Raise Girls as World Leaders, Colltalers
Once again Brazil shocks the world and not in a good way. As President Bolsonaro told Brazilians to ‘stop whining,’ it hit 10 million Covid-19 cases, almost two thousand a day last week. They could use some of the $1.9 trillion relief bill Republicans fought tooth and nail not to give to Americans.
The far-reaching bill seems well poised to boost the U.S. recovery but it also shows the limitations of President Biden’s ‘mandate‘ as it failed to raise the minimum wage. The Pope’s in Iraq and, in Minneapolis, the trial of the police officer who brutally killed George Floyd last May gets started today.
More on that in a moment but let’s start with Myanmar where the military is shooting to kill protesters of the Feb 1 coup and the junta seems unfazed by the international uproar. Not that it’s been particularly strident. While the army reportedly conducts overnight raids, the casualty count rises, and China takes its sweet time before stepping in. Since the European Union is not acting, the U.S. should put its diplomacy corp in a state of high alert.
‘Serious violations of international law, possibly amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.‘ Amnesty International’s assessment matches United Nations’ fears that invading Eritrean troops in Ethiopia’s Tigray region may bring about more deaths, violence, and potentially mass starvation. Eritrea’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, now is accused of ordering illegal troop raids across the border.
Pope Francis may be arguably presiding over the Catholic church’s biggest decline but no one is crazy to count the Vatican out just yet. Argentina-born Francisco, who leads 1.2 billion devouts, has then been entrusted with revitalizing the church’s dwindling attendance using a favorite from the Dark Ages playbook: playing kingmaker. It’s not clear whether the U.S. has offered him pointers for his meeting with Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
$45 billion. That’s the combined amount that Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca are expected to make with vaccine sales in 2021. Which has its upside: after all, these and other companies are offering a safe cure and treatment to an illness that in one year, killed almost three million people, safely developed at a fast clip, and that’s already benefitted some of us. Other companies and nations are also getting into the race.
But what about those who didn’t get a shot yet? That’s the biggest argument coming from the U.N. and other consumer advocacy groups worldwide. Over a hundred nations still have no deal to inoculate their populations and that’s not a problem for the labs – they’re doing just fine as it is – but it is to the world: for as long as enough people are carrying the coronavirus, variants multiply faster than rates of infection or the expected dose efficacy. No catastrophic public health crisis should be managed purely on a commercial basis. Governments must work together to curb profiting from tragedy.
Where’s John Lewis? It’s poignant that the late Georgia Rep. couldn’t mark the 56th anniversary of the first march for Black voting rights in Selma, Alabama. He’d never missed it. In celebration, the House has passed comprehensive legislation to renew, restore, and protect the Voting Act, gutted by the Supreme Court a few years ago. Now it’s the ‘H.R.1‘ itself that risks being gutted but by a Senate minority that apparently still runs the game over there.
When Bolsonaro got elected in 2018, he publicly praised the then U.S. president and pretty much followed his mentor’s style and absurd decisions to the letter. As a result, when the Covid-19 struck, the two countries got perfected aligned around two issues: ‘the virus is a hoax,’ and ‘we don’t need to do much about it.’ You won’t find these made-up quotes, but in speech after speech, both presidents led their nations to the top of a terrible heap.
That tragic pile is the list no one wanted to be on, that of the most fatalities and the most cases in the world. While the virus spread out globally, they both insisted that it was going away, even while neglecting to act in case they were wrong. But wrong they were and 800,000 people die as a result.
A combo of tragedy, incompetence, constitutional crisis, and political manipulation of information – thanks, media! – has brought the former 6th-biggest economy of the world to a standstill, with the collapse of a surprisingly resilient healthcare system, and rising public dissatisfaction. All elements that could help defeat Bolsonaro two years from now. But ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula, the only candidate with the clout to beat him, is unlikely to run.
For proud Brazilians, it’s a desperate situation. So far, only 7,6 million have had their first shots and there aren’t enough to cover the population. The president had some unsympathetic, and not quite truthful words for those demanding action or at least government emphasis on mask use and social distancing practices. ‘Fools are saying, ‘I’m gonna buy the vaccine.’ Only if it’s from own their mothers’ house. There’s none available in the world.’
Meanwhile, U.S. Democrats have passed a $2 trillion relief package designed to recalibrate the country for a world without coronavirus. In some ways, given its potential breakthroughs, such as child allowance for families, billions in aid for state and local governments, plus the $1,400 direct checks and an extra $300 unemployment help, it’s a quasi-radical set of policies, with one major flaw: minimum wages remain frozen at a ridiculous $7 an hour.
It was a broken campaign promise and if Biden wasn’t able to help pass it this early into his presidency, it’s doubtful he ever will. For what good is in this relief bill is not a reward but what should be already in effect since the pandemic. Real change, however, would’ve been a higher minimum wage.
When a cop kneeled over George Floyd’s neck for 8min46sec until he died of suffocation, it triggered a nation and worldwide movement and made the term Black Lives Matter a battle cry for action against racial injustice in this country. It, sadly, didn’t stop police brutality or the killing of unarmed people of color but it posed questions that still need answers. May today, when his murderer faces a judge, start the process of justice for George.
It’s Women’s International Day, a date first celebrated in New York, in 1908. Even if there were no pandemics, we’d have a long list of names to honor today, starting perhaps by VP Kamala Harris. But we’ll remember three media workers, Shahaz Raufi, Mursal Waheedi, and Saadia Sadat, killed Tuesday in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in coordinated attacks by the Daesh. It’s been a while but they’re still coming out of their hellhole to murder women.
Despite tensions generated by the planned withdrawal of American troops in the country, slated to May 1, and also their rumored ‘distaste’ for Western-style journalism, what it’s common to ISIS as it’s known as well as to other terrorist organizations is their unofficial ‘oppression of women‘ strategy.
‘Freedom and democracy can’t be donated.’ RAWA, a women’s advocacy group founded in 1977, dreams of a free and secular Afghanistan. For it, it’s fought along with the resistance first against the Soviet Army, then the U.S. Now, as hopes for independence are on the rise again, it’s getting back to its original purpose: ‘Our mission for women’s rights is far from over.’ And so is ours. Never give up, no time to rest. We all begin as females. Cheers WC