Tags: Alex Navalny, Pussy Riot, Putin, Russia, Russia's enemy, Segei Magnitsky
For criticizing Putin, Alexei Navalny is being prosecuted on spurious charges of fraud and embezzlement.
This is a favorite tactic for Putin and his cronies. They use it against anyone who criticizes them, including those who expose theft by officials. It was previously used against Sergei Magnitsky (see below).
Navalny isn’t a perfect human being, but he is honest, and he is trying to benefit his country, not himself.
Not only is Putin and Co. Russia’s greatest enemy, it is very nearly Russia’s only enemy.
Recent actions by the Russian Parliament are evidence that responsibility for the imprisonment, judicial injustice, torture and death of Sergei Magnitsky, and for covering up those criminal acts, reaches much higher than was supposed before. By approving and protecting those responsible, Putin becomes a party to their crimes.
Putin and his cronies do not love the Russian people, they despise them. They regard the Russian people as unfit to identify abuses, or to propose solutions, or to govern themselves.
Putin is not the protector of Russia, he is the protector of those who pillage Russia
An example is Putin’s protection of those who persecuted Sergei Magnitsky, and then fostered Magnitsky’s death.
Magnitsky’s only ‘crime’ was to expose those who had pillaged Russia. But corrupt officials charged him with some crime he had never committed, and a corrupt judge convicted him of that imaginary crime. As noted above, that has become the standard trick in Russia for persecuting anyone who is inconvenient for those in power.
Putin never asked for an investigation. When a few of the criminals were chastized by the Sergei Magnitsky Act in the US, Putin was not pleased to see the the culpable being punished. Instead, he whined about the US legislation, and pushed a bill that ostensibly punished the US, but whose main effect was to hurt Russian orphans.
His response proved that Putin’s priority was to protect those who pillaged Russia, and that he cared nothing for the true patriots who exposed the pillaging.
That made Putin an accessory to the crime.
That erased all doubt. Russia is ruled by a criminal mafia, and Putin is a member of that mafia.
While Putin remains in power, Russia cannot breathe.
Russia does not need to be defended against a dragon. It needs to be defended against a pit of vipers.
De-fang Putin and his viper cronies, and Russia will unclench, stretch out, and breathe.
Tags: Chen Guangchen, China, Fairness, freedom, government for the people, International Tiananmen Square Day, People's Liberation Army, Tiananmen Square
It is now only a few days before June 4, International Tiananmen Square Day.
International Tiananmen Square Day commemorates the bravery, the good will, and the peaceful, principled behavior of the patriotic students who were killed near Tiananmen Square on June 3, June 4, and on subsequent days in 1989.
According to Wikipedia, the students “called for government accountability, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the restoration of workers’ control over industry.” They also complained about “corruption of the party elite”. All of those issues are still alive today.
But International Tiananmen Square Day commemorates other brave and decent people, as well.
Many have heard of Tank Man, a single individual who on June 5 blocked tanks on Chang’an Avenue by standing in their path. (The dramatic image is copyrighted, so it cannot be included here. But you can see it via the hyperlink.) The soldiers in these tanks respected this man’s rights as a citizen, and did not move forward until non-soldiers (whose identies are unknown) pulled Tank Man out of the street and took him away. Tank Man subsequently disappeared. He was a hero.
But the soldiers in the tanks who refused to run over him, or shoot him, or beat him, or even push him out of the way – they were heros, too. Those soldiers insisted on treating a Chinese citizen as a citizen: as a person with a right to speak, and who deserved to be treated respectfully and humanely. The soldiers in those first few tanks were honest soldiers, protecting their people instead of killing and cowing them. Only insiders know for sure what happened to the commander of the lead tank. Some claim that he was shot, others claim that he is still alive. But there is no doubt that he was a hero, and a truer patriot than those who ordered the attack on the demonstrators, or than those who beat and shot them.
The commander of the lead tank on Chang’an Avenue was not the only Chinese soldier who acted nobly. According to a remarkably illuminating page in Wikipedia, about two weeks before the massacre, ”On 17 May 1989, over 1,000 men from the People’s Liberation Army’s General Logistics Department showed their support for the movement by appearing on Chang’an Avenue and marching toward Tiananmen Square, all the while receiving enthusiastic applause from onlookers.”
