Asia/Africa update: July 16 2018

ASIA AZERBAIJAN Azerbaijani authorities’ response to the recent attempted murder of Ganja mayor Elmar Veliyev is bordering on the totally incoherent: Although the details of the case remain murky, the authorities were quick to blame “Islamic extremists” for the crime. They pointed to Yunis Safarov as a main suspect. Safarov is a Russian citizen of… Continue reading Asia/Africa update: July 16 2018

Your pesto addiction is wrecking an ecosystem

Well, OK, that’s a little harsh, blaming it all on you like that. But apparently the increasing demand for pine nuts here in the US really is doing serious environmental damage. Most of the pine nuts imported into the US (and most pine nuts bought in the US are imported) come from the Korean pine,… Continue reading Your pesto addiction is wrecking an ecosystem

Crime and punishment

Chinese authorities have “detained” ten top executives at the Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Company, which was responsible for the facility that exploded on Wednesday in the port city of Tianjin. The death toll from that explosion has reached 114, with 57 people still missing and environmental hazards (including “several hundred tons of… Continue reading Crime and punishment

The tribulations of Vladimir Putin

After successfully negotiating with the US over a UN resolution opening an investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Vladimir Putin must have been feeling pretty good about himself. So good, in fact, that his government invited Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to Moscow to try to reach a political settlement over the… Continue reading The tribulations of Vladimir Putin

Is Armenia about to experience its own Maidan?

Protesters have been filling the main avenue of the Armenian capital, Yerevan, since June 23, when the government of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan announced a hefty electricity rate hike to pay the country’s electrical grid (smaller protests are also taking place in other cities throughout the country). Armenia is an economic basket case these days,… Continue reading Is Armenia about to experience its own Maidan?

Another, less whimsical Ramadan challenge

As hard as it may be to fast for 21 hours a day in Iceland (or, as I have now learned, up to 22 hours a day in St. Petersburg, Russia), it could always be harder: you could live in China’s Xinjiang Province: China has, once again, banned Ramadan in parts of the far western… Continue reading Another, less whimsical Ramadan challenge

A small break for Rohingya refugees

Those stranded and increasingly desperate Rohingya refugees in the Andaman Sea have gotten a couple of pieces of good news over the last couple of days. Incredibly, Malaysian and Indonesia citizens have been aiding refugees in spite of their governments’ having formally barred Rohingya migrants from entering: Sympathetic Malaysians have launched donation drives to help feed… Continue reading A small break for Rohingya refugees