Mark Leon Goldberg

Mark Leon Goldberg is the executive editor of UN Dispatch and host of the "Global Dispatches" podcast.

Recent Articles

Bear Any Burden

As a general rule, 26-year-old National Guard members ought to be some of most physically fit people on the planet. For eight out of the nine years that Randi Airola served as a technician in the Army and Air National Guard, she met that description. Then, in March 1999, in a moment that would the mark beginning of the end of her honorable military service (and the start of a lifelong struggle), Airola received her fourth dose of a compulsory vaccine to prevent service members from contracting anthrax. The anthrax vaccine given to service members requires six doses plus an annual booster shot. Airola had taken the shot before, so the slight lightheadedness she felt after leaving the doctor's office was nothing for her to get worked up over. The next day, though, while serving as honor guard at a funeral, she nearly passed out. She spent the rest of the week in bed, suffering from an immobilizing combination of muscle weakness, abdominal cramping, sore joints, and vertigo. Over the...

Stubborn on Sudan

In a grisly coincidence, on January 27, 2005, one day before a report on suspected crimes against humanity from the U.N.'s International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur was to be delivered to the Security Council, the government of Sudan broke a short-lived ceasefire and leveled a village in northern Darfur with an air strike that killed 100. Sadly, according to the Commission's exhaustive 176-page report of its four-month long fact-finding mission in Darfur, the kind of bombing and indiscriminate attacks that occur on an “ongoing basis” in the trouble province of Sudan. The report, which was completed by a team lead by the former head of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Italian judge Antonio Cassese, provided gruesome evidence of a systematic campaign of rape and murder against the civilian population of Darfur. Though it stopped short of calling the atrocities in Darfur “genocide” -- a label that the Bush administration and human rights groups have...

Is Moore Less?

Late last December, in a particularly dim installment of end-of-year political punditry, the assembled talking heads on the Sunday-morning Chris Matthews Show were debating who deserved the title “biggest noisemaker of 2004.” The choices Matthews offered them were Mel Gibson, Jon Stewart, and Michael Moore. Andrew Sullivan mused a bit about Gibson. Then Cokie Roberts voted definitively for Moore. “Michael Moore, I think, actually had a very major impact -- a negative impact -- on the Democratic Party,” she said, “… because I think he exemplified all of the things people hate about Democrats.” “They don't shave?” joked Matthews. “His physical appearance did not help,” she agreed, “and the fact that [Moore's film] Fahrenheit 9-11 was a ‘Hate America First' movie, and people think that that's what the Democrats stand for. That hurts the Democrats every time.” In the aftermath of the Democrats' defeat, Roberts' line of reasoning has appealed to many a head-scratching liberal trying to make...

Don't Count on It

For election officials in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, November 2 had passed with merciful ease. The balloting was deemed an administrative success -- until two days later, that is, when election workers noticed a mathematical oddity: As they canvassed more votes, the tallies in certain races had decreased. After some hand-wringing, election officials discovered that the Election Systems & Software (ES&S) machines used by Broward County to count absentee ballots were inexplicably programmed to subtract votes once the 16-bit devices hit a ceiling of 32,767 votes. According to Rebecca Mercuri, a computer-security expert at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, this mistake was a common error made by “dumb freshman computer-science majors” and other neophyte programmers. In this case, ES&S had known about the problem for at least two years, but neither the company nor state or local election officials had aggressively sought to correct it. In a statement to Florida...

Passive Aggression

Monday marks the one-year anniversary of Saddam Hussein's capture. The day after the capture, December 14, 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority's chief, Paul Bremer exclaimed, “We got him!” The phrase was reprinted in headlines throughout the world. But now that we got him, a surprising dilemma has surfaced: Do we want him convicted? On one charge, at least, doing so might have lasting repercussions for the United States down the road. Long before troops from the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division rooted Hussein out of his “spider hole” in Tikrit, though, plans were already well under way to set up a tribunal to prosecute him and his Baath Party co-conspirators for crimes committed during their brutal 36-year reign. Initially, Pentagon lawyers and civilian legal experts borrowed heavily from the statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the war-crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone to piece together a draft statute for the Iraqi Special...

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