WTF Friday, 11/13/2015

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!

Here’s some nonsense you might have missed this week:

A society of British Christians have been inundating Serbian soldiers with Bibles “to promote moral transformation in the ranks and prevent future war crimes”. I suspect the fact that Serbia isn’t currently at war with anyone will do more to cut down on war crimes, but hey, I guess 4000 New Testaments can’t hurt.

H&M launched a campaign in South Africa featuring only white models and then promptly made matters SO MUCH worse by tweeting that the models were selected to “convey a positive image“. #Fail

And if artisanal mayonnaise, bindles, and dog biscuits weren’t enough, Brooklynites can now pay $40 an hour for artisanal parenting.

And in other news, I seriously cannot adapt to these Twitter hearts. Can someone please make them go away?

WTF Friday, 12/6/2013

This week’s double helping of WTF comes to you from South Africa, which in addition to suffering the loss of its iconic leader and moral lodestar, Nelson Mandela, also has to put up with this crap:

WTF Friday: 8/31/2012

There were a number of strong contenders for WTF-iest moment this week, including Clint Eastwood’s vaudeville-worthy “Invisible Obama” comic stylings, and the anti-birth control legislator from the Philippines who responded to allegations that he had plagiarized the work of blogger Sarah Pope with: “Why would I quote from a blogger? She’s just a blogger.”

But the obvious winner was the South African National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to charge 270 striking miners in the deaths of 34 of their coworkers who were killed by police during the suppression of a violent protest earlier this month. Yup, you read that right; they could be convicted for murder despite it being clear that the fatal shots were fired by police officers.

The press coverage has characterized this perverse outcome as the result of manifestly unjust apartheid-era laws, but it’s actually not that disimilar to something that occurs often in U.S. and other common law jurisdictions. Most U.S. states have a felony-murder rule on the books, which means that if you are engaged in the commission of a felony, you can be charged with murder for deaths that occur during the course of the crime, even if you didn’t intend or personally cause them.

In some states this applies only to deaths caused by your co-perpetrators, but in others, it includes any deaths that occur as a result of the felonious conduct. So, for instance, this Chicago man was charged in June with first-degree murder when police killed his accomplice during an armed robbery. And these two guys in Florida face murder charges for the death of their co-conspirator in an ill-fated attempt to rob undercover officers.

Most criminal law scholars think this is total crazy sauce. It imposes liability for unintended results, which is not how the criminal law usually rolls (mens rea, and all that), and can mandate criminal penalties where no crime has actually been committed (i.e. where the police officer’s action was lawful).

So South Africa definitely gets points (demerits?) for applying their version of the felony-murder rule in such a spectacularly high-profile and unjust manner, but this type of WTF-ery could be happening regularly in a courtroom near you.


WTF Friday, 4/13/2012

“Others recount being warned by white neighbors not to slaughter animals for festive occasions, or being mistaken for a prostitute simply for having drinks in a bar full of white patrons.” Wow. #capetowndoessoundawesome.

Give freedom to children around the world through the stats of your favorite baseball players. For example, you can pledge $1 every time Matt Holliday hits a home run, or you can give $5 for every game your favorite team wins.” Pressure’s on guys. I know it’s early in the season but you better start playing well or these humans are gonna get trafficked all summer long.

“Not only President Chavez but certainly his supporters and certainly the people handling his political campaign are taking full advantage of [his illness]. And I think it would be crazy for them not to do so.” Yea, that’s what would be crazy.

WTF Sunday, 10/10/10

A lot of change going on in Cuba right now, but any more important than this?

And as long as I’m in a silly mood, Evo Morales kneed a political rival in the groin during a soccer match. Two players from each side got ejected, Morales excluded. I guess if this guy can avoid ejection, why shouldn’t the Prez?

The ANC is making efforts to increase its support both racially and geographically. I’m not sure saying things like this is the right strategy: “‘We got a fisherman to be a candidate and every time I went to a meeting with him he was mumbling something,’ said Mantashe. ‘I couldn’t understand him, but the fishermen in the area understood him perfectly. The point is we have to have people in those communities who can speak to those communities.'”

