Greg Weeks

Review of John Farrell's Richard Nixon: The Life

John Farrell's Richard Nixon: The Life is a snappily written and well-documented biography. The tone can move toward disbelief and sarcasm here and there, but given the record of unethical, illegal, and downright stupid actions, that can perhaps be forgiven.

The main attraction of the book is that Farrell does a tremendous job getting at the emotion, especially through the use of recorded interviews, notes, and the like regarding key moments. The Checkers speech was...

Veto in Quito

Fascinating scene in Ecuador, where there is a leftist brawl, a mirror image of the conservative brawl in Colombia. Lenín Moreno stripped Vice President Jorge Glas of his authority because of corruption charges and because of Glas' criticisms, which prompted Rafael Correa to go off on Twitter.

Get out your popcorn on this one. Glas is still VP but without any authority, which I have not heard of before, but he says he will not resign. The Alianza País party is in an uproar. The...

U.S. Support for Colombia Peace

There was a hearing today on the Colombia peace process before the Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues. What's especially notable is that there is a diverse group of people giving testimony and two of them are the current front runners for the important Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs position (William Brownfield and Francisco Palmieri, who...

Symbolic Unilateral Sanctions in Venezuela

2 days since the constituent assembly vote.

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Nicolás Maduro himself, which puts him on a list of people who are given symbolic sanctions yet remain in power. Maduro responded by referring to Trump's popular vote loss, which is actually something that might get the president's attention. Meanwhile, Canada condemned the vote but is not pursuing sanctions. That's true of a number of countries in the hemisphere.

And that's really...

Venezuela Vote Explainer Explained

Venezuelans are voting today on members of a Constituent Assembly. TeleSur's handy explainer tells us a lot, actually more than it probably intends. Three main points:

1. The nine stated goals (as laid out in a decree from Nicolás Maduro) make no sense. Somehow this assembly will mean Venezuela is no longer dependent on oil and Venezuelans will all get along. Laying them out so uncritically would be amusing if it weren't so perverse.

2. The sectors are confusing and the voting...

Podcast Episode 38: The Russia-Cuba Connection

In Episode 38 of Understanding Latin American Politics: The Podcast, I talk with Mervyn Bain, who is Lecturer in Politics and International Relations and Head of School of Social Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. He has published extensively on the relationship between Russia and Cuba. Among other things, we discuss the continued strength of the relationship, the role of the United States, and what the future might hold. I find it particularly intriguing to think about...

Venezuela's Core Support

TeleSur notes that four countries support Venezuela's Constituent Assembly: China, Russia, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Unwittingly, the article gives a long list of countries opposed but can only come up with four specific examples of supporters. (Oddly enough, they do not mention Cuba, which is unsurprisingly supportive). What this shows is how weak Venezuela's international position is.

China's support is based on protecting its investments. The Chinese government...

Taking Stock in Venezuela

3 days since the constituent assembly vote.
In terms of the hemispheric response to the Venezuela vote, there's a sense of taking stock.
--Chile announced that two Venezuelan judges had taken refuge in their embassy and might be granted asylum. 
--Overall, the hemisphere is largely critical but cautious (see this post at Global Americans). It's worth noting, however, that criticism is more widespread than it has ever been since Hugo Chávez first took office.

AMLO and Venezuela

Andrés Manual López Obrador isn't too happy about accusations of being close to Nicolás Maduro. The PRD is demanding he make a clear statement about the Venezuelan crisis. AMLO went so far as to say his opponents want to "scare" people. In other words, Nicolás Maduro is a boogeyman, even for AMLO.

The political impact in Mexico is obvious. AMLO is a serious candidate for president and the other parties want to torch him. They've been trying to link his ideas to...

Review of Murder on the Orient Express

On a whim, I bought Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express at a used bookstore, in Julian CA, of all places. It was a perfect book for traveling. I had read it years ago and in fact about 1/3 of the way through remembered the solution, but several things stood out for me anyway.

First, it begins in Aleppo, then quickly discusses Mosul and Baghdad. Right away it is showing you the places involved in the current fight against ISIS. And of course everyone in the novel sees...
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