Curtain Raiser

What Bullets Do to Kids, Colltalers

With no peace talks, the war Russia’s waging on Ukraine now has a dramatic twist: it may starve half of the world while millions of tons of grains rot in Ukrainian warehouses. As the U.S. sends in weapons, in a thinly disguised challenge to Russia, the Interpol worries they’d end up in criminal hands.
Phan Thi Kim Phuc was nine in 1972 when Napalm rained over her Vietnamese village. But she’s survived to tell her tale of horror and forgiveness. Guns are ravaging the fabric of American society but a pro-gun Congress refuses to act. Time to publish the devastating photos of the victims’ bodies?
We begin in Nigeria where gunmen killed dozens of Sunday worshippers at a Catholic church in southwest Ondo. Although it’s not clear who led the deadly attack, Africa’s largest economy has been battling an Islamist insurgency, armed gangs, and kidnappings for ransom in the country’s northeast.
In Iran, two military officers and a weapons scientist have died under mysterious circumstances in Tehran in recent days, and fingers point to Israel, which had accused Colonels Ali Esmaelzadeh and Sayad Khodaei of being part of a Revolutionary Guard unit allegedly running killing missions of foreigners abroad, according to the NYTimes. Meanwhile, Ayoob Entezari, a missile and drones aerospace engineer, is thought to have been poisoned.
In North Korea, there may’ve been some official cheering but in the rest of the world, outrageous was the preferred word. Kim Jong-un’s nuclear-willing dictatorship is now leading the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament to the utter disgust of over 50 nations. In a decades-old practice, the non-U.N.-affiliated conference picks its term leaders by rotation. “My country is still at war with the U.S.,” said Pyongyang’s ambassador, Han Tae-Song.
In Saudi Arabia, there may be also some celebration as the OPEC alliance is set to boost oil production and the U.S. president is coming for a visit. In his presidential campaign, Biden had promised to turn the murderous regime and its crown prince Muhammed bin Salman into international pariahs, due to the murder of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Nothing like another war to mend back ties broken only for the sake of appearances.
Salman is believed to have ordered Kashoggi’s assassination and is still conducting a media-ignored methodic erasure of Yemenis with U.S.-made and sold weaponry, despite promising a ceasefire. War has this gift to show us how bad people are actually worse when given a chance, and how even so-called ‘good’ people may get dragged into the immoral pity of political convenience. But Americans simply won’t put up with expensive gas, you see?
In Georgia, CNN is struggling to distinguish what’s ‘breaking news’ from what’s over-hype as new boss Chris Licht hopes to refocus the 24h channel into its core fundamentals, which is to inform. Maybe a change in semantics will help it but if its wall-to-wall tactics failed was for lack of content not for overusing this or that expression. Many think that such changes are cosmetics for as long as the news, good or bad, is taken first as entertainment.
And in California, the Reparations Task Force completed the first step for the state to pay back Black Americans. It’s the first time that over 170 years of slavery are compiled into a 500-page report with recommendations for compensation and retribution, likely to be followed by other states. “Racial violence against African Americans began during slavery, continued through the 1920s (…) and peaked after WWII,” said Chairperson Kamilah Moore.
Tons of Ukrainian and Russian grains awaiting transportation to feed the Middle East, Africa, and beyond, are another nightmare prompted by this war. While ports remain under heavy naval blockade when not riddled with floating mines, food relief organizations are scrambling to find other ways to solve the crisis. But because of obvious risks, neither the U.S. nor its allies are likely to provide air, land, or sea protection for shipping out the crops.
“Criminal groups try to exploit these chaotic situations and the availability of weapons. (…). These will be available on the criminal market and will create a challenge,” said Jürgen Stock, head of the Interpol. He was referring to the Biden administration’s announcement that it’s supplying Kyiv with advanced missile systems and munitions, along with military aid. “We can expect an influx of weapons in Europe and beyond,” Stock said.
Phan Thi didn’t ask to become an icon of a brutal war, arguably the one where the U.S. has lost its self-attributed ‘invincibility.’ She didn’t dream the American dream or hope someday to be the cover of Time. But on June 8, 1972, fate would use her misery as a turnaround. She’d be entitled, 50 years later, to lecture America on its sins. But instead, she actually forgave us all. “I wanted to let go of my pain.” There’s no one like Phan Thi.
“The liver looks like a jello mold that’s been dropped on the floor.” “The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively.” Three inches of a leg bone “turned to dust.” These are literal descriptions of wounds caused by AR-15, America’s favorite rifle, linked to many U.S. massacres and sold to racist teenagers like the latest mass murderers – even as there may be another one in progress, as we speak.
In Uvalde, where 19 children and two teachers were murdered, families are going through this macabre rite of passage, collecting the bodies of their kids for burial and wondering why this is allowed to happen. But not Angeli Gómez, not this time. In a daring act of defiance, she managed to dribble heavily-armed cops harassing parents outside as the killer finished off his victims inside, jumped the school’s fence, and rescued her two young sons.
Miah Cerillo, who’s 11, also survived the mass shooting last week by smearing a friend’s blood on her body and playing dead. But before she starts lifetime counseling for the trauma, our brave Congress has a task for her: to testify Wednesday about gun violence. Apart from being totally useless, and possibly causing unnecessary pain to Miah, it shows how unprepared – uncaring? – is our legislative corpus when it comes to taking direct action.
A note about Rafael Nadal, who’s won his 14th Roland Garros, a virtually unbeatable record, and is currently the all-time male Grand Slam top winner, with 22 titles. At 36, he’s on his way to becoming the GOAT of tennis. Champions like Rod Laver and Roger Federer have paid tributes to his humble demeanor and amazing talent. Tomorrow? “I will do as I usually do. It’s going to be a day like any other day.” It’s good to be Rafa. Cheers WC


2 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. Colltales says:

    I absolutely agree with you. I sometimes think that’s by design, on purpose. The fact that they pretend the issue is about this or that in order to drag their feet and not to pass anything is like there’s a lot of invested interest behind it. And there is but aren’t these guys already rich and pretty much set for life in congress? Yes, they’re sponsored by gun manufacturers too, but there’s a point where stuff stops making sense. On a large scale, with wars and such, it’s easy to crunch numbers and see how much that invested interest really is. But in the domestic issue of guns, it simply doesn’t add up. It’s pure madness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. unclerave says:

    If you watched the beginning of the hearing yesterday morning you would’ve heard some clown named Comer starting of by implying that the gun violence issue started in 2020! Unreal! He then went on to blather about “evil”, but we had to protect the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. What I don’t like about the situation, is the left tends to make this exclusively about the guns, while the right wants to make this solely a mental health issue, despite always using the word “evil”! IT IS BOTH, goddammit! I don’t know why there cannot be a common sense consensus to raise the gun buying age to 21, and to combine enhanced “red flag” laws with UNIVERSAL background checks! This would ensure that only “mentally stable” ADULTS, without histories of violence and abuse, would be allowed to purchase these guns. The right gets to preserve the 2nd Amendment, and all of us would be a little more secure from these desperate sad-sacks, who would be resigned to trying to run us over with a rental truck!

    This argument cannot be framed as an all or nothing, partisan wedge debate. There has to be mutual respect for both sides.

    — YUR

    Liked by 1 person

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