Category Archives: Archived

The Ruling Class Will Stop at Nothing

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” – Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress

 

 

Since Bernie Sanders’ win in the Nevada primaries there have been remarkable, yet totally expected spasms within the American ruling class. They are justifiably fearful since they have enjoyed decades of unfettered capitalism in the form of neoliberal economics that have lined their coffers. And they see Sanders as the biggest threat to that amassed wealth. Now, to be clear, the senator from Vermont is not a socialist by any stretch. He has consistently voted in favor of military actions and for sanctions against nations like Nicaragua and Venezuela, and for budgets which increase American imperialism among other things. Things which are antithetical to the basic tenets of socialism. And he defines himself as a democratic socialist more in line with the policies of countries like Norway or Sweden. Besides Eugene V. Debs, Sanders ideologies are the closest to socialism any presidential candidate has ever come in the US, at least from either dominant political party.

 

Sanders ascendancy in the polls has caused some rather odd meltdowns among the American elite. Chris Matthews, the gaseous, bloviating talk show host, compared Sanders win to the Nazi invasion of France. Aside from the sheer odiousness of this and that the comparison callously ignores the fact that Sanders is Jewish and lost a significant portion of his family to the Holocaust, it is an incredibly over the top thing to say. But other talking heads have made similar comparisons. Chuck Todd, for instance, likened Sanders supporters to Brown Shirts. Indeed, this phenomenon exposes the true inclinations of the corporate media and the panic they feel over having to cover a candidate who stands very much apart from the rest of them. The imagery they are evoking is clearly meant to stoke fear. It is the imagery of terror and war.

 

After being ignored by the press since well before the current primaries began, Sanders successes can no longer be pushed aside. It is a breath of fresh air to see some coverage of a politician with an impressive career, rather than meaningless puff pieces about the socks Pete Buttigieg prefers or ‘gotcha’ clickbait like Joe Biden’s latest inappropriate grope. But we shouldn’t expect too much more from the mainstream press. For decades, the corporate media has acted to reinforce the status quo. They are in the business of manufacturing images, feelings and spectacle, not substance. And this goes beyond the news. American pop culture is drenched in a mythology about how great America is. Here, every injustice or atrocity, no matter how horrific or ongoing, becomes a footnote to its supposed inclusivity, innovation, ideals and aspirations.

 

Movies and television are inundated in themes that glorify the rich. The working poor are rarely represented, and when they are it is generally done in a supremely unrealistic fashion. These characters are usually struggling to make ends meet, but quick to praise the “American way of life.” Seldom, if ever, are subjects of class even approached. In addition to this, egregious and anti-democratic institutions like the CIA, DHS, and the Department of Defense are endlessly lauded. Shows where secret or special agents are the protagonist are nothing new in American pop culture, but in an era where information is readily available it is quite remarkable that these tropes can survive, much less thrive. These characters may have some endearing or troublesome personal flaws, but in the end their mission and core values are presented as unassailable. They will fight to the death to preserve the “American way of life.” It is never questioned why the supposed threat to this way of life seems to lie most frequently in the Middle East, or in Cuba, or North Korea, or Venezuela. They protect American “freedom” which seems to always reside in oil rich, ‘socialist’ countries elsewhere. But otherizing and externalizing is classic American style distraction. The real threat to ordinary Americans can never be discussed because, of course, that threat is the ruling class establishment itself. But it begs the question, what is the American way of life?

 

There is no other country on the planet where a billionaire with a detestable personality and a past littered with racism, misogyny and disdain for the poor, could seamlessly buy himself into a prominent spot in the election cycle. Not one. But this is rarely, if ever, questioned in the mainstream. Michael Bloomberg, who ran New York City in a manner the likes of Chile’s Pinochet would have been proud of, was able to sweep into the national spotlight with little to no objection in the media. And this is because the wealth class in the US is still lauded for their supposed “success.” The myth is rather simple and banal: the poor are poor because they simply do not work hard enough, or they are getting hand outs that make them lazy. The reality, of course, is that more and more Americans are working two to three low wage jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, using payday loans to pay for groceries, living in their cars or vans, and are perpetually terrified of getting sick because they understand all too well that getting sick in America can turn you into a life time debtor, just kill you, or both.

