Curtain Raiser

Let Tomorrow Begin Today, Colltalers

Even before crashing the White House President Trump disliked the U.S.’s top law enforcement agencies. And once there, it became clear he had their number. But few expected that the FBI for one would willingly become such a tool for this administration. Or that it’d be still doing it three years later.
Meanwhile, 12 women are murdered every day in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a U.N. report. But while rampant feminicide is part of a larger issue of oppression against women, society has been all but indifferent. Some say, so has the chief of 1.2 billion Catholics: Pope Francisco.
But let’s get going with Bernie Sanders, the front-runner Democratic presidential candidate who’s causing severe heartburn within his party leadership. Even if he holds his pole-position till July, he still may be challenged at the Convention. Not by voters but superdelegates and other regimental tricks aimed at crowning the party’s favorite, not necessarily its most popular one. Brace for griding discussions about party politics minutiae. And a possible ‘consensus’ candidate.
The big question then may be, will the most popular support the party’s pick, assuming it’s someone else, or give it all to Trump?
January’s temperature was 2.5°F above the 20th-century average, or the hottest since records have been kept. It was also the 44th consecutive January with heat being above the century’s average. Yet the climate emergency keeps falling off from headlines and the national conversation. A tweet from the president is enough to change the media coverage and set up a roundtable about his latest whim. Meanwhile, the Earth burns to a crisp everywhere.
‘We’re done playing by the rules,’ said an 18-year-old Sunrise Movement member, before being arrested at a protest in DC last week. The activist group supports the Green New Deal, so far the only proposed roadmap for survival from climate devastation. No other ideas but plenty of opposition though.
Other developments of note: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange appears at a U.K. court today to fight deportation

to the U.S. where he’s likely to get life in prison. In 2010, the site published classified U.S. government communications, passed along to him by Army Intel Officer Chelsea Manning, who was court marshaled and remains in prison. And in the eve of the 2016 election, he leaked emails linked to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Even his critics, who accused him of having helped Trump win the election, are offering support since he’s been prosecuted as a journalist and editor. With the administration so engaged in silencing journalists and whistleblowers such as Manning, there’s fear that the case will embolden it to pursue further restrictions to press and freedom of expression. Sore Democrats may find that challenging but there’s really no excuse to go after journalists.
A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.‘ The Malcolm X quote may not be his after all, but he did stand for something and was killed, 55 years ago last Saturday, for unwavering convictions. A new doc refocuses public attention on his murder at Manhattan’s Audubon Hall, but his legacy, at pair with that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s and other civil rights leaders of the time and now, is that of a fighter for the dignity of black people.
As a visionary, he’s left valuable insights into America’s future, and given the current rise of white supremacism, his was also a legacy of defiance, of race empowerment, and justice. That’s why his words still resonate with millions of black lives still periodically visited by the nightmare of racial hatred.
The Boy Scouts of America became this week another male-dominated institution that had to file for bankruptcy protection from thousands of child sex-abuse lawsuits accusing it of covering up for pedophiles. As with victims of Catholic priests, many are no longer here to testify about the events that so traumatized them to the point of suicide or drugs and alcohol abuse. And like the church, the BSA had fought hard to discredit the accusers.
There’s no telling whether this can be fixed by lawsuits and bankruptcy, but the personal traumas it caused will certainly never be. We should have figured out by now though what these and other institutions have in common: a ban on women. Sex exploitation of children is more prevalent than we usually assume to be, but despite different cultural or social contexts, it tends to occur within a universe that excludes, oppresses, or berates women.
Religion, tribalism, and/or simply neglect are all factors in the exploitation of the vulnerable. Since sexual abuse is about power and control, it often escalates from classic male-bonding rituals that leaders like to encourage. But tradition should never be an excuse. The right of children to find their own way into the world, both as sexual beings and mentally sound citizens, requires a moral compass and a well-defined guardianship of the young.
The wave of women killings through Latin America and elsewhere, however, can be linked to fear of their power. Women are perceived as the ‘other,’ disruptive, undecipherable, threatening. So men created male-only clubs to help shape the world to their needs. Hazing, rites of passage, ‘traditional’ customs are all grooming ways leaders remind future soldiers sworn to their protection to whom they owe allegiance: those who stole their innocence.
This week we honor radio broadcaster Teresa Aracely Alcocer, known as Bárbara Greco, who was murdered in Juarez, Mexico. She’d become vocal about the increased feminicide in the country, and paid with her life for her defiance. Others like her will rise and are already pushing Mexican officials to face the issue. Last year the country was second only to Syria in the number of reporters killed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Many Catholics believed that Pope Francis would not just publicly intercede in defense of women, but that he’d also announce the church’s intention to ordain women as priests as well as to allow married men to perform some clergy duties. But that was not to happen and it likely never will. The ‘C’ word – celibacy for the well-acquainted – is back to common usage, and that means no, marital sex is out of the question for priests. Anything else?
Two weeks ago, intel officials warned House lawmakers that Russia was already interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get Trump re-elected. That enraged Putin’s protegée who then fired acting national intelligence director Joseph Maguire. Then the very next day, the news was that the Russians were aiding Sanders, not Trump. Sanders publicly denounced it, but despite its suspicious timing, it was the latter piece of news that made headlines.
It reminded some of the 2016 election when then FBI director James Comey told Congress about ‘something’ on frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s emails. It was all debunked after the election, but damage had already been done. Since then the president has insulted, ignored, or picked at the agency often distracting it from its mission of protecting the U.S. And Comey, now gone, was his favorite punchbag. So why they’re still so eager to please him?
If no disruption occurs – say, Trump alleging unspecified threats to remain in power, or an actually very specific threat – we may be closely repeating 2016, except that people are now more aware. Still, there’s only one condition that would break through it all, including all the gerrymandering and all efforts to curb minority vote: a record turnout. If that sounds like a cliche, don’t stop thinking about er yesterday, when Hillary lost. And then some.
It’s crucial that Americans understand what kind of world is one where fossil fuel industries expand as they please, and income inequality continues to grow. Pick the candidate demanding the most, not less. Any ‘moderation’ will grant this unruly president the keys to a new kingdom. Cheerio WC

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