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Punk Band Pussy Riot Jailed In Russia For Engaging In Freedom Of Expression—The Work Of Freedom Is Up To Each Of Us

The Russian punk band Pussy Riot has been sentenced to two years in a Russian prison for exercising free speech and engaging in political protest.

This past February, Pussy Riot staged a performance inside of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. This performance was directed at the linked repressive power of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here is an overview of current politics and demographics in Russia from the BBC.

Pussy Riot has made a practice of staging political concerts in unusual places around Moscow. Above is a Pussy Riot demonstration earlier this year in Red Square. (Photo by Denis Bochkarev.)

After the appearance in the church was posted online, band members were arrested and charged with hooliganism and inciting religious hatred.

The Russian Orthodox Church had the option here to forgive those that trespass, but instead made the call to continue to ally itself with the corrupt and undemocratic power of Vladimir Putin.

Why is so often the case that powerful religious officials cannot get past a sense  of perpetual victimhood and so often choose to make common cause with the most retrograde political forces?

Top clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church said that they forgave the band, but still supported the prosecution.

Sure.

Amnesty International has written about this case and has called for Pussy Riot band members to be released.

The excellent website Global Voices has written on this issue.

It may seem there is no point to addressing an issue in Russia from where I am in Houston, Texas.

Yet the universal values of free speech and democracy merit our concern no matter where in the world they are under assault.

This case is also a reminder that free speech and freedom from unjust incarceration are hardly matters only for people outside the United States.

Here in our torture-industrial-prison state, no freedom is safe from the forces of big money, a bought government, and millions of mean-spirited and intellectually lazy fellow citizens.

The good news is that we all have the ability to fight back and that very many people all around the world care about these concerns.

As Pussy Riot well understood, the work of freedom is up to each of us.

(Below–Pussy Riot on trial.)

August 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Links To Learn More About Syrian Crisis—People Continue To Fight The Government No Matter The Risks

Protests and fighting in Syria continues despite brutal repression by the Syrian Government.

Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations efforts to address the violence despite a new round of killings by the Syrian state.

Here is reaction from President Obama as reported in the New York Times—

“President Obama condemned what he called “the Syrian government’s unspeakable assault against the people of Homs,” saying in a statement that President Bashar al-Assad “has no right to lead Syria, and has lost all legitimacy with his people and the international community.”

Mother Jones magazine is a great liberal publication which has been keeping up on events in Syria. 

Here is Amnesty International on Syria. 

Here is a New York Times summary of events in Syria. In the middle right side of this resource are a large number of links to learn more.

Here is a BBC guide to the situation in Syria. 

From the BBC—

“Syria is a country of 21 million people with a large Sunni majority (74%) and significant minorities (10% each) of Christians and Alawites – the Shia sect to which Mr Assad belongs. For years, Mr Assad has promoted a secular identity for the Syrian state, hoping to unify diverse communities in a region where sectarian conflict is rife – as seen in neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq. The regime can still mobilise support, especially from minority groups and the upper classes However, he also concentrated power in the hands of his family and members of the Alawite community, who wield a disproportionate power in the Syrian government, military and business elite. Claims of corruption and nepotism have been rife among the excluded Sunni majority. And protests have generally been biggest in Sunni-dominated rural areas, towns and cities, as opposed to mixed areas. Opposition figures have stressed that they seek a “multi-national, multi-ethnic and religiously tolerant society”. But there are fears of chaos and instability – even talk of civil war – if Mr Assad should fall. Activists say these fears are overblown.” 

Here is a history of the Syrian nation. 

Here is the U.S. State Department overview of Syria. 

It may not be clear what difference a blog post or the concern of everyday people far away from Syria will do to change events in Syria. The government of President Bashar al-Assad will apparently only give up power when it is forced to do so.

Yet many brave people are fighting in Syria no matter the risk of violence or death. At the least they merit our acknowledgment and our concern. At best, an ongoing worldwide focus on repression and efforts to fight repression will help create a climate of hope and freedom in our connected world.

The message from Syria is that every person has a voice. We should each use the voice we are given in the best way we are able.

(Below—A 2011 anti-government protest in the Syrian city of Baniyas. Photo by Syria Frames Of Freedom.)  

February 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smithsonian American Art Museum Has Collection Online—Seward’s Purchase Of Alaska

Internet users are able to view much of the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Look at the middle of the right hand side of the link I provide above.

The print at the top of this post is titled Secretary Seward Buys Alaska.

This work was completed in 1973 by Warrington Colescott.

Secretary of State William Seward is buying Alaska from the Russians in this painting while a cast of characters look on.

Animals are looking on as well.

Nobody seems to be up to any good. Even the animals seem to have an angle.

