Curtain Raiser

Bringing it All Home, Colltalers

Cop27, the U.N. Climate Conference, heads for its second week the same way the previous 26 had: with lots of heated speeches and a bunch of happy lobbyists, but no breakthroughs. But Biden will see Xi. Speaking of inaction, there’s the G20 summit. And a most immoral World Cup begins Sunday.
The U.S. midterm elections offered a reprieve to President Biden and the Democratic Party, despite neither of them being really attuned to what most Americans demand: fight for the climate, immigration, income distribution, the list is long. Democracy is still in peril and so are all eight billion of us.
Let’s begin in Turkey where a bomb killed six and wounded dozens on a busy Istambul street on Sunday. A suspect is in custody. President Erdogan said the blast had the “smell of terror.” On Saturday, crowds in Düsseldorf, Germany, protested Turkey’s alleged use of chemical weapons against the Kurds.
Erdogan is conditioning support to Sweden and Findaly’s entry into NATO if these countries don’t take specific security measures to curb members of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party, the PKK, and its supporters. He considers them terrorist organizations responsible for the 2016 attempted coup.
In the U.K., the British counterterrorism police warned hundreds of journalists and political activists that they may be targeted by Iran, allegedly for their Islam criticism. Across the pond, the FBI said that Iran and China are hiring private investigators who unwittingly help them spy on dissidents. The disturbing trend, of regimes going after opposition abroad, was likely used in Turkey by Saudi Arabia to kill journalist Jamal Kashoggi in 2018.
In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has a month to form a new government and become Prime Minister for the third time. He was P.M. from 1996 to 1999 and from 2009 to 2021. In 2007 he was convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organization and is currently on trial for corruption.
In Brazil, the three armed forces commanders released a joint statement on Friday, stating their support for a peaceful transition of government within the rule of law, all but disavowing any attempt to disrupt the democratic process. As President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula heads to Cop27 to highlight his environmental vision, President Bolsonaro, who hasn’t conceded yet, recedes to the background. The ‘Bolsonarism’ however is far from fading away.
In New York City, Mayor Adams is set to close a tent facility on Randall’s Island built less than a month ago for a record influx of asylum seekers sent by Republican governors. The politically-motivated stunt is designed to inflict pain on ‘liberal’ cities, besides using human beings as weapons of mass disruption and causing a humanitarian crisis. The eye-sore barracks were never suitable to accommodate families who’ll now be sheltered in hotels.
In California, a record $2.04 billion Powerball ticket remains unclaimed even as the winner will have to come out to reclaim their prize, as per state lottery officials. While winning such a chunk of cash is indeed a life-altering experience, to Californian Schools it’s a bliss, as they get $156.3 million.
The conference on climate change, being held in Egypt, has been losing credibility fast as it welcomes corporations posing as environmentally friendly entities and goes after protestors and activists critical of its processes. But is still the biggest international forum where something about the climate, seriously, anything may be discussed and agreed upon. That is, as long as the biggest polluters like the U.S. and other developed nations do their part.
The highlight of this conference, then, may become Biden’s first in-person meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, given the current context of war and the threat of a nuclear attack by Russia. But without the proper diplomatic preparation though, the U.S.’s confrontational approach is unlikely to work.
‘On Wednesday, the world’s 20 wealthiest economies will gather in Indonesia and the expectations are even more deflated. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been a perfect excuse to, rather than taking urgent measures to counter a planetary meltdown due to an out-of-control climate, produce more fossil fuels to feed the war machine. For that will remain their priority, or at least, that of weapon-making countries: to preserve the status quo.
Back in the U.S., a surprisingly galvanizing midterm election defied all prognostic polls, and especially what the establishment media had claimed as a certainty: that Republicans were going to control both the Senate and the House. Whereas the latter is still too close to call, the Democrats slipped by one seat to maintain their majority. Nothing too impressive, just enough to contradict the trend of the opposition always winning congressional races.
Surely, Biden and the leadership of the party are very pleased with themselves as they’ve got another two years to not do much about immigration, the climate, or income redistribution. Instead, they seem impervious to the fact that Americans, and the world, are hurting and need much more from them.
Just as the world population gets to eight billion souls this week, from the seven billion it had reached just 11 years ago. But rather than dive into the dark possibilities such a fast progression may lead us to, it should be enough to look around and realize that as it is, the world has no more room to accommodate so many people. Not because there’s no space available or resources if put to good use, but because the wealthiest few are not interested.
For as long as the current crop of dumb billionaires keeps enjoying their riches by flying to space or buying social media, there won’t be any income redistribution. No one should have such a disproportionate level of power and those who do will always fend off attempts to strip it away from them.
“A mistake.” That’s what former FIFA president Sepp Blatter called the choice of Qatar to host the World Cup, the world’s biggest sports competition. Which is disingenuous given that he was personally involved in such a choice. Through his tireless efforts, the tournament was given to the rich and ultra-conservative kingdom that now stands accused of letting thousands of migrant workers die building the infrastructure for the month-long event.
To have the World Cup played in the middle of the desert required a multimillion-dollar investment the regime was happy to provide as it’s also keen on appearing modern to tourists. It’ll be a first for games to be held this time of the year, due to the heat. As for soccer, all major potencies will be there, except for Italy. While current champions France are seeking to win for the third time, Germany wants to equal record-holder Brazil’s five trophies.
Speaking of space, Artemis 1, NASA’s biggest rocket, is set to have its much-delayed unmanned trip to the moon on the 16, weather permitting. It’ll carry the Orion capsule which one day will take humans back to our natural satellite. The time is ripe: it’s been over 50 years since our last visit there.
And the “Terminal Man,” Mehran Karimi Nasseri, also known as Sir Alfred Mehran, has died. The Iranian refugee who lived in the departure lounge of Terminal 1 of Charles De Gaulle Airport from August of 1988 till July 2006, had recently returned there, unable to cope with life outside. He was the subject of a Steven Spielberg movie and an autobiography but also had physical and mental issues. Staff at the airport has mourned his passing. At 77.
“You can’t take it with you and you know that it’s too worthless to be sold,” Bob Dylan sang in “When You Gonna Wake Up.” Songs, books, paintings, and the 2016 Nobel of Literature came after. “They tell you, ‘time is money,’ as if your life was worth its weight in gold.” Because it isn’t. Carry on. WC


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