Curtain Raiser

Bring Your Whole Crew, Colltalers

The world is about to hit three million obits by Covid-19, with a fifth in the U.S. and Brazil as a steady No. 2 with over 350.000 deaths. Yup, little has improved: rates are still rising in the West, poor nations have had little access to vaccines, and big labs are still unaccountably in control of all patterns.
Elsewhere, the explosion of split-up families and their lost children at the chaotic U.S.-Mexico border is becoming the Biden administration’s greatest challenge. Also, Peru and Ecuador choose a new president, Northern Ireland is in turmoil over Brexit, and somehow related, Prince Philip had died.
Let’s get busy first with Iran, where a suspicious ‘accident‘ disabled the Natanz nuclear facility’s electrical grid just a day after it’d started to enrich uranium. Iran said that it won’t turn off its centrifuges till sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy are fully lifted. Israel, a strong opponent of the nuke agreement that the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from and that now may be revived, is suspected to have a part in the ‘terrorist‘ incident.
Poland, with over 2.6 million coronavirus cases, may be using the pandemic to crackdown on civil rights. The government, which wants ‘repolonize‘ the media, is being accused of picking winners, cutting down on ads for independent newspapers, and orchestrating lawsuits against the press. There’s even talk that President Andrzej Duda’s Law and Justice party plans to form a nationalist front with Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Italy’s Matteo Salvini.
And in Australia, the storm season hit early with a rare, gigantic cyclone that left a trail of damage and power outages. It may be probably time to retire terms such as rare or ‘gigantic‘ when speaking about the weather. And as the weekend landfall of Tropical Cyclone Seroja and its 100 miles gusts was not at all unexpected, let’s never fail to mention – as down under media outlets have done once again – the words ‘climate emergency‘ in these stories.
In one of its wrongest moves, the U.S. has passed once more the opportunity of supporting a ban on antipersonnel land mines, which killed over 3.000 people in 2018 according to Statista. President Biden was expected to confirm the 1997 ban treaty adopted by 164 nations. Instead, and contrary to a campaign promise, it’ll be ‘further reviewed‘ which given that mine victims are overwhelmingly civilian and young, it’s indeed the wrong thing to do.
Speaking of errors, lawmakers have turned Arkansas into the first U.S. state to ban gender-affirming medical procedures supported by medical and child welfare organizations. Republican-controlled house and senate overrode a veto by governor Asa Hutchinson to pass what may aggravate already high levels of depression and suicide in the community. Way to show you have people’s priorities straight, GOPers. 10% of Arkansans have Covid.
The disappointing note of the week was the defeat of a push to unionize workers at an Amazon.com plant in Bessemer, AL. But unlike what’s already being reported, the loss did not ruin an organized labor revival in the U.S. and other efforts will arise. Amazon did what it usually does: it cheats, it lies, it threatens, and in the end, it tries to buy whoever stands in its way. Only 2.500 workers of a universe of 6,000 have voted. Does it sound familiar?
Something else that should be expected: loyalist anger in Northern Ireland. But the U.K. leadership, which since 2015 has been fueling the nationalist hate that ultimately delivered them Brexit and the premiership at the commonwealth, now acts ‘alarmed,’ promising to dampen the violence. Good luck with that. The unrest threatens the peace brought upon by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which Belfast Protestants fought tooth and nail to derail.
As the trial of the Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Black father George Floyd’s neck for 9:29m, killing him almost a year ago, brings up some horrific, graphic description of the murder, the president has just announced a package of proposals to enact a few gun control laws. They’ve been called ‘sweeping,’ – what’s with all those media superlatives when referring to Biden? – but the measures are basic, at the most. But a right step, no doubt.
The inflow of asylum seekers continues uncontested at the U.S. border, and as many as 35,000 unaccompanied minors may require safe housing with proper legal support, something that hasn’t happened in years. In other words, perhaps the administration may consider starting it all over from scratch rather than trying to fix incongruities of current U.S. immigration policies. For it seems clear much more has to be done both domestically and abroad.
Besides start building capacity both physical and professional to shelter all these people while their processes are being judged, America has to come to terms with the consequences of its colonialist foreign policy, especially in Latin America. Without a fully comprehensive approach, that targets those at the bottom of the income scale within these countries, with respect to the rule of law, things should not be expected to change much. More will come.
American misguided policies and the scourge of the coronavirus have conspired to all but destroy the economy of countries South of the Equator, and we may have a sample of things to come with results of presidential elections held in Ecuador and Peru today, even if they are not conclusive yet.
In Peru, leftist candidate Pedro Castillo is leading right-wing Keiko Fujimori and liberal Hernando de Soto, with the two most voted heading to a runoff. And in Ecuador, banker Guillermo Lasso has the advantage over former president Rafael Correa’s favorite, socialist economist Andres Araus.
The Duke of Edinburg who died at 99 last week, the consort of British monarch Queen Elizabeth II has been a British Empire’s staunch defender but has also had the wisdom of remaining in the background. As times changed, and his power and influence came to be questioned by subjects and the majority of people alike, having a costly monarchy has been rendered obsolete and as such, so has the whole royal family. R.I.P., Papa Prince Philip.
The rapper Earl Simmons, known as DMX, was the other influential personality to leave us last week but the parallels mercifully stop there. DMX has become a symbol of resilience as Black, poor, and disenfranchised youth who pulled himself to the top of the heap. He was not alone, naturally, and neither was his lifetime struggle with substance abuse. But in the end, he did change popular music and will be well remembered. R.I.P., Dark Man X.
It’s fitting and wholly deserving that Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama would win the prestigious Masters right in the middle of a wave of anti-Asian hate in America. But he did with honors at Georgia’s 88-years-old Augusta National Golf Club which shouldn’t waste this opportunity to speak up on behalf of Asians and all other minorities facing violence today. May this accomplishment in sports be extended further. Congratulations, Hideki-san.
When those so close to you depart it may make you wonder whether it’s still worth going. Yes, you do hold them tight to your heart and will carry them until your own time comes. Still, the questions abound. There are no ‘right‘ words or advice to give anyone at that time but it helps to be around. You know you can handle the pain, you just would choose not to if you could. But you can’t, it’s there, and it’s ok to cry a lot. Chin up, champ. Cheerio WC

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