22 October 2017   Leave a comment

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rolled the dice with a snap election and preliminary results suggest that it payed off well.   The results indicate that Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito bloc will win a two-thirds majority in the Lower House of the Japanese Parliament.  The Japan Times assesses the significance of the victory:

“A solid showing for the ruling bloc will serve as a powerful public mandate for Abe, adding momentum to his widely rumored bid next year to run for a historic third term as LDP president. If re-elected, Abe, who briefly held office from 2006 to 2007, could remain in power until 2021, becoming the nation’s longest-serving prime minister.”

If that scenario plays out, it is highly likely that Abe will push for a reform of the Japanese Constitution which was written while Japan was under US occupation after World War II.  The constitution forbids Japan from taking offensive military action and Abe wishes to change it.  Abe cites concerns over North Korea and the growing military power of China as reasons for the change, but the pacifist constituency in Japan remains very strong.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe


Scientists in China are concerned over the shrinking of China’s glaciers.  The glaciers are the principal source of fresh water for the northwest region of China which receives very little rain.  According to National Public Radio:

“Xinjiang, a land of mountains, forests and deserts, is four times the size of California and is home to 20,000 glaciers — nearly half of all the glaciers in China. Since the 1950s, all of Xinjiang’s glaciers have retreated by between 21 percent to 27 percent.”

The article describes how the melt from the glaciers is transported 200 miles through a remarkable system of wells, known as the Karez Wells, which were built almost 2,000 years ago.  UNESCO describes the significance of this engineering feat.  Unfortunately, because of the glaciers melting, many of these wells are now going dry.


On this day in 1962, US President John Kennedy delivered a televised speech in which he announced that the US would implement a quarantine around the island of Cuba to prevent the Soviet Union from sending nuclear missiles to the island.  The speech triggered off what we now call the Cuban Missile Crisis, unquestionably one of the most dangerous episodes in the Cold War between the US and the USSR.  The National Security Archive at George Washington University has compiled the most extensive collection of materials on the crisis for those who wish to delve further into the matter.  The crisis marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War as both sides realized how dangerous their relationship had become.  It would take years, however, before the Cold War finally eased up.

One of the Photographs of the Missile Facilities in Cuba


Smile Time

Posted October 22, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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