5 May 2018   2 comments

There were widespread protests against the inauguration of Vladimir Putin for his fourth term as President of Russia.  He was elected last March in an election that lacked effective opposition and the protests targeted his consolidation of power over the Russian state.  Over 1600 people were detained in the protests, including Alexei Navalny who has emerged as the leader of the opposition to Putin.  There were protests in over 60 cities, from Yakutsk to St. Petersburg to Kalinigrad,  under the banner “He is not our Czar”.

Alexei Navalny Being Detained

Russian police carry struggling opposition leader Alexei Navalny


Concentrations of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) at the measurement station at Mauna Loa in Hawaii for the month of April reached 410 parts per million for the first time in over 800,000 years.  According to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego:

“This marks the first time in the history of the Mauna Loa record that a monthly average has exceeded 410 parts per million. This also represents a 30-percent increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the global atmosphere since the Keeling Curve began in 1958. In March, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego observed the 60th anniversary of the data series, the first measurements of which were 315 ppm.

“The Keeling Curve draws its name from its creator and the shape of its dataset, a seasonally seesawing trend of steadily rising CO2 readings that exceeded 400 ppm in air for the first time in human history in 2013. Prior to the onset of the Industrial Revolution, CO2  levels had fluctuated over the millennia but had never exceeded 300 ppm at any point in the last 800,000 years.”

In does not appear as if the world has made any progress in reducing emissions of CO2 which, according to the World Meteorological Organization, makes “the planet more dangerous and inhospitable for future generations.”


Lebanon is holding a national election tomorrow and it is unlikely that the election will determine anything.  Lebanon has long been governed under a system of “confessionals” which allocate political power on the basis of presumed religious representation.  According to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems:

“Lebanon’s internal politics seek to balance the interests of its numerous religious groups, or ‘confessions,’ until the ‘basic national goal,’ as enumerated in the Constitution, of the abolition of political confessionalism can be achieved. Although not included in the Constitution, by long-standing agreement the president is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister is a Sunni Muslim, and Parliament’s speaker is a Shi’a Muslim. As will be discussed in more detail below, following the Taif Accord in 1989, the Constitution requires that Muslims and Christians have equal numbers of seats in Parliament, and the election law distributes seats in constituencies among the various confessions.”

The Washington Post has a very nice article describing the different parties competing in the elections.  Stratfor gives a detailed description of the structure of the Lebanese government which outlines its extraordinary complexity and its intent of avoiding sectarian conflict.   Al-Arabiyah examines the outsized influence of Hezbollah in Lebanese politics which frightens the Saudis and emboldens the Iranians.  The elegant proportionality of the system is undermined by the fact that the ratios are determined by a census conducted in 1932–a new census has never been held out of fear of disrupting the balance agreed upon over 70 years ago.

A chart shows the structure of Lebanon's parliament and parties

Posted May 5, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

2 responses to “5 May 2018

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  1. How do we know what the c02 level was 800,000 years ago?


    Beatrice Kaplan
    • There are a variety of ways. Scientists determine the various mixes of atmospheric gases from lake sediments, ocean beds, fossils, and ice cores. There actually have been times in the far distant past when CO2 levels were higher than they are today. But humans were not around today.


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