Curtain Raiser

A Cup Made of Offsides, Colltalers

A “loss and damage” fund for poor nations hurt by the climate is the most consequential result of the COP27 summit held in Egypt. Or just another pie in the sky. Qatar World Cup kicked off under the specter of dead migrant workers. Saudi Arabia’s bin Salman avoids suit for role in reporter’s murder.
Title 42, the policy that summarily barred thousands of asylum seekers, was struck down by a federal judge. A Senate subcommittee is probing alleged abuse of women in custody in Georgia by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And a special counsel will weigh criminal charges against Trump.
We start in Colorado where at least five people were shot and killed by a gunman with an AR-15, on Sunday inside an LGBTQ club. It happened in the early hours of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, in an apparent hate rampage. Over 25 others were injured before patrons subdued the attacker.
The attack coincides with a Human Rights Campaign report which found that 85% of transgender and gender-nonconforming victims of fatal violence since 2013 were people of color. 63% were Black transgender women, most younger than 35. At least 300 members of the community have met violent deaths since 2013, due to “racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, as well as poverty, and economic inequality,” last week’s HRC report has shown.
In Ukraine, once again the shelling around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex has raised concerns that the world is closer, not farther, to a catastrophic ‘accident’ that may cost us civilization. “You’re playing with fire,” said the U.N.’s head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, an understatement for the ages.
60 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, which risked a fatal conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, we’re again on the brink of annihilation due to the NATO-Russia proxy war. Sound minds prevailed then, helped by a fiery peace movement. But in these troubled times, fear may rule the day.
In Iran, the judiciary issued three more death sentences to people involved in anti-government protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old killed while in state custody. Over a thousand indictments were also issued, Amnesty reported, but the Iranian youth has shown unusual resilience.
In Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to more than half of the world’s rainforests, have signed an agreement to establish a “funding mechanism” to preserve the forests. Signed at COP27, the accord sets ambitious goals to restore critical ecosystems and benefit local communities. But it has no funding of its own. Between 2019 and 2021, the Amazon rainforest lost over some 13,0000 square miles of tree cover.
Speaking of Brazil, lame-duck President Bolsonaro has been missed from public appearances since his defeat to Luiz Inácio Lula two weeks ago, His disappearing act has been feared by many that it could be a maneuver to remain in power since he hasn’t even acknowledged the results of the election yet. Now, VP Mourão offered a different explanation: the president has a skin infection, serious enough to prevent him from wearing pants. Ah, ok.
In Twitterland, now solely owned by the richest person on Earth – and likely one of the clueless – to the chaos of massive layoffs by the new boss, add a massive walkout of long- and short-time staffers. But the owner, Elon Musk, remains adamant that the formerly very successful social media will get back to its former, debauchery-ridden glory. Many disagree, especially if what he means by glory is to give voice to a banned, vociferous ex-president.
Wealthy nations dragged their feet until possibly the last minute before agreeing in principle to compensate the majority of the nearly 200 nations at the climate summit, for damages caused by the climate emergency. Considering that there’s consensus about those who are suffering the most are the least responsible for the crisis, it’s a good start. But given what happens with these high-level conferences, it’s arguable that such a resolution will have teeth.
As lobbyists and corporations populate and monopolize the discussion, there’s little hope that any practical measures will be taken before the world’s temperatures reach a critical level. Remember that even much more modest goals of the Paris 2015 for straight investments are yet to come to fruition.
Ecuador 2X0 Qatar opened what may become known as the World Shameful Cup. FIFA ignored the public clamor and granted the profitable soccer tournament to the hereditary monarchy that owns the country with a zealot iron hand, prosecuting and sending to death women and sexual minorities.
As a result, thousands of migrant workers, who built the stadiums and infrastructure for the event, have been reported dead or missing, while others are still living in slave parlor conditions, unable to leave the country. Fans, however, who shelled thousands of dollars to be there, remain oblivious to it.
But nothing beats the impunity and privilege usually assigned to the megarich like Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. According to the Biden administration, he has immunity from a lawsuit filed against him over the killing of Saudi American journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
A U.S. own intel investigation concluded that he was dismembered by Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by order of Salman. No one has been indicted so far and with the ruling, it’s likely no one will. “Jamal died again today,” Khashoggi’s former fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said on Twitter.
When U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in the District of Columbia vacated the order known as Title 42, he effectively restored asylum seekers’ access to the borders for the first time since the Trump administration issued it during the pandemic. The decision brings immediate challenges to U.S. immigration policies: after two years of record apprehensions on the U.S.-Mexico border, requests for asylum are expected to increase tenfold.
An ICE-credentialed doctor, Dr. Mahendra Amin, has sterilized detained women without their consent. Some 19 asylum seekers had dilation and curettage surgeries, contraceptive injections, and laparoscopies, performed on the entire detainee population nationwide, to remove lesions by the doctor who was subpoenaed but invoked his Fifth Amendment right. The horrific findings reveal the utter failure of current U.S. immigration policies.
And yet, we’re still forced to speak about the man who’s bent on thwarting American democracy. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to determine whether the ex-president, who just declared he’s running again, should face criminal charges for mishandling national security materials and role in the Jan. 6 deadly rampage on the U.S. Capitol. But something tells us it won’t work because Trump won’t testify.
Finally, to the memorial of iconic non-human beings add Frida, a golden retriever who saved scores of people buried by Mexico’s 2017 earthquake, and Tuan Tuan, the panda China gave Taiwan as a symbol of the now highly-contentious ‘One-China’ concept. R.I.P. to both, you did improve the world.
“A feast for the eyes that watch it and a joy for the body that plays it.” Eduardo Galeano. “A game in which everyone gets hurt and every nation has its own style.” George Orwell. “Everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.” Jean-Paul Sartre. And we say, “Football is life.” Cheers WC


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