Curtain Raiser

Justice Bears No Apologies, Colltalers

Can an ex-president go to jail for not defending his nation for at least 187 minutes out of his term? Probably not but he may never run again, as per the Fourteen Amendment. Steve Bannon was found guilty of contempt. The Pope goes to Canada to apologize to Indigenous people. They won’t accept it.
Turkey forces have allegedly killed by drone three women, commanders who’d just spoken at the Kongra Star Conference of the People of Rojava, in Syria. The Mercosur trade bloc has declined Ukrainian President Zelenski’s offer to address the group. Monkeypox is now a global health emergency.
Let’s start in California where a raging wildfire near Yosemite National Park has forced the evacuation of 3,000 residents. The Oak Fire’s tripled since first reported Friday in rural Mariposa County. Temperatures may remain in the 90s there and throughout most of the U.S. where other wildfires rage.
In Texas, a mile-long convoy of 52 yellow school buses paid a visit Thursday to Senator Ted Cruz, in Houston. On the 4,368 seats of the empty buses, there were belongings of each of the children killed by gun violence since 2020, the first year their deaths by gun beat car accidents. Cruz, a cheerleader for anti-abortion and homophobia, has received more money from gun nuts in this decade than any other member of Congress, according to OpenSecrets.
The poignant procession of grief and accountability, called the NRA Childrens’ Museum, was set up by Manuel and Patricia Oliver, whose son Joaquin wrote a letter to “gun owners” as school homework five years before he was shot and killed, along with 17 others in the 2018 gun massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Florida. The Olivers founded Change the Ref as a protest against NRA’s undue influence over American politics.
In D.C., a lawsuit by Spain-based Grifols and CSL of Australia has revealed an astonishing fact: cuts in the number of Mexicans crossing the border on temporary visas to sell blood are “precipitating a worldwide public-health crisis that is costing patients dearly,” according to Consortium News. That’s because 52 plasma centers at the border zone collect on average 31% more than other centers nationwide. It’s illegal to sell blood in Mexico.
In Iran, lawmakers plan to declare pets “harmful” to humans and may ban pet ownership for good. Walking dogs in public is already a crime, allegedly “to protect the safety of the public.” News outlet WION reports that animals are considered “impure” in Islamic doctrine and a nod to “westernization.”
In Slovenia, a high court ruled that bans on same-sex couples marrying and adopting children are unconstitutional and ordered parliament to amend the law in six months. The win for human rights and the LGBQT+ community makes the former Yugoslavia nation the 18th country in Europe and 31st worldwide to legalize same-sex marriage. Many ted cruzes may have complained about it but they belong in the trashbin of history. Well done.
In Bangladesh, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Mohammad Yunus is being investigated for being “an enemy of the people.” Yunus, who devised a microcredit program to help the poor out of poverty, is being charged with corruption by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who said he should be “plunged into the Padma River twice.” That’s disturbing imagery since Transparency International ranks her nation the 147th out of 180 where corruption is rampant.
In Moscow, where disturbing imagery is matched by facts on the ground, and in invaded neighbor Ukraine, even robots seem menacing. Take a seven-year-old playing too fast against a chess robot. The supposedly smart ‘iron arm’ then has an unexpected, and scary, reaction: it reaches out and crushes the child’s finger. As people desperately try to free the boy from its grip, it seemed to exude, “That ought to teach the little brat a lesson.” Bad robot.
In Switzerland, the Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the Migratory Monarch butterfly as an endangered species. The subspecies of the majestic creatures migrate annually from Mexico and California to summer breeding grounds in the U.S. and Canada but their numbers have dwindled up to 72% in just the past decade, according to the New Mexico BioPark Society. Pollinators like the Monarch are essential to our survival on Earth.
The House Committee probing the Jan 6, 2020, attack on Capitol Hill by ex-president Trump’s supporters has wrapped up its first seven hearings, with spectacular revelations about the extent to which the 45th tried to remain in power and how willing he was to break the law in order to do so. His lies about a ‘stolen’ election, contrary to all evidence, judicial or otherwise, were enough to fool thousands and came close to overturning our democracy.
As such, he’s all but liable to being banned for life from ever running to another elective position, as per the Constitution. More proof is still being collected but it’s fair to say, the Justice Department has now the best chance to spring into action. Someone please serve a strong brew to U.S. A.G. Merrick Garland, and remind him not to repeat what happened with Counsel Robert Muller’s Special Investigation, and two Impeachments: nothing.
As for the slippery former White House chief strategist Bannon, who was convicted on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena related to the assault on the Capitol, he plans to appeal the decision. He’s slated to be sentenced to fines and possible jail time on October 21.
“We don’t feel that it has been about survivors” of residential schools, commented RoseAnne Archibald, chief for the Assembly of First Nations, about Pope Francis’ visit. His is a tour to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the indoctrination of Indigenous children, forcibly taken from families and kept in board schools from the end of the 1800s to as recently as the 1970s. Many did not survive the ordeal and were buried in unmarked graves.
Since last year, thousands have been uncovered in both Canada and the U.S., and rather than an apology, natives want justice. The church does bear the responsibility to financially compensate the families, and both governments now must return Indigenous artifacts, release school records, extradite an undisclosed accused abuser, and rescind a 15th-century doctrine that justifies the colonial dispossession of natives as a papal edict, or bull. No, B.S.
The decade-old Rojava revolution, an “experiment in eco-feminist, multi-cultural democracy,” according to The Nation, is under threat by forces sent by Turkish President Recep Erdoğan, who considers democratic autonomous zones in North and East Syria enemies. Friday, three Women’s Protection Unit leaders, Jiyan Tolholdan, Roj Khabour, and Barin Bhutan, were killed by a drone on Qamishlo Road, while leaving the Kongra Star conference.
But despite the attack, which is likely to intensify in coming months as Erdoğan has repeatedly threatened military action against those responsible for defeating ISIS, the 300+ participants of the summit were unfazed. To them, the attack only showed “Turkey’s failure to eradicate women from political life.” Erdoğan’s real aim is to blast the Kurds, a dispossessed ethnic group whose eternal quest for land is confined to the backburner of global politics.
Members of South American trade group Mercosur, gathered in Paraguay last week, declined to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speak at their meeting. The reason mentioned was a lack of consensus, but since the Russia-Ukraine war erupted, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and nations in the region and worldwide have refused to take sides, undermining both the U.S. and Russia on their board – but far from boring – game of dominance.
With about 16,000 cases reported in 75 countries, the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency. As if we were not still under the spell of Covid, of course; BA. 4 and BA. 5 variants are fast spreading in the U.S., U. K., and the rest of Europe. Oh mercy.
A distant galaxy is sending us a mysterious radio signal, said MIT officials, but keep your shirt on. It may be just a pulsar or something. Or head to Sotheby’s and bid on a Buzz Aldrin flying jacket, from his 1969 trip to the moon. Since that historic journey, the second man to step on Selene has become an endearing world celebrity, but no surprise about that: “My mother’s maiden name was Marion Moon. I guess it was destiny.” Godspeed. WC


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