Curtain Raiser

Climate Is No Fool’s Errand, Colltalers

Floods have taught us yet another practical lesson on climate change: they’ve drowned Mozambicans and Nebraskans this week, with equally destructive, and deadly force. But whereas big offender U.S. denies the evidence, hard hit Africa is busy fighting it.
Speaking of fighting Americans, women have led the charge for change relevant to the poor and our future, even before another rich white male moved in to the White House. But what the Democratic Party wants to find? a new rich white male to beat him.
These two different situations have twin common denominators though: authoritarianism and ignorance, or some combination of the two. And so do three other issues to skim through before we get to them: measles, nukes for Saudis, and the Brazil of Bolsonaro.
For several millennia, mankind’s pace was marked by advances, both glacially slow and lightning fast; trouble came mostly from the unknown and unpredictable natural world. Periodically, evolution selected an entire species to be extinct, and haven’t you heard? dinosaurs were thriving 65 million years ago. Now, we find ourselves fighting old and revived, man made, woes. Again.
When conspiracy theorists rage against mass vaccination, they’re re-staging battles waged a century ago. Outbreaks of measles and other infectious diseases are flare-ups of the obscurantism of past ages. Except that they can still kill people. Naturally, such outbreaks fester first in close-knit, reactionary communities, such as the ultra-Orthodox Jewish ones, in N.Y. Rockland County.
Nuclear power, of course, can also kill people, even end civilization. Now put this power in the hands of extraordinarily wealthy authoritarian rulers, and the risk for annihilation of mankind, and global scale destruction, just got multiplied a few times more.
That’s arguably what happened, as the Trump administration has unwisely allowed U.S. companies to sell nuclear technology and know-how to Saudi Arabia’s murderous regime. Despite denials, few have any doubts about what all that will be used for.
And the third issue, related to ignorance and authoritarianism, comes from Brazil. Sunday was the sad 55th anniversary of the military coup that overtook the nation for 20-plus years. But while millions of Brazilians wore black to denounce the date, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, an ex-captain ousted from the Army who routinely praises torturers, wanted to celebrate it.
Even as his plan was shot down by a judge,

most Brazilians were livid, and took to the streets for a refresher of that dark time, when many were killed, or disappeared, and a budding democracy was crushed. It may be happening all over again these days.
A parallel could be traced here between Brazil and the U.S. Both had many reasons to investigate and punish those responsible for despicable acts committed in the name of law and order, in Brazil, and war crimes carried out by American forces, in Iraq and elsewhere. But President Barack Obama, and Presidents Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, fell short of doing that.
The Obama’s quote, ‘look forward as opposed to looking backwards,’ didn’t really passed muster, and neither did the findings by the Comissão da Verdade (the National Truth Commission), the Brazilian organ created to investigate crimes of the dictatorship.
Reproaches and expressions of outrage, along truly horrifying stories, abounded. But in the end, no one went to jail. The result of such an omission: U.S. government officials who are allegedly war criminals, and Brazil’s troubling loss of its historic memory.
On Friday, a federal judge threw out Trump’s executive order to reverse Obama-era bans on oil drilling in Arctic’s pristine coasts and outer continental shelf. The decision may have been the sole positive, but no less critical, environmental news of the week.
The floods in Mozambique, caused by Cyclone Idaí, may have killed over 500 people, and recovery of the impoverished nation will take long. Given what happened to Puerto Rico and even Texas, last year, Americans still under water in large swaths of the Midwest, may too suffer more casualties, before any help, funding, and empathy from the administration come to save the day.
When the number of women in the U.S. Congress reached a record of 127, following the November’s midterm elections, it was the culmination of two years of protesting, marches, and mobilization. Since 2016, and not taking anything away from gutsy anti-gun, racial, and gender equality activism, women have become America’s best shot at restoring integrity to its democracy.
Thus it’s near incomprehensible to see that now, just over a year from the presidential elections, the Democratic Party seems unimpressed with the potential of a mother to get elected as the next U.S. president. Instead, they’re apparently thrilled in having an impressive, but no less commonplace, bunch of white, mostly septuagenarian men. Some say that they all fear ‘AOC.’
For under-rock dwellers, the initials stand for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz, possibly the most electrifying American politician since Obama. And with even more gusto at demolishing conventional wisdom, and speaking passionately about matters crucial to all.
The Green New Deal, the incomplete, flawed, light on policy proposal, she presented to the House, remains the only available blue print for the colossal work the U.S. will need to undergo right away, if we really want to at least slow down climate change.
That it’s feared, just like her, by Republicans is not a surprise; but that the Democrat leadership has tried to sabotage it, and may have enlisted Machiavellic Mitch McConnell to help derail it, is nothing short of a near-sighted and ultimately stupid strategy.
For it’ll be either the diversity, enthusiasm, and determination of AOC and her diverse colleagues, to lead the agenda for a just and dignified America, or Trump will sail to his second term practically unchallenged. Hate to mention it, but remember Hillary?
Finally, for those stuck in the Mueller Report’s quagmire, there’s just one way for clarity: to release it to the American people, and to have Mueller answer questions on that Capitol Hill’s hot seat. Will Democrats get it right this time? ‘Most def,’ they must.
Self-declared ‘President of Brazil’ actor José de Abreu – his dig at Venezuelan self-declared ‘president,’ and Bolsonaro-supported, Juan Guaidó – promised he’d step down today, and ‘return power’ to the Brazilian people. Whether his April Fools’ Day joke is on us or on incompetent presidents, elected or self-proclaimed, is irrelevant. He’s right to add humor to such a depressing moment.
In the tradition of performers using their talents and levity to question powers that be, Abreu has inserted himself into Brazilian politics – which does have a professional clown in congress – as a comedian whose focus is on the fallacy of those paid to lead the country. Just like comedians in America and everywhere do. With them, we will have the last laugh. Welcome to April. WC


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