The Proof is in the Putin When Voting in Russia or America

IN A NUTSHELL: MUST READ
 

Think There’s Voter Fraud In America? Try Voting In Russia: “One person, one vote” certainly didn’t exist in Russian polling places that Reuters monitored on Sunday. Somehow the 256 voters that reporters counted casting ballots turned into 1,867 when the final turnout was certified. 73% of those votes went to Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia. One Russian said “we must ensure 85 percent for United Russia. Otherwise, the Tsar will stop providing us with money,” in an apparent reference to Putin. Animal Farm allusions abound. Reuters observed the vote at six polling stations and at each station, discrepancies of varying sizes were found between the official vote tally and the number of voters reporters counted.

Lost Childhood For Children of Countries in Conflict: The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reports a huge increase in child soldiers in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and other countries after years of continual violence, displacement, and little or no basic services. Overall, an estimated 28 million children need immediate humanitarian help. Families living amid the chaos, with dwindling financial resources, struggle to survive, and many have no choice but to send their sons to fight and their daughters into early marriage. In Yemen alone the recruitment of children into armed conflict saw at least a fivefold increase between 2014 and 2015. “Conflict continues to rob millions of girls and boys of their childhood,” a UNICEF spokesperson said. “Decades of progress are at a risk of being reversed across the Middle East and North Africa.” The deteriorating situation in Yemen is now the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with almost 18.8 million people in need of aid and 7 million on the brink of famine.

US Job Openings Are at a Record High…But There Aren’t Enough Qualified Applicants: The US Labor Department on Tuesday, showed the labor market continues to tighten amid a scarcity of workers. Job openings, a measure of labor demand, increased by 54,000 to a ‘seasonally adjusted’ 6.2 million–the highest level since the data series started in December 2000. Job openings have now been above 6 million for two straight months. Labor market tightness was also highlighted in a report from the National Federation of Independent Business, which showed that in August, a record number of small businesses ranked finding qualified workers as “their top business problem.”

 
 
 
NUTS AND BOLTS: SHOULD READ
 

Syria is Victorious, Says Hezbollah: Two allies of Bashar al-Assad, the Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah, and Russia, (a new incarnation of the axis of evil) are celebrating Syria’s victories over rebels who have been backed by Gulf Arab states, Turkey, and the United States. Despite critical military support from Russia and Iran, significant parts of the country still remain outside Assad’s control. The brutal war has fractured Syria into areas barely pieced together, killed hundreds of thousands of people, and created a refugee crisis of historic proportions which has forced millions of people into neighboring states and Europe.

Yesterday Russia’s defense minister met with Assad in Damascus to discuss joint military efforts and the fight against the Islamic State, which still controls some areas. One Western diplomat said the harder question for Russia is whether any of Assad’s claimed territories is stable, adding that the Assad state is just “a thin veneer stretched over a patchwork of fiefdoms.”

Do We Want to Govern or Just Lounge on a Caribbean Beach?: Hurricane Irma decimated the Caribbean last week, including independent island nations and territories that are governed or have ties to France, the Netherlands, the US, and the UK. Amid mounting criticism that European countries and the US had neglected their responsibilities to help in the region, French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Guadeloupe and UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson in Anguilla (both on Tuesday), while Dutch King Willem-Alexander visited St. Maarten on Monday.

For these three European nations, the aftermath of Irma has reminded them of an inconvenient and uncomfortable truth–that they still govern overseas territories and that the efficacy of their emergency response may lead to questions about “the strength of their commitment to economically dependent subjects that largely represent a different race and language.” But you know, whatever. For Macron, Réunion or Mayotte off the coast of East Africa are both lovely choices for the just-around-the-corner winter holidays (maybe a tan will help to offset his makeup costs), and for Boris Johnson or Theresa May–Bermuda!

 
 
 
KEEPING OUR EYE ON
 

Can the UK Keep Amazon from Taking Over Its Bookshops?: The UK’s bookstores pay 11 times what Amazon does in corporate taxes, according to “The Bookselling Britain” report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) that was released on Tuesday. The  Booksellers Association’s chief executive said that brick-and-mortar bookshops were “making an incredible contribution to the UK,” but that their efforts were “not sustainable unless decisive action is taken by the government to protect them from closure.” The CEBR director said that local booksellers have a range of services that Amazon cannot offer, from involvement “with more reluctant readers, helping them to find books they might enjoy” to providing “education, literacy, and the provision of an informational and cultural conduit to society at large.”

 
 
 
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SWEEPSTAKES: SOUTH BEACH SUMMER RECHARGE
 

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