Saudi law now requires sending a text to women after their husbands secretly divorce them

In Saudi Arabia, women can only get a divorce after proving abuse in court, but men can simply file -- in secret -- for a divorce from their wives, and sometimes, they don't even tell their wives, continuing to live with them so they don't have to pay alimony, fraudulently using power of attorney to access their funds, etc. Read the rest

Nicaragua moves to silence independent media and NGOs critical of government

Since protests over changes to Nicaragua's social security system began last April, over 300 people have been killed and, at a minimum, 500 people have been incarcerated for their part in calling out Presidential Daniel Ortega's corrupt self-serving bullshit. There's a lot to be angry about in the Central American nation.

Non governmental organizations have been doing what they can to bring the wrongs committed by the Nicaraguan government to light. In a bid to shut NGO cake holes, Ortega and his cronies have begun to strip the outfits of their legal status.

From the Associated Press:

Nicaraguan police have raided the offices of five nongovernmental organizations and an independent media outlet, alleging that they participated in seeking the government’s overthrow.

The raids were the latest strong-arm actions taken by the government of President Daniel Ortega. Since popular street protests destabilized his government in April, Ortega has reconsolidated power and methodically pursued perceived enemies.

Police on Thursday forced open doors and carried off documents and computers from the Nicaragua Center for Human Rights, Segovias Leadership Institute, River Foundation, the Center for Communication Research and the Foundation for Municipal Promotion and Development.

The Nicaraguan government and police have had much to say about the raids or the closures of the NGOs--when you're rolling with a dictatorship, you're not accountable to anyone...until the people rise up en masse to topple your government, I guess. Oh, and that 'independent media outlet?' It was called Confidencial: a joint that produces a website and two news programs. Read the rest

The Handbook of Tyranny: stark infographics on human cruelty

Handbook of Tyranny tells the story of human cruelty in a series of beautifully designed inforgraphics, like this chart showing methods of crowd control. Read the rest

This is what it's like when tyranny takes hold

"What is the precise moment, in the life of a country, when tyranny takes hold? It rarely happens in an instant; it arrives like twilight, and, at first, the eyes adjust."

The New Yorker's Evan Osnos, with one of the best essay openings of the year, examines the posthumous memoir of Xu Hongci, a Chinese revolutionary and true believer of Mao Zedong, later imprisoned. Read the rest

On Trump and totalitarianism

People talk about Trump and totalitarianism in such a facile way. They don't know how close we came to the brink. Read the rest

Stalin: evil dictator, good editor

Holly Case on Joseph Stalin, editor. [via Kottke]

Stalin always seemed to have a blue pencil on hand, and many of the ways he used it stand in direct contrast to common assumptions about his person and thoughts. He edited ideology out or played it down, cut references to himself and his achievements, and even exhibited flexibility of mind, reversing some of his own prior edits.

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Belarussian air chief fails to deter teddy bear airdrop

In other news, Belarussian resident Alexander Lukashenko sacked his air defense chief for failing to stop a Swedish plane drop hundreds of teddy bears on Europe's last dictatorship. [Reuters] Read the rest