Saturday, April 29, 2017

Foreign Digest: Venezuela, Ecuador, France, Syria, Russia and Turkey

Venezuela OAS expulsion
            Amidst ongoing demonstrations against the Socialist dictatorship, Venezuela is now withdrawing from the Organization of American States, which had criticized the Venezuelan regime for its bloody crackdown on dissent. 

Communist Cuba, an ally of Socialist Venezuela, is the only other state in the Americas that is not a member of the OAS.  The OAS should continue to encourage liberty in Cuba and Venezuela, as well as in member states Ecuador and Nicaragua.    

Ecuador’s authoritarianism
            Ecuador, which is led by an authoritarian leftist allied with Venezuela, is violating the freedom of the press through a new press law.  The Ecuadorian Government, which had abetted Venezuela’s aid for Marxist narco-terrorists in Colombia, also harbors an agent of the Russian Federation in its embassy in the United Kingdom.

French presidential elections
            The center-left candidate won more votes in the French presidential election earlier this week than three pro-Russian candidates, one of whom was far-left, one was conservative and the other a far-right nationalist.  The Russian Federation, which has interfered heavily in this election, has been particularly backing the nationalist candidate, who came in second. 

As neither candidate won a majority, there will be a runoff election.  The ruling socialist party candidate earned the fifth most votes, as neither major party will have a candidate representing it in the runoff for the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic.  Because of the threat to liberty and global security of a victory by the anti-European, anti-NATO xenophobe, the losing conservative candidate and a former conservative president, Nicholas Sarkozy, are backing the center-left candidate. 

The leading candidate, a former cabinet minister, has been targeted by Russian state hackers, as well as by Russian propaganda, as the same phony social media accounts that have been supporting Donald Trump are now supporting—in French—the nationalist candidate.  Trump had made favorable comments on behalf of the Russian-backed xenophobe who denies French culpability on the Holocaust. 

Syria’s chemical weapons attack
            The French Republic concluded this week beyond a doubt that sarin gas was used in the attack on civilians last month and that Syria’s Baathist dictator, Bashar Assad, was responsible for the attack.  Sarin is a prohibited chemical weapon of mass destruction that the Syrian regime was required to give up in 2013 in its agreement brokered by its ally, the Russian Federation.  The chemical attack was launched from a base at which Russian military forces operate. 

The Syrian regime, which is a state sponsor of terrorism, and Russia often target innocent civilians.  The Syrian civil war has killed hundreds of thousands and created five million refugees, the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War.  Syria is also backed by terrorist-sponsor Iran and Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization.

Russian anti-government protests
            There were more protests yesterday across the Russian Federation against the government’s tyranny and kleptocracy.

Turkish authoritarianism
            Turkey’s Islamist authoritarian government is continuing to expand its post-military coup crackdown to the point of establishing a totalitarian Islamic regime.  The Turkish dictator, known as “the Sultan,” is banning certain Internet information websites and television programs he deems “un-Turkish.” 

            Like Venezuela and Russia, Turkey’s tyrant was democratically elected and gradually became authoritarian by seizing more and more powers, through both legal and illegal means, while oppressing the press and the democratic opposition and violating the independence of the judiciary.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Turkish Referendum Establishes an Autocratic Presidential State

           By a slim margin, despite oppression by Turkey’s authoritarian government that precluded a free and fair political campaign, as well as election irregularities, Turkish voters narrowly approved a constitutional referendum that establishes a presidential state that gives its president autocratic powers.

            Turkey was founded after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire that followed the First World War as a secular, parliamentary republic led by a prime minister with a more ceremonial president as head of state.  Under its current president, it had already unofficially turned into an Islamist presidential dictatorship even before the referendum makes it official.

