Curtain Raiser

Satellites Crash, Ideals Don’t, Colltalers

A police massacre in Rio, political unrest in Bogotá and Jerusalem, and a blast in Kabul; some capitals had a hell of a weekend. Speaking of it, as rich countries walk to full Covid immunization, impoverished ones still suffer from lack of vaccines, even if drug patterns may be temporality lifted.
An assassination attempt against the Maldives’ former president and environmentalist Mohamed Nasheed rocked the tiny archipelago. Which made a  surprising second appearance in the week headlines: as it turned out, the out-of-control 10-store Long March 5B Chinese rocket crashed off its waters.
In the U.S. there’s a growing concern that, unless Congress axes the filibuster, much of the Democratic agenda won’t be even voted on, or it will but after being washed out. The party that controls the presidency, the House, and the Senate hasn’t yet passed any of the badly needed plans outlined in Biden’s campaign and first 100 days in office. Thus a word of advice: stop harassing progressives and do what only you can do, end the filibuster.
In fact, some of those proposals have already been criticized for being too timid, too vague, or not fresh enough, but it’d be definitely worst if they’d be buried before hitting the Senate floor like its ex-leader used to do with bills he didn’t like. Wise up, Lib warriors, the GOPtrumpt is coming to roost.
At this moment, a lot of well-established elected Democrats have been disliked not for being too rich or for lacking cohesion, but for being in the pocket of big corporations. Consider the pharma slash healthcare industries, for instance. Ask, is there something more abject than billionaires, or Amazon, profiting from the pandemic? Yes, there is, the already obscenely profitable industries selling the cure. And those paid to do their bidding.
Why would already wealthy public representatives, who got elected on a premise of upholding the will of the majority, insist on flaunting their support from and for the side that’s scoring so high on the abject scale? Is that new yacht that important? Be honest and just admit it, “I am not a Democrat.”
In the past 20 or so years, drug companies have spent $4.7 billion lobbying the government, according to data presented by Senator Bernie Sanders. He excluded another near 1.4 billion in direct campaign contributions. Whoever thinks this is the natural order of things should immediately switch aisles.
The Kabul car-bomb explosion outside a school that killed over 60 students, all children but mainly girls hoping to make something out of themselves, didn’t need to be so cruel. The point has already been made: if American troops leave Afghanistan, the Taliban will take over. It’s their “sales pitch” even if they denied having planted the bombs. Incidentally, that’s also the pitch defense-contractors will use to justify staying there beyond 9/11.
In Old Jerusalem, Palestinian civilians faced off with the world-class Israeli police with predictable results: an Israeli police “hurt” and much property lost. Oh, and a lot of Palestinians may have been hit too. Or so supporters of troubled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would like the world to see it. But that’s unlikely. As the longest-staying P.M. can’t form a new cabinet, political turmoil seems imminent in Israel even if change may not be.
That is, some may be inevitable with causes obvious to anyone but his closest allies – and, as it happens, his main political opponents. Like Netanyahu, Yair Lapid, now under deadline to form a cabinet, and Naftali Bennett, on whose support he depends, stand on the right side of the political spectrum.
Pressure on Israel is mounting. A Human Rights Watch report has accused it of “pursuing policies of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians.” It followed the International Criminal Court’s announcement that it’d investigate Israeli war crimes. And the BDS movement, to boycott, divest, and sanction the country for its occupation of Palestinian land is finally getting some tracking in the U.S. Congress. Yes, change is indeed badly needed.
In Bogotá, an uprising against right-wing President Iván Duque has taken a nationwide turn after a teenager was shot to death for kicking an officer. Dozens have been killed or are missing and the unrest, which started in protest to a new government tax reform, has now expanded to challenge police brutality and demand social equality too. “Colombians have nothing to lose,” Pueblos en Camino’s activist Manuel Rozental told DemocracyNow.
In Rio, a police raid into the Jacarezinho shantytown left 25 dead, in what residents called a coordinated “execution” of drug traffic suspects. It was a bloody reminder that one of the most beautiful cities on Earth is routinely terrorized by one of the planet’s most truculent police forces that answers no one but President Bolsonaro. His family has been linked to Rio’s biggest militia and to most Brazilians, nothing happens there without their approval.
On top of that, the president is being probed for his tragic mishandling of the coronavirus; Brazil is still second only to the U.S. in the number of deaths and like India, it’s in desperate need of vaccines and life-saving supplies. Except that there are almost seven times more Indians than Brazilians in this world. The massacre echoes past tragedies inflicted by state and local police. This time though the tide may turn for the embattled ex-Army Captain.
Backed by the first family or not, the Brazilian police still strongly support the president and has a lot of clout within the government. Last week, it issued a subpoena to Sonia Guajajara, head of APIb, Brazil’s largest indigenous coalition, after she accused the government of genocide for not protecting native Brazilians from Covid. She could’ve said “all” Brazilians and still be right. A judge disagreed with the government and has halted the probe.
The saddest part is the ingrained Fascism that’s now re-established in South America. In colonial Goiás, the former capital of its namesake state, some thought that parading with a banner saying “Forgive the Torturers,” fully dressed up in KKK white hooded costumes would be a fitting display of support to Bolsonaro. He may’ve been pleased but the sight of such a repulsive symbol of racial oppression happening in Brazil is nothing less than frightening.
Getting back to devastating gun shootings, there’s been another in the U.S. just as this Newsletter is being rushed to the presses – old editorial speak dies hard. A gunman shot and killed seven at a birthday party in Colorado Springs, CO, before killing himself. So many details are so similar to so many others just like it to the point of numbness. Yet we know that trauma and wounds opened by this calamity won’t ever heal for everyone who got caught by its grip.
Nasheed, the first democratically-elected president of Maldives, made headlines when he announced in 2008 that he planned to buy land to relocate the archipelago’s entire population. Reason: they are sinking into the Indian Ocean due to climate change. He became a global star of the green movement but attracted fiery opposition at home. Ousted by a coup, he was about to start serving a long prison sentence when in 2016 he was granted asylum in the U.K.
He has since returned to the Maldives and last week, there was a bomb attempt on his life when a device detonated outside his home. He underwent a 16-hour surgery but is out of danger. The government said that a suspect has been arrested and an inquiry will determine how his security detail was breached.
It’s great that he didn’t die and neither have we, thank you very much. What with a huge malfunctioning piece of hardware falling fast from the sky to maybe crush us all to death, we should all be thankful. So it happens that the rocked that went up in a blast some 10 days ago, has come down hot and heavy right outside Mr. Nasheed’s home – old fisherman speak, for sure. But closer than our place and that counts. There’s more to come down, though.
Rather than following it up with a talk about dinosaurs, however, let’s remind everyone at home what happened on this day in the Oval Office four years ago. A sitting U.S. president disclosed classified information about the terrorist organization Daesh, i.e., Isis, to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. It was a colossal mistake but like everything else about the transgressor, any punishment is still to be exacted upon him.
Be it sooner rather than later. In the meantime, let all May-to-September romances blossom and spring into full bliss. No one needs to be reminded about how hard this has all been to everybody. It’s time to start anew either with your trusted partner or, well, someone new. “More than this, I wish you love.” WC


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