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The pen is mightier than the sword. Vietnam"s Communist government imprisonspro-democracy blogster.

If you're using the Internet to build your business and don't yet have a blog, you're making a very serious error. Blogs are crucial for running a business, including helping grow organizations with a message for the world. To see just how important a blog can be, consider the case of Pham Minh Hoang, 56, a French-Vietnamese math professor. August 10, 2011 he was sentenced to three years in prison. His crime? Belonging to a banned pro-democracy group and publishing an anti-Communist blog.

The facts.

The organization Viet Tan is a US-based advocate of democracy. Pham Minh Hoang is a member. Their goal is a democratic Vietnam. Obviously the in-control Communists take a dim view of people who want to make decisions for themselves and enjoy the basic freedoms and human rights we take for granted. Anyone opposing the government and its rigid system of personal and mind control is immediately dubbed a "terrorist" and imprisoned, or worse.

But the profound desire to live for oneself, to think for oneself, to be able to go where one wants, when one wants... is irresistible. And so the number of anti-government, pro-democracy "terrorists" continues to grow in Vietnam, even as the government engages in acts that prove just how necessary the pro-democracy forces are, with their sublime goal of liberty for all!

The advent of the blog has proven of the utmost usefulness to pro-democracy forces. For the cost of an Internet connection they can get their message out to the world. That message will be exactly as they write it and want it... going out whenever they want. On this basis, Ho Chi Minh City-based Hoang started a blog and published at least 33 articles against Vietnam's one-party Communist system.

It was a bold action... a brave action... a gallant action that put his very life on the line as he lived his principles -- until the totalitarian forces of the government found and arrested him.

Let us be clear: though Hoang was arrested and tried for his "crimes", he was lucky. He does not appear to have been tortured, though perhaps he must endure that, too, in due course.

His trial and defense.

The government's case was this: that Hoang had conspired to overturn the government, first, through his various blog posts; that he held membership in the Viet Tan, a recognized terrorist organization, and that he recruited others to join and subvert the government. These were the same arguments the government put forward in its second high-profile dissident trial in just over a week.

Hoang told the court during his half-day trial in Ho Chi Minh City that he joined Viet Tan, which he insisted was not a terrorist organization, in France where it is not banned. He insisted that he did not at anytime do anything to oppose the government.

Hoang, who was teaching mathematics at a Ho Chi Minh City university at the time of his arrest, said he returned to Vietnam in 2000 to contribute to his country and care for his aged parents.

Viet Tan confirmed Hoang's testimony and reaffirmed that it is an advocate of democracy and peaceful change. The government's attorneys strongly disagreed, saying Hoang had attended a Viet Tan-organized course in Malaysia and was helping recruit new Vietnamese members. And there the matter of Pham Minh Hoang rests --- for the moment.

What all blogsters can learn from this situation:

1) Whether you are running a profit- or not-for-profit organization, you must establish your blog at once.

Remember, a blog enables you to say exactly what you want and disseminate your important message to your designated lists whenever you want without being censured or interferred with by anyone.

2) The more interesting and valuable your blog copy, the more frequently you can publish your blog and the more advertisements you can include.

Smart Internet marketers know that you cannot just email your lists nothing but ad copy every single day, no matter how worthwhile what you offer. The people on your list will quite simply not tolerate this and will signify their strong disapproval by unsubscribing.

Blogs solve this problem by providing your subscribers with excellent copy that is timely, substantial, and of demonstrated interest. Thus, you are able to blog to your list daily -- and publish far more ads, thereby reaping additional profits while simultaneously ensuring long-term readers and relationships.

3) Blogs should be personal, always writing directly to and always for your subscribers.

The best blogs give you the opportunity to establish ongoing interactive communications with your readers. This leads to essential long-term relationships; you know your readers/customers and they know you.Thus, when you say something, they pay close attention, including the products you recommend and sell. People accept and act on your recommendations, because they know you, and trust you.

4) As a blog publisher you have influence that grows with the quality of your information and the number of your subscribers.

Once you've established your blog you are no longer "just" an-emailer. You are a card- carrying member of the most influential group of people on earth, publishers. Act like it!

Your job is to motivate, enthuse, urge, educate, train, excite, and support through the articles, information and, yes, even the ads you publish.

Last words.

We are now in the earliest days of blog creation, maintenance and development. Smart blogsters, and there are thousands of them, are doing today the steps which will guarantee them a lifetime of profit (for for-profit organizations), donations (for not-for-profit organizations), and influence for all.

These days for the blog are like the early days of the settlement of the Western United States and Canada. There determined pioneers saw nothing but opportunity and regarded the necessary work of achieving it as nothing more than what was essential for profits and success. They felt exhilaration, excitement, and privileged to be in that position and so grew their empires with a song in their hearts.

You do the same.

And as for Pham Minh Hoang, my heart and prayers go out to you, a true hero of our often selfish, vulgar, scam-ridden Internet age. You are using this great technology for a worthy cause, the betterment of your nation and its storm-tossed people. We hope for your prompt release and continued dedication to the great cause and what you have already given for it.

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