Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'politics'

A Quick Fix

October 22nd, 2013 · 3 Comments

Given the state’s reputation as a mecca for opioid absuers, you will probably not be surprised to learn that West Virginia leads the nation in drug-overdose deaths. Yet the problem evidently has less to do with the sheer number of narcotics consumed than with a dangerous (and nonsensical) quirk of law: The state doesn’t allow […]

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A Question of Competence

February 25th, 2013 · No Comments

Guinea’s political opposition is none-too-pleased with the current regime’s decision to outsource the management of May’s election to Waymark, a South African information technology firm. At first glance, these objections may seem flimsy, based more on xenophobia than legitimate fear of cronyism. But if you scratch beneath the surface a bit, you can get a […]

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Grudge Match

February 14th, 2013 · No Comments

When Senator Warren B. Rudman recently passed, I was struck by the concluding section of his New York Times obituary, which contained an anecdote that attested to his stubbornness: Mr. Rudman feuded with his alma mater long after he had left its campus. In 1952, Syracuse University withheld his bachelor’s diploma because he had refused […]

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Unequal Trade

December 12th, 2012 · 1 Comment

If you have even a passing interest in colonialist cunning, you owe it to yourself to check out the National Museum of Australia’s dynamite exhibit on Aboriginal breastplates. These were baubles that the European arrivals provided to Down Under’s native inhabitants, ostensibly to honor certain individuals for being community leaders. But the givers desired something […]

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A Voice from the Murk

November 19th, 2012 · 3 Comments

Aside from being the native land of Microkhan’s most beloved soccer star, Benin is also currently home to one of the sketchiest political dramas in the Eastern Hemisphere. To hear the nation’s government tell it, President Yayi Boni (above) narrowly escaped death when a plot to poison him fell apart—a plot masterminded by a wealthy […]

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The Purpose Server

October 3rd, 2012 · No Comments

The tri-winged Barling Bomber was one of the most notorious military boondoggles of the 1920s. The exorbitantly expensive plane, which never made it out of prototype, was knocked for being ludicrously slow despite being equipped with an unprecedented six engines. It was a prime example of what happens when designers feel obligated to respond to […]

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A Real Political Gambit

September 11th, 2012 · No Comments

I was amused by the recent hullabaloo over whether athletes have a right to comment on controversial issues. There was something uniquely American about the controversy, for we are the rare nation that pretends that jocks must check their political leanings at the door. This concept must sound bizarre to the soccer fans of Brazil, […]

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A Game in Which Everyone Loses

May 25th, 2012 · No Comments

As you enjoy the forthcoming three-day weekend, take a moment to think good thoughts for the beleaguered citizens of Papua New Guinea, who are weathering what could be the nation’s nastiest political crisis in years. Matters started to get out of hand three days ago, when Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled that former prime […]

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“One Day It Might be Your Houses”

May 15th, 2012 · No Comments

The last time we checked in with Carol Kidu, Papua New Guinea’s lone female legislator, she was proposing a bil that would set aside a percentage of parliamentary seats for women. Since then, she has become the head of the nation’s forlorn opposition, a role which has brought her into frequent conflict with PNG’s thoroughly […]

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Rage in Port Moresby

April 10th, 2012 · No Comments

As I re-apply nose to grindstone for the book’s sake, check out this footage from yesterday’s mass protest in Port Moresby. Despite its denials, the current Papuan regime is clearly intent on delaying this summer’s scheduled election, perhaps in the hope that Sir Michael Somare‘s influence or health will diminish. The Papuan people are rightfully […]

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Spot the Obscenity

March 16th, 2012 · No Comments

It has been far too long since I have cast Microkhan’s spotlight on Papua New Guinea, one of this project’s most beloved topics of conversation. The troubled country has an election due this summer, one that could well be delayed by a government desperate to cling to power. In the meantime, that government is wrestling […]

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Mutineers Move Markets

January 31st, 2012 · No Comments

The recent unpleasantness is Papua New Guinea provides a salient reminder that the global financial system, despite employing some very sharp minds, often acts on impulse. In response to the recent mutiny outside Port Moresby, Standard & Poor’s has slashed PNG’s credit rating. An S&P analyst explained the firms rational thusly: We have these ratings […]

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At Least He’s Not Pandering

January 9th, 2012 · 5 Comments

One should perhaps never be surprised by the nature of political discourse in a country where the Simon and Garfunkel song “Cecilia” was once banned. Yet there is still something rather jarring about a leader who willfully disparages his own populace, as Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika did last week: Mutharika challenged Malawians to appreciate […]

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“Today’s Most Devastating Polemicist”

December 16th, 2011 · No Comments

I was reluctant to read my first Christopher Hitchens work, a thin volume that bore the decidedly loaded title The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. I figured the flap copy told me all I needed to know about the author’s point of view, and that he’d written the polemic more as an […]

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The Popular Cannon

December 7th, 2011 · 5 Comments

This blog has occasionally featured my half-baked ruminations on the symbolic power of tangible objects. I’ve always been puzzled by the extraordinarily high values that people can ascribe to non-personal items, as if those items’ absence or destruction might somehow affect the intangible ideas they embody. A great case in point is the developing spat […]

