Blogs

Secretary of State 2008?

| Mon Feb. 18, 2008 11:54 AM EST

From Salon:

Getting through these dark times
Foreign policy whiz Samantha Power sheds light on a legendary diplomat killed in Iraq, advising Barack Obama and how America can emerge from the Bush era.

Having won the Pulitzer in 2003 for A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide" she's pub'ing her new book "Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World." It's about the UN envoy and great hope for peace in the Middle East who was killed in a terrorist bombing early in our occupation of Iraq.

She's a good friend, maybe because she's one of the only people I know who is both destined for greatness and just plain cool as hell. Latest proof: she works for Obama. My hat, as always, is off to her.

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Our Election Through Australia's Eyes

| Mon Feb. 18, 2008 9:47 AM EST

My interview with Australian radio airs today and is available online for a month.

The Military-Scholastic Complex

| Fri Feb. 15, 2008 10:17 PM EST

peace%20corps.gif There's a lot of disquiet on the Internet these days concerning the relationship between the Peace Corps and United States intelligence agencies. The issue has found new legs in the wake of recent claims that Peace Corps volunteers and a Fulbright scholar were asked by a United States Embassy official in Bolivia "to basically spy" on Venezuelans and Cubans working in Bolivia. In an interview last week with ABC News, Fulbright scholar John Alexander van Schaick said that he was told by Assistant Regional Security Officer Vincent Cooper "to provide the names, addresses, and activities of any Venezuelan or Cuban doctors or field workers I come across during my time here." Cooper had made a similar request to a group of 30 Peace Corps volunteers and students.

For soliciting Peace Corps members' and Fulbright scholars' assistance, Cooper has paid a price. Bolivian President Evo Morales has now declared him an "undesirable" person whose actions amount to an "attack" on Bolivia, and he has already been recalled to Washington D.C. As CrooksandLiars points out, just today, in a groundbreaking move, Bolivia filed espionage charges against Cooper. Cooper should have foreseen the firestorm that would likely ensue if his actions were made public. So why did Cooper feel it was appropriate to use Peace Corps volunteers and a Fulbright scholar for intel work? Maybe there is a precedent that the rest of us are not aware of. The Huffington Post points out that there was a four-month span between when Cooper met with the Peace Corps volunteers and when he approached van Schaick. Clearly this was not an isolated event.

Fear and Loathing in Romania

| Fri Feb. 15, 2008 8:52 PM EST

4-months-150.jpgThe film 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, which tells the story of a woman who helps her friend arrange to have an illegal abortion in Romania in 1987, is an incredibly tense movie-going experience. Its dark, gritty images—and the raw emotions that they invoke—have lingered with me for days after seeing it.

The Great Tech Challenges Ahead

| Fri Feb. 15, 2008 5:13 PM EST

2083995467_3b20b1d4bf_m.jpg There's four of them, sort of. At least according to the National Academy of Engineering, which convened an international group of tech thinkers to identify the grand challenges facing us in the 21st century. The report was released at today's AAAS annual meeting in Boston. Robert Socolow, mechanical and aerospace engineer at Princeton, reports the list was too subjective to assemble in order. Instead they identified four broad categories of challenges:

(1). environmental wholeness: the need for humans to take care of our earthly home and to be good stewards of the environmental quality that we depend upon (2). our own wellness: the medical side of human life (3). vulnerability: recognition of the fact that we live on a planet that experiences earthquakes and tsunamis, and that we are a species that causes trouble for itself. (4). the joy of living: after you've got health and environmental soundness and you feel protected against the bad side of both human nature and Mother Nature, there is still something else to aspire to: self-knowledge and enlightenment.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent and 2008 winner of the John Burroughs Medal Award. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

'Boston' to Huckabee: Stop Playing Our Song!

| Fri Feb. 15, 2008 5:01 PM EST

It's not often you can feel genuine sympathy for rock stars that made truckloads of cash polluting the world with their catchy, but crappy songs. But given the above performance by Mike Huckabee's cover band Capitol Offense, it's easy to understand Boston founder and songwriter Tom Scholz's deep, unending shame for the artistic transgressions of his youth, lucrative though they were. Huckabee's recreation of the band's 1976 oh-my-god-please-make-Clear-Channel-stop-playing-that hit "More Than a Feeling" at an Iowa campaign stop—which featured a guest appearance by one-time Boston lead guitarist Barry Goudreau, a Huckabee supporter—invites, no, begs for all the mockery one can muster. Turns out, though, that Schulz's problem with the performance (aside from that it sucked) was Huckabee's use of the song to promote his presidential candidacy. Scholz, who alleges that the Huckabee campaign has continued to use the song since the ill-considered performance in Iowa, wrote a letter to the presidential contender yesterday, explaining his troubled mind:

Boston has never endorsed a political candidate, and with all due respect, would not start by endorsing a candidate who is the polar opposite of most everything Boston stands for.

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NIU Shooting: Different School, Same Questions

| Fri Feb. 15, 2008 4:18 PM EST

NIU.jpgUnfortunately, yesterday's shooting at Northern Illinois University seemed quite familiar. Young man in dressed in black walks into a school, shoots and kills five students, injures dozens more, and then shoots himself. He was mentally ill, unpredictable, acting strange in the weeks before the event. The public safety director of Northern Illinois University's response: "Unfortunately, these things happen."

LOST: Finally, This Season Gets Going!

| Fri Feb. 15, 2008 2:30 PM EST

lostep3.jpgLOST has lost many viewers because they find the series frustrating. It poses myriad questions, has a complex mythology, and lots of confusing flashbacks: All of this moves the plot at a glacial pace. That changed last night, with the third episode of the new season.

Finally, someone's made it off that darn island! And not just in a flash-forward, in real-time. But in typical LOST fashion, the latest plot twist raises as many questions as it answers. Why's Sayid gone all Jason Bourne as a spy for Ben? What's the meaning of Naomi's bracelet? Why does Ben have all those passports in his closet? Why does Charlotte look so much like Nicole Kidman in Dead Calm? Okay, just kidding on that last one, but seriously, about ten new plot lines will now have to be explored.

Women in War Zones: Female Correspondents Face a Second Line of Fire

| Fri Feb. 15, 2008 2:10 PM EST

As MoJo's own Elizabeth Gettelman pointed out, journalists are dying by the score in our war on terror. Horrendous, no question. If I were a young journalist today, I doubt I'd have the nerve to go after that story. No, I don't doubt it - I know I wouldn't.

Given the dangers there, it is the brave Iraqi journalists, translators, etc who are suffering, disappearing and dying disproportionately which adds another, special layer to the tragedy. Still, it's one thing to be kidnapped or killed by inexcuseable terrorists. What of female journalists being raped, harassed and exploited while working as foreign correspondents? It's ok if they both matter, isn't it, though death and imprisonment are surely worse?

Hearing Regrets

| Fri Feb. 15, 2008 1:00 PM EST

So even Rep. Henry Waxman thinks the steroids-in-baseball hearing this week was a three-ring circus he wishes he'd never convened. But come on, what did he expect? Roger Clemens gave a preview of his performance on national television a few weeks ago. The fact that he was under oath this week probably wasn't going to change his tune much. Besides, Waxman should recall that one of the side-effects of performance-enhancing drugs is extreme mood swings and occasional violent outbursts. And of course, extreme denial (see Floyd Landis and Marion Jones et. al.)