WTF Friday, 12/9/2016

Everything is basically awful.

We’re rapidly running out of giraffes, American life expectancy dropped for the first time in over two decades, and 2016 continues its merciless extermination campaign against all the good celebrities.

Russia is moving new nuclear-capable missiles to the Baltic, hate crimes have replaced baseball as the new American pastime,  and atrocities continue unchecked in Iraq, Syria, Burma, and South Sudan.

On the bright side, though, against all expectations, Gambia’s lunatic dictator Yahya Jammeh conceded defeat in last week’s election. And somewhere, a lion cub and an otter are inexplicably living together in a people house:

Russians Being Amazing in the News: 11/16/11 Edition

Remember Albert Dayan, Viktor Bout’s crack defense attorney? Well, it turns out he was playing the long game. The New York Times reports that Dayan is attempting to challenge the verdict against his client on the grounds that (wait for it) jury forewoman Heather Hobson once saw Lord of War. In an interview on November 3rd, Hobson told the Times: “I had seen that terrible Nicolas Cage movie and I had no idea it was about this guy.”  Obviously, Hobson is wrong, and Lord of War is an amazing movie, but I still don’t think this is likely to be a winning legal strategy.

And in other news, word comes via alert reader Adam Ross (thanks Adam!) that Vladimir Putin has been awarded the Confucius (a.k.a. “Nobel’s little brother”) Peace Prize.  In an amazing feat of doublespeak, the peaceful conduct for which Putin is being celebrated is… the violent suppression of rebellion in Chechnya. Note to granting organization China International Peace Research Centre:  “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

WTF Friday, 9/30/11

“Prime Minister Putin is the most authoritative politician in our country, and his approval ratings are somewhat higher.” Wow, nothing complex about that inferiority.

I didn’t really read this article but I guess ICP played in Yemen? No wonder Saleh wasn’t trying to step down yet.

What does wood have to do with a concert in Madagascar? Just get DJ Rajo on the 1’s and 2’s.

WTF Friday, 7/29/11

Props to Hugo Chavez for his Yul Brynner reference. No props for saying he’s gonna rule for another 20 years. Give it a rest, dude.

Medvedev planning to rap about the budget.

Somalis can apparently now thank members of the Kenyan government for putting al-Shabaab between them and their samosas (perhaps inadvertently).

In Which I’m Kind of Confused By Tyler Cowen’s Views on The European Court of Human Rights

Tyler Cowen calls the European Court of Human Rights “cowards” because of their recent Khodorkovsky decision. I am quite confused by this.

Am I missing some sort of satirical point about the media here? Because Cowen’s beef, apparently, is not that the Court’s decision was actually wrong, but that it was written in such a way that allowed newspaper headline writers to inaccurately describe it as a victory for the Kremlin:

“If you read through the actual story, you will see the court’s decision is in fact more nuanced than [the New York Times lede would indicate]. It was found that his human rights were violated in prison, that procedural violations were committed before the trial, and that he had not proved a political motivation to his prosecution, not that no such motivation was present. Nonetheless in such issues, it really is the headlines and opening sentences which matter. Imagine how this will play in Russia. The Court should have written an opinion so the headline would read “European Court of Human Rights condemns Russian tyranny and human rights abuses.” Instead we get “European Court Backs Kremlin in Khodorkovsky Case.”

He also finds it “an insult for the Court to call for the Russian government to pay Khodorkovsky a $35,000 fine,” because, “for a start, for two months he had only four square meters in his prison cell.”

Um, a few things. Firstly, it’s worth noting that the Court’s decision was, in fact, quite pro-Khodorkovsky. It found in his favor on nearly every claim. Although the Court rejected Khdorkovsky’s claim that the charges against him were politically motivated, this isn’t surprising. Claims of that nature are extremely hard to prove. (Courts are understandably reluctant to embrace a rule that would lead to impunity for criminals who happen to also be political opponents of their governments.) Notably, the court did condemn the suspicious nature of the charges: “The Court admits that the applicant’s case may raise a certain suspicion as to the real intent of the authorities, and that this state of suspicion might be sufficient for the domestic courts to refuse extradition, deny legal assistance, issue injunctions against the Russian Government, make pecuniary awards, etc.” This is hardly a “victory” for the Kremlin, partial or otherwise.

Secondly, the amount of the fine was determined by the amount that Khodorkovsky had requested (specifically, EUR 10,000 in non-monetary damages, EUR 14,543 in legal fees and costs, plus interest), not by the Court’s own valuation of the harm suffered. And as for the cell, the court condemned it as “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,” which is, I assure you, quite a big deal in human-rights circles.

Finally, surely the sensationalist headlines are the fault of the dingbats who wrote them, not the Court? How is the ECHR supposed to head dumb journalism off at the pass? The New York Times rarely demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of international law, but frankly they came a lot closer to accuracy in this article than they usually do. Does Tyler actually think that the Court should write its opinions in the hope that the dude in the newsroom who plasters attention-grabbing headlines on stories written by other people will spin the story in the right direction? I really don’t think so. Seriously.

So yeah, I guess I’ll return to Plan A, “some sort of satire I’m missing here.” Because otherwise, I’m really not sure what Tyler thinks the ECHR does.

