Curtain Raiser

Denying Peace a Chance, Colltalers

Many Ukrainians don’t know yet but the war with Russia may last a long time. If there’s no world resolve to end it, it’s not going to be the fossil-fuel industry or weapon manufacturers, making gazillions out of it, that will stop it. Rather than celebrating small wins, give peace talks a fighting chance.
The Queen is dead, her son became King Charles III, and the U.K. has a new conservative Prime Minister in place. In other words, nothing’s changed. Something else won’t end anytime soon: climate change-driven wildfires. And to no one surprise, many Oath Keepers are cops or elected politicians.
We start in Somalia where nearly seven million may starve to death, according to the U.N., as the Russia-Ukraine conflict makes food deliveries pricier and scarcer, and terrorist groups like the Al Shabab force mass displacement. The entire Horn of Africa faces its worse drought in over forty years. As rich societies remain oblivious to their carbon footprint, poor nations are being ravaged by the climate emergency and wars they have not provoked.
In Cairo, four Mada Masr journalists were charged with criminal offenses for writing about the ongoing probe into government corruption and a likely shakeup at the top of President Abdel el-Sisi’s ruling Future Party. Reporters Rana Mamdouh, Beesan Kassab, Sara Seif Eddin, and Lina Attalah are accused of “insult, slander, and defamation,” Egypt’s last independent news outlet Mada Masr said. El-Sisi ascended to power in a 2013 military coup.
In Iran, talks about its nuclear program are still on hold as the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, said that it “cannot assure” that the program is exclusively peaceful. Iranian authorities have been slow in answering crucial questions such as uranium being found at non-listed sites, fueling the suspicion that it’s being siphoned off to make weapons. Iran said the IAEA is “re-digging” issues of the past and now it wants them out of the country.
In Europe, wood pellets and chips are being burned in the name of renewable energy, the NYTimes reports. Over a decade ago, wood burning became subsidized for its potential to turn sawdust waste into green power. But before long, logging even of ancient forests became widespread, to the extent that wood is now the continent’s largest renewable energy source, pardon the bad pun, ‘smoking’ wind and solar. See what’s wrong with this picture?
Back in the U.S., the criminal case of the ex-president who stole and misplaced – sold? – top government secrets may not go anywhere, as a ruling by a Trump-nominated judge, that a “special master” oversees the documents, effectively halted the Dept. of Justice’s inquiry, and may derail it for good.
That is, something way more serious than what led Chelsea Manning, Reality Winner, Julian Assange, and many others to lengthy prison terms is no big deal for the Big Grifter’s ability to dodge responsibility. While their lives were all but wrecked, he’s raising funds to run again. Only in America.
Perhaps his former White House adviser, Steve Bannon, will fare no worse. He surrendered to a New York State court last week and was charged with money laundering and conspiracy, arising from the same case he’d been pardoned by his boss: pocketing some $15 million in donations given to “We Build the Wall,” the scheme the Trump administration concocted to fleece credulous supporters. Of course, no one is expected to see their money back.
In Las Vegas, Jeff German, a veteran investigative journalist, was stabbed to death by an obscure government bureaucrat, Robert Telles, whom past and current employees accused of being a bully. German’s unsavory series on Telles’ office shenanigans became a local hit and may have cost him a run for office in Vegas’s Democratic primaries ticket. In over 30 years, German was the ninth reporter assassinated for doing his job in the U.S. R.I.P. Jeff.
“The only realistic alternative to this endless slaughter is a return to peace talks to bring the fighting to an end, find reasonable political solutions to Ukraine’s political divisions, and seek a peaceful framework for the underlying geopolitical competition between the U.S., Russia, and China.” That’s an excerpt of Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies’ preview of their upcoming book, “War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict.”
Benjamin is co-founder of “Codepink for Peace,” and part of a growing movement to confront powers that be, i.e., the U.S., the E.U., NATO, and the established media to change the narrative of this war. While Western nations provided the financing for the strife, to the tune of billions of taxpayers’ money, they’ve blocked or are otherwise uninterested in discussing peace. So it’s foolish to raise a toast for wins in the field while all else is put aside.
“Our goal is obvious, peace and the restoration of normal life,” said President Zelensky in March. Now we hardly hear him talking about peace. How much more will be asked of Ukrainians to satisfy their leaders’ political ambitions? If the goal is fighting the invasion, then immediately stopping it should be a priority, not false hopes of a military solution. We can bridge divisions if we’re “willing to talk – and listen” to our adversaries, they wrote.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was a “pretty nice girl” who beat the odds and prevented a decadent British Empire from being extinct for irrelevance and brutal colonialism. Even before she ascended to power, in 1952, she bore the son who’s now succeeding her. As one of the richest persons on Earth, she’d a life of privilege but kept an aura of integrity about her family business. She’s inspired and will be missed by millions of Brits and Anglophiles.
But to many more, not so much. Particularly critical about Elizabeth II, Queen of England, are the living or descendants of those impoverished nations Great Britain dominated with an iron hand for centuries. Even those who conquered their independence in the 1960s and 1970s became resentful for continuing to be forced to supply the U.K. with their goods, sweat, and allegiance, without which that tiny island of Britannia wouldn’t have survived.
Just before her passing – her royal body is crossing the Commonwealth on its way for official burial in London – she nominated another Elizabeth, known as Liz Truss, as the new P.M., and prospects about this ‘news that we can use’ are far from encouraging. Even though in 1994 she called for the end of the monarchy, she’s now a pragmatic conservative willing to dismantle the U.K.’s pro-green laws under the excuse of fixing the energy crisis.
California is on fire again, or rather, some places never stopped burning, just like nearby Western states, Canada, the Arctic, parts of Europe, and even in the Global South’s cold season. Or floods, like in Pakistan. Far from natural, these disasters have a common cause: a catastrophic rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which trap heat, melt glaciers, and accelerate the extinction of life on this planet. That is, if war itself doesn’t do it first.
Leaked membership files of Oath Keepers, the Fascist far-right group that participated in the rampage of Trump thugs invading Capitol Hill, on Jan. 6, 2021, include hundreds of law enforcement officers, elected officials, and military members, to no one’s surprise. The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism saw a large percentage of people supposed to have pledged an oath but to the U.S. Constitution, among the 38,000 listed. So disturbing.
“An independent observer looking at the world today might well conclude that it is being run by the fossil fuel and military industries, or by lunatics. Or both,” said Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at MIT. Rather than speeding up environmental solutions to reverse climate change, we’re raising fossil-fuel production, just like our corporate masters want it. “Unleashed savage capitalism is a death sentence for the species.” Need to say more? WC

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