According to the same Wikipedia page, “Martial law was declared on 20 May 1989. On the same day, eight retired generals, Wang Ping, Ye Fei, Zhang Aiping, Xiao Ke, Yang Dezhi, Chen Zaidao, Song Shilun and Li Jukui signed a one-sentence letter to Deng Xiaoping and the Central Military Commission, “request[ing] that troops not enter the city and that martial law not be carried out in Beijing.”"
“The 38th Army is stationed near Beijing and therefore has a closer connection to the people of Beijing. Many students had also served in the unit before attending university and some students trained with the 38th in the summers as members of the army reserve. During the initial days when martial law was declared, the 38th Army, under General Xu Qinxian, openly refused to use force against student protestors.”
“During the Tiananmen repression an estimated 3,500 PLA officers disobeyed orders, resulting in scores of army officers being executed and several generals facing court martial, including 38th Army General Xu Qinxian.”
“The 28th Army was notable for its passive enforcement of the martial law order. The unit, led by commander He Yanran and political commissar Zhang Mingchun and based in Datong, Shanxi Province, received the mobilization order on May 19. They proceeded to lead the mechanized units to Yanqing County northwest of Beijing’s city centre. When ordered to enter the city on June 3, the 28th encountered protesting residents along route but did not open fire and missed the deadline to reach Tiananmen Square by 5:30 am on June 4. At 7:00am, the 28th Army ran into a throng of angry residents at Muxidi on West Chang’an Avenue west of the Square. The residents told the soldiers of the killings from earlier in the morning and showed blood stained shirts of victims.”
”At noon, Liu Huaqing, the commander of the martial law enforcement action, and Wang Hai, head of the PLA Air Force, flew over Muxidi in a helicopter and by loud speaker ordered the 28th Army to counterattack. But on the ground, the commanders of the 28th refused to comply. Instead the troops abandoned their positions en masse. By 5pm, many had retreated into the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution nearby. Of all units involved in the crackdown, the 28th Army lost by far the most equipment, as 74 vehicles including 31 armored personnel and two communications vehicles were burned.”
The protesters in Tiananmen Square wore something black. It was the badge of their protest. Wear at least one small bit of black on June 4, to commemorate the protesters, Tank Man, the soldiers who did not attack Tank Man, and the many officers and troops who refused to kill the protesters, and who were executed as a result.
Doing so will show that you look forward to the day when China – and all nations – will become humane and honorable.
As long as the government of China does not allow the Chinese people to voice their true opinions and aspirations, the policies and actions of the government of China are not those of the Chinese people.
As long as the government of China does not allow the Chinese people to voice their true opinions and aspirations, it deprives itself and China of its people’s ability to identify problems and to suggest solutions.
Since 1989 China has matured politically, and has become self-confident enough to allow people to point out selected problems. But it still often responds thugishly, like a bully, punishing those who it should instead have thanked for speaking out, punishing even their relatives, in ways that dishonor China in the eyes of the world, and do not befit a great power. Glaring recent examples are here, and here, and here.
On June 4, remember and act upon what the students stood for.
If you do, eventually China, and all countries, will be better. They will thrive sustainably. They will be more humane. Their citizens will be able to become all they can be.
Tags: assault rifles, E.J. Dionne Jr., gun control, large capacity magazines, National Rifle Association, NRA, Paul Kane, Philip Rucker, Wayne Lapierre
If there were an NRA for automobiles, what would it do?
Basing its statements on the freedom of travel that is implicit in the inter-state commerce clause of the Constitution, It would oppose any
- licensing of drivers,
- registration of cars,
- tests of driving skills and of the knowledge of traffic laws, (Indeed, it would oppose the very existence of traffic laws.)
- requiring insurance,
- the legality of speed limits,
- the installation of traffic signals, and the requirement that they be obeyed,
- rules of the road.
It would insist that horse riding and carriage driving had no licensing and no restrictions, so automobiles should not, either. After all, an automobile is to a horse-drawn carriage as a large-magazine assault rifle is to a 22 rifle.
On that basis, it would insist that anyone be able to buy – with no public record of the purchase – any car, any truck, any bus, any snow plow, and any battle tank.
