In the News This Week: Liu Xiaobo Died; Donald Trump, Jr, Sought Scandal

Liu Xiaobo, Chinese human rights advocate, won the Nobel Prize for peace in 2010. The Chinese government refused to let him receive it, eventually sentencing him to prison.

Dying of cancer, he was not allowed by Chinese leaders to leave the country for treatment. Finally, they sent him, in his last few days, to a hospital in northeast China, where he died.

The United States has been, through much of its history, a lodestone for those living under oppressive governments, and who, like Liu, call for changes and suffer for their efforts.

While Liu was in the last stages of his illness, however, the United States was losing the world’s respect. The Trump government was increasingly seen as isolated and dysfunctional, more interested in strengthening relations with strongmen like Russian leader Putin than in serving as a beacon for democracy.

Emails of Donald Trump, Jr., surfaced, in which he said he would love to meet with representatives of Russian interests to obtain incriminating emails on Hilary Clinton. The offer appeared to be a ruse to discuss Russia’s desire for relief from economic sanctions against Russia. Some of the sanctions relate to holding accountable those responsible for the murder of a Russian lawyer involved in uncovering fraud by Russian officials.

The Economist (July 15, 2017) wrote: “It would be nice to think that political campaigns ought not to work with foreign governments who imprison and beat up their domestic political opponents. Nice, but probably unrealistic.”

Another comment elsewhere in the magazine offered a gleam of hope: “The scandal is becoming a clash between the worst aspects of American democracy and the best. The worst is its bilious myopic hyper-partisanship; the best the unrivalled ability of American institutions, including journalists whom Mr. Trump reviles, to hold the powerful to account. Legally and politically, the ending is unclear. Morally, the verdict is already in.”

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