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Monday, November 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  Honduras elects Zelaya rival Porfirio Lobo as president

Mr Lobo is seen as a unifying figure. He won 56% of the vote, with over 60% of registered voters taking part.

A clear winner and high turnout were what the interim government were hoping for to give the election legitimacy.

Indeed, as Greg Weeks notes, the turnout is such that it will likely induce more countries to recognize the results than were publically willing to do so before the elections.  Boz has some numbers from previous elections for comparative purposes.

Matthew Shugart also had some pre-election thoughts worth noting and that are relevant for anyone taking a broader look at the election results, especially those about the Congress.

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Sunday, November 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Greg Weeks previews today’s elections in Honduras over at The Monkey Cage.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  Swiss minaret vote: Projections suggest ban backed

Projections from exit polls suggest that voters in Switzerland have backed a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets.

The result is not yet official, but the BBC’s correspondent in Berne says if it is confirmed, it would be a surprise.

The proposal was backed by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which claims minarets are a sign of Islamisation.


SVP member of parliament Ulrich Schluer said the referendum campaign had helped integration by encouraging debate. He rejected the charge of discrimination.

"Every Muslim is allowed to come together with other Muslims to have the religion together," he told the BBC.

"But a minaret is a political symbol. It is a symbol for introducing, step-by-step, Sharia rights also in Switzerland, parallel to the Swiss law which is a result of Swiss democracy. And this is the problem. It is nothing against Muslims."

Granted, I am no expert on Islamic political practices (let alone religious architecture), but I do no think that there is any relationship between the building of a minaret and the establishment of sharia law in the manner suggested here.   Rather, the minaret is linked to the call to prayer and Schuler’s statement sound a like more like islamophobia than it does anything else.  And how the whole thing can be construed as anything other than “against Muslims” is difficult to see.  If a minority Christian population was told that it couldn’t put crosses on its buildings, I expect those Christians would see such a move as in opposition to them, yes?

A few thoughts.

First, from a public policy perspective this is the kind of move that likely accomplishes the direct opposite over the long run of what its proponents want to accomplish.  In other words, this policy is based in the fear that a minority population will insufficiently integrate into the broader society.  Of course, by isolating that minority population from the broader society (and having a vote like this will certainly exacerbate feelings of isolation by Swiss Muslims) the odds are that the population will be less inclined to assimilate into the broader society.

Second, one would think that the Swiss, with their own history of internal division based on language and religion would not only be more sensitive to the problems presented by internal cleavages, but would also have a better solution than the blunt instrument of an outright ban.

Third, it is disquieting when democratic processes are used by the majority to take away rights from a minority.

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Saturday, November 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the LAT: Honduras’ upcoming vote a boon to de facto rulers

Reporting from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Mexico City — The de facto rulers of Honduras will observe more than elections Sunday: They staged the first military-backed coup in Central America in 16 years — and got away with it.

Months of international efforts failed to reinstate President Manuel Zelaya, ousted June 28 and deported to Costa Rica. Instead, the most powerful outside mediator, the United States, agreed to recognize the outcome of Sunday’s vote for a new president. Several other countries will not, saying that a "free and fair" vote cannot be held under the watch of a de facto government.

The bottom line is that the de facto government’s initial plan, oust Zelaya and hope that the elections act as a reset button, worked. Further, their strategy of kicking the can down the road until the elections arrived as a way of dealing with international pressure and Zelaya’s semi-return to the country worked.

What is amazing is that some in the US will end of hailing this as some sort of victory for democracy.  More to the point, most who have praised the coup will likely go on to ignore Honduras and the damage that has been done to its democracy as they will consider the matter resolved.  One supposes that a new president could work to heal some of the wounds inflicted, but since such solutions likely lie in some sort of constitutional reform, one also supposes that such moves will not be undertaken as the coup underscored that too much talk of constitutional reform can get one a one-way ticket out of country.

The US is facing a great deal of criticism from the region as a result of its intention to recognize the elections.

Via Reuters:  U.S. risks isolation over Honduras election: Brazil.

Via the NYT:  Region Finds U.S. Lacking on Honduras.

“President Obama’s credibility in the region has been seriously weakened,” said Kevin Casas-Zamora, a Latin America expert at the Brookings Institution and a former vice president of Costa Rica. “In a matter of five months, his administration’s position on the coup has gone from indignation to indifference to confusion to acquiescence.”

Which, sounds about right.

In terms of the current position of the administration, from the LAT linked above:

U.S. officials decided to lend support to the vote.

"This is an electoral process that follows the normal electoral calendar under the Honduran Constitution, and it had been underway for several months prior to the coup," Arturo Valenzuela, the U.S. assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, said this week.

"This was not an election invented by a de facto government in search of an exit strategy or as a means to whitewash a coup d’etat."

While Valenzuela’s statement is true, it elides the fact that the de facto government is using the scheduled elections as an exit strategy and as a means to whitewash the coup.  As noted above, I think that that was the plan from the beginning and that only kink in that plan has been all the international attention focused on Honduras and the fact that Zelaya simply wouldn’t go away.

The US, by the way, in not alone in its position:

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a settlement to the Honduran crisis, said he would recognize the results of the election. To do otherwise, he told CNN’s Spanish-language service, would be to further punish the Honduran people.

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Friday, November 27, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor


Taken at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Ascending to the Treetops

Taken at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

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By Steven L. Taylor


Taken at the Vulcan in Birmingham, AL.

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Thursday, November 26, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via Rasmussen:  Dobbs in 2024 Gets Up to 14% of Vote, Hurts GOP Chances

Former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs has indicated that he might consider an independent bid for the White House in 2024, and early polling shows he could attract up to 14% of the vote.

Of course, a rather large chunk of that 14% apparently is nothing more than a default protest vote, as even without Dobbs’ name in the poll, 6% to 9% of respondents chose “unnamed candidate” in other questions without Dobbs included.  So, really, the amount of support that Dobbs is attracting by himself is in the single digits—no too surprising, really.  Further, the odds are that his numbers are currently at their apex and would only go down in the context of an actual campaign (the typical pattern for celebrity candidates).

The numbers from the poll:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that if the choice is between President Obama, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Dobbs, Obama leads 42% to 34% with Dobbs pulling 14% of the vote.

With Mike Huckabee as the Republican nominee, Obama leads 42% to 36%, with Dobbs at 12%.

If Sarah Palin is the GOP nominee, it’s Obama 44%, Palin 37% and Dobbs 12%.

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By Steven L. Taylor

A Happy Thanksgiving to all the reader of PoliBlog!  I hope you all have a blessed day.

And to continue what has been a T-Day tradition, here’s the classic turkey drop episode of WKRP for the first time posted in its entirety thanks to the wonders of Hulu:

The key bits start at about the 18 minute mark.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

I once heard an urban legend that came in the guise of a warning about travel to New Orleans, LA:  be careful, as people will kidnap you to steal your organs to sell on the black market!

Via the BBC:  ‘Fat for cosmetics’ murder suspects arrested in Peru

The gang allegedly targeted people on remote roads, luring them with fake job offers before killing them and extracting their fat.

The liquidised product fetched $15,000 (£9,000) a litre and police suspect it was sold on to companies in Europe.

Most bizarre.  Still, I can’t help but think that there are easier and less criminal ways of obtaining human fat.  Indeed, if the stuff really does sell for that kind of coin, you’d think that there would be folks standing outside of all-you-can-eat buffets in the US offering free liposuction to exiting patrons…

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