2 May 2018   Leave a comment

One of Mount Holyoke’s finest, Jenna Ruddock, has written an article on the Venezuelan refugees that are taxing the resources of many of Venezuela’s neighbors.  The refugees are fleeing an economic system that has totally collapsed, leaving many on the brink of starvation and without sufficient medical supplies.  Ruddock describes the crisis:

“A crippled health care system, critical food shortages, and hyperinflation are driving Venezuelans across their country’s borders en masse, many bearing only what they can carry on foot. According to recent reports from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), nearly one million people have fled Venezuela in the past two years. Venezuela’s immediate neighbors are now facing a migration crisis comparable in scale to the flight of Syrians to western Europe. Nearly 600,000 Venezuelans have sought refuge in neighboring Colombia alone.”

Unfortunately, the US response to the refugee crisis has been non-existent: “For the first time in 2017, more Venezuelans sought asylum in the United States than citizens from any other country. Yet the Trump administration’s message to migrants seeking refuge in the United States has consistently been a hostile one.”  The international community needs to take note of this humanitarian crisis, one which is incomprehensible given the potential richness of Venezuela.


The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released its annual report on global military spending.  According to the press release:

“Total world military expenditure rose to $1739 billion in 2017, a marginal increase of 1.1 per cent in real terms from 2016, according to new figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). China’s military expenditure rose again in 2017, continuing an upward trend in spending that has lasted for more than two decades. Russia’s military spending fell for the first time since 1998, while spending by the United States remained constant for the second successive year.”

Some of the developments in 2017 are quite revealing.

  • China made the largest absolute increase in spending ($12 billion) in 2017 (in constant 2016 prices), while Russia made the largest decrease (–$13.9 billion).
  • Military expenditure in South America rose by 4.1 per cent in 2017, mainly as a result of notable increases by the two largest spenders in the subregion: Argentina (up by 15 per cent) and Brazil (up by 6.3 per cent).
  • Military spending in Central America and the Caribbean fell by 6.6 per cent in 2017, largely due to lower spending by Mexico (down by 8.1 per cent from 2016).
  • Military expenditure in Africa decreased by 0.5 per cent in 2017, the third consecutive annual decrease since the peak in spending in 2014. Algeria’s military spending fell for the first time in over a decade (down by 5.2 per cent from 2016).
  • Seven of the 10 countries with the highest military burden are in the Middle East: Oman (12 per cent of GDP), Saudi Arabia (10 per cent of GDP), Kuwait (5.8 per cent of GDP), Jordan (4.8 per cent of GDP), Israel (4.7 per cent of GDP), Lebanon (4.5 per cent of GDP) and Bahrain (4.1 per cent of GDP).

World military spending 1988–2017. Data and graphic: SIPRI


The Pakistani city of Nawabshah recorded a high of 50.2ºC (122ºF) on Monday.  That temperature is the highest temperature ever recorded in the month of April anywhere in the world, and suggests that this coming summer could be brutal in Pakistan.  The record joins a number of record-setting high temperature events in the last few years.  According to The Nation:

“The record-setting 122.4 degree reading in Nawabshah adds to a long list of international hot weather extremes since 2017, which includes Spain’s and Iran’s highest temperatures ever recorded last summer. In May 2017,  the western town of Turbat in Pakistan hit 128.3 degrees, tying the all-time highest temperature in that country and the world-record temperature for that month, Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters reported.”

Recent research suggests that poor countries will experience a disproportionately high number of such events if climate change is not addressed.  The Washington Post ran a graphic on the temperatures in South Asia yesterday.

Posted May 2, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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