Even after years of dedicated judo training, both Mohamed Abdalarasool from Sudan and Fethi Nourine from Algeria refused to compete in the Tokyo Olympics when they were slated to perform against an Israeli athlete. In an official statement, Nourine said to an Algerian TV station, “We worked a lot to reach the Olympics… but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this.” This gesture of sacrifice and solidarity with Palestinians oppressed by Israel earned Abdalarasool and Nourine hero status in the Arab world and beyond.
Late last year, with the pandemic in full, brutal swing, Boris Johnson’s Conservative government in the U.K. announced a nearly 17 billion pound (what was then $21.9 billion) increase in military spending. The increase, spread over four years, represented the largest hike in “defense” investments since the end of the Cold War, and, while it was a tiny fraction of what the U.S. spends annually on defense, made clear Britain’s ambition to be seen as a global military superpower once more. In an era of escalating tensions between a U.S.-led NATO and Russia, and during a period in which economic competition between China and the West is increasingly morphing into a high-stakes arms race, Britain’s move to ramp up military spending made clear that the U.K. won’t be sitting out these new global struggles.
Environment & Health New COVID Variants Threaten to Make Pandemic Permanent Economy & Labor COVID Relief Packages Dramatically Reduced Poverty. They Should Be Permanent. Economy & Labor Predatory Banks at Walmarts Made Over 100 Percent of Profits From Overdraft Fees Environment & Health Biden to Set Goal for Half of All Vehicle Sales to Be Electric by 2030 Environment & Health MO Coroner Says He Alters Death Certificates If Families Dislike COVID Inclusion Environment & Health Biden Made Big Compromises on Climate — and Movements That Backed Him Are Livid My work days move to the sound of McCoy Tyner’s mastery pouring out of the Pandora app on the television. Every so often, and always against my better judgment, I’ll flip to one of the alphabet soup “news” networks to get an update on how screwed we are. They seldom disappoint, which is to say they always do, and I flee back to the piano of the gods at speed. Lately, however, those forays to CNN or MSNBC have been fraught with a special sort of gall. In between the litany of doom that is the average break-to-break broadcast, they’ve been showing wall to wall commercials congratulating viewers on COVID being over. “It’s been a long year, but now that things are getting back to normal…” intones one, followed by another announcing “We made it!” The imagery is all sunrises and maskless couples noshing pasta in crowded restaurants, everyone wreathed in smiles and presumably vaccinated… …and then the broadcast begins again: “Good morning, I’m Fippy Fuzznerf sitting in for Ankles McGee, and here are our top stories. There were more than 96,000 new cases of COVID-19 recorded yesterday alone, a two-week increase of 131 percent. Around the world, known cases of COVID have surpassed 4 million infections. Scientists credit the dramatic infection spike in this country to the national dominance of the highly contagious Delta variant, and to the fact that millions of Americans still refuse to accept vaccination. Leading COVID expert Anthony Fauci anticipates we may see as many as 200,000 new infections per day until this new spike recedes, or until enough people have gotten vaccinated. We’ll be right back after these messages.” “…Now that the pandemic is over, isn’t it time to start planning your special vacation at last? At BookYourCrap.com, we have all the tools you need to organize the trip you’ve been dreaming about for a year…” Sigh. Thanks to the incredible bungling of this crisis for vital months by the Trump administration, that last horse appears to have left the barn. “Early in the pandemic, when vaccines for the coronavirus were still just a glimmer on the horizon, the term ‘herd immunity’ came to signify the endgame: the point when enough Americans would be protected from the virus so we could be rid of the pathogen and reclaim our lives,” reports The New York Times. “Now, more than half of adults in the United States have been inoculated with at least one dose of a vaccine. But daily vaccination rates are slipping, and there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable — at least not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever.” There were more than 96,000 new cases of COVID-19 recorded yesterday alone, a two-week increase of 131 percent. Of course, it is not all gloom and shadows at this juncture. The number of people dying from COVID has plummeted, thanks almost entirely to the vaccines. Vaccination rates are ever so incrementally on the rise. Those who are vaccinated currently face a very low chance of enduring a virus “breakthrough” which infects them, and those who do become infected have a much, much lower chance of hospitalization. The vaccines are not seamless, a small percentage of people who got the shot(s) are still getting damn sick, but the drear finality of mass death at the end of a ventilator tube has receded dramatically for the time being. If that were the whole story, I would just put on my mask and bend my shoulder to the task of convincing as many people as possible to get vaccinated. I will still do so every single day, but there are weevils in this loaf that threaten to ruin all the progress we have made so far. Delta, you see, is not the only variant. New ones — specifically named Epsilon and Lambda — have emerged, and early research indicates these new breeds of COVID might be far more effective at breaching our vaccine defenses than Delta. “The Epsilon and Lambda variants of COVID-19 are ‘variants of interest,’ according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and early studies show they have developed a resistance to vaccines,” reports NJ.com. “Japanese researchers found the Lambda variant, which was initially discovered in Peru and is now spreading throughout South America, is highly transmissible and more resistant to vaccines than the initial COVID-19 strain…. Meanwhile, the Epsilon variant that was initially discovered in California in 2020 is spreading in Pakistan and is proving to be resistant to vaccines, according to researchers.” The current national conversation on COVID is not broad enough. It is essential to get millions more vaccinated — it’s an absolute top priority — but we must also recognize that we’ve let this thing burn for so long that it appears to be on the edge of evolving beyond our defenses. A virus evolves within its host at an astonishing rate. Every new host gives COVID a chance to concoct a variant with the ability to turn our vaccines into white wine spritzer, and as noted, there were almost 100,000 new infections yesterday in this country alone. The variant that partly defies our vaccines may have already emerged in the form of Epsilon or Lambda, but the research on those two has only begun. The Law of Large Numbers strongly suggests the emergence of a more strongly vaccine-resistant variant is going to happen sooner or later, and thanks to our bungled response for the first year of the crisis — and to the ongoing intransigence of millions who disdain science because it makes Donald Trump look bad — the rise of such a circumstance is all but inevitable. The TV commercials are peddling an alluring fiction, but the facts are difficult to dispute: This thing is not over, and the way matters are going, it may never be over. The wolf is through the door, and the feeding is fine indeed. Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Economy & Labor Pelosi Is Wrong – Biden Has the Power to Cancel Student Debt, and He Should Culture & Media Glen Ford’s Journalism Fought for Black Liberation and Against Imperialism Environment & Health EPA Approval of PFAS for Fracking May Spell a New Health Crisis for Communities Politics & Elections Both the Delta Variant and Thin-Willed Democrats Are Lethal to Our Society Environment & Health Biden Promotes $100 Incentives to Encourage Unvaccinated to Get Their Shots Environment & Health Exxon-Influenced Senators Carved Climate Out of Infrastructure Almost Entirely I had the honor of working with the late Glen Ford for nearly 20 years. His passing has created a huge void not just for Black Agenda Report (BAR), the site we co-founded with the late Bruce Dixon, but for all of Black politics and left media. Ford identified his political and journalistic stance with both, having created the tagline: “News, commentary and analysis from the black left” for BAR. He was the consummate journalist, a man who demanded rigorous analysis of himself and others, and he lived by the dictum of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. Ford co-founded a publication in line with his core values: He did not suffer fools gladly, succumb to corporate media and government narratives, or feel obligated to change his politics in order to elevate the Black face in a high place. Ford spoke of learning this lesson the hard way. He told a story of regret, his ethical dilemma, when he gave one such Black person, Barack Obama, a pass in 2003. At that time, Ford, Dixon and I were all working at Black Commentator. Obama had announced his candidacy for the United States Senate and he was listed as a member of the Democratic Leadership Council (DCL), the right-leaning, corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Obama had also removed an antiwar statement from his website. Ford and Dixon posed what they called “bright line questions” to Obama on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, single-payer health care and Iraq. His fuzzy answers should have flunked him, but Ford chose not to be seen as “a crab in a barrel,” one who pulled another of the group down. Obama was given an opportunity to comment in Black Commentator and Ford wrote, “[Black Commentator] is relieved, pleased, and looking forward to Obama’s success in the Democratic senatorial primary and Illinois general election.” As he witnessed Obama’s actions on the campaign trail and eventually in office, Ford never again felt obligated to depart from his political stances or to defend a member of the group whose politics were not in keeping with the views of the Black left. From that moment on, Glen Ford did not let up on Obama, just as he did not waver from his staunch opposition to neoliberalism and U.S. imperialism. Black Agenda Report became the go-to site for all leftists. BAR’s critique of Obama when he led the destruction of Libya was no less stinging than critiques of George W. Bush when the U.S. invaded Iraq. Ford declared that Obama and the Democrats were not the “lesser evil” that millions of people hoped for. Instead, they were just the more effective evil, and they were always in BAR’s journalistic sights. Ford was always an uncompromising defender of Black people and never shrank from explaining the mechanisms which place that group at or near the bottom of all positive metrics and at or near the top of all the negative. He was one of the first to amplify the term “mass incarceration” in his unsparing analysis of the United States and its dubious distinction as the nation with more people behind bars than any other: more than 2 million, with half of those being Black, a cohort which makes up one-quarter of all the incarcerated in the world. Black Agenda Report can be counted on to give this information consistently and with no punches pulled. Glen Ford was a committed socialist, a Vietnam-era military veteran and a