 

But the American ruling class live in a bubble unto themselves. Take the case of celebrity “judge” Judy Sheindlin who has been stumping for billionaire Bloomberg. Her disdain for Sanders and those who support him is quite palpable in this quote: “America doesn’t need a revolution… It’s the most perfect country in the world and those people that are trying to change it and revolutionize it, don’t have a chance, because I’ll fight them to the death.”  The “judge,” who no longer is a judge but plays one on television, is emblematic of this bubble. She has made a career out of denigrating the poor. In fact, her program would not have been a success without a large pool of them in America. The rich don’t go to small claims court. The rich don’t care about paltry sums like $200 or even $1000. The poor do. And they get paid a small amount to appear on her kangaroo court stage set and humiliate themselves for the pleasure of their peers and those who might be better off at the moment. Sheindlin’s net worth is $420 million. She has several mansions and a private jet; so it stands to reason why she would think the US is “the most perfect country in the world” or why she would fight to the death to save that kind of ostentatious privilege and obscene wealth. Bloomberg is, understandably, her last best hope. But I have a feeling she would be just as comfortable with another four years of his golfing buddy Donald Trump, since under his regime her wealth and privilege would be just as preserved.

 

As Bernie Sanders campaign gains momentum so too will the smears and slander against him. Establishment centrist and moderate Democrats, a term which in and of itself is laughable since the needle on this spectrum has been pushed drastically to the right, perhaps loathe the senator even more than the far right itself. Capitalism, after all, has been quite good to them. Hiding away in ‘wine caves’ for the past several decades, attending high priced galas and rubbing elbows with the uber wealthy and jet set has numbed them to the crushing reality of the majority of the world. To them the working poor are maids that clean their condos when they are off at a DNC fundraising luncheon or the guys that park their BMWs when they go to an exclusive club. And while they might employ the well-timed virtue signal or post a meme to indicate that they care about economic injustice, they generally see the poor as a “basket of deplorables.” The kind that get ridiculed and denigrated by Judge Judy in her fake tv courtroom. Unfit to lead or even vote for that matter. Best kept in the shadows, invisible except to be occasionally trotted out on stage behind one of their Wall Street endorsed candidates carrying a sign, and especially if they happen to be wearing a hijab, or are a member of the LGBTQ community, or are a person of color.

 

From its inception, the United States has been a nation founded upon inequality, racism and oppression. The land was seized violently from its original inhabitants who were then systematically ethnically cleansed from it. African slaves and indentured servants from Ireland, China and beyond built its plantations, dug its mines and built its railroads. Wealthy, white, male land and slave owners, unsatisfied with an allegiance to a monarch an ocean away, were the only ones permitted to vote for their chosen oligarch. And they never intended for this arrangement to be altered. Their “revolution” was not one for democracy, but one to retain wealth for their own class. Every single gain that ordinary people made in the US was due to a struggle against this ruling class, a struggle that often led to their deaths. Today, that struggle continues but thanks to the behemoth corporate surveillance/police state and a media that acts as a mouthpiece for that same class, it has become hobbled, muted and crushed. The poor have been encouraged to identify not with each other, but with a system that largely views them as subhuman or simply doesn’t see them at all.

 

Sanders popularity signifies a small cry against the ongoing assault against working people. An assault that began before the nation’s founding and that has been sustained ever since. To be sure, the ruling class, whose power has become ensconced in every single institution from the Supreme Court on down, will stop at nothing to silence this lamentation. If distraction does not work, chicanery might. And if all else fails they will rely on state violence to guard their vaults. One look at France at the moment and we can get a glimpse of how far they will go to protect their “interests.” They may not personally fight to the death to hold on to their status, but we would be fools to think that they wouldn’t bat an eye killing any one of us, or even the biosphere on which we all rely, to keep it.

 

 

Kenn Orphan, February 2020

Towards Zero Hour

Recently, I was asked a couple times what my thoughts were on the impeachment proceedings unfolding in Washington DC. Without a doubt, the trial is dominating many news cycles, and not only in the US but outside of it as well. It is a strange phenomenon that is astonishingly divorced from the pressing issues of its time. Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle writ large across ubiquitous screens.

