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International Male Frathouse?

Today's New York Times piece on the culture of  sexual harassment at the IMF may torpedo the candidacy of Turkish economist Kemal Dervis, considered the frontrunner as of yesterday, a paints a very unexpected picture of the institution:

Some women avoid wearing skirts for fear of attracting unwanted attention. Others trade whispered tips about overly forward bosses. A 2008 internal review found few restraints on the conduct of senior managers, concluding that “the absence of public ethics scandals seems to be more a consequence of luck than good planning and action.”  [...]

What may draw even more attention to the culture of the fund is the revelation of an affair involving a potential successor to Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as managing director on Wednesday. Kemal Dervis of Turkey had a liaison while working at the World Bank years ago with a woman who now works at the I.M.F., according to a person with direct knowledge of the relationship.

Interviews and documents paint a picture of the fund as an institution whose sexual norms and customs are markedly different from those of Washington, leaving its female employees vulnerable to harassment. The laws of the United States do not apply inside its walls, and until earlier this month the I.M.F.’s own rules contained an unusual provision that some experts and former officials say has encouraged managers to pursue the women who work for them: “Intimate personal relationships between supervisors and subordinates do not, in themselves, constitute harassment.”

“It’s sort of like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’; the rules are more like guidelines,” said Carmen M. Reinhart, a prominent female economist who served as the I.M.F.’s deputy director for research from 2001 to 2003. “That sets the stage, I think, for more risk-taking.”

Between this story and Angela Merkel's unexpected praise today, signs are looking pretty positive for the Christine Lagarde candidacy.  

Update: Dervis says he's not in the running

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

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Attack of the bin Laden clones!

Pakistan's the Nation newspaper brings us a major development in the bin Laden case:

The US operation that allegedly killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan has actually led to the death of a clone of the Al-Qaeda leader, working under CIA operative Raymond Davis, an American editor says.

"The real bin Laden died years ago after receiving treatment in American hospitals for his various illnesses," said Gordon Duff, senior editor of Ohio-based Veterans Today, in an interview with Press TV's US Desk.

"His [bin Laden] body was frozen and kept in storage for a date when it would be of advantage to the United States to use it for maximum advantage," Duff wrote in an article titled 'Was Raymond Davis CIA's Bin Laden Handler?'

According to the US intelligence community, bin Laden's body was recovered in 2001 by American Special Forces in Afghanistan, Duff says. "The CIA maintained a safe house at Abbottabad [where it] kept agents right next to the compound that 'bin Laden' was allegedly [killed] at," Duff said.

To be perfectly fair, looking at Gordon Duff's original article, it doesn't appear that he meant "clones" literally, more like lookalikes in the Saddam sense -- but it's still nice to see American nuttiness and Pakistani paranoia coming together in perfect harmony. (Duff also speculates that the bin Laden "hit" was timed to sabotage Donald Trump's presidential campaign.)

One thing I've never quite understood about purveyors of conspiracy theories is that they often don't seem particularly taken aback by their own theories. If I believed that something like this was true, I would scream it from the rooftops or at least feature it prominently on my website. The Nation apparently felt Duff's theory was worth printing, but not worthy of the front page. We're talking about frozen bin Laden here!

Even Duff is featuring the bin Laden story pretty low on his page below a conspiracy theory about the Strauss-Kahn arrest and, bizarrely, a guide for first-time travelers to Europe. Frozen bin Laden? That's a scoop! I'm appalled not so much by the theory as the editorial judgment.