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


weekend this & that

  • You that place where you get in an argument or conversation with someone and can't think of an appropriate snappy comeback until way after it's cool to continue the conversation? Yeah, the Vatican is SO there when it comes to condom use in Africa. A month after the pope's highly-criticized remarks on a visit to Africa. And after Belgium let them have it.
  • This is not exactly an accurate representation of the situation in South Kivu, but it's a very accurate reflection of what most Banyamulenge perceive the situation in South Kivu to be. Since perception is often more important than reality in violent conflict, it gives you a good idea of some of the region's dynamics. But there's a lot that's wrong, including the presentation of the Mai Mai (which is a catch-all term for highly decentralized local defense militias) and the idea that the Banyamulenge have been in the Kivus for five centuries (a claim for which there is little evidence from non-biased sources).
  • Here's a fascinating study of the impact of regular, severe droughts on sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In what is perhaps the least surprising conclusion of an investigation of all time, the MDC isn't sure that the accident that killed Susan Tsvangirai was really an accident.
  • This is a great piece on the incentives young Somali men have to become pirates.
  • Oh, Rick Perry. Oh, oh, Rich Perry. Pandering to the extremist fringe isn't going to help him win the Republican primary battle against Kay Bailey Hutchison next fall, but bless his heart, he's going to keep trying.
  • Man bites snake. This is an even more interesting headline when you learn that the man bit the snake because the snake had dragged him up a tree in Kenya.
  • Some Texas in Africa readers are upset that I referred to participants in the Tax Day tea parties as "crazies" in my post on Newt Gingrich's dissertation. Just to be clear, there were plenty of people at the protests who were just exercising their free speech rights. I'm fine with that; the best thing about being Americans is our ability to protest without fear of reprisal. What I am NOT okay with, however, is the idea that it is EVER okay to refer to a duly elected, sitting president as Hitler, Osama bin Laden, or the homosexual lover of the Saudi king. There is no question that Wednesday's events attracted the extremist fringe, and because they have the craziest ideas, their signs and speeches probably got the most attention.
  • I see the tea parties more as an expression of disgruntlement about a lost election than anything else. After all, the vast majority of the spending decisions the protesters were complaining about were enacted under Bush, not Obama. If you don't like Obama, that's fine. Say so. But don't dress it up in the language of protesting unnecessary government spending that you blame on him. It's not Obama's fault that we have such a huge deficit and that our economy is in free-fall. Where were these protesters for the last eight years? And why are they protesting tax policies that don't even affect most of those involved? (I'm willing to bet that less than 1% of the tea partiers have household incomes greater than $250,000 a year.)
  • Speaking of appalling things the Bush administration did, authorizing torture is probably at the top of my list. I, for one, appreciate Obama's attempt to return our system of government to its constitutional limits. Someone's going to have to explain this to me: how is it conservative to oppose that effort?
  • Facebook for World Leaders (thanks, Shannon!)
  • Here's a very fair review of American Violet, the film about the Texas justice system I saw at SXSW last month.


Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I still want the torturers and especially those who authorized the torture to be prosecuted. Or it will happen again in another admin. down the road.

I list a number of actions for ordinary people to take to help this along on my latest blog post.
I know all the reasons why Obama doesn't want to go there. But I'd rather be part of a poor country that defends human rights and the rule of law than a rich one that doesn't.

Saturday, April 18, 2009 1:02:00 PM

Blogger David McCullars said...

Paying taxes is a wonderfully patriotic thing to do, in much the same way that paying a tithe is an incredibly spiritual thing to do. We can (and should) argue about how much taxes and in what forms, but let none of us ever forget that taxes are a necessity to living in a society. It just blows my mind to see so many selfish people acting so ridiculous -- honestly it reminds me of the tantrums my children throw from time to time because they don't get their way.

I found out that my youth pastor when I was in high school attended one such "tea party" and brought his child. Apparently he feels he is being persecuted for his religious beliefs by a tyrannical Obama administration. I would definitely lump him into your group of "crazies."

Saturday, April 18, 2009 3:49:00 PM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I call taxes a "civic tithe." With it we purchase civilization: roads and bridges that don't collapse and levees that don't break. With taxes we educate and get safer working conditions, inspected food and toys, lower pollution. Taxes pay the salaries of police and firefighters and teachers and first responders and help fund research to cure AIDS and cancer.

Can taxes be too burdensome? Of course, the Bible is full of such examples. But that hasn't been true in America in decades. If anything, those making $75K or more, not just those making $250K or more, are paying too little.

The "Tea Partiers" are a free lunch crowd. And incoherent since they were busy protesting the Bush tax rates and next year almost all of them are getting a tax cut under Obama.????

Saturday, April 18, 2009 10:11:00 PM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Q: As an AMATEUR historian and student of U.S. politics, I know that many Southern states adopted a "weak governor" system in reactionn to the military governments of Reconstruction. I am told that Texas has one of the weakest gubanatorial offices, if not THE weakest, in the nation.

So why would Sen. KBH want the job? I get it for W--it was a stepping stone to the presidency as all governor's offices can be. And obviously, Gov. Goodhair has similar desires (fat chance). But KBH is too old, now, isn't she? Wasn't being passed over as VP by McCain her last hurrah on the national scene? So why does she want to leave the senate, where she can be at least some influence, for a mostly ceremonial job like the TX Gov.??

Help me out, here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009 1:07:00 AM

Blogger austinokie said...

Because it IS a lower stress job...and she has adopted one, maybe two infants (can't recall)...and she continually gets passed over in the National Republican party for our male senator...I think she might feel she can make a bigger difference for Texas by being back home....and believe me, Texas is her priority over everything else...

at least, that is the line of reasoning I have heard from someone serving as her campaign treasurer

Sunday, April 19, 2009 5:01:00 PM

Blogger Carole Turner said...

Love your take on the Tea Party, many of my friends were there, It wasn't my cup of Tea ;-)

Monday, April 20, 2009 10:47:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

LOL, Carole!

Monday, April 20, 2009 11:24:00 PM


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