Amazing Midweek Roundup: Steamy S. America, Burning N. America and a Gassy EU

PHOTO: Chavez and Ahmadinejad

Russia deepens Ukraine gas cuts
Russia has basically cut gas supplies to 50%. The EU, at this point, really has no back-up plan and no foreseeable way until a few years down the line to not be heavily reliant on Russian gas lines from Ukraine and Belarus. For Russia, this is a great position to be in. People continue to make a stink over Kosovo? Let’s cut the gas. You’d like to let the US put missiles in your territory? I think we’ll cut the gas. The Russian government knows exactly what it is doing. The government and business is basically run by all ex-KGB/FSB men who basically will do whatever they want as long as they are getting money coming in and will stay in power. The future is looking very interesting with this re-emerging Russia flexing its newfound strengths.

Iranian leader lends Iraq $1 billion, tells U.S. to leave
I guess Ahmadinejad is not too worried about those new sanctions the UN decided to impose on Iran. I’m not a big fan of out-and-out loans as you never know where that money could end up. A bit of trade, some interconnectivity creates interdependency which will foster better relations for everyone.

Sudan troops clash with EU Force
This and their Kosovo mission will test several theories about the need for an EU rapid reaction and policing force. It’s doubtful there will be any real fighting, as the UN troops do in Congo, but at least an international presence other than the underfunded, ill-trained AU force in the region will be a welcome sign that people are starting to finally get their hands dirty in aiding the people of Chad and Darfur.

Pew Report Finds More than One in 100 Adults are Behind Bars
This has been going around the web the past week but it is still an astonishing figure. The courts can be a confusing and expensive place, especially for people who might not trust the system, the cops, or the lawyers in the first place. Cops need to make busts and get convictions to get promotions, lawyers need be able to bill for their time, and courts need to look like they are fighting crime by putting people in prison. And people who might have a chance of not leading a criminal life get thrown around by a system that, for all intents and purposes, is not really set up to help them along to being a “good” citizen. For people who have to pay court fees, it’s not realistic for them to take from low-paying or multiple jobs to do community service. Community Service Officers (such as one I’ve had experience with) can take that $200 and not do a damn thing, ending up with you having a warrant out for your arrest when you actually fulfilled your part of the bargain. Then it’s more money and possibly even jail and more distrust of the system. It can be difficult out there for the cops but if we had less of an emphasis on enforcing everything (small time marijuana possession, public urination, etc) then maybe they could focus their time and energy on those things really hurting the community.

Mine Water Poses Danger of a Toxic Gusher via The Subterranean Water Cannons of Leadville, Colorado
Wow, a town denied insurance because of government environmental irresponsibility. Remind anyone of another disaster in the not-too-distant past involving a bit of wind, some flooding, and broken levees? I wonder what FEMA would do in case of an emergency here.

Five People Shot near Suu Kyi’s Rangoon Home
A highly unusual incident in a tightly-controlled police state. Maybe a sign of tensions rising once more in Burma and some pre-emptive police action as a warning. Who knows.

Shootout with federal troops leaves one dead
The US-Mexico border continues to be one of the hottest (action-wise) places. Guns, drugs, people, all flow in and out, back and forth, gangsters and others involved in the chain profiting off other peoples’ misery. At least there were no heads cut off in Cancun this week.

“Green” McMansions Torched in Seattle
Green McMansion seems like an oxymoron to me but evidently the ELF took them to task for it by committing arson in Seattle’s “Street of Dreams”. Of course, this could also be a good way to get some insurance money in a declining market though we love to use the word “terror” anytime we can. “Terror” is the new “like”. Coming soon to a Valley Girl near you.

Growing International Free-For-All, As Charges Mount On Chavez Laundering and Terrorist Ties
Lots of huffing and puffing and finger pointing that will (hopefully) stop short of a regional war.

Flickr photo from Álvaro Herraiz

One Comment

  1. Ian

    In regards to the Pew Report stuff you wrote:

    You seem to be suggesting that, to some extent, people are put behind bars for no reason. While I will agree that there are some innocent people in jail, I don’t believe there are enough to inflate this statistic to 1% of the adult population. Also, on your whole commentary on marijuana and pissing in public: I don’t really care if you see those issues as trivial, but the fact is, both are against the law. You don’t like it, get the law changed, but breaking the law gets you in trouble with the law. You act like people should be allowed to break some laws but not others and that isn’t how it works and thats not how it should work either. However harmless it is to possess, sell, and smoke pot, its still breaking the law.

    Now see, I would spin such a report like this: Has the money trickled down yet? Crime is linked to lower socio-economic standing. Maybe if you could improve the standing of poorer people and non-whites, maybe you would see an improvement in that statistic.