Curtain Raiser

By All Means Necessary, Colltalers

Lacking strong world censure, the Myanmar military has moved to phase 2 of its power grab: shooting civilians. President Biden, who bombed Syria instead, has also been criticized for ignoring an intelligence report that accuses Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince of murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
But the week in America may be dominated by two arresting issues: the battle to include in the government’s Covid relief package raising the minimum wage to $15h, the first such rise since 2009; and a bombshell revelation about the murder of Black leader Malcolm X, 56 years ago this February.
We begin with a disturbing Guardian report about the more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, who died since 2010 while building stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The data highlights the failure of the secretive ‘absolute monarchy‘ ruled by the Al Thani family to protect its over two million migrant workers, as it blames the average 12 deaths a week on ‘natural causes.’
As it becomes almost a dark tradition, 317 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped at gunpoint on Friday. What started in 2014 with the abduction of 276 girls by the armed group Boko Haram, which opposes Western education, has become a cottage industry in Nigeria. Different groups have been staging kidnappings for money in recent years. But 100 of those abducted seven years ago remain missing and are now presumably their captors’ property.
From India comes a breather: in a landmark decision, the Uttarakhand province will grant women co-ownership land rights over the hilly fields they tend to while their partners search for job opportunities elsewhere. Property rights in India are usually transferred only through the men in the family.
China seems unwilling to challenge the Myanmar military but remains fully invested in crushing dissidence in Hong Kong. It’s charged forty-seven pro-democracy activists with conspiracy to commit subversion, which is what it calls the island’s widespread opposition to Beijing’s iron-fist tactics. Unfazed, the activists charged back by issuing the HK19 Manual, a Google-available crowdsource guide for rebellion specially translated to Burmese.
And in Russia, opposition leader and Putin’s foe Alexei Navalny has reported to jail to begin serving his two-and-a-half-year sentence amid still strong protests nationwide. He’d accused the Russian president of attempting to poison him, but the courts instead reactivated a 2014 suspended sentence for probation violation. Amnesty, however, has revoked his status as ‘prisoner of conscience‘ based on raging anti-immigrant statements he’d made early.
It is the Congress, not the President, who has the authority to declare war.‘ That’s Senator Bernie Sanders expressing frustration with Biden’s decision to bomb Syria without warning or authorization. It’s a terrible habit, repeated by every president in recent years, and a frontal constitutional violation. It’s a disappointment having to remind the president that using bombs instead of diplomacy and humanitarian relief only leads to more death and ruin.
And since we’re at it. it was also a big letdown that Biden did not mention to Saudi Arabian officials a U.S. intelligence report linking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It not only looked like a cheap political calculation but it also empowers the prince and other tyrants like him. We’re not quite at the 100-day mark yet but executive decisions like these could undermine our trust.
Meanwhile, the Myanmar military has shot and killed 18 protesters over the weekend, possibly more, and leader Aung San Suu Kyi is still missing, presumably detained since the Feb. 1 coup. How far the generals will go depends on how much sway China and the U.S. still have over the country. Whether he does interfere or not, it’s a win-win for Xi Jinping, for sure. But the U.S. must lead a global effort to send the boots back to the barracks.
U.S. wages have been frozen at $7 an hour since 2009, and many earn even less than that. But whenever Congress threatens to raise wages, the entire GOP plus a few millionaires across the aisle vote it down. It’s happening again even though raising the minimum to $15, far from enough for a decent living income, is literally the bare minimum to be done at this time of crisis. So much for having a Democrat president and the majority in Congress.
When Malcolm X was gunned down in Manhattan on Feb. 21, 1965, he, not the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was the incendiary force of the Black movement, often taking risky instances as when converting to Islam, to express his contempt with the white culture of oppression and segregation. Now his family has released a letter attributed to an ex-New York police officer that accuses the NYPD and FBI of being involved in the assassination.
But the case became more complicated almost immediately after the revelations when Raymond Wood’s daughter Kelly said that the supposed ‘death bed‘ letter from her father is a forgery perpetrated by an uncle. Family affairs aside, time is indeed ripe for a new investigation to finally solve his murder.
Johnson & Johnson joins Moderna and Pfizer as Covid-19 vaccine producers, which is great to those who’ll be vaccinated, the corporations, and pretty much nobody else. The issue is not their efficacy or different posology, but how to get them fast and cheaply to the rest of the world. For there’s no excuse that 130 nations out of a give-or-take 195 have no doses to offer their populations. Let’s be consistent: vaccines belong to the people.
Democracy is not a spectator sport.‘ Lotte Scharfman’s saying has been misquoted and misattributed ever since the Internet has hit and yet it perfectly encapsulates what’s our role in it. Coup plotters and enablers of the Jan. 6 murderous rampage of Capitol Hill may fancy themselves as participants but they’re just corrupted players who should have been already kicked out. It’s us who are expected to protect democracy ‘by all means necessary.’ Cheerio WC


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