is only 10 km north of Fares.

00:36 - 00:47 Animated info-graphic on fracking

VO: "Fracking is a controversial technique used to extract natural gas from shale rock. This is done by creating fissures in the shale with a perforating gun, and then injecting a pressurized mixture of water and chemicals to release the trapped gas and bring it to the surface."

00:48 - 01:19 Interview with the Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hamid (community leader), images of the fields

"It has started since 2009-- first they found that the soil became wet. Gradually, the water began to come on the surface, higher and higher, until it reached the level of one metre. This water has submerged about 2,000 feddans of land (840 hectares)."

01:20 - 01:26 Images of fields, uprooted palm tree

VO: Although the company is not fracking in Fares directly, the flooding is believed to be a result of Dana Gas's seismic testing using 'shot-holes'.

01:26 - 01:52 Animated info-graphic on seismic testing

VO: "Seismic testing uses 30 foot pipes that are inserted into the ground, and an explosion is detonated. The vibrations from the explosion bounce off the subsurface rock and travel back to the surface, where a grid of geophone sensors pick up the wavelengths, thus determining the expanse of the shale below. Ordinarily in the industry, the pipes are plugged in order to prevent flooding. But, these pipes were left open in the fields-- creating a pathway for flowing groundwater to stream upwards."

01:53 - 02:09 Images of fields, springs

VO: "The flooding reached a climax in January, but damage to the fields remains. Stagnant puddles of water exceeding 3 inches, cover entire fields. Groundwater continues to spring spontaneously, creating essentially a swamp out of homes and a formerly prosperous crop."

02:10 - 02:24 Interview with Mohamed Abdouh (farmer and teacher)

"Approximately about 150 families have to move, because of this problem. A lot of these families can't afford to build new houses."

02:25 - 02:36 Interview with Mohamed Abdouh, images of the local graveyard
"The most bitter thing for the villagers is that the graveyard of the village has completely submerged. "

02:37 - 03:06 Interview with Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hamid in front of a house destroyed

"Approximately 2,000 feddans were flooded by the groundwater. it is more than 2,000 feddans. In these areas there were trees: palms, lemon, mango, berries and that now there is water (that are now flooded). It has more than a hundreds of thousands of doom, palms, mangoes, lemons, and all citrus and this is all the income for the village. These fields are the only income for the village "

03:07 - 03:20 Images of residents

VO: Residents state that there was virtually no consultation with the village prior to shale extraction. In 2009, they were told there may be gas reserves in their village, but the seismic testing carried out directly on their land, was not explained to them.

03:21 - 03:44

"They just came and drilled. When the farmers asked them they told (them) they were looking for oil. So the farmers were happy. If they found gas or oil on your land, you will have a good compensation. Good money as a compensation."

03:45 - 03:52 Images of a street seller, men sitting on the ground, kid riding a donkey

VO: "The governor of Aswan stated that the company would create 450 jobs for local residents, yet no one has been employed to date."

03:53 - 04:06 Images of children, the local school, man picking up bricks

VO: "Moreover, compensation remains a large concern for the residents' livelihood. Beyond the municipal government offering to help rebuild the hospital and school, very little money has actually met the hands of the land and home owners whose properties were damaged."

04:07 - 04:34 Interview with Mohamed Abdouh

"When the villagers went to make a sit-in in the company-- in the site there- -the responsibles came and told us they have given the clerks in the municipal council a big number-- a lot of money. When we returned to the municipal council, they denied that. So we are... we don't know how. We are now bewildered between them…"

04:35 - 04:49 Images of the cleanup operation site.

VO: "The government began cleanup efforts six months ago by draining the fields with pipes that would empty to a drainage canal and then run back into the Nile. The pipes though, were too small, and so the clean up project had come to a halt. When they will resume is unknown."

04:50 - 04:59 Images of Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hamid, puddle of stagnant water, the Nile river from Fares' shore.

VO: "Residents still have not heard back from the municipal council abt the water test results, but maintain that the water is harmful, which is also a cause for concern due to its proximity to the Nile."

05:00 - 05:16 Images of Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hamid, images of resident walking next to trees, man on the train.

In addition to the ecological concerns, it's significant that Fares' principal fields and orchards were destroyed, including many mature trees that had reached peak production. Thus not only costing the agricultural-centered village lost profits this year, but also for the years to come.

