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Palestine's Latin American outreach makes a lot more sense now

At the end of last year, Brazil and Argentina surprised the world by recognizing the Palestinian state. They were followed in quick succession by almost all of South America, with the notable exception of Colombia. Those moves followed a tour of the region by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in late 2009.

At the time, the moves were mostly viewed in terms of what they said about Latin American politics, showing countries plotting a course independently of the United States with strong influence from non-aligned Brazil.

In the context of Palestinian negotiations with Israel, the support of say, Paraguay, didn't seem all that consequential. But with international recognition of Palestine very much on the world's agenda this week, the Palestinian overtures to South America make a lot more sense. Looking at the map above, Palestine is currently recognized not only by all four BRICs, by nearly the entirety of the developing world with the exception of a few pariah states like Eritrea and Burma and some pro-American bastions like Colombia and newly independent South Sudan.

Of course, Brazil's support won't help them much on the Security Council, where the U.S. holds a veto, but as David Bosco notes, this week is mostly about symbolism anyway, and lining up the vast majority of three continents and almost the entirety of the developing world certainly makes a statement.  

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Ron Paul: Africa has famines because they aren't capitalist enough

Here's presidential candidate Ron Paul on CNN responding to a follow-up question to one of the more controversial moments from last week's debate, when Wolf Blitzer asked him if he would let a hypothetical patient without health insurance die:

"All I know is if you look at history and if you compare good medical care and you compare famine, the countries that are more socialistic have more famines," Paul told CNN's T.J. Holmes. "If you look at Africa, they don't have any free market systems and property rights and they have famines and no medical care. So the freer the system, the better the health care."

This is, to put it mildly, something of a non-sequitur. He was asked about healthcare mandates and replied with an answer about food shortages.

In any case, there's an argument to be made about the difficulty centrally planned economies have in responding to famines, but it seems pretty out of touch with the current state of affairs in East Africa. There are a lot of words to describe the political situation in famine-wracked Somalia, but socialist ain't one of them. The country hasn't had a functioning government since 1991.  

Hat tip: Chris Blattman