Curtain Raiser

Solidarity Is a Loaded Gun, Colltalers

How to measure a tragedy? by length? global reach? number of casualties? Heading to 70.000 deaths, the U.S. already passed the near 59 thousand American lives lost in Vietnam. The war that left America with PTSD ended 45 years ago last Thursday. Vietnam has reported no COVID-19 deaths.
Calamity also brings up strong feelings for those who’ve experienced it on a personal level. For instance, victims of mass shootings, a preventable social disease. Canada took a step in that direction by banning some assault weapons. Which are mostly purchased in the U.S. and may all return to it.
Let’s leave those heady words ending in Y behind for a moment and take a look at what else is news. Remember the glorious four-time World Cup U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, which had filed a suit against the federation for being paid less than the men’s team? Well, a federal judge dismissed their case.
The ruling found no Equal Pay Act violation, even though they were, in fact, paid less than their less brilliant male counterparts. Hero and all-around awesome person Megan Rapinoe scored another one of her defiant, beautiful goals when she tweeted, ‘We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY.’
Two traditional, community-building, utmost essential American institutions are under threat of being extinguished and that has little to do with the coronavirus crisis: the Postal Service, and restaurants in general. Yes, the tragedy has worsened everything but the former has had long-term foes, eager to privatize it and turn a civil right older than the Constitution into a for-profit cash cow. They’ve been trying for years and this time, they may get it.
Unlike false assumptions capitalized by the president and the Republican Party, the Post Office is not funded by taxpayers; it survives strictly on its own. And despite all bell and whistles advertised for the Internet, that in the future everyone would have access to it, the mail-carrying agency is often the only game in town for citizens to connect. It’d do much better if it could offer banking services too, but heaven forbid if the FDIC would allow it.
It allowed the end of the separation between commercial and investment banking, the root cause of the 2008 catastrophic financial collapse. That, in turn, cost Americans billions

as their accounts and savings were used to boost the stock market. When it all crashed, the FDIC dutifully helped the financial system and Wall Street to recoup their losses with, yes, taxpayer money. But when it comes to saving the Postal Service, don’t count on them.
As for restaurants, we’ve been slow to recognize their importance as gathering places, altars for cultural exchange, in this and any other country, all the while being a source of jobs to both the unskilled and the top-notch professional, the part-time student and the undocumented. Great eateries may not come back but for its workers, this crisis has already been life-changing. That, however, is apparently not of the GOP and the White House concerns.
There have been four multi-billion ‘stimulus’ packages, which were mainly dumped into the already stuffed coffers of billionaires and corporations, including those that don’t pay a dime in taxes. But little has reached restaurant and fast-food workers. Since his clients are satisfied for the moment, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said he won’t support aid for deli workers, or renters, or anyone without a six-digit banking account for that matter.
Speaking of which, the rich won again, all viruses be damned. A hidden tax change introduced by Republicans in the economic relief legislation will let those making a million or more annually ‘avoid nearly $82 billion of tax liability in 2020,’ according to non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation. Taxpayers will lose nearly $90 billion they probably didn’t even know they had with the change which lifted restrictions to Trump’s 2017 tax cuts bill.
Journalism Without Fear or Favor. That’s the theme of yesterday’s World Press Freedom Day, as willful misinformation and censorship of COVID-29 coverage around the world have prevented reporters from exercising their right to inform. The crisis also cost the category lives and thousands of jobs.
Let’s celebrate it with a piece of good news (yes, they exist): the International Energy Agency said that measures to stop the new coronavirus have caused ‘a staggering drop in energy demand.’ That means the air has been cleaner lately that it’s been since most of us were born. The IEA also expects an increase in demand for renewables. Funny then that a few articles ran against that logic and declared that energy prices will actually hurt us all.
Hum, let’s guess who may be behind these strategically deflating statements floated all over the media. Just the other week, CEOs of the gas, coal, and oil industries were in DC collecting the bailout they wanted, amounts unknown. It’s as if they’re the unsung victims taxpayers must save and give money to, on top of the multi-billion dollar government subsidies they already receive to compete with renewables. They’ve definitely got a friend in Trump.
One world about meat: we may have to reconsider eating it. Look at workers at meat plants in the U.S.: many are dying and others are being forced to work without protection in virus-infested conditions. If they refuse, no healthcare for them either. This is absurd and wrong. All so we can have a beef? Perhaps vegetarianism or going vegan is not for you. Fine. But it is for the planet. Read about it and maybe start today; after all, it’s Meatless Monday.
The irresponsible, downright criminal handling of the pandemic by this administration may cost something else Americans are so used to: the U.S.’s relevance in global events has lost its commanding role, and whatever the president may say is now solemnly ignored by the world. Thus, if you care about others, remain mostly at home no matter what kind of snake oil Trump may try to push this time; our guess is that this week it’ll be China, again.
What Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did banning some assault weapons follows what New Zealand P.M. Jacinda Ardern had done over a year ago. But for all purposes, it remains a pipe dream for grieving Americans. Still, we should paraphrase Rapinoe: we’ll never give up fighting for it.
A moment to mourn with the Lakota People the passing of Andrea Circle Bear, a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe member, who died while pregnant in a Texas prison, weeks after giving birth. Her cruel death of COVID-19 transcends even the brutal reality of dying away from her loved ones. To them, her tribe, to Maddona Thunder Hawk, and the dignified legacy of all native Americans, our profound condolences and commitment not to ever forget.
We should also dedicate to her the Gastrodia gunatillekeorum, a new orchid species discovered in Sri Lanka. Orchids are widespread and numerous, and most are stunningly beautiful. Just as the late Circle Bear, and the Lakotas, and the Cheyenne, and the Sioux, and all our courageous brothers and sisters. We’re in this together and even if odds are often against them, they won’t be for long. Here’s to them, to us, and to the month of May. Cheers WC

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