Passport

Amnesty: economic crisis is a "human rights time bomb"

Unfortunately, it makes perfect sense: as the world struggles to rebound from the global financial downturn, human rights have taken a backseat. As Amnesty International launches its annual report today, the organization worries: "human rights problems have been relegated to the backseat as political and business leaders grapple with the economic crisis."

So if getting delinquent countries to fix their human rights records was arduous before, now it's downright grueling. There's neither money nor time for addressing the scourge -- even as recession leaves unemployment, cut wages, and even hunger in its path. 

It's not hard to imagine what they're talking about -- and here are a few hypothetical examples:

As the unity government in Zimbabwe tries to get on its own feet, it has been applying for aid to supplement increasingly sparse government revenues. With foreign donors feeling rattled by domestic conditions, it will be that much harder to get help.

In Nigeria, where falling oil prices are drying up government revenues hard and fast, the country's army has responded full force to put down insurrection in the country's oil-producing Niger Delta -- to the detriment of thousands displaced

Or take South Africa, just recently hit by its first real economic downturn in a decade. Xenophobia (particularly against an influx of Zimbabweans looking for work) was already a problem last year, when times were (relatively) good. This year could be even trickier.

Passport

Mohammed Khatami's new macaca moment

Back in 2007, I wrote a post noting a video of Mohammed Khatami shaking hands with female supporters that had gotten the former Iranian president in some hot water. The post was titled "Mohammed Khatami's macaca moment," but Khatami's latest viral video sensation is actually more like George Allen's infamous racial slur.

In the video, which is making the round of the Iranian blogosphere, Khatami tells an insulting joke about Azeris. (I'm fairly sure it's the video above but Farsi speakers should correct me if I'm wrong.) This had lead to public protests in several cities by Iran's sizeable Azeri community. It's quite possible that the video was leaked in order to discredit Khatami's reformist ally Mir Hossein Musavi in the upcoming presidential election.

RFE/RL's Iran Election Diary Blog provides a translation, though I think it probably loses something from the original:

“There was a preacher from Ardabil whose expertise was telling the story of how Fatemeh Zahra [the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad] got married," he says. "[The preacher] said that the night she became a bride, she was being taken to the house [of the groom] and the Prophet was walking in front of her, while Imam Hassan and Imam Hossein [both the sons of Fatemeh Zahra] were walking with her.”

This is way over my head but the implication, apparently, is that Azeris are slow. In any case, Iran's reformists may want to keep cellphone cameras away from Khatami for the next three weeks.

The same blog also has a collection of (funnier) Iranian election jokes, such as the best reason to vote for Musavi over Ahmadinejad:

"He's made anti-Israeli and anti- American comments at international venues but nobody walked out."

Update: Some further explanation from commenter Nemesida below.