Colum Lynch • Foreign Policy
How Russia consistently undermines the U.N. in order to keep a multi-billion dollar monopoly on the sales of helicopters and airplanes.
Russia's zeal for turning back reform has been felt most powerfully in the U.N.'s leasing of aircraft -- a $1 billion a year market -- that provide transport for the world's second-largest expeditionary force. An examination of U.N. procurement practices in the air-transport sector -- drawing on dozens of interviews with U.N.-based officials and diplomats, as well as a review of internal U.N. communications and audits -- suggests that Russia has enjoyed unfair advantages, including contracts that all but demand that the United Nations lease Russia's Soviet-era aircraft.
The dispute provides a textbook example of the difficulties of implementing basic financial reforms at the United Nations when major powers have conflicting commercial interests in the outcome. As such, the secretary general and key countries have been unwilling to openly confront Russia because its cooperation is required on a wide range of critical issues at the United Nations.
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William Dalrymple • The Brookings Institute
On the India-Pakistan proxy war in Afghanistan.
The phone call was from a girlfriend of Mitali's who worked for Air India at Kabul airport. Breathless, she said she had just heard that two of the Indian guest houses, the Park and the Hamid, were under attack by militants. As the only woman on her team, Mitali had been staying in separate lodgings about two miles away from the rest of her colleagues, who were all in the Hamid. Within seconds, Mitali was pulling on her clothes, along with the hijab she was required to wear, and running, alone and unarmed, through the empty morning streets of Kabul toward the Hamid.
"I just thought they might need my help," she told me recently in New Delhi.
As she dashed past the Indian Embassy, Mitali was recognized by one of the guards from diplomatic security who shouted to her to stop. The area around the guest houses was mayhem, he told her. She should not go on alone. She must return immediately to her lodgings and stay there.
"I don't require your permission to rescue my colleagues," Mitali shouted back, and kept on running.
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Michael May • The
On the three undocumented activists who intentionally got arrested to help other detained immigrants.
In July 2012, Abdollahi, Saavedra, Martinez, and two other NIYA activists piled in a car and headed to Florida. They planned to infiltrate the Broward Transitional Center, a GEO detention facility near Fort Lauderdale that houses only low-priority cases. Broward appeared to embody the contradictory nature of immigration policy. In 2009, ICE had held up the facility as a model of a kinder, gentler immigration system. The argument went that, since immigration violations are not usually a jailable offense, then detention centers shouldn't feel like jail-they should feel like a motel, except you can't leave. In Broward, detainees have flat-screen TVs in their rooms and are free to roam the facility for most of the day. But why were they locked up in the first place? According to lawyers who work in Broward, most of the inmates at Broward shouldn't be detained if ICE were following the guidelines laid out by Obama and Morton.
Broward is segregated by gender, so the plan was for Martinez to get herself detained and organize among the women at Broward, while Saavedra would be arrested and organize the men. Abdollahi would lead the campaign from outside Broward, publicizing the plights of the unjustly detained immigrants in the center.
There was an immediate hitch: It turned out that it wasn't so easy to get arrested.
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