Frame 0004
Moore, Oklahoma
By Daniela Gallardo
22 May 2013

On May 20 a powerful tornado struck the city of Moore, a suburb just south of Oklahoma City, with a population of 55,000. The tragic event took away the life of 24, including 9 children, and left around 300 injured. The twister was one of the largest and strongest that has ever hit the area, leaving thousands of residents without homes and without their most precious belongings. In the interview below, a victim talks about how he is getting through this difficult experience and how he feels after the total loss of his home and goods which he worked so hard to obtain. Also, you can find three interviews with young volunteers (one local and two from out of state) to help victims recover their valuables and provide them with all type of help and support.

Thumb sm
Strike In Front Of Internal Ministry ...
Internal Ministry, Cairo, Egypt
By elmasdr
31 May 2013

Activists from the April 6 youth movement launched a strike in front of the Internal Ministry in solidarity with activists detained in Al Aqrab Jail.

Frame 0004
Egyptian Court adjourns Al-Khosous tr...
Cairo, Egypt
By Video Cairo Sat
02 Jun 2013

On Saturday June 1st, Egyptian courts adjourned on the trial of 33 defendants for their involvement in the violence that took place in the town of Al-Khosous, north of Cairo, last April. The violence claimed the lives of seven people, and later sparked further sectarian violence. The trial will resume July 6, 2013.

The case was postponed to hear witnesses for the prosecution and the judge refused the defense’s request to release the defendants on bail.

The public prosecution has accused the defendants of murder, illegal possession of weapons, damage to public and private property, inciting panic and possessing Molotov cocktails.

Though the case is being tried by the Banha Criminal Court, the trial was moved to New Cairo Criminal Court in an attempt to ensure the safety of the accused.

The sectarian violence in Al-Khosous broke out between two families, who happen to be Muslim and Christian in Al-Khosous, north of Cairo after Christian children allegedly painted offensive drawings on the wall of an Islamic institute.

The defense lawyers and relatives of the defendants argue that they are innocent, demanding the formation of a new fact-finding committee.

SOUNDBITE 1 (Arabic) – Mohamed Ghareeb, defense lawyer of number of the defendants:
“We would like to say that the state security apparatus still has the same policies like the former regime and they still arrested people from their homes. The defendants were arrested after four or five days of the incident. They do not have any relations with the clashes and they found nothing with them. We ask God to reveal the truth. God willing, they will be announced innocent soon.”

SOUNDBITE 2 (Arabic) – Brother of one of the defendants:
“We hope that the authorities form a new fact-finding committee to discover the truth and I accept that my brother being tried if they proved that he is not innocent. There must be a transparency in the investigations.”

The clashes resulted in the killing of a Christian by a Muslim, prompting some Muslim residents to seek retribution. The violence resulted in the deaths of six Christians and one Muslim.

The funeral for four of the Christians was held at St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral two days after the violence in Al-Khosous broke out. Following the funeral, unidentified men attacked mourners outside the cathedral, which prompted rock throwing. Some eyewitnesses reported gunshots.

On the other hand, earlier on Thursday north Cairo court ordered the release of seven people who had been arrested for suspected involvement in clashes outside St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo.

The suspects have been released from police custody with bail set at LE 2000 each. Prosecutors, meanwhile, have appealed the release order.

Thumb sm
No Tobacco Day in Pakistan (3 of 6)
Karachi, Pakistan
By Syed Yasir Iqbal Kazmi
31 May 2013

Each year May 31 is observed as World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) with the aim to spread awareness about the ills of tobacco consumption. Tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. May 31, 2013, Photo by Yasir Kazmi, Karachi, Pakistan.

Almost 2,500 people die in Pakistan daily due to consumption of tobacco and smoking. Many people suffer from asthma and bronchitis, in addition to than cancer and heart attacks.

Tobacco use is rising in Pakistan, with about 30.7 per cent of men estimated to be smokers, Pakistan stands at the brink of a devastating health and economic disaster. The steep rise in the use of tobacco amongst the youth, especially young girls and women is depriving the country of a healthy workforce while increasing the burden of disease on an already overburdened health sector.
The fact that approximately 1,200 children start smoking daily represents a huge health and economic impact.
Individuals who smoke cigarettes are 12 times more likely to die from lung cancer, two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease, twice as likely to have a stroke, and 10 times more likely to die from chronic obstructive lung disease.
Although many people are aware of health issues involved in smoking, they are unable to quit due to nicotine addiction. However, willpower and personal determination to break free from the addiction play the most crucial role.

