ACDI/VOCA is currently seeking a Boar Semen Collection Specialist for an upcoming volunteer assignment in Georgia. Caucasus Genetics requests volunteer assistance to train the company staff on boar semen collection methodology and techniques. The volunteer will also provide information about semen post-collection storage and distribution methods as well as information on boar station standards. The assignment will last for approximately three weeks in country, in addition to preparation and research prior to departure. Travel and living expenses are covered.
* University degree in animal science or another related field
* Ten years’ experience in boar semen collection technologies including boar semen collection hygiene requirements, quality evaluation, post collection handling, storage and distribution
* Knowledge and practical experience in artificial insemination techniques in swine
* Knowledge of engineering and construction of a boar station preferred
* Basic computer skills, including familiarity with MS Word, MS Excel and PowerPoint
The BBC website has a rather breathless piece about the joys of Geneva today, declaring that “a cosmopolitan city known for diplomacy (and watches), is now gathering steam as a business and corporate hub.” It suggests that the city’s reputation as a diplomatic center, hosting innumerable UN offices, is a big plus for its overall appeal:
“Business travellers like to come to Geneva because of the extensive presence of international organisations,” said Van Beurden, the manager of business development at the Crowne Plaza Geneva hotel. “This brings global movers and shakers, both commercial and political, to one small place. That’s why we see international companies investing in offices and headquarters here to be close to these decision makers and financial institutions.”
By pure chance, I have also just published something about Geneva for the Politico Magazine:
There are lots of fun things to see in Geneva. There’s the Jet d’Eau, a 140-meter-high waterspout. There are the Alps. And, if you are especially lucky, there is John Kerry.
The U.S. secretary of state has visited the Swiss “city of peace” five times since he took office in February 2013. It’s far from his most frequent destination. His website records 11 trips to Tel Aviv alone in the same period as part of his doomed effort to revivify the Middle East peace process. Yet Kerry’s appearances in Geneva have played an outsized part in his efforts to save Syria, strike a nuclear deal with Iran and forge a strategic partnership with his Russian opposite number, Sergei Lavrov.
The city has thus served as the backdrop to Kerry’s effort to bring to heel an increasingly unruly world through his personal diplomacy. He sometimes seems more at home there—or in other historic centers of European diplomacy, like London and Paris with their ornate foreign ministries—than at the dowdy State Department in Foggy Bottom.
This year, Kerry’s diplomatie genevoise has started to go awry, with talks on Syria and Ukraine flopping. The Swiss backdrop can hardly be blamed for these failures—and the Swiss government has in fact done Kerry a huge service by directing European mediation and monitoring in Ukraine, keeping a lid on the crisis. But the secretary of state’s attachment to Geneva points to deeper flaws in how he views the world.
So, it turns out that all those hard-right National Rifle Association libertarians preparing for guerrilla warfare against Obama’s socialist seizure of America need to get their ammo from… Vladimir Putin.
American gun owners are gobbling up cheap Russian ammunition in huge quantities, worried that President Obama’s tussle with Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s grab for Crimea will result in new trade sanctions cutting off imports of bullets.
“We’ve seen an ammo-hoarding effect,” said Larry Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, N.C., one of the nation’s biggest gun stores. “It’s almost like milk and bread when it gets ready to snow: It’s just a mass of people running out and buying some of it, probably more than they need,” he told Secrets.
Driving the ammo binge are gun blogs warning that the supply of surplus AK-47 ammo and other cheaper bullets manufactured by Russian makers like Wolf and TulAmmo will be cut off if sanctions are expanded by the president. The two companies make the 7.62×39 ammunition used in the popular AK-47 and variations for the AR-15. They sell it for $3-$4 a box, versus the $9 charged by U.S. manufacturers.
Some websites are also warning that Putin is considering retaliating against the U.S. by cutting off the supplies. So far, none of the rumors appear true.
Like that matters.
What universal standards does the UN stand for? Human rights, justice, peace… and high quality tailoring. That at least is the message from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ Michael Heller Chu, an expert on civilian protection now also modeling suits for Bergdorf Goodman. Has multilateralism ever looked sharper?
I have an especially dour article over at World Politics Review about the state of crisis diplomacy today, which kicks off like this:
Since the conflict in South Sudan escalated in December, well-meaning governments and United Nations officials have repeatedly argued that only a political solution can end the fighting. “There is no military solution,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power told CNN on Christmas Eve. But the South Sudanese government does not seem entirely convinced. Over the past week it has ratcheted up its offensives against rebel-held areas, recapturing the economically important town of Bentiu. Bor, another major center in rebel hands, has also been under attack. The government is still in peace talks with rebel envoys, but it is evidently intent on negotiating from the strongest possible military position.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has been bolstered by air support and ground troops from Uganda, as well as political signals of support from his old enemies in Sudan. If Kiir needs further encouragement, he needs only to think of other governments that have been told to find a “political solution” to internal conflicts. From Sri Lanka to Darfur and Syria, leaders who have ignored this advice have managed to fight on in the face of international revulsion. Western powers and the U.N. appear willing—or obliged—to put aside bargaining with these leaders, tragically affirming the continued political value of brute force.
