2011 - %3, March

Happy International Women's Day

| Tue Mar. 8, 2011 4:01 AM EST

It was kind of kick-started by commies encouraging women to contribute to a great socialist empire, but anyone can celebrate International Women's Day, which is today. Russians celebrate it by buying ladies flowers. Daniel Craig celebrates it by wearing a dress while Judi Dench assaults him with stats about gender inequality.

Some other suggestions for marking the occasion? Play around on the International Rescue Committee's new Wake Up website, a multimedia campaign that, among other things, introduces visitors to women who are battling violence and disparity in unfathomably hostile environments, like this Jordanian gal. Her organization sneakily provides services to Iraqi refugee women who are being abused with impunity. Or read this profile of an Afghan prosecutor so brave her story just might choke you up. Or check out the PBS documentary about how striking lady-workers helped start the whole American union movement.

May you enjoy this empowery holiday, even if there are no flowers or large men in drag in your life.

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Deconstructing MoJo's Haiti Reconstruction Story

| Fri Mar. 4, 2011 2:55 PM EST

Last week, Andrea Pitzer, the editor of Nieman Storyboard, a project of Harvard's Nieman Foundation for Journalism, sent me an email. "Each month, we pick one outstanding narrative that is then poked and prodded by a group of top editors from around the US to see how it ticks," she wrote. This month, they picked my feature "Aftershocks: Welcome to Haiti's Reconstruction Hell." 

Pitzer promised that being dissected by the editors would be "a little like getting an ice cream sundae while being beaten with a stick." Indeed, some of their comments are flattering, some of them harsh, some bitingly true and then some, in my opinion, a little off the mark. If you've read the piece and want to see if you agree with the experts, check out the roundtable here.

Bringing Qaddafi to Justice

| Thu Mar. 3, 2011 2:52 PM EST

Today International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that his body will investigate Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi and company for possible crimes against humanity. By ICC standards, this is superfast action. Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, for example, wasn't indicted until 2008, years after the internatonal community knew about the slaughter in Darfur. This is some of that "timely and decisive" movement we've been looking for from the United Nations since the Libyan crisis began last month. 

So, what now? The court has two months to report back to the Security Council with the results of its investigation. Then the ICC judges will decide whether to issue arrest warrants. The ICC does not have any authority to actually bring in defendants, so if Qaddafi is indicted, someone will have to apprehend and deliver him to The Hague. Maybe some anti-Qaddafi Libyans could get hold of him. Or maybe he will be forced out or step down and then leave the country, and the authorities of whatever country he goes to will arrest him.

Or, maybe not. Plenty of countries aren't members of the ICC—notably the United States, which was one of only seven nations (along with Libya!) to vote against the statute that created the court. Plenty of ICC-indicted criminals have been at large for years because no one will arrest them. And plenty of authoritarian governments have violently smacked down massive protests with no serious consequences. A crazy person with an army can kill a lot of civilians in two months. It would be swell if the specter of an ICC investigation pressured enough of Qaddafi's own people to turn against him, diminishing his ability to kill more. But it would be tragic if the world lazily leaned on the ICC's announcement as an excuse to do nothing else while investigators watch the slaughter.

BP's Back in Deep Water, Baby!

| Wed Mar. 2, 2011 3:56 PM EST

On Monday, the Department of the Interior green-lighted the first deepwater drilling permit since BP's Deepwater Horizon rig blew up last year and ruined a big piece of the world for a lot of people for a very long time. But, as the National Journal figured out, nearly half of that well is owned by...BP.

"This permit was issued for one simple reason: the operator successfully demonstrated that it can drill its deepwater well safely and that it is capable of containing a subsea blowout if it were to occur," said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement in a press release. Noble Energy, which owns 23 percent of the well, says that it will be responsible for handling all the operations of the well.

An agency spokesman says to "expect further deepwater permits to be approved in coming weeks and months based on the same process that led to the approval of this permit." That process includes, of course, meeting BOEMRE's much-touted "Important New Safety Standards," so there's nothing to worry about. Though the Important Standards can't require drillers to guarantee potential spills won't kill a bunch of baby dolphins or coat the ocean floor in a blanket of death long after a disastrous explosion.