Astana, Kazakhstan: Most people wouldn’t bother going half way around the world for their fifteen seconds of fame. Ok, so maybe there was little fame to be found but, it was still worthwhile to spend two days flying back and forth to attend the two-day annual Eurasian Media Forum in Kazakhstan, a Central Asian nation that is actually the 9th largest country in the world, with ultra wealthy oil and gas fields.
It was also one of the few countries in the world that gave up its nuclear weapons. South Africa is another one.
Kazakhstan flickered briefly in our popular culture when the film Borat made fun of the place—it was shot in Romania, not there—and more recently, figured in the investigation into the terrifying actions of the Tsarnaev ‘Bomb Brothers’ in Boston responsible for doing so much vicious damage at the Marathon. It was reported that they had also lived here although local media disputes it. (Two Kazakh kids are said to be in jail now in the US for visa violations although it’s not clear how or if they are linked.)
The forum here deals with political and media issues and attracts top journalists and policymakers to hold forth on panels. I was on one with none other than Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor.… Read the rest