World View: Hugo Chavez Likely to Win Fourth Term as President of Venezuela

This morning's key headlines from

  • Hugo Chavez likely to win fourth term as president of Venezuela
  • Israel shoots down unmanned drone arriving from Mediterranean
  • Turkey and Syria continue to exchange fire across their border
  • World food prices go inexorably higher

Hugo Chavez likely to win fourth term as president of Venezuela

Hugo Chavez campaiging on Friday (AFP)
Hugo Chavez campaiging on Friday (AFP)

The vitriolicly anti-American Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez appears to poised to win reelection on Sunday, against his principal opponent, "moderate leftist" Henrique Capriles. Chávez has won hearts and minds by using Venezuela's oil wealth for social programs for the poor. Capriles has said that he would halt subsidized oil shipments to Cuba, Belarus, Nicaragua and Syria. Venezuela has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become number one in the world for proven oil reserves. Chávez has announced plans to increase production and double crude exports to Asia. His goal is to reduce world dependence on American oil, but apparently he also wants to reduce world oil prices for America and everyone else. In recent years Venezuelan oil production has fallen due to poor maintenance, low investment and the loss of key workers. Plans to open new fields have been repeatedly delayed. The Hindu and Guardian (London)

Israel shoots down unmanned drone arriving from Mediterranean

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that crossed into Israel's air space and flew over settlements and military bases was shot down by Israel's air force on Saturday morning. At the time that the UAV was identified, it was unknown whether it carried an explosive weapon, but examination of the fragments indicated that it was apparently on a reconnaissance mission rather than an attack mission. It is unknown where the UAV took off from, or who was responsible, although Hizbollah is suspected. Jerusalem Post

Turkey and Syria continue to exchange fire across their border

Tensions between Turkey and Syria, once strong allies, continued to be at dangerous levels on Saturday, after mortar shells from Syria landed in rural areas of Turkey, and the Turkish army returned fire in a retaliatory attack. The shells from Syria did not cause any Turkish casualties, although villagers rushed out of their homes to gather at a safer point in the village. Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Syria not to test Turkey's "limits and determination" and that his country "was not bluffing" with its warnings. Saturday is the fourth day that Syrian shells have landed in Turkey. On Wednesday, five people were killed. Zaman (Istanbul)

World food prices go inexorably higher

FAO Food Price Index
FAO Food Price Index

Global food prices increased by 1.4% in the month from July to August, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Even though oil prices are low and rice harvests are plentiful, food prices show no signs of leveling off and falling, since they began their average 9% per year average rise, starting in 2002. Food prices are already at the 2008 peak that resulted in world wide food riots, and are close to returning to their 2011 peaks that triggered the "Arab Spring" in the Mideast. At 9% increases per year, food prices will be at new historic highs by next summer. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the people who survived the enormous famines of World War II devoted their lives to making sure that it would never happen again, and they launched the Green Revolution that produced sharp increases in crop yields in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the younger generations of Boomers and Gen-Xers with no personal experience of famine allowed the Green Revolution to peter out in the 1990s. In the meantime, the Law of Diminishing Returns is reducing the effectiveness of fertilizers and insecticides, the tools developed for the Green Revolution, at the same time that other resources, including groundwater and forests, are being used up. FAO and Bloomberg

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