At every possible opportunity, its leader, Weenie DaPebble, would gruffly repeat his slogan: “Cars don’t kill people, bad drivers kill people”. He might add, “Cars don’t drive themselves, you know”, and “If cars with machine guns were illegal, only criminals would have cars with machine guns.”
To evaluate any assertion by the NRA, ask yourself whether it would be reasonable to apply the same assertion to cars.
Applying this test, it becomes obvious that hunters and other sportsmen are not the NRA’s real focus. Although those communities are good sources of recruits, the NRA’s real priorities are self defense and preserving the ability to revolt, and the short-term economic interests of the gun manufacturers who fund the NRA.
Paranoia drives the NRA, not sport, and not patriotism. In fact, the NRA’s underlying agenda is nearly the antithesis of patriotism. It claims to base its positions on the Second Amendment to Constitution, but that is only because the NRA has tricked others into viewing the Second Amendment through a distorting lens. The NRA really accepts only the Declaration of Independence, and not the Constitution.
To put into perspective the position of the NRA and the gun manufacturers, ask yourself: would it make sense to require auto dealers to keep records of car buyers, but never to share that information with the police, nor with any other government agency?
Two recent articles in the Washington Post provide encouragement that sensible, balanced laws on guns will eventually be enacted: an article by Philip Rucker and Paul Kane, and an article by E.J. Dionne Jr.
Tags: domestic servitude, Human trafficking, Petula Dvorak, slavery, unfree labor, unfree labour
Petula Dvorak has just published an article in the Washington Post about a particular case of modern domestic slavery. I urge you to read it.
The abuse was substantial but not sexual. It turned out better than in many other cases of human trafficking. But the victim is still cowering and hiding from the couple that exploited her, as if she were in a witness protection program.
Justice has not been done. The abusers have not been punished, and they have not been prevented from victimizing other young women.
The following actions would provide justice, and would protect others from the same abusers.
1 – The victim should be enabled to call home, and tell her adoptive family in Africa that she is safe, but in hiding. She should describe what the family “friend” and his wife did to her. She should urge her parents to warn others in their community, because the abusers were from that community, and are likely to fish there again.
2 – The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) should obtain a search warrant to retrieve the victim’s passport and visa.
3 – The victim’s Embassy should be alerted, so that the abusing husband and wife are never again allowed to enter the country where they recruit victims.
4 – The abusing couple should serve prison terms, and should also be required to pay their victim at least $100k.
Tags: Republican Party, shampoo
What to do with bad shampoo?
It works for some, but not for you.
In my relentless quest to avoid buying from companies that contribute primarily to the Republican Party, I occasionally try brands of shampoo that are new to me.
Some do not work well, at least for me. Is there an alternative to just throwing the shampoo away?
There is. Shampoo is excellent as hand soap. It is also very effective for washing toilet bowls.
But be warned: if you wash a toilet bowl with shampoo, the toilet bowl may stare back at you. See photo 7 in this very amusing collection.
Heloise, feel free to quote these hints.
Tags: bribe, bribery, drug company, Federal Trade Commission, generic drug, patented drug, pharmaceutical company, pharmaceutical patent, Sarah Kliff, Supreme Court
A recent article by Sarah Kliff in the Washington Post describes a common practice called “pay for delay”.
It is used when the patent expires on a drug maker’s very profitable drug. The drug maker that formerly held the patent develops a patent dispute with a company that would have produced a generic version of the drug. Then the suit is settled by the former patent holder paying the would-be producer of the generic version to delay producing and selling the generic version.
Would someone please explain to me how this is not bribery?
Functionally, it acts as a bribe paid by the company that formerly held the patent on the drug, and as acceptance of a bribe by the company that would otherwise have produced a generic version of the drug.
Both companies benefit. Only the consumer is harmed.
The online version of Sarah Kliff’s article includes an instructive graphic showing how much this is costing the consumer.
The Editors of the Washington Post have argued that “pay for delay” constitutes illegal collusion.
The Federal Trade Commission is suing in the Supreme Court.
Tags: assault rifle, assault weapons, Eugene Robinson, Frank Sharry, gun control, Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, U.S. Senate, Washington Post
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Harry Reid is too frail a reed for the Senate to lean upon.
Harry Reid adheres to the principle, ‘don’t bring it to a vote unless you already know that it will pass’.
