Curtain Raiser

Of Failing Leaders & Stardust, Colltalers

Rumors North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, who acts like a king, is dead and will be replaced by his next of kin, sister Kim Yo-jong, haven’t been confirmed yet. But as China, North Korea’s ‘sponsor,’ is expected to handle the situation, no new world order will be established. The future will still be redacted.
Down South America way, turmoil in Brazil reached a feverish pitch, as Minister of Justice Sergio Moro quit, opening a gash on the already porous Jair Bolsonaro administration. The corrupt judge who played a national hero until his illegal deeds were caught, is the latest to jump the sinking ship.
‘Is there a way we can do something like that by injection (of Lysol!) inside?’ It was the most irresponsible and staggeringly ignorant remark uttered by Trump, the world’s most dangerous president. And that on a long, extensive, exhausting list of risky, absolutely non-sensical, self-serving statements. Obviously, calls to poison centers and medical facilities flooded the hotlines with members of his constituency, to whom everything he says is the law, nervously inquiring about the right dosage for their president-prescribed COVID-19 treatment. No, not one has died of it yet, but since when that’s the standard to which we should hold the president accountable for his words? Even Republicans, concerned about their own jobs, acted as if startled.
Don’t believe it for a minute, though. As we approach three million coronavirus cases worldwide, of which almost a third are in the U.S., and over 200 thousand deaths, again, with more than a quarter being Americans, don’t expect there won’t be another outrageous briefing, broadcast live, with some other set of criminally-uninformed statements. Insulated by the GOP and an army of sycophants, our only shot at shutting him down is in November.
If there will be one. Joe Biden, a presidential candidate who believes he can unseat the president from the couch of his basement, fears the elections may be postponed. Gee, who’d have thought

of that? Well, Trump, who tweeted back on June 16, 2019, ‘Do you think people will demand that I stay longer?’ Somehow though Biden hasn’t yet launched a powerful, passionate national campaign to fire up Americans about the issue before it’s too late.
Maybe all that he and his Democratic Party wanted to do was to warn us about the possibility and that they’ll vehemently condemn such a shameful plot, about which nothing can be done and that’s absolutely not their fault, but Trump’s. Now that’s such a winning strategy. Thanks, Dems; no, really.
With unemployment at 20%, 4.4 million claims filed last week, and a loss of over 26 million U.S. jobs, there could be no better time for the party to articulate a clear, easy to understand strategy for November. But it’s already a month behind in one crucial instance: cash for the poor, unemployed, fired, sick, and hungry. While several corporations have already received millions in stimulus, most miserable $1.200 relief checks haven’t arrived yet.
It’s yet another cruel immorality that compounds the infamy of this administration which doesn’t even try anymore to pretend that’s not helping only the wealthy and the well to do. The president is desperate to reopen the economy on the losing idea that it’ll recover in time to win him a second term. Old foxes from his party know it better but are fully behind him, even if that may cause another, likely deadlier wave of infections later on this year.
The staggering number of victims mentioned above cannot be ignored or used as a ploy in some kind of evil calculation about who’s been selected to die and by whom. Thus it never seems redundant to remind everyone that without testing and an agreed-upon treatment, deaths will keep on rising.
Over 260 million people are forecast to be facing acute food insecurity in the world by the end of this year, according to both the U.N. and the World Food Programme. While last year, ‘only’ 130 million were estimated to suffer food shortages, it’s still too early to accurately estimate the global impact of the pandemic. Or the pressing climate emergency. One thing though is almost a certainty: hunger will fuel political upheaval of biblical proportions.
Many Americans are already being hit by this reality. NYC food banks have reported unprecedented daily lines of thousand of hungry people, going on for dozens of blocks, not only of homeless or severely dispossessed people but of many who just a month ago would call themselves middle class. But again, you wouldn’t know it by just watching the established media. Their coverage has been all about the few dozen paid-for lockdown protesters.
Now, here’s the thing about the ‘gradual’ approach to change professed by many political leaders including candidate Biden: it assumes radical change is impossible because things, well, don’t change. And then they go home, happy to have delivered safe and sound advice to the masses. As in, stay put. 
But oil, of all things, proved them completely wrong this week. For who could’ve expected oil prices to fall below zero? Powers that be moved fast to increase subsidies of the industry that’s literally killing the world. So it’s not that things can’t change; it’s not seizing the moment what really remains encrusted on the minds of ‘gradualists.’ In reality, the lockdown offered a glimpse of how to stop toxic air pollution: shut down the fossil-fuel industry.
To act upon that realization would take more than emphatic words or tweaks in the legislation. It’ll take political courage and a mandate that only the majority of Americans, who actually already think like that, put their will and pressure on the candidate they believe will lead to the change needed.
In the big geopolitics game, Western societies play with dictatorships and rogue states such as North Korea, the death of its ‘dear leader’ represents but a drop of unsettling news, not at all unexpected and already factored in their scenarios and war games. But it does concern over 76 million people. And even if their fate isn’t comparable with the plight of Palestinians, or Syrians, or Yemenis, it definitely draws global scrutiny about what comes next.
The fact is, no one knows for sure. It can play out a number of ways but none has the guarantee of a peaceful power transition. If Kim, the brother, shows up tomorrow, or Kim, his sister, makes an announcement instead, things are sure not to be the same. But at least the world will relax for a bit.
When a coalition of far-right parties, a powerful family-owned media complex, and some say, a bit of U.S. help, ousted Brazil’s democratically-elected President Dilma Rousseff, in 2016 (what a year!), halfway through her second term, it aborted the country’s most arresting government project without any semblance of a plan to replace it. Rather, preventing ex-Presidente Luiz Inacio da Silva from returning to office jumped to the top of their agenda.
For that, there was Judge Moro, portrayed as an anti-corruption paladin who, we know now from an Intercept exposé, has used tricks and illegal moves to build a case without evidence against Lula. By coercing witnesses to testify in exchange for leniency, Moro’s succeed in forcing the Supreme Court to ban a Lula candidacy. That gave Bolsonaro, an Army-ousted ex-Captain with a mediocre record as a politician, the chance to snatch the presidency.
But if Trump’s likely finally met his match on a novel, highly transmissible virus that’s killing thousands of Americans, Brazil’s president may fall by the betrayal of close allies. And not for having all but destroyed the Amazon Rainforest, though, an issue that consistently fails to captivate Brazilians. (It may be unfair to indict 200 million for not caring for a forest, most of them hungry and/or disenfranchised, but this crisis grants it to be said).
30 years ago last Friday, the Hubble Space Telescope started providing earthlings with astonishing images of the vastness of the universe. As we accept that humans may never venture to those spectacular worlds whose pictures it sends home, we can still travel on its digital retina and imagine we’re one with them by what we share within. Yes, we’re small but our hearts have the same beauty and fire and life of those endless worlds. Keep on shining. WC


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