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costa's hummer

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Authorities eleven, people nothing.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Lots of similar news around the globe this week. In Russia, three members of the feminist collective Pussy Riot get two years in the slam for insulting the Russian Orthodox church. They are charged with hooliganism and inciting religious hatred. The real reason is that they were taking shots at Vladimir Putin and he doesn't take kindly to political opposition.

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It's an odd wave or contagion that is increasing the world over; authoritarian regimes and conservative elements increasingly allying themselves with the local brand of fundamentalist religion.  You see it in Russia, where Putin finds himself the protector of the faith, here, in the islamic world, practically the world over. Symbiotically the politicians and the theologists each get something out of the deal. I am reading a book on Spain and during Franco no other creed but Catholicism was allowed to practice openly or post a sign outside their church or synagogue.

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In Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood "reformer" Mohammed Morsi  is going after critics and journalists. State prosecutors filed lawsuits against two journalists this week, and an entire issue of opposition newspaper al-Doustour was pulled by state censors. The government argued that the move was aimed at suppressing media reports that incite violence, lead to a disruption of public order and personally insult the newly-elected president.

The Minister of Information, Salah Abdul Maqsoud, is a Muslim Brotherhood member who has hand picked editors of the state owned media outlets, who are naturally quite sympathetic to the new government.

What is ironic about the Brotherhood's heavy handed attempts to silence dissent is that they seem to have adopted the same tactics that they hated so much when employed by the ruling predecessor, Mubarak.

Foreign Policy has an interesting article about the conflict between the Islamic State and a free press. Appointed editors include an individual who has issued a fatwa to kill jews and another who wants to kill Bahai's, which evidently occurred shortly after his proclamation, in the village of Sharonya.

Many Egyptians are worried that charges can now be brought under against anyone who questions the regime.

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In South Africa, police opened fire with automatic weapons on a large crowd of mine workers armed with sticks and machetes demanding higher wages, killing thirty four protesters and injuring scores more. This is similar to what happened during apartheid, only now it's blacks shooting blacks. South Africa has been under one party rule since 1994 and the miners union N.U.M. is seen to be in league with the ruling A.N.C. against its own workers, who struck without union support.

The mine owner, Lonmin PLC, is the world's third-largest platinum producer. About 3,000 people have walked off the job at the Lonmin mine in the past week due to a pay dispute.  Miners want their monthly salaries, now averaging about $480, to be tripled.

"They can beat us, kill us and kick and trample on us with their feet, do whatever they want to do, we aren't going to go back to work," said one striking worker.

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Twenty bloggers have been convicted in Oman for defaming the sultan.

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Ecuador may be spreading out the welcome mat for Julian Assange but President Correa's government has an awful record of shutting down opposition media, closing 11 radio stations recently that have been critical of the government.

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New revelations that the Hugo Chavez government hired an Argentine hacker, working in Spain, to install a communications network to monitor opposition leaders, journalists and individuals who may “pose a threat to the Bolivarian revolution.”

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A Bahraini activist, Nabeel Rajab has been jailed three years for an insulting tweet regarding the Prime Minister and attending an illegal gathering.

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In Gambia a radio station has just been shut down for the second time for translating news into local languages.

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Journalists are demonstrating in Myanmar to end press censorship after the suspension of two newspapers last week for the innocuous crime of speculating about a cabinet reshuffle.

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An Ethiopian journalist is imprisoned and charged with treason, purportedly for covering protests in Addis Ababa.

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95 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey.

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