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Virginia M. Moncrieff
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Entries by Virginia M. Moncrieff

Buddhism in the Time of Termites

(14) Comments | Posted August 20, 2013 | 4:52 PM

Sometime ago, I made an ill-fated attempt at a 10-day silent Buddhist retreat in India. I lasted 24 hours and then returned home to my adopted city of Rangoon.

Of course, I embroidered my story about life on the retreat as I told it to friends about it: It made...

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Tipping In Libya, The US And Elsewhere

(30) Comments | Posted March 2, 2012 | 7:00 AM

On recent assignment in Libya, my friend Rana came across a problem, a financial problem. The staff in the hotel were extraordinarily helpful, making her life easier and ensuring her safe passage. Rana tried to tip them but was refused every time. This was their job, they said, it was...

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Meet Our Minister: He's Incompetent and Corrupt

(0) Comments | Posted September 12, 2011 | 6:36 AM

The Afghanistan Embassy in Norway apparently gave a frank character assessment of the Minister for Counter Narcotics when it posted the following biography:

Zarar Ahmad Moqbel was born in 1966 in Parwan central province. He studied at the Habibia High School before doing graduation from the Pedagogy...

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Obama's Winning Move: Negotiate with the Taliban

(8) Comments | Posted September 2, 2011 | 4:10 PM

Last week, Kabul was more-than-usually atwitter with rumors. President Obama's campaign heavyweights were just about to come to town. The whispers gathered pace: Obama's campaign is desperate for a new Afghan policy. The polling is pretty easy to read: it sucks; get out of Afghanistan -- now.

How does...

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Clear and Present Danger: The Haqqani Network

(10) Comments | Posted August 3, 2011 | 3:22 PM

He might be enthusiastically eying the door marked 'retirement' but his pace hasn't slowed. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has just popped into Afghanistan and Pakistan for a quick whip round the troops and some tough talking. While on the border with Pakistan he

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Aid to Pakistan: America's Headache

(5) Comments | Posted June 9, 2011 | 3:23 PM

Since the killing of Osama bin Laden and the shakeup in Defense and CIA personnel, aid to Pakistan -- never far off the list of ulcer-inducing topics in Washington -- has been causing the usual double doses Maalox to seem not quite enough to treat the pain.

Given the huge...

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When Will Aung San Suu Kyi Really Tackle Sanctions?

(14) Comments | Posted June 2, 2011 | 12:33 PM

Since her November release from house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi has been "talking and listening" to her followers in Burma.

Perhaps what she was hearing may have surprised her -- feelings in Burma have changed radically over the past decade, as young people desert the staid and dug-in...

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Lucky! Greg Mortenson Did Not Want This $40K

(72) Comments | Posted May 5, 2011 | 12:00 PM

When Audrey Green died in late 2009, her son Stan Frymann set out to donate her savings for global good.

Narrowing the field down was easy. Audrey was a feminist so NGOs working in the empowerment of women and girls were appealing. Schools and education seemed an obvious choice....

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Q&A With Julian Assange's Biographer

(26) Comments | Posted April 19, 2011 | 4:01 PM

The Most Dangerous Man in the World is a new unauthorized biography on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It's written by award winning investigative journalist Andrew Fowler.

Andrew Fowler did a Q & A via email from Julian Assange's home country, Australia, where he is promoting the book.

What is...

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The Libyan No Fly Zone and the Delay of Democracy

(36) Comments | Posted March 20, 2011 | 9:02 PM

The no-fly zone is denying the Libyan people their right to self determination. That may seem like the oddest statement, but watching the grass roots, home cooked and home grown revolutions over the past weeks and months, it has become obvious that now is the time for the Arab Spring.

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Microfinance -- The Backlash Begins

(6) Comments | Posted February 9, 2011 | 12:59 PM

International aid work is always coming up with new models to end world poverty. ("It's so simple! Why didn't we think of it before?!") Simple mechanisms for water purification or cleaner latrines, to odd sounding notions like child-centered schools, and cash-for-work schemes have all been touted as ways to turn...

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In Burmese Opposition There Will Be No Reform: Aung San Suu Kyi

(1) Comments | Posted December 21, 2010 | 11:23 AM

In what must surely be a blow to the dwindling ranks of young and progressive supporters of the Burmese opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) the just-released figurehead of the movement, Aung San Suu Kyi has categorically ruled out any reorganization within the party's top ranks.

"We are not going...

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WikiLeaks: Burma's Opposition Stifled By Old Farts and Uninformed Analysis

(19) Comments | Posted December 10, 2010 | 12:31 AM

The US embassy is Rangoon is not known as the most diplomatically radical outfit in town. When I lived in Burma, I don't think I ever encountered the chef de mission. Several other grand Poo Bahs from high profile and influential countries were constantly out and about. You would run...

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Jafar Panahi: I am Iranian and I will remain in Iran

(6) Comments | Posted November 13, 2010 | 7:12 PM

Acclaimed Iranian director Jafar Panahi was jailed in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, this past March. Iran never revealed why Mr Panahi was detained, but the film maker is a high profile supporter of Iran's Green Movement opposition, and his films reportedly upset the government.

In May, after a hunger strike...

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Burma: democracy banned but NLD lifts tourism boycott

(2) Comments | Posted November 7, 2010 | 1:04 AM

On Sunday, as Burmese head to the polls (or more likely stay indoors, in an opposition inspired boycott) a far reaching decision by the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy has gone largely unheralded.

In an interview with the London Times this week, NLD elder statesman, U Win...

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Negotiating Afghan Peace : Pros and Cons Outlined

(0) Comments | Posted September 20, 2010 | 1:30 PM

When you have an election where there is a small voter turnout, massive corruption and bribery, hostage taking in several provinces, several random acts of murder, and fraud at the ballot box and the UN hails it as a 'success', then you know you are dealing in the low expectations...

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Pakistan: Are We Facing a Flood of Jihadists?

(25) Comments | Posted August 15, 2010 | 2:19 AM

One afternoon, in the aftermath of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, I was sitting in the lounge room of my house in the North West Frontier Province. I shared it with half a dozen Pakistani friends. After a perfunctory knock on the front door, the room was suddenly filled with four...

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Wikileaks -- After the Gold Rush, What Then?

(11) Comments | Posted July 28, 2010 | 8:30 AM

The Wikileaks papers have created a frenzy that cannot be sustained once the initial thrill and mystery of the leak has been solved. The story now seems to be who did the leaking, and if it is indeed 22 year old Bradley Manning - who is a suspected of earlier...

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The Funniest Lines From Scathing SATC2 Reviews

(75) Comments | Posted May 28, 2010 | 7:21 AM

You could grow out your bangs, or meet your future husband, conceive and give birth or you could could go see the groaningly long Sex and the City 2.

But why bother when you can read some really clever reviews that skewer the film and actually make you laugh...

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One Iranian Prisoner Released -- But Many Thousands to Go

(41) Comments | Posted May 25, 2010 | 10:37 AM

It was a campaign that mobilized thousands of the rigorously non-political on social media, seasoned human rights campaigners and international film glitterati. The efforts to free Iranian film director Jafar Panahi came to a brilliant end today when he walked out of the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, released on...

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