Russia, Venezuela, and Global Warming: Catching Up
I’ve been on an extended Thanksgiving vacation, but I didn’t completely ignore the news. Here are some of the things I noted during the past week:
* Russia’s Vladimir Putin lashed out at the West for allegedly meddling in Russian politics. But he didn’t stop there.
He accused unidentified Russians of planning mass street protests, like those that helped usher in pro-Western governments in the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine in 2003 and 2004.
“Now, they’re going to take to the streets. They have learned from Western experts and have received some training in neighboring (ex- Soviet) republics. And now they are going to stage provocations here,” he said.
Putin seemed to refer to anti-Kremlin demonstrations planned for this weekend in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Police have used force to break up several marches and demonstrations, beating and detaining dozens of protesters.
Putin doesn’t seem to value democracy all that highly. Even if his vague charges are true, aren’t protests part of the process? Yes, even in the US we have problems when protests get out of hand, but read the whole article. It’s rather disconcerting.
* This weekend, the referendum in Venezuela will determine the fate of Hugo Chavez’s constitutional “reforms”. Recent polls show that support is coming up short, so Chavez is ratcheting up the rhetoric, calling those who vote against it “traitors”. An article on the liberal site AlterNet is predictably in favor of this power grab, and on a point-by-point basis makes its case for the reforms. The problem is the big picture, and how it matches up with autocrats from history. Chavez may be getting these changes by a popular vote, but he’s doing it by buying those votes. He grabs all the oil industry profits, and gives back a smidgeon to the people so that they’ll keep him in office, and give him the power to stay there a long, long time. Each thread of his proposal looks reasonable, but the tapestry is instead a straightjacket, woven by a paranoid nut.
* The whole idea of tying global warming to hurricane activity has been dealt another blow.
Despite alarming predictions, the U.S. came through a second straight hurricane season virtually unscathed, raising fears among emergency planners that they will be fighting public apathy and overconfidence when they warn people to prepare for next year.
I think those that are most fearful are the ones that made those “alarming predictions” in the first place. Their government funding is at stake, dontcha’ know?
[tags]Russia,Vladimir Putin,Venezuela,Hugo Chavez,global warming,climate change,hurricanes[/tags]
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