10 October 2016   Leave a comment

In an outcome that will certainly discomfort Russia, the pro-Western party, Georgian Dream, won a decisive victory in the national parliamentary elections.  Georgia was once part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but has had a very tense relationship with Russia since its independence in 1991.  Russia invaded the country in 2008 and wrested control of two parts of the country, creating two new countries (which have never been recognized by most countries in the world): South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  The invasion was precipitated by the same fear that led Russia to invade Crimea in 2014: overtures from NATO and the EU for closer ties.  Georgia walks a very difficult line given its geographic proximity to Russia.

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Scientists have released a study which indicates that anthropogenic climate change is responsible for about one-half of the area burned in wildfires in the American West since the 1970s.  According to the Washington Post:

“Overall, the researchers found that anthropogenic climate change was responsible for just over half of the total observed increase in fuel dryness since 1979. In turn, this influence has added more than 16,000 square miles of forest fire area to the western United States since 1984 — an area larger than the state of Maryland— nearly doubling the area scientists might have expected without the influence of similar climate change.”

The relationship between climate change and wildfires is certain to become more pronounced as global temperatures rise.  It remains to be seen whether the relationship can be tested in other areas of the world.

Image result for graph of wildfires in the US

The IMF is warning that debt levels in China are reaching heights that are increasingly dangerous.  Debt, by the government, by banks, by corporations, and by households, is growing much faster than economic growth.  According to  The Telegraph:

“The Bank for International Settlements raised alarm bells last month over China’s “credit to GDP gap”. The key gauge of banking risk is currently at a record high of above 30, and much higher than levels seen in the run up to the 1997 Asian financial crisis.”

The Chinese government has the financial reserves to cover many of these debts but the use of these reserves would signal a serious crisis and likely lead to a decline in confidence in the Chinese economy.

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Posted October 10, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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