Risking a public appeal while caged in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison speaks volumes about the depth of my despair. I have suffered quietly as nearly 2,500 of what should have been the best and most productive days of my life were lost behind these bars. But I am compelled to break that silence now because I believe that the Biden administration’s approach to rescuing Americans in distress in Iran has failed spectacularly so far and unless the president intervenes immediately, we are likely to languish in this abyss for the foreseeable future. I was incarcerated in October 2015 and handed a 10-year sentence after a closed-door trial. The judge ruled that activities such as speaking at university conferences, holding fellowships at Washington think tanks and even having a connection to the World Economic Forum were tantamount to attempting to overthrow the regime in collaboration with a hostile foreign government — meaning the United States. A probe by the United Nations called my … [Read more...] about I’m an American, Why Have I Been Left to Rot as a Hostage of Iran?
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CAIRO — On bad days — and, in recent years, there seemed to be more bad days than ever — Gasser Abdel-Razek, captain, counselor and friend to nearly everyone in Egypt ’s shrinking human rights community, tended to counter the tension and stress with food. So it was, in August 2014, during the worst of Cairo’s blazing summer, that Mr. Abdel-Razek showed up to visit a friend in prison bearing a grin and an ice cream cake. An act of foolishness, maybe — or, as he often called his approach to advocacy under hostile conditions, “strategic denial.” “If we think about the threats, if we try to assess what will get us in trouble and what won’t, then it would be impossible to work,” Mr. Abdel-Razek, the executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said in a recent interview. “We stay focused on our work, and we tell ourselves, whatever happens, we’ll have to deal with it.” But in the last few weeks, denial became impossible. First, his group’s office manager, … [Read more...] about Accepting the Danger of Human Rights Work in Egypt, With Food and Humor
WASHINGTON — Progressive House Democrats on Tuesday retracted their call for President Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia over a Ukraine cease-fire, an abrupt retreat that exposed Democratic divisions and the first public hints of dissent in Congress over the war. What began this summer as an effort among liberal Democrats to persuade Mr. Biden that he had political support to pursue diplomacy for ending the conflict imploded on Tuesday after an extraordinary 24 hours. First came a letter from the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus pressing the president to seek a “rapid end to the conflict,” then a clarifying statement to respond to a hail of criticism from other Democrats, and ultimately a complete retraction as members of the group scrambled to distance themselves from their own missive, grasping for someone else to blame. The letter, released on Monday, called on the Biden administration to “seek a realistic framework for a cease-fire” and to … [Read more...] about Amid Backlash, Liberal House Democrats Retract Call to Pursue Ukraine Ceasefire
Every Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation about something that matters, like today’s episode with Anne Applebaum. Listen wherever you get your podcasts . Transcripts of our episodes are made available as soon as possible. They are not fully edited for grammar or spelling. [MUSIC] EZRA KLEIN: I’m Ezra Klein. This is “The Ezra Klein Show.” So much of what we imagine to be new is old. So many of the seemingly novel illnesses that afflict modern society are really just resurgent cancers, diagnosed and described long ago. That’s how Anne Applebaum, the Pulitzer Prize winning historian and journalist at The Atlantic, begins her introduction to a new edition of Hannah Arendt’s 1951 classic, “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” Why do people keep going back to this book? What is it about Arendt that matters, and that keeps mattering decade after decade? I think it’s this. Arendt was the master theorist of liberalism’s most fundamental blind spot, its … [Read more...] about Transcript: Ezra Klein Interviews Anne Applebaum
TAIPEI, Taiwan — It was the middle of the night in Shanghai when Jack’s phone rang, with a message from a friend: Something big is happening. That message was already spreading across social media, momentarily overwhelming Chinese censors. As the evening of Nov. 26 progressed, hundreds gathered downtown for a vigil on Urumqi Road. They began to chant, calling for an end to COVID-related lockdowns and endless PCR tests. Some shouted for free speech and press freedom. Others went so far as to demand that President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party as a whole step down. The very thought of joining the crowd made Jack nervous. But the 23-year-old, who declined to give his Chinese name for fear of retribution from authorities, said he needed to see it for himself. He got out of bed, called a cab and, in less than 20 minutes, joined his first protest in China. Advertisement “To be honest, I didn’t have any set goal,” he said. “Maybe our actions that night were … [Read more...] about ‘The protest of our generation’: China’s first-time demonstrators try to find a voice
Celine Dion’s heartbreaking announcement that she was forced to pull out of her tour due to “a very rare neurological disorder” has sparked an outpouring of sympathy, shock — and flat-out confusion over what the hell stiff person syndrome is. While many may have initially found themselves wondering if the diagnosis was real, experts say the disease is no joke. Affecting between one and two people in a million, the “very rare disease” leaves the afflicted suffering progressive muscle stiffness and painful spasms, according to Johns Hopkins . “These symptoms can lead to difficulty walking and, over time, even greater disability,” Yale Medicine notes. In severe cases, patients can be left incapacitated. Only a handful of health centers around the world specialize in the disease. There is no known cure, but patients can find at least some relief with medications, including anti-convulsants. Dr. Scott Newsome, an expert who established the Stiff Person Syndrome Center at … [Read more...] about Celine Dion’s ‘Very Rare’ Diagnosis Is No Joke