Curtain Raiser

The Sad Disparity Among Us, Colltalers

Psst, hear that? It’s the frightening silence of China crushing Hong Kong’s bones of democracy. Now there’s a second generation of young Chinese to mourn the missing opportunity for regime change. Not that it was ever in their hands. Would this have happened if the West cared just a little about it?
As if 12 million cases, over 500 thousand obits, and vaccine research still far from trials were not enough, here comes the greed of big pharma not to help us but profit from it all. Gilead has priced its COVID-19 drug, Remdesivir, which is not even a cure at $3,120 per treatment. And ‘experts’ like it.
Throughout the U.S., Black Lives Matter protests continue, even if in a subdued way. But as the movement decides its next steps – may we suggest start working for getting a new president at the White House? – gratuitous police confrontations and despicable acts by white supremacists are still on the rise. Rewards from the top can be significant: the St. Louis couple who pointed loaded guns at peaceful marchers got a tweet from the president.
But in Seattle, it again went too far when a car drove through a police barrier on Saturday hitting a crowd and killing Summer Taylor. The hard-to-watch video, as many to come out lately about police brutality against African-Americans, doesn’t show that the 24-year-old BLM supporter was actually white but it doesn’t matter. Hate towards people of color includes their allies. (In case you’re wondering, we won’t name these criminals here).
The fact that black Americans amount to 12.3% of the U.S. population and yet just in 2020 have already been killed 105 times out of 506 fatal police shootings, according to business platform

Statista, stands akin to the odd logic of the U.S. to having less than 4% of the world population but more COVID-19 cases than anyone else. That’s not for the stats to explain, but to corrupt leaders that fuel such a tragic disparity to be held accountable for.
Speaking of accountability, in Brazil – second to the U.S. in coronavirus cases – pandemic-denying, rainforest-destroying Presidente Jair Bolsonaro is fighting to survive a likely string of revelations to come from Fabrício Queiroz, the arrested driver of the president’s son and also politician Flávio, and longtime friend of the family. The laundry list of crimes associated to Queiroz and Flávio includes the charge that they assassinated Marielle Franco.
A Rio councilwoman and a rising black leadership in the LGBTQ community who came from a shantytown and was known for a progressive agenda, Marielle was executed two years ago last March and albeit her assassins are known, and one has already been killed, Queiroz and virtually everyone accused in the conspiracy to murder her was at some point connected to the Bolsonaros, even living at walking distances of the family’s big compound.
Now, long-dormant institutions such as the Supremo Tribunal Federal, the Brazilian supreme court, decided they’ve had enough and, shock, are doing their job. Naturally, the president is telling his supporters that he’s a victim of vengeful judges and politicians who want to oust him as leader of Brazil, which by the way, has gone anyway but down, both economically and socially. Yes, we’ve just heard the same message at the foot of Mount Rushmore.
Queiroz was a member of the ‘Office of Crime,’ the militia that controls Rio’s law enforcement organs and terrorizes its slums dwellers for years. Many Brazilians, however, wonder if ‘dethroning’ Bolsonaro and welcoming again the military into power, as his VP is a general, is really what’s best for the country. Yes, many still beg for the return of the dictatorship, which ruled Brazil for 20 years, but to be blunt, they’re usually considered psychopaths.
In Botswana, hundreds of elephants have been found dead in the past months and no one can explain it. This time, the usual suspects, poachers, are not deemed involved since tusks having been left intact. Research continues into the causes but lab results may take a while to be completed. For now, we mourn this yet new threat to the survival of such a magnificent creature, whose numbers have been steadily declining. Poachers, circuses, now this.
We also grieve the death of Regan Russell, an animal activist killed by a truck last month in Ontario, Canada, while protesting a pig slaughterhouse. And Santiago Manuim, Awajún indigenous leader and Amazon Rainforest defender, who succumbed to the coronavirus. Their losses are irreparable.
‘Welcome to the Security Law’ reads an irony-free banner on a barge navigating Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor. Inland, there’s been a depressing round of arrests, intimidation, and even deportations of activists to the mainland. And around the world, the silence about this has been too insufferably loud.
China has the confidence of facing even less pushback than it did in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, which the current movement for autonomy has echoed. If Bush senior did nothing then, don’t expect, as some students did, help from the White House occupier. But it’s inconceivable that civil rights organizations in the U.S. and Europe haven’t so much as protested against this unequivocal act of authoritarianism. Thus, China grows stronger.
Of our sinister scoreboard of last week, China got its way, and so did Putin who now may rule Russia for 16 more years. But Israel backpedaled on its plan to annex Palestinian land in the West Bank. Publicly, only art group Partners4Israel produced a giant mural in Tel Aviv protesting annexation.
A group of 239 scientists is calling for the World Health Organization to step up warnings about the airborne transmission of  COVID-19, as cases rise worldwide. Unlike the U.S.’s criticism of W.H.O., this one is based on evidence and with the reopening of the global economy, it’s crucial to control it.
Remdesivir’s initial tests were positive for some patients but they need to be proven on trials; it certainly won’t cure the infection. But Gilead, which developed the drug with taxpayer funds, is already projecting a windfall to its bottom line once it hits the market. What’s disingenuous about this is that it’ll charge over $3,000 per treatment regardless of whether it works. And the Trump administration has already purchased its whole production of it.
It’s so obvious that the company, and you-know-who, will make a killing not on the substance of the resolution of a global pandemic but on the account of backdoor deals. It’ll almost surely serve to ‘trump the Trump’ comes November, as he’ll probably declare total victory on some bogus claim. Again.
Otherwise, this administration is doing nothing else to stop the coronavirus since, well, the beginning. Just thought it’s important to remind everyone.
This Fourth of July was arguably the most dispirited to date. That is, crowds were out, as maskless and in close contact with each other as any stock pessimist would have it, but something was missing. Would it have to do with what abolitionist and statesman Frederick Douglass – whose toppled statue in Rochester, NY, has been replaced – had pointed to back in 1852? ‘Your independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.
Invited to speak about Independence Day, the former slave who rose to prominence on the strength of his convictions, said, ‘the sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. (…) You may rejoice, I must mourn.‘ It’s mourning in America, indeed, as someone has already said it. But for Douglass and so many others, to give up was never an option. We must climb that wall and topple the monster. Free at last. WC


2 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. Colltales says:

    Thank you so much, Stephen.


  2. as always, a cogent and well written synthesis!

    Liked by 1 person

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