These people are beyond parody

Too bad, because parody is fun.

Anyway, here is a video that will ruin your afternoon:

You’re welcome.

A side note: Videos like the one above make me think, and we’re the ones advising other countries how to run liberal democracies and promote civic involvement and all that warm, fuzzy stuff? Insane.

But then, mercifully, I remember that it’s not the crazies doing that work, it’s people like me, or, more precisely, people like my superiors.

Personally, I miss the days when drunks could be put in the stocks and had rotten fruit hurled at them

Two HuffPost commenters on the captured Somali pirate:

Commenter 1: I long for the days when pirates were hung on the spot. Instead we are taking this guy in and giving him the best healthcare, food, educational opportunities, and living conditions hes ever had.

Commenter 2: So you long for the days before electricity, air travel, sanitation, antibiotics, etc, etc?

Modernity sucked all the fun out of life, huh?

Not seeing the bigger picture on the Shia Family Law

More information is coming out about the Shia Family Law. The UN has the final text. The Associated Press also seems to have at least part of it.

From the New York Times:

April 3, 2009
World Briefing | Asia

Afghanistan: Critics Speak Out on ‘Rape Law’



A new Afghan law makes it legal for men to rape their wives, human rights groups and several Afghan lawmakers said Thursday, accusing President Hamid Karzai of signing the legislation recently to bolster his re-election prospects. Those critics fear the legislation undermines hard-won rights for women enacted after the fall of the Taliban. The law is intended to regulate family life inside Afghanistan’s Shiite population, which makes up about 20 percent of the total Afghan population. It does not affect Sunni Muslims. “Unless the wife is ill,” the law says, “the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.”

The United Nations Development Fund for Women said Thursday that the law “legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband.” Robert Wood, a State Department spokesman, said Thursday that the United States was “very concerned” about the law. “We urge President Karzai to review the law’s legal status to correct provisions of the law that limit or restrict women’s rights,” he said.

I really wish this hadn’t been made into a Rape Issue. Yes, the sanction of spousal rape is implied by the law, according to very reliable sources, but there are other problematic things about the law, such as restrictions on women’s freedom of movement and rights to education, work and access to healthcare. 

We’re three days into the news cylce on this story, and the focus of the story has gone from women’s human rights to RAPE RAPE RAPE! AFGHAN GOVERNMENT WANTS RAPES! CRAZY AFGHANS AT IT AGAIN!

I’m sure the unhappy and unnamed Afghan lawmakers and the UNIFEM spokesperson commented on other stipulations of the law, by the way. But the articles coming out now aren’t adressing much besides the rape angle. 

This is troubling for a number of reasons, but not least of which is the possibility that if the law is changed, its supporters may figure all they have to do to please the international community is remove the clause that says a wife can’t refuse sex with her husband unless she’s ill.

Don’t wear costumes to a protest if you want to be taken seriously


During the seemingly interminable Bush years, I did a little protesting, though I was always a very boring, austere, kind of nerdy protester, and my signs had long slogans on them about upholding the rule of law and stuff like that.

But being a boring, austere protester is a good thing, I think. The demonstration shouldn’t be the cause, and the individual demonstrators shouldn’t overshadow the context and symbolism of the event. Protest should not be street theatre. Puppets and costumes should not be involved.

Alas, that is exactly what is happening in London right now, at the protests around the G20 Summit.

Check out this gallery at the IHT if you want to see; a guy dressed as Jesus dressed as a British police officer (huh?), zombie Mickey Mouse, Darth Vader’s dandy cousin, a giant dead canary (being cremated?), clown Che, and a man carrying a beer can and dressed as a horse with a flower sticking out of its nose.

Oh, and some shots at the end of a grieving crowd dressed in black in front of the Bank of England, mourning the death of a protester killed yesterday. Take note, theatrical protesters, THAT is how you demonstrate with dignity.

As my best friend says, “For. The. Love. Of. Sanity!”

The Fallout

So, to begin with, it seems no one is 100% certain what the controversial Shia Family Law actually says. There’s a lot of speculation, some of it probably well-founded. It’s unclear whether UNAMA has the final text, and apparently no one in the press does. Or maybe they do by now. It’s not clear. The phrase “reportedly” is being thrown around in about half the news stories coming out on this issue.

In any case, Hillary Clinton and a host of other diplomats made it very clear at the Afghanistan summit in the Hague that they’re exceedingly displeased at Karzai’s support for the law.

Take this report from Canadian Press:

Outrage grows over Afghan rape law

OTTAWA — Canada isn’t sacrificing the lives of its soldiers and spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan so that men can rape their wives, say angry government and opposition MPs.

There’s growing outrage in Canada and abroad over controversial legislation in Afghanistan that would restrict the rights of minority Shia women, making it illegal for them to refuse sex to their husbands or even leave the house without permission.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said he will use this week’s NATO summit to put “direct” pressure on his Afghan counterparts to abandon the legislation.

“That’s unacceptable – period,” he said Wednesday. “We’re fighting for values that include equality and women’s rights. This sort of legislation won’t fly.”

