I learned two funny facts this morning about Saudi Arabia. First, the government is running for the UN Human Rights Council. Oh the irony. It’s hard to know where to start with that one!
But it gets even better than that folks. The second fact is that the brochure advocating their candidacy cites women’s rights in SA. Seriously–you can’t make this stuff up. And look at the photo that goes along with the supposed women’s rights:
Besides the photo, there are some really funny statements in the brochure, like “The Government allows women to achieve a number of accomplishments.” [my emphasis on the most insulting parts of the sentence]
Also, there is the ridiculous statement that “Saudi law does not differentiate between men and women. This ensures them freedom of action and the running of their own affairs independently and without any restriction.” Even if that were true, which it is absolutely not, the statement is incredibly insulting and patronizing. The government lets women run their own affairs. Gee thanks.
h/t to Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) for this morning’s irony fail.
The NY Times has a video on the plight of Mexico City organ grinders. Apparently, “[they] say they are losing popularity. They face more competition and a younger population that does not appreciate their music.”
Based on the video below, I cannot imagine why young people aren’t appreciative. Seriously though, that is some of the worst “music” I’ve heard. I didn’t have high expectations when I clicked on the video, but it is much, much worse than imagined.
Mexico boasts an amazing pop and rap music scene so it is no wonder young people wouldn’t be too impressed with these guys. The real question is how it was possible that this sound was ever popular (especially when the guy doesn’t even have a monkey)? Thankfully the market has spoken–I just hope the government doesn’t step in to subsidize the lost art of organ grinding!
Democracy in Africa has constructed a tremendous resource for anyone interested in learning more about African political economy. It is called “Decolonising the University: The African Politics Reading List” and contains many interesting sub-sections, including: African Political Thought, Pre-colonial Politics, Slavery and the Role of Traditional leaders, the Politics of Ethnicity, the Politics of Religion, Agricultural Politics and Land Reform, amongst many others.
In other news, in what I would like to call “How is this Artist Still Alive?”, a Zimbabwean artist has created a statue of President Mugabe that has drawn widespread ridicule. When I first saw the piece, I thought this artist better be on the lam. But, no, the only person who seems to like the art (and thank goodness for that for the artist) is Mugabe himself. Feast your eyes:
Thanks to Ruth Mostern (@RuthMostern), I found a new gem to add to my next syllabus!
Rur roh. I’ve used the term “Sub-Saharan Africa” both in teaching and in my research many times. However, I just learned that the phrase is neither politically or geographically correct. Yikes!
A recent Quartz article makes the following points:
First, the term isn’t geographically correct in some cases. For instance, “The UN Development Program lists 46 of Africa’s 54 countries as ‘sub-Saharan,’ [but] four countries included are on the Sahara, while Eritrea is deemed “sub-Saharan” but its southern neighbor Djibouti isn’t.”
Second, development agencies aren’t consistent in their labeling. In its definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank includes the 46 countries as the UN Development Program but also includes Sudan and Somalia.
Third, instead of treating Africa as a single country (sadly still commonplace in the media), we tend to treat it as two (Sub-Saharan and Northern Africa).
The article also delves into the history of the term, noting that Sub-Saharan Africa replaced the more politically incorrect terms “Tropical Africa” and “Black Africa” that were prevalent in early research. Some argue that the new term is equally problematic:
Tatenda Chinondidyachii Mashanda, a politics and international affairs scholar at Wake Forest University argues that “[it] is a way of saying ‘Black Africa’ and talking about black Africans without sounding overtly racist.”
Brian Larkin, a Columbia University anthropologist, would agree, arguing that dividing Africa into Northern African and Sub-Saharan Africa reflects “‘racist’ colonial theories that thought northern Africa more culturally developed.”
Time to re-think how I will describe my data the next time I write a paper with African countries!
The economic inefficiency of Mexico’s ejido system (rural land that is held communally) led the federal government to implement serious land reform in 1992. [Click here for a video I created for Marginal Revolution University about the creation of the ejido system].
In an interesting forthcoming paper in JEBO called Land Reform and Violence: Evidence from Mexico (here’s an undated working paper version), Tommy Murphy and Martín Rossi study the effects of the 1992 reform on municipal homicides. In motivating the paper, they write that:
“Bandiera (2003) has convincingly argued that the lack of proper enforcement of land rights by the state played a crucial role in the rise of the mafia in 19th century Sicily. But violence not need be channeled only through organized crime, and it is indeed plausible that different land tenure systems lead to extreme forms of violent crime, such as murders.”
Indeed, the authors find for the case of Mexico “that clearly specified and consistently enforced land rights reduce gains from violence, leading therefore to lower levels of violence, as measured by the number of murders.”
President Robert Mugabe, 92 years old, frequently leaves his country for health care in Singapore and Dubai. Given his advanced age, each leave elicits questions/hopes that maybe this is finally it. Maybe he won’t be coming back to wreck further havoc on his country.
Mugabe crushed many hopes by reappearing Saturday after a prolonged absence. And what did he have to say? Here’s the transcript:
“It is true that I was dead,” the world’s oldest head of state said. “And I resurrected. As I always do.”
“Are we speaking to a ghost?” someone asked him.
“Once I get back to my country, I am real,” Mugabe said.
Zimbabweans shouldn’t worry so much about his health though because Mrs. Mugabe told citizens that her husband “would rule from the grave.” How reassuring! That’s gives new meaning to the phrase “president for life.”