Curtain Raiser

Brace for a Season on Fire, Colltalers

The fossil-fuel industry is alive and well and may have swayed the Biden administration to drop climate emergency measures off the infrastructure bill, an investigation found. Dread creeps in throughout a scorched-earth Afghanistan as U.S. troops depart. But don’t count on private contractors for help.
Amidst massive rallies demanding President Bolsonaro’s impeachment, Brazil’s highest court ok’d a criminal probe on his role in a vaccine deal scam. The U.S.’s highest court though took yet another double-step towards destroying the Voting Act, as if there hasn’t been enough push to restrict voting.
But since today is “aphelion,” Earth’s farthest distance from the sun of the year, we begin with fire. As in the burning of the Amazon Rainforest which has reached a 14-year high in June, according to Brazil’s space research agency INPE. Researchers brace for the peak of the dry season, Aug. and Sept.
Fire as in the one that consumed an entire British Columbia town last week. “Our poor little town of Lytton is gone,” Edith Loring-Kuhanga wrote on FB. Fire like “molten lava” on the Gulf of Mexico waters, as an underwater gas pipeline controlled by Mexico’s Pemex burned for hours on Friday.
But despite record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires worldwide, media coverage continues to fail to mention the climate emergency as a cause. Either that or it’s downright not financially er motivated to report what it should. We get the brutal scenes, the body count, and then we cut to a commercial.
There’s another type of burning going on too: that of churches in Canada’s First Nations territories which may be arson. Since the bodies of indigenous children began to be dug up from unmarked graves in residential schools run by the Catholic Church, nearly two dozen churches have been attacked.
Disease and hunger were common in the schools, which also operated in U.S. land and had been designed to wipe out the past and to “re-educate” generations of indigenous kids out of their cultural heritage. Survivors have also described physical and sexual abuse by priests and other Christians.
El Palo Alto, however, endures, and so does the “Fairy Lantern,” a rare rainforest plant just named after a Malaysian researcher. Well, survival of the 120 ft. tall, 1,081-year-old redwood tree that gives Palo Alto its name is actually in check. Drying conditions, pollution, and a thundering diesel railway commuter line running above its roots may conspire against its future. But a better one may be in store for new species Thismia sitimeriamiae.
Carbon tax is a “great talking point” that will never actually happen, said ExxonMobil’s Keith McCoy. “The reduction of the corporate rate was, you know, it’s probably worth billions to Exxon, so yeah there were a lot of wins” under Trump, asserted his former colleague Dan Easley to whom they thought were recruiters. It was instead an undercover probe by Greenpeace’s Unearthed that revealed, or confirmed, the oil giant’s grip on Washington.
“ExxonMobil continues to fight efforts to tackle climate change in the U.S., despite publicly claiming to support the Paris Agreement,” said the report. More seriously, these revelations mine the already shaken public confidence in the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill. Climate groups consider spending on climate change due to “bipartisan” compromises utterly insufficient and the Sunrise Movement now calls the package, #ExxonPlan.
As U.S. troops pull out of Afghanistan, the forensics of what happened is long overdue. What exactly was accomplished in our longest and likely most expensive war yet? Why we made a habit of entering wars we can’t get out of, or invading places as if it was their duty to self-destroy under our boots? Yes, the Taliban is coming back. And it’s obvious that we’ve got a responsibility for what we’ve done and what happens as a result of all our bombing.
Brazilians have demanded action from President Bolsonaro pretty much since the moment he was sworn in. Now it’s becoming clear that much of his actions have been catastrophic and divisive, capped by his incompetence in dealing with Covid. As a result, over half a million people died from a lack of vaccines or even a coherent public health strategy. But there was more to it, as the administration is accused of trying to profit from a vaccine deal.
Since Joe Biden won the U.S. presidential election by over seven million votes, on Nov. 3, 2020, Republicans have filed 361 vote-restricting bills in 47 states, most of them bound to pass. Gerrymandering is so 2016, it seems; the focus is simply make it harder for people of color and the poor to vote.
How lucky for them then that Justice Roberts’ Supreme Court has just reaffirmed its resolve to pulverize one of the tenets of American democracy, the constitutional right to vote freely and often, and to make it easy for billionaires to anonymously buy results. In a 6-3 vote, it upheld two Arizona laws that impact minority voters, signaling to Republican-led states that other voting restrictions are also likely to be ruled constitutional if brought to court.
And then struck down a California law that required charities to privately disclose their top donors to the state attorney general, which could open the door to more “dark money” spending in campaigns. “They are hijacking our democracy,” said People for the American Way’s president Ben Jealous.
Speculation about what will ex-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos be doing “after he returns to Earth from his taxpayer-subsidized trip to space,” as The Baffler’s puts it, couldn’t be farther from any functioning brain around unless that’d somehow involve some unexpected permanent change of his home planet.
We get back to cold reality fast upon learning that his $500 million, 417-foot yacht could fund the National Endowment for the Arts for three years. But why the surprise? He made $75 billion while Covid killed millions. We get the billionaires we deserve, someone will write in a future far far away.
For a little over a week, there were two Lady Liberties in Ellis Island as France sent us its own Little Sister to help us celebrate the Independence. The Paris’ Musée des Arts et Métiers commissioned it as part of the 135th-anniversary of the statue’s New York arrival. Even having nothing to do with Emma Lazarus’ famous New Colossus poem, the French always found a way to remind us of what this country is about. So we say, Vive la Liberté! WC

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