Curtain Raiser

The Truth Is No Safe Haven, Colltalers

After 12 years, Benjamin Netanyahu is no longer Israel’s Prime Minister. Successor Naftali Bennett has a similar mindset about the Palestinians, but there may be an opening for a reset in the region. The G7 just ended another purpose-free meeting by both ignoring Israel and the climate emergency.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide just hit its highest level in four million years as the U.S. braces for a record-setting drought. Don’t count on the Supreme Court though: it’s busy ruling on vote restrictions. Or the rich, having fun with tax-free rockets. But do count on Darnella Frazier to make us humans.
We start with two letters: one, an open “Letter Against Apartheid” signed by 1,600+ international artists, expresses solidarity with Palestinians and their plight for decolonization. The other is by a group of House Democrats to Attorney General Merrick Garland about the role the Justice Department may have played on Brazil’s Lava Jato, or Operation Car Wash, an anti-corruption probe that proved itself corrupted. We will be posting all replies here.
In Peru, almost all votes have been tallied from the presidential election a week ago but no winner has been declared yet. Rural teacher Pedro Castillo seems to have won and there are concerns about whether the delay is being somehow orchestrated by the powerful forces his leftist coalition defeated.
“Do not come,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in Guatemala, making immigration activists cringe and triggering protests in Mexico. In her first foray into foreign policy, the VP has displayed an embarrassing ignorance about international treaties that the U.S. is a signatory, including the right to request asylum. She also made no mention or acknowledged our historical role in the political strife and chronic impoverishment of these countries.
Of all the lack of preparation revealed so far by the Biden administration, in dealing with a sabotaging Senate, for instance, or finding the right tuning for its new global role, the most vexing failure has been with immigration. The president took a sophomoric approach to a gargantuan issue that has consumed and defined this country for over a century. A czar for immigration in America has to be chosen out of more than just his or her racial cred.
Data compiled by the National Oceanic Atmospheric showed that carbon dioxide levels averaged 419 parts per million in May, about 50% higher than preindustrial levels. Six years after over 190 nations signed on the Paris Agreement to limit global temperatures to below 2˚ C (3.6˚ F), the richest countries which are also the biggest polluters haven’t fulfilled their commitment. The consequence of their inaction will be felt first by poorer nations.
It looked simple and radical but it’s neither: the change of guard in Israel means little to the current dire situation of Gaza and the occupied territories. If anything, things got worse with Israeli nightly raids to evict Palestinians and settle into their homes and land its endless flow of Jewish immigrants. Future historians may struggle to understand how Israel’s young, educated population became so apathetic to politics and to what happens next door.
The Supreme Court will consider a seemingly byzantine discussion on Arizona voting laws but if recent rulings serve as a reference, it may further erode voting rights. In fact, since it opened the 1965 Voting Act for states to change election laws without federal approval, eight years ago this June, there’s deep mistrust on what the court may do next. A misguided ruling will fuel the 361 vote-restricting bills Republicans are pushing in 47 states.
That’s what makes it hard to see the VP pointing fingers at poor nations, and the president telling rich ones that “the U.S. is back.” None seems to get that the world needs now is neither “America, the police,” nor “America, the chimney.” The U.S. no longer holds the higher moral ground anymore. Democracy is in serious peril if even a parcel of those bills is approved and we’re in no position to lecture anyone on the virtues of our political system.
But the rich, they find ways. Between 2014 and 2018, the 25 richest Americans pay an average of 3.4% in taxes, according to ProPublica. That’s less than most people pay without making $401 billion as they did. Jeff Bezos will celebrate it by riding in one of his rockets; many wish he doesn’t return.
The DoJ ordered an immediate investigation, of course, but into who leaked the data, never mind its content. It’s been the U.S. way of dealing with whistleblowers and it’s utterly scary that the practice is being pursued even with a Democrat in the White House. We’re now inching closer to Banana Republic-status: compliance trumps accountability; the government is always beyond reproach; citizens who report wrongdoing will be prosecuted.
Perhaps such characterization sounds a bit too Orwellian to some. But consider what Darnella Frazier did and the fact that it was an unsanctioned act that shocked the world like a punch: she was 17 when she filmed the excruciating agony and death of George Floyd, murdered by a police officer.
From Minneapolis, her viral video went global and arguably did more against police brutality than years of political grandstanding. The Pulitzer Prize has recognized that with a special citation, for “highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quests for truth and justice.” Congrats, Darnella.
“Only we, the public can force our representatives to reverse their abdication of war powers that the Constitution gives exclusively to Congress.” 50 years ago last Sunday, classified data on the Vietnam War leaked to the press by military analyst Daniel Ellsberg triggered a movement to end it. The documents, a secret report commissioned by Sec. of Defense Robert McNamara, showed how successive U.S. administrations lied to Americans about Vietnam.
Since Ellsberg’s finest hour, many have risked life and career to denounce powers-that-be. Unlike him, some went to prison. “We need the courage to face the truth about what we are doing in the world and act responsibly to change it.” One’s entire life will be worth that moment. Ciao WC


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