Here is a picture of the check used to purchase Alaska in 1868. This took place during the administration of President Andrew Johnson. 

Here is a description of Mr. Colescott’s work from an exhibition of his prints held in Albany in 1995.

Here are some facts on the Alaskan Purchase from the Alaskan Humanties Forum. 

Here is the link to the Seward House Museum in Auburn, New York.

The Smithsonian provides an excellent resource by making this art so easily available to the general public.

There is so much to learn and understand if we take the time to do so.

Considering a work of art can lead us to any number of subjects to study, and to discoveries and reflections about history and public life and about our own lives as well.

August 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Albion’s Seed Is Texas Liberal Book Of The Day—Toxic Trees In Russia

Blogger’s Note—Because I have some other projects I want to take on, I’ll be offering up shorter and more formulaic posts for the remainder of August. These posts will still be quite good and will merit your visiting the blog each day. Yet at the same time, shorter posts will allow me time to accomplish other objectives. Thanks for reading Texas Liberal.

Texas Liberal Book Of The DayAlbion’s Seed—Four British Folkways In America by David Hackett Fischer. This is book is shown above by my friend Hamburger Wearing An Astros’ Hat.

This book is an account of the ongoing impact of British settlement in colonial America. It is interesting to see how the beliefs and habits of people who lived so many years ago are still impacting American life. You can see by how tattered the book ios that Hamburger really enjoyed this title.

Link Of The Day-The forest fires in Russia are burning trees that were coated in radioactive fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. This has raised a concern of radioactive smoke.

We’ve found a way in the world to make even trees be toxic.

Texas Link Of The Day—Please be certain to visit the Houston political blog Brains & Eggs each chance you get.

Local political bloggers do the best they can do with the time they have to make the world a better place.

August 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ukraine Parliament Fight—Reasons Behind The Fight

Above is a picture of the fight in the Ukrainian parliament yesterday.

These folks were hitting each other and hurling eggs and smoke bombs in the parliament chamber.

What were they fighting over?

They were fighting over the future of a Russian naval base in Ukraine. The debate was over an extension of the lease that allows the base to remain in Ukraine.

In exchange for use of the base, Russia is cutting the price of natural gas it exports to Ukraine.

Here is a useful story from The Montreal Gazette explaining the dispute.

Would you want a naval base from another nation in your country?  Especially a naval base belonging to very large, powerful and often unpleasant neighbor.

While the fight is the of kind entertainment I want with my democracy, the history between Russia and Ukraine is not so funny.

Here is a 2009 Time magazine article about the intertwined history of Russia and Ukraine.

This connected history directly relates to the Russian concern that Ukraine will fall into the orbit of the west and away from the influence of Russia.

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union before the U.S.S.R  broke apart.

Here is an overview of Ukraine from the BBC.

From this overview—

“A significant minority of the population of Ukraine are Russians or use Russian as their first language. Russian influence is particularly strong in the industrialised east, as well as in Crimea, an autonomous republic on the Black Sea which was part of Russia until 1954. The Russian Black Sea Fleet is based there.”

You see right there that a situation like that is trouble waiting to happen.

Here is a history of Ukraine.

While the fight in the Ukraine parliament is silly, the tensions behind the fight divide Ukraine society right down the middle.

In addition, many nations that border Russia face the same type of issues over to what extent Russian influence should be permitted, and concern over what Russia will do if ignored.

(Below–The Black Sea in Ukraine. Looks nice. Here are facts about the Black Sea.)

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

Russian-U.S. Summit—I Miss Boris Yeltsin

File:Boris Yeltsin with Bill Clinton-1.jpg

President Barack Obama is in Russia meeting with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and other Russian politicians. 

(Above–Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin with Bill Clinton in 1995. They are saying it is time for vodka and broads.)  

Here is an article from Newsweek offering ideas on what Mr. Obama should think about and know as he visits Russia.

Here is a profile of President Mededev from the BBC.

Here is information about Vladimir Putin from Time Magazine’s Profile of him as 2007 Person of the Year.

Here is the web home–in English–of the President of Russia. 

Here are recent articles about Russia and an overview of the current situation in Russia from The Economist. 

The facts about this visit and about Russia are out there for all to learn. Your daily newspaper tomorrow will likely have an article about today’s summit  you can read as you eat your Fruit Loops.

I miss Boris Yeltsin. For reading my blog, I would like to give you a big bear hug like Boris Yeltsin might after six vodkas. 

Boris Yeltsin, for better and worse, was a serious figure despite his behavior at times.

Here is Mr. Yeltsin’s obituary from The New York Times

Here is an unflattering obit of Mr. Yeltsin from Rolling Stone. 

(Below–Boris Yelstin dancing.)

July 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment