Curtain Raiser

Worst Than Killer Meteors, Colltalers

Fears of a nuclear holocaust have forced Putin to allow the IAEA to inspect Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia complex. Gun battles around Europe’s largest set of nukes have irrupted too dangerously close for comfort. Similar dread fuels the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and France’s talks over Iran’s nuclear program.
Outrage has followed Saudi Arabia’s 34-year sentencing of a British resident who posted an inconvenient tweet while visiting her home country. And immigrant groups are suing LexisNexis for selling personal data of millions of Americans to ICE, which uses it to arrest and deport asylum seekers.
We begin in Moscow where a car bomb killed Daria Dugina, daughter of Alexander Dugin, a nationalist intellectual and Putin’s major ally. “Ukraine, of course, has nothing to do with yesterday’s explosion,” said advisor Mykhailo Podolyak. On Wednesday, Ukraine marks its 31st Independence Day.
In Mexico, ex-Attorney General Jesús Murilo Karam was arrested in connection with the 2014 disappearance of 43 students. Suspicions of the army and police involvement have plagued the case as have the still unknown reason for their demise, but Karam is the highest ranking official arrested so far, along with 72 other suspects. The saga of the missing students, of whom only three partial sets of remains were ever found, has transfixed Mexico.
In India, over 50 people have perished so far in floods and landslides triggered by the monsoon season. Although expected, torrential rains at this time of the year always impact India’s economy through its vulnerable crop agriculture. Extreme flooding has also been reported in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, New Zealand, and in large swaths of U.S. Southwest states. Climate changes worldwide are fast turning seasonal events into major cataclysms.
In Angola, some 35 million will have a chance to choose a new president, with incumbent João Lourenço, a veteran of the People for Liberation of Angola (MPLA) battling Adalberto Costa Júnior, of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita). The youth vote will be crucial.
Both parties have dominated the oil-rich nation’s 48 years of independence, Unita with U.S. support, and MPLA, with the former Soviet Union. The body of ex-President José Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled for 38 years, picked Lourenço, and died in Spain in July, finally arrived Saturday in Luanda.
In Botswana and South Africa, over 150 endangered vultures were poisoned and traditional medicine’s “witch doctors” are being blamed for it. The birds’ heads, beaks, and other body parts are often turned into “potions”, a factor driving the species to extinction. Besides fulfilling their natural role as sanitation workers of the wild, vultures help expose poachers’ illegal activities involving the multimillion-dollar underground traffic of animal parts.
In Brazil, President Bolsonaro grabbed the arm of a protester who was filming him and tried to wrestle the man’s phone away, all captured on a viral video. Wilker Leão’s loud criticism of his policies during a routine meet-and-greet campaign stop in Rio prompted Bolsonaro, who’s already badly trailing former President Lula in the October presidential election, to jump out of his motorcade and, in typical fashion, aggressively come after him.
In Argentina, prosecutors have linked Spanish classical singer Placido Domingo to a Buenos Aires Yoga school which was raided by the police as a possible front for sexual trafficking. Dozens have been arrested, including several classical musicians. In 2019, nine female artists accused Domingo of groping and forced kissing, a claim later echoed by 11 others. The latest woes may have ended for good the career of one of the world’s top tenors.
In New York, animal rights advocates and lawmakers are calling for a probe by Manhattan’s district attorney on alleged abuse carried on by the city’s horse carriage industry. Last week, an exhausted horse collapsed on a busy Midtown avenue and its driver was caught on camera kicking the animal.
It’s becoming clear that Putin did have at least an initial plan for Ukraine’s nuclear plants: to seize them. About what to do with them, though, not so much. Now that the inevitable happened, and nukes are in the crossfire of the canons of war, humanity is freaking out that such an oversight may spell our doom.
In this context, allowing inspections on the giant Zaporizhzhia by the International Atomic Energy Agency represents an opening, even for a possible ceasefire. Or that should be the rationale of everyone interested in stopping this war. The U.S., NATO, they all should jump on this bandwagon. After six months of carnage, Putin and Zelensky could be persuaded to agree on a few major points, troops should be sent home, and peace talks could start.
Timing for such talks would be perfect now as the world’s already engaged with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. The previous perfectly functioning accord that Trump’s ruined can not be restored, as Iran’s grown stronger since the rupture. But the new proposal has a future and its time may be now.
Saudi Arabia-born Salma al-Shehab is a Leeds, U.K.-resident who was arrested two years while visiting family. Her crime: posting a Tweet supporting Loujain al-Hathloul, who’s rotting in prison for advocating women’s right to drive and freedom from male guardianship laws. Activists link increased human-rights repression in the “fiefdom” and the now universally-decried fist bump President Biden exchanged with Crown Prince bin Salman in July.
An immigrant justice coalition group is suing data broker LexisNexis for collecting personal data on millions and selling it to government entities like the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “ICE is circumventing local sanctuary protections by contracting with data brokers,” Cinthya Rodriguez, of advocacy Mijent, told DemocracyNow. “Tabs are being kept, as you’re sharing, on immigrant communities, communities of color, and protesters.”
Chicxulub, the six-mile asteroid that slammed the Earth 65 million years ago, killing dinosaurs and more than 75% of species, is history’s second-worst asteroid – the first being the one that may wipe us all too. But it may not have done it all by itself. There’s another catastrophic impact around the same time, scientists found by examining a crater at the bottom of the Atlantic. The question now is, was it another killer rock or “only” pieces of the first?
“The dinosaurs disappeared because they could not adapt to their changing environment. We shall disappear if we cannot adapt to an environment that now contains spaceships, computers – and thermonuclear weapons,” said Arthur Clark. Thus just like them, we may not have a prayer. Don’t look up. WC


2 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. Colltales says:

    Same here but I’m not counting on anything just yet. I’m trained to forget. Cheers


  2. unclerave says:

    In that case, it’s been a pleasure knowing you, Wes! — YUR

    Liked by 1 person

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