member of the Black Panther Party. He spent part of his childhood and youth in Columbus, Georgia, in the days of apartheid in the United States. Those life experiences shaped his work and left a legacy that anyone who considers themselves a leftist ought to follow. He worked in the media throughout his adult life and served as a Capitol Hill, White House and State Department correspondent for the Mutual Black Network. In 1977, he co-found “America’s Black Forum,” which was the first nationally syndicated Black-oriented program on commercial television. Glen Ford did not let up on Obama, just as he did not waver from his staunch opposition to neoliberalism and U.S. imperialism. Now the number of media outlets is very small, thanks in large part to Bill Clinton’s 1996 Telecommunications Act. Just six corporations control 90 percent of all media we read, watch and hear, and that means that there are very few working journalists, and an even smaller number with Ford’s experience and worldview. The most “successful” of those who fall into the category of journalists are mostly scribes, repeating the narratives which are favored by politicians and the corporate media. We desperately need left media and journalists like Glen Ford. Any reader of Black Agenda Report won’t expect The New York Times or The Washington Post to tell them what is happening in Haiti or Cuba. Thanks to Ford’s consistent analysis, they understand that even those who want to be well informed seldom are unless they also read Black Agenda Report. Glen Ford will be missed by all who knew him and by all BAR readers. He and journalists of his ilk are small in number and irreplaceable. Glen Ford presente! Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Economy & Labor Pelosi Is Wrong – Biden Has the Power to Cancel Student Debt, and He Should Culture & Media Glen Ford’s Journalism Fought for Black Liberation and Against Imperialism Environment & Health EPA Approval of PFAS for Fracking May Spell a New Health Crisis for Communities Politics & Elections Both the Delta Variant and Thin-Willed Democrats Are Lethal to Our Society Environment & Health Biden Promotes $100 Incentives to Encourage Unvaccinated to Get Their Shots Environment & Health Exxon-Influenced Senators Carved Climate Out of Infrastructure Almost Entirely When President Trump used his executive authority to pause the nearly $2 trillion in outstanding student loan payments and interest back in March 2020, there was no pushback from legal experts or uproar from Congress members, from neither Democrats nor Republicans. Of course, the sudden advent of a deadly, airborne viral pandemic signified a future so grim that partial student loan cancellation seemed uncontroversial, even for an unforgiving Trump administration. While former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos didn’t tout the temporary pause as partial debt cancellation, that’s actually what it was. Notably, both DeVos and the Trump White House pointed to the Higher Education Act as authority that made the payment pause legally acceptable. This is the same authority activists and progressive Democrats are urging Biden to use to deliver on his campaign promise of unilateral cancellation for all borrowers. That’s why Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claims earlier this week that President Biden didn’t have the power to cancel student debt by executive action were so jarring. “People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness,” she said, adding “He does not. He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power…. The President can’t do it. That’s not even a discussion. Not everybody realizes that.” Legal experts, members of Congress, and actions taken by the Biden administration clearly belie the Speaker’s arguments. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said on CNN later that night, “The president does have the power to cancel student loan debt. You know how I know that? Because President Obama did it. President Trump did it. And President Biden has already done it.” Indeed, the Biden administration extended the federal student loan payment moratorium into September, ensuring more debt cancellation via executive action as a result. Let’s say you were enrolled in Public Service Loan Forgiveness or an Income-Driven Repayment plan during the moratorium. Non-payment counted toward your monthly qualifying payment timeline, meaning borrowers whose 10- or 20-year payment plan end dates fell under the 16-month pause became beneficiaries of debt cancellation through executive action. “If you normally pay $400 a month in loans for qualifying PSLF payments, didn’t pay while the moratorium was placed, and received PSLF in July 2021, your accumulated monthly payments, or essentially $6,400 of debt, was canceled via the executive order suspension,” said Alexis Goldstein, Director of Financial Policy at the Open Markets Institute. Beyond those enrolled in forgiveness programs, for 16 months now, the pause has unilaterally canceled interest for every borrower covered under the moratorium, allowing nearly 45 million Americans to pay significantly less over the same amount of time. Pelosi is flat-out wrong when it comes to the limits of executive power on debt cancellation. She took the lazy route, long trodden by naysayer politicians: Proclaim the mechanism needed to deliver bold actions doesn’t really work instead of implementing morally just, politically popular proposals that uplift everyone. We see this playing out in realms beyond debt cancellation. For example, despite a massive victory in Georgia, Senate Democrats said the parliamentarian, an unelected nonpartisan that seemingly gained insurmountable influence over the quality and quantity of major legislation, now controls our fate on everything from a $15 