You can read the rest of my argument here. But perhaps I am just being a curmudgeon, because it seems that peacemakers everywhere are having a whale of a time. The Russian and U.S. delegations meeting to discuss Syria have been up to high jinks:
For some watchers of international diplomacy, the somber road to Syrian peace was overrun Monday by potatoes and furry pink hats.
A swapping of delegation gifts between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov served as a distraction from predictions of elusive success in Syria. The usually stern-faced Lavrov came to the meeting armed with at least two ushankas, a traditional Russian fur hat with earflaps that tie to the top of the hat. Both hats went to women on Kerry’s press staff — including a bubblegum-pink one for State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
The more bizarre bout of diplomacy came over a pair of Idaho potatoes. After pictures of Kerry handing Lavrov the tubers during talks Monday morning surfaced on the Web, reporters pressed both leaders for an explanation hours later. Kerry quickly sought to disavow any deep diplomatic meaning from the spuds, explaining that he was in Idaho over the holidays when he and Lavrov spoke by phone. The Russian, it seemed, associated Idaho with potatoes. “He told me he’s not going to make vodka. He’s going to eat them,” Kerry said of Lavrov, who was next to him at an otherwise grim news conference on militant threats to humanitarian aid for Syria.
How could anyone feel grim after such hilarities? Still, some people just can’t take a joke, like the South Sudanese negotiators who are miffed about holding talks… in a nightclub.
A shift in the venue for talks aimed at brokering a ceasefire in South Sudan has left some delegates bemused. The government and rebel teams have moved to the dance floor of a top nightclub in an Addis Ababa hotel.
The Gaslight club was selected after the room in the Sheraton hotel the teams had been using was booked by a Japanese delegation. Sources close to the talks said some delegates were unhappy with the poor lighting and excess noise.
Maybe, just maybe, these things could be handled without spuds and disco balls?
Academics and policy wonks are mainly mild-mannered folk. I know that I am. But occasionally it’s fun to cut loose and have a really nasty debate with an intellectual opponent. The New Internationalist gave Phil Leech of Liverpool University and me a chance to do just that by asking us to conduct a debate on abolishing the Security Council for their latest issue. Our debate quickly and entertainingly turned into the IR academic equivalent of professional wresting.
Phil started off by stating the case for the Council’s abolition:
The UN Security Council (UNSC), in its current form, represents an antiquated approach to international politics.
The original intention behind its creation was for it to be an executive arm of the UN, enforcing the will of the international community against rogue states, ensuring compliance with international norms and promoting world peace. However, in reality the Security Council has proven to be Western-centric, overly concerned with the rights and interests of states – rather than that of individual human beings or human societies – and incompatible with the very urgent need to address many of the key issues and challenges of the contemporary world.
I actually agree with a lot of that, but I wasn’t going to admit defeat so easily..
You are right: the Security Council, like life, is not fair. But it was never meant to be.
Time for me to ramp up the battle!
Let’s pursue your proposal: scrap the Council. What, if anything, would you replace it with? A forum for NGOs? Oxfam and Amnesty International would have more humane and edifying debates than China and the US, but what could they deliver? Perhaps we should select 15 entirely random individuals from around the world to debate war and peace in place of the Council’s current members.
Phil strikes back:
You seem to accept both the inherent unfairness of the system and its inefficacies –which, you concede, constitute the politicization of international norms, sometimes at great human cost – merely because of a poverty of creative thought. I am unconvinced.
Ouch! Me again:
I may not be thinking very creatively, but your alternative adds up to a couple of slogans.
If you want to find out what Phil had to say to that, read through the full multilateral wrestling-match here. Rest assured that we made up afterwards!
The London Review of Books has a nice piece by Lynn Visson, a former UN translator, on the secrets of her trade:
The most important language in most international organisations has no name: it is the institution’s own bureaucratese, its linguistic Esperanto. We never do something, we implement. We don’t repeat, we reiterate and underscore. We are never happy, we are gratified or satisfied. You are never doing a great job: you are performing your duties in the outstanding manner in which you have always discharged them. There is not heft or embezzlement, but rather failure to ensure compliance with proper accounting and auditing procedures in the handling of financial resources. This is a language the interpreter must master very early on.
But sometimes there are surprises…
Some colleagues play tic-tac-toe with each other out of sheer boredom. Delegates too sometimes get bored. Instead of beginning his speech with the usual ‘Thank you, Mr Chairman,’ a Russian delegate for whom I was interpreting launched in with ‘O my lost youth, my lost youth,’ and proceeded to reminisce about the mosaics in the main cathedral in Sofia, including one figure in the cupola that reminded him, as he put it, of ‘Christ in a space suit’. Several delegates turned towards the English booth with puzzled looks, undoubtedly wondering if I had gone mad.
…and sometimes things go horribly wrong:
One unfortunate freelancer announced to an entire room that a Spanish speech he had just finished translating was ‘the stupidest and most boring speech I have ever interpreted in my entire life’. I doubt that he was ever hired again.