Montag, März 31, 2008

a truly disgusting start into a new week

everything was fine until I opened this message:

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to thank you for your participation in the very constructive discussion of (insert the latest topic in the headlines) in (insert any fancy location). I feel we are making real progress as a system on this extremely important issue. Clearly we have a long way to go to realize our full potential, but we are on the right path.

I would also like to take this opportunity to let you know that (Mr. Upstairs), in keeping with his commitment to advance progress on (insert extremely important issue), has decided to set up a small team in his office to support him on these issues. (Insert name of someone with good connections), who you all know, has been appointed as the (insert high rank) of the (insert the one and only issue) team. Please join me in welcoming him in this new role. Should you need to reach him, he will still be available on his current contact information, but we will forward new contact information when it becomes available.

We look forward to ongoing collaboration with all of you as we continue this exciting journey together.

All best,

uuurgh.... it just makes me PUKE. and this on Monday morning after a great weekend. sigh. reminds me of that other statement about the UN....

"if an impotent, bloated bureaucracy can't solve it, then it's best left festering"

or would for the case above, would it rather be,

"taking pointless squabbling to an art form"?

or maybe,

"if troubles abound, we'll be nearby doing nothing".

Freitag, März 28, 2008

very welcome - WFP is working on "getting brains"

WFP: Josette Sheeran hopes to persuade her board at a meeting in June to shift her agency's focus away from emergency food aid and towards a wider remit. She wants to expand its role in surveillance, stockpiling and risk-insurance. She also speaks of targeting subsidies or vouchers "in ways that complement markets rather than distort them", as current subsidies often do. If this sort of clarity prevails, it would be a silver lining on the dark cloud that now looms over the poor. (Economist, London)

go Josette, go Josette :-) wish u good luck at that EB meeting... I've been to several of them - and handling member states is not an easy issue. everyone loves emergency aid, be it food, shelter, essential items and basic support. it is so undisputed, no one can truly be against it. it gets difficult though if you look at it from different angles, if you look at consequences, if you search for actual solutions. great that WFP steps up to the challenge. I do believe that humanitarians can contribute much more than just crying out for humanitarian space.

Mittwoch, März 26, 2008

because Worldman thought I would not be doing it: here we go :-)

1. What time did you get up this morning? 8:10 AM (the alarm clock going off 700am)
2. Diamonds or pearls? pearls
3. Last movie you saw in the theater? the Kite Runner
4. What is/are your favorite TV shows? 24, and lately The Wire
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? bread or oatmeal or cornflakes or yoghurt and always black tea with a dash of milk
6. What is your middle name? I don’t like it..... I try to keep it hidden..... aarrgh.... Monika.
7. What food do you dislike? chinese mushrooms
8. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Johnny Cash, Essentials 1 and 2
9. What kind of car do you drive? yellow NYC cabs :-)
10. Favorite sandwich? sundried tomatoes, avocado, mozzarella in focaccia
11. What characteristics do you despise? self-righteous tree-huggers
12. Favorite item of clothing? uff.... mostly casual but nice shirts, skirts, and G-Star Jeans :-)
13. If you could go anywhere in the world for a vacation, where would you go? Iceland
14. What color is your bathroom? black, white and a green carpet
15. Favorite brand of clothing? G-Star, Tall Girls
16. Where would you want to retire? retire - never thought that far. Middle East. or Rwanda.
17. Most memorable birthday? 30 - having champagne in a public restaurant in alcohol-forbidden Afghanistan with the US secret service.
18. Favorite sport to watch? soccer, rugby, formula 1
19. Furthest place you are sending this to? the world wide web
20. Who do you expect to respond? worldman will have to leave a comment... and Hafez, insh'allah
21. Person you expect to respond first? Hafez :-)
22. Favorite saying? insh'allah!!!!! or: what to do.
23. When is your birthday? August 4
24. Are you a morning person or a night person? night, later, later, latest.
25. What is your shoe size? 41
26. Pets? got rid of my bed bugs. all on my own.
27. What did you want to be when you were little? working in a drug store (Drogistin)
28. What are you today? Humanitarian Aid Worker
29. What is your favorite candy? sour cat-tongues.... well... Katzenzungen :-)
30. Your favorite flower? osterglocken (don't ask me in english - it's not that important)
31.What is a day on the calendar you are really looking forward to? arrival date of my next visitor
32. What are you listening to right now? nada
33. What was the last thing you ate? lentil soup
34. Do you wish on stars? no
35. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? blue
36. What is your pet peeve? njet
37. Last person you spoke to on the phone? voice mail of con edison (electrics)
38. Do you like the person/people you are sending this onto? Yes
39. Favorite soft drink? Schweppes Tonic
40. Favorite restaurant? Holy Basil in NYC
41. Hair Color? currently, reddish-blonde
42. Favorite day of the year? can be any
43. What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbie and horses
44. Summer or winter? Summer but rather autumn
45. Hugs or kisses? that's a hard one.... hugs for friends... kisses for fun
46. Chocolate or vanilla? chocolate, most def
47. Do you want your blog friends to carry this on? nope :-)
48. When was the last time you cried? watching Kima get shot in the first episode of the wire
49. What is under your bed? dust
50. Who is the friend you've had the longest? it's the times you share, not the years alone.
51. What did you do last night? reading the Wheel of Time and cooking for myself
53. What are you afraid of? losing my parents or other very close people to death.
54. How many keys on your key ring? 5
55. How many years at your current job? 2nd in NY... 3rd for UNHCR... 4th as a JPO
56. Favorite day of the week? Thursday - a great night to go out
57. How many states have you lived in? three (in Switzerland)
58. Do you make friends easily? Yes - though the US is a special challenge.
59. How many folks will you send this to? none.

