Paul Biya has been President of Cameroon for 42 years. Ali Khamenei has been Supreme Leader of Iran for 36 years. Denis Sassou Nguesso has ruled the Republic of the Congo for 33 years.
That makes Emomali Rahmon something of a youngster. He has been in charge of post-Communist Tajikistan for a mere 27 years, though he has made up for lack of time on the job with exceptional dedication to it. No one doubts who is in charge of Tajikistan — the smallest, poorest and most mountainous of the five republics of Central Asia, once part of the Soviet Union, now on their own. Continue reading “From Tajikistan to Mexico”
Fashions change, thanks goodness. In 18th century London, no self-respecting gentleman would have been without his beaver hat, a much admired fur that also went into various articles of clothing and blankets. Given the profits involved, many adventurous Englishmen headed for the American West in search of this valuable prey, at the same time contributing to and sometimes leading the continental expansion. Continue reading “The Beaver Rage”
War is death to the truth. Any plausible lie will do to advance the cause of one side or the other. An example is the Soviet execution of some 22 thousand Polish officers at Katyn forest as it cemented its rule following the 1939 pact with Nazi Germany – one after another shot in the back of the head and pushed into a mass grave. But we didn’t do it, claimed the Communists. The Nazis did. And for many years later, they were generally believed. Continue reading “The Katyn Lie”
No trouble knowing who is honored at the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. But what about Osceola Street in Stuart, Florida? I asked some passersby if they could identify the man whose name is attached to a main avenue in the town. One after another couldn’t until a woman suggested, “Maybe an Indian.” Continue reading “Osceola of Florida”
When is a wall not a wall? When it’s a fence. A semantic confusion. We’re not sure what is being built along the U.S.-Mexican border, but politically speaking, the word “wall” packs a punch for both sides, for and against, useful for rallying supporters, fanning the flames, winning some votes. Never mind reality. Continue reading “The Real Wall”