            Members of the opposition have been imprisoned, especially since the authoritarian president’s crackdown which followed the attempted military coup d’etat in July, as I have been posting.  Tens of thousands of people have been sacked or imprisoned, especially in the military, which had long been the guarantor of Turkish democracy, including in the judiciary, as the independence of that branch of government has been eliminated.  There have also been more arrests of journalists and closures of independent media since the coup.  During the campaign, demonstrations were banned.  Turkey, like Venezuela and Russia, is one of the examples of the global rise of authoritarianism among democratically-elected governments.

            The Trump Administration’s United States Department of State issued a mildly-worded statement that, although it cited election irregularities, called upon Turkey’s government and opposition to work together, as if there were no oppression by the Turkish regime, and that Turks were informed about politics in their country through an independent press and the opposition were to free to engage in public debate.  It was even more appalling that President Donald Trump congratulated the Turkish authoritarian president for grabbing additional power through his tainted referendum victory.  

           Trump has demonstrated a pattern of not speaking up for pro-democratic protests, as in Russia and elsewhere and for making false moral equivalences between oppression by foreign dictatorships and supposed American misdeeds.  As a result, the U.S. loses moral credibility and becomes less of a beacon for hope for dissidents and all those who long for or cherish freedom around the world at a time when liberty and representative government are on the defensive against authoritarianism.  

Foreign Digest: Protests in Venezuela, South Africa, Russia and Hungary

           There continue to be anti-corruption and pro-democratic protests in Venezuela, Russia and Hungary, As I had posted earlier this month.  In addition, there have been anti-corruption protests in South Africa

            There have been more pro-democratic and anti-corruption protests in Venezuela and they have been more widespread, both geographically and in terms of class, as even the poor are turning against the Socialist regime.   The dictator is confronted everywhere he goes by demonstrators.

South Africa
            There have been major anti-corruption protests against the leftist leader of South Africa.  His African National Congress party, which dominates South African politics, continues to back him, despite his corruption.

            The opposition leader, released from prison last week, plans more protests in June against the authoritarian kleptocracy of Russian Federation ex-KGB dictator Vladimir Putin.

            There continue to be pro-democratic protests against Hungary’s illiberal nationalist government.  

           Protests are often a highly effective way of pressuring authoritarians to moderate or to leave power, as the demonstrations shatter the myth of the dictator’s popularity and encourage further resistance.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

           I wish all of you a happy and blessed Easter!

           Let us remember, during this time when authoritarianism has been increasing, that our rights come from God, not man, and that God is Freedom.  As the truth is being undermined with lies and doubts, let us remember that God is Truth.  And as hatred is condoned and promoted, let us remember that God is Love.

           God bless you.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Eight-Year Blog Visit Report

           Thank you for visiting my blog.  In the eight years that StatCounter has been tracking pageviews of my blog, there have been nearly 6,760 strictly-defined visits to my blog, as there were nearly 360 tracked during the last year, an increase of 20% from the year before.

            Visits do not include my own and are only counted if the particular pageviews are identifiable and if an individual’s pageviews are at least one hour apart.  Obviously artificial visitors are discounted.  As I have noted in previous reports, StatCounter does not track nearly as many pageviews as Blogger, the blog host, but allows for better analysis because of its more specificity.  Even with the increase in visits over the last year tracked by StatCounter, there have been fewer visits tracked by it than a few years ago, when the average had been four times as high, but there has simultaneously been a significant increase of pageviews tracked by Blogger, as people have become more likely to block fuller tracking. 

            StatCounter has tracked a dramatic increase in blog visits that are initiated on my blog homepage in recent years.  Although The Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization, from April of 2009, with over 1,600 visits, continues to be the most visited page since StatCounter began tracking visits to my blog earlier that month, Useless Cabinet Departments, from March of 2011, was the most popular blog post over the last year, with 30 visits, followed by a second-place tie between The Reverend Monsignor Felix A. Losito, Rest in Peace, from November of that year and Presidential Electors are Supposed to Represent the States and the People from November of 2016, each with 18 visits.  Also attracting at least 15 visits over the last year were Chester Arthur, the Most Underrated U.S. President, from April of 2012 and Commentary on the Roman Influence on America Exhibit at the Constitution Center, from July of 2010, which has been visited over 500 times, the second-most of any post.  As Blogger had tracked, there was a significant increase in traffic to my blog because of the presidential election.  There continue to be visits tracked by StatCounter from across the American Union and from every inhabited continent, including from schools, news media and major companies.

