Curtain Raiser

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Colltalers

The world warily exhaled as cannons were silenced by the Gaza ceasefire. It was a step taken at least a hundred lives too late but still necessary. It’ll mean little though if following the temporary peace accord, Israel will be given a slap on the wrist, and the Palestinians, an order to be quiet and take it.
Tuesday will be a year since George Floyd was murdered by a police officer, a seminal moment in America’s race struggle but one still short of stirring up real change. As warmer oceans force yet another mammoth iceberg to break loose, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to get busy trying to ban abortion.
The Yanomami, one of the biggest Amazon tribes, have also suffered oppression and land grabbing throughout its history. It’s a thread they share with all indigenous or occupied peoples on Earth. Now with Covid 19 and a far-right government in Brazil, they’re facing a “humanitarian crisis,” says Ye’kwana Network’s anthropologist Ana Maria Machado, aggravated by malnutrition, violence by landowners’ hired guns, and widespread disease.
In Colombia, popular unrest against President Duque sparkled by a discriminatory tax bill he later recalled have grown to massive protests verging on civil war. But Colombians may have no other alternatives as even reports of live ammo being used onto crowds have failed to appeal to world leaders. That bodes particularly poorly to the U.S., which gives over $200 million annually to the Colombia army, and to President Biden whose Latin America strategy, if it exists, may be under lock and key. As he’d been about the Gaza carnage, Biden’s still astonishingly slow about this horrendous crisis too.
In Mexico, violence by cartels remains unabated. Abel Murieta, a candidate for Mayor of Obregon, was shot dead on a street the other week, the 85th politician killed since September. A lawyer, he was representing the families of nine Mormons killed in a Nov. 2019 alleged cartel attack in La Mora. By the way, Mexico City has just completed its fifth century, on May 22, the start of the Spanish siege of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec city that preceded it.
On a sad note, the beloved Darwin’s Arch, a rock formation in the Galapagos Islands, has collapsed from erosion. The arch breakdown happened on the 17th., one day before the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and a group of environmental organizations announced a $43 million pledge for efforts to rewild the “home of giant turtles.” The funds will help protect existing wildlife and reintroduce species extinct since Charles Darwin’s visited it in Sep. 1835.
Back to the U.S., the Supreme Court is now the most viable way for conservative, religious, and far-right minorities to impose their discriminatory views on everybody else. Issues such as racial equality, voting rights, and climate accountability hold no interest to the country’s highest court at this moment. Instead, a bill with the potential to reverse Roe v Wade has gotten their partisan attention. Time for a Great Summer of Women’s Marches.
To be sure, in seeking to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Mississippi is not asking the court to overrule the 1973 decision. But reproduction rights activists say that by allowing states to further restrict access to abortion, the court would have to end crucial protections of the breakthrough law.
As for that giant iceberg, first, there will more. Bigger. More frequent. Secondly, what many expected to happen years from now may be here already. Oceans are warming ever faster, and temperatures rising ever higher. Worst, governments are using more excuses to ignore the warning signs and not to act. A few more such breakups per year and many coastal areas will be flooded. More and New York City and Miami will be partially underwater.
It was arguably the longest, cruelest, and most abject 9min29sec footage ever gone viral: George Floyd pleaded for his life and lost it while a crushing knee slowly shut down his airways. The police officer who killed him was convicted of the crime and will be sentenced while other cops who helped him haven’t yet faced punishment. Since the murder, an uncountable number of Black people were killed by the police as if their lives did not matter.
Americans and the world have proved they do thanks in part to a year, or rather, an entire decade of a movement for racial equality that has grown into an ethical challenge confronting America’s very foundations. Legislation addressing some of it though has not yet been voted by Congress. To pass it would be a fitting homage to his memory, but for now, brace for “prayers and thoughts,” and speeches, and not much else. Time will come, though.
As Palestinians search for loved ones and indeed their own lives in the rubble of a pulverized Gaza, many wonder where do they go from here. While the Israeli army targeted infrastructure, hospitals, schools, water and power, even sewage plants, one thing became clear: once more, the world did not come to the rescue. It may now offer help to rebuild it but it still hasn’t committed to confronting the issue of apartheid in Israel. Neither is Israel.
On the contrary, residents who have been fed a barrage of government half-truths and downright deceit by the media truly believe they’re the victims, not the people who’d been displaced once, to form their nation and have since been slowly stripped of their land or rights to even raise their voices.
The latest bombing did not reveal anything new. The radical, militaristic right-wing parties dominating Israel politics have undermined its historical role as a pluralist society, or what it was imagined possible in 1947: peaceful coexistence between two peoples who share a history and genetic pools. There’s no two-state solution now as much as there are no two equal sides fighting each other. Israel holds the master-control keys; Palestinians do not.
“We really need a new relationship with the natural world.” That’s Jane Goodall, naturalist extraordinaire who’s just won the 2021 Templeton Prize for her lifetime of work in animal intelligence and humanity. Her 1960s groundbreaking studies of Tanzanian chimpanzees have inspired a generation of primatologists and are now part of the lexicon of animal research. At 87, she’s not slowing down and we’re all the better for that. Well done, Jane.
Also forever young is Robert Allen Zimmerman who turns 80 today. Just a teenager when he adopted the “Bob Dylan” moniker, the singer-songwriter so redefined parameters of pop music, with long and elaborated lyrics, some inscrutable, others as clear as punches, that made him one of the most original artists of all time. The 2016 Nobel Prize of Literature sort of ratified years of dialogue with America and the world. Happy Birthday, Bob.
“How many roads must a man walk down Before you call him a man? How many seas must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand? How many times must the cannonballs fly Before they’re forever banned? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” Stay thirsty and carry on. Cheers. WC


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