A 22-year-old showed up a quarter century ago (I was on a book tour) and announced he was taking me to the best French restaurant in Philadelphia.

Who was this ebullient, self-confident kid?

Torn between my aversion to pretentious French restaurants and my weakness for free food, I assented . . . discounting virtually all his boasts, plans, and pronouncements over dinner (was he really a descendent of Símon Bolívar?) but enjoying the escargot . . . and guess what?  He was for real.

Friends ever since, the jaw drops at all he’s accomplished.

Click here to meet Thor . . . who launches freedom balloons into North Korea, whose dad was imprisoned; whose mom was shot by Chavistas; whose imprisoned cousin, Leopoldo Lopez, may be Venezuela’s next president if the dictatorship can be overthrown . . .

. . . and then here to attend this year’s Oslo Freedom Forum.

Which took place Monday and Tuesday in Miami Beach (Oslo having until recently been closed for COVID).

You save the airfare; you save the hotel; you save the not-inconsiderable registration fee; and you can watch in bits and pieces at your leisure.

Meet beyond-courageous freedom fighters from Nigeria, Iran, and Belarus.  Meet the Iraqi comedian whose brother’s remains had to be peeled from the walls so there was something to bury.  Watch a talk on Surveillance Fusion that makes Orwell’s 1984 look frighteningly like 2025.  Meet Gary Kasparov.  Listen to beautiful music.  Hear the plea of one of China’s 11 million Uyghurs, and the stories of imprisoned or exiled Hong Kongers.  Meet the wife of one of Nicaragua’s political prisoners.  Meet this year’s winner of the Vaclev Havel Prize For Creative Dissent (and hear the story of the bloody watch).  Watch why Bitcoin is known as “freedom money” in many countries.

And that was just Day One.

Here is Day Two.

 

 

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