minimum wage to the climate crisis. Of course, Biden says he would have “strongly supported” an extension of a crucial eviction moratorium, but due to a pesky opinion by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, not an actual ruling, the White House was forced to punt responsibility to Congress in the eleventh hour to apply the same moratorium Biden already extended through executive action. According to Pelosi, when it comes to student debt, Biden’s executive authority legally justifies partial loan cancellation, just not more partial loan cancellation. Along with the theme of abrupt powerlessness, it’s evident that Pelosi and Biden have yet to truly engage with the fundamental arguments for eliminating the $1.8 trillion in student debt, particularly because they’ve both made the weakest possible arguments against it. Pelosi dug even deeper with her nonsensical remark, questioning the policy wisdom of a student debt jubilee and undermining her Democratic colleagues’ push for cancellation in the process. “Suppose your … child just decided they at this time did not want to go to college, but you’re paying taxes to forgive somebody else’s obligations. You may not be happy about that,” Pelosi said. This would be a strong point if one were opposed to every single public good. (Bye, bye libraries!) Thanks to economist Stephanie Kelton’s recent expansion on the framework of Modern Monetary Theory, which acknowledges the federal government doesn’t actually need our tax dollars to pay for vital programs, we don’t need to engage and ultimately reify Pelosi’s dangerous argument. As Kelton notes in her book The Deficit Myth, unlike households, the federal government cannot go broke because it issues the currency it spends. In other words, the real challenge isn’t raising funds, rather we’re in a political battle over how public money is spent, and on who — the wealthy or working people. Ideology aside, arguments like Pelosi’s misrepresent how student debt cancellation works financially. The “cost” to the taxpayer comes on the front-end, when the loans are made. From there, it’s all a guessing game as to how much of the debt will be repaid by borrowers. The government often guesses wrong, and the Department issues re-estimates to correct, as they did in late 2020. Further, the government often employs utterly draconian collection techniques to squeeze payments out of defaulted borrowers who can’t afford it: garnishing wages; seizing Child Tax Credits, EITC, or tax refunds; or taking away social security benefits from seniors in default. (Seniors are the fastest-growing segment of student debtors. In 2015, 40,000 seniors had their Social Security garnished due to student loans.) To add to the chaos of failed herculean attempts by the government to collect on ballooning student loans, several major loan service providers (Granite State, PHEAA, and Cornerstone) have recently announced they would end their contract collecting student debt for the government, leaving more than 10 million borrower accounts in the lurch and increasing pressure on Biden to extend the moratorium and cancel the debt altogether. Debt cancellation would be one of the largest bottom-up economic stimulants in U.S. history. It’s actually cheaper for the government to write off this debt than it is to keep it on government books. In fact, debt cancellation would be one of the largest bottom-up economic stimulants in U.S. history, creating millions of jobs and boosting annual GDP by up to $108 billion per year for the next ten years. And because student debt is disproportionately held by women and students of color, the one-time executive action would narrow enormous gender and racial wealth gaps. If racial equity and economic prosperity aren’t convincing enough for Pelosi, perhaps she should take a cue from the voters that put her in office. Just this week, San Francisco officials passed a bold resolution calling on Biden to cancel all federal student debt, joining a chorus of other major cities crying out for an economic stimulus and debtor liberation. But Pelosi isn’t alone in her misunderstanding of how debt works, who holds it, or how it can be wielded. Biden too has made very poor arguments against cancellation, insinuating that canceling student debt would mostly benefit graduates who went to Ivy League universities, individuals who must be unworthy of debt cancellation because the institutions they attended are so elite that free attendance would be unfair, right? This was quickly refuted by activists who pointed out that just 0.3% of federal student loan borrowers are estimated to have attended Ivy Leagues, that 98% of Harvard undergrads have no student loans at all, and that if we really wanted to address Biden’s newfound concerns about the rich getting richer, we could simply impose a wealth tax. While Biden’s recent remarks on student debt have all been debunked or met with outrage, his dismal record on student loans and borrower protections goes back decades. In 2005, Biden was one of the 18 Democratic senators who broke ranks and cast a vote for a Republican-led bill that stripped bankruptcy protections from private student loans, giving birth to a mammoth predatory industry that caused “enormous financial problems for working families.” In the 1970s, Biden backed the Middle Income Student Assistance Act, eliminating income restrictions on federal loans to expand eligibility to everyone. In 1980, Biden voted to extend loan eligibility to students with no parental financial support, leading to the first explosion of default rates. Biden’s history as a foot soldier for corporate lenders and their lobbyists is more than troubling. However, the fact that in 2020 he campaigned on unilateral debt cancellation and reversing the legislation he championed decades ago highlