Saturday, December 31, 2011

The last post of 2011: South African bureaucrats must be rubbing their hands with glee.... potential kickbacks and the US government should be ashamed of itself. There is an article in today's NYT on the proposal by Shell Oil and others to start digging for gas under the Karoo. This is as bad as, if not worse than the rape of the tarsands of Alberta, Canada. The oil companies are using the bait of employment to assuage whatever qualms the South African government may have (and they don't have many) about environmental degradation of the deep aquifers under the Karoo. The US government has been promoting the development and export of fracking technology abroad, even as concerned citizens and scientists here have exposed the negative effects both here and Canada of the use of this technology.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Strange Relations

In the Department of Politics makes Strange Bedfellows, here is a recent article in the Seattle Times on the close relationship between Turkey and Native Americans and the negative response from the Armenian American community.  And, not only is this relationship quite long standing, but Democratic and Republican legislators have joined together on each side of the issue, depending on whether they have large numbers of constituents who are Native American or Armenian American.

When we visited Aleppo in June 2010, we visited an Armenian Church.  The young man showing us around lectured us for over 20 minutes on how the US government has not yet recognised the Armenian Genocide committed by the Turks.  The fact that Congress supported such resolutions did not make any difference:  a formal condemnation was required.

Armenian Church, Aleppo, Syria 2010

An excellent novel exploring the complexities of Armenians, Turks, and the two in America is The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reality According to Assad

The BBC aired the ABC Barbara Walters interview with Bashar al-Assad early this morning (Pacific time).  Later in the day, BBC interviewed Barbara Walters regarding this:  it is worth listening to her comments and outrage.   The only factual error she made and the only grain of truth Assad said, was regarding Assad being part of a dynasty:  Assad said he was not groomed by his father to take over the regime; Walters fulminated at this statement in her interview on BBC.  Assad's brother was the one groomed to take over, as Bashar was seen as too weak.  The brother was killed in an accident; Bashar apparently was reluctant.

Be sure to also listen to the interview on NPR that Kelly McEvers did with a Syrian activist who had been tortured and is now still active but in hiding.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mugabe and Nando's Chicken Commercial

Mugabe was not amused and objected to the Nando's Chicken commercial, so, Nando's caved and pulled it.  How wimpish.  See my previous post on 29 November.

Let's spread the word.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The sham that the ANC has become

An op-ed piece in today's New York Times. A whole show on On The Media Reportage on the new law.
Commentary from Kenya.   A letter from Desmond Tutu to Jacob Zuma.  The ANC is beginning to wear the robes of its former oppressor.  How chilling is that.  The new secrecy/censorship law should curdle the blood of any thinking South African.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to sell chicken.....

Nando's Chicken, a South African fast food chain, has launched a new ad campaign.  Check this out for a few laughs.  A story about this was featured on PRI's The World.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

China + Russia = Laugh of the day

This has got to be one of the more amusing news items....yesterday, the New York Times reported that China has awarded the Confucius Peace Prize to....Vladimir Putin.  For what you ask?  His decision to go to war with Chechnya in 1999.  This is more than an oxymoron and 1984 doublespeak:  this is truly pathetic.

If you need yet another laugh for the day:  apparently, Chinese officials are upset with the new US Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American  to hold this job.  There are speculations that the officials believe he is inciting discontent because he is not remote and officious, but merely being his down-to-earth wonky self.  When he visited his ancestral village, reporters were told to make a brief report with little human interest information.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Syria Undercover

The title of this post comes from a PBS Frontline special.
Watch it here:

Join the Facebook group called 'We are all Hamza Alkhateeb' (named for the 13 year old boy killed early in the uprising) for up-to-date information on the daily horrors perpetrated by the regime. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Baskets and Textiles

A visit to The Textile Museum in Washington, DC today for the exhibit  Weaving Abstraction:
Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central Africa,
  resulted in several hours of mesmerizing visions in raffia: intricate patterns, fractals, chevrons, texture, and sheer wizardry of craft, skill, and design.

There were 'tufted' boxes, capes, beaded/shelled/tufted belts.  The people who created these objects of beauty and wealth were Kuba, Tutsi, Hutu, Shoowa, and more.

Also on display was an exhibit called Second Lives: the Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles  There were examples from all over the world of how people had taken old fabrics and re-purposed them into new articles of clothing, household objects, etc.

The reality of dreams

The Beautiful Things That Heaven BearsThe Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finishing this book while in Washington, DC was a bonus, adding to the book's ambiance. Mengestu deftly describes an immigrant's euphoria and dislocation: the hope and thrill giving way to resigned acceptance that dreams are merely that: dreams, not reality.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

China in Africa

Interesting story in today's NYT on Zambia's recent election:  the out-going president actually acceded and turned over the reins to the winner; a white person actually won the vice-president's seat.  But most interesting of all, to me, is this quotation from the article:

"The new government openly chafes at the idea of being beholden to the Chinese, who are inking enormous mineral deals across the continent and spending billions to ingratiate themselves with Africa’s rulers. In Kenya, the Chinese are working closely with the national spy agency. China has shipped arms to Zimbabwe, even as it was torturing opponents. And in South Africa, the Chinese are so influential that they just pressured the government to deny a visa to the Dalai Lama, who stood shoulder to shoulder for years with anti-apartheid activists.
But while many African leaders say they welcome China, preferring its business-first approach to what they often call the West’s preachiness, Zambia’s new president, Michael Sata, campaigned explicitly to protect workers from exploitation by China. Still, he has been careful not to threaten to kick out the Chinese, who run copper mines, coal mines, chicken farms and banks here."

May the Zambians keep  China at arm's length and present on their own terms.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Score one, Zapiro

I posted this cartoon by Zapiro back in February.  They are all gone now!  And next is Assad....