Trump is a vile human being. This much is a given. But let’s be honest. This is a battle among the wealthy ownership class about crimes that this class commits on a regular basis. It isn’t about real crimes any of us would be tried or convicted for, and it isn’t about things humanity should be appalled by, like separating children from their parents and putting them in cages, or carpet bombing civilians, or drone bombing foreign nationals on foreign soil, or training death squads, or deregulating planet killing industries, or opening up untouched lands to mining, fossil fuel, agriculture and timber interests. No crimes against humanity or the living planet, the ones that count, are being addressed here.

In the meantime, the working class and ordinary people in the US continue to contend with little or no healthcare coverage, increasing wealth disparity, increasing debt and increasing homelessness. In the meantime, people who live outside the US, and in places targeted by its belligerent foreign policy, contend with literal life and death situations caused by a bloated and unhinged military state that spends more on its endless wars than on the welfare of its own people. In the meantime, the biosphere continues to be assaulted by the timber, mining, agricultural and fossil fuel industries, plastic continues to be dumped into the world’s oceans, fish stocks are plummeting, coral reefs are bleaching, forests are being felled at record pace, and climate change fueled calamities are increasing dramatically. In the meantime, people who expose the crimes of the powerful are languishing in prison, like Chelsea Manning, with little to no coverage in the mainstream media. In the meantime, people who assist desperate human beings dying of thirst in the desert or drowning at sea, or who want to ease the suffering of sentient beings on factory farms, or who try to defend our water from pipelines that always leak, are being portrayed as terrorists and are facing jail time for it.

One of the greatest gifts the ruling class possesses is distraction, and in this they create the conditions for a pervading sense of alienation. Alienation from each other. Alienation from the natural world on which we depend. Alienation from our own humanity. And this is because it creates a series of unconnected moments where each one has little or nothing to do with the last one. This creates collective amnesia and a sense of powerlessness. It is how a war criminal like John Bolton, a man largely responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, can be cast as a defender of justice. It is how the real crimes of corporations or the military industrial complex go unpunished. Forgotten, until the next catastrophe.

So forgive me if I simply do not care much about the squabbles among the powerful or the ruling class, but I am sick to death of the distraction, of the spectacle. Trump will likely ride this new calamity out like he has the last ones. But even if he doesn’t nothing of consequence will change in time to matter to the majority of living beings on this planet unless the whole house of cards comes down in a heap. Until then the global capitalist class will go on pillaging, polluting and raping humanity and the living planet, and putting on show after show to distract us all while they do so. Producing shadow puppets on the wall of the cave, chiding or mocking those who question or dissent, and keeping us chained to it all.

So isn’t it time to climb out of the cave that Plato so long ago described? And while there is still time? As an fyi, the ominous “Doomsday Clock” of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was just moved to a mere 100 seconds before midnight, the closest it has ever been.

 

Kenn Orphan   January 2020

 

In War, Truth is the First Casualty

“In war, truth is the first casualty.” – Aeschylus
 
 
“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” – Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda
 