This led him to withdraw a ban on assault weapons from a recent bill on gun control. Eugene Robinson’s insightfully described the issues, the calculations, and the trade-offs in a recent article in the Washington Post.
If losing the vote would have made it less likely for the legislation to be brought up again in the future, then Harry Reid’s principle would have been appropriate.
But the legislative histories of the battles for civil rights and for non-traditional pairings in marriage show the opposite. Losing a vote now, and forcing your opponents to publically attach their names to their position, lays the groundwork for eventual victory. But to win eventually, you have to bring your legislation up for a vote again and again, never being discouraged by the fluctuations in the political weather. You never stop proposing your legislation. You never give the impression that the pressure might fade away.
This is illustrated spectacularly by the imminent victory of efforts to reform the immigration laws – especially those that pertain to those who are here because they or their parents snuck in. Advocates of immigration reform modeled their campaign on that for gay rights, as recounted in a recent article by Frank Sharry in the Washington Post.
Harry Reid is a good Senator. But he is not a leader. Seniority, by itself, is not a sufficient qualification for a leadership role.
Gutless and spineless, Harry Reid is anatomically deficient for the job.
As urged in a previous post in this blog, at the very first opportunity, Senate Democrats should elect a new Majority Leader.
Tags: George Zimmerman, manslaughter, Trayvon Martin, vigilantism
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This is a follow-up of a previous blog posting on George Zimmerman’s fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
In my opinion, George Zimmerman is guilty of the exultant manslaughter of an opportunistically chosen victim.
Let me explain what exultant manslaughter is.
Like many of us, George Zimmerman’s personality includes a streak of vigilantism. (The popularity of the YouTube video of a vigilante bus driver in Russia confirms that the vigilante urge is widespread.)
George Zimmerman was – probably only semi-conciously – looking for an opportunity that would provide a rationalization, an excuse, a cover, that would permit him to experience the thrill of power and accomplishment and of virtue from having blown away a bad person. Any instance of the types of persons we all hate would do: the types of persons who cause us to gnash our teeth in frustration when we learn of their acts.
He had no particular person in mind. The person was to be selected by fate. George Zimmerman prowled the streets in his vehicle at night, because the history of nightime property crimes in his neighborhood favored stumbling upon a malefactor that way.
That is what is meant by exultant manslaughter.
I know this because of something in my own history. When I was a graduate student I would work on my thesis until late at night, and then walk home through the empty and mostly dark campus. One day there was news that over several nights lone students had been beaten up by a small roving band of rogue students. Instead of changing my schedule, I went to a store that sold outdoor gear, and bought a blackened commando knife in a sheath. Each night I strapped it on before leaving the office. I walked home with my hand on the knife’s handle, scanning for lurking threats, and thinking of the satisfaction there would be in sinking the blade into astonished attackers. Stupid but lucky, I never had the occasion to experience what the consequences would have been.
Tags: Elizabeth Chang, Ellen McCarthy, mental disability, mental handicap, mentally disabled, mentally handicapped
The relevance of the picture will be explained later.
Ellen McCarthy and Elizabeth Chen recently published an article in the Washington Post Magazine about a young couple, Bill Ott and Shelley Belgard. Both have mental handicaps. The article, in honor of Valentine’s Day, traces the crisscrossing paths that finally merged, resulting in their becoming a couple.
The article is eye opening, and heart warming. I recommend that you take a look at it. Any summary here would be much less effective than the article itself.
Go ahead. I’ll wait for you to read it, and then return to this post.
Now, assuming that you have read the article, I wish to make only two brief observations.
Many of Bill’s statements are poetic. They are remarkably evocative. They are concise, and make their points perfectly. Anyone would be proud to have said them.
Shelley shows a degree of self-understanding that many would envy.
Despite their mental handicaps, Bill and Shelley are quite impressive, and quite likable.
The relevance of the picture is that it shows stars being born.
(To be precise, it is a color-coded image in infrared light, in which brightnesses at wavelengths that are invisible to the eye are portrayed by brightnesses at wavelengths that are visible to the eye. Each glowing ball is not a new star. It is a ball of dust around a new star. The dust is warmed by ultraviolet and visible radiation from the new star, causing the dust to emit infrared radiation. You might enjoy the caption on the original image.)