            As authoritarianism has increased around the globe, defending liberty, which is the mission of this blog, has become increasingly necessary.  

           Again, thank you for visiting, especially those of you who are regular visitors, and for following and for the offline comments you give me.  Please visit regularly and follow my blog if you do not already and post comments or contact me offline for feedback or to ask questions or suggest additional topics.  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Foreign Digest: Russia, Belarus, Montenegro, Hong Kong, Turkey, Venezuela

           The rise of authoritarianism and the struggle for liberty is the theme of this post.

Protests in Russia and Belarus
            There were unusually large protests a week ago against the dictatorship in Belarus, while those in Russia at the same time were the largest there in years.  Tens of thousands took to the streets in scores of cities across Russia in unauthorized protests against corruption, after a leading opposition figure was able to disseminate a video about the wealth amassed by Russia’s Prime Minister and his extravagant lifestyle.  The Russian Federation is led by an authoritarian regime that is also a kleptocracy, while most of the Russian people have been denied the benefits of the country’s oil wealth, while Russia is spending money on wars in Ukraine and Syria.  The protests continued in Russia this week on a smaller scale, as the size of the ones the weak before surprised everyone and have bolstered the democratic opposition, despite the arrest of several hundred demonstrators, including the opposition leader. 

            Meanwhile, the European Peoples Parties, a European Parliament group of center-right parties from across Europe, condemned the Russian Federation’s undermining of democratic elections in Europe
Montenegro’s admission to NATO
            Montenegro has applied for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but its accession is being blocked by an isolationist in the United States Senate.  Montenegro fears Russia, especially after the Russians attempted a coup d’etat in the tiny former Yugoslav state in October on its parliamentary election day, in which Russia had backed pro-Russian parties.  The plot included plans to assassinate the Prime Minister, who was reelected.  The accession of Montenegro into NATO would expand the defense alliances’ perimeter and thus limit Russian advances, particularly through its ally, Serbia, which borders Montenegro

Hong Kong’s Pro-Peking Administrator
            The Chinese Communists appointed an administrator who is pro-Peking, despite Chinese promises of autonomy and democracy for the former British territory and despite protests for autonomy and democracy and wins by the democratic opposition in the territory’s administrative council elections.

Turkish Referendum to Increase Presidential Powers
            Turkey, together with Russia and Venezuela, has been among the worst examples of the rise of authoritarianism, especially among democratically-elected governments.  In violation of Turkey’s secular constitution, it has become Islamist under its authoritarian president, even though the Turkish constitution does not establish a presidential state, but one led by the prime minister.  The Turkish President, who is known as the “Sultan,” like the leaders of the Ottoman Turkish Empire and caliphate, has proposed a referendum to increase presidential powers.  He is still using last summer’s attempted coup by the military to conduct purges to limit all opposition.

Venezuela’s Opposition Defends the Separation of Powers
            The Supreme Court had ruled last week in favor of executive rule, stripping the democratically-elected Congress, which is led by the democratic opposition to the authoritarian Socialist regime, of its powers and substituted rule by executive decree in its place.  The democratic opposition had won a two-thirds supermajority in the Venezuelan Congress.  The opposition and the Organization of American States opposed the ruling as a coup d’etat by the dictatorship.  Their pressure was successful in leading the Court to reverse its ruling.  

           The Venezuelan regime has refused to seat some of the members who were elected, thereby denying the opposition their supermajority, which would have provided it with the ability to override presidential vetoes and other powers.  The Socialist dictatorship has also thwarted the opposition’s attempts to free all of Venezuela’s political prisoners and to institute certain democratic reforms and initiate changes in policy.