WTF Friday, 3/27/2015

Hello again, internets. I’ve been out of commission for the last few weeks with the flu and then bronchitis. While I was busy coughing:

  • South Sudan geared up to sue UNICEF for its totally accurate claim that state security forces have conscripted “dozens of children”;
  • Customs agents seized 30 crates of “radioactive maxi pads” at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri airport. The Chinese manufacturers of the pads apparently bill their product as chock full of “air vitamins” that are “beneficial to human health”; and
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal charged three more suspects despite heavy opposition from the Cambodian government. Two of them are reportedly in their 70s, bringing the average age of the court’s indictees down a bit from its previous level of 317.

WTF Friday, 3/6/2015

Here is a small selection of confusing and horrifying things going on in the world:

The UK Home Office rejected LGBT activist Aderonke Apata’s asylum claim on the grounds that she can’t be a REAL lesbian because she has children. Here’s the thing, though. This isn’t just absurd for the obvious reasons. (Like, say, the fact that straight sex isn’t a magic, gay identity destroying bullet.) It’s also absurd as a matter of asylum law. It doesn’t actually matter whether Apata is, in fact, gay. What matters is whether, if sent back to Nigeria where homosexuality is a crime, she would face serious persecution on the basis of perceived gay identity. Given her high profile advocacy and open relationship with a woman, along with the fact that she has already been the target of anti-gay violence, this is an easy question to answer. Do better, UK Home Office. (Via Amanda.)

From Australia: The Queensland Liberal National party women’s group has decided to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8th) with a lunch in a men’s club. (Presumably women will be admitted for the day.) The organization’s vice president, who apparently booked the venue because it’s a bargain, said she didn’t have a problem with the club’s exclusion of women. She added:

“[H]ow can we celebrate international women’s day knowing that there’s not an international men’s day – and then when the men do want to have something that’s for themselves, we can’t respect it?”

And then, because things in Australia are truly upside down, Prime Minister Tony Abbott lauded the decision as an example of the ladies “smashing the glass ceiling”. (h/t GG.)

Oh, and ISIS is now chucking gay people (and those suspected of gayness) off of roofs. Ugh.

 

WTF Friday, 2/27/2015

I’m not sure why I’m bothering, given that the entire internet is occupied with dress-related content today, BUT: Someone is wrong on the internet about the International Criminal Court, and I simply cannot let that pass.

The individual in question is Stephen Rademaker, a former Bush (both H.W. and W.) administration official who drafted the legislation creating the Frankenstein’s Monster known as the Department of Homeland Security. And the substance of his wrongness is contained in his recommendation that:

Congress should make it a federal criminal offense for an official of the ICC, or a foreign government acting under authority of the ICC, to indict, prosecute, detain, or imprison American military personnel or government officials for alleged war crimes.

He is literally suggesting that we make a federal case out of the vanishingly slim possibility of ICC prosecutions of Americans.

Over at Justice in Conflict, Mark Kersten highlights a number of problems with this “breathtakingly absurd” proposal. It’s silly, it’s hypocritical, and it would sabotage the U.S.’s reasonably functional, if uneasy, relationship with the Court.

Personally, I think it’s kind of cute that paranoid Republicans still think of the ICC as some kind of all-powerful, avenging justice monster, despite all the evidence to the contrary. (Remember that time it took 10 years and 600 plus pages of judicial opinionating to sentence one guy for one war crime?)

But what strikes me as truly insane about Rademaker’s proposal is his blithe disregard for immunities. Because you know what you can’t do under U.S. law? Prosecute foreign officials, or representatives of international organizations, for conduct undertaken in the course of their official duties. (This is called “functional” or “act” immunity.) And I really can’t think of anything much more official than fulfilling the obligations contained in a treaty that over 120 countries have ratified. So unless Rademaker is suggesting that ICC prosecutions are jus cogens violations (there appears to be an emerging exception to immunity for universally-agreed-to-be-serious crimes like genocide, torture, and slavery), this makes no sense.

And frankly, if ANYONE should be in favor of robust, no-exceptions-allowed, functional immunity, shouldn’t it be former Bush administration officials?

WTF Friday, 2/20/2015

A few weeks ago, I wondered how 3,172 year old dictator Robert Mugabe would celebrate his birthday (actually, his 91st) this year.

