Curtain Raiser

Climate Is No Commodity, Colltalers

As Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survives a drone attack, the world gets a new glimpse of the tragic chaos left behind from the 2003 U.S. invasion. A few hours later, rockets hit Turkey’s Zihan military base in Iraq’s Nineveh but so far no link between the two attacks has been established.
The U.N. climate conference made it clear that real environment leaders were out, protesting, not in, blabbing. It’ll drag on till Friday but few expected breakthroughs. The House committee probing the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill invasion has issued dozens of subpoenas but some won’t abide by it. Then what?
Let’s start with a study that shows that ten publishers are responsible for 69% of Facebook’s climate-change denial content. The Center for Countering Digital Hate’s “Toxic Ten” list is dominated by U.S.-based conservative sites but it also includes Russian state media outlets. It’s called on Google to stop profiting from hate – a tall order nowadays. FB said it’s expanding its monitoring to more than 100 countries such as Belgium, Brazil, and India.
In Siera Leone’s capital Freetown, almost 100 people were killed in a fuel tanker explosion. People had rushed to collect the oil leaking from the collision of two trucks when it ignited into a fireball. Similar incidents with high casualties had also happened in Tanzania and the D.R. of Congo. Another explosion in Mexico left at least 20 dead and scores of injuries when a transport truck smashed into a toll booth and six other vehicles.
In Syria, airstrikes by both Israeli and Russian warplanes have terrorized civilians, even without killing anyone. Israel targeted positions held by the Syrian government and its pro-Iranian allies, while Russia renewed its attacks on the country’s last opposition bastion, Idlib, humanitarian groups reported. Over 350,000 have died in a decade as warring nations bombed Syria back to the Middle Ages while staging their proxy wars.
In Ethiopia, there’s fear its capital Addis Ababa will fall into the hands of rebels of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and its coalition. Or to Eritrean and ethnic militias, also waging war against the government of P.M. Abiy Ahmed, who went from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize to becoming an international pariah all in less than two years. Neighbor Kenya has called for a peaceful solution as has the U.N. Security Council.
In France, an independent commission found that confessions have been used to cover up cases of sex abuse of children committed by Catholic priests. The report, ordered by the church, “shocked” religious leaders who obviously did not say anything about it. Since 2017, laws in many countries, including the U.S., mandate reporting of sexual abuse revealed during confession, but church authorities have mostly refused to do so.
In Ohio, Catholic Rev. Robert McWilliams pleaded guilty to sex trafficking and exploitation of children, among other charges. He too used several boys’ confessions to rape and blackmail them into finding new victims and sending him sexually explicit photos. He’d been already caught with videos of kids in 2020 but remained a preacher at St. Joseph’s. Fear not though: the Diocese of Cleveland offered victims “thoughts and prayers.”
In New York, three so-called Ivy League universities, Brown, Columbia, and Cornell, were hit with bomb threats Sunday. Swat and bomb squads couldn’t find any device and neither there’s word about their origin. As a precaution, hundreds of students were evacuated from the campuses.
“We will be greeted as liberators,” U.S. VP Dick Cheney declared in March 2003. What followed it may be the gravest act of military aggression committed on false premises in modern times: over 4.400 American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died and still there’s been no accountability to this horror. Or to the fact that even now, the Iraq people have a puppet government that can’t even properly protect them.
The attempt on the life of al-Kadhimi comes after tensions arose after the Oct. 10 elections when pro-Iran Shiite militias lost two-thirds of their seats. In a dozen years, they went from being considered heroes for helping Iraq fight the Daesh Islamic State, and then winning positions in the Parliament, to falling off grace for their authoritarian ways to govern. They deplored the attack along with politicians and foreign governments.
The conference that was supposed to be humanity’s last stand against the devastating impact of climate change neither started with a bang nor is heading to the sunset as a turning point. Of course, all wealthy countries made pledges, to halt deforestation, cut methane and carbon emissions, invest in decarbonizing projects, etc, etc, etc, plus a lot of grandstanding talk about the need to invest only in environmental-friendly initiatives.
But despite the high-pitch tone, pledges are non-binding and just that, promises. On the contrary, even before stepping on their fossil fuel-driven planes heading to Glasgow, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and France, had already set bi-lateral agreements that go against everything they said.
The House bi-partisan panel investigating the Jan. 6 invasion of Capitol Hill has heard the testimony of over 150 people but former Trump allies and that’s a concern. Like Steve Banon and now Jeffrey Clark, they’ve been successfully stonewalling the committee, and may as well get away with it. As prior, sad examples abound, Congress may again fail to present an actionable case against wrong-doers besides a slap on the wrist.
But finally, there’s some good news, at least for condors, an endangered species: parthenogenesis, or the ability of females to reproduce without a male partner, was detected by scientists within the slowly-recovering California population. Those familiar with a certain dinosaur movie are not as puzzled as binary apologists who’ll have a tough time explaining this one. Or why is it that for condors, reproduction is critical but with humans, not so much.
Goethe once said, “Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” Perhaps this idea of resolving the climate emergency with a big conference has been unpractical and wrong all along. It’s too mediocre a dream to inspire the gargantuan change we need to be inspired by. We can’t rule the world we inhabit while sleeping but we can always dream new and bigger dreams for the world. I dream of a Blue Planet. Et Vous? WC


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