But first . . .
(And, argues Yale’s Steven Tian, Russia’s crippling invasion of Ukraine may not cause global famine after all, thanks to bumper crops in several major wheat-producing countries.)
Brittney Griner purchased two cannabis vape cartridges legally in the U.S. and was sentenced to 9 years in prison for bringing them into Russia for her personal use. What kind of country does that? What Russian could possibly have been harmed in any way by what she did?
Article 15 of Russia’s Criminal Code distinguishes between “crimes of little gravity” — which surely this one was, if a crime at all — “crimes of average gravity,” “grave crimes,” and “especially grave crimes.” Putin apparently pretends to believe hers was a “grave crime.”
But if you live in a country ruled by a “strongman” instead of a country of laws, what recourse is there?
I want to live in a country where — for all its flaws — we at least try to get it right. And can freely protest when, as all too often, things go awry.
Inciting a violent coup against the government of the United States should not be acceptable — as Lindsey Graham and others briefly acknowledged before falling back into line.
Indeed, it is a crime.
Likewise, obstructing justice.
For anyone not above the law, the penalties for such crimes would be severe.
So, I ask my Republican friends: in America, should anyone be above the law?
Martha Stewart went to prison, for crying out loud.
How can we have become a country where a Texas woman has been imprisoned for five years for voting but most Republican leaders support a man who attempted to steal an entire election?
(The fact that he narrowly failed, and that only a few hundred people were injured or died, does not excuse the crime . . . any more than “attempted murder” or “attempted bank robbery” are excused by failure.)
And now . . .
I’ve written about Thor Halvorssen before.
He is, in my book, an American hero.
This report on his latest Oslo Freedom Forum describes the state of the world — and of the tyrants and strongmen who rule so much of it.
. . . The world of 2022 is a nightmare compared to that of five years ago, the last time I was in Oslo for the forum. The list of things that have gotten worse is long and sobering. Any remaining hope that the Twitter and Facebook-driven revolutions of the Arab Spring would usher in an era of freedom and democracy in the Middle East has evaporated. Bashar Assad and his Iranian allies slaughtered their way to control over nearly all of Syria, Yemen became the site of an ever more violent and intractable proxy war, and even Tunisia devolved into a soft autocracy. The Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan; Nicholas Maduro held on in Venezuela, sending over 5 million of his subjects fleeing for their lives. Russia invaded Ukraine and became a full-on police state. . . . The autocrats have grown more confident and more dangerous as democracies’ sense of weakness and drift settles into an indefinite and comfortable malaise.
So worth reading in full . . . and working to make right.
Quote of the Day
Castro asked, 'Tell me friends, which of you is an economist?' I thought he had said 'Which of you is a communist?' so I immediately said 'I am.' At which he said, 'OK, you handle the economy.'~Che Guevara's story of how he became the head of the National Bank of Cuba in 1959, as recounted by Andrei Gromyko
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