No Good Deed Goes Unpunished


I have no enemies, and no hatred. None of the police who have monitored, arrested and interrogated me, the prosecutors who prosecuted me, or the judges who sentence me, are my enemies….For hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy….

I do not feel guilty for following my constitutional right to freedom of expression, for fulfilling my social responsibility as a Chinese citizen. Even if accused of it, I would have no complaints.” – Liu Xiaobo, “I have no enemies: My final Statement,” 23 December 2009


Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo Dies in Prison: Late Thursday evening, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo, the first Chinese person to be awarded the prize, died of multiple organ failure at the age of 61. Liu was first imprisoned for his role in the 1989 military crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. His fourth and final imprisonment was in December 2009, after he was convicted for “inciting subversion of state power” by co-authoring Charter 08, a manifesto calling for multi-party democracy and human rights in China. He was the second Nobel Peace Laureate denied the right to have a representative collect the prize for him and to die in custody.

The first was Carl von Ossietzky, a German pacifist who won the 1935 Nobel Peace while in a Nazi concentration camp, where he, like Liu, died in a hospital under prison guard after medical treatment arrived too late to save his life. Hitler refused to allow a member of von Ossietzky’s family to collect the award on his behalf; Beijing did not allow Liu’s wife to accept the award for her husband. Instead, the Chinese government placed her under house arrest, where she remains to this day. Any mention of von Ossietzky’s peace prize was forbidden in Nazi Germany, and yep–you guessed it–it’s been the exact same case for Liu in China.

While China “continues to intimidate, persecute, and punish those who follow [Liu’s] lead, it will not erase the memory of its Nobel prize winner any more than Nazi Germany erased its shame 82 years ago.” You cannot arrest, convict, jail, sicken, torture, or kill ideas like you can people. Liu is now gone, but his wisdom, his commitment, his sacrifice, his memory, and most of all, his love and grace, will live on forever.  


Manny Macron, Man About Town: French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed President Trump to Paris to celebrate Bastille Day and the 100th anniversary of the US’s involvement in The Great War. In their joint presser, Manny took a step forward on the international leadership stage, stating: “I am not saying the end of Bashar al-Assad is a prerequisite for French involvement in Syria,” while Trump backed down from his previous campaign trail comments on France: “I really have the feeling that [you’re] going to have a very beautiful and peaceful Paris.” While President Trump answered reporters’ questions regarding Don Jr.’s now infamous meeting with the Russians, Manny is handling the polarizing US president with class.

Trump’s visit comes right after Manny held a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which the May-December pair cemented their roles as the new leaders of Europe, with a common Franco-German vision for the European project. They announced defense and security cooperation initiatives (including a new fighter jet), and Manny indicated that, after Angie very likely re-ups for her fourth term after German general elections in September, he’d like to pursue a Eurozone budget with a Eurozone finance minister. This would effectively unite Europe’s finances under one minister, but has been criticized as a threat to national sovereignty. Manny is one busy man indeed.

US Judge Expands Definition of “Close Relative” for Trump Travel Ban: District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii has ruled that relatives of people living in the United States cannot be barred from entering the country under President Trump’s travel ban. Watson said that the ban, which was partially reinstated last month, interpreted a Supreme Court decision “too narrowly.” This ruling stated that only those with “bona fide” family ties would be allowed entry into the United States. But the Trump administration’s definition of ‘bona fide’ family members did not include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, or cousins. (Seriously? Huh?) Judge Watson ordered that those restrictions could not be enforced and that the government’s definition of a close relative is “unduly restrictive.”


In Italy, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: This year, Italy has taken in 19% more refugees than at this same time last year, 85% of which are economic migrants rather than asylum-seekers (cause you know, leaving your country for a better life for you and your family is so…19th century). For several reasons, Italy has become the primary destination for refugees and migrants coming from sub-Saharan Africa. The Balkan route was closed last summer thanks to an agreement between the EU and Turkey, making Italy the path of least resistance. Italy is also headquarters for all sea operations for the EU’s Border and Coast Guard Agency and, as a result, the destination for most rescued refugee boats. Other southern European nations along the Mediterranean have closed their ports and any rescued migrants they pick up, they proceed to drop off on the Italian coast. We’re looking at you Spain, France, Malta, and Greece.

So, what to do? Italy has asked the EU for help in forcing other European countries to open their borders and to fill their required immigration quotas, and for help setting limits and controls on the African side. So far, Italy’s pleas have been met with words, stalling, and zero action. One option that Italy has floated to deal with the worsening situation is to invite chaos by shutting its ports to all non-Italian boats and forcing the hand of its neighbors. Shame on you, Europe.  

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