Humanitarian aid

For Israel, the Silver Lining in Gaza: Shifting the Strip to Egypt

Egypt’s decision to officially re-open its border to the Gaza Strip may be officially tut-tutted over by Israel, which in Hosni Mubarak had a willing partner for besieging the Palestinian enclave controlled by Hamas.  But as a practical matter, the siege effectively ended a year ago Tuesday when Israeli commandos killed nine civilians …

The Dear Leader Does Beijing. But Why Is He in China Again?

What leader of a hungry, isolated regime wouldn’t want to enjoy a little vacation in China? On Wednesday, an armored train carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and his 70-person entourage is believed to have arrived in Beijing, where the man known as the Dear Leader is presumably in town to meet with Chinese President Hu …

A Devil Dog Finds His Best Angels

After several interruptions, I’ve finally finished the best book to land on my desk this year: “It Happened On The Way To War,” by Rye Barcott, a former Marine who has devoted his life to bringing development to one of the world’s worst slums. The book (published by Bloomsbury) chronicles the creation of Carolina for Kibera (CFK), a …

The Other Shoe? Egypt Moves to Ease Gaza Siege

Egypt’s announcement that it will open its border crossing with the Gaza Strip —  loosening the siege of the Palestinian enclave Egypt has helped Israel carry out — has the sound of the other shoe dropping. Coming one day after word that the post-Mubarak government had brokered a tentative unity accord between rival Palestinian …

More Whoa! in Haiti: Did the Ruling Party Manipulate Election Results?

If you’re wondering why only about a tenth of the more than $10 billion that international donors pledged to Haiti’s reconstruction has actually been disbursed so far, we likely got another reminder on Monday, April 25. Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced that it was delaying certification of results from 19 …

World Bank to East Timor: We Messed Up

East Timor was supposed to be the poster child for nation-building. In 2002, after two centuries of Portuguese rule and two decades of Indonesian occupation, this tiny half-island became the century’s first country. Its path to nationhood was paved by a host of international organizations keen to make the fledgling state a model of …

Why Three Cups of Tea are Not Enough

I will be the first to admit that I was an early adopter of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea. When it first came out I reviewed it for TIME, and named it one of the 10 best books of 2006. I gave it out as Christmas presents, and encouraged my mother to read it in her book club. By no stretch of the imagination was it a work of great …

After the Earthquake, Not All Quiet on China’s Western Front

One year ago today, an earthquake hit the northeastern edge of the Tibetan plateau, leveling a small, majority-Tibetan town.  The magnitude-6.9 temblor shook buildings from the hills and pulled monasteries and mud-brick homes to the ground. The first images from the scene showed crimson-robed monks digging though the rubble by hand. …

After Disaster, Sorrow in a Few Short Words

When an earthquake hit the Japanese town of Niigata in October 2004, Yo Yasuhara, an elderly monk, wrote these words:

It’s cold and wet/camping outdoors/aftershocks multiplying the misery

The poem, originally written in Japanese, so stirred survivors that it was carved in a memorial stone. Today, one month after the Great Tohoku …

In Gaddafi’s Tripoli, Visions of Doomsday and an Endgame

Such is the hothouse atmosphere of the Rixos Hotel, where the Tripoli press corps remains imprisoned by the Gaddafi regime, that any new source of information, be it a shopkeeper in a bazaar who manages to slip out a disparaging word about Libya’s leader or a rumor of the man himself out in the streets, sends reporters into a frenzied …

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