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Russian Anti-War Activist Dmitry Skurikhin Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for "Discrediting" the Military

Russian anti-war activist and entrepreneur Dmitry Skurikhin (Дмитрий Скурихин) has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for "discrediting" the Russian military after he displayed a poster with the words "Sorry, Ukraine" ("Прости, Украина"). A court in Lomonosov, an inner-city municipality within St. Petersburg, found him guilty of "repeatedly discrediting the army." The poster was ordered to be burned. The prosecution had demanded that Skurikhin be sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. Russian authorities opened two separate criminal cases against Skurikhin. Skurikhin and his wife in front of the Lomonosov District Court on July 28. Screenshot from Sotavision YouTube channel   The first case dates back to 2022, after the enterpreneur painted the façade of his store with anti-war slogans and the names of Ukrainian cities that were attacked by the Russian army.  Investigators searched his house for 11 hours: they broke the door, smashed a window, seiz

How the German Constitution Deals with Nazis

One of the paradoxes of democracy is that it creates freedoms which can be exploited by extremist groups to win enough votes to form a government and then destroy democracy itself from within. The most striking example of such a process is the rise to power of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or NSDAP) in 1932-33. ©Anja Pietsch via Wikimedia Commons     On November 9, 1918, the German Emperor William II abdicated after the country's defeat in World War I. The Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the founding of a German Republic from the balcony of the parliament (Reichstag) building.¹ The German Republic is commonly known as the Weimar Republic, because the assembly that wrote its constitution met in the city of Weimar. However, its official name was "German Empire" (Deutsches Reich). As a matter of fact, Germany retained the same official name from 1871 up until 1945 despite the three political u

Celebs and Politicians Join Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter Clone Threads - Why Didn't They Join the Fediverse Instead?

When the news that Elon Musk had acquired a controlling stake in Twitter broke in April 2022, I immediately left the platform. I had joined the birdsite ten years earlier and I really enjoyed it until 2016, when political events and the newly introduced engagement algorithm turned it into what — in my personal opinion some will disagree with — was a cesspool of anger, outrage, disinformation, shallow takes and tribalism. Threads. Google Play Store screenshot Nuanced and constructive debate became nearly impossible. Ideologically homogeneous microtribes hostile to any form of disagreement, engaging in online feuds and dunking contests, proliferated. By 2021 I had grown tired of it all, spending less and less time on the platform. However, Musk's purchase of Twitter was the last straw. I quit it altogether and moved to Wikitribune Social and to the fediverse. I became a big fan of the fediverse (a portmanteau of "federation" and "universe"), which is an ensembl

Hong Kong Photographer Convicted of Insulting China's National Anthem

A Hong Kong photographer has been convicted of insulting the national anthem of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and faces up to three years in prison. The 27-year-old Cheng Wing-chun (鄭榮進) appeared before Magistrate Minnie Wat Lai Man at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on Wednesday (July 5). He was found guilty of insulting the PRC national anthem "March of the Volunteers" after he replaced it with the protest song "Glory to Hong Kong" in a video he uploaded online. Baycrest - Wikipedia user - CC-BY-SA-2.5 He is the first person to be convicted under the National Anthem Ordinance . Enacted in June 2020, the law makes “insulting” or “misusing” the PRC national anthem punishable by a fine of up to HK$50,000 (US$6,400) and a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment. Cheng was prosecuted after he allegedly created and uploaded a video of Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021, with the protest song "Glor

25 Percent of 40-Year-Olds in the United States Have Never Been Married, A Record High

A record high share of 40-year-olds in the United States have never been married, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. As of 2021, 25% of 40-year-olds in the United States had never been married, a significant increase from 20% in 2010.  " New York Style " by  Adrian Be  is licensed under  CC BY 2.0 . ——— In 1900, about 15% of 40-year-olds in the US had never been married. The number dropped steadily from 1900 to 1980, when it reached a low of 6%.  However, the share of never-married 40-year-olds has climbed back up ever since, rising to its highest ever recorded level of 25% in 2021.  The percentage of never-married people varies widely by race, ethnicity and education level.  Men (28%) are more likely than women (22%) to have never been married by their fourtieth year of age. There is also a significant difference among ethnic groups: White (20%), Black (46%), Hispanic (27%), Asian (17%).  Education plays a decisive role, too, with 33% of i