Montag, März 24, 2008

Beckham in Freetown, Sierra Leone

wow. just a lovely afternoon with a total surprising turn for some kids in Freetown. Love the beginning of the clip, when David Beckham just walks up and nobody has yet realised he's there :-)

Donnerstag, März 20, 2008

salir de la torre

( posting part of my spanish homework today!)


La última entrevista fue triste.
Yo esperaba una decisión imposible:
que me siguieras a una ciudad extraña
donde sólo se había perdido un submarino alemán
y tú esperabas que no te lo propusiera.
Con el vértigo de los suicidas
te dije: « Ven conmigo» sabiéndolo imposible
y tú -sabiéndolo imposible- respondiste:
«Nada se me perdió allí» y diste la conversación
por concluida. Me puse de pie
como quien cierra un libro
aunque sabía -lo supe siempre-
que ahora empezaba otro capítulo.
Iba a soñar contigo -en una ciudad extraña-,
donde sólo un viejo submarino alemán
se perdió.
Iba a escribirte cartas que no te enviaría
y tú, ibas a esperar mi regreso
-Penélope infiel- con ambigüedad,
sabiendo que mis cortos regresos
no serían definitivos. No soy Ulises. No conocí
Itaca. Todo lo que he perdido

lo perdí a sabiendas

y lo que no gane

fue por pereza. La ultima entrevista

fue un poco triste.

"Inmovilidad de los barcos" 1997

¿Cual es el resumen que te parece más exacto de la historia de amor que cuenta este poema? ¿La voz que habla, es la de un hombre o la de una mujer?

“Ella tenía decidido irse a otro país y sabia que el no le acompañaría, pero de todas formas se lo pidió. Como el no le siguió, la relación se acabo.”

Yo diría que es una voz sin género específico. No importa si es mujer u hombre – la situación y las emociones son tan fuertes, tan profundas y de una claridad que no se encuentra a menudo, no es necesario limitar la voz a un género. Especialmente trabajando para la ONU y cambiando el lugar y la vida frecuentemente (al menos es así en el mundo humanitario), cada día se pasen “ultimas entrevistas” sin o con drama, como en este poema. Un poco triste a veces, si, pero así es la vida. Cristina Peri Rossi, por toda su vida en exilo, sabe muy bien de que habla. Ella también vive en un mundo diferente, y no en el donde la mayoría de la gente se queda en un solo lugar por todo la vida: como barcos que no quieren salir de sus puertos.

Interpretacion de unas partes del poema

me puse de pie como quien cierra un libro” –

hay diferentas maneras de cerrar un libro: rápido; con regreso; con una sonrisa pensando a lo que has leído con tan gusto; con una esfuerza porque es difícil decirse que desde ahora esto libro que quizás has querida nunca va a ser en tu vida como antes – o puedes cerrar un libro con anticipación de leer el próximo que todavía esta esperando. Entonces, cuando el narrador se pone de pie como quien cierra un libro, es claro que ahora empieza algo nuevo, el capitulo es finito.

con el vértigo de los suicidas te dije: ‘ven conmigo’ sabiéndole imposible…” –

A veces, sabes que lo que vas a entender te dolería – pero es necesario para empezar algo nuevo, para cerrar un libro, para terminar un capitulo de tu vida: como suicidarse… para obtener el Nirvana o lo que te prometes – va a ser doloroso pero es lo que quieres hacer. Esto cree el vértigo de andar este ultimo paso y de salir de la torre….

