Unsung Heroes to the Rescue, Colltalers
We can’t change the world while ignoring Earth defenders in mortal danger for doing our bidding. The Wet’suwet’en nation blocking a gas pipeline, or Amazon warriors, or Mexican butterfly protectors faced police and hit squads but the media’s top week headline was the misleading ‘Trump Acquited.’
The coronavirus is spreading and so are China’s draconian containment measures, but coverage is about death tolls. Climate change-triggered fires and floods abound, the U.S. boosted its brutal immigration raids, racist chants disrupted two major soccer games. But little about the news-related activism.
One promising news this newsletter did miss last week: Ireland. So it goes that Brexit has unwittingly opened the gates to a potential revolution – and likely its sole good news – with the surprising win by Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Irish Revolutionary Army. Suddenly, Ireland’s reunification has re-entered the political lexicon. With Scotland also hot for independence, it’s the U.K. Commonwealth’s own future which is now hanging by a thread.
The possibility has revived old dreams of a stronger Ireland, while also soothing mourners of the Remain movement. They didn’t want any of this but now it actually sounds like a great way to get rid of the corrupted class that cheated and lied on its way to power, so to rebuild England for a new age.
The COVD-19 coronavirus ‘has a stronger ability to spread than the World Health Organization has estimated so far,’ according to researchers at Umeå University in Sweden. Their study considers its transmissibility at least equivalent to SARS, even as its lethality can’t be determined without reliable estimates of infection. There are officially 60,000 cases worldwide but their real number is likely higher than that. Oh, by the way, masks don’t work.
About that: as with any disease, misinformation and unproven methods of cure spread faster than contagion. There are types
of facemasks that offer limited protection against viruses, but nothing stronger than personal hygiene and medical care. Most of those available in the market can’t do either. Worse: manufacturers of cheap and ineffective masks are profiting from the public anxiety, and not to accuse anyone, guess where most are made?
In the name of fighting the virus, China’s decided to showboat its construction might to the world by building hospitals in record time, but valuable lessons of epidemic management may be lost in the shuffle. That is because it’s still insisting on containment, which in an anti-democratic regime, counts as yet more ways to control its people. There’s little hyperbole in saying that 11 million Wuhan residents are not quarantined but in internment.
Eventually, the spread will plateau and the coronavirus will either get its own vaccine, or it’ll mutate into something less acute. Either way, diseases are and should always be about public health and scientific breakthroughs, not supporting repression, restrain political freedom or worsen social inequality.
‘All fires are now contained’ in Australia’s New South Wales, declared government officials, hoping that their climate-change-denying stand won’t be linked to this tragic summer. Dream on, environment activists say; even if the fires are gone for good, which they are not, it’ll take years and millions of dollars to rebuild the country. Then again, it all may change quickly if Aussies choose accountability and vote the incompetent out of public office.
Twin typhoons in a roll, Ciara and Dennis have battered Europe and more seems to be in store, especially for the U.K. where floods, high winds, and landslides have forced flight cancellations and drawn the Army. But as we expect, the news may be reduced down to how many are dead; two, btw. Wonder what a government with no policies for climate emergencies may do? Send in soldiers, thoughts, and prayers, and blame a foe or two for it all.
Just as the Trump administration is doing with undocumented immigrants, minus the thoughts and prayers. The past week, law enforcement tactical units joined scores of ICE agents arresting people in sanctuary cities such as New York and Chicago. The ill-devised escalation has already produced many an illegal deportation of thousands of long-time U.S. workers, some deeply involved in their communities, who’d actually qualify for residency.
Unfortunately to all those affected, the Democratic Party has already nixed any chances of offering workable alternatives to the immigration issue, via slight and opaque tactics. From an initially numerous, heavily diverse field of candidates, including Mexican-American Julian Castro, the party short-tailed it to its current contenders – four men and two women -, none of them Latino or black for that matter. Our guess is that it’ll choose the billionaire.
And then there’s the miserable trail of hatred around the world, sowed upon by American government-backed white supremacism. In Porto, Malian soccer player Moussa Marega walked out of the pitch due to racist chants. And in Würzburger, a local fan was arrested for hurling insults to his team’s German-born Leroy Kwadwo, of Ghanaian descent, but this time the offender’s own fellow supporters shouted ‘Nazis Out,’ while he was being led out.
As yet another journalist, Brazilian Lourenço Veras, was executed by hitmen in Pedro Juan Caballero, Paraguay, killings against the category continue to rise worldwide. 18 were killed in 2019 in Latin America, according to the International Federation of Journalists, and besides other regions, if one includes environmental activists and Amazon protectors, under the general subtitle of ‘freedom of speech fighters,’ then that number is much larger.
That’s why it’s so crucial what’s happening in British Columbia, where five Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan chiefs oppose the $5 billion-plus, 670-km pipeline that Coastal GasLink is building. And why even councils of tribes and nations that initially agreed with it are now seeking to withdraw their support. For they’re risking their lives on mankind’s behalf to prevent yet another fossil-fuel enterprise from helping destroy the land and the planet.
In all the most puzzling is the enduring popularity of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His carefully crafted public persona is that of a liberal painfully aware of the climate emergency we’re experiencing, all moving speeches and modern posture, including bad jokes about Trump. But in practice, his environmental policies have been all but disastrous. We wonder if, besides Melania, is there anyone else still infatuated with him? don’t answer that.
In 2018, Global Witness counted 164 murders of community leaders defending forests, land, and water ecosystems, by hitmen hired by illegal loggers, miners, and big landowners. Workers caught in the middle of these conflicts are often killed by bullets or die from the slavery conditions they endure.
And yet, they’ve got no place in the headlines and/or hearts and minds of city dwellers, themselves mostly overwhelmed by own personal struggles. Truthful, accountable information can help change that as long as it goes beyond good intentions and hopeful wishes. Whenever a defender or freedom fighter succumbs, it makes tighter the shoes we’d have to wear to replace them. Get to know your real heroes; there’s no film saga about them. Cheers WC