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?
A ray of light at the end of a very dark week: North Korea announced today that its scientists have cured AIDS. (Also Ebola, MERS, and SARS.)
According to regime mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency, wonder drug Kumdang-2 (which you can buy here) can be used to “prevent different malignant epidemics”. So we’ve got that going for us.
Imagine you are Zambia’s chief prosecutor Mutembo Nchito.
You’ve been director of public prosecutions since 2011 and things seem to be going pretty well. You may or may not have taken advantage of your position for some constructive grafting. Then, in late 2014, disaster strikes. The president who appointed you dies in office. He’s replaced by a new guy after a campaign season focused on corruption and cost of living.
Nevertheless, you, Mutembo Nchito, are shocked when the police show up at your door. They arrest you on a host of charges, including corruption and forgery.
So what do you do?
You’re the chief prosecutor! You drop the charges.
h/t: Ben, formerly in Lusaka.
Central African Republic: Text messages.
Thailand: The Hunger Games salute.
Burma: The word “Rohingya”.
Because nothing says subversion like an Amaro-filtered snapshot of a jogger smoking an e-cig and flashing the Hunger Games hand sign.
So, this is a thing that happened: “UN observer at Gaddafi trial held on suspicion of ‘black magic’.”
Ahmed Ghanem is one of three trial monitors sent by the UN to observe the prosecution of former Gaddafi regime officials. He was briefly detained by judicial police, who claimed that he was carrying documents “indicating possible ‘sorcery’ or improper communications”.
Personally, if I were a relatively new regime trying to convince the world that I could run a country and do normal government stuff like holding criminal trials and recognizing immunity, I would maybe not arrest UN officials on insane, made up charges. But that’s just me.
If you read this blog, chances are you either have gone or will go to places you can’t buy a travel guide for, or are my mother (hi Mom!). If the former, pick up a copy of Expat Etiquette: How to Look Good in Bad Places ASAP.
Co-authored by Michael “The Bear” Kleinman, Expat Etiquette offers tips on navigating squat toilets, share cabs, black market alcohol dealers, and the poisonous Expat Bubble. And it doesn’t omit the single most important piece of advice for anyone heading to the non-touristed world: “Do not forget to bring your own emergency toilet paper.”
I look forward to sequel “Coming Home: What to Do When You Find Yourself Crying in a Big Box Store”. (Get on that, guys?)
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I was going to put up a WTF Friday about this batshit insane story, but I thought that might spoil the mood. So instead, you get this gem:
“There has been chaos in the lower house of India’s parliament after an MP used pepper spray to disrupt proceedings.
Mr Rajagopal smashed a glass and used pepper spray on his colleagues when Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde tried to table the bill to create Telangana, which will be carved out of Andhra Pradesh state.
Some unconfirmed reports said another MP pulled out a knife. Several other MPs were reportedly involved in clashes with their opponents.
Mr Rajagopal told Indian media he had acted in self-defence after being attacked.”
State monopoly on violence, ur doin it wrong.
I remember going to a Model United Nations conference for the first time and thinking it was a shame people didn’t take it more seriously and act like REAL delegates. (Yup, that’s the kind of super-fun 16 year old I was.)
Then I went to work at the actual United Nations.
I was sitting in the General Assembly one Friday morning when a junior Tunisian diplomat surreptitiously passed me a note inviting me to a kegger at the Egyptian third secretary’s apartment, and I thought to myself, “huh, I guess Model UN was more accurate than I gave it credit for”.
Further evidence in Model UN’s defense arose yesterday after the Security Council session, when Rwanda’s ambassador accused the Congolese delegation of “crying like small babies”. I can only assume that the Congolese fired back that Rwanda are a bunch of asshats who can suck it, and then stomped off to do their math homework.
Today in “things you didn’t know you could get arrested for”: Opposition politician Frank Bwalya has been arrested and charged with defamation for calling Zambian president Michael Sata a potato. Specifically, a chumbu mushololwa, which is, apparently, a “sweet potato that breaks when it is bent”. He faces up to five years of prison time if convicted of this heinous offense.
In an interview with Voice of America, Bwalya claimed that his remarks were misinterpreted:
I called him a crooked sweet potato that cannot be straightened. It is a commonly used phrase which is not insulting. It is to explain the attitude of a person who doesn’t want to be advised who doesn’t want to be counseled.
So there you go. He meant potato in the sense of being a bad leader who won’t take advice, not in the more insulting sense of being a starchy tuber that tastes delicious with steak.
In either case, it hardly seems to qualify as “abusive language” aimed at “intentionally undermining the constitution”. So maybe dial it back a notch with your insane defamation statute, Zambia?
H/T: Ben in Lusaka
It’s a new year, but the same old nonsense.
In a super-literal object lesson on the painful and long-lasting effects of war, an Allied bomb dropped during WWII detonated today in Germany, killing one person and injuring eight others. Sadly, this is a fairly regular occurrence. Just two months ago, 20,000 people had to be evacuated from their houses so that authorities could defuse a 4,000 lb. bomb in Dortmund.
And, lest you think North Korea news maxed out on ridiculousness last year, a Chinese newspaper claims that Kim Jong Un’s uncle was not just executed, he was eaten alive by 120 dogs. Guess the unicorns weren’t hungry?
Happy 2014, everyone.