Curtain Raiser

Don’t Cry Out for Blood, Colltalers

As war rains death and destruction over Ukraine, the world holds its breath: will Putin use nuclear power if we try to stop him? It’s a rhetoric question,  we already know the answer. So what, then? WNBA All-Star Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner is being held in Moscow, allegedly on drug charges.
As the conflict rages on, few noticed the alarming U.N. Panel on Climate Change report on that other civilization-ending disaster we should be tending to 24/7. The media continues to underreport the issue and as a result, even fewer people know that their burgers help destroy the Amazon Rainforest.
We begin in Peshawar, Pakistan, where a suicide bomber – yes, they’re still around, but like refugees of color, we tend not to notice them – killed 63 and wounded over 200 in a mosque. A local ISIS group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The killer was an Afghan national, the Pakistani police said.
In Mexico, all first-division soccer games have been canceled after violence broke out at a match between Querétaro and Atlas. The brawl caused many injuries in not exactly an isolated incident: fights, field invasions, and attacks on players by rival supporters are on the rise throughout Latin America.
In Chile, Gabriel Boric takes the Oath of Office Friday, becoming his nation’s youngest president just as a new, likely progressive constitution is being worked on by the legislator. Boric, a student leader during the protests for reforms that shook Chile two years ago, has formed a multi-gendered cabinet full of scientists but there’s already concern by right-wing analysts about the impact of a likely revival of progressive ideas throughout the continent.
In Brazil, the deforestation of the Rainforest has been steady and likely irreversible. In January, the latest stats available, the Amazon lost 166 sq miles to illegal burning and razing of the forest. That’s five times higher than the same month a year ago, according to the government space agency INPE.
Several factors have contributed to it but the biggest foe of the so-called “Lungs of the World” is the meat industry. McDonald’s, Burger King, and others have been culprits in this ecological tragedy in the making, according to a Guardian report published two years ago and findings by Greenpeace.
But it really is our own demand for endless consumption that’s exhausting every natural resource on this planet. And our inability to refrain from it.
In Italy and Northern Ireland, similar bills were introduced to ban the import of “trophies,” dead animals or parts of them, killed by hunters in Africa and elsewhere. Hundreds of endangered lions, elephants, giraffes, and polar bears are killed for “leisure” every year by wealthy hunters. The proposals were submitted on March 3, World Wildlife Day, a symbolic date to mark the fact that even in this day and age, shooting animals is considered a sport.
Reports of Russian forces pounding mercilessly Ukrainian cities have already shrunk their momentary, patriotic-fueled ardor about the local army’s capabilities. But many abroad have engaged in a new, fun game: hunting Russian oligarchs throughout the world. As billionaires supposedly break a sweat to hide sources of their incomes, luxury yachts, mansions, and billions have been seized or impounded by combined law enforcement agencies.
As the Justice Dept. created a task force to go after them, Germany and France have said that they’ve already tried to confiscate two superyachts registered in offshore tax havens, the same ones that almost certainly keep billions of American and European billionaires. Even Jack Sweeney, the Florida kid who was tracking the jet flights of an annoyed Elon Musk, has created a new Twitter account to track at least 21 Russian rich tycoons.
Some can’t think of anything else to do in the wild, except shoot to kill majestic creatures. Others like Mothokomedi Keitumetse, however, seek these places for communion with its creatures. He’s a contracted Meerkat Man, and it’s his dream job and possibly of many too. But it’s not easy. From dawn to dusk, he works on his relationship with the little mongooses, so they’re ready to interact with tourists, without being stressed out or, worse, being shot.
“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?” Douglas Adams, author of the trilogy of three books “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” would’ve been 70 next Friday. Over two decades since his departure, his quick wit and relentless humor are still sorely missed. Especially by those who hold dear to the notion that a towel, any towel is “the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” Happy Birthday, DNA.
We’re entering the second week of the Russian invasion, and the images coming from Ukraine are already heartbreaking. It’s hard to tell how strong has been the international diplomatic efforts to halt the bombs, but it seems clear that the U.S., the E.U., and NATO need to reaccess their strategy: Putin has no other way out but to implement his threat. And that means the unthinkable. To the list of potential casualties, we may have to include the world.
The thing about war is that once it starts, it quickly “learns” how to escalate itself further. Millions of lives will be lost, millions of refugees will flood borders, and we may be entering a dark age. But that is only if the nukes remain safe, which by definition, they’ll never be. Mankind has a tall order to fill and faith in it is faltering. Heroes may win battles, but it’s the common citizen who achieves victory by saying no. We’ve all been too quiet lately.
“It’s only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance,” said Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. It’s his one of the greatest, and simplest, quotes about war, still repeated today: “War is hell.” Peace, Now! WC


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