Coffee Coffee Coffee

As if the South Sudanese didn’t have enough to worry about, now they’ve got to contend with George Clooney turning their perfectly good coffee crop into Nespresso. Clooney, you’ll recall, is already oppressing the citizens of the world’s youngest country with his spy satellites and relentless active listening.

And in other celebrity-coffee-conflict news (yes, there’s more), eastern Congolese coffee made it into the Starbucks Reserve collection this summer, thanks to a partnership with Ben Affleck’s Eastern Congo Initiative. Here’s hoping there’s more of it soon, because the processing plant I visited last summer (blurry photo below) smelled AMAZING.



I passed Ph.D. school, everyone!

As of October 1st, I am a postdoctoral fellow in Law & International Security at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. The main consequence of this change is that now, instead of saying “I’m working on my dissertation”, I can say “I’m working on my book”. (It is, of course, exactly the same project.) And I now own a car and have Opinions About Cargo Space.

I also have a bit more free time to do things like brush my hair and write this blog, which I’ve just given its first makeover in several years.

And in other news, if you’re not already following Amanda in her new(ish) role as Vox’s Senior Sadness Correspondent, get on that.

WTF Friday, 9/11/15

I had so much saved up for today. Uzbekistan outlawing political science, Chad executing 10 people one day after a trial in which they may not have been afforded access to counsel, that photojournalist kicking a refugee child.

But then I learned that presidential candidate Mike Huckabee thinks the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which denied citizenship to black Americans, is still “the law of the land” and I. Just. Cannot. Even.

This means one of two things: Either Huckabee does not have the basic knowledge of our system of government necessary to understand that a subsequent Constitutional Amendment can overturn a Supreme Court decision, or he doesn’t know about the 14th Amendment. In either case, I feel comfortable concluding that he does not meet the minimum qualifications necessary to be president. Yeesh.

The Forever Victims?

NIM (1)If you’re in the market for some upsetting reading, look no further: I have a new report out, coauthored with Nimmi Gowrinathan, on the human rights situation of Tamil women in northern Sri Lanka.

It documents the effects that 6 years of militarization have had on women’s lives and shows that, perversely, efforts to protect women from sexual violence have undermined their political and economic agency, making them even more vulnerable to victimization.

Readers of this blog will probably be most interested in the fact that the livelihoods approach endorsed by the international community seems to be exacerbating the problem by reinforcing regressive gender roles. It turns out that women who fought on the front lines of combat find it a bit galling to be handed a sewing machine and told to make something pretty. And by sidelining women into traditionally “feminine” activities, these programs not only disempower them, they deprive the Tamil community of their contributions to rebuilding and shaping a way forward.

Check it out: “The Forever Victims? Tamil Women in Post-War Sri Lanka

WTF Friday, 8/28/2015

Hard to know what to even say about this week. Two journalists were murdered on air, an innocent baby panda died, and against all reason, Donald Trump continues to be a thing.

So let’s go with a happier “WTF” today:

This is a Tumblr post written by 13 year old Disney actress Rowan Blanchard that does better on intersectionality than most fully grown white feminists. She’s responding to a fan question about “white feminism”, and explains the need for inclusivity simply:

“The way a black woman experiences sexism and inequality is different from the way a white woman experiences sexism and inequality. Likewise with trans-women and Hispanic women. … To only acknowledge feminism from a one sided view when the literal DEFINITION is the equality of the sexes is not feminism at all.”

She also quotes Kimberlé Crenshaw, because apparently that’s what the kids are reading these days.

So that’s good news: 1, bummers: a billion.

WTF Friday, 7/31/2015

Walk me through this one.

A man is arrested for stabbing three marchers in Jerusalem’s 2005 Gay Pride Parade. He is convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. His sentence is reduced to 10 years and he is released JUST IN TIME for the 2015 Gay Pride Parade. Where he promptly stabs six people.

All I’m saying is, maybe someone could have seen this coming? (And also: ugh, why are people continually the worst?)

