WTF Friday, 1/8/2016

Welcome to 2016, everyone. Here’s how the first week of the new year has gone:

North Korea says that it tested a hydrogen bomb, a technology that it totally, definitely, absolutely has. Other things North Korea claims to have include: a cure for Ebola, unicorns, and a functioning economy.

Ben Carson, who is somehow still a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, despite his militant ignorance of policy, politics, and interior design, humiliated a small child at a campaign event yesterday. If you don’t know that when you ask a roomful of 5th graders who the dumbest kid in the class is, they’re all going to point to the same kid, you’re probably not equipped to govern.

And in Gambia, perennial spouter-of-ridiculous-nonsense (and president) Yahya Jammeh has ordered all female civil servants to cover up their hair. The directive is presumably pursuant to his unilateral announcement last month that Gambia is now an Islamic republic. Because I guess that’s a thing the president can do.


WTF Friday, 5/22/2015


  • Gambia offered to take the Rohingya off Southeast Asia’s hands. Clearly a sincere gesture, given how universally revered President Jammeh’s government is for its human rights record. Oh wait
  • Political science all-the-way exploded over the news that a widely-reported study showing that contact with openly gay canvassers changes people’s attitudes towards gay rights was based on fraudulent data.
  • And the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor got in a Twitter fight with the spokesman of Burundi’s president.Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 1.58.36 PMScreen Shot 2015-05-22 at 2.02.09 PM

    Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 2.05.02 PM

    Going by the retweets and favorites, I think Malinowski’s won this round. (That’s how we judge the success of public diplomacy, right?)

Ugh, Gambia

Remember the days before the phrase “aggravated homosexuality” entered our lexicon? Those were simpler times.

And if you thought we’d be able to forget it now that Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill has been overturned, think again. Gambia’s parliament just passed a law imposing life sentences for acts of aggravated homosexuality. This includes, apparently, repeated homosexual intercourse. (Lest you think the National Assembly is letting Gambians off the hook for one-time same sex debauchery, don’t forget that “one crazy night in college” or “I swear this is the only time I’ve ever done anything like this” still gets you the 14 year penalty for garden variety gayness.)

The law will only come into force if President Yahyeh Jammeh signs it, but this is a guy who has repeatedly threatened to kill all Gambian homosexuals (and thinks he can cure AIDS with his own special blend of 11 presidential herbs and spices), so we probably shouldn’t expect sweet reason to prevail.

WTF Friday, 8/15/2014

While I was in DRC, Congolese president Joseph Kabila was here, attending the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. In a particularly stellar display of leadership, he brought along a bodyguard of thugs, who assaulted a protester outside of Kabila’s hotel.

Kabila’s entourage wasn’t the only one beating people up. Members of the Gambian diaspora protesting president Yahya Jammeh’s abuses were attacked by Jammeh’s security detail, some of whom were apparently sporting brass knuckles

If this becomes an annual event, maybe next time the White House could make clear that “assaulting peaceful protesters” is not on the list of approved recreation activities for delegates. Perhaps a nice trip to the Smithsonian instead?

*For more on these incidents, see Jeffrey Smith‘s Foreign Policy article.


Gambian President Kind of a Meanie-Face

Well, we can add human rights workers to the long list of people Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has threatened to kill and/or destroy. (Included already are journalists and homosexuals and some refugees I met one time.)

Speaking before his departure for the U.N. General Assembly meeting last week, he bid a tender farewell to his nation, reminding them to empty the dishwasher and also not to foment civil unrest because: “I will kill anyone who wants to destabilize this country.”

And just in case that wasn’t clear, he added: “If you think that you can collaborate with so-called human rights defenders, and get away with it, you must be living in a dream world. I will kill you, and nothing will come out of it.”

Man, dude was a lot more humorous when he was yammering on about his magical healing powers. (Bet you didn’t know there’s a cure for AIDS after all; patients just need to go off their anti-retrovirals and drink a nice cup of dictator-soup.) Anyway, in memory of that kookier, less overtly murderous Jammeh, here’s an awesome old cartoon from afrol News (that’s Jammeh there on the left):