Wine - Seeing the World Through the Bottom of a Glass

Cross-posted from

What can wine tell us about the world? Plenty, it turns out.  It is one of civilization's oldest products.  At one time it was a necessity, when food was served rotten and water was where you washed and evacuated.  Now it is enjoying a resurgence.  It is an agricultural product, and a unique one.  You see, vineyards have kept records of temperature, yield, and ripeness-dates for centuries, giving us incredibly precise records that tell us reams about the global environment. It is also a luxury item, particularly at the top end.  As such, its sale and purchase can tell us volumes about the global economy.

Today, we travel to Hong Kong for a look at the world's economy, through the bottom of a glass.

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China Plans Tour For Select Journalists As Western Opinion Sides With Dalai Lama and Tibet

First, more news about brutality being used against protesters in Qinghai:

"They were beating up monks, which will only infuriate ordinary people," the source said of the protest on Tuesday in Qinghai's Xinghai county.

A resident in the area confirmed the demonstration, saying that paramilitaries dispersed the 200 to 300 protesters after half and hour, that the area was crawling with armed security forces and that workers were kept inside their offices.

The Beijing source said resentment at the paramilitary presence around Lhasa's monasteries prompted one monk at the Ramoche temple to hang himself.


"It's very harsh. They are taking in and questioning anyone who saw the protests," the source said. "The prisons are full. Detainees are being held at prisons in counties outside Lhasa."

link: sis/idUSPEK369654

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America, it's the new French!

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project& My Left Wing

click to enlarge

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A Reason for Alarm

Cross posted at The Word Smiths

While it remains to be seen how any of this will affect U.S. foreign relations, over the past couple of years, I have noticed an alarming trend in worldwide elections:  the right is on the rise.

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French Elections, First Round Thread

Exit polls for the first round of the French elections will be released in a little more than an hour. Here are the simple mean of the fifteen polls conducted during the past week:

Sarkozy (Conservative): 28.4%
Royal (Socialist): 24.6%
Bayrou (Centrist): 18.3%
Le Pen (Fascist): 13.8%
Other / Unsure: 14.9%

The top two advance to the second round, which will take place in a couple of weeks. It is the same system that we have for federal elections in Texas, and for all elections in Louisiana. It is a system that I wish we had in Philadelphia, where our next mayor will be decided by whoever wins 30% in the Democratic primary.

Back in 1995, during my junior year abroad in England, I followed the French elections quite closely. I was rotting for Jospin who, after surprisingly winning the first round, ended up narrowly losing to Chirac a couple of weeks later. I have no particular horse in this race, and have no been following it quite as closely this time around. Royal's campaigns against violence on television, combined with her foreign policy weirdness, combine with the fact that I am not on the "far left" anymore to make the socialist party no longer a reflexive choice. At the same time, Bayrou seems to be a triangulating, anti-left wing politician of the sort I regularly attack within the Democratic Party. I mean, check out this quote from Bayrou in the New York Times:
"I am a democrat, I am a Clintonian, I am a man of the 'third way.'"
So, let's just say that I am not exactly sold on either Bayrou or Royal. I would prefer if the second round were Bayrou vs. Royal, but polling does not make that outcome seem like a reasonable possibility. I'll probably just end up rooting for whichever one of those two makes it to the second round against Sarkozy. Of course, if Le Pen sneaks into the second round again, ala 2002, then obviously I will pull for Sarkozy.

Anyway, this is an open thread on the French elections. I'll post exit polls and results when they are available.

Update: Via commenter island empire, current, but incomplete, exit polls from Ipsos show Sarkozy and Royal headed to a run-off:

Sarkozy: 29.4%
Royal: 26.2%
Bayrou: 18.6%
Le Pen: 10.8%

No real surprise. It certainly looks like Royal vs. Sarkozy in the second round. Current polls on that matchup show the race anywhere from a dead-heat to Sarkozy ahead by 7. Funny how Bayrou, who polled very well in the second round (comfortably ahead of everyone), doesn't have enough hard-core supporters to even make the second round. Ah, the shortcoming of neo-liberal politicians everywhere: comfortable, compromise choices that no one really likes. Also, the 86% turnout is stunning--higher than any other large democracy.

Update 2: Final exit polls:

Sarkozy: 30.0%
Royal: 25.2%
Bayrou: 18.3%
Le Pen: 11.5%
Eight others: 14.0%

So, unless something truly shocking happens, it will be Sarkozy vs. Royal in the second round. Sarkozy will start as the slight favorite.

Final update: More great info from commenter island empire. Based on all four major exit polls, the French media seems to have all but declared it Sarkozy vs. Royal in the second round (see Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Liberation). The big story seems to be the huge turnout.

As a side note, I am surprised at how easily I find it to read articles about polls and election results in French. I have never taken a single French class in my life, but I think there might be something bordering on a universal political horserace language. I mean, I actually understand these articles (or, at least, I think I understand them).


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