Curtain Raiser

Notes on a Planned Failure, Colltalers

When the first American caught Covid-19 in Jan., there’d been plenty of warnings from China to the WHO. But the world was not worried because the U.S. had top epidemiologists and detailed pandemic playbooks to guide us through the crisis. America would lead and save the day as it’d done before.
Instead, it ‘leads’ the world but in cases, over five million, and logic-defying health polices. Everything the Trump administration has done contradicted what we’ve learned in a hundred years of knowledge and public health practices. Puzzling, though, Americans are not quite fired up with indignation.
In fact, one wonders if the Black Lives Matter movement wasn’t already on the streets, people would be even up in arms protesting. In Israel, Bolivia, Lebanon, Russia, and other nations led by authoritarian regimes, citizens are confronting their leaders’ self-serving attempts to cover up the tragedy.
The BLM unrest hasn’t let up either, but its fight against racial prejudice and police violence has been hijacked at times by other pressure points of popular dissatisfaction. It must not lose its clarity but it’ll have to welcome those hurt by Trump’s neglect. All the way to the polling pols of Nov. 3.
For at close to 20 million cases worldwide, Covid-19 has become the darkest horse running against democracy all around. Since it’s still rising and a safe vaccine is at least months away, it’s already exposing the sheer incompetence of some political leaders and leading to multiple, violent rallies.
We’ll come back to that right after checking what else is news. And it turns out, plenty. Starting by the month-long marches in Israel against four-time Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies, a position he fought charges of bribery and corruption, and three election cycles in one year in order to keep it.
It’s a sight for sore eyes for those who don’t get how come 64% of well-educated Israel’s 18 to 34-year olds identify themselves as right-wing. They’ve been major P.M. supporters

and of most of his even more far-right opponents in the last 20 years. People have just grown used to the fact that for one reason or another, they have apparently no sympathy for the Palestinians’ fate or the Gaza Strip. So maybe something’s different about the coronavirus.
The virus may have also been the excuse for what’s happening in Bolivia. The caretaker government of Jeanine Áñez has canceled the scheduled election for a new president that would replace Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, ousted in a coup a year ago. Senator Áñez, who grabbed the nation’s helm bible in hand, promised new elections, declared herself a candidate but has gone after poor Bolivians ever since.
The native majority has faced brutal repression of their demands for clean elections, even if Morales can’t run. They’ve set up highway barriers and roadblocks throughout the mostly rural nation, while also reporting close to 100,000 Covid-19 cases, and just under four thousand confirmed deaths.
As for that tragic, spectacular explosion in Beirut that pretty much razed the county’s port, its main structure of economic support, never mind what our Orange Menace has said about it, it was not a military or guerrilla attack, that much is clear. Much less evident though is where aid is supposed to come from to what was once known as the Paris of the Middle East, in a nation buried deep in mountains of government corruption and high poverty.
In quick sequence, also worth mentioning is the New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit to dissolve the National Rifle Association; the obscene death toll the coronavirus is taking in the U.S. jail population, the biggest in the world, including immigrants and asylum seekers; and the record 32% drop in second-quarter GDP, with the correspondent 30 to 50 million Americans unemployed, who saw their benefits dried up this week.
Ms. James may succeed where others didn’t want to and if she does it’ll be due to the pro-gun group’s own arrogance and malfeasance. Good riddance. That the U.S. economy is in the toilet even the president knows it. That’s why he’s forcing children to get the virus, rather than an education, at their schools; he needs the appearance of normality rather than saving lives, even if it implies false hopes for a vaccine or the death toll reaching skyward.
I’ve been detained for five months in this center with my lung condition and problems with my liver. Do you think that proper nutrition for a sick person is bread and ham every day?‘ The poignant letter is among dozens from detainees at ICE facilities, smuggled out to The Intercept. After kids in cages, families split-ups, secret deportations, violent raids, this is a new shame to stain Trump and its immigration enforcement agency. Heartbreaking.
It’s not the Covid-19’s pace that is numbly fast, but the administration’s response that’s been always inept, ever since the virus outbreak in China back in Dec. From just one case in Feb. to over five million now, the president’s turned America into the land of the sick and the home of the virus.
It’s unacceptable that 165.3 thousand died as a result. It went from that first case to over 18,000 in March, 27K in April, and down to 23,000 in May. In June, cases reached 41.5 thousand, and July 65,000. Then in roughly a month, it more than doubled. It’s still rising fast. See what we’re getting at?
New Zealand, for instance – yes, it has only five million inhabitants but the scale of comparison is still off the charts – had no new cases to report last month. Other nations are following careful steps to reopen while making sure their workforce, now unable to find jobs, receive enough aid to survive. But the U.S. is a mess of contradictory efforts, no uniformed policies, ill-reputed acts of political theater, no leadership, no testing, and no vaccine.
About that. ‘Can you patent the sun?‘ asked American virologist Jonas Salk in 1955 about the vaccine for Polio that he’d spent years developing. But that was then, certainly a time of more generosity than the one we lived in now. The administration has not just pitched state against state for the ‘right’ to receive protective gear for health workers, but it’s also provoking an international, literal lab race for the profits generated by a patented vaccine.
Down in Brazil, which has just broken the three million cases threshold, second only to the U.S., and 100,000 obits, COVID-19 has taken yet another indigenous leader. Cacique Aritana Yawalapiti, 71, was instrumental for the 1960s creation of the Xingu National reserve, home to 16 tribes. His is one of over 600 deaths of Brazil’s indigenous people, just when the Amazon Rainforest has lost a São Paulo-sized area to fires just last month. R.I.P., Chief.
Numbers and stats make us numb and abstract the flesh-and-bone costs behind them. The coronavirus is challenging but only for those who ignored the scientific evidence, the same way climate emergency may cause a shock to those who chose not to face its reality. That’s what you get when you elect a game show host as your president. When stuff hits the fan, they usually get caught covering their own behinds. That’s why Nov. 3 is so crucial.
We must stand for the Post Office, a self-sufficient agency that predates the constitution and it’s under attack by paid nimrods. They may close polling stations, create hurdles for the poor, and prevent Americans from expressing their will. But they can’t stop us from voting by mail. The BLM has earned the right to lead this fight, but every single progressive group must join in. We need a new president, we need a better world. Buckle up, Sonny. WC

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