"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


this & that

  • Well, it's about darn time. Wednesday, the ICC finally issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al Bashir. The charges are war crimes and crimes against humanity. They did not charge him with genocide, but that doesn't mean that Khartoum isn't having a fit. No, sir. They will not stand for this aggression. And it's hard to argue with the logic that the ICC is, in a sense, "only one mechanism of neo-colonialist policy used by the West against free and independent countries," as al Bashir's aide put it. Thing is, the neo-colonialists have decided to take concrete, symbolic action against the leaders of free and independent countries who abuse and destroy their own civilians. Way to go, ICC.
  • The problem with the ICC warrant is that there's serious potential for retributions against or harm to civilians in Darfur. Actually, it's not technically "potential" anymore. The Sudanese government kicked out Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, Solidarites, Mercy Corps, and up to five other groups that were operating in Darfur. Taking away humanitarian assistance is a super way to show the ICC that you're innocent of war crimes.
  • The Angolan army has been running amok in southwestern Congo for the last week or so. Apparently the Kivus were getting too much attention.
  • The African Union is working to establish a common currency for the continent. Which seems like a decent idea, especially if they peg it to a stable currency. How do I know it's going to fail? Because they're going to put the African Central Bank in Abuja, Nigeria, capital of the one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Anyone want to start a pool on how long it takes Lagos' counterfeiters to get the actual plates from the central bank?
  • Here's the most obvious solution to the Somali pirate problem. The paper that my co-author and I are working on (We have an RA to do the coding now!) has an argument about this. If only we could get data for the independent variable...
  • The Catholic diocese of Modena, Italy is urging its parishoners to give up texting for Lent, in part as a way of recognizing the situation in the eastern Congo and the role that access to coltan (an essential mineral in cell phone batteries) plays in the conflict. I wonder if it will work.
  • Chris Blattman has an outstanding summary of everything that's wrong with the disaster that is Invisible Children.


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