Curtain Raiser

Only Sorrow Wins Wars, Colltalers

Brazil’s presidential election goes to an Oct. 30 runoff between ex-President Lula, who came ahead with 48% of the votes, and the current, Bolsonaro, with a high percentage of abstentions. In Iran, the women-led rebellion continues, triggered by the Morality Police’s Sept. 16 killing of Mahsa Amini.
Despite protests, Russia’s Putin has annexed Ukraine’s Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, and Donetsk, although Lyman’s “fully liberated,” according to Ukraine’s Zelensky. Meanwhile, 66 nations used the U.N. assembly to call for an end to war. And efforts to recover from Hurricane Ian have started.
Let’s begin in Indonesia where a stampede after a soccer game killed over 125 people, according to officials. When police used tear gas to quell violent fans, unhappy with their local team’s loss, it triggered a deadly rush to the exits, crushing hundreds. Tear gas is banned in stadiums as per FIFA’s rules.
In Burkina Faso, yet another military group seized power this year. On Saturday, forces commanded by Capt. Ibrahim Traoré ousted Col. Paul-Henri Damiba, who’d sought shelter at a French military base, before officially resigning, the new Junta said. The West African nation of some 20 million, a former colony of France, became Burkina in 1984. It’s been plagued by coups and famine and since 2010, has become a hotbed for radical Islamism.
In Afghanistan, a morning blast killed at least 19 mostly female students at an education center in a Shiite neighborhood in Kabul. Dozens of women are forced to take classes in such centers as the Taliban forbids them from attending regular schools. “They want to stall progress and knowledge,” said a grieving father of one of the victims. No group assumed responsibility for the attack but observers believe it came from the Khorasan, a.k.a., ISIS-K.
In Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammad al-Salman’s taken another step toward his kingdom’s dominance: he’s now prime minister, besides being heir to the throne and the de facto Saudi ruler. The move may insulate him from potential legal fallouts from his likely role in the 2018 killing of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Meanwhile, 100,000 signed a petition via Amnesty to lift travel bans on human rights activists.
In Denmark, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has stopped leaking gas into the Baltic Sea, while its twin continues to spill. President Biden called the leaks on the Russian-owned natural gas ducts “a deliberate act of sabotage,” and both Putin and the West accuse each other of being behind it.
In D.C., the Biden administration rolled up an ambitious plan to eradicate hunger in the U.S. by 2030, at a White House conference about health and nutrition. The plan is based on $8 billion in commitments from giant corporations such as Google, Walgreens, and Tyson Foods. An Agriculture Dept. report released this month found that about 10% of U.S. households, or 13.5 million Americans, can not provide enough food for their families.
Also in Washington, climate activists and those in the trenches of the planetary emergency celebrated Tuesday after Sen. Joe Manchin retired his fossil fuel-friendly permits from the Inflation Reduction Act bill. The “dirty deal went down in flames because Indigenous and frontline communities raised their voices,” said Protect Our Water Heritage Rights Coalition’s Grace Tuttle. “Thank you to everyone who rallied together to stop this bill,” she said.
Lula’s win in Brazil in the first round was far from what early polls had predicted, but his Workers’ Party will remain the nation’s biggest. It was a disappointing anti-climax to millions of Brazilians whose allegiance to Lula dates from his two terms in office when 30 million were rescued from extreme poverty and the country was the world’s sixth-largest economy. For Bolsonaro, it was an encouraging sign that his bases showed up to vote.
The authoritarian theocracy running Iran is facing its biggest challenge since Islam was brought back in 1980: women. The killing in police custody of 22-year-old Amini – arrested for not wearing the hijab – triggered a national wave of protests viciously fought against by Iranian security forces. There are no signs the regime is in peril just yet but it’s unclear how the widespread unrest will impact Iran’s potential new nuclear agreement with the West.
Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine rages on, just as its conflicting narratives. As Putin declared four Ukrainian regions to be now part of Russia, Lyman in Donetsk was recaptured by Ukrainian forces. Russia is also being accused of kidnapping Ihor Murashov, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility director.
“We do not recognize and will never recognize Russian attempts to annex any Ukrainian territory,” said jointly the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovakia. Ukraine now may set its sights on regaining control of Crimea.
66 nations, mostly from the Global South, used their allotted speech time at the U.N. General Assembly to call to end this war but the fact got hardly any U.S. media coverage. Americans are being fed a diet of biased war reports that emphasize bombastic statements, Russia’s perceived ‘failure’ to have wiped out Ukraine by now, and periodic lists of the latest shipment of weapons the U.S. and other Western nations are sending to the battlefield.
At least 80 people are reported dead in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian. The monster storm left large swaths of destruction in a sobering preview on how climate change impacts both natural and man-made disasters. NOAA predicted three to five major hurricanes may hit America this season.
“Today is what it is because yesterday was what it was. So too, if you want tomorrow to be different, you must make today different.” The Armenian philosopher G. I. Gurdjieff couldn’t understand those who insist on doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. Neither do we. Say cheers. WC


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