Mittwoch, März 19, 2008

why I love think-tanks

excerpt from Stratfor analysis of Iraq war (to be read on Hafez' blog)

Stratfor tries not to get involved in this sort of debate. Our role is to try to predict what nations and leaders will do, and to explain their reasoning and the forces that impel them to behave as they do. Many times, this analysis gets confused with advocacy. But our goal actually is to try to understand what is happening, why it is happening and what will happen next. We note the consensus. We neither approve nor disapprove of it as a company. As individuals, we all have opinions. Opinions are cheap and everyone gets to have one for free. But we ask that our staff check them -- along with their personal ideologies -- at the door. Our opinions focus not on what ought to happen, but rather on what we think will happen -- and here we are passionate.
I so hope I can work for them or International Crisis Group one day. In the meanwhile, am already happy to be on the privileged list to receive ICG letters that are not made public. However, while reading it - it was about UNMIK and KFOR reaction/action in Mitrovica on 17 March - I was thinking not much else but "Fuck. fuck. FUUUUCk."

and then I thought... what would I have done in the position of the SRSG? I have to be realistic. I will never be a NATO commander. so, if I were SRSG... would I have had the guts to delay a reaction, to go the non-violent way, to talk some more when everybody around me says 'nuff talking done?? when everybody snorts at the phrase "exercise restraint"? would I have been clever enough to think things through, do look at it from different angle, and not just to see and assume what I want to be reality? would I be able, considering all these line of thoughts, to still act and actually do something? would I be strong enough to do something, risk my career if it turns out wrongly, offer my neck if somebody in the end has to be held accountable?

I can't do it now. but I am willing to learn... and it is my dream to be in such a position one day.

I just hope I won't have the lives of soldiers, police men, humanitarian personnel and civilians on my conscience.

Dienstag, März 18, 2008

press review zum "kleinen Scharmuetzel"

KOSOVO: A Ukrainian policeman wounded in fierce clashes on Monday with Kosovo Serbs on Monday has died of injuries he suffered when a hand grenade was thrown. He was serving with UN police who were forced to withdraw from the Serb-dominated north of Mitrovica. (BBC) NATO troops held the line in the flashpoint town of Mitrovica in north Kosovo on Tuesday after riots by a hostile Serb population killed one U.N. policeman and forced the pullout of U.N. personnel. (Reuters)

More than 150 people were wounded Monday in the ethnically divided northern Kosovo town during clashes between the UN police and NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeepers on the one side and Serbs opposed to Kosovo's independence declaration. Ban Ki-moon led the international condemnation of Monday's violence in the town, urging "all communities to exercise calm and restraint." (AFP)

The clashes, on the anniversary of violence four years ago that left 19 people dead, were part of a campaign by Serbs to make Pristina's administration of northern Kosovo untenable and to force the de facto partition of the territory. (NYT)

The Western countries will try to minimize the significance of the recent events in Kosovo. It is clear, however, that the mounting tension seriously complicates the deployment of the mission of the European Union which intends bypassing the UN Security Council to take over control functions in Kosovo from the UN. The EU may prove to be unable to establish control over the entire territory of Kosovo within the 120-day transition period. (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Russia)

The UN administration decided to end the occupation of the court building in northern Mitrovica on, of all days, the fourth anniversary of the bloody riots against the Serb minority in Kosovo. It is hard to imagine a less clever course of action. (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, ed)

The fact that both the UN and the EU are now seen as being Serbia's adversaries is a major problem. This is further emphasized after yesterday's clashes between Serbs and UN police. (Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, ed) Now, for Kosovo Serbs, NATO soldiers are seen as those who contribute to their subjugation by the Kosovo Albanian majority. (El Mundo, Madrid, ed)

Detaching the Serb north from Kosovo is no answer and would lead to ever-less viable political units. But the Serbs should be offered real political autonomy. If Pristina is to establish a viable state, this must be done with the consent of all, and not in the teeth of riots and bloodshed. (Times, London, ed)

Montag, März 17, 2008

oh no... oh no.... that's not how it is supposed to be :-(

let us just hope that the festive spirit among Kosovo-Albanians remains strong enough not to be provoked into a violent reaction. Pictures from today North-Mitrovica.

