Recipe Roundup

A weekly round-up of some no-fuss, quick recipes:

Asian Turkey Sesame Meatballs with Lime Dipping Sauce (SkinnyTaste)

Cranberry Orange Pecan Coffee Cake (Joy the Baker) – in terms of an impressive and tasty coffee cake, can’t get much easier than this.

Salmon Baked in Foil (Giada de Laurentis, Food Network)

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Recipe Roundup

A weekly round-up of some no-fuss, quick recipes:

Asian Turkey Sesame Meatballs with Lime Dipping Sauce (SkinnyTaste)

Cranberry Orange Pecan Coffee Cake (Joy the Baker) – in terms of an impressive and tasty coffee cake, can’t get much easier than this.

Salmon Baked in Foil (Giada de Laurentis, Food Network)

The revolution will be…texted?

After developments like the one recently on Change.org, cell phone enthusiasts will surely be reaffirmed. The United Nations, according to the post, (and the AFP article) has begun sending vouchers by text message to Iraqi refugees in Syria. Change.org says this challenges presumption in that it shows how “wired” some communities are—all 130,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria have cell phones.  Similar programs are run in Kenya as well.

 

However, once again, before all aid agencies and governments start running to using cell phones, one should do his or her own research on the intended target audience. Not all communities are “wired” equally. For instance, several prominent bloggers, including Chris Blattman, the folks at GiveWell and Alanna Shaikh (who cites the GiveWell post) cited a recent study concerning Village Phones. Village Phones are mobile phones operated by a car battery which serves as a “pay phone” for a given village. Someone operates the phone for a small fee, thereby theoretically boosting local economies and providing individuals, particularly women, a new source of income and livelihood. The program had little effect in Rwanda, due to the actual spread of cell phone usage already prevalent in the country.

 

Originally, the program worked well in Bangladesh, a country which the authors of the study explain had large numbers of expatriates living in countries with good telecommunications resources (more developed countries); the VP was used as the primary source of contact with these expatriates and their friends and families living abroad. In contrast, external refugees in Rwanda live in areas without good telecommunications access (like the DRC).

For me, this just exemplifies why planners, especially when exporting ideas to other places, need to research, research, research! Secondary sources are not good enough. Too many times, I find that proposals lack the good foundations of social science research and a good mix of primary sources. We can’t rely on outsiders, notably ourselves, to do research on these target societies as well–we have to integrate in-country specialists to help us sift through those primary sources.

See the full study on the Village Phone here.

“The Perfect Traveler”

“The perfect traveler must be a perfect contradiction. She should be open to almost everything that comes her way, but not too ready to be taken in. He should be worldly, shrewd, his feet firmly on the ground; but he must also have the capacity to give himself over to moments of real wonder. He or she must be curious, observant, spirited and kind—ready to spin a spell-binding tale of adventure and irony at the Explorers’ Club, and then throw it all over for a crazy romance in the South Seas.”

– Pico Iyer on Somerset Maugham.

Migration, International Security, and Development

A recent piece in the Economist explains the importance of remittances to developing countries’ economies. According to the article, which pulls World Bank statistics, foreign worker remittances to home countries are more than double official aid flows from OCED countries. Not only financially, but abroad workers are coming back from developed countries and pushing for political reforms as well. In addition, America’s legacy is one of immigration—from its original inhabitants to the Eastern Europeans migrating during the industrial revolution, and so on.

Remittances have long been touted as important ways of promoting economic trade and finance between two or more countries. Temporary work programs as well as irregular immigration into other countries have been around for a long time. However, coming from a security perspective, this also poses risks. RAND Corporation, in their testimony to the US Congress, “Border Security and the Terrorist Threat” writes, The high volume of illegal overstays in and illegal entries into the United States constitutes a substantial security risk in several ways. First, it spreads the attention and limited resources of  border enforcement across a very large base. Second, it creates a substantial shadow economy in which terrorists and other criminals can hide and a smuggling and transport infrastructure they can exploit. Third, it demonstrates to terrorists how easy illegal entry is. A vital part of security is thus figuring out how to deter illegal visa overstays and immigration.” (11)

So, the question is, do we change our immigration policy in light of security? Can we effectively make security gains by changing our immigration policy? And, in doing so, will those educated masses that come to our home to work and study (we are the “drain” of the brain drain)?

Bernstein writes op-ed in NYT

This article by Robert Bernstein is one of the most thought-provoking articles I have read in a long time. Bernstein discusses Human Rights Watch, the highly-respected think tank based in New York, New York which explores and investigates Human Rights abuses throughout the world. Bernstein chastises the organization, stating that it “has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

The argument is not novel, as several organizations and newspapers have labeled HRW as biased before (see examples here and here). However, Bernstein is the founder of HRW, its active chairman for twenty years, and its founding chairman emeritus. Wow. For such a prominent member of an organization to come out and speak on this topic is really eye opening. His points are very well-taken, and it will be interesting to see the aftermath of his op-ed.

HRW responded by saying “Human Rights Watch does not devote more time and energy to Israel than to other countries in the region, or in the world. We’ve produced more than 1,700 reports, letters, news releases, and other commentaries on the Middle East and North Africa since January 2000, and the vast majority of these were about countries other than Israel. Furthermore, our Middle East division is only one of 16 research programs at Human Rights Watch. The work on Israel is a tiny fraction of Human Rights Watch’s work as a whole.”

In light of the Goldstone report, this is particularly interesting: on the same day as Bernstein’s op-ed, HRW issued a press release calling for Hamas to address attacks on Israeli civilians cited in the Goldstone report. What do you think?

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