Paranoia and Purges For Venezuela As Oil Misery Continues


Originally posted on TIME:

As the finances of Venezuela continue to deteriorate under the collapse of crude oil prices, the government of President Nicolas Maduro is becoming more paranoid and vindictive.

Venezuela derives the vast majority of its export earnings from sending oil overseas. With the largest endowment of crude oil reserves in the world, the oil-driven economy worked well for the late Hugo Chavez: he provided generous support for the poor, and built allies in the western hemisphere by dispensing cash and cheap oil in exchange for political allegiance.

But state-owned PDVSA has struggled to keep production up. Rather than using its earnings to develop more fields, much of its earnings have been diverted for political and social projects. Chavez also purged PDVSA of thousands of experienced workers, leaving the company short of well-trained staff.

Chavez could paper over the decay of PDVSA’s production base because oil prices were so high in his…

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Badaun shows how the police are part of Uttar Pradesh’s unending rape crisis


Originally posted on Quartz:

A 14-year-old girl has alleged that she was abducted and raped in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun district on new year’s eve.

The suspected rapists, according to media reports, are two police constables who sexually assaulted the minor at a police station in Badaun.

This incident, once again, underscores the continuing problem of crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh, which has population of about 200 million, comparable to that of Brazil.

But crime data indicate otherwise.

According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, the rate of crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh is mostly lower (and in some cases, significantly so) than the national average. This is in spite of the endless wave of reports and events pointing in the opposite direction.

Rate-of-crimes-against-women-in-2013-Uttar-Pradesh-National-average_chartbuilder

One explanation for these low crime numbers has been that victims often do not report these crimes—and that the state’s police force is loathe to record them. As a result, the…

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A hostage crisis is unfolding in Sydney, with a possible Islamist militant connection


Originally posted on Quartz:

This is a breaking story. We’ll update this post as new information comes in.

Two men have taken a group of as many as 40 people hostage in a Lindt chocolate shop in Sydney, Australia, and have been holding them for several hours. Several hostages may have escaped.

The shop is in Martin Place, less than a mile from the Sydney Opera House, in Sydney’s financial district. The siege began at about 9:45am Monday local time (10:45pm Sunday GMT). At one point, the hostages were apparently forced to display a black flag with what looks like Arabic script on it:

To follow updates in real time go to:

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