 
“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” – Edward Bernays, Propaganda
          Since President Trump’s assassination of Iranian General Qasam Soleimani in Iraq, I’ve seen some well meaning people sharing a video entitled “My 2 cents on current events” on social media. It is by Iranian-American Saghar Erica Kasraie. In the video Kasraie states she is a “human rights activist” and proclaims that Iranians are celebrating the assassination of Soleimani. She then goes on to thank President Trump for this illegal and brazen act of war. I couldn’t help but be reminded of another “viral video” that was circulated by Venezuelan-American comedian Joanna Hausmann when the US was targeting Venezuela for a coup against Maduro last year. She also praised the American led actions against the country, albeit in a manner more appealing to her progressive audience.
          Then it was revealed that Hausmann wasn’t just a “justice seeking” Venezuelan of the diaspora. Her father was the former Venezuelan Minister of Planning and former Head of the Presidential Office of Coordination and Planning when that country was a rightwing dictatorship. Her family was clearly a part of the ruling class establishment before a socialist government was legally elected by the Venezuelan people. So this should serve as a caution when we hear anyone parroting the US State Department and thanking American presidents for taking unilateral military actions.
          What is not being said about Kasraie is that she is a conservative Christian evangelical who has been involved in rightwing politics in Washington DC for years. She worked for the Institute of World Politics, a neo- conservative think tank which prides itself on holding the private library of former CIA director William Casey, and touts the notorious, fascist supporting Sebastian Gorka as being one of its faculty. To be sure, Kasraie is much less a human rights activist, and more an asset of the US State Department and the CIA; and shares much in common with rightwing Venezuelan-Americans and Cuban-Americans who have aligned with the most hawkish figures in the American Empire likely because they lost their privileged status in their former countries.
          Without a doubt, the Iranian theocracy has a long history of brutal repression. Crackdowns on dissidents and protesters have been reprehensible, and its persecution of women and other minorities should be condemned. But it was the US that started this nightmare when the CIA orchestrated a coup against the democratically elected president, Mohammed Mosaddegh, and installed the brutal regime of the Shah in 1953. Mosaddegh’s “crime” was attempting to bring a fair share of Iran’s petroleum profits to the people of Iran, rather than most of it going to wealthy American and British oil companies. When the Iranian people ousted the Shah a theocracy sadly took its place, but since then the country has been under a ruthless assault, led by the US, for decades. It is surrounded by dozens of American military bases and has endured crippling sanctions which have devastated working people and the poor throughout the country. The latest sanctions have virtually ground the economy to a halt. With all this in mind it should be clear that this assassination was merely the culmination of an ongoing war against Iran. A war whose casualties we may never be able to fathom.
          To be sure, Soleimani was a beloved figure by many in Iran because he was seen as winning many victories against ISIS. Whether or not this is a misguided belief is not germane. If Iran assassinated Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, both of them war criminals by any definition of the term, the American people, especially conservative Americans, would be outraged. But since the US is an empire, it enjoys total immunity. It even refuses to allow its own military personnel to face charges for war crimes at the Hague. And the sad reality is that the actions of the US have only emboldened reactionary forces within the Iranian government itself. It is a blow to real democracy movements and human rights activists in the country. Add to this Trump’s unhinged threats against sites of cultural importance to Iranian society, and it becomes clear that the US has lost any gains it supposedly may have made toward solidarity with the Iranian people.
          Since the latest escalation of tensions, disinformation about Iran is clearly being ramped up. With the past as a guide, we can anticipate the American mainstream media parroting State Department talking points and demonizing anyone who dissents as a “supporter of terrorists.” But when the American Empire wages war under the guise of “human rights” the hypocrisy is staggering. After all, its closest allies in the region commit gross human rights abuses, whether it be the murderous medieval kingdom of Saudi Arabia which funds jihadist militants and madrassas, beheads men for homosexuality and women accused of witchcraft, and is leading a genocidal war against Yemen. Or the apartheid government of Israel that has blockaded Gaza in what amounts to an open air prison, demolishes Palestinian homes in the West Bank in favor of illegal settlements, or imprisons children as young as 8 years old. Or the military junta in Egypt that has criminalized free speech and mercilessly persecutes journalists and political dissidents.
          The hypocrisy in relation to their own crimes is equally breathtaking. The propaganda machine wants us to forget how the US military was going to “liberate” the women of Afghanistan. But twenty years later the Taliban is still a major force in the country, and hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, maimed and displaced by the invasion and entrenched occupation. They want us to forget that they bombed Libya, a nation that once had the highest standard of living in Africa, into the Stone Age because of the “evil” Gaddafi. Now that country is in ruins and hosts a modern day slave trade that has largely fueled the refugee crisis in the region. They want us to forget how that after the US “liberated” Iraq from Saddam Hussein, the US committed war crimes in Abu Ghraib, Fallujah and elsewhere, and the country was plunged into intractable poverty where corruption and crime are rampant, and the public has suffered from constant attacks from ISIS and other militant groups. And now, with the apparent, unintentional and horrific downing of the Ukraine International Airlines flight that killed 176 people by Iranian forces, they want us to forget that the US shot down an Iranian passenger jet in 1988 killing 290 people, and never apologized for that act of reprehensible cruelty.
          Viral videos, like the one made by Kasraie, serve the propaganda machine of Washington by making it appear to ordinary Americans that the Iranian people welcome a US military attack or even invasion. They are designed to cloak American belligerence in platitudes about human rights. But any grievances that the Iranian people may have with their government will never be solved by US military interventions, they will only worsen them. Indeed, there are countless examples of the US military using humanitarian or social justice issues to hide the true motivation for all American forays: hegemonic domination on behalf of the interests of capital. As recent exposes about Cambridge Analytica have revealed, this machine of disinformation and obfuscation is slick and technologically advanced, with social media being the new frontier to be exploited. And this is a dangerous ruse that might well precede yet another needless bloodbath.
– Kenn Orphan, January 2020

Modern Art and Film in Iran, a Cultural Treasure

Iran does not only possess priceless treasures from the ancient world. Art galleries and museums abound, many of them modern and containing pieces from Gauguin, Kandinsky, Miró, Pissaro, Monet, Léger, Picasso, Pollack, Van Gogh, Rivera and more. Here are some photos of the world renowned Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran.

