Saturday, March 29, 2008

Free and fair, not so much

Okay, so I know just enough history to have already been skeptical about genuine elections in Zimbabwe, but the Sokwanele blog is posting an interactive map to illustrate just how many obstacles stand between today's vote and true democracy. Oh, and Foreign Policy points out that there are 3 million extra ballots just waiting for abuse.


Okay, so Pennsylvania doesn't vote until April 22 and we're all sick of replayed Wright sermons and Bosnia footage. In Zimbabwe, on the other hand, the big vote is tomorrow and the result could range from violent to jubilant. I find myself skeptical that Mugabe will ever leave willingly, but I'll take whatever glimmer of hope I can cling to.

Here's to watching results come in from Harare.

while we're still on the subject...


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beautiful Camels

If you need insight to classical Bedouin poetry, or just an escape from all things ordinary, enjoy today's NYT feature on the camel markets of Saudi Arabia. Because, well, it's more fun to read about than to ride...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Chasing the Flame

Today would have been Sergio Vieira de Mello's 60th birthday. I just finished reading Samantha Power's biography, Chasing the Flame, last week. It makes me feel hopeful about the future - despite his tragic death, Mr. Vieira de Mello managed to leave the world a better place for his contributions. Now all I want to know is how I can go do the same, I suppose.

As a side note, it was an interesting book to carry around at work: I met a man who had been one of SVDM's bodyguards in East Timor, a doctor who once sat next to him on a UN flight, and found at least one familiar name in the list of those interviewed. I have a much better sense of institutional memory for having read it...not to imply that everyone else shouldn't read it also. For all its inside-the-UN stories, the book isn't limited by them. Power addresses the challenges and triumphs of the international community in humanitarian and political crises - good reading for anyone interested in helping to address all the problems left in the world.

Sharia in the modern world

Noah Feldman teaches a brief history of sharia in an interesting article in the New York Times Magazine, then addresses its role in current politics. And I think he gets it mostly right.