Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'politics'

The Proverbial Thousand Words

October 15th, 2010 · 4 Comments

The current issue of Granta contains an enlightening Jane Perlez piece about Muhammad Ali Jinnah (right), Pakistan’s founding father. In making the argument that Jinnah’s vision for the nation has been grossly misinterpreted, Perlez notes that it’s easy enough to determine where a Pakistani official resides on the political spectrum. All you have to do […]

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Bobbing Along

October 14th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Just one of those dour days here in Atlah, with the brain creaking along so slowly that the firing of each synapse sounds like the bursting of a soap bubble. Classic ZZ Top will have to see you through for the moment. And if you have a few spare moments over lunch, it’s worth checking […]

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Gangs of Jakarta

October 12th, 2010 · 3 Comments

The Indonesian capital is still reeling in the wake of a deadly gang brawl outside a city courthouse. As in most cases of Jakartan gang violence, the young men involved belonged to rival ethnic groups, each with close ties to local politicians who rely on thuggery to manage their constituencies. In fact, it appears that […]

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The Magnificient

September 28th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Given my longstanding fascination with North-East India, one of the primary settings for my 386-page labor o’ love, I’ve been following Mary Kom’s boxing career for a good while now. The 27-year-old mother of twins just won her fifth world championship, a feat that earned her a true hero’s welcome in her native state of […]

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Eternal Students at Bovine University

September 20th, 2010 · 3 Comments

According to the criteria laid out by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his celebrated Four Freedoms speech, life is a mixed bag for millions of Indian cows. On the plus side, they are not confined to grim facilities that exist solely to turn their bovine inmates into hangar steaks. But though free-roaming Indian cows are spared […]

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Teach a Man to Fish

September 7th, 2010 · 5 Comments

The last time that Microkhan checked in with Jimmy “Rasta” Lusibaea, he had just found the Lord after a lifetime of sin. The former head of the Malaita Eagles Force (MEF), the Solomon Islands’ most feared militia, Lusibaea had spent years defending his peoples’ turf against ethnic rivals. The MEF was once so powerful that […]

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Off the Books

August 26th, 2010 · 4 Comments

The worst thing about this tale of a Sri Lankan maid’s suffering at the hands of her Saudi Arabian employers is that it’s completely unsurprising. Though the torture the woman endured is notable for its brutality, such abuse is evidently commonplace in Saudi Arabia—to the point that foreign workers are taught to expect beatings: The […]

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Jyoti Devithe is Not a Happy Camper

July 29th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Full context here. Devithe, a legislator in the Indian state of Bihar, probably had her heart in the right place, since massive, endemic corruption can be tough to tolerate. But it’s rarely advisable to take a page from the Taiwanese parliamentary playbook.

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The Father of Boom

July 27th, 2010 · 2 Comments

During my guest stint over at Ta-Nehisi’s place last week, a commenter reminded me of my all-time favorite Otto von Bismarck quote: “Politics is the art of the possible.” The unsmiling German statesman may have meant that all successful negotiations must end in compromise, but I’d like to think he also had faith in politics’ […]

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Splitsville Gets Smaller

July 22nd, 2010 · Comments Off on Splitsville Gets Smaller

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) I had to engage in a bit of uproarious guffawing upon reading this brain-dead take on New York’s long-awaited shift to no-fault divorce. The writer pleads for Governor David Patterson to veto the bill, using that tried-and-true “won’t somebody please think of the children!” logic lampooned so memorably on The Simpsons. […]

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Ice Van Wyck

July 9th, 2010 · 7 Comments

At the end of Wednesday’s post about one of the least heralded pioneers of refrigeration, we noted that the “ice lobby” had been instrumental in frustrating John Gorrie’s dreams of freezing water via mechanical means. This notion struck us as rather humorous since we can scarcely think of a less valuable commodity these days than […]

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The Venezuela of Its Day

June 22nd, 2010 · 7 Comments

We’ve been doing our best to work up a healthy antipathy toward Algeria, whose national team we face tomorrow in a must-win World Cup match. As big fans of The Battle of Algiers and longtime observers of the country’s ruinous civil war, our hearts go out to the Algerian generations that have endured so much […]

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Manipur on the Brink

June 9th, 2010 · 1 Comment

A grim report from North-East India, where Manipur has been under seige for two months: Manipur faces an acute shortage of food and medicines with supplies of essentials cut off for the 60th day Wednesday following an indefinite economic blockade by several tribal groups. “The food crisis is simply acute and also there is a […]

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Now That’s an Exit

June 8th, 2010 · 7 Comments

Some Wired research recently familiarized us with the career of Keeve M. Siegel, a well-known champion of both holography and controlled nuclear fusion. Siegel’s involvement in the latter technology earned him a 1975 invite to Congress, where he was supposed to make the case for additional government funding. But, tragically, he never got the chance […]

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Jamaica’s Crossroads

May 26th, 2010 · 2 Comments

As the violence continues in Kingston, let’s pause to consider the scope of Jamaica’s problems. By any measure, the nation should have long ago started working its way toward the middle of the development tables. Think about how much the place has going for it: lots of bauxite, fertile soil, an English-speaking populace, a thriving […]

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St. Helena Off Santa Barbara

