Inside the Migrant “Jungle” in Northern France
August 24, 2015

An illustrated dispatch from the front lines of Europe's immigration crisis.

Blue Nile: The Next Imminent Crisis in Sudan’s War on Its Own People
September 28, 2011

In a matter of days, or hours, the northern Sudanese state of Blue Nile seems likely to be the scene of the most violent military confrontation in Sudan for almost a decade. The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) released a highly alarming report on September 23, based on substantial satellite photography, indicating that armed forces of Khartoum’s National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime are mobilizing in a massive formation of armor, troops, and military aircraft: “heavily camouflaged, mechanized units comprising at least a brigade—3,000 troops or more.

Visionary Materialism
May 19, 2011

Illuminations By Arthur Rimbaud Translated by John Ashbery (W.W. Norton, 167 pp., $24.95) I. Arthur Rimbaud wrote the texts known as Illuminations between around 1873 and 1875. In those years he lived in London, and in Paris, and at home with his mother and sisters in northern France, and in Stuttgart. In London, George Eliot was writing Daniel Deronda; in Paris, Henry James was writing Roderick Hudson. The majestic Nineteenth Century was everywhere.

The Humanitarian Aid Industry's Most Absurd Apologist
November 29, 2010

Writing in his diary of his erstwhile friend and wartime comrade-in-arms Randolph Churchill’s surgery for lung cancer, Evelyn Waugh noted acidly, that it was a “typical triumph of medical science to find the one part of Randoph that was not malignant and remove it.” The BBC’s recent abject apology to Bob Geldof for the claim made last March 4 on the 'Assignment' program, that the vast majority of the money raised, perhaps as much as 95 percent, during the 1984/85 Ethiopian famine by Geldof’s Band Aid concerts that went to fund relief projects in areas held by the Tigrayan rebels had in fact be

Playing Patient in Ethiopia
November 24, 2010

Read parts one, two, three, and four of Zeke Emanuel's Africa diaries. I am touring a health facility in Gombore, about 60 minutes from the main road. It’s small, but it’s part of a larger effort that is making a real difference in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is one of the most rural countries in the world. 85 percent of the population live in dispersed small communities. Even the capital, Addis Ababa, which has 4 million people, represents only 5 percent of the population.

I Go To Disneyland ... In Ethiopia
November 23, 2010

Read parts one, two, and three of Zeke Emanuel's Africa diaries. According to Joe Malone, the CDC Medical Officer working on the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, I have just arrived at Disneyland. This after traveling more than 150 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and then 45 minutes over gravel and mud roads to Wossilo. On the drive down the unpaved road we saw one bus, no cars, no motorbikes and no bicycles—only people walking. When we arrive, the shacks are made of sticks covered with mud mixed with straw. The floors are all hardened mud.

Is Obama’s Global Health Initiative Working? A First-Hand Look.
November 18, 2010

Although health care has been a major preoccupation of this blog, global health has come up only very occasionally. But that’s something we’ve wanted to change for a while. So, when Ezekiel Emanuel approached us, offering to write a diary while traveling through Africa, we accepted. Emanuel is a bioethicist and oncologist. He serves in the Office of Management and Budget, where he has helped shape President Obama’s policies on global health. He also happens to be an accomplished writer, having contributed articles to a wide range of publications over the years.

Abused by Hope
October 19, 2010

Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid By Peter Gill (Oxford University Press, 280 pp., $27.95) In the fall of 1994, James P. Grant, the executive director of UNICEF, sent a message in the name of his agency to the upcoming Cairo conference on population and development, in which he declared that the world had within its grasp the means to solve “the problems of poverty, population, and environmental degradation that feed off of one another in a downward spiral [bringing] instability and strife in its wake.” Grant was a great man, a giant of the development world.

The End of Hunger?
January 02, 2010

Famine: A Short History By Cormac Ó Gráda (Princeton University Press, 327 pp., $27.95) The earliest recorded famines, according to Cormac Ó Gráda in his brief but masterful book, are mentioned on Egyptian stelae from the third millennium B.C.E. In that time--and to an extent, even today, above the Aswan dam in Sudan--farmers along the Nile were dependent on the river flooding to irrigate their fields. But one flood out of five, Ó Gráda tells us, was either too high or too low. The result was often starvation.

The Desperation Of American Universities In Araby
December 30, 2009

I last wrote in this space about American universities in the Arab oil orbit on April 23, 2008. That Spine was called “The New Colonialism, Education Division,” and it focused on the exploits of New York University in Abu Dhabi. Now, in matters like these, N.Y.U. is really in the business of whoring. This is made clear in an intriguing article by Tamar Lewin in the New York Times.  The report actually headlines: “University Branches in Dubai Are Struggling.” But it also covers Abu Dhabi, sort of harking back to its slightly breathless dispatch of nearly two years ago. N.Y.U.