Friday, August 29, 2014

The week that was

It has been another thoroughly awful week in what has been a spectacularly terrible summer of news events so far. Thank Mother Nature it is coming to an end. At least the season is. The nature of humankind probably guarantees that the bad news will continue, but perhaps we'll have some more pleasant weather to ameliorate its effects.

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The Middle East continues to be the Middle East. Syria and Iraq continue to be Syria and Iraq, and ISIL/ISIS continues its campaign to dominate them both as well as the rest of the region. They see it as their Allah-given right, just as some sects in this country see it as their God-given right to dictate to the rest of us how we should live. (Really, wouldn't it be wonderful if all of these fundamentalists could just be isolated to one corner of the world and allowed to slug it out?)

ISIL/ISIS, of course, commits really horrific acts, including beheading people while distributing the video of it to the world and, apparently, burying people alive. Their totally perverted interpretation of Islam tells them that they can do whatever barbaric thing they wish to anyone who isn't an adherent of their particular sect.

Unfortunately, the United States must bear some of the responsibility for the uprising of this group, because of the principle of "You broke it, you own it." We broke that region when we manufactured an excuse for invading Iraq and securing "regime change." Our government sowed the wind and continues to reap the whirlwind and no doubt will for years to come.

Meanwhile, the architects of that phony war go unpunished and live out their lives in comfort while the victims of the war - the members of the military who fought it and the Iraqi civilians who were just trying to live their lives - continue to suffer. One wonders when the arc of the universe will bend toward justice in this case.

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Back in this country, it was another week of people shooting each other. The most egregious example of that was a nine-year-old girl at a shooting range in Arizona who shot her instructor. With an Uzi. With the parents standing by.

In what universe is it okay for a parent to hand their nine-year-old daughter a submachine gun to play with?

Of course, the NRA was all over it with their tweet about seven ways kids can have fun at shooting ranges. Presumably one of those ways was not shooting one's instructor.

I wonder, would these people accept ANY limits to people wielding guns? Would they, for example, defend the right of a two-year-old to have an Uzi?

*~*~*~*

In another troubled part of the world, Ukraine, the stealthy invasion by Russian troops continues and Putin continues to deny that it is happening.

One of the most bizarre aspects of this story from an American viewpoint is that some of the radical right-wingers in our country wish that we had Putin in charge here. They are great admirers of what they consider his decisive action.

These are some of the same people, by the way, who want to impeach President Obama for acting by executive order, bypassing Congress. Consistency, thou art not a Republican!

*~*~*~*

We also learned this week - not that there had ever really been any doubt - that the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch Brothers. It will be very interesting to see whether the recordings of various Republicans sucking up to these guys in their meeting with them will have any effect on the races where they are candidates. Or are Americans so apathetic and cynical that they no longer care that their candidates are bought and paid for by billionaires who definitely do not have their interests at heart?

*~*~*~*

And then, of course, there is Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager who was shot multiple times by a policeman sworn to serve and protect the community, was buried this week. His funeral was attended by thousands who never knew him but who wanted to express their outrage at what happened.

The Ferguson police department continued its not very subtle campaign of attempting to destroy Brown's reputation and a new recording came to light of the sound of shots being fired at the time of the killing of this young man.

A grand jury is considering the facts of the shooting - at least the facts that are presented by what, from this distance, appears to be a totally biased district attorney's staff. Frankly, it seems depressingly unlikely that there will ever be justice for Michael Brown, just as there has been no justice for Trayvon Martin or countless others before him.

Racism and the targeting of black people by the police continue to be a stain on the conscience of this country. One would like to believe that we would all be in agreement that the stain should be removed, but a brief excursion into the world of social media this week would instantly have disabused one of that fantasy. If there is one thing that is certain, it is that there will be more Michael Browns and Trayvon Martins.

And so it goes.  

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