What a difference a year makes….

Pourmecoffee tweeted this photo earlier today of last year’s Arab-Africa summit.

From left to right: Ben Ali of Tunisia, Saleh of Yemen, Colonel Gaddafi, and former Egyptian President Mubarak.


Day after day, alone on a hill…

With the tenth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan fast approaching, the Washington Post’s Joshua Partlow profiles the women of Tapaye Zanabad (the hill that women built.)

For the past decade, war widows have converged here and built by hand their mud hovels on a slope above a cemetery in an eastern neighborhood of the Afghan capital. They came at first because the land was free and they were poor. Police would fine or beat men for raising a settlement on government land, but the widows found that they could build if they were clever.

Hundreds of widows came, aid workers said, and they now number perhaps more than 1,000 on the hill and its surroundings. The first squatter homes have since morphed into a crowded community that has a private drinking water supply and spotty electricity. Most of the women have not been able to escape from wretched poverty, but they have preserved something far more unusual in a country dominated by men.

Read the whole thing.

Jane White and the racial straitjacket

Just stumbled on this obituary for the actress and singer Jane White, who died last month at the age of 88.

I was particularly struck by this passage:

Ms. White never achieved the stardom she hoped for and believed she deserved. One issue — the larger one — was a paucity of roles for black actors, period, no matter the shade or hue of their skin, she told The New York Times in 1968. “We have one Sidney Poitier and one Diana Sands, and bang! — the door closes,” she said.

The situation became only more complicated for mixed-race actors like herself, she said. As she wrote in a 1992 essay, light-skinned actors of her time were still routinely dismissed as too white for black parts. They had to lighten their complexions for white parts and, in the case of light-skinned women appearing opposite black men, darken their appearance lest the black man “seem to be involved with a white girl — horrors!”

In the 1968 Times interview, Ms. White vented her frustration. “I don’t want to be disguised anymore,” she said.

Read the whole thing here.