The answer turns out to be: by gorging on Zimbabwe’s precious wildlife. The big day is tomorrow, and the menu reportedly includes ELEPHANT MEAT. This man is leaving no box unchecked in his quest for super-villain status.

I’m at #ISA2015, so that’s all I’ve got for today, but here is a giraffe standing perfectly still to avoid being spotted and eaten by Robert Mugabe.

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(Photo credit: me, 2010.)

WTF Friday, 2/13/2015

I don’t even know where to start with this one. Earlier this week, Uganda’s Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development (those things go together, right?) exhorted women to quit refusing to have sex with their husbands.

After a high profile incident in which a man in Bushenyi murdered his wife, Minister Mary Karooro Okurut told an audience of local women’s groups that domestic violence is fueled by lack of sex. Endorsing the sort of progressive, sensitive opinion you’d want in a gender minister, she explained that if ladies would just put out more, they wouldn’t be at such high risk of getting beaten and murdered.

She did allow, however, that it might be okay for a woman to abstain if she’s ill. Obviously she’d need a note from a (male) doctor, though.

h/t to Ledio Cakaj

WTF Friday, 2/6/2015

So:

WTF Friday, 1/30/2015

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe just became chairman of the African Union. That’s right, Mugabe, destroyer-of-hope, wrecker-of-the-economy, thrower-of-extravagant-birthday-parties-for-himself.

You might be thinking: “This man has completely mucked up the one thing he has ever been in charge of [and again, that thing is a country of 14 million people], why would anyone elect him chairman of anything?”

I don’t have an answer for you. But what I do know is that the 1115 year old Mugabe (or 90, whatever) looked “youthful and strong” speaking to press yesterday. Can’t wait to see what he does for his birthday next month.

WTF Friday, 1/23/2015

Here is a list of things I am genuinely confused about today:

  1. The International Commission of Inquiry for CAR has apparently recommended the establishment of a tribunal to try international crimes committed during the recent conflict there. Is this not exactly why we did this whole ICC thing?

  2. America is super-sad that an extremely old, repressive Saudi Arabian dude had died. Don’t worry though, he’s been replaced by another extremely old Saudi Arabian dude, who will almost certainly be just as good at repressing people.

  3. Nepalese opposition legislators staged a protest in Parliament yesterday (and, apparently, threw their shoes) preventing a long-delayed vote on a new Constitution. I’m not so much puzzled by this one as Nepal has essentially been in “political limbo” since 2008. But I would like someone to tell me what to read to understand the situation there. Anyone?

WTF Friday, 1/16/2015: Sri Lankan Election Edition

Last week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was unexpectedly unseated in an election in which nearly 82% of eligible Sri Lankans turned out to vote. I was there, and wrote about how exciting it was for the The Washington Post’s political science blog, Monkey Cage.

I left a few highlights out, though, so to supplement that post, I give you my top 5 WTF moments of the Sri Lankan presidential election:

1. In the last week of the campaign, Rajapaksa made a visit to Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, where he asked Tamils to vote for the “known devil” (himself, the commander-in-chief who presided over mass bloodshed in the region at the end of the civil war) over the “unknown angel” (Sirisena). Shades of Charles Taylor’s “he killed my ma, he killed my pa, I’ll vote for him“, anyone?

2. Campaigning ended on Monday, January 5 at 11:59pm and all campaign posters were supposed to come down at that time. They didn’t. A day or two later, someone got around to blacking out Rajapaksa’s face on billboards around town. This is what it looked like:

campaign poster

3. In the final hours of the campaign, state-aligned media paired coverage of the terror attacks in Paris with graphic footage of LTTE bombings, reminding voters that Rajapaksa had been responsible for the defeat of the insurgency.

4. On election day, Rajapaksa went to cast his vote accompanied by a doppelganger of his rival Maithripala Sirisena (now the president). The look-alike was one of several “joke candidates” fielded by both sides in an attempt to confuse voters. You can see him here.

5. In the days following Rajapaksa’s ouster, a number of things have emerged, not just coup attempt rumors and allegations of corruption, but secret helicopters (actually a persistent campaign issue symbolizing Rajapaksa extravagance) and illicit elephants.

WTF Friday, 12/19/2014

Who’s ready for 2014 to be over?

This week:

But hey, the U.S. is finally rethinking its nutty Cuba policy, so maybe we can do better in 2015?