Despite the international coverage regarding their punk band, members of Russian group Pussy Riot have been detained once again. When Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were convicted and arrested in 2012 for their feminist, anti-Putin lyrics and behaviors, they were forced to spend two years in Gulag-like penal colonies. Instead of serving a regular prison sentence, which they certainly did not deserve for a simple expression of freedom of speech, they were both brutally abused in labor camps.
Considered as “prisoners of conscience” by international organizations such as Amnesty International, they are not regarded as anything more than hooligan delinquents by Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. Despite a lack of domestic support for Pussy Riot, the women quickly gained an international limelight that pressured the Russian leader to grant them amnesty. But despite the progress due to the pressure of international criticism, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova are … Read the rest
Russian Armored Personnel Carriers and a truck are observed outside the town of Bakhchisarai, Ukraine, on February 28th. (Photo Courtesy of Bloomberg.com)
Following a vote by Russian lawmakers giving President Vladimir Putin the ability to send troops into the pro-Russian Crimean region of Ukraine, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has declared that his country is ready to fight for its sovereignty. The former Soviet nation’s army is on full alert for the possibility of armed conflict, while in the Ukrainian south unidentified quasi-military forces have installed a pro-Russian premier, Sergey Aksenov. With the Ukrainian government already facing social instability and severe economic constraints, surrounding nations and the international community are now worried about the prospect of civil war in the current highly polarized environment.
The U.S. has accused Russia’s recent intervention as a series of calculated steps intended to make the use of force appear legitimate in the eyes … Read the rest
Demonstrators react to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to veto the state’s recent “religious freedom” bill. (Photo Courtesy of azstarnet.com)
Arizona has made national headlines recently for trying to pass a bill that would allow business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians on the basis of religious beliefs. Luckily, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) went against her own party’s bill and vetoed the potential segregating law. During her Wednesday night news conference Governor Brewer defended her decision by saying, “I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.” Brewer went on to comment how disappointed she was in her party’s priorities, considering this was the first piece of legislation that has made it to her desk this year. If this law passed, it would be reminiscent of the hateful Jim Crow laws that plagued our country for almost a century, which … Read the rest
This year’s midterm elections are all about educating the public on what issues are really at stake. With less than nine months left to make their case, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is trying to set the tone and carry that momentum through.
What’s message number one? (Taken from a January 21 podcast on the NRSC website). Ward Baker, a high school educated ex-Marine and political director of the NRSC, calls it “the failure of Obamacare” that is “straddled around the necks of all Democrats.” The tactic kills two birds with one stone. Many incumbent Democrats planned to run on their record of voting for Obamacare, but Republicans are seizing on the bumpy and glitch-ridden rollout of the landmark program, including the canceling of health care plans for several million … Read the rest
Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as “El Chapo,” in custody following his capture by Mexican authorities.
The capture of Joaquin Guzman Loera early this past Saturday in Mazatlan, a Mexican beach town, was a takedown that will undoubetly make history. More commonly known as “El Chapo”, Guzman has been branded as Mexico’s and the U.S.’s public enemy number one since his escape in a laundry cart from the Punete Grande prison in 2001. For someone who did not even finish third grade, Guzman’s story is one that made its debut in poverty but ended with a multinational drug trafficking organization and billions of dollars.
The infamous drug lord, after all, controlled the Sinaloa Cartel, responsible for at least a quarter of drugs going into American soil from Mexico. But Sinaloa continues to handle a lot more territory than just the American one. From marijuana to cocaine to opium, … Read the rest
Protests in Venezuela have turned violent in the past week, presenting a challenge to President Nicolas Maduros’ administration. (Photo Courtesy of breitbart.com)
Just as hopeful reports are coming in that the Ukrainian government and Independence Square protestors have agreed to meet for “peace” talks, disturbing news is coming from a different quarter of the globe: namely, Venezuela, where protests over a stalled economy, rising crime rates, and limited freedom of expression have rocked President Nicolas Maduro’s 10-month rule. As the country’s largest demonstrations since Hugo Chavez’s presidency envelop Venezuela, media repression, police and military intimidation, and lethal attacks on protestors have escalated, with a total of five protestors killed throughout the country in the past week.
But with Ukraine and the Winter Olympics occupying the international media spotlight, Venezuela’s woes have received almost no airtime–a surprising observation considering the fact that Venezuela has been an international flashpoint for several decades. … Read the rest
My last blog post on the history and sociopolitical background of the Euromaidan crisis sets the stage for the argument I am planning to make here, which is the following: Russia is and has been implementing an expansionist foreign policy in which it directly seeks to expand its sphere of influence over select nations, solidifying control through economic, political, and even militaristic domination.
In the previous post I focused on Belarus. However, Russia plays this game in regions all along its borders. Chechnya comes to mind, but perhaps more important were Russian actions during the South Ossetia War of 2008. Russian naval, air, and land forces supported ethnic militias in military operations against Georgian forces on internationally recognized and sovereign Georgian territory. Although blame for the war and human rights violations during it rest on both sides rather equally, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke to … Read the rest
Recently at a House Democrats retreat in Maryland, Vice President Joe Biden announced boldly that there is currently no Republican party. Biden immediately added that he wished there was a Republican party. Well Mr. Vice President, be careful what you wish for because the “spellbound” GOP may just have full control of Congress come November.
In the upcoming mid-term elections there are 36 senate seats and 36 governorships up for grabs. Gallup has researched that Democrats hold a 17-14 advantage compared to Republicans when it comes to states’ party preferences. To put this number in perspective, and why some believe the tide is turning in favor of Republican candidates in 2014, we have to look at how these numbers have changed since Obama took office. In 2008, Democrats had a remarkable 30 state lead over Republicans. The Republicans could have resurrected Ronald Reagan and Abraham … Read the rest
Euromaidan protesters maintain a barrier erected in Independence Square. (Photo Courtesy of demotix.com)
Summary: The vestiges of the Soviet domestic policy of Russification has enabled the Kremlin to maintain strong ties to the nations of Ukraine and Belarus, whom it exploits for their strategic and economic value. A dichotomy has emerged between nations who have attempted to reverse this policy of Russification and those that have instead remained aligned with Russia. In the case of Ukraine, this dichotomy is internal, leading to the present strife the country is facing.
Civil unrest continues to shake the nation of Ukraine in an attempt to oust current President Viktor Yanukovych. The Euromaidan, as the crisis is called (literally “Eurosquare”), furiously and simultaneously exposed the fruits of history and placed the expansionist policies of the European Union and Russia in direct opposition. The outcome of this crisis will have critical implications for the … Read the rest
Since Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program after talks with various world powers (the U.S., Russia, China, France, England, and Germany) last November, there has been a lot of talk regarding a final nuclear arrangement with Tehran. However, all possibilities of progress may be halted as neither Ayatollah Khomeini or President Obama seemed particularly confident going into a second round of talks this Tuesday in Vienna.
Last year’s interim agreement, reached on November 24th, was supposed to be a stepping-stone in the right direction, one step out of many more to come. Put into effect last month, the accord will be proven useless if this recent high level of skepticism remains on each side. Though Iranian officials have made it clear that they have no intent on reneging the international deal, a crucial question persists. Will either country take the necessary and … Read the rest