What the world is reading

The Somalis named her ‘Amira’,the princess. When Somali pirates took the Ukranian ship M V Faina hostage (the ship was carrying Russian tanks to arm South Sudanese militia)

Written by Priyanka Kotamraju | Published: April 23, 2013 1:06:40 am

Foreign Policy

Mrs Ballarin’s war

The Somalis named her ‘Amira’,the princess. When Somali pirates took the Ukranian ship M V Faina hostage (the ship was carrying Russian tanks to arm South Sudanese militia),they wanted ‘Amira’ as their chief negotiator. Michele ‘Amira’ Ballarin,a flamboyant heiress from West Virginia,had suddenly become the centre of tense negotiations on the high seas. Mark Mazzetti writes about Michele Ballarin’s journey from the heady days of the 1980s and ’90s—contesting an impossible election as a Republican candidate and trying to get into Washington elite social circuit—to the early 2000s when Ballarin had various business interests in Somalia and now,harbouring ambitions to become the world’s go-to ransom negotiator. “Each trip (to East Africa) brought new business opportunities,and as Somalia emerged as the world’s epicentre of international piracy,she saw the windfall that could come from acting as an intermediary,” Mazzetti writes.

The Atlantic

Misinformation disaster

For a few hours before the Chechnyan brothers were confirmed to be behind the Boston bombings,two other people,unconnected to the case,became America’s “most notorious alleged criminals”. Alexis Madrigal puts together pieces of the misinformation puzzle—how such bad information became widely shared and accepted. Speculation first began on Reddit and Twitter. Missing Brown student Sunil Tripathi’s name surfaced and people began to identify him from school,and compare him to surveillance photos released by the FBI. Meanwhile,when an official on the police scanner said,“M-U-L-U-G-E-T-A”,a Twitter user picked it up and tweeted that the second suspect was a Mike Mulugeta. It’s unclear if there even was a Mike Mulugeta,or Mike or Mulugeta. “There was a frenzy as thousand upon thousands of tweets poured out,many celebrating new media’s victory in trouncing old media. That Redditors might have identified the bomber hours before anyone seemed like amazing redemption,” writes Madrigal.


Refugees of the modern world

Diane Schou moved to Green Bank,West Virginia,in 2007. This quiet,mountainous town inside the US National Radio Quiet Zone,where most electromagnetic radiation (which includes radio,TV,Wi-Fi,cellphone and Blue tooth frequencies) is banned,is home to around 150 people like Schou. They suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS),a condition not recognised by the scientific community. Schou had constant headaches because of radio frequency exposure. She got a rash,lost her hair and had bad skin. After hearing of EHS,she came to believe a cellphone tower had triggered her sensitivity. “The idea that radio frequencies can cause harm to the human body isn’t entirely absurd. But what these people claim—that exposure to electromagnetic frequencies can cause pain and ill health-is relatively novel and has little medical research to support it,” writes Jospeh Stromberg. The idea of EHS is undermined by our limited understanding of electromagnetic radiation.

The Huffington Post

Mayer addresses work from home ban

The leaked Yahoo internal memo banning employees from working from home had caused a wild stir. Chief Executive Marissa Mayer finally broke her silence over the controversial policy at a Los Angeles conference last week. Mayer defended the move,calling it the “elephant in the room.” Mayer told the audience,“people are more productive when they’re alone…they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.”

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