Although the Pentagon has attempted to step back from Trump’s threats to destroy Iranian cultural sites, Trump himself has doubled down on them. Would these treasures be targeted?

#NoWarOnIran

 

Kenn Orphan   January 2020

Hafez: Political Satire is First Lost on Politicians

The Tomb of Hafez, which is located in the city of Shiraz, Iran, is widely regarded as a treasure of all humanity. Hafez was a poet in 14th century Persia, who wrote about love and mysticism. He is still beloved today by most Iranians. Besides being a poet, he was also a fierce critic of religious hypocrisy and corrupt politics and used satire to do so.

Although the Pentagon has attempted to step back from Trump’s threats to destroy Iranian cultural sites, Trump himself has doubled down on them. As satire is lost on most politicians, can we assume that this cultural site would also be a target for destruction?

#NoWarOnIran

Kenn Orphan    January 2020

Persepolis, a Threatened Cultural Site of Antiquity

Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550-330 BC) until it was invaded, looted and destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. Today, the ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site, beloved not only by Iranians, but anyone who respects and appreciates history. Each year tens of thousands of tourists visit this marvelous city from the ancient world and archeologists are still unearthing treasures, while working to protect it from the ravages of climate change.

It has withstood 2500 years, so it would be a supreme and terrible irony if it were destroyed completely. But it is a place of great significance, and although the Pentagon has attempted to step back from Trump’s threats to destroy Iranian cultural sites, Trump himself has doubled down on them. Would this be targeted too?

#NoWarOnIran

 

Kenn Orphan  January 2020

More of Iran’s Cultural Sites

Iran contains many sites that are sacred to Jews, Christians and other faiths, including the tomb of Esther and Mordechai where thousands of Jews make pilgrimage each year. There are also cathedrals, monasteries and shrines that remain active today. Iran has the second largest population of Jews in the Middle East outside of Israel and is home to a large population of Christians as well. The same cannot be said of one of the United State’s greatest allies, Saudi Arabia, where all places of worship other than a strict version of Sunni Muslim are banned.

Although the Pentagon has attempted to step back from Trump’s threats to destroy Iranian cultural sites, Trump himself has doubled down on them. These sites are considered a part of Iranian cultural heritage, would they be targeted too?

#NoWarOnIran

 

Kenn Orphan   January 2020

Isfahan, Another Cultural Site of Iran

In his 1930s travelogue, The Road to Oxiana, Robert Byron wrote of this Iranian city: “Isfahan has become indelible, has insinuated its image into that gallery of places that everybody privately treasures. I gave it no help in doing so. The monuments have kept me too busy. One could explore for months without coming to the end of them. From the 11th century, architects and craftsmen have recorded the fortunes of the town, its changes of taste, government and belief. The buildings reflect these local circumstances; it is their charm, like the charm of most old towns. But a few illustrate the heights of art independently, and rank Isfahan among those rarer places, like Athens or Rome, which are the common refreshment of humanity.”

Although the Pentagon has attempted to step back from Trump’s threats to destroy Iranian cultural sites, Trump himself has doubled down on them. These sites are considered a part of Iranian cultural heritage, would they be targeted too?

#NoWarOnIran

Kenn Orphan   January, 2020

Trump’s War on Iran is not Against its Government, it is Against the Iranian People Themselves

Earlier today President Trump threatened via tweet to destroy Iran’s cultural sites. Let that sink in for a minute. A sitting president of the US has threatened to erase the cultural heritage of an entire people. This was the tactic of ISIS who blew up centuries old shrines, mosques, churches and Roman era ruins and the Taliban which demolished ancient towering statues of the Buddha. It is also a war crime under international law.