How to successfully seek political asylum: look gayer!

WTF Friday, 9/10/10

Maybe some of you have read this NYT article about the eduction gap in Brazil? Did this person have to be so mean about it: “‘We should be ashamed of ourselves,’ said Ilona Becskeházy, executive director of the Lemann Foundation, an organization based in São Paulo devoted to improving Brazilian education. ‘This means that 15-year-olds in Brazil are mastering more or less the same skills as 9-year-olds or 10-year-olds in countries such as Denmark or Finland.'” Is being behind Finland and Denmark really that shameful? I’m sure I could name a world power or two in that same position…

It appears that the ANC is attempting to put through two bills that seem to amount to censorship. Writers who were censored under Apartheid have drafted a letter stating “We are threatened again, now with a gag over the word processor.” I kind of just use Google Documents nowadays but I think I think I get the drift.

Is the torch being passed in North Korea? Maybe we should get used to this. He’s also apparently a big Jean-Claude Van Damme fan so the people of North Korea might need to get used to stuff like this.

Did Fidel Castro accidentally buy a ticket for the Straight Talk Express?

WTF Friday, 7/16/2010

  • I would have to imagine that many people’s perception of child soldiers will change after this NYT article. It reports on the U.S.-funded Somali government’s use of child soldiers. This is telling: “When asked how the American government could guarantee that American money was not being used to arm children, one of the officials said, ‘I don’t have a good answer for that.'” Also I have to give a wtf to Obama for his response to questioning regarding America’s place alongside Somalia as the only countries not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child: “It is embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land.” That’s just rude, really.
  • Following the World Cup, there have been rumors of the possibility of a return of xenophobic violence in South Africa. And even if there hadn’t been, Jacob Zuma would scare everyone about it anyway: “Let us isolate all elements who may have sinister agendas, who may want to create havoc and sow pain and destruction in communities.” What a wordsmith, right?
  • Bashir’s finally got the trifecta! The ICC earlier this week added a warrant for genocide to go along with a previous warrant of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Hope he thanks his mom in his acceptance speech. This is also the ICC’s first warrant for genocide, so congrats to them, too. According to Elise Keppler, senior counsel with the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, “President al-Bashir’s stonewalling on the initial ICC warrant against him appears only more outrageous now that he’s also being sought for genocide” Really? That’s what appears outrageous? Not the fact that a second warrant was issued after the first one was followed only by Bashir “kicking out nearly half of Darfur’s humanitarian aid providers?” Ok whatever you say…

  • And finally, FP reports on Beijing’s lock-down policy for migrants. A banner reads, “Closing up the village benefits everyone.” Really? Everyone? Guess I’ll just have to continue with this trusting mood today…

WTF Friday, 7/2/10

  • President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended the Nigerian national team for two years due to their poor performance in the World Cup. You don’t have to be a soccer fan to see the outrageous fallacy in this logic. FIFA is not happy about this interference.
  • Three convicted rapists have been freed from a Vietnam prison after an acupuncturist claimed to have identified them as virgins due to red spots on the back of their ears. Damn this lady would have really ruined like 65 percent of CSI episodes. (Hat tip to Lisa!).
  • In facial hair news, here’s something I missed from last week. Somali insurgent group, Hizbul Islam, has ordered men to grow their beards and trim their mustaches, NOT the other way around. Finally someone is clamping down on this kind of tomfoolery.
  • Lastly, in what is considered a very important trial in South Africa, former police chief, Jackie Selebi, has been convicted of corruption for providing favors to drug dealers in exchange for cash and designer clothing, including the unnecessarily specific “Hugo Boss knitwear.” Barry Bearak, fashion buff posing as a “serious journalist.”

WTF Friday: Technical-Difficulties-So-Actually-WTF-Monday Edition

Proving it’s never too late for awesome, here’s the latest from the desk of our beloved Intern Chris:*

* Sadly, technical difficulties prevented this WTF Friday post from being brought to you on Friday. But, hey, whose Monday couldn’t use a little Friday in it?