WTF Friday, 5/27/2011

Can we please do away with the term “man crush”? Otherwise this article is gold. “In between discussions of tiger poaching, Ernest Hemingway and the fragility of human existence…avatar of manliness…You’re going to have to remind me who [Dmitry Medvedev] is…” Fucking gold, dude.

Some really insightful thoughts on North and South Sudanese relations from U.S. envoy, Princeton Lyman: “This is not a marriage made in heaven. The two may not kiss on the cheek but they do have to shake hands.” Ah, metaphors.
Hm. Re-ignition of protests against the female driving ban in Saudia Arabia occurs right around the same time as the re-ignition of a certain Summer blockbuster series. Will the history books cite the Arab Spring or Diesel Summer as inspiration?

WTF Friday, 12/10/2010

Sarah Palin will be visiting Haiti this weekend with the relief group “Samaritan’s Purse.” The name of this organization is equal parts brilliant and disturbing. I’m leaning towards disturbing as I doubt a Palin-affiliated charity would possess any more self-awareness than the woman herself.

Putin “slams” US for Assange arrest warrant in an effort to demand freedom of pr….nevermind it’s just to get them back for shit-talking Russia. False alarm.

And, from the “not an ‘Onion’ article” department, Mogadishu gets its “first tourist.”

WTF Friday, 7/30/10

  • Found this list of dictator’s favorite movies. Pretty entertaining but I wish they would elaborate on Kim Jong-Il’s love for Barbara Streisand. Can’t leave me hanging on that! Also: Stalin tried to kill John Wayne?!?
  • In a case of art imitating life, Wyclef Jean may run for President of Haiti. The fact that he has never really consistently lived in Haiti may be a roadblock, but if he is able to run, he is apparently, like, the most popular person in the country. He should take caution, though. His cousin and former bandmate, Pras Michel, once threatened to “personally assassinate” former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide if he were to return to Haiti after stealing public funds. Clef would do well to keep his hands out of the cookie jar…
  • Dmitry Medvedev has passed a law granting more power to the Federal Security Service, a successor to the KGB. Political analyst Yulia Latynina has stated that, “In case a drunken FSB officer is shooting at you – and there have been many such cases – you might end up getting jailed 15 days for merely trying to escape.” It is unclear from the article how true this could be, but what is clear is that Vladimir Putin can pull off a mean Judo throw.
  • And for your viewing pleasure, here’s the terrifying music video for “Another Brick in the Wall (Hey Ayatollah, Leave Those Kids Alone).” I smell a hit.

WTF Friday, 5/21/10

  • More drama in the Campbell-Taylor-Farrow saga. Naomi Campbell may be subpoenaed to testify at Charles Taylor’s trial as she allegedly received a diamond from him. This story basically seems true unless Mia Farrow, who says Campbell told her about the diamond and is willing to testify, is completely making it up. The more I write about this the more it feels like a weird dream.

*Correction. The couple is actually a male and a transgender woman. Thanks to tinarussell for directing me to this article. Sorry for the mistake and for taking so long to correct it. I will try to do better next time.

Chechnya, Land of Kidnappings and Tigers

Update: The bodies of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov were found this morning, in the trunk of a car parked outside of Chechen capital Grozny. They had been shot.

Chechen Human Rights Activist Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband were kidnapped by security forces today, causing activists to worry that they may suffer the same fate as slain activist Natalia Estemirova, who was murdered last month after a similar abduction.

The crime has inspired @Transitionland to rename Chechnya “The Land of Kidnappings and Tigers,” in homage to our favorite post tag.

Here at Wronging Rights we are dedicated to accuracy in all things big cat, so I wasn’t about to risk of such a title being applied to tigerless territory. When I saw the tweet in question, I immediately swooshed down the fireman’s pole to the Human Rights Batcave and commenced googling: “Chechnya.” “Tiger.”

And so it was that I happened upon the following amazing information: Ramzan Kadyrov, dictator, torturer, and all-around crazy dude, took some time out of his busy 2006 schedule (“death, death, death, lunch, death, quick shower“) to nurse a sick pet tiger back to health.

The story was covered in the Guardian after Kadyrov was photographed with the tiger for Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, alongside a story in which he instructed the animal to eat the newspaper’s reporter, “because he writes incorrectly about me.”

The Guardian, unable to be anything but Guardian-y, expressed concern that the tiger might not have been acquired legitimately.

“Questions were immediately asked about the tiger’s provenance. Natalia Dronova, coordinator of the trafficking programme at the World Wildlife Fund’s Moscow office, said Mr Kadyrov should account for where he got the tiger.
She added he would need paperwork if he were to transfer it to a zoo, and could break the law if he kept it at home without documentation. There are as few as 450 Ussuriisk tigers living wild in Russia’s Amur region, 50 of which are killed each year, their body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine.”

Because of course the possibility that Kadyrov could be in possession of an illicit tiger, who lacks proper paperwork and licensing, is completely shocking given his usually-scrupulous respect for the rule of law. I’ll bet that as soon as he got the WWF’s message, he went right out and applied for a Tiger Permit.