Iranian society reaches back 5000 years. Its art, culture and architecture have influenced countless societies and remain a treasure for all humanity. That a president would make such a threat should be chilling for anyone with a conscience. Trump’s war on Iran is not against its government, it is against the Iranian people themselves.

Kenn Orphan   January 2020

Pictured is the beautiful Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran. There are more sites listed in the attached website below:

https://mymodernmet.com/historical-architecture-iran/

While the World Burns, the Powerful Go on Holiday

Like so many these past few days, I have been stunned by the devastation across Australia. The photographs and videos of the fires sweeping through the countryside and surrounding towns and even the city of Sydney show a nation literally on fire. Terrified people clung to the bottoms of boat docks, neck deep in water to escape the flames. Thousands crowded on to beaches while the skies above became a Mars like orange hue.  At the time of my writing this at least 18 people are confirmed to have died, over 14 million acres scorched, and a half billion wild animals have perished. These numbers will almost certainly rise. Indeed, it has made even the most stoic of climate scientists tremble. The fires are unprecedented in scale, bigger than the fires in California or even the Amazon in 2019. And they are particularly alarming as this is only the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere.

Of course, deadly bushfire behemoths are not uncommon in Australia. In 1926, sixty people perished in south east Victoria. The Black Friday bushfires in 1939 claimed 71 lives. But the intensity of these incidents has increased as temperatures have steadily climbed over the 20th century. Then in 2009 the most devastating of fires took the lives of 173 people, scorched at least 450,000 hectares of land (1,100,000 acres), and killed hundreds of thousands of animals. Today’s fires have a new context that cannot be ignored. As climate change accelerates, so too does the pace and scale of its consequences.

While Australia has been reeling from devastating bushfires, just to the north thousands of Indonesians have been forced to flee for their lives too, but this time it is due to catastrophic flooding. In fact, the capital city itself is sinking into the ocean thanks to excessive extraction of ground water and rising seas. The government has made public its plan to relocate the capital to an inland area on the heavily forested island of Borneo, a grim prospect for the future of indigenous peoples and wildlife in that already beleaguered region. Indonesia is a world leader in the destruction of its own rainforests, much of it cleared or burned for global timber trade and to make way for profitable crops like palm oil. Its unbridled greed has decimated wildlife, including the endangered orangutan. And based on its corrupt history, the government will likely abandon the poorest of sinking Jakarta first.

 

In many ways the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century might also prove to be the beginning of an unraveling of sorts. And this does not only pertain to the biosphere. Last month’s UN sponsored COP 25 (Conference of Parties) in Madrid, which aimed at addressing our climate catastrophe, was a complete sham much like similar conferences preceding it. Thousands of delegates were joined by hundreds of fossil fuel and banking industry lobbyists and profiteers. They not only attended the conference, but also led several of the meetings. The sickening irony of this was not lost on protesters, who walked out of rooms en masse with hands clasped over their ears once the oil men began speaking.

But around the world the most wealthy and powerful governments remain firmly in denial, and that denial is rooted in the interests of capital. In other words, the shortsighted profits for the moneyed few. As fires ravaged his country Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, for instance, spent the beginning of this disaster holidaying in Hawaii. But this apathy should come as no surprise since he had the gall to stand in the House of Representatives in 2017 clasping a lump of coal and declaring: “This is coal. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared. It won’t hurt you.” Now, three years later, it appears that those insensitive and downright stupid words have clearly come to haunt his government.

 

Only a couple months ago the world’s attention was on the fires in the Amazon. Fires that should not have occurred in a wet rainforest. Fires that have devastated fragile ecosystems and the indigenous communities that depend on them. Fires that were, in large part, intentionally set by loggers, miners and cattle ranchers under the approving gaze of the Bolsonaro regime. Today, mainstream media attention has moved to a different continent, but the scenario isn’t much different. There are very rich and very powerful people burning the house we all live in down to ash to make a quick buck, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they will create distractions, even deadly ones like war, to divert our attention and resources. Or they will simply fiddle, like Nero, or go on holiday when the flames get too close to their gilded mansions.

 

Kenn Orphan   January, 2020

 

Title photo credit: Adam Stevenson, Reuters. A kookaburra perches on a burnt tree in the aftermath of a bushfire in Wallabi Point, Australia, on Nov. 12, 2019.