Here’s a cool graphic showing China’s investment in the entire continent of Africa since 2010. China’s investing everywhere in Africa, especially in mineral-rich Southern Africa and Nigeria. The more trade, the better for these African countries. Dambiya Moyo, a Zambian economist who’s famous for writing Dead Aid, which I’m reading now, really believes so and she devotes a whole chapter on China.
Then a BBC writer explains the four Ts when it comes to reporting taboos in China. The first three are obvious but the last one might be a surprise. In reality, I saw the last one for real a few times in China, not the taboo, but the actual issue in question. It’s encouraging to know that government can be open to allowing reporting on social problems like rural poverty and even corruption.
In football, China faces Brazil in a friendly tomorrow on Monday, September 10. China lost to Sweden 1-0 on Friday in another friendly and in June had lost to Spain 1-0, which was quite good considering it was Spain, the world and European champions. China also drew with Ghana in a friendly in August. These results are good, but the question is whether China can continue this form when it comes to competitive matches and tournaments (they are already out of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup).
Michael Hastings is the reporter who wrote a Rolling Stone article that featured then-US Afghanistan military head Stanley McChrystal dissing his own president, who not surprisingly, got sacked for that. Guernica has an interview with him where he dishes out some interesting takes on the dirty side of the US military leadership including conducting psy-ops on the public and even US senators, the futility of the war in Afghanistan and whether military intervention for humanitarian purposes in countries is really feasible. Hastings, who will have a book out on Afghanistan later this year , takes an admirable stance on the journalistic questions of war reporting.
What if a British journalist, one who had a good career working for top British and American newspapers and was even a New York and Paris bureau chief, decided to do a 2-year MBA at Harvard Business School and then write about it? Ahead of the Curve [Two Years at Harvard Business School] is the result of exactly such an endeavor and it’s quite a revealing and poignant book. Rather than glamorizing or demonizing the business school and MBA experience, Philip Delves Broughton goes in with an open mind and tells it like it is. Not surprisingly, the book is a bit of both. Broughton is a journalist who after a respectable 10-year career in which he covered 9/11 and was a bureau chief in 2 world cities, senses the changing tides converging on the media industry and decides to take a chance by going to HBS. Broughton claims in the foreword he did not intend to write the book and I believe he really went to HBS intending to find a new career path, and not as a kind of experiment or deliberate book-writing venture. His detailed notes and observations though probably show that once inside the program, the idea to write a book came to him. And it’s good for us that he did, showing the pressures and expectations that HBS MBA students are exposed to. Only among Wall Street types could a US$200,000-a-year salary seem like a failure. Investment-banking is apparently considered a second-tier career, as hedge funds and private equity are the hot sh!t . One of the book’s strong points is that we get a mini-lesson out of reading it. Technical aspects of business and finance are described in detail and actually seem interesting. We learn a lot about such vital business topics as valuating a company or estimating the risk of a stock (beta). Famous personalities are brought in or appear in real-time via video-link to speak to the students like private equity giant Blackstone Group CEO Steve Scharzman and Hong Kong’s Victor Fung, a former head of logistics giant Li and Fung.
While the HBS MBA program seems really fascinating to be in, being a top-notch elite program where everyone is supposedly the cream of the crop in the US and overseas, Broughton seems less than thrilled about his experience, and rightfully so, it seems. Despite billing itself as a valuable tool with which to launch new careers, the program is unable to help Broughton with his non-business background get much opportunities, whether internships or jobs after graduation. Also, the way to succeed in finance or consulting, it seems, is to do exactly what successful people in the field don’t recommend, which is focusing solely on the job and not on your family or pursuits outside of work. Despite this, many of his classmates eagerly chase after these same demanding but well-paying jobs. Personally, however, he also expresses massive doubts about the program’s self-importance, urging HBS at the end to drop their claim to leadership in society until they figure out how to contribute to society beyond just personal enrichment. It’s good to see he wasn’t taken in by the “dark side” of the grand pursuit of money and status. Whether you agree with his stance or not, this is a good glimpse into an institution that considers itself the elite of the world of business.
Several years ago, something that seemed like it came from the pages of a novel (Frederick Forsyth’s Dogs of War comes to mind) actually happened in real life as South African mercenary Nick du Toit and over 60 accomplices were arrested for allegedly planning a coup against Equatorial Guinea, an oil-rich dictatorship in West Africa. Journalist James Brabazon knew du Toit and in fact, almost went along on the ill-fated mission until he pulled out at the “last minute.” He’s written a book about one of the mercenaries who was his personal bodyguard when he reported on the Liberian civil war in rebel territory. He has some really interesting, even provocative perspectives on covering wars as a reporter, even going so far as to say “The horrific, unspeakable truth of war is that it’s fun.” One is surely tempted to think this obviously is a journalist speaking. Me personally, I’d think it more convincing if it came from an actual combatant. He also talks about seeing a prisoner shot right in front of him and on another occasion, almost giving an overdose of morphine to a child who was in huge pain after having been shot in the head. Du Toit was released late last year.
Where War Lives is a memoir of journalist Paul Watson’s career as a daring, risk-junkie foreign correspondent and photographer reporting on places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, South Africa, and most famously Somalia. Working first for the Toronto Star and then the Los Angeles Times which he still does to this day, Watson was a bureau chief in Africa and Asia (Star) and South and South East Asia (Times). Watson is the photographer who took the famous photo of the dead American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogandishu, after being brought down in his helicopter in a major battle depicted in the movie “Black Hawk Down.” He won a Pulitzer for that in 1994, but at the heavy cost of much of his sanity and conscience. It’s very obvious that with the amount of overseas bureau head postings he’s had, that Watson’s a very talented journalist but what makes his achievements incredible is that he does them with only one hand, having been born with a deformed hand that was amputated in a surgical procedure.
The book itself is great. It’s filled with accounts of his journalism work starting with Somalia where he took that famous but tragic photo and continuing on to his work in Iraq, Rwanda, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Of course, there’s a lot of action and danger presented here but also immense sadness and death. In between the accounts of his work, he writes about his personal upbringing and family, giving some interesting glimpses into his life. For instance, in high school he was a classmate of Stephen Harper, the current Prime Minister of Canada who Watson describes as bookish and intelligent. The book is very well written and Watson openly describes a lot of his insecurities relating to his work, the foremost of which is his guilt over taking the photo in Somalia of the dragged dead American soldier: Staff Sgt. William Cleveland. But also, Watson also gives a lot of personal insight into his doubts concerning journalism and the media and it’s clear that his work has brought him a lot of sadness and darkness. But nevertheless, I think it is an inspiring book which clearly presents the sacrifice, dedication and importance of journalists and their work.