Monday, November 18, 2019

Notes on cause and effect when looking at Trump, Russia, Ukraine, Hong Kong, and Venice

Notes on Cause and Effect: Trump, Russia, Ukraine, Venice, and Hong Kong

We did not write about the yellow vest movement which celebrated its one year anniversary this week with some small but violent demonstrations. Most people ignored it. Paris was packed with shoppers. But as the notice at the Madeleine bus stop shows, a lot of public transport was shut down on Saturday. Elsewhere in the city, we saw the last of the fall colors, which you can take a look at on my Instagram feed.
One of the core purposes of reporting is to understand cause and effect. The actions we write about almost always are reactions to events that have gone before. But the truth of the matter is not always easy to discern as people try to impose their own one-sided narratives on known facts, or invent their "facts" altogether.

The stories we've published about world news over the last few days were all reported with an eye to understanding why we see what we see happening in various corners of the world:

It's much easier to understand the way Donald Trump thinks and acts, for instance, if one knows about his longstanding connections to alleged Russian mobsters.

The impeachment investigations will have as constant background Trump's most important and long lasting connections to Russia—through alleged mobsters.

Russian state media crowing over impeachment are less interested in the fate of the U.S. president than they are in the demoralization and weakening of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin could not possibly envision a sweeter gift than Ukraine falling away from the West into the welcoming—albeit bloodied—hands of the Kremlin.

The presence of the extreme nationalist right in Ukraine, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis, cannot be ignored, even if efforts by members of the U.S. Congress to get the Azov Battalion declared a foreign terrorist organization play into the hands of Kremlin propagandists.

In 2014, almost anyone who wanted to fight the Russians in Ukraine was more than welcome. But today one volunteer battalion is accused of white-supremacist terrorism.

Despite Russia's denials, damning evidence continues to accumulate about the Kremlin's complicity in the downing of a passenger jet flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in 2014.
Dutch investigators release damning audio that connects Russian authorities to the rebels suspected in the 2014 shootdown of a Malaysian jet with 298 people on board in Ukraine.

On other fronts: 

Much of the Hong Kong coverage the world sees has focused on telegenic flames, clouds of teargas, bricks thrown and shots fired. But the make or break moment may actually come at the ballot box next weekend—if elections are allowed at all.
Blood has been shed on Hong Kong streets and a university is under siege. But even the "black bloc" at the vanguard of the protests is looking toward the Nov. 24 vote.

This story, which ran in our travel section, tells you why climate change and the full moon are not the only culprits in the destruction of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
La Serenissima has long struggled with flooding as it sank deeper and deeper, but the recent crisis has been exacerbated by all too familiar corruption.


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