Frame 0004
"Living the Love" - Documentary about...
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By Gloria Kurnik
08 Feb 2012

In depth portrait of the Hindu Thaipusam festival held annually in Malaysia in January. A unique take on the events through the eyes of a participating couple.
This short documentary is produced in a "personal journey" or "character driven" style.

Piercing the body out of faith is a custom in most of the oldest religions. Though it may induce fear, doubt and anxiety, it is also associated with a certain sense of mysticism and spirituality. The viewer witnesses here the Thaipusam - the magical Hindu festival where devotees in a state of trance, painlessly carry offerings in the form of heavy burdens and/or have a range of intriguing attachments hooked to their body.

But beyond the images of unbelievable crowds and fanfare, the viewer can also witness the love, trust and devotion merging into an expression of faith through self-sacrifice.

For many, Thaipusam is all about the flourish and the obscure customs. For many tourists, it is the defining evidence of the unique multi-cultural life in Malaysia. For many amateur photographers, it’s one of those places where you capture that ‘one’ unforgettable picture. For some it's a story of love...

Frame 0004
Tunisian minorities under pressure
Djerba, Tunisia
By billcode
22 May 2012

Since the revolution hit Tunisia in 2011, religious minorities have been watching with unease the growth in size and confidence of puritanical Islamist groups which were suppressed under the secular dictatorship.

Churches have been attacked, Jews shouted down and the followers of revered saints harassed into not attending the shrines they've always visited. In a country long proud of its secular tradition, they watch as shrines and churches have become almost fair game across North Africa.

As people here debate what it means to be a Tunisian, meet members of the small minority groups in this overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim country.

We meet a young man converting to Judaism from Sunni Islam, who tells us the hopes he has for his country, and his life, as he takes his risky journey.

We meet followers of the ancient Stambali group, descended from black African slaves, who tell of the harassment they are receiving on the basis that their reverence of saints is not acceptable in Islam.

The Association for the Support of Minorities - newly allowed, but not keen on allowing the same right to existence for Salafists and other ultraconservatives, wants action from the Islamist-led government to support minorities.

And get the view of the Tahrir party - long banned in many countries including Tunisia, but recently permitted by the Islamist-led government.


'Mehdi', Muslim converting to Judaism

Riadh Zaouch, Stambali Shrine leader

Yamina Thabet, Association for the Support of Minorities

Ridha Bel Haj, Tahrir Party

Frame 0004
Montreal, Canada
By SpiralDragon
31 Oct 2012

Ensglish follows

Réalisé de façon indépendante sans aucune contribution financière, le film Dérives est le résultat de plus de trente heures d'entretiens réalisés avec des citoyennes et des citoyens témoins et victimes d'abus policiers.

Le film est partagé gratuitement depuis le 13 février dernier sur Internet à partir du site web du collectif (www.99media.org), avec l'objectif de nourrir le débat public sur la question de l'exercice de la répression et ses conséquences sociales. Une répression qui fut banalisée - voire encouragée - à la fois par les sphères politiques et médiatiques québécoises.

En un mois, le total des visionnements pour Dérives a atteint la somme de 50 000. Le film a également été diffusé plusieurs fois devant public et sera projeté le samedi 16 mars 2013 dans le cadre du festival Hors Cadre. Il s’agit d’un succès qui dépasse toute espérance pour un film qui n'a fait l'objet d'aucune mention par les médias traditionnels et qui prouve que les créateurs des médias émergents pourront désormais s'affranchir de la nécessité d'une attention médiatique.


Produced independently without any financial aid, Dérives is the result of more than thirty hours of interview with citizen witnesses, and victims, of police brutality.

The film has been available online for free since February 13th on the collective's website (www.99media.org), with the goal of contributing to the public debate on the issue of repression and its social consequences... repression that has been banalised, even encouraged, by Quebec's political and media spheres.

A month after its release, Dérives has been seen more than 50 000 times. The film has also been screened publicly a number of times and will be featured on Saturday, March 16th 2013 at the Hors Cadre festival. This is an unprecedented success for a Quebec documentary without any traditional media mention, proving the emerging media scene can now overcome the need of mainstream media attention.