Curtain Raiser

First They Chase Immigrants, Colltalers

June was history’s hottest month on Earth. But such a global emergency is still to be matched by a blunt, effective response from governments and the ownership classes controlling the world. So kids fighting for their future are suing the whole lot of them.
Meanwhile, whether Steve Bannon had big expectations for Jair Bolsonaro, whom he helped elect as Brazil’s president half a year ago, is arguable. But it’s unlikely he’s pleased by this train wreck of an administration either. Most Brazilians are surely not.
Before those headlines, though, let’s have a bumpy ride through other news. The two-punch earthquake that rocked California, for one, the strongest in 20 years. Fears of the ‘big one,’ supposedly due around now, made a few hearts to skip a beat or two, but with no casualties, Californians went right back at worrying about a new, now more predictable scourge: the season of wildfires.
California also looms large in the opposition to the Trump administration’s brutal immigration policies. The president, who’s threatened state laws protecting a quarter of its population who are immigrants, or related to someone who is, is also still trying to add the so-called citizenship question in the 2020 Census, which would shorten federal funds to be allocated to the state.
That, in addition to government-run concentration-like camps, where asylum-seekers are treated as criminals, and nationwide, Gestapo-like raids, have created conditions for a potentially explosive U.S. summer, with yet more grief and misery to boot.
It’s no wonder the sad reoccurrence of adjectives last used in WWII. There’s an entire argument going on about

just that, and both sides may have a point. Unlike the simpler choice Americans must make; for it’s either to learn from well-known and yet still painful history lessons, or pay the price for being with Stupid and helping undermine dignity and democratic principles.
‘First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist,’ goes an often paraphrased and misquoted 1946 quote by Martin Niemöller, which also mentions Jews. ‘Then they came to me – and there was no one left to speak for me.’
Speaking of expected consequences, the alarming result of Trump’s all-thunder-and-no-substance saber-rattling against Iran is what may also happen with North Korea: as the president tries to walk back on his threats, Iranians are doubling-down on their pursuit of nuclear capability. Now if only we were part of a decent, global agreement on Iran nukes. Oh, wait, we tossed that one.
To say that an unthinkable nuclear conflict in the Middle East shouldn’t be our top concern, though, as a nation and a civilization, is a statement few thought could make any sense. But given the gap between what serves tyrants and warmongers’ interests, and the will and aspirations of the majority of humans, the biggest task is to rise against the former, and be judicious about the latter.
What groups of teenagers are doing in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere – some 250 lawsuits demanding immediate climate action – is much more important. Now if only their last-ditch effort to save the planet could get our support, we’d be fine.
They’re far from it, however. In the U.S., especially, ignorance of the causes and ways of reversing the already harsh effects of global warming is rampant, to the satisfaction of a powerful fossil fuel industry that acts as if the president were on its payroll. Kids who already missed support to fight for gun control, are getting a similar cold shoulder about the climate too. And that just as they may become the voter demographics strong enough to swing the election. Powerful Democrats, such as Senator Diane Feinstein shutting down kids who wanted her support to the New Green Deal, are the rule, not the exception. And we all lose.
The first six months of Brazil’s far-right President Bolsonaro have been about suspicious of corruption of family members, and of allies’ involvement in murders; petty internal disputes; and a recent cocaine scandal. The only thing that remains consistent in his increasingly paranoid administration is the still steady support of the so-called bull, bullet, and bible congressional caucus.
But many wonder that even with the millions of big landowners, gun advocates, and above all, Evangelicals, Bolsonaro may not be able to complete his term. Not because he represents a real global risk, which he does, but for his anti-environmental policies.
The visible impact of his ill-conceived actions and even more absurd statements can already be seen on the Amazon Rainforest.
Last month, for instance, deforestation rates rose 88% compared to the same month a year ago, a likely by-product of his plans to open the forest for oil and gas prospection. This just as understanding of the forest’s importance to fresh air and water, ultimately for protecting the planet, is now all but unanimous. And not mentioning the fate of the many communities living off the jungle.
Not even Bolsonaro’s deranged dreams of largesse, though, will assure that his lines of credit with backers will still remain open.
While the coalition to oust Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first woman in the presidency, in 2016, and prevent former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from being elected again, a year ago, was unified then, it’s now all splintered. Bolsonaro remains clueless at the center of a national crisis that may oust him too. Doesn’t ‘a president who doesn’t understand the issues’ sound familiar?
A shout to Megan Rapinoe & her Team U.S.A. for its 4th Women World Cup (and for not even considering going to the ‘f**king’ White House). And a note about the passing of João Gilberto, one of the architects of Bossa Nova. R.I.P., João. Our condolences to Brazilians proud of sharing their nationality with a true genius of music. And to dear singer Bebel Gilberto, it will get better. WC


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