From the category archives:

Rest of the world

If this is true, it could signal a major change for Uzbekistan:

Uzbekistan’s veteran dictator, Islam Karimov, has died, leaving central Asia’s most populous country in a state of turmoil and political uncertainty.

[ . . . ]

There were few official clues as to how Uzbekistan’s new leader may be picked. All week the state media has refused to comment on rumours that Karimov – who had been in hospital since Sunday – had suffered a brain haemorrhage. His daughter Lola broke the news on Instagram.

Karimov has been in power for 27 years, and is “officially” loved by his entire population (because who could say otherwise in a regime with no free speech?) but I suspect also has many legitimate fans.

Weirdly enough, I flew out of Tashkent almost a year ago today. Last year, I left just as Uzbekistan was preparing to shut down for its annual National Day celebrations. This year, the celebrations were skipped by most senior officials due to Karimov’s illness.

Given the strategic importance of its location — and the degree of messed-up-ness of many of its neighbours — instability or a power vacuum could be really, really messy. Uzbekistan has managed to fend off Russia, China, Turkey, AND radical Islamism of the form that ISIL and the like are trying to spread. All of them, plus a few other players, might view a period of uncertainty as an opportunity to pounce.

It’s hard to know what will happen next. But I send best wishes to my friends in Uzbekistan.


More than ten years after the BBC aired a devastating report about North Korean concentration camps, mass killings, torture, poison gas chambers and other horrific atrocities, the United Nations has finally come around to the view that yes, maybe, there were some crimes against humanity going on in the world’s least free nation:

“Testimony was given … in relation to the political prison camps of large numbers of people who were malnourished, who were effectively starved to death and then had to be disposed of in pots, burned and then buried … It was the duty of other prisoners in the camps to dispose of them,” he said.

The world stood by and watched this all happen. We knew about it. We talked about it. We reported it. But in our broken moral compass of the 21st century, “Never Again” apparently means “Never Again.. except when China is on the Security Council and doesn’t want us looking too closely at its North Korean ally.”

This quote by an unnamed UN official has got to rank up there among the world’s most ironic quotes in all of history:

“We’ve collected all the testimony and can’t just stop and wait 10 years.”

Why not? Isn’t that what we’ve done already?


Is Venezuela’s nightmare over? Sadly, no.


Update: Venezuelan election authorities have awarded Hugo Chavez the victory, with 54% of the vote, versus 44% for Capriles — a suspiciously high margin of victory. Sadly, it looks like the nightmare in Venezuela will continue. – – – Venezuelans went to the polls today in an historic election that, for the first time in [...]

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North Korean “Dear Leader” reported dead


News wires are reporting the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il at the age of 70. The “Dear Leader” of the People’s Democratic Republic of Death Camps can count, among his accomplishments, mass starvation, imprisonment in horrific gulags, and systematic murder in gas chambers of his own people, bringing nuclear weapons to his country, [...]

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Gadhafi confirmed dead


Libya’s long-standing dictator is no more: Muammar el-Gadhafi is confirmed killed after being captured and arrested by revolutionary forces: Gadhafi was captured alive and unharmed as troops from the National Transitional Council overran his hometown of Sirte on Thursday, Jibril said. But a gunbattle erupted between transitional council fighters and Gadhafi’s supporters as his captors [...]

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Did French vegans kill their baby?


A French couple has been charged in the death of their 11-month old baby, after allegedly feeding her an insufficient vegan diet and refusing to treat her illnesses, instead using “natural” (aka useless) remedies: The couple, Sergine and Joel Le Moaligou, are strict vegans who chose to feed their daughter, Louise, no solid food, giving [...]

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Qaddafi changes the game


The UN Security Council has approved military action in Libya. Now the question remains: who will follow through? So far, all of the uprisings across the Arab world have been domestic matters, deliberately so. By upping the ante against his own citizens to the point where the world had no choice but to intervene, Qaddafi [...]

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Antisemitism is now a side-effect of drunkedness?


Warning to those of you who like a few glasses of wine with your meal: Apparently, virulent antisemitic ranting is now a side-effect of alcohol consumption. First, Mel Gibson. Now John Galliano: The French fashion house Christian Dior said Tuesday that it had started procedures to dismiss its chief designer, John Galliano, following accusations that [...]

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Oh yeah, cause that always turns out well


If there’s such a thing as a recipe for disaster, this is it: A friend and former professor of a California man whose yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates said that Scott Adam wanted to combine his love of adventure with his faith by spreading Bibles around the world. Religious fanaticism and recklessness… that’s sure [...]

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South Sudanese vote for independence


The results are in: By an overwhelming majority of 99%, South Sudan has voted to split from the North and form its own country. When/if statehood is officially declared in July, the folks over at Sporcle are going to have a busy day. Meanwhile in Darfur (yeah, remember Darfur?), fighting has been escalating once again, [...]

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