Curtain Raiser

Last Call For Earthlings, Colltalers

The U.N. Climate Conference in Glasgow and the G20 meeting in Roma. Two major global gatherings this week could mean humanity’s last-ditch effort to demand its leaders to act against climate emergency, vaccine monopoly, wealth inequality, attacks on democracy. But few believe it’ll happen.
According to WHO, up to 180,000 healthcare workers have succumbed to Covid even as less than 10% in 50 countries have been vaccinated. A Public Citizen’s exposé of Pfizer shows its corporate bullying of poor nations. And the infamous Steve Bannon, the scourge of free elections, is on the lam.
Let’s begin with some graphic, horrific videos of Russian security forces sexually torturing detainees. Videos posted by Sergei Savelyev, then serving a drug sentence, went viral and landed him in the Kremlin’s most wanted list. As he seeks asylum from France it’s useful to consider that, while 330 Russians out of every 100,000 are incarcerated, it’s the U.S. that sends more people to jail than anyone else: 2.3 million currently languish behind bars.
In Hoffman, North Carolina, whose majority of 588 residents is black, life hasn’t been the same since a paramilitary group moved there. Oak Grove Tech offers “tactical and cultural training” for defense, enforcement, and crowd-control but to locals, its unholy noise of gunfires, explosions, and doors being blown out “for forced entry,” plus a multistory shoot house shows it’s in fact a training facility for tomorrow’s minority-shooting vigilantes.
An unrelated BuzzFeed News analysis found that 28 current elected officials are part or support the Fascist organization Oath Keepers, whose at least two dozen members are being charged with the Jan. 6 invasion and looting of Capitol Hill. These two facts, far-right organizations setting up shooting training camps and Congressmen plotting to overthrow the American government are serious threats to democracy. Why there’s little alarm about it?
At the U.S. border with Mexico, sexual and physical abuse is also routinely used by border agents against asylum seekers, according to Homeland Security documents obtained by Human Rights Watch under freedom of information laws. Over 160 cases of misconduct, threats, and abuse, including child sexual assaults, were uncovered after six years of legal entanglement to make the data available. There’s no sign, however, that change is coming.
To immigration activists and human rights advocates, the Biden administration has gone back on campaign promises, enforcing instead a mix of old-school tactics – building yet new facilities to hold refugees – and downright intimidating steps – such as the “intelligence-gathering cell” to monitor and predict the movements of immigrants to the U.S. Not to make sure they’re ok, that is, but to pursue the very un-American idea of keeping them away.
In New York, a public commission voted to remove a statue of former president and slaveowner Thomas Jefferson from the City Council by the end of the year. There had been prior efforts to retire the 1833 monument but it took the council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus to finally make it happen.
In Tennessee, the town of Franklin couldn’t remove the statue of “Chip,” a confederate soldier, because it doesn’t own it. Instead, it commissioned a new one created by Joe Howard, of a Black slave fighter of the U.S. “Colored” Troops that fought in the Civil War. It’s a brilliant idea and we can see a time when these warriors will be known by name, just like the enemies they gave their lives to defeat. But fear not, Chip’s time will surely come too.
It all ties up to a study by the University of Virginia at Charlottesville that found a negative correlation between the number of lynchings of Black people and Confederate monuments within a county. “Memorializations reflect a racist history,” the researchers wrote, “to terrorize and intimidate Black Americans.” Much of our new awareness about the power of these oppressors’ monuments may be credited to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Unlike the 2015 Paris agreement, there hasn’t been much enthusiasm for the COP26 starting Sunday in Scotland. After all, much of what was “legally binding” agreed in France failed to be enforced or implemented by the 197 signatories; now rather than having a shot at keeping global temperatures under 1.5° Celsius, we’re getting closer to a civilization-busting 3°C threshold. But even powers that be can be confronted and pressured into action.
As for the meeting of the 20 richest nations, there’s not even a consensus about the 1.5° limit, so don’t hold your breath. The G20 has been notoriously on the side of big business, impermeable to people’s concerns; this meeting, with the presence of Brazil’s Bolsonaro and India’s Modi, won’t probably change anything. Neither there’s reasonable hope that it’ll propose temporarily lifting drug patents, so poor countries may produce their own vaccines.
From its very start, Covid has been taking valuable lives and those who care for them are no exception. The shocking stats of the high number of obits of healthcare workers, however, also reveal tragic government mishaps and neglect that could’ve saved lives. For instance, the richest country in the world spent the first wave of the pandemic denying crucial personal protection equipment to nurses and hospital workers. The stats only highlight that.
Pfizer, maker of the most used Covid vaccine, has amassed considerable global power and influence during this pandemic. It’s also making a lot of dough with it. A P.C. report about how it does it shows a disturbing pattern of bullying and intimidation of nations in need that has ultimately doomed every government effort to immunize their populations. Those expecting the G20 to confront Pfizer over this issue should get a booster shot instead.
Steve Bannon, the “éminence grise” and Chief Evil Doer of the 45th. administration has been consistently mocking American democratic institutions and getting away with it for several years now. By ignoring a subpoena and refusing to testify for the commission investigating the Jan. 6 attempted coup, he challenges Congress and forces the Department of Justice to intervene. It should’ve already and the more it doesn’t, the more Steve laughs.
“I’m getting closer to the goal.” That’s how Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Brazil’s soccer superstar Pelé wants the fans to think about him. On his 81st birthday, Oct. 23, he was still fresh from a stay at a hospital for another one of the frequent ailments that have kept him mostly out of sight in Brazil.
Considered soccer’s GOAT, he did score over 1,300 goals in his career. But to fans, he was referring to another goal he’s getting closer to: immortality. “It’s true I can’t jump anymore, but these past days I’ve been punching the air more times than usual,” he wrote. Happy Halloween, Rei Pelé. Cheers WC

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