UN housing

where does corruption begin? New York is an extremely expensive city. if a highly qualified law professor with six kids is being proposed for a top-notch job at the UN, his government surely is happy about it - especially if it is a government who has not yet too many nationals on high positions within the UN.

so when the professor says with regrets, I am sorry, but to the conditions of the UN (salary and benefits like retirement funds) I cannot accept that position -- then it is up to the government and the administration to find a solution.

rules are here to be bent. UN staff regulation 1.2(j) says that "no staff member shall accept honor, decoration, favor, gift, or renumeration from any government", which would serve to create a class of loyal international civil servants who do not seek or receive instructions from any government.

the government in the latest case is Switzerland. the person in question is Nicholas Michel - a good person, competent, fair and honest. the administration that made such deals possible was the one of Kofi Annan.

under Ban Ki-Moon, things seem to change. if really for the better, we don't know. what is pretty certain, is that many more cases will follow and that a major re-shuffling will take place in those senior levels at the UN.

however, Mr Michel leaving is a loss for the organisation. and for Switzerland, who loses its highest-ranking UN official.

sometimes you wish the world were a bit more black and white....

Sonntag, März 16, 2008

one of the great things about NY

is that there is always something special going on: today afternoon, went to see an egyptian movie, screened at the NY South Asian Film Festival in Tribeca. a great independent movie, really fun, never to be seen in a regular movie theatre.

here the new york times review

Two people who are barely friends decide to get married in this satiric comedy drama from Egyptian writer and director Hala Khalil.

Gamila (Hanan Turk) is a woman in her early thirties who is eager to leave Egypt and expatriate to New Zealand. Gamila makes a living buying used goods and selling them for whatever the market will bear, and one day her wheeling and dealing causes her to cross paths with Youssef (Sherif Mounir), a fix-it man looking for more profitable work.

Gamila has discovered it's hard for a single woman over thirty to get a visa to New Zealand, while Youssef wants to strike out on his own now that his brother's marriage has left him the last sibling in the family still living with his folks, so the two agree to a marriage of convenience -- they'll wed, move to New Zealand, and split up once they're doing well enough to get along on their own.

Gamila's mother (Sawsan Badr) is thrilled to see her daughter getting hitched regardless of the circumstances, but her support just makes matters more difficult for the new couple, and their best friends (Fathi Abdel Wahab and Marwa Mahran) unwittingly remind them both what they're leaving behind and why they want to start new lives so badly.

Qas Wi Lazk (aka Cut and Paste) was screened in competition at the 2006 Cairo Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

and here the you tube trailer.... with no english subtitles, sorry :-)

Mittwoch, März 12, 2008

looking for a new hobby

now that I have routine, know where to get my pellegrino in glass bottles (coz they do not recycle PET in New York..... tststs)... now that I tried out most sports classes in the gym of my building.... now that I've done and seen so much of NY that I still love it but yearn for something more... now that I've tried personal ads on craigslist and am having loads of blind dates and hell lot of fun as well... now that in my spanish classes I almost reached maximum level of what they offer at the UN.... it is time to embark on a new adventure to make my second year in New York a blast as well!!

not sure yet if I am really going to do it... I might need some peer pressure to do the first steps.... :-)

and it will cost quite some money. but somehow I think, 15'000$ would be well invested. not as a client #9 ... lol .... no.... something legal.


Dienstag, März 11, 2008

a virtual, matrix-style like reality

I have to agree with the russian, and the chinese, and south africa, vietnam and some other sceptical countries.

if we do honor the UN charter, the Helsinki act of sovereignty and territory of states, and also SC resolution 1244 - if we do believe and subject ourselves to international law - then Kosovo should not be an independent state.

and as the above mentioned states say - just because some people impose a new situation, does not make it reality. to create sound reality in this unique and unprecedented case, a decision of the Security Council - the chief body of the international community - is needed.

and no, 8 years of trying to find a solution is not enough time. there must be still space for dialogue. it is never too late to talk. and what has happened just shows, that rule of law is the most important thing.

you could never trust me as a politician. I am prone to change my mind. too stubborn to admit to some things, easily convinced of others.

Montag, März 10, 2008


Si pudiera cambiar al mundo
extinguiría la extinción,
escucharía mas al viento,
viviría con menos presión.

Si pudiera cambiar al mundo
no habría hambre en las calles,
no necesitarían aborto,
no se harían cultivo los valles.

