Curtain Raiser

The Art of Teaching Change, Colltalers

The U.S. Dept. of Justice said Friday that Congress is entitled to (finally) see Donald Trump’s tax returns. That means hope to many but dread to those who’d rather not write ever again the ex-president’s name, and on the very first line. But for one real, perhaps last shot at justice, it’s definitely worthy.
Daniel Hale is another whistleblower to be sent to jail for exposing the U.S. military, this time its secretive killing drone program. Global heating has reached another critical measure, Big Pharma monopolies make Covid costlier, as if you didn’t know it, and Haiti’s former First Lady Martine speaks.
Let’s begin in Tunisia where concerns mount about President Kais Saied’s decision to seize control, fire Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, and suspend Parliament for 30 days. Opposition leaders have been arrested and public gatherings are banned but there’s been no unrest so far, according to the news. Saied’s told reporters that Tunisia’s still a democracy, the only one sprung out of the so-called Arab Spring, a decade ago. Time and Tunisians will tell.
In Guatemala, a national strike is demanding the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei and other officials embroiled in corruption allegations. Indigenous communities are denouncing a dire economy and the administration’s mishandling of the pandemic, which has already killed 369.000 or roughly 2% of the 18.2 million Guatemalans. Last week, anti-corruption prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval quit and was forced to flee the country.
In Afghanistan, the biggest news right now may not be about the Taliban or the U.S. troops’ withdrawal but flash floods that left death and destruction in remote regions now controlled by, you guessed, the Taliban. Although seasonal floods are not uncommon, they’re stronger and more destructive now due to a warmer atmosphere. Afghanistan ranks as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, according to the World Bank.
In Brazil, faced with incredible odds of being re-elected next year, President Bolsonaro’s adopted a familiar playbook to instill fears of electoral fraud. “Since 2018, Bolsonaro has been claiming that the only way he can be defeated in an election is by fraud,” said linguist Noam Chomski to Truthout. His rhetoric is aimed at neutralizing the rise in the polls of ex-President Lula, who was prevented from running the last time on trump up charges.
But while trying to punch his way out of trouble, Bolsonaro was caught once more doing something questionable, which he, of course, doubled down immediately after: he met and was photographed with Beatrix von Storch, vice leader of Germany’s “Alternative für Deutschland” and granddaughter of Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk, a Third Reich minister. The Holocaust Museum has called the far-right AfD a “racist and sexist organization.”
Back in the U.S., 600 water protectors have been arrested in ongoing protests in Minnesota against the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline at the Shell River. Indigenous leader Winona LaDuke, who’s spent three nights in jail, told DemocracyNow that “it is a civil crisis when a Canadian multinational controls your police force,” referring to the over 40 police squads from around the state that came to crack down on protests.
Four workers hired by the pipeline were arrested this year during human trafficking stings in the state. Unlawful sexual contact, violence, and domestic abuse against Indigenous communities have been linked to big projects crossing their land, a likely consequence of bringing “1,000 or 4,000 men into a small location where they have nothing to do when they’re not at work,” said MN Sen. Mary Kunesh, whose mother’s family is Standing Rock Lakota.
It’s appalling that only now, nearly five years after, Congress may have access to the former president’s tax records, or whatever Treasury has on him. But it’s great news and possibly the first real obstacle to his 2024 candidacy. No amount of crimes or misdemeanors could possibly top it in terms of potential liability, not even his grand act of national treason on Jan. 6, still to be litigated if ever. Democrats were given a lifeline. Will they get it?
“Hale’s crime was telling this truth: 90% of those killed by U.S. drones are bystanders, not the intended targets. He should have been given a medal,” said NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Daniel Hale a former Air Force intelligence analyst, will spend 45 months in prison for leaking classified information exposing the U.S. drone and targeted assassination program. Hale pleaded guilty to one count of violating the WWI-era Espionage Act.
The most depressing thing about the Covid scourge is not that it’s rising again just when the climate emergency has become the inevitable evidence many have been warning us about for years. But because it’s revealing how easily we may exterminate ourselves on our own, no extra aid required.
Three million people have died of the coronavirus since some rich nations have begun obstructing a waiver in October that would lift vaccine patents, according to advocacy group Global Justice Now. At that time, deaths stood at one million worldwide; last month it surpassed the four-million mark.
Over 100 WTO member countries have backed the patent waiver, along with civil societies, Nobel economists, intellectual property scholars, and the head of the World Health Organization. But without a consensus to challenge it, pharmaceutical companies control vaccine manufacturing according to their bottom lines. Their business is sales, not countries that can’t afford a single dose or a once-in-a-century global public health crisis for that matter.
“They thought I was dead.” Martine Moïse has returned to Haiti to bury her husband of 25 years and seek justice for him and their country. The murder of President Jovenel Moïse, on July 7, has shaken Haitians but the chaotic investigation threatens to obscure the search for a mastermind. Dozens have been arrested, theories multiply, and old political rivalries are at a full clip, but the economy and the pandemic may conspire against a fast resolution.
“It is the intention of the Allies that the German people be given the opportunity to prepare for the eventual reconstruction of their life on a democratic and peaceful basis.” The Potsdam Conference ended 76 years again today, with an agreement signed on by U.S. President Harry Truman, British P. M. Winston Churchill (or Clement Attlee, who replaced him during the conference), and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. It was the last time those three met.
“It is possible to live in harmony and equally and to make change happen,” says Anita Chitaya, a Malawi farmer who recently visited the U.S. as part of Raj Patel’s documentary “The Ants and the Grasshopper,” about climate and food justice from Africa to America. Her homeland may pay a premium for what the world’s second-biggest polluter gets for free. But her gumption is commendable: “We can teach each other to change.” Or else. Later. WC

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