A Farewell

Dec. 10th, 2013 09:03 am
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Many people have toppled old nations. Many people have raised new ones. But few have done both without leaving a great trail of blood behind them. No eulogy is sufficient, but we say goodbye to Nelson Mandela knowing that he was one of the few people about whom we can safely say that he left the world a much better place than he found it, and knowing that we may never see his like again.
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It wasn't exactly a peaceful 2012, and 2013 doesn't look a whole lot better. Oh, that Afghanistan thing is still going on, but in other parts of the world there's a whole lot of other civil conflict that looks like it could spill over across borders and into the international playing field at any moment.

So here is a quick list of all the powder kegs currently burning today.

Who's shooting at who )
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So how can I distract my mind from the horrific problems of my comfortable, pampered, upper-middle-class existence? By reading about the misfortunes of others, or course! And seeing how everything else seems to be blowing up around us this week, it's pretty easy to find something else to get all depressed over.

And the news, it is depressing )
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I should be doing a million things right now, but I can't seem to work on any of them. So, in lieu of all that, here's the roundup of everything that's gone wrong in the world while Sarkozy is busy pounding his chest and talking about intervention in Syria.

The Center May Not Hold, but the Wings are Falling Apart )

Mali Update

Apr. 2nd, 2012 09:31 pm
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So the coup in Mali is having some birthing problems. The whole point of the coup (ostensibly) is that the civilian government wasn't doing enough to fight against the Taureg rebels in the north of the country. The soldiers who overthrew the government swore that they would do everything the government was refusing to do and would supply the soldiers properly so that they could take the fight for the enemy.

They were dismissive of foreign protests. They were outright hostile to suggestions that civilian rule should be restored. When people questioned their methods, they claimed that foreigners had no place in Mali. When other countries complained, they were basically told to get out and stay out. And, when the leaders of several local countries proposed to lay out their terms in a visit to the capital of Bamako, the visit was canceled when armed coup supporters somehow managed to "evade" airport security and storm out onto the pavement - essentially threatening to assassinate several heads of state.

And the result of the coup? ECOWAS has embargoed the country, which is landlocked and depends on imports for almost anything. The Tuareg rebels first seized the city of Kidal, and now have seized the major city of Timbuktu.

And now, after having overthrown his government, deliberately threatened foreign heads of state, and demanded foreigners butt out, what is the new leader of Mali's strategy to defeat the Tuareg?
As the news was coming through, coup leader Capt Amadou Sanogo asked for foreign help to tackle the rebels.

Something tells me that this guy is not going to go down in history as one of the world's most brilliant leaders. Kicking people out and then begging them for help has never been a winning strategy.
danalwyn: (Default)
Not really making the headlines today, but it looks like there's another coup this year, this time in Mali. This is actually something that I think a lot of people saw coming, but that not a lot of people can do something about. As I understand it (and I'm by no means an expert), this is partially our fault, so maybe we should pay attention.

Aimless speculation )


Nov. 4th, 2011 10:49 am
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From the BBC:
Kenya's military spokesman has said large groups of donkeys in Somalia will be considered "al-Shabab activity" following reports the militants are using the animals to transport weapons.

I'm normally against cruelty to animals, but the idea of some uniformed Kenyan officer standing on a platform in front of a "Global War On Donkeys" poster, with a map of Somalia with little cut-out donkeys velcroed onto it, waving a swagger stick at a television monitor showing gun camera footage of airplanes going after donkey herds just strikes me as inately hilarious.

Yes, there will be very real consequences for this. It's still hilarious.
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There are crazy people all over the internet. You run into them. You deal with it. But every once in a while you run into someone so strange, so utterly fucked-up, that your brain just throws out a red card and shuts down. And today I ran into one: Sam Childers, Christian Preacher, Missionary, and either one of the most irresponsible men on the planet, or just batshit insane.

Charity: You're Doing It Wrong )


Jul. 22nd, 2011 08:00 am
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It's long been assumed that Americans had a strong lead on really weird reality television. I mean, think about it, we had shows where people basically got married because the producers decided to do so.

Well, it turns out we may be beat. Zambia also has a show where 18 women compete in order to win the prize of $9000 for their marriage. But the show has a twist, all the contestants are prostitutes recruited from the streets of Zambia. Apparently they get voted off by the viewers, one by one, until the last one gets the grand marital prize.

Now, I can see how this show claims to do some good. The losers get hefty consolation prizes, and everyone apparently gets personal counseling and vocational skill training. In theory all of them will be offered full-time jobs, and the show seems to indicate that their goal is to show that prostitution is not a glamorous business in Zambia.

But as Wronging Rights points out, there's something that just seems really wrong about this show (already in its third season). And I can't help but think that if you really wanted to help prostitutes out there had to be a better way then turn them into a spectacle on TV and making them engage in cooking and housekeeping competitions on a show with the cringe-inducing title Ready for Marriage. Isn't there some other way you can show how bad prostitution is in Zambia, and how the people who are trapped in that field are real people who are willing to fight their way out if just given the chance, without forcing them to go through housecleaning competitions? Why not show them learning skills, getting jobs, building careers, and starting businesses instead?

It seems that even in Zambia, the only way television will let prostitutes leave their job is through the altar or the grave.
danalwyn: (Default)
News Summary Time:

I've been avoiding the Middle East like the plague ever since it became impossible to get anything concrete out of it, but there's a bunch of other things (some outdated since it took me so long to write this) that have been running around the headlines. So here they are:

But First, Here's Johnny With the News )
danalwyn: (Default)
Since this journal normally looks more like a news and politics blog then anything else, here are some updates from the last month for things I'm watching that could go boom just to prove that if I've been replaced by a doppelganger, he's at least consistent.