"We Want Our Country Back" — Greek Far Right Party "Spartiates" Enters Parliament

On June 25, Greece ’s centre-right party New Democracy (ND) won the country's legislative elections in a landslide, propelling incumbent Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to a second term. ND garnered over 40% of the vote and 158 seats in parliament, while the major opposition party, left-wing Syriza, only received 17% of the vote and 48 seats. The third and fourth largest parties were, respectively, the centre-left Pasok and the far left Communist Party. But what surprised observers was the performance of three far right parties, which received about 12% of the popular vote combined. The largest of them was the " Spartiates " (Spartans), which received 4.63% of the vote and 12 seats, followed by the anti-vax, Orthodox Christian nationalist Party "Niki" (Victory), and the far right Elliniki Lysi (Greek Solution). Spartiates logo, via Wikimedia Commons   The Spartiates are a far right, ethnonationalist party backed by the neo-fascist politician Ilias Kasidiaris

Is Substack Promoting Far Right Propaganda?

I joined Substack only recently, around the time when the platform launched its Twitter-style feature called Notes . Just as I was starting to warm up to it, I saw on my timeline the following Note from Substack promoting a podcast by the company's co-founder Hamish McKenzie: "In this week’s episode of The Active Voice podcast, @Hamish McKenzie talks to @Richard Hanania about the origins of wokeness, the long reach of civil rights law, and the future of the culture wars." Who is Richard Hanania, you might ask? That's how The Active Voice introduces him : "[A]s the pandemic intensified online tribalism, [Richard Hanania] emerged with a provocative analysis that carried the headline “Why Is Everything Liberal?” The piece, which explores why almost every major institution in the U.S. leans left, did the rounds on Twitter, announcing Richard’s arrival as a distinctive new voice in American politics discourse. "Soon enough, he followed it up with a series of othe

Is Xi Jinping a Dictator?

Xi Jinping (AI-generated image) ______ On June 20, US President Joe Biden called People's Republic of China (PRC) leader Xi Jinping a “dictator” during a speech at a fundraiser in California.  Referring to the PRC spy balloon shot down on February 4 of this year, Biden said that Xi Jinping "got very upset" because "he didn’t know it was there", adding that it is "a great embarrassment for dictators" when they don't know that something as important as this has happened.  PRC foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that Biden’s comments were "extremely absurd" and a "political provocation" which "seriously violated China’s political dignity". The US ambassador to the PRC was reportedly reprimanded over the comments. Several media organisations immediately rushed to give voice to Beijing's complaints about that characterisation.  "Biden calling Xi a dictator is his latest ad-lib to anger a foreign capital,

Ex-Pilots of Germany's Air Force Officers Involved in Training China's Military, Reports Says

  Germany's Defence Minister Boris Pistorius meets with his PRC counterpart General Li Shangfu at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 3rd 2023. Photo by Germany's Defence Ministry via Twitter . ______ Former officers of Germany's armed forces (Bundeswehr) have been working for years as trainers for the air force of the People's Republic of China (PRC), according to a joint media report by German public-service broadcaster ZDF and the magazine Der Spiegel.  Several former German air force officers are allegedly employed as trainers for the PRC military. These include two Eurofighter instructors and a Tornado pilot, only identified as Peter S., Alexander H., and Dirk J. All three know NATO's secret deployment tactics, the report states. The Intelligence Services Oversight Committee of the German Parliament (PKGr) has been monitoring the possible employment of former German military officers in the PRC army with alarm.  “We are concerned that after being empl