Curtain Raiser

Our Enemies Have a Point, Colltalers

A watershed? Ukrainian President Zelensky’s threat to target Russian soldiers guarding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex, Europe’s largest, may be the escalation of the resistance against the invasion that no one wanted and everybody feared. What happens now matters to our civilization’s fate.
The FBI seized boxes of top-secret documents illegally kept by ex-President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago home. The raid triggered supporters and some took up arms. One’s stabbed Iran-cursed writer Salman Rushdie 10 times. And guess what, the Arctic is warming up faster than the rest of the planet.
We start in Guatemala, where a judge has indicted journalist José Rubén Zamora on criminal charges of money laundering. Human rights groups have called the charges intimidation as Zamora heads the El Periódico, a newspaper critical of President Alejandro Giammattei and A.G. Consuelo Porras.
In Mexico, at least 11 people were killed in four cities at the U.S. border, Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, and Ensenada, over the weekend. The gang-related wave of violence targeted civilians, destroyed local businesses, and set cars on fire as retaliation for recent detentions made by the authorities.
In Brazil, the police made five more arrests in the murder of journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous specialist Bruno Pereira, who were killed in the Amazon’s Javari Valley in June; their dismembered remains were found weeks later. Despite numerous seizures, critics say they’re still waiting for the masterminds of their murder, believed to be among the many illegal fishing organized crime groups operating in the region, to be brought to justice.
In Israel, people are mourning Duniyana Al-Amour, a 22-year-old artist killed along with 48 other Palestinians by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip last week. The promising artist was at home when a “big explosion from a tank shell hit the martyr’s house,” said Mohammad Al-Amour, a relative.
In France, a fire that had been raging since Monday in Aveyron has suddenly regained power, burning up 1,200 acres and forcing the evacuation of 1000 people who live nearby. Over three thousand have already been removed from the area, but Sunday rains helped the rescue teams catch a break.
In New Mexico, the arrest of an Albuquerque resident in the murders of two of four Muslim men shot dead recently brought relief and bewilderment. That’s because the suspect, Muhammad Syed, is also a follower of Islam, and is well known in the city. He’s charged in the murder of Mohammad Ahmadi, from Afghanistan like him, and Pakistan’s Aftab Hussein, and is a suspect in the murders of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain and Naeem Hussain.
In Florida, Tokitae, the orca, a.k.a., Lolita, officially ended her 52-year of hard labor entertaining humans months ago but still remains trapped in the world’s smallest orca enclosure. Now activists are pressuring the Miami Seaquarium, which for years has gotten away with keeping the intelligent animal despite such terrible conditions, to return Tokitae to the Pacific, and to her 90-year-old mother, who still swims the waters of the Salish Sea.
In California, the Southern Baptist Convention is being investigated by the Justice Dept., after it released a third-party investigation on cases of sex abuse that were blatantly ignored or “even vilified” by the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. The 300-page-plus report showed a pattern of church leaders minimizing the victims’ claims. The SBC said it’ll create a database to track sex abusers and a group to handle sex abuse accusations.
In D.C., the Senate finally passed what has been called the most important climate legislation by the world’s greatest emitter of greenhouse gases, the U.S. But the $739 billion bill “is not a climate solution. Mother Nature does not deal in U.S. dollars,” says Indigenous lawyer Tara Houska. “Black and Brown people continue to disparately experience the effects of extractive industry,” while this bill adds subsidies and new concessions to Big Oil.
Everybody knew that at some point in this conflict, the many nuclear facilities in Ukraine would be vulnerable to an attack whose consequences few can envision and almost everyone dreads. But it’s clear that such a realization has a different meaning to Putin and Zelensky than it’s to you and me. To us, it means the terror of nuclear winter, and life’s end as we know it. But for them, it’s a matter of winning the war; any other concerns are secondary.
That’s why neither they nor NATO or any current world leader should be in charge of that kind of weapon, which is both naive to say but legitimate to demand. The world they’ve been setting up for tomorrow has no tomorrow, and either a global citizen alliance rises up to confront and snatch out of their hands their power to kill us all, or else. It’s as if we’re already slipping towards the dystopic future we’ve imagined and knew it’d be hard to avoid.
A year ago today, the U.S. officially withdrew from Afghanistan, or rather, was forced to evacuate thousands of Americans and some of its allies,  allowing the notorious Taliban terrorist group to take over the burned and scorched once-proud nation. It was a devastating event to millions of women who saw their freedom being yanked away, and a loss of billions of taxpayer money, wasted in a pointless military adventure. Good riddance.
But the real heartbreak, if none of the above gave you heartburn, is happening above us all, at the Arctic. A Communications Earth & Environment study found that the Arctic Circle has warmed by more than five degrees Fahrenheit since 1979, at about four times the global average rate of the last 43 years. “From the Arctic, we can learn what may be waiting for the globe in the next couple of decades,” said Los Alamos’ researcher Petr Chylek.
Speaking of no tomorrows, we may be falling into a trap again, as far as the 45th is concerned. There’s no question that taking highly-classified docs out of the White House was not just illegal, but unwise, and downright dangerous to national security. And that members of the past administration and their allies in Congress are also liable to criminal charges for the same reasons. And what do they do? They cry foul and lie about it. “Lock them up.”
Worse, these false claims have triggered a series of armed attacks against officials and people they identify as targets out of misinformation and some madness. On Thursday, an armed Trump supporter was killed while trying to breach the Cincinnati FBI office. Saturday, another shot himself after ramming a barrier at the U.S. Capitol. And Friday, another man stabbed the Indian-British writer Salman Rushdie 10 times, for reasons still unknown.
In the 1980s, Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” was execrated by Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who issued a Fatwa, an order of execution against the writer, to be carried out by Muslims committed to a fascist reading of the Quran. Rushdie may have lost an eye but is expected to recover.
It’s unclear what the attacker at the New York Chautauqua Institution had in mind besides murder, or whether he knew what happened years before he was born. But this rampage’s violence is enough to give us all pause. How many of these deranged zealots may be walking among us, ready to strike?
Glad you asked. We can’t answer that but these incidents show the nefarious political and religious intolerance creeping up in America, threatening to kill what makes us thrive as species and creatures of the universe. As Rushdie himself has said, “an attack upon our ability to tell stories is not just censorship – it is a crime against our nature as human beings.” Meanwhile, Elvis has left the building 45 years ago tomorrow. Thank you very much. WC


3 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. Colltales says:

    Hey, but not too bad since you’re seeing your comments on my blog again. Hallelujah.


  2. Colltales says:

    Indeed. It’s been hard to deal with this sense of catastrophic failure that our civilization is experiencing. It’s actually astounding that some still manage to instill hope and faith in the future, despite it all. Or so I wish to believe that they’re out there. Cheers


  3. unclerave says:

    Things are so bad, and apparently completely out of our control, that all we can do is sing that old refrain from the 1960s: “Shah-la, la-la-la-la live for today And don’t worry ’bout tomorrow hey, hey, hey”. Try to be well, Wes. — YUR

    Liked by 1 person

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