Si pudiera cambiar al mundo
cambiaria esta canción,
alargaría los segundos,
para expresar mi pasión.

Si pudiera cambiar el mundo
censuraría la censura,
valdríamos todos lo mismo,
no habría envestiduras.

Si pudiera cambiar el mundo
no tendrían frío los poetas,
no habría un alma sin ilusiones,
ni un niño sin su bicicleta,

Si pudiera cambiar el mundo
cambiaria esta canción,
no habría mar tan profundo,
para ahogar mi corazón.

Si pudiera cambiar el mundo
seguro cambiaria el amor,
que sea algo mas fácil,
que no cause tanto dolor.

Si pudiera cambiar el mundo
desarmaría todos lo cañones,
no habría distintos bandos,
solo distintas opiniones.

Pero que es lo que estoy diciendo,
si podemos cambiar el planeta,
solo basta que nos unamos,
y nos propongamos esa meta.

Marchemos sobre nuestros pies,
vamos a cambiar este lugar,
empezando por cosas simples,
no hay utopía que no se pueda lograr.

Escrito por Eduardo Heilbron

proper policy, not propaganda, PLEASE (my first political mass email I just sent to bunch of people)


I actually don't like mass emails and this mix of propaganda/entertainment that is flyin around the net those days. but I've received lately some mails from friends of mine that made me swallow real hard. people close to me who seem to fall to populist speeches. people being hostile to foreigners. people saying things like "if they don't like it here, they can go" - which sounds so true at first, but implies so much more and opens the door to circumstances we do not want to live in. such places exist plenty already in our world.

I feel a tendency of refusing to accept that in todays world, every country is part of the problem - and resisting the responsibility that comes with the knowledge that everyone can chose to be part of the solution as well.

please, we all want proper intelligence and sound policies, not propaganda!

you've all seen videos of starving children like this one, so the reference here is only if you really want to feel bad today....
( ) - however, it's not just propaganda, it is bloody reality. much more real in term of numbers and magnitude of the problem, than the safe spot most of us are happy to live in.

we've all seen the powerpoint Global Village "if there were 100 people on this earth...." - this one I recommend you to watch.

it is easy to despair. it is easy to say "no". it is easy to close borders (or building fences). it is easy to snuggle up in our own warm home and get overwhelmed with our own private personal problems. it is easy to keep a small perspective -- but it will not change one damn thing for the better in this world.

of the population today on this world, the vast majority lives in poverty and insecurity. have you ever experienced hunger - knowing that the next meal will not just be available? have you ever had to sleep in a place with -20 degrees at night and the window broken? have you ever been discriminated because of your accent, your religion, your ears, your sexual orientation? have you ever been beaten up because you were at the wrong time in the wrong place? have you ever been arrested by the police with no right to make a phone call? have you ever been denied access to a court because you didn't have enough money? were you ever in danger to lose your parents or siblings because of unrest in your country? were you ever kept back at a border because your papers were not to the liking of the customs officer? were you ever in a situation where every single one of your movements is watched, and it does not take an illegal activity to disappear?

just keep perspective. know what is going on. nobody is perfect. not me, not you.

there are things happening in todays world that should not be happening - and by becoming politically active, or choosing the right representative for this and becoming active in any form in your local neighborhood, on a smaller level, you can change something.

just be a citizen of this world, not just of the borders you happen to be born within, or the limits you give yourself. make use of the opportunities that are given to you living in the west.

the world often sucks, true. me too wishes that easy solutions were working. and then, you go back and work with what is reality. WORK, not rant.

have a great day. keep changing the world :-)

Mittwoch, März 05, 2008

where have all the flowers gone

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Montag, März 03, 2008

feelings of an Afghan youth

just got the following mail from my former Afghan dari language teacher.... it does describe this hopeless feeling so well that I experienced in Herat at times... but there is also hope, laughter and burka....

21st Century....We are becoming lesser by the day

Our communication - Wireless

Our telephone - Cordless

Our cooking - Fireless

Our youth - Jobless

Our food - Fatless

Our labour - Effortless

Our conduct - Worthless

Our relation - Loveless

Our attitude - Careless

Our feelings - Heartless

Our politics - Shameless

Our education - Valueless

Our dress - Topless

Our follies - Countless

Our arguments - Baseless

Our Job - Thankless

Our Boss - Brainless

Our Salary - Very less

Our E-mails - Useless