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Friday, March 11, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"As most of the world celebrates the revolutions sweeping Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya, Europe is watching with anxiety, fearing an influx of African immigrants. Already in recent weeks, more than 5,000 Tunisians have crossed the Mediterranean Sea on boats and arrived on Italy's shores. A smaller but still significant number of Egyptians has fled for Europe. And more than 100,000 Libyans and migrant workers from East Asia have left Libya, making their way toward Tunisia and Egypt. But these North African migrants are not Europe's primary concern. In fact, what Europe fears most is a mass exodus of sub-Saharan Africans to Europe through unpoliced North Africa borders. In the early 1990s, surging numbers of sub-Saharan Africans tried to leave their civil war—and poverty-ridden countries for Europe. In response, Europe tightened its border controls and dramatically curtailed legal avenues for migration by instituting quotas. Still desperate to escape Africa, the migrants found alternative routes out, and Turkey and the countries of the Maghreb became major hubs for illegal emigration from Africa to Europe: every year, tens of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans arrived in Libya, Morocco, or Tunisia, to recuperate, arrange deals with human smugglers, and climb aboard flimsy boats to Italy or Spain. Many of them died on the journey or were intercepted by European patrols and sent back to Africa. Those who made it joined Europe’s army of irregular workers and asylum seekers. Those who were unable to reach Europe and unwilling to return home remained in North Africa, trying their chances again and again. In the past decade, European countries started supplementing their own border controls with external gate- keeping agreements with North African dictators." (ForeignAffairs)


"The annual Sugar Cane Ball, the largest charity event in Jamaica each year was held at Round Hill in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The theme was 'Alice In Wonderland.' Round Hill's director Josef Forstmayr was the Mad Hatter. All of the 360 guests were in costume. Among the guests: Daisy Soros, Veronique and Bob Pittman, Chris Blackwell, Lennox Lewis, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, David and Jill Gilmour, Palm Beach jewelry designer Helga Wagner; painter Helmut Kohl, Nan Brenninkmeyer and her son Charles. Ivana Trump, who was the houseguest of Teresa and Andrew Roberts, celebrated her birthday at the ball ... Also Ralph and Ricky Lauren, son David and fiancĂ©e Lauren Bush. The Laurens own two villas at Round Hill including one designed for and owned by Bill and Babe Paley. When it was built in the 1950s it was written about as the 'most beautiful beach house in the world.' Ralph Lauren added a $5000 Polo gift certificate to the silent auction. Also attending, several ambassadors: Brenda LaGrange Johnson, US Ambassador to Jamaica; Mary Ourisman of Palm Beach, US Ambassador to Barbados; Leonara Rueta, current American Ambassador to Jamaica; and Celsa Nuno, Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica." (NYSocialDiary)


"From the outset of my command in Afghanistan, two or three times each week, accompanied by a few aides and often my Afghan counterparts, I would leave the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul and travel across Afghanistan -- from critical cities like Kandahar to the most remote outposts in violent border regions. Ideally, we left early, traveling light and small, normally using a combination of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, to meet with Afghans and their leaders and to connect with our troops on the ground: Brits and Marines rolling back the enemy in Helmand, Afghan National Army troops training in Mazar-e-Sharif, French Foreign Legionnaires patrolling in Kapisa. But I was not alone: There were other combatants circling the battlefield. Mirroring our movements, competing with us, were insurgent leaders. Connected to, and often directly dispatched by, the Taliban's leadership in Pakistan, they moved through the same areas of Afghanistan. They made shows of public support for Taliban shadow governors, motivated tattered ranks, recruited new troops, distributed funds, reviewed tactics, and updated strategy. And when the sky above became too thick with our drones, their leaders used cell phones and the Internet to issue orders and rally their fighters. They aimed to keep dispersed insurgent cells motivated, strategically wired, and continually informed, all without a rigid -- or targetable -- chain of command. While a deeply flawed insurgent force in many ways, the Taliban is a uniquely 21st-century threat. Enjoying the traditional insurgent advantage of living amid a population closely tied to them by history and culture, they also leverage sophisticated technology that connects remote valleys and severe mountains instantaneously -- and allows them to project their message worldwide, unhindered by time or filters." (ForeignPolicy)



"From seawalls that line stretches of Japan's coastline, to skyscrapers that sway to absorb earthquakes, to building codes that are among the world's most rigorous, no country may be better prepared to withstand earthquakes than Japan. Had any other populous country suffered the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that shook Japan on Friday, tens of thousands of people might already be counted among the dead. So far, Japan's death toll is in the hundreds, although it is certain to rise somewhat. Over the years, Japan has spent billions of dollars developing the most advanced technology against earthquakes and tsunamis. The Japanese, who regularly experience smaller earthquakes and have lived through major ones, know how to react to quakes and tsunamis because of regular drills — unlike Southeast Asians, many of whom died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami because they lingered near the coast despite clear warnings to flee. Communities along Japan's coastline, especially in areas that have been hit by tsunamis in the past, tend to be the best prepared." (NYTimes)

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