H/T: Jon

WTF Friday, 7/10/2015

I’m headed out the door on a 2 week vacation, but before I go, here’s what’s up:

Russia predictably vetoed a Security Council resolution recognizing as genocide the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces. It did so as a favor to its Serb allies, who felt that the resolution might make them look bad.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia has lost its fourth international investigating judge in five years. It’s almost like it’s hard to prosecute international crimes in the face of persistent obstruction by the national government.

The media is trying to make “Grexit” happen. Ugh.

WTF Friday, 7/3/2015

Hey, remember that time Sri Lanka shocked the world by booting Mahinda Rajapaksa out of office just as he was fixing to settle into the presidency for life? (I was there, it was pretty major.)

The new president, Maithripala Sirisena, was celebrated for his bravery in defecting from the regime, and for his principles in his campaign against the abuses of Rajapaksa rule. After the election, investigations of Rajapaksa and his family were announced on allegations of massive corruption, extrajudicial killings of journalists, and attempts to stage an election-night coup.

But six months later, things have gotten weird.

Sirisena’s coalition, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) said today that Rajapaksa will run on their ticket in next month’s parliamentary polls. Rumor has it he may even be the pick for prime minister.

If that sounds like an unbelievably speedy rehabilitation of someone whose ousting was met with global cries of “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead”, remember that the January election was close. Rajapaksa remains very popular with the majority Sinhalese community and their representatives in Parliament. And, in the absence of clear evidence that he tried to overturn the election results, the fact that he gracefully exited office allowed him to preserve the option of a comeback.

At the moment, it’s not clear whether Sirisena actually signed off on Rajapaksa’s return. Over the last couple of days, he’d sounded adamantly opposed to the idea. If he changed his mind, it would indicate a major split in the (always tenuous) big tent movement that brought him to power. If he didn’t, he may have lost control of elements of the UPFA.

And either way, looks like the lead up to the August 17 election is going to be another bumpy ride for Sri Lanka.

On Being the Absolute Worst

Imagine you are the government of a large developed country. You are a member of a variety of international conventions protecting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. But you hate them. You hate them SO much. You want to put them in a sack and toss the sack in a river and hurl the river into space.

And yet, for some reason, asylum seekers keep trying to come to your country.Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 1.55.31 PM

You put up jerky billboards in their home communities telling them that they are absolutely, positively, definitely not welcome. You send your navy out to intercept the boats of desperate people making their way toward your shores. The ones you catch, you promptly (and illegally) hand over to the abusive governments they were fleeing. You give equipment and money to those same abusive governments to help them make sure no one escapes.

But still they come.

You lock them up in a network of grim camps, insisting that your citizens’ security depends on proper “screening” of these new arrivals. You keep them there indefinitely. Some of them die.

Reports begin to trickle out of horrors – disease and malnutrition, a blind eye turned toward sexual violence and torture among the inmates, a climbing suicide rate. And worse: children separated from their parents and raped by the guards.

Human rights groups have run out of adjectives with which to deplore your treatment of these vulnerable people. Your international reputation is suffering. So you do the only thing you can: You make it a crime for detention center staff to talk about the conditions there, with a penalty of two years in prison.

Because obviously, you’d rather prosecute doctors and humanitarian workers who speak out about abuses than crack down on child rapists or meet your obligations under international law. Let alone reflecting for one goddamn minute about how bad things must be back home for someone to abandon everyone and everything they’ve ever known for the uncertain chance of surviving the perilous ocean voyage, evading the patrol boats you gave to their abusers, and landing in your grotesque excuse for a detention facility.

Mugabe vs. SCOTUS

A late entry in the category of “Most Ridiculous Responses to the Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality Ruling”: Robert Mugabe has announced plans to propose to President Obama.

Speaking to listeners of Zimbabwe’s national radio station on Saturday, he said:

“I’ve just concluded – since President Obama endorses the same-sex marriage, advocates homosexual people and enjoys an attractive countenance – thus if it becomes necessary, I shall travel to Washington, DC, get down on my knee and ask his hand.”

Then he called the U.S. government a bunch of “perverted Satan-worshipers who insult the great American nation”.

H/T: Ben in NYC.