Curtain Raiser

The Year We Lost the Future, Colltalers

A month away from its Jan. 22, 1973, anniversary, the legislation that made abortion legal in the U.S., Roe v Wade, may be overruled, a Supreme Court’s Xmas gift to religious zealots all over. Since the failed U.N. summit in Glasgow, the world asks: who’s responsible for the climate disaster?
Despite only one in 10 Africans having had at least one dose against Covid, and the new Omicron variant continuing to spread, Pfizer, Modena, e other pharma companies refuse to share the know-how to make vaccines. Now a 2.5 million-strong global nurses union is calling for a probe of rich nations.
Let’s start in Alabama where online retailer Amazon’s employees will have another chance to vote to unionize. Workers at a Bessemer warehouse had voted in April but the National Labor Relations found that the company had illicitly interfered and pressured voters during the process and nullified the results. Amazon “made a free and fair election impossible,” the board ruled. Workers in New York and elsewhere are considering following suit.
The second-biggest U.S. company on the Forbes list, which posted a $21.3 billion profit just as Covid closed down the world economy, is also being accused of overcharging seller fees and of “creative” accounting to mask profits. Amazon is among 39 U.S. companies that paid zero taxes in 2020.
In Mexico, you may remain in life-threatening conditions, according to the Biden administration. Never mind the inefficacy of such a cruel policy first enacted by the 45th. If after traveling thousands of miles often on foot, fleeing prosecution and murder at home, you want a shot at saving your life in America, you’ll be taken somewhere across the border and wait indefinitely for a chance to speak to an asylum officer. Sadly, many will never make it.
Before his first year in office, there’s no other area where the president has shown more lack of preparation and of a coherent position as he did with immigration. It shows, immigration experts and advocates say, in his allegiance to proven inefficient tactics, like herding immigrants like cattle and treating them as criminals, and in the constant reshuffling of priorities. On top of that, Biden has all but ignored their suggestions to resolve the issue.
In Washington, DC, the Senate approved government funding until Jan. but it’s almost sure to block the president’s greatly-reduced, $1.7 trillion Build Back Better, at least before the New Year. One thing it’s likely to approve, though: the massive $778 billion Defense Authorization Act, better known as the Pentagon’s budget. For it seems clear to Congress that immigration, climate change, or an out-of-control global epidemic are not nearly as vital.
Women’s reproductive rights are under assault again, as promised by the religious right since abortion was approved by the SCOTUS half a century ago. In this time, childhood pregnancy and death at birth have been all but eliminated, and two generations grew up free to make decisions about their own bodies that do not impact or are of anyone else’s concern. That’s not the case with those who refuse to be vaccinated and wind up putting others at risk.
It was a foretold maneuver, patiently executed through the years, that began mining the Church-State separation concept, dear to the Founding Fathers. It went on electing leaders and, as it goes, Supreme Court Justices, identified with their ideology, so when the time arrived, all pieces fell into place.
Humanity is on a verge of climate extinction and the failure of the U.N. gathering last month may have marked a point of no return. But the disaster started way before that as everyone knows now, and to many, it begs the question: who has the most historical responsibility for climate change?
Well, the question is not exactly who’s responsible – that has a logical answer: the world’s wealthiest nations by far have created more pollution and poisoning of air, sea, and land than anybody else. But how should they compensate poorer countries for the devastation created by rising temperatures and sea levels? An NYTimes story found that 23 countries have produced half of all historical CO2 emissions. 150 others account for the remainder.
The biggest, most hurtful irony of the climate emergency is that emerging economies that hardly produce emissions are facing the direst consequences from the developed world’s excesses, including the likelihood of extinction within a century. What’s missing in the rich nations’ rationality is how it’ll prevent millions of climate refugees from knocking on their borders. Or maybe they’ve fooled themselves into thinking they’re insulated against them.
Omicron, a still unpredictable Covid variant, has renewed debate over monopoly by pharmaceutical firms whose research is often funded by taxpayer money. Moderna and others are refusing to share “recipes” with Afrogen, for instance, a South African biotech firm, or make available to poor nations the technology necessary for making mRNA vaccines. Worse, the U.K., Switzerland, and the European Union are still supporting the labs’ position.
“This unequal distribution of vaccines is not only grossly unjust for the people in low- and moderate-income countries who remain at high risk for contracting and further transmitting Covid-19, it also provides(…) for the development of new variants, some of which may be resistant to currently available vaccines,” the Global Nurses Union and Progressive International wrote to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Physical and Mental Health.
This just in: a Myanmar military court has sentenced civilian leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison on charges of incitement and breaking Covit rules. It’s her first verdict since the military seized power on Feb. 1, but they’ve already sent her twice to house arrest. She remains the de facto leader and the most recognized face of the country formerly known as Burma.
“Is Superman Circumcised?” Seriously, there’s an overdue book out now, by author Roy Schwartz who traces the saga of the “Mensch of Steel” to the Jewish roots of its two immigrant creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. But apart from theme aficionados, few would know about it if the book hadn’t won this year’s Diagram Award for the Oddest Book Title. To win, it had to defeat “The Life Cycle of Russian Things: From Fish Guts to Fabergé.”
After uninterrupted 11 years of Mondays publishing Curtain Raisers, Colltales goes into a hiatus for the holidays and possibly beyond. It’s been an incredible and enlightening ride, and at moments, a source of hope and faith in the future. It’s time to thank each and every one of you for your support through these difficult times and to wish you all a safe and happy 2022. We may’ve come short often but we’ve always tried our very best. Cheers WC

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