Archive for March 2, 2014


As Ukraine teeters on a knife edge between self determination and further Russian incursion, the UN Security Council assembles for crisis talks…here @ the interpretOr, we’re having another look at perspectives from Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International on the Putin regime… Reporters Without Borders...

…in the face of the Russian public’s calls for respect and democracy, the government has responded with repression. A spate of draconian laws has been adopted in record time. Legislation regulating human rights NGOs and unauthorized demonstrations was toughened, while defamation was reintroduced into the criminal code after being decriminalized in November 2011. In the name of “protecting minors,” a federal agency has been told to compile a blacklist of “pernicious” websites that can be blocked without reference to the courts and without any possibility of defence. And the Duma is not stopping there. Plans are under way to vastly extend the scope of what is regarded as “high treason” and “state secrets.” Tools for circumventing online censorshipare to be banned. And “offending the feelings of believers” is to be penalized drastically. The desire to control is as plain as ever. OFFICIAL VERSION “The media’s active and responsible attitude and a truly independent and courageous journalism are more than ever desired and indispensible for Russia.” (Address to the Union of Journalists, April 2013) REALITY Whether indispensible or not, independent journalism is a risky activity in Russia. No fewer than 29 journalists have been murdered in direct connection with their work since Putin became president. Physical attacks and murders occur with regularity and are encouraged by the impunity enjoyed by their perpetrators. After a particularly intense wave of violence from 2008 to 2010, Putin and Dmitry Medvedev both gave personal undertakings to combat impunity. With no effect. Mikhail Beketov, who suffered lasting injuries in a November 2008 attack, died in April 2013 without seeing his assailants brought to justice. The identity of those who ordered the murders of Anna Politkovskaya and Khadzhimurad Kamalov, and the attack on Oleg Kashin, is still unknown. Read in Russian / Читать по-русски

Amnesty International …

Vladimir Putin’s return as President, following widely criticized elections, led to a surge in popular protest and demands for greater civil and political freedoms, particularly around his inauguration in May. The result was increased restrictions. Protests were frequently banned and disrupted. New laws were adopted, often without public consultation and in the face of widespread criticism, which introduced harsh administrative and criminal penalties that could be used to target legitimate protest and political and civil society activities, and to restrict foreign funding for civic activism. The Russian Federation responded belligerently to international criticism of its human rights record. A law on travel and other sanctions on officials allegedly responsible for the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in custody in 2009 was passed in the USA and proposed in several other countries. The Russian authorities retaliated with reciprocal sanctions and by banning the adoption of Russian children by US citizens and prohibiting Russian NGOs from receiving funding from the USA. Russia continued to enjoy economic growth, although this slowed with falling oil prices, the global economic downturn and the lack of structural reforms at home. Public protest decreased by the end of 2012, but so did public support for the political leadership, according to opinion polls…

full report @ Amnesty International

In These Times

Newsletter 1 March 2014
Low-income people of color stand to lose the most from the erosion of net neutrality. By Jay Cassano and Michael Brooks Keystone by the Bay Labor and environmental groups clash in Maryland over fracking. By Rebecca Burns Citizens of Nowhere Thousands of Haitian-Dominicans were stripped of Dominican citizenship. Where’s the U.S. outrage? By Achy Obejas Jersey Hustle The South Jersey political corruption depicted in American Hustle still persists, in a new form. By Bhaskar Sunkara Stamp of Disapproval Activists and union workers fight to stop the U.S. Postal Service from shedding buildings and jobs. By Theo Anderson For Once, Workers Win Over Walmart Walmart has signed onto a contract that guarantees Floridian tomato pickers fair treatment. By Alex Wolff China’s Green Movement Environmentalists cut through the smog of state repression. By Michelle Chen Anti-Fracking Fight Heats Up in Maryland Baltimore’s march against the proposed Cove Point project was the largest environmental protest in the city’s history. By Bruce Vail Free Contraception Is in Danger Again A Supreme Court case may prioritize employers’ religious freedoms over women’s health. By Ruth Rosen COMMENTARY The Billionaires’ Scheme to Destroy Democracy The 1% are advocating a campaign for a one-dollar-one-vote plutocracy. By Leo Gerard The Real Welfare Queens A new report shows corporations like Koch Industries have gotten billions in government subsidies. By David Sirota WORKING IN THESE TIMES After Chokwe Lumumba’s Death, Mississippi Auto Workers Mourn a Union Ally The late Jackson, Miss. mayor was an outspoken advocate for unions and workers rights in a fiercely right-wing state. By David Moberg THE PRISON COMPLEX New York’s Curbs on Solitary Confinement Could Signal National Sea Change The agreement makes New York the largest prison system in the country to prohibit solitary confinement of minors. By Alex Wolff
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