We've noted before that numerous experts have linked the Darfur conflict to climate change, but now a less obvious climate connection to the Syria crisis is persuasively argued by Peter Sinclair of the blog Climate Denial Crock of the Week. As the name suggests, it is generally dedicated to shooting down climate change denialism, but in this Sept. 5 entry he attempts to trace the Syrian explosion—indeed, the entire Arab Revolution—to an atmospheric phenomenon. Sinclair reminds us that in the summer before the wave of revolution swept through Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and beyond, Russia experienced a "1,000-year heat wave" (Bloomberg, Aug. 9, 2010) that shrivelled its crops and prompted Moscow to halt wheat exports (Washington Post, Aug. 6, 2010).
Chinese activist and lawyer Xu Zhiyong was arrested by authorities July 17 on suspicion of having "gathered crowds to disrupt public order." Xu, a law lecturer at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications and founder of the Open Constitution Initiative (Gongmeng), was placed under house arrest on April 12. Xu's arrest came after President Xi Jinping pledged to increase efforts to combat government corruption. Xu was previously detained by Chinese police in 2009 on charges of tax evasion. Coinciding with Xu's arrest, earlier this week Wang Wenzhi, a reporter for the official Xinhua News Agency, accused China Resources (Holdings) chairman Song Lin of corruption. The article was later removed.
Hundreds of thousands of indignados—"indignant ones," as econo-protesters call themselves in Spain and Argentina—filled the streets of Buenos Aires and other cities in the South American country Nov. 8 to protest the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The main focal point was the capital's iconic Obelisk Plaza, which was occupied by multitudes beating on pots and pans (cacerlazo), and chanting "We are not afraid!" Protesters opposed rising prices, corruption, and a proposed constitutional reform many fear will allow Fernández to hold onto power indefinitely by ending term limits. By popular consensus, the only banner at the protests was the national flag—to emphasize that it was an action of Argentines and not political parties.
Hundreds of residents of Van Giang district of Hung Yen province on the edge of Vietnam's capital held a protest Oct. 8 in front of the Central Office of Public Relations building in downtown Hanoi, demanding the return of land they say was illegally confiscated from them to develop a controversial satellite city. After villagers rallied in front of the building for some time, officials emerged to meet with them for about 30 minutes, but protest leader Dam Van Dong, told Radio Free Asia's Vietnamese service their complaints were not resolved. "We have made clear in our requests that the land which Hung Yen authorities of every rank have taken from us be returned," he said.