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Who's congratulating Putin?

For the most part, the reactions from other world leaders to Vladimir Putin's election win are breaking down about how you'd expect them to. 

The U.S. State Department issued a lukewarm statement congratulating "the Russian people on the completion of the presidential elections" and noting some improvements in the electoral process, but never mentioning Putin by name. Mitt Romney was not quite so subtle, calling the election "a mockery of the democratic process."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy congratulated Putin and encouraged him "to press ahead with the work of democratic and economic modernization." Foreign Minister Alain Juppe played bad cop, telling reporters, "The election has not been exemplary. That is the least you can say. The OSCE made significant criticisms."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has had numerous ups and downs with Putin over the years, called the president elect "to wish him success in the coming time in office, success above all also in the implementation and managing of the big tasks," according to a spokesperson. 

David Cameron spoke with Putin on the phone about "stronger relationship" despite "differences and areas of concern" but apparently avoiding directly congratulating him. 

China has wholeheartedly endorsed Putin's victory -- fraud charges be damned: "China respects the choice of the Russian people and supports Russia in taking a development mode that fits its own domestic situation," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin. Liu added that President Hu Jintao had personally called Putin to offer his congratulations. 

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have also issued congratulatory statements.  Belarus's Aleksandr Lukashenko and Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych -- to traditional Putin allies who have had a somewhat strained relationship with him of late -- were also quite positive. 

Syria's Bashar al-Assad was quite complimentary, which given the diplomatic cover he's been given by the Kremlin recently, is really the least he could do

"President Bashar al-Assad has sent a telegram to Russian premier Vladimir Putin for his victory in the presidential election," SANA said.

"He offered in his name and that of the Syrian people his sincere congratulations for his remarkable election," it added.

A telegram?

Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

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Conflict quinoa

Via Tyler Cowen's excellent new food-only Twitter feed, an AP story of economic scarcity, climate change, conflict, and the favorite superfood of American yuppies: 

Bolivian authorities say at least 30 people have been injured in a fight between two communities over land for growing quinoa, the Andean "supergrain" whose popularity with worldwide foodies has caused its price to soar.

Oruro state police chief Ramon Sepulveda says combatants used rocks and dynamite against each other Wednesday and Thursday. A government commission was dispatched to the two high plains communities south of La Paz.

Farmland in the region is owned not by individuals but communities.

Authorities say the dispute is related to climate change because quinoa can now be cultivated in areas previously subject to frequents frosts. Bolivia produces 46 percent of the world's quinoa, which has nearly tripled in price in the past five years.


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/03/02/4306541/bolivians-fight-over-quinoa-land.html#storylink=cpy

For the "How Food Explains the World" package for the last May/June issue, I looked at how quinoa's international popularity has effected eating habits in Bolivia. Prices have skyrocketed thanks to export demand and domestic consumption of the nutritious grain has fallen by more than a third, prompting fears of an obesity epidemic as Bolivians switch to rice and white bread. President Evo Morales' government subsidizes quinoa as a "strategic foodstuff."

 

 

ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images