Pandemic Diary Day 37

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April 30, 2020

Arch Puddington of Freedom House wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times in which he stated “The pandemic provides a particularly convincing cover under which autocrats can pursue their agendas.”

This is a concern for all of the world.

China was just the beginning of adopting hard line tactics in the name of controlling Covid-19. The world is watching as India, the Phillipines, Thailand, Cambodia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey are detaining anyone who criticizes their governments response to the pandemic. This includes activists, journalists and even health care workers.

These are not the only countries declaring that desperate times require desperate measures, they are simply the most blatant in their power grab during this tragedy.

Let us begin with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban who got the Hungarian Parliament to pass the enabling act, a law allowing him to rule by decree for an indefinite time. This includes criminalizing the spread of false information, which, in the eys of a dictator, or other imperious leader, can mean anything. This not only completely silences the countries press but the medical field as well.

In the Phillipines, President Rodrigo Duterte got his Parliament to grant him emergency powers in order to fight Covid-19. While this sounds reasonable, Duterte has made a name for himself in human rights violations under the auspices of combating the Phillipine drug problem, so what is to keep him from justifying more human rights violations in the name of combating the Pandemic?

In India, Prime Minister Narender Modi has been attempting to blame the virus on Muslims. This is a continuation of his Hindu nationalism that has jailed and killed dissidents, intellectuals and journalists that have criticized his anti-muslim stance.

A small country in the Caucusus that most people don’t know even exists is Azerbaijan. That countries dictator, Ilham Aliyev has used the threat of covid-19 to crack down on both the media and oppositionists. This sounds so mild unless you consider that he used the virus to shut down the offices of a disident group saying they could not “gather en masse.” There were four people in the meeting, and at the time of the confrontation officers refused to provide a court order or other documentation for the closure.

The Russian government’s crack down should surprise no one. They have imposed new censorship and surveillance guidelines. Hardly surprising from a country that has just amended their constitution to allow Putin to remain in power until 2036.

According to Human Rights Watch, Cambodia’s Hun Sen has used the outbreak to arrest at least 17 critics who shared information regarding the spread of the virus since late January. One of which was a 14 year old girl who expressed her fears on social media. Several others of those arrested were members of the banned, opposition party. Hun Sen is another leader that is attempting to blame the virus on his countries Muslims.

Thailand has invoked emergency powers in the name of the virus. Theses emergency powers have yet to be fully elucidated, but one that has been issued is to “censor or shut down media if deemed necessary.”

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has had his corruption trial delayed by Covid-19 due to restrictions he enacted. These restrictions place a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people in public places, albeit, not an unwarranted restriction. Reasonable edicts can often be used in the most dangerous ways.

The Iranian government, in order to deal with its own internal problems during the Pandemic, has stated that the US specifically built the virus using Iranian DNA. Comments like this from Tehran’s mullahcracy endanger more than just their own people.

As I have stated in another Pandemic Diary entry, the best way to combat a disease of this magnitude is through honesty and transparency. The problem here is that these strong men, in their desire to maintain and grow their power, are not just endangering the lives of their citizens, but those of the entire world.

The world is not as large as one thinks, it is easy for policies half way around the globe to have a serious impact of those in this country. I wonder if our gutted Diplomatic Corp will be able to handle the blow back when this is all over.

Trivial Things

My Horoscope for today: Your agreeable nature may be painting you into a corner, so quit while you’re ahead. A few hurt feelings now is nothing compared to reparations you’d have to make later.

The NYT Crossword Puzzle: Once I realized their were rebuses it became a quick solve.

San Francisco weather: 59 degrees and breezy

NYSE DOW opened at: 24585

Italian word of the day: eseguire (fulfill)

Spanish word of the day: el guepardo (cheetah)

OED word of the day: puppify (To make compliant and submissive)

Days under Shelter In Place: 48

The Gay Metropolis by Charles Kaiser

Reading Canto VII, VIII, IX of Dante’s Purgatorio

My Black and White Picture of the Day

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Something Silly From the Internet:

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