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Japanese Election - Just a Blip, or a Realignment?

by wu ming Tue Jul 31st, 2007 at 10:55:33 AM EST

For the first time since 1955 (and really, for the first time ever, since the pre-'55 House of Councillors was dominated by the royalist right), the Democratic Party, a left-leaning party, won control of Japan's House of Councillors, displacing the Liberal Democratic Party (which, ironically, is neither liberal nor democratic in ideology) that had ruled the chamber uninterrupted in the postwar period since the 1955 elections. Also of note is that the vote totals for the parties on the left - Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party, Social Democratic Party - added up to a majority, which has never happened in any election in Japanese history that I know of. While the lower house of the Diet was once controlled by a coalition government with a Socialist Prime Minister from 1993-94, it was a coalition of parties from all over the political spectrum.

Reasons for the LDP's loss include widespread opposition to Japan's participation (however limited) in the occupation in Iraq, and upset with Prime Minister Abe's policy proposals to amend Japan's pacifist Constitution and to teach "patriotic" subjects in the public school system, both of which are key issues for the Japanese extreme right, in that war and patriotic indoctrination were two foundations of the prewar fascist status quo ante.  For years, the LDP has murmured about such things (or, more accurately, let the crazies in the vans with loudspeakers breach the subject while leaving it officially vague), but the voters tended to reelect them anyways for decades because they delivered the bacon on domestic pork while the economy boomed. So what happened this time?

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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$100/Barrel Oil? - Severe Cyclone Gonu Headed Towards Persian Gulf

by wu ming Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 11:46:20 PM EST

I've been following this for a day or so, and was surprised to see that eurotribbers weren't already on top of it, so here goes (if the tense sounds a bit off, it's because I posted this last night at surf putah):

(image taken from weather underground)

Wow, we live in very interesting times indeed. Although the global media seems to be missing this story completely, Severe Cyclone Gonu is moving straight for the Arabian Peninsula country of Oman, with a predicted storm track that would take it right up the Gulf of Oman to the Straits of Hormuz before curving smack into Bandar Abbas on the Iranian coast.

Both sides of the Gulf are loaded with oil and natural gas infrastructure, which has not been built to withstand either storm surges, hurricane-force winds, or the kind of flooding that a tropical storm can unleash. Such things are unheard of in this part of the world, where dry air from the Arabian Peninsula usually breaks organized storms apart before they make landfall. Since Oman only gets an average of 4" of rain a year, they don't have storm drain systems or much in the way of experience dealing with massive flooding, much less coping with full-on severe typhoons.

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