Curtain Raiser

To Impeach a Wrongdoer, Colltalers

5.077 Covid-19 American deaths. That’s the audited total registered Thursday. We’re speeding toward the half-a-million cases before the month is out. The virus spreads by jets while vaccines are hand-delivered; guess which is faster? New variants may arrive even faster but immunization will prevail.
The Burmese are out in the streets trying to undo Myanmar’s military coup before it grows roots. They’ll need help. ‘Incitement of insurrection.’ That’s the charge on the second Trump impeachment starting tomorrow as the FBI rounds up members of the deadly mob that stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.
We start on a related note as Canada has just declared the Proud Boys, which took part in the tragic events in DC, a terrorist organization. Court filings charge that the group spouses political violence, Fascism, misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant, and white supremacist ideologies. As many face criminal penalties in the U.S., they may forget delusions of freedom that many a Wild West gunslinger has shared: to run away North.
In Brazil, an investigation on over 230 thousand coronavirus casualties concluded that President Bolsonaro is personally responsible for allowing the pandemic to run amok through an ‘institutional strategy to spread the virus.’ The Conectas Derechos Humanos and São Paulo University study also has exposed the administration’s lack of a national plan or provision for vaccine availability and still blames the media and others for the pandemic.
Meanwhile, indigenous leaders and human rights groups asked the International Criminal Court at The Hague to charge Bolsonaro with ‘ecocide,’ the dismantling of environmental policies and violation of native rights. Since 2018, Amazon deforestation jumped nearly 50%, invasions increased 135% in 2019, and at least 18 people were murdered in land conflicts. Back in Nov. 2019, activists had already delivered an ‘informative note’ to the ICC.
Cuba has joined the selected group of nations that developed vaccines. But unlike the publicly-funded research, pattern-holding multinational model that has – inefficiently – controlled global demand so far, it’ll produce 100 million doses of two vaccines to immunize 11 million citizens before sending to Asia and Latin America. While it also faces challenges of distribution and safety as the others, Cuba’s doing something else too: giving it to tourists.
For reasons that extend far beyond the space and level of expertise of this newsletter, it’s arguably fair to say that the world did take a turn to far-right authoritarianism in 2016. That is the forces that finally conjured the global phenomenon had been at work for years prior, but it was then that the U.S., the U.K., Europe, Asia, and Latin America saw conservatives suddenly being able to compete for power and, whenever in disadvantage, staging coups.
While Putin was already in power for the duration in Russia, as was Erdogan in Turkey, a handful of countries were either sold on the preposterous idea of xenophobia as the sole cause of their woes, or were simply won over by disguised forms of power grabs, as was the case of Brazil and others. But unlike those believing the resistance got itself together to elect Biden, it’d be foolish to hope that it’ll stop such a global wave of conservatism. The president did display the urgency and resolve necessary to move the needle. His first 100 days in office have been a good textbook on actions to address the crisis and so is the current battle in Congress to approve a meaningful relief while immunization doesn’t reach critical mass. That is so even if such relief will leave millions out of the loop. In many instances, it’ll be up to lawmakers to write and enact legislation to help the undocumented.
All around the world, as historians gather evidence on how this all has happened not by happenstance but by design, there’s an urgency to prioritize common human needs, health, reproduction rights, self-expression, shelter, environmental protection, and access to justice, over greed and the pursuit of endless economic growth. Perhaps that’s the most critical difference from four years ago: we know now what they all did when they got to power.
The same four countries, whose leaders tried to dismiss the coronavirus and failed to act even when casualties started to mount, the U.S., Brazil, India, and Russia, are still the places where more people have died of the virus; roughly half of all 107 million world deaths have happened there. The U.K. could also be included here, not for being a repressive regime but for its many Brexit leadership blunders which have surely mined public confidence.
Speaking of repression, the military who staged the coup in Myanmar continue to ignore global outrage and clamor to put down their weapons and let a civilian legislature decide the country’s fate. And free its iconic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who’s been detained and hasn’t been seen lately. It’s likely that, behind closed doors, they’re talking with China’s Xi Jinping and Putin; as for the U.S., it may take a while for it to earn a seat at that table again. So many have doubts about whether this second impeachment will bear any useful fruits. They’re afraid the ex-president will manipulate headlines as he’s done so well while in office, and that the mainstream media will go for it at full clip. But let’s not underestimate the power of symbolism of this moment, when this country’s democratic institutions may showcase the full strength of their normative powers to enforce and enact the rule of law. It’s not a show and we all should take the proceedings with the utmost sobriety they require. No one believes the former president will do time. Bus his public condemnation may help solidify the idea that the Office of the Presidency belongs only to those with an upstanding record of personal integrity.
Congrats to Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers who thrashed Kansas City in SuperBowl LV by an impressive score: 31 x 9. But let’s also raise our glasses to another character of the play who performed flawlessly: referee Sarah Thomas, the first female official to work the NFL’s biggest game. Change does come slowly until it doesn’t. As in, sorry, we’re not in Kansas anymore and American women are far from done. Next, the presidency?
There’s much to talk about getting the kids back to school, even without being vaccinated, but any discussion has to start with protecting the teachers who’ll be there for them. We need to discuss how to prioritize those who work so we can stay at home, frontline food and health workers, Black and brown people disproportionally dying from coronavirus. But first, comes our commitment to help each other and find our common ground as humans.
Many indicators point to a year with many changes for mankind, some drastic, others labored and hard-earned. In other words, even playing the lotto and having lots of dreams of fame and fortune, keep up the hard work of every day as the poor person you may still be for a while longer, just in case. As long as we don’t forget how badly we’ve been taken last year, things may look up. Let’s be grateful while we can and carry on as we must. Cheers WC


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