Dear Mr. Mayor

A Quick Reminder to
NYC Mayor de Blasio

The personal safety, unalienable freedom of expression, and integrity of each one of the thousands of Climate Emergency activists that’ll descend upon New York City today and next Friday are entirely on your hands, Bill. Here’s hoping you’re getting ready as we speak.
That means that today we need you to be on the streets playing the top cop. And the NYPD will do strictly as it’s told. By you. Hold your batons, Bravest, and let the world speak through the young and the old, the poor and the would-never be rich: Climate Action Now.
There must be absolutely no arrests for protesting, no attempt to corral people marching to save the Earth. No harassment, no tear gas or pepper spray against those brave enough to face multibillion-dollar interests with only the power of their conviction.
No police-state threat or intimidation. No A.I. facial recognition of those a misguided law enforcement establishment may intend to persecute. Turn off the too many surveillance cameras everywhere. Curb your worst offenders, ban ICE from even showing up.
The world will be watching more than the usual, and marching along. So be there, on the ground, making sure the voice of the Earth is heard obscenely loud. Forget 2020 for a moment; it’s not your ‘moment to shine,’ but to take responsibility. Show up and scream along.
History won’t forget or forgive those who are betraying the planet now and cashing in while the circus is burned to the ground. Your grandchildren must hear how great you once were, not that you were out there, slandering the faith put upon you to be the mayor of change.
There’s no need for speeches from you or any other fat cat; your job is to safeguard what’s left of the greatness of this city, its immigrant, working-class roots, and its legacy of dissent. New Yorkers don’t expect anything less from you. Don’t screw this up.

High Up

From Above, We
Can See Forever

It’s been said that Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont died, 80 years ago last July, of a broken heart. An avowed pacifist, he simply couldn’t believe that his lifetime efforts developing a heavier-than-air craft were being used to create the war’s most lethal weapon of the time.
Since it’s International Civil Aviation day, let’s check some photographs, taken from airplane windows, of a few cities dominating the world news cycle. But you’ll see neither mayhem nor excitement about what’s happening on the ground, because they all look peaceful and beautiful from above.
While Damascus remains under siege, people in Gaza Strip and Tel Aviv keep vigil, even as the rhythms of their every day life resume. Egyptians are out in the streets of Cairo, while in Juba, Sudan, another journalist has been killed for criticizing the government.

As for Americans, thousands continue to fight and die in the mountains of Afghanistan, but their sacrifice is hardly ever mentioned in the daily news. It’s much more likely that you’ll be reading about Denver and Seattle and how they’re yet to implode, now that’s legal to smoke marijuana there.
Santos Dumont had no idea how much worse things were going to get before they arguably improved, but maybe that was the idea. Airplanes did become one of the most effective ways for humans to kill other humans, and let’s not get started about drones. They also serve for a variety of great things too, though.

One doesn’t even need to be high to acknowledge and enjoy the fact that airplanes also helped us realize how much closer we’re of each other than our ancestors believe, and how beautiful the world really is, regardless of all stupid and senseless things we do with this knowledge.

Thus, it was probably for the few hundreds of thousands currently flying overhead, traveling from country to country, visiting dear ones or meeting complete strangers, that this day was created in 1996. To mark then 50 years of civil aviation, which undoubtedly brought us a bit closer.
It’s quite possible that Orville and Wilbur Wright also shared some idealism about the future of their invention. We can’t help but reaching a sobering realization though: that the dream of flying is as ancient and immemorial to humans as our will to wage war and conquer.
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As if we’re bound to reenact the myth of Icarus over and over again, we’re still led by the same intoxicating, and ultimately doomed, drive: our desire to soar free and overcome our humanity, and ambition to dominate nature and obliterate our adversaries. In the meantime:
‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. In just a few minutes, we’ll be landing on the International Airport of…’

The Deadliest Season

Beware the Newest Growing
Casualty of War: Journalists

While a precarious ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians hangs on the balance, there’s another tragic consequence among the conflict’s casualties: the breakdown of one of most basic precepts of modern warfare, that of the protected role of journalists covering the action.
Coinciding with claims that Israeli forces may have deliberately targeted alleged pro-Hamas reporters at a media center in Gaza, a new International Press Institute report puts at a record 119 the number of journalists killed around the world so far this year while doing their job.
Even though in every war, there’s a gray area intersecting the work of media-accredited reporters with that of P.R. professionals paid by one side or another, according to the Geneva Convention, all parts involved share responsibility over the lives of anyone covering an armed conflict.
Thus, any violation or deliberated attempt to restrict a reporter’s role during wartime is liable to internationally sanctioned punishment. The increased number of journalists being harmed, or even considered enemy combatants in contemporary warfare, should be cause for alarm to everyone who ultimately benefits from their courageous and often unfiltered coverage.
The convention was a civilized agreement, reached by almost all nations around the world in 1949, that aimed at both protecting the profession of war correspondent, and at establishing clear and humanitarian rules of warfare. Perhaps because much has changed since WWII, many governments took upon themselves to rewrite such rules, and the result has been disastrous.

SHOOTING THE MESSENGER
After its aircraft hit two Gaza media buildings on Sunday, wounding eight journalists, Israel first denied that they were the target. Then a military spokeswoman added a disturbing comment, saying that ‘the journalists … were serving as human shields for Hamas,’ which many took as a justification for the action.
It was all the more disturbing since last week, after three news organization employees were killed by Israeli missiles, the same spokesperson had said that ‘the targets are people who have relevance to terror activity,’ a wondrous sentence in its menacing vagueness.
In the 2008-2009 war against Hamas, Israel had already bombed the same buildings it blasted Sunday, under the assumption that Islamist militants were operating out of them. The viciousness of the most recent attacks bodes very poorly for Israel’s public image in the U.S., despite President Obama’s support to its actions.
Even though Israel can boast being one of the few countries in the region where there’s freedom of the press, the international community was aroused by how it chose to frame the argument: that the professionals that were wounded were in fact Hamas militants. That’s because whether they were or not is irrelevant in the context of the bigger issue.

NO EYEWITNESS CAN BE BLIND
The important distinction missing here is that journalists, while reporting for media organizations, have a commitment to be objective and present the facts with accuracy as they see them. Where their personal allegiances lie in the political spectrum should be irrelevant to the quality of their reporting.
Apart from that, they are also entitled to their own opinions, as citizens Continue reading