Medvedev scolds Lukashenko in vlog attack

In a new video blog entry, an unusually stern Dmitry Medvedev takes aim at Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko for using "hysterical" anti-Russian rhetoric on the campaign trail, which according to the Russian President, "goes far beyond not only diplomatic protocol but also basic human decency." He also gets in a dig at the autocratic ruler's human rights practices saying that Lukashnko should "should concern himself with his country's internal problems, including, finally the investigation of numerous cases of disappearances."

Medvedev is responding to Lukashenko's recent accusations that Russia is meddling in the country's election. Relations between Russia and its onetime closest ally have soured in recent years, and in the last few weeks, state-controlled Russian TV stations have been pumping out anti-Lukashenko documentaries. 

A similar barrage of criticism in the state-controlled press hit Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov before his firing last week and Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev before he was overthrown in April. Lukashenko is probably right to be worried.

The last leader to receive a similar Medvedev vlog-attack was Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko, who is, of course, no longer the Ukrainian president.


Mariah Carey's bare shoulders are not welcome in Saudi Arabia

Sometimes, my job involves poring over figures of foreign direct investment in Syria over the past decade -- and sometimes it consists of looking at pictures of Mariah Carey and calling it research. Today, happily, turned out to be one of the latter days. Some enterprising soul has compiled a selection of pictures of the diva that have been photoshopped by Saudi censors to present a more demure Mariah for a local audience. As shown in the above photo, where Mariah has been attired in what appear to be bell-bottoms, this is not always done expertly.

For the record, this is not my favorite example of Arab media editing the sartorial choices of public figures to accommodate (what it views as) local cultural sensitivities. In 2008, the official Jordanian press agency found its own queen's bare shoulders too scandalous to show the Jordanian people, and released a picture covering them up.