The World Keeps Going Faster )
danalwyn: (Default)
Coup count for 2010: -1

Coup successfully squashed. Probably. The situation is unclear, but it looks like the coup plotters are holed up in an army barracks near the airport, and are not in control. If, 24 hours into a coup, you aren't appointing a new minister of Finance and Looting, chances are your coup has failed. They're probably using their position near the airport to threaten to shut it down, giving them a bargaining chip to use in negotiations. Who knows how good it is? I can't guess, not being able to find the barracks accurately on a map, but maybe it's enough of a threat to keep them from getting lined up against a wall and shot (although the leaders will probably be quietly 'done away with', either physically or politically).

What's annoying to me is the lack of information. A rather serious attempt was made to overthrow the government of a country with twenty-one million people, which is already in a rather serious internal political struggle. This seems to rate about two news articles in each of the major news sources (one for the announcement, and one for the "looks like it's over" speech), which comes out to about 0.02 Kate Middletons. This left about a twelve hour gap where, for all we knew, zombie lemurs were overrunning Antananarivo and eating the populace. It's an interesting failure mode for media, which maybe needs to think about how to incorporate local journalism and cooperation in events in places where they don't have good sources.

Domino #2

Nov. 17th, 2010 08:33 am
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Coup count for 2010: +2

Well, we haven't had one since February, so I thought we might be safe, but there now appears to be a serious coup in progress in Madagascar. This should hardly be unexpected, since Madagascar has been in the throes of a political and economic mess for some time, and the referendum probably didn't help. Nobody knows whether the coup is successful or not; the military appears to have some disagreement as to whose side they're on. Possibly this will just blow over, which would make everyone happy (except for possibly the people in Madagascar, and Greenpeace, but really, who cares about them? We're only in this for the lemurs).

Well, we almost got through the year with only one. Maybe 2011 will go more smoothly.
danalwyn: (Default)
So, today should be (if I time this right), November 9th. In case you don't obsessively remember strange numbers, that means that in two months it will be January 9th, 2011, the date on which the Southern Sudan Independence Referendum should take place, as specified by the peace agreement that ended (for a certain value of 'ended') the Sudanese Civil War.

Studies, polls, and anecdotal evidence indicates that the inhabitants of Southern Sudan are unimpressed with President al-Bashir's campaign promise to kill all the men and rape all the women, and are likely to vote for independence. And of course, al-Bashir will be totally happy to let the people of Southern Sudan walk away from their former country happily and peacefully into the sunset with a majority of Sudan's five billion barrels of oil reserves.

And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. On the Moon.

So here are some uneducated and ignorant possibilities of what happens next:

Cut Because the world is bored of Sudan )

WC 2010

Jun. 12th, 2010 08:30 am
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I don't blog about sports. I don't talk about sports, partially because I'm generally not interested in them. And when you're not interested in sports and you live in a place where people seem to be obsessed with them, it becomes a mark of your identity to not discuss them.

That is why I feel somewhat pained to admit that, for the first time since I was about ten and had to be excited in the World Series because everyone else was, I'm excited about a sporting event. Not because of the teams, because I don't know who's good and who's bad, or even who's playing. I'm excited about the World Cup because of the host.

Ramblings under cut )
danalwyn: (Default)
So, if you haven't been following, the internet kerfluffle over 1MillionShirts is continuing to gather steam. Here's a summary in a nutshell.

If you don't want it, Africa probably doesn't want it either )
danalwyn: (Default)
Coup count for 2010: +1

Since it overthrew a scummy regime, and since it happened in inaccessible Niger, don't expect anything serious anytime soon.
danalwyn: (Default)
And speaking of people making pacts "with the devil"...

Former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, speaking during his trial for war crimes at The Hague, decided he had nothing to lose, and threw Pat Robertson (as in, American televangelist, Haiti-made-a-deal-with-the-devil Pat Robertson) under a bus last week. Taylor, who is guilty as hell of having perpetrated a series of mass atrocities during the Sierra Leone war (not to mention at home), revealed the long-suspected details of his and Robertson's gold exploration venture in Liberia, indicating that as part of the original deal, Taylor would give Robertson's company a license in return for Robertson lobbying the new administration on his behalf.

Or course, by Robertson's own tortuous train of thought (which I won't dignify by calling logic), Liberia probably made a deal with the devil. If Liberia did, Robertson was one of the devil's agents, or possibly even the devil himself, and since he believes that prayer can defeat demons, one wonders if he prays for himself. He probably needs it.
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Remember Moussa Dadis Camara? He managed to get himself in trouble lately by, oh, being responsible for the rape and/or murder of hundreds of people, which is the sort of thing that slips out of the media's eye.

Of course, that's not the way he tells it.

Camara's Day in Court )

ETA: Where did all my links go?
danalwyn: (Default)
Eritrea doesn't have a very good record in soccer these days. First they lost a match to Tanzania, knocking them out of the Cecafa tournament. Now, they've lost the whole team.

Apparently the team's plane landed in Eritrea, but the only person still on board was the coach. The team has appeared to have absconded, probably somewhere in Kenya.

This amuses me because it was only yesterday that Isaias was saying that Eritrea was doing fine, and that only the stupid people were leaving a country commonly through to be beset by economic, social, and political troubles.

The young Eritreans who are leaving, he said, are simply "weak."

"We are not at all bothered," he said, referring to the swelling diaspora that sends home money totaling about a third of the economy. "The best brains do not make the wrong choice for their lives."

Now, this is just a suggestion, but you might not want to put all these stupid people on your national soccer team, and just give them their own jet. I'm just sayin'


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