Time to Make Love, Not War, Colltalers
As the world watches in horror as if a conflict in Ukraine is inevitable, and Biden screams at Russia’s Putin as if he’s a naughty schoolboy, we should be clear about what we’re getting into here: another forever war. Which makes the U.S.’ $19 billion arms sales to Saudi Arabia and others just peachy.
Canada has finally stamped down on a nearly-week-long anti-vax bridge blockade ostensively supported by global far-right groups. France’s starting to do the same with their own copycat ralliers. And Elsy, a Salvadorean woman who spent 10 years in jail for having suffered a miscarriage, is now free.
We begin in Washington, DC, where the Biden administration has decided to use half of the $7 billion in frozen Afghanistan’s assets to pay off legal claims by families who lost members in 9/11, a decision that provoked outrage even by those affected by the 2001 attacks. “I can’t think of a worse betrayal of the people of Afghanistan,” Barry Amundson, a relative and member of 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, told the NYTimes. Indeed.
In California, billionaire Elon Musk-owned brain-chip firm Neuralink is being sued by an animal rights group, for inflicting “extreme suffering” to monkeys for years. To fulfill Musk’s promise to restore mobility to paralyzed people and make humans “hyper-intelligent,” the company has been subjecting the animals to gruesome experiments, graphically detailed in a complaint filed at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture by Physicians for Responsible Medicine.
In Switzerland, however, a ban on animal experiments didn’t pass in Sunday’s referendum, after heavy lobbying against it by big laboratories. It’d have made the exclusive nation the first to consider animal testing as cruel and unnecessary. It did set up new restrictions for tobacco advertising, though.
In Houston, the transit agency wanted to pay homage to legendary Black activist Rosa Parks on her Feb. 4 birthday by setting a single yellow seat with her name on its metropolitan buses. Parks refused to give up her seat in 1955, was arrested, and helped empower the Civil Rights movement. But to local activists such “performative activism” serves only PR purposes and sees the initiative as an excuse not to improve service in disadvantaged areas.
And in Dresden, the European Space Agency has released a report on global sea levels, which have risen by more than an inch per decade since the 1990s. Part is due to seawater warming, but the biggest addition is of freshwater coming from melting glaciers, from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, and groundwater storage depletion. The study shows that scientists agree with the current estimates of global sea levels rising, however dire.
As western nations empty their embassies in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky seems to be getting more solitary by the hour, in his hope to avoid a war that’d certainly devastate his nation. Despite urgent talks, Russia’s Putin and President Biden didn’t really discuss alternatives: they merely checked each other’s er ideas and went ahead with the plan they each already had. One begins to suspect that even a sudden rapture wouldn’t divert this path.
We’re used to this rhetoric of the apparent inevitability of war. We’ve seen it happen often before, and yet each time, we, the people are further alienated from the decision process. For instance, millions protested the U.S.’s plans of invading Iraq, and yet, were ignored by the White House and a Congress always so happy to send young people to an early grave. Great characters have stopped wars before. We wonder if we still got a few good people left.
The Canadian truckers’ protest against vaccine mandates is not a spontaneous uprising by disgruntled drivers, but an articulated online movement, funded by international far-right groups spreading rumors about the pandemic. The Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents the category and doesn’t support the protests, has told Wired that most of the people in and around the protests “do not have a connection to the trucking industry.”
Elsy was pregnant, working as a housekeeper when she had an “obstetric emergency.” She started bleeding and wound up losing her baby. But El Salvador, an impoverished nation of fewer than seven million people, considers even the suspicion of abortion grounds for a prison term.
The fact that Elsy did not have an abortion was deemed irrelevant and she was sentenced to 30 years in jail. The Woman’s Equality Center managed to free her. It’s part of a campaign to free Las 17, or 17 women imprisoned for miscarriages or for having stillbirths. A reality some dream for the good U.S. of A.
Four years ago today, a 19-year-old opened fire on students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and injuring 17 others. The tragedy marred Valentine’s Day that year, momentarily restoring the date to its other, more sinister, tradition: bloody murder. It was also on a Feb. 14 but in 1929 that seven associates of Chicago’s North Side Gang were shot dead, possibly by Al Capone, but the record is spotty.
But then as now, for millions of lovers, V-Day is about something else: to exchange vows and gifts, chocolate and wine, and whatever one fancies doing when they’re in love. Some choose to shower their sweethearts with love. You may have other ideas. Perhaps today is really an important day to take care of matters of the heart. After all, we started this newsletter by talking about war and are ending with love. So, today, make amor, not war. WC