On Assignment in East Africa

Lake Magadi

Lake Magadi, Southwest of Nairobi 5/26/2012

This is a beautiful place. I landed an excellent gig here as the Nairobi Bureau Chief and East Africa Correspondent for VOA.

While I don’t update this website very often anymore, my work is published regularly on www.voanews.com. You can also subscribe to my informal and completely independent newsletter Kenya Dig It if you’re into that kind of thing. The subscription form is up there at the top of the right-hand column.

To give you an idea of what I’ve been working on, here are a few links:

RADIO: Suicide Bombers Target New Somali President 9/12/2012

VIDEO: Ethopia After Meles Zenawi 9/3/2012

US Uses Advanced Technology in Hunt for Joseph Kony 4/29/2012

Threat of Violence Remains as South Sudan Withdraws from Disputed Town 4/21/2012

Drafting Somalia’s Constitution Opens Debate on Religion, Law 3/28/2012

VIDEO: Aid Agencies Face Conflict, Shortages in Mogadishu 8/15/2011

–Gabe 9/16/2012

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Urban Exploring; Reckless Abandon

Who’s in the mood for a little ruin porn? I’ve been waiting a while to put up this piece about visiting the abandoned Forest Haven mental asylum outside Washington, DC.

Check it out if you’re interested in scenes of horror, neglect and municipal carelessness.

A creepy toy altar at the abanonded mental asylum

BONUS SLIDESHOW! Continue reading

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Rural Abandon

Through the window of an abandoned two-story home in a rural part of Maryland, not too far from the bay bridge.

I was driving back to DC from the Delaware shore, finding myself completely unable to resist my secret fascination with abandoned buildings.

Burned out, hollowed out, run-down, forgotten and forsaken, dozens of these relics haunt the farmlands of the eastern seaboard.  Some have been completely ransacked, stripped for their copper and timber.  Others, as is the case with the beauty I discovered, have been left alone to sink back into the wilderness unmolested and undisturbed.  Others still have been repurposed:  Turned into meth houses, children’s play forts or a place to stash old car batteries.

Call me emo, but I can’t help wanting to explore each one of them, to do a post-mortem and to invent some story of death and mystery.   So I turned down a road I’d never been down before and found a house, one of the most fascinating I’ve ever come across. more photos after the jump

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The WikiLeak War

A cracked credit card

Photo from snacktime2007 via Flickr

The WikiLeak hacker battle has been one of the most interesting stories to cross the desk in a long time. Not only does it appeal to my trouble-maker sympathies, but it has given me a chance to investigate and learn more about the chaotic workings of the online anarchists.  I think we’ll see a lot more stories coming out soon about Anonymous and the other scraggly offshoots of 4Chan.

I wrote this story for our central house wire, an example of the kind of work I often do when not reporting.

Read More

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American Nightmare: J-1 Work Exchange

A student serving pizza on U.S. work exchange, courtesy of the State Department

From the State Department's Student Exchange Website

In the summer, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is a city run on quarters and foreign labor. Oksana at the pizza shop, Viktor running bumper cars and Irina working skee-ball.  They came from Ukraine, Bulgaria and Russia.  Nobody seemed to mind, except a few cranks who took the time to write angry letters to the local newspaper demanding more jobs for Americans.  But now, a new story from the Associate Press has shed light on some of the shocking abuses these students suffer when they get to the United States.

Its sad and maddening. I met students in Thailand who wanted to participate in the program. One girl told me about a friend who had a job in Six Flags in New Jersey, and while she didn’t know what that meant, really, it made me cringe. Obviously, there isn’t anything wrong with an honest day’s work, but its important to remember that these kids are paying for their experience.  Some middle man recruiter takes their money promising them a rewarding glimpse of life in America, before stuffing them into a crowded apartment and putting a spatula in their hand.  It’s slave labor.  And when things get so bad that the girls have to turn to stripping, as was the case with a student mentioned in the AP story, well, now we’re getting into the territory of sex trafficking.

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