Curtain Raiser

The Sun Does as it Pleases, Colltalers

Thousands participated in the Women’s March in several cities, fighting to restore legal abortion in the U.S. Activists encircled the British Parliament demanding freedom for Julian Assange, the publisher facing life in prison for exposing American war crimes. And Biden will pardon jailed pot users.
It’s Indigenous People’s Day, even as many still celebrated Columbus Day, so let’s highlight the missing and murdered native Americans and forest defenders, relentlessly targeted by hired assassins. Protests against the World Cup in Qatar continue 40 days before kickoff; this time, it’s Denmark.
We begin in Crimea where Ukrainian commandos apparently bombed a bridge linking it to Russia. Putin called it “a terrorist attack,” oblivious to the fact that his own army stands accused of similar crimes. Rail service across the bridge should be restored shortly but his headaches are far from over. On Friday, Belarus’ Ales Bialiatski, Russia’s human rights Memorial, and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties were awarded the Nobel of Peace.
The award reinforces rising pressures to end this war before it turns into a nuclear “Armageddon,” in Biden’s words, also oblivious to the fact he too is contributing to it. Amid rising tensions, ex-CIA director and retired 4-star general David Petraeus missed a great opportunity to keep quiet. By saying that we “would take out every Russian conventional force (…) and every ship in the Black Sea,” he only betrays arrogance and throws gas into the fire.
In Germany, a “malicious and target act of sabotage,” according to authorities, wreaked havoc in all northern rail traffic on Saturday. Attackers cut two crucial cables vital for the network, disabling the system. The police are investigating the incident but, so far, no parties have claimed responsibility.
In Mexico, digital rights group R3D found that between 2019 and 2021, journalists and activists had their phones infected with the spyware Pegasus, developed by Israel-based NSO. Since 2017, R3D, Citizen Lab, SocialTic, and Article 19, have detailed the widespread use of the illegal software on investigative reporters, cartel victim’s lawyers, anti-corruption groups, lawmakers, even the spouse of Javier Valdez, a journalist killed by the cartel.
In Easter Island, a Chilean territory 2,200 miles from its coast, a fire likely set by tourists “irreparably” damaged some of its iconic Moai, stone statues built as shrines by a Polynesian society between the 10th and the 16th century. Rapa Nui, its native name, has some 1,000 moai, some over 30 feet tall.
In Antarctica, Clare Ballantyne, Mairi Hilton, Natalie Corbett, and Lucy Bruzzone, will run the world’s most remote Post Office – and count the gentoo penguins in the process. It won’t be easy, five months without running water or a flushing toilet. But it’s a “lifelong dream” for a determined Bruzzone.
In Washington DC, the seditious conspiracy trial against the Fascist group Oath Keepers, led by Stewart Rhodes, heard from the prosecutor that it planned an armed rebellion “to shatter a bedrock of American democracy,” the peaceful transfer of presidential power. To do that, Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said, they stored an “arsenal” in nearby Virginia, and headed to the U.S. capital willing to inflict harm to those defending the constitution.
The defense’s claims that Rhodes and four co-defendants were on a “peacekeeping” mission won’t pass muster given what the world witnessed on that saddest of days for democracy. The domestic terrorists, which aggressively recruit among active and retired law and order enforcement agents, some of whom have taken part in the Capitol Hill invasion, already have nine members pleading guilty to conspiracy, while others may testify against Rhodes.
And Uvalde school district has fired its entire police department over its criminal response to the May 24 Robb Elementary massacre. 19 students and two teachers were killed by a gunman who for about an hour methodically shot to kill kids, while cops hung outside the school, fearing for their lives.
Once again, women are taking the lead for change in this country, and their activism has energized next month’s midterm elections. The vote may be a potential turnaround to reinstate safe and legal abortion in the U.S., another human right squashed by a partisan and politically biased Supreme Court.
Thousands took to the streets of America calling for women of all genders to make sure they vote for pro-choice candidates. The first step should be to preserve the Democratic majority in Congress even though the party itself has been disappointing at providing the public exposure the issue deserves.
Since 2012, the U.S. has tried to charge Wikileaks’ publisher Assange with espionage, accusing him of doing his job, that is, publishing stuff handed to him by others, in this case, an Army soldier, then Bradley, now Chelsea Manning. Among harmless diplomatic cables, there was footage of U.S. troops shooting unarmed civilians and members of the press, a war crime, in 2007 and 2009, in Iraq and Afghanistan. The exposure irked the intel community.
Assange sought asylum at the Ecuador embassy in London and stayed there for seven years until 2019 when he was dragged out and thrown at the vile Belmarsh prison. On Saturday, supporters formed a human chain around the U.K. Parliament and the U.S. Justice Dept. to protest his likely imminent extradition to the U.S. where he may face a 175-year sentence. Currently, he’s in poor health, has PTSD symptoms, and may be too frail to even travel.
Pot, grass, smoke, or simply marihuana, has had a bad rap for a century but its harshest impact on health pales in comparison with alcohol and some prescription drugs. Now the Biden administration started the process to pardon convictions for smoking dope, responsible for most police arrests and jail terms of people of color. Activists are glad but crucial will be to open this market to minorities who actually shouldered the burden of prohibition.
Indigenous women are murdered at 10 times the rate of other ethnicities, making it their third leading cause of death, according to the CDC and Native Women’s Wilderness. “Stolen land, broken treaties, forced removal of Indigenous peoples, and the countless government policies centered around assimilation and cultural genocide,” says Denver-based Danielle SeeWalker, Húŋkpapȟa Lakȟóta Standing Rock Sioux Tribe citizen in North Dakota.
Meanwhile, Brazilian elite commandos and Amazon native activists risk their lives to fight illegal gold mining, logging, and the burning of the forest. But despite their good fight, most of the crimes involving missing and murdered Indigenous peoples remain unpunished and ignored by the big media.
Since 2021, when a Guardian analysis found that 6,500 South Asian migrants had died in Qatar since 2010, without being properly reported, there’s been intense criticism of FIFA for letting the World Cup be held at the wealthy and authoritarian regime. Denmark’s soccer team, for instance, will sport jerseys with disguised badges to protest the deaths. Short of boycotting the games, others should follow suit. The tournament starts on Nov. 20.
Finally, Sacheen Littlefeather, has left us. The Apache activist and actress who Marlon Brando sent to refuse his Oscar for best actor in 1973, was booed then but time was on her side and she was proven correct. Only recently, the Academy officially apologized to her. At 75. R.I. P. Littlefeather. Skoden. WC


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