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Men Rule Everything Around Me

December 2nd, 2011 · 2 Comments

Interesting little tidbit in this excellent profile of Lady Carol Kidu, Papua New Guinea’s only female legislator, who is pushing a controversial bill to allocate a set percentage of parliamentary seats for women: Kidu knows that if the bill fails then when she retires next year PNG will likely become the 10th nation in the […]

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Fear the Beard

September 13th, 2011 · 3 Comments

One of the many historical realms I’m trying to bring to life in the next book is that of Oregon’s Vietnam-era college scene. And one of that scene’s biggest controversies was that involving Fred Milton, an Oregon State University football star who refused his coach’s demand that he shave his beard—in the off-season, it’s important […]

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Face Off

September 2nd, 2011 · 2 Comments

When you’ve spent the better part of your adult life at the helm of an entire country, it must be awfully hard to accept a gold watch and fade into the sunset. I’m going to guess that playing bridge, hitting the country-club buffet, and working on your memoirs doesn’t give a type-A personality the same […]

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The Underwhelmer

August 31st, 2011 · No Comments

Hacking my way through a tricky part of the book today—a section in which I must encapsulate the tumult of late-1960s South Vietnamese politics in the space of two paragraphs. The chore has me focusing on the figure of Nguyen Cao Ky, the air marshal who became South Vietnam’s prime minister in 1965 (and who […]

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Commerce Above All

August 30th, 2011 · 6 Comments

Those who’ve been keeping score might have noticed a recent Microkhan obsession with visual communication—particularly the way in which simple illustrated material can be used to convey complex messages. This is an interest that dates back to my first exposure to Chick tracts, and has now ramped up with all the energy I’ve been pouring […]

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The Utter Mess in New Caledonia

August 10th, 2011 · No Comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron can take some small measure of solace in the fact that his government is the only one in Europe to be vexed by violent protestors. His French counterparts are suffering through similar civil unrest, though with an asterisk: the nation’s pocket of trouble is located several thousand miles away from […]

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The Art of Seeming Like You Care

July 26th, 2011 · 3 Comments

As I believe I’ve mentioned in this space before, the best teacher I ever had was a rotund, sweaty Jesuit who presided over my 10th-grade history class. Among his many wise lessons was one that invoked Napoleon’s rise to power as a case study. He argued quite convincingly that the French Consulate was designed with […]

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Who’s Hero?

June 28th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Though my ability to feed my family depends entirely on humankind’s affinity for written communication, I’m often surprised by the power of words. Case in point: the developing brouhaha between Hungary and Romania over a plaque tacked onto a statue of King Matthias (right). The monument is located in the Romanian town of Cluj, where […]

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Tempting, But…

June 20th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Banging out these words from the new global headquarters in Sunnyside, having left Harlem in the dust after seven wondrous years. As Microkhan Jr. and I headed for the 125th Street subway stop for the very last time, we passed one of the neighborhood oddities I’ll truly miss: the ATLAH World Missionary Church, infamous for […]

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Hiding in Plain Sight

May 3rd, 2011 · 4 Comments

I somehow doubt we’ll ever hear the full story regarding what Pakistan’s intelligence apparatus knew about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts these past five years. It is totally naïve to think they knew naught, of course; the big question is who in the spook food chain was in on the conspiracy, and (perhaps most important) what […]

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Blaming the Better Half

January 14th, 2011 · 3 Comments

I’ve spent a fair chunk of the morning immersed in the goings-on in Tunisia, where embattled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is rapidly losing his grip on power. What strikes me most about the protests is the fact that so much rage has been directed at Ben Ali’s wife, the former Leila Trabelsi, a […]

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Theater of the Absurd

December 21st, 2010 · 3 Comments

The hooded lady above was not a bandit, but rather a New York City detective who worked the 21 Jump Street beat in the early 1970s. Kathleen Conlon earned her gold shield after surviving a scary incident in the Bronx: While working on an undercover narcotics unit, she was dragged into an alley, assaulted, and […]

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Jimmy Rasta on the Skids

November 30th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Try as I might to keep apprised of the political situation in the Solomon Islands, I regrettably lose track of the thread from time to time. Thanks, then, to the commenter who recently showed up to offer his two cents regarding Jimmy “Rasta” Lusibaea, the former ethnic militia leader who had become the Solomon Islands’ […]

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The Logic of Protest

November 2nd, 2010 · 8 Comments

If you haven’t already, be sure to hit your local polls before the day is through. I’ll be taking Microkhan Jr. into the voting booth this afternoon, and I’ll let him pull the lever at the end (though he won’t actually get to make any ballot selections). For the umpteenth time since I turned 18, […]

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Turn Off the Dark

October 25th, 2010 · 2 Comments

The mere act of flicking on a light switch is something that can’t be taken for granted on the Navajo reservation, where tens of thousands of homes still lack electricity. Nowhere else in America do so many live in darkness, a fact driven home by this eye-popping stat: More than 18,000 households on the reservation […]

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