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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.


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

First Woman President For Brazil—Third Consecutive Victory For Left In Nation Of 195 Million

For the first time, Brazil has elected a woman President. Dilma Rousseff  represents the left-of-center Worker’s Party.

(Above–Ms. Rousseff making a speech.)

Here is a profile of Ms. Rousseff from the BBC.

From the BBC—

“Ms Rousseff has a somewhat brusque manner and is reputed to have a short temper – attributes that have, perhaps unsurprisingly, led to her being dubbed the Iron Lady. Dilma Rousseff was born in 1947 and grew up in an upper middle class household in Belo Horizonte. Her father, Pedro Rousseff, was a Bulgarian immigrant. Her seemingly conventional background changed in the mid-1960s, when she was in her late teens. She became involved in left-wing politics and joined the underground resistance to the military dictatorship that seized power in 1964….Ms Rousseff, 62, joined President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government in 2003 as energy minister. In 2005, after a corruption scandal brought down key government figures, Mr Lula made her his chief of staff, a post she held until March 2010, when she launched her campaign for the presidency as the Workers Party (PT) candidate.”

Here, in English, is the web page of Brazilian Presidency

There are at the moment three women leaders in Latin America. Costa Rica and Argentina have female Presidents.

The election marks the third consecutive Presidential victory for the Worker’s Party. Brazil is the fifth most populous nation in the world with 193 million people.

The world’s largest democracy, India, also has a left-of-center government.

Here are some facts about population and wealth in Brazil.

Here is how the victory in Brazil was reported in the leading Indian newspaper The Hindu.

From The Hindu—

“Ms. Rousseff said her most “fundamental commitment” would be the eradication of poverty and the creation of opportunities for all. She emphasized economic development, the fight against “the protectionism of rich countries,” and he need to put an end to financial speculation which increases “the volatility of capital and currencies.”

Ms. Rousseff won election by 56%-44% in a runoff. The first round of voting, which involved three major candidates, had no representative of a right-wing party. There was Mr. Rouseff, a centrist and a Green.

The outgoing President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, likely could have been elected to a third term.  He was unable to run again due to term limits.

(Below—Ms. Rousseff shaking hands with President Obama with Lula, and Abe Lincoln, looking on.)

Lula, as he is known, may seek the office again in 2014.  Lula will remain a power in Brazil no matter what.

This seems similar to the situation in Russia where Vladimir Putin may have left the top job, but seems likely to return at some point.

The contrast being that Lula has kept Brazil on a path to democracy, while Mr. Putin has in mind a different direction.

Congratulations to the people of Brazil on a successful election and on the absence of any serious right-wing contender for the highest office.

Please pass on your secret chucking the conservatives for a Presidential elections.

Here are some basic facts about Brazil. Here is a history of Brazil.

(Below—Rio de Janeiro. Must be quite a place to visit. Photo by LecomteB)

November 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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