Weekend Links

Real Journalist Josh Rogin: “Damn right I taped Kerry’s ‘Apartheid’ Talk”

If a reporter agrees that a conversation or event is off-the-record, then of course he cannot print what was said during that interchange. But the unwritten rule—the one that directly applies here—is that if a reporter enters an off-the-record event uninvited and has not agreed to the off-the-record terms, he is free to report what happens inside that event. It’s the responsibility of the event organizers to keep reporters from entering events without invitations. As long as the reporter does not misrepresent himself and does not attempt to conceal a recording device, the event is fair game. That’s the rule. Did I enter the Trilateral Commission event with Kerry, tape it, and then reveal to the world what our Secretary of State is saying to influential world leaders behind closed doors? Damn right I did…“If Rogin attended and did not explicitly agree to any off-the-record ground rules, and did not misrepresent himself in the process, the comments are fair game to report from a journalistic standpoint,” the Huffington Post explained…I will make this one time exception to my rule of never talking about my reporting process. Here is exactly what happened. Friday morning I got a tip from a source that Kerry would be speaking at the Trilateral Commission meeting at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, a luxurious place just far enough away from downtown DC to avoid random foot traffic but still only 10 minutes from my office by taxi. The State Department had disclosed Kerry’s appearance there and marked it “closed press” in their daily scheduling note, but had not disclosed the location. I hopped in a cab. I got there early so I parked myself in an empty room near the lobby and finished up another story I was working on. At about 2:30, the time of Kerry’s scheduled remarks, I walked over to the meeting room, walked straight to the front entrance of the room, nodded politely to the staffer at the door (she nodded back) and entered along with dozens of other people who were filing in. Nobody ever asked me who I was. I didn’t have a name tag but many of the invited attendees weren’t wearing theirs so nobody thought anything of it. As the approximately 200 attendees got settled in for the Kerry speech, I found a seat in the corner, opened up my laptop, placed my recorder on my lap in plain sight, turned it on, and waited for the fun to begin…I left in the middle of the Q&A because I had another appointment. We will probably never know what else Kerry told the Trilateral Commission behind closed doors. I was proud to be able to bring my readers a story about what our top diplomat says about an important issue when he didn’t think the cameras were rolling. I expected some pushback and anger from the State Department. I was surprised that so many people bought the spin that I somehow I had done something unethical. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it in the exact same way. Event organizers and public officials should be forewarned. The public disclosure of this episode may make it harder for me to enter rooms the powerful people don’t want me in, maybe not, we’ll see. If it does, no worries, I’ve got plenty of other ways to get important and true information about our government to my readers. I don’t have to break the rules to break news. I will admit to one ethical indiscretion in the reporting of these stories. While I was waiting for Kerry to get to the meeting, I partook of the lunch buffet and made myself a plate of pork loin, chicken, and a very nice rice pilaf. Professor Nye, my apologies. Please send me a bill.


Our college campuses basically function by mob rule at this point. Absolutely disgraceful.

Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is withdrawing from the Rutgers commencement ceremony. Her invitation by the school’s board of governors had sparked protests from faculty and students, and now Rice has decided not to speak to avoid creating a distraction…Opposition to Rice had focused on her support for the Iraq war and Bush policies in the war on terror. Rutgers faculty at the New Brunswick campus approved a resolution calling for Rice to be disinvited, citing her role in the Bush administration’s alleged “effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.” Protesting students had occupied the office of the president the other day, with signs reading “No honors for war criminals” and “War criminals out.”…In a statement when the controversy first erupted, Rutgers President Robert Barchi said, “We cannot protect free speech or academic freedom by denying others the right to an opposing view, or by excluding those with whom we may disagree. Free speech and academic freedom cannot be determined by any group. They cannot insist on consensus or popularity.” Barchi had adopted a different tone this week: “I frankly wish from my point of view that this whole affair was not here right now because it’s distracting from what great things we’re doing as a university. … It does have us, for better or worse, right in the crosshairs right now.”

Elsewhere in speech policing absurdity.

Entrepreneurial Rwandan women start Rwanda’s very first ice cream parlor.

From all across Rwanda, and even parts of neighbouring Burundi, people flock to the southern town of Butare to a little shop called Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams). They come for a taste of the unknown, something most have never tasted – the sweet, cold, velvety embrace of ice-cream…The shop, which has “ice-cream, coffee, dreams” across its signage, is milking local curiosity about the dessert – and “changing lives” in the process, says Inzozi Nziza’s manager, Louise Ingabire…True to Inzozi’s Nziza’s motto, the shop can certainly make dreams come true. “I didn’t have a job before: I just stayed at home. Now I have a vision for the future. I am making money and I can give some of it to my family,” says the 27-year-old…Most of the ingredients are sourced locally, and the milk comes from a depot in nearby Nyanza. The vanilla beans and cocoa are imported. Inzozi Nziza was opened by the theatre director Odile Gakire Katese. She met Alexis Miesen and Jennie Dundas, co-founders of Blue Marble Ice-Cream in Brooklyn, New York, and formed a partnership to open the shop in 2010…At the start, Miesen and Dundas owned the shop in partnership with its staff and had shares in the business, which is a cooperative and nonprofit. They did not set financial targets, but waited for 18 months before they transferred their shares to the women, who had by then proved their business credentials…The Butare shop employs nine women who spend their spare time practising with Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first and only female drumming troupe, which was established by Katese 10 years ago. The musicians are Hutu and Tutsi women, some survivors of the 1994 genocide, during which almost a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

Very cool!

Family who lost their dog during Superstorm Sandy goes to pound to get a new dog, comes home with their old dog.

Iran bans WhatsApp due to ‘Jewish ownership.’

Navy veteran dies hours after returning from ‘Honor Flight’ to D.C.

A Montana veteran died just hours after fulfilling his longtime dream of traveling to Washington, D.C., and visiting the National World War II Memorial. Donald Buska, an 86-year-old Navy veteran who had been in hospice care since Feb. 12, passed away on Tuesday after returning from the trip with Big Sky Honor Flight of Montana, The Billings Gazette reported. “He had the time of his life,” Buska’s son, Jeff, who traveled with him to Washington, told the newspaper. “What a way to go. He went out on a high note.” Jeff Buska said his father was in his glory as he toured the World War II Memorial and posed for a class photo with a former poker buddy who was also on the trip. He was able to witness the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery and was escorted along with other veterans through D.C. by police…All the veterans on the trip were greeted with letters of support and encouragement from family and friends as they arrived at Dulles International Airport on Monday. Buska had one of the largest packages, according to the report. Back home in Billings, the 75 veterans were cheered on at a ceremony that featured hundreds of well-wishers, including local high school pep bands and dignitaries. Jeff said his father died less than eight hours after the homecoming, following a night of reading letters and sharing stories about the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Scientists say it’s still not time to destroy the last stockpiles of smallpox.

Brunei becomes the first East Asian to adopt shariah law. Terrible.

People fainted at the Globe Theatre last week after someone staged “Titus Andronicus” the way it’s supposed to be staged.

How Thoroughbred race horses convert air into blazing speed.

Why South African whites are coming home.

Hundreds of thousands of whites left South Africa following the ANC’s landslide election victory in 1994. Twenty years on, the exodus shows signs of slowing, even reversing…There is “no shortage” of opportunities for returning skilled professionals with international experience, particularly in finance and IT…But settling back into life in South Africa often takes time and some cannot put aside their original motivations for going. Around one in six returnees end up leaving again. After 12 years in London, Greg Anderson, now 45, could not contemplate the idea of returning to South Africa. However, the birth of his twin sons changed that, he says. He and his South African wife came home in 2008, and now have a third child. “It wasn’t just that the cost of childcare or the complicated logistics of having kids in a city,” Mr Anderson says. The Sinclaire family in Scotland before deciding to come back to South Africa. “It was more that we wanted them to have the kind of childhood that we had enjoyed – running barefoot, being outdoors.”…Lifestyle is one of the top three reasons given by white South Africans for deciding to go home, along with family connections and “a sense of belonging”, according to Homecoming Revolution research. For the 85% who do successfully reintegrate, there are certain aspects of life back home that perhaps only those who have left and returned can appreciate. Ms Jones describes it as a “genuine feeling of being alive” that South Africans do not experience in new lives overseas, whether it is Britain, Australia or New Zealand…”There are so many opportunities to be involved in other people’s lives in South Africa in a way that you don’t find anywhere else,” she enthuses. “In countries where the government takes care of so many issues, it becomes hard for an individual to make a difference. If you want to volunteer, mentor or empower someone in South Africa, there’s really nothing to stop you.”

Totally agree with that. South Africa has a different feel than any other country. I love it.

The presumption that conservatives only argue in bad faith is one of the Left’s least attractive qualities. Sonny Bunch explains:

…A rather annoying piece from a couple of weeks back in Slate by Jamelle Bouie, the thesis of which is that conservatives are opposed to things like Common Core solely because liberals like them. Sheer “tribalism” leads to opposition to the president’s policies—these conservative rubes, we are led to believe, would be totes fine with the policies if they were urged by conservatives. But the “culture war” demands total opposition to everything and anything, even super-duper pragmatic policies, all of which happen to be those proposed by the left, naturally…Bouie’s piece is annoying because he simply presumes those who disagree with him and those who resist his preferred policy prescriptions are acting wholly in bad faith. Never mind that large swatches of the conservative community were vocally opposed to No Child Left Behind, George W. Bush’s massive national education effort: This is different because “Obama!” The small-government right has long argued for the privatization of Amtrak and against the expansion of rail-based-boondoggles, but the opposition to the ridiculous idea of putting high-speed trains in California and Florida is different because “Obama!” Take light bulbs. Bouie writes that conservatives are just now getting worked up about new light bulb standards, which were designed to get rid of (far superior) incandescent bulbs that people really liked. These changes were signed into law by George W. Bush years ago! Why are people complaining just now? Anti-Obama tribalism, undoubtedly. Except, of course, that conservatives were complaining…Now, I have no doubt that the intensity of the anti-light bulb brigade is higher now than it was in late-2007. And I have no doubt that many conservatives (along with many liberals!) are being especially noisy about Common Core at the moment. Allow me to suggest there might be a different reason for the increased angst: The standards are just now taking effect so the average American is only just now noticing them! Weirdly, once an absurdity starts impacting a person’s day-to-day life, they tend to get a bit more vocal about it. Then again, it’s easier to assume that conservatives have neither legitimate points to make nor consistently held positions. They’re just a pack of mentally lazy tribalists resisting the efforts of their progressive betters. Because “Obama!”

TNR’s Brian Beutler attempts to attack Justice Scalia, beclowns himself in the process.

12 literary spots in London every book lover needs to visit.

The bravery of a Baghdad book market.

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Filed under Around the World, Literature, Science, The Left, Uncategorized

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