Curtain Raiser

Kids Are Getting Frustrated, Colltalers

A new Capitol Hill attack showed that the U.S. Congress still hasn’t got the memo. Since the attempted Jan. 6 coup, members who supported it are still in, there’s no attack weapons ban or action on the filibuster. Don’t take for granted what it took to get us a Democratic majority or next year you’ll lose.
The week’s sore points: Biden’s immigration mess and the GOP’s shameful vote suppression efforts. Great news as Iran agrees to revive nuclear talks. But there’s also a new global push for a U.N. treaty banning all nukes and/or any kind of fuel that can kill us and destroy the planet. It makes sense.
We start in Mexico where femicide – women being murdered by former or current partners only for being women – is now rampant, aggravated by lockdowns and a weak judicial system. President Andrés López Obrador, still popular despite coronavirus mismanagements and the poor economy, hasn’t done much about it, as rape and child pregnancy increase. Ten women are killed every day and last year, near two thousand were also murdered.
In Ethiopia, an investigation by BBC Africa Eye found evidence of a massacre of at least 15 men slaughtered by the military. The attack had not been disclosed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who finally admitted it’s been a ‘difficult and tiresome‘ fight against that Tigray People’s Liberation Front. There are increased concerns about Ahmed, who despite winning the 2019 Peace Nobel, is fully invested in crushing the guerrilla group.
As the U.S. reaches four million Covid-19 doses per day, Brazil had 300,000 deaths on Saturday. It’s Ok to compare the two topping the grimmest list of fatalities and most cases. It shows leadership – and money, surely – can change a nation’s dire straits. But someone with a brain has to be the leader.
Former president Lula da Silva’s return to political life has certainly driven the latest cabinet shake-up by President Bolsonaro. Which in turn, seems to have annoyed the high command of armed forces: Brazil’s all three top military leaders quit this week in protest. A nefarious legacy of fear pervading nations that suffered a coup is, everyone minds the military. Their move hurt the president who some see now as dangerous as a wounded beast.
Now for something most people already know but it’s still shocking to see it on paper: 77 American fossil-fuel companies got $8.2 billion under a tax code set by last year’s stimulus bill, according to advocacy group BailoutWatch. But they still fired thousands of workers amidst the pandemic.
Plus, another study compiled by several environmental non-profit groups found that the world’s largest banks have invested $3.8 trillion in the fossil-fuel industry over the last five years. The reports make clear that the financial system must divest if we’re to succeed against climate change.
The Biden administration heads to its first 100th day more or less the way it was expected, with clarity about investing in people and infrastructure, but much less so when dealing with the hairy situation of immigration. No one said it’d be easy but the basic mistakes it’s perpetuating, along with a lack of solutions have shown way more is needed to heal this open sore that shames Americans, festering with every new wave of desperate asylum seekers.
Increasing policing and patrolling the border is not the solution. Ignoring what’s fueling these sad caravans coming from Mexico, Guatemala, or Honduras, or the toxic U.S. presence in these countries for the past several decades, won’t move the needle either. Any comprehensive immigration policy has to address its root causes and be absolutely transparent about it. It also helps to keep families together and to treat people like human beings.
Meanwhile, Georgia is trying to lead us back to Jim Crow country. It’s insane how much support is getting from copy-cat states but is utterly disturbing to see representatives elected to uphold the laws of the land – and the unrestricted right to vote is certainly one of its tenets – betraying their vows and openly supporting the insurrection. Those who taxpayers elected to be their leaders have the responsibility to strip these traitors from their position.
There’s a promise of change still in the air, still to be fulfilled. But it’s impossible to overstate the costly defeats the Democrat leadership has made us endure in such a short time. The minimum wage blunder seems to have set such a low standard after it was beaten by the word of an unelected Senate bureaucrat. Now, already three weeks since the year’s first shootings killed a dozen people, and a bill to ban assault weapons is nowhere to be seen.
Those are opportunities that had the best chance to be worked on in several years and we missed. But the next one, the end of the filibuster, cannot be wasted, and the leaders of both houses are on notice: no loss acceptable. If we don’t fix it after the president received 80 million votes, we never will.
But the biggest international news is that Iran will resume talks with the U.S. and several other nations about its nuclear program. Except that, because of what the former American president did, terms may differ and may not be able to prevent the sophisticated Theocracy from building its own bomb. That’s certainly up to professional diplomacy to decide it, plus public pressure. But for as much as it’d be fair, under some geopolitical views, for Iran to have its own nuke program, there’s a growing movement in the opposite direction, seeking to ban the technology we still can control after 76 years.
The Appeal of the Hibakusha, which seeks the elimination of all nuclear weapons, for instance, was just awarded the 2020 Sean MacBride Peace Prize after collecting 13 million signatures in support of the ban. The appeal was conceived by a group of Hibakusha, survivors of the 1945 U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This year, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has set the Doomsday Clock to an unprecedented 100 seconds before midnight.
Perhaps those around the president should stop comparing him to FDR, based mainly on what he ‘may’ accomplish, and focus on the two biggest issues of our time: climate emergency and the proliferation of nukes. Biden must set us on a new course where Pentagon hawks don’t get to set our defense priorities. It also means that neither fossil-fuel corporations get tax breaks and government subsidies, nor banks and Wall Street may profit from them.
The tragedy of the coronavirus has an added layer of despair in Brazil: it’s been taking too many indigenous leaders, heroes who helped preserve the Amazon Rainforest and often fought to save it. Aruká Juma, the last surviving man of the Juma people in the Brazilian part of the jungle, died in Feb. wiping out at least five centuries of history and memory. With him goes one more hope for our generation to prevent the disappearance of the Amazon.
April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.‘ The opening lines of T.S.Eliot’s epic poem The Waste Land may be a rare case when a full month earned a stinging epitaph to tell people of the future about its true nature. Given the world that we know for almost a century, it got it right every time the calendar came across it. Thus here’s to the unflinching eye of a poet.
As we overuse terms such as ‘hero,’ ‘survivor,’ ‘warrior,’ ‘rebel,’ with such abandon, billions of young activists around the world must be getting quite frustrated. For they’ve spent their precious teen years fighting for the only future that may be suitable for us, and now hear that it may not be possible and excuses as to why so little is done. They are right and what they miss the most are us and our own commitment. Will you step forward? Tchau. WC

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