Brazilians: Our corrupt politicians are doing a great job!

According to a new poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 79 percent of Brazilians think that political corruption is a "major problem" in their country. On the other hand, all that corruption doesn't seem to be keeping leaders from delivering the goods. 75 percent approve of the current government more generally and 76 percent say it's doing a good job handling the economy. 

Overall, there's a lot of encouraging news in the poll. 87 percent of Brazilians support increased trade and 85 percent see climate change as a major problem. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will leave office this year with an impressive 80 percent approval rating. (It seems possible that Lula has cultivated a kind of "good czar" image where citizens see him as untouched by the corruption of more local officials.)

Encouragingly for presidential frontrunner Dilma Roussef, 70 percent say electing a woman would be a good thing. Encouragingly for Washington, 62 percent of Brazilians have a favorable view of the United States, only 13 percent have a favorable view of Hugo Chavez, and -- despite Lula's controversial outreach to Tehran -- 65 percent would be willing to consider tougher sanctions on Iran. 

Overall, despite persistent concerns over crime and corruption, Brazilians seem remarkably upbeat. The citizens of "the country of the future that always will be" seem to finally be living in the present. 



The lost Ethiopians of Kyrgyzstan

A strange story of 80 men trapped in geopolitical limbo since the end of the Cold War: 

Tesgaye, once an aspiring fighter pilot, was one of 80 Ethiopian cadets sent to a Soviet military training facility in the remote republic of Kyrgyzstan in 1989 to master the art of flying combat aircraft.

"At that time in Ethiopia there was a military government, and because of an agreement between the Soviet Union and Ethiopia, they used to train pilots for the country's air force," Tesgaye explained.

Within two years, both the Soviet Union and Ethiopia's Marxist regime had collapsed, forcing the cadets to think carefully about their options for their future in a strange and foreign land.

Almost 20 years later, still fearing reprisals back home for the small role he played in the brutal rule of deposed Marxist leader Mengistu Haile Mariam, Tesgaye is marooned here — a world away from a family that has grown older without him.

The cadets have endured some horrific racial abuse during their time in exile, an ironic parallel to the thousands of Kyrgyz migrant workers who receive similar treatment in Russia.