World View: Putin's Approval Ratings Soar in Russia over Crimea Annexation

This morning's key headlines from

  • Putin's approval ratings soar in Russia over Crimea annexation
  • Riots among Palestinians over successor to Abbas
  • Hundreds of dead pig carcasses found in China's Gan River

Putin's approval ratings soar in Russia over Crimea annexation

The approval rating of Russia's president Vladimir Putin has soared 15 points since January 1 to 75.7% of Russians supporting him. Putin's political opposition was already pretty dispirited, but the Crimean annexation has permitted Putin to crush the opposition in polling.

In fact, the Crimea annexation has split the opposition itself. Liberal anti-war groups are calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, while leftist movements like the Left Front are joining nationalist forces to demand that Crimea be returned to Russia. This split has allowed Putin to claim that an "absolute majority of Russians" supported the annexation of Crimean, while those who opposed it were "national traitors" acting on behalf of Western countries. Moscow Times

Riots among Palestinians over successor to Abbas

With Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at age 79, many officials in the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) are considering the question of who will be his successor. Abbas is part of the old generation of survivors of the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1947 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. When Yasser Arafat died in 2004, Abbas was a natural choice to succeed him, because they were both war survivors and shared a common world view. But now the time is approaching for a successor and for a generational change.

The major aspirant is 52 year old Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan grew up poor in a Gaza refugee camp, but as a top aide to Arafat became Gaza's strongman in the 1990s, jailing leaders of rival Hamas which was trying to derail Arafat’s negotiation with Israel through bombing and shooting attacks. Abbas and Dahlan uses to be allies, but the 2008 war between Fatah and Hamas, that made Hamas the governing power in Gaza caused tension between them, until 2011 when Abbas expelled Dahlan completely from Fatah. The bitterness between the two has been growing, and in the last few weeks they've even started calling each other traitors in the resistance to Israel. Abbas has accused Dahlan of involvement in six murders, hinting that he might also be behind the death of former leader and Palestinian icon Yasser Arafat. Dahlan has called Abbas a "catastrophe" for the Palestinian people.

The vitriolic personal fight is spilling over into the streets. In Gaza City on Tuesday, dozens of Abbas supporters clashed with Dahlan supporters using stones and sticks. The police were called in to separate the two parties.

In Lebanon, tensions are growing in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp between supporters of the two sides. With the war in Syria spilling over into Lebanon anyway, most Palestinians have followed the lead of Hamas in standing against Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, who is exterminating Sunni women and children. But there is a pro-Assad faction in Ain al-Hilweh who is siding with Abbas. With tensions growing almost daily, there are fears that all out violence could break out any day. AP and Middle East Monitor and Daily Star (Beirut)

Hundreds of dead pig carcasses found in China's Gan River

Chinese officials have pulled hundreds of dead pig carcasses out of the Gan River, in central Jiangxi province. The Gan serves as the main drinking water supply for several large cities, but Chinese officials say they've tested the water and it's still safe for consumption. It's not known where the pig carcasses came from, or why they were disposed of this way.

This year's situation seems less severe compared to what happened last year, when there were 16,000 pig carcasses. It was later determined that the pigs were from an upstream farm, which was hit by a common pig virus, porcine circovirus, infecting thousands of livestock. The virus, which is not harmful to humans, was responsible for quickly taking out a huge portion of the farm’s pig population, and the farmers dumped them into the river to dispose of them. International Business Times and Radio Free Asia

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