What motivates people across the globe to risk their lives to fight for democracy? And why do authoritarian regimes survive despite the recent expansion of democracy around the world?With the film “A Whisper to a Roar” as a backdrop, panelists on Monday sought an answer to these elusive questions. The panel, which included the Egyptian Democratic Academy activist Esraa Abdel Fattah, the Slate Magazine journalist William Dobson, the film director Ben Moses, and Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Professor Tarek Masoud, addressed a capacity crowd at the HKS screening of the documentary. The event, part of the center’s focus on the relationship between democratic governance and persistent urgent social challenges, launched the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation’s spring Democracy Seminar series.“A Whisper to a Roar” follows the struggles of pro-democracy activists and political leaders in five authoritarian countries — Egypt, Malaysia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe — and is based on the work of Larry Diamond, a renowned democracy scholar and author of the 2008 book “The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World.” (Diamond was also an Ash Center Democracy Seminar speaker in 2009.)Masoud, who was the panel’s moderator, served as a leading commentator on the film’s focus on the 2011 revolution in Egypt. During the post-film discussion he questioned the nature and durability of authoritarianism.“Even when you get rid of a dictator, why does authoritarianism still remain?” he asked, citing the countries the film profiled as examples of non-democracies with weak political rights and civil liberties despite the work of pro-democracy activists.Moses, the director, responded that “democracy is never over,” and that it can often be harder to maintain a democracy than to establish one — a point stressed by the film’s lack of a happy ending.“I am still optimistic, even with everything that has happened in our country,” said Egyptian Democratic Academy activist Esraa Abdel Fattah. “In Egypt, we are in the second wave of revolution and it is a healthy thing.”In the film, Abdel Fattah expressed her belief that positive change would eventually occur in Egypt, and she reiterated that sentiment during the HKS discussion. “I am still optimistic, even with everything that has happened in our country,” she said. “In Egypt, we are in the second wave of revolution and it is a healthy thing.” Abdel Fattah predicted that Egyptians will continue to protest until the country achieves genuine democracy, and urged hope for a better future rather than pessimism about the current state of government.The film also tracked the work of student protest groups in Venezuela led by Roberto Patiño against the policies and practices of President Hugo Chávez. Dobson, the Slate editor, praised the effectiveness of the protests, noting that, “The youth had higher approval ratings than the Catholic Church,” in part because they avoided political rhetoric and chose more creative messaging to reach a moderate constituency. Drawing on Venezuelans’ pride in their success in the Miss Universe contest, student activists used campaign posters of an aged beauty queen with a crown to compare Chávez’s rule to having a “Miss Venezuela for life.”“I think this movie comes as a reminder that freedom is priceless and you can’t quantify it. We need to fight for it every day,” said Halimatou Hima Moussa Dioula, a student at HKS who attended the Ash Center event.The film screening was co-sponsored by Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Middle East Initiative of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The Ash Center’s spring Democracy Seminar series continues on Feb. 13 with Nicholas Cull from the University of Southern California.
Customers like Judy Smith says she was prepared for the long lines. Nearly every register was open at Wegman’s Friday afternoon filled with customers shopping for their Super Bowl parties and Wegman’s service manager Rusty Dewing says it will only get busier throughout the weekend. Customers say the key to Super Bowl shopping is having a grocery list and patience. While workers at the store made sure Super Bowl food essentials such as chips and dip, veggie trays, and chicken wings were front and center. “Normally I would be out earlier than today but normally it’s great. It’s fine and you put up with the crowds anytime it’s a holiday weekend or something else is going on. You just have to expect it,” said Smith. With kickoff approaching, Wegmans says Saturday might be your best bet to get that last minute party food. JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) – All eyes will be on the TV Sunday for Super Bowl 54, but before game day comes a lot of preparation. “It is, I believe, the second biggest food holiday of the year… and with that being said we are very busy,” said Dewing. “You can come anytime from Saturday until Saturday evening. It’s going to be busy no matter what. But the thing is… Sunday morning is going to be the craziest and it’s going to be the busiest until about 3:00 P.M. …because that’s around the time people will start concentrating on their parties,” said Patty Darrow, the head of knowledge based service at Wegmans. “We got our Monster Wing Bar. That’s a huge variety of wings that people can mix and match throughout the day. That’s on Sunday morning,” said Dewing. “If you follow your list, you’ll be fine. If you start veering off that, you’ll end up spending more. It happens all the time,” said Smith.