May 24th, 2010 · 3 Comments

The politics in our native state never cease to entertain, especially when the gubernatorial elections roll around. Who could forget, for example, the ill-fated candidacy of Gary Coleman? This year’s contest seems similarly likely to offer its share of oddities, starting with reactionary Douglas Hughes. Though he has positions on all the major topics of […]

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From the Mouths of Giants

May 3rd, 2010 · Comments Off on From the Mouths of Giants

Crazy morning ’round here, as we once again find ourselves butting up against a brutal WIRED deadline. But seeing as how this is an especially dreary Monday, at least here in this rainy metropolis where incompetent bombers run amok, we couldn’t just start your week with pure laziness. So let us spend a few moments […]

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Spellbound

April 26th, 2010 · 3 Comments

True, some small measure of sanity may soon prevail in Saudi Arabia, where a Lebanese man convicted of witchcraft seems increasingly likely to escape execution. But the anti-sorcery sentiment remains strong in the Persian Gulf, where Bahrain looks set to join the House of Saud in outlawing the dark arts. Could this be a sign […]

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The Coltan Revolution

April 8th, 2010 · 2 Comments

The upheaval in Kyrgyzstan has been both violent and quick, with autocratic president Kurmanbek Bakiyev electing to flee as soon as his security forces proved themselves incompetent. It seems like just yesterday that Bakiyev came to power amidst the hope spawned by the Tulip Revolution. And now destitute Kyrgyzstan is back to square one, in […]

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“Gumaruk Might Not Be Wise…”

April 6th, 2010 · Comments Off on “Gumaruk Might Not Be Wise…”

We’re just days away from the Sudan’s hotly anticipated elections, and no one can say for certain how the process will unfold. But after reading this haunting dispatch, we fear that violence will mar the nation’s fledgling attempt at democracy. It was written by photographer Pete Muller, who has been accompanying music-star-turned-aspiring-politician Mary Boyoi on […]

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Giving the Junta a Pass

March 2nd, 2010 · 4 Comments

The recent Nigerien coup has put the rest of the world—or at least the part that swears love for democracy—in something of a quandary. Out deepest political principles compel us to oppose the use of force in obtaining power, especially when the afflicted regime was selected at the ballot box. Yet if the old guard […]

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The Hero of Tippecanoe

February 15th, 2010 · 4 Comments

On this President’s Day, we can think of no better way to celebrate our nation’s most exalted job than by recalling the wise, though incredibly logorrheic words of the starcrossed William Henry Harrison. As the American history nerds in the audience will recall, Harrison doomed himself to an early death by refusing to wear a […]

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The Congressional Culture of Violence

February 2nd, 2010 · 4 Comments

While today’s Congressional politics may seem somewhat distasteful to fans of decorum, Capitol Hill’s past is full of far more vicious conflict between ideological opposites. As noted in this New York Times report from 1856, the people’s representatives were once none-too-shy about resorting to the gun or sword when positions seemed irreconcilable—though, to the American […]

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The Antidote to Cathy

January 15th, 2010 · Comments Off on The Antidote to Cathy

Sorry, but we just couldn’t bear to have that dreadful Cathy clip atop the blog all weekend. So we’ll instead leave you with this 1970 campaign ad, which we discovered while reading about Spiro Agnew’s proto-Tipper Gore act in the Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune. Ms. Dickinson eventually lost this election in a landslide, but we still […]

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The Jonestown Diet

January 8th, 2010 · 3 Comments

During one of our recent discussions about food taboos, a sage commenter noted that one of the theories regarding such prohibitions is that they aid social cohesion—if we can all agree to, say, eschew beef or Funyuns, we instantly have something that defines us in opposition to “The Other.” Given the inherent creepiness of that […]

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Doing Away With the Veneer

December 3rd, 2009 · 8 Comments

Most authoritarians these days know better than to go the Papa Doc Duvalier route and declare themselves president-for-life. The occasional sham election does wonders in terms of keeping off the international heat, especially if your country is an important source of gas or bauxite. But Nursultan Nazarbayev seems to be seriously considering bucking the trend, […]

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Transformation or Calculation?

November 16th, 2009 · Comments Off on Transformation or Calculation?

One of our favorite scenes in The Godfather trilogy occurs near the beginning of the second installment, as Michael Corleone dances with his wife at a lavish party in honor of their son’s First Communion. Kay Corleone asks her hubby when, exactly, the family will go legit—something that Michael promised several years prior. “I’m trying, […]

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“Beam the Bomb”

November 11th, 2009 · 3 Comments

After posting a vintage pro-SDI ad on Monday, we got to wondering about this “Coalition for SDI” that sponsored the spot. Who could be so bold as to create the risible “Peace Shield” euphemism? We connected the dots back to Daniel O. Graham, who claimed to be the coiner of the term “Strategic Defense Initiative.” […]

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Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

October 28th, 2009 · Comments Off on Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

We recently argued that symbols do, indeed, matter. Is it possible that someone in the administration of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki read our screed? Because the Nairobi regime has suddenly decided to make a rather brilliant token gesture, obviously designed to indicate a willingness to tackle government excess: it’s forcing officials to give up their […]

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Casting With Disaster

October 15th, 2009 · 5 Comments

As we went digging into our pocket for some change this morning, we came up with a piece of currency sure to give the vending machine a case of indigestion: a 20 shilling coin from Kenya, a souvenir of our recent East African jaunt. Before tossing back the useless money in frustration, however, we noticed […]

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