The proposed Shia family law has cast a shadow over an international conference in Europe on Afghanistan’s future […]

Or this one from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Pressure on Karzai to drop sexist law

Julian Borger in The Hague

April 2, 2009


The President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has come under intense pressure to scrap a new law that the United Nations said legalised rape within marriage and severely limited the rights of women.

At a conference on Afghanistan in The Hague on Tuesday, Scandinavian foreign ministers challenged him to respond to questions raised over the law.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was reported to have confronted Mr Karzai on the issue in a private meeting.


“This is an area of absolute concern for the United States. My message is very clear. Women’s rights are a central part of the foreign policy of the Obama Administration,” she said […]

From the Globe and Mail:

“If these prove to be true, this will create serious problems for the government of Canada, for the people of Canada,” [ Trade Minister Stockwell Day] said. “The onus is upon the government of Afghanistan to live up to its human-rights responsibilities, absolutely including the rights of women. If there is any wavering on this point … this will create serious difficulties, serious problems for the government of Canada.

A few points:

1) It’s great that women’s rights are being raised as a sincere concern here, and not an afterthought or window-dressing for realpolitik. (I imagine this also has something to do with the many angry emails that have been landing in various foreign ministers’ inboxes over the past 24 hours.)

2) Why doesn’t anyone have the full, final text of this law yet? 24 hours in the news cycle is an eternity, and I can’t fathom why –even if leaking the law was not allowed– that it has (seemingly) not been leaked by someone yet. I mean, seriously, what is going on?

3) That, in the midst of this maelstrom of outrage, the Afghan Government has not released an official statement on this along with the text of the law, leads me to think it’s probably as bad as it’s being reported and there is frantic behind-the-scenes scrambling to do damage control. Government silence usually means either panic or apathy. I’ll wager the former in this case.

4) Via the Sydney Morning Herald:

Mr Karzai signed the law last month. Although the text has not been published, the UN, human rights activists and some Afghan MPs said it included clauses stipulating that women cannot refuse to have sex with their husbands and can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission.

That was written a few hours ago. Why wasn’t this brought up a month ago, when Karzai signed the law? Why was this story delayed until the day the summit began in the Hague?  Very weird. Very, very weird.

International aid officials say the law violates UN conventions and the Afghan constitution.

If the law stipulates what we’re being told it does, then yes, it absolutely violates both international human rights law and the Afghan Constitution.

5) What was Karzai THINKING? Did he not believe this would become the aid-endangering shitstorm it has?

6) Moreover, how was this supposed to win Karzai the Shia vote?  That doesn’t make political sense.

Maybe I’m way off base (I don’t think I am, but, then again, I’m not in Afghanistan), but family law is not remotely the biggest issue Shia care about. Given that Shia communities have so far not received an equitable share of reconstruction resources, I would think better infrastructure (say, in West Kabul, or the very poor Bamiyan or Daikundi provinces) and the promise of more say in state affairs would be the way to win over the Shia.

The way the news articles are being worded makes it seem like all it would take to send Shia voters flocking to the polls for Karzai would be some good, old-fashioned misogyny.

Color me skeptical. And confused.

  • **

In the comments on my previous post, Asiyah wrote:

I don’t know about the bill itself but generally, the Meshrano and Wolesi Jirgas have to approve it before it gets to the President. Also, the Ministry of Justice has to review and make sure the law is in line with the Constitution and international treaties signed.

Also, from what I understand, Islamic law comes into play when there is a gap in the national law. Also, the national laws should be in line with Islamic law (this phrase in the Constitution is still debated or ignored, depending on the person).

I plan to discuss the process of law-making in Afghanistan on my-so-far-inert blog

I’m looking forward to Asiyah’s new blog.

Not sure what Amnesty was going for with this…

The message one comes away with from the following Amnesty International ad is basically, people have always been jerks/love finding new and more inventive ways to kill each other, uh, except a few non-jerks –oh, look! Battleship flying through a field of flowers!


Also, the person who came up with the animation concept was either on shrooms or a very vivid dreamer.

Amnesty, I love you, but that was…odd.

These other Amnesty ads, however, are hauntingly beautiful and spot on message-wise. Both use the same lovely, mournful (Bosnian? Serbian?) song. I’m sure I’ve heard it before somewhere, but can’t remember where.

All you can do is laugh (loudly, bitterly, and slightly insanely)

Michael at Humanitarian Relief has a post up with the poorly translated accusations the Sudanese Government has made against the foreign NGOs it kicked out of Darfur.

One, picked out by Harry in the comments:

Someone from Solidarites was found in possession of photographs of ‘rocks and mountains.’ What more evidence does one need?

Indeed. And what else was poor, misunderstood, anti-imperialist Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to do?

My personal favourite comes from the accusations against the nefarious people of the IRC, who, apparently, were in cahoots with the FAO on some very sinister business:

FAO has carried out projects such as Darfur and fake mental health of women and the rule of law and protection and youth was a coffee and Commission meetings for women to promote the psychological and talk about the abuses they have suffered and recording projects for the collection of information and Fbrkiha has been operating without a substantive agreements were suspended in 2008 year.

Yes, that is all one sentence. I love the “fake mental health of women” part.