As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

World Report

Because, you know, why not:

• For those who thought that Turkey's military pullout from northern Iraq would be the end of that potentially chaotic front in the war, they've started bombing again, and I'm sure they won't hesitate to go right back into Kurdistan again if they see fit. In the same article comes news that the US has released two Shiite officials accused of killing and kidnapping Sunnis. This was the legal case that fell apart last week. Sunni groups are up in arms. We're still on very shaky ground over there.

• It's funny that the Pentagon keeps talking about China's military buildup as if it portends some horrible consequence for the world, when in actuality their military budget is a mere fraction of the US military budget. This of course raises the double standard where we only use our military for good but everyone else uses the military for EEE-VILLLL.

• While nobody's paying much attention, it turns out that Pakistan's opposition parties have been unable thus far to get together on a unity government. Meanwhile attacks by Islamists continue, and Musharraf is emboldened by stepping into the power vacuum. And of course, our backing of Musharraf is adding to the chaos.

• We really could see Zimbabweans finally turning against Mugabe at long last. That's really one of the most horrifying situations in the whole world. If the ZANU-PF party finally rebelled it would be good for the world.

• Finally, this is one of the strangest stories I've ever read.

The generals, to put it mildly, can't take a joke.

But the Moustache Brothers make their living mocking fools, including those who wear military uniforms. So they have drawn a battle line in this country's long struggle for democracy with a small stage that cuts across their cramped living room, site of the three-man comedy troupe's nightly performance.

The military regime silenced street protests last fall by arresting and, in some cases, shooting peaceful demonstrators. That has left dissidents such as comedians Lu Zaw, Lu Maw and the lead satirist of the family, Par Par Lay, to tend the embers of opposition by poking fun at the regime.

In the past, the junta that rules Myanmar -- also known as Burma -- has tried to shut them up too, hoping to intimidate them with prison terms, hard labor and torture. But the comedians are exploiting a loophole in a ban on their act by staying on the attack at home, in English, with biting humor that ridicules the junta as a bunch of bumbling thugs, thieves and spies.

Never underestimate the power of the court jester to cause radical change. The despot is always cut down to size when mocked. It's not for nothing that most military dictatorships tighten the communications apparatus first.

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