Get Ready For a Bumpy Ride, Colltalers
If COP26, the U.N. Climate Conference that’s just wrapped up in Scotland proves anything is that there’s no need for a COP27. Or 28, for that matter. What it failed to adequately address in the past 26 editions won’t be addressed in the next. The conference is now fossil-fuel friendly. So why have it?
Canada’s Mohawk Institute has started digging for thousands of Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves between 1831 and 1970. Congress has indicted Steve Bannon, mastermind of coups and right-wing rampages. And the Myanmar junta’s sent journalist Danny Fenster to 11 years in prison.
Let’s start in the Arctic, where a European Space Agency’s satellite study found that millennia-old permafrost is melting at an accelerated rate, at times exposing bubbling methane, a greenhouse gas whose emissions are more powerful than carbon dioxide. There are also concerns about the structural integrity of buildings and roads, which now rest on unstable ground and future northern trade routes that may bring even more pollution to the pole.
In Austria, millions of the unvaccinated are forced to reenter lockdown today, as Covid cases have spiked and vaccination rates remain low. It’s the most radical decision by a European country but others have also imposed lockdowns. Expensive or unavailable vaccines and the anti-vax conspiracy have assured that obits will continue to climb past the current 254+ million global cases. In the end, Europe’s now become the center of the global epidemic. Again.
In China, President Xi Jinping is consolidating his rule as the Communist Party officially places him on equal footing as party founder Mao Zedong and successor Ding Xiaoping. The move grants Xi a timely, critical endorsement for his plans to extend the scope of China’s imperialistic ambitions.
In Syria, a 2019 U.S. airstrike killed up to 80 people, mostly women and children, in a likely war crime, according to an NYTimes report. Pentagon officials confirmed the previously undisclosed attack but alleged the civilians were helping Islamic State fighters battling coalition forces. But those killed had been identified as civilians by a U.S. drone whose operators were shocked to see the F15 drop two high-caliber bombs on the fleeing crowd.
In the Poland-Belarus border, tensions are high as Iraq and Syria asylum-seekers are desperately trying to enter the continent. Poland has asked Nato to intervene and accused Belarus’ president Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging people from the Middle East to travel to Europe’s borders. But his main supporter, Russia’s Putin, would never accept that kind of interference and has ordered a series of joint air defenses in the region, just in case.
Both autocratic regimes have mandated strict control over the information and human rights groups are calling for access to the border by journalists, aid workers, and lawyers. Up to 4,000 refugees camped out in freezing temperatures at the Belarus side need urgent help after being denied entry into Poland.
The final COP26 agreement’s greatest disappointment is not to set a specific date for all nations to stop using fossil fuels. This overreaching decision was the reason to have this summit in the first place, and all the others that preceded it. But such a proposal, if there were ever one like it, was defeated by the muscle of hundreds of gas, oil, and coal lobbyists who show how close their proposals were to those offered by the richest nations’ own leaders.
The world’s biggest polluters, the U.S. and China, did agree in a series of well-worded principles that don’t propose anything new, or urgent, or even relevant. It’s become painfully transparent that the path they and also the U.K., Australia, the entire European Union, absent Russia, and pretty much every G20 nation, have taken is inadequate for the urgency that climate emergency requires. The hail-Mary to humanity will be to occupy the streets.
At this point, non-violent but ostensive civil disobedience, disruptive action, and the power of mobilization are our only hope to provoke a radical turn against a planetary collapse. For so far, increasingly wildfire infernos, biblical floods, a global epidemic, and near four billion living in abject poverty have not been enough to move President Biden: in the evening of embarking to Glasgow, he’s actually asked Opec to increase its production quotas.
Community members at the Six Nations of the Grand River and Canadian police forensics experts are searching the grounds of the Mohawk Institute, the oldest residential school in Canada, in search of bodies of Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves a century ago. More than a dozen such searches are planned, after over 1,200 remains were recovered at former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan earlier this year.
It’s almost funny the reverential tone applied by the established media to international coup plotter Steve Bannon. But despite all the artificial hoopla – no one would be surprised if his biggest P.R. agent is himself -, his international conspiracy moves have been pretty puny compared to his reputation since he got fired by the 45th. Now Congress indicted him for contempt and he faces some actual jail sentences for ignoring multiple subpoenas.
The idea is, of course, to get him on the stand to try to justify the Jan. 6 thug rampage at the Capitol Hill, orchestrated by him, his former boss, still active members of Congress, and an assortment of law and intelligence agents who must also be indicted. They probably will, but he? Probably not.
Danny Fenster, a U.S. journalist who’d been detained in Myanmar since May has been sentenced to 11 years in prison on alleged immigration offenses, incitement, and unlawful association with an illegal group. Amnesty International has called for his immediate release as have many human rights and free press advocates. Since staging a coup on Feb. 1, the military junta may have killed and imprisoned thousands of civilians and opposition leaders.
On Nov. 14, 61 years ago, Ruby Bridges went to school escorted by federal agents and officially ended segregation in American public schools. That is, on paper at least. If we’re still not quite there and actually have suffered severe setbacks along the way, don’t blame it on Ms. Bridges who’s spent the bigger part of her well-lived 67 years fighting for racial equality and promoting tolerance through the 1999 Ruby Bridges Foundation she started.
Behold! Here comes the Beaver Moon and the longest partial eclipse in 580 years. Friday the Moon will spend a whopping three hours, 28 minutes, and 24 seconds partially obscured by the shadow of Earth. That’s more than half the length of an average total lunar eclipse. The Americas, much of Asia, and parts of Europe and Africa will get a prime view of the phenomenon that’s has frightened and it’s been known to humanity since 2500 BCE.
Today is Brazil’s Proclamation Day, the 132nd-anniversary of the coup d’etat that effectively founded the nation. Despite its independence, on Sept 7, 1822, Brazil was still being ruled by an heir to the Portuguese Crown, Dom Pedro II, and it took his friend Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca, a hero from the Paraguay War, to tell him that he was no longer in charge. The military then installed a provisory republic and made Deodoro its first president.
It’s unlikely that Brazilians will be dancing in the streets today or anytime soon. Covid and a tragically incompetent president have stuck the collective mood to the lower end of the spectrum, and a holiday steeped in the boring goings of the empire is not anyone’s idea of fun anyway. But Brazil is more than the sum of its coups of course and will find its way out again soon. Meanwhile, soothe your sorrows with some soft Brazilian music. Saudades. WC