The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

California: It's Time to End the Death Penalty Nightmare

Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris should refuse to defend the state's unconstitutional system for putting people to death.

Jerry Brown, then attorney general, made the right choice in 2010 when he refused to defend Proposition 8 in the appellate courts after Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the anti-gay marriage law was unconstitutional. After all, Brown had opposed Prop 8 and was convinced it was unconstitutional, too. He then continued to refuse to defend the law when he became governor. Likewise, Kamala Harris took a principled stand in 2011 when she declined to defend Prop 8 after she succeeded Brown as attorney general. Those decisions by Brown and Harris took courage; they both endured criticism for refusing to defend a voter-approved law.

It's now time for Brown and Harris to show their courage again — and refuse to defend California's death penalty law in the wake of a recent decision by a federal court judge who said it's unconstitutional, too. After all, both Brown and Harris oppose capital punishment, and Brown publicly disclosed that he had voted for Proposition 34 in 2012, which would have abolished the death penalty in California.

Brown and Harris have not yet said whether they will appeal the decision by US District Judge Cormac J. Carney, an appointee of former President George W. Bush. They should not. It's long past time for California to do away with its badly broken death penalty system — a system that is extraordinarily expensive, unnecessary, and barbaric.

Source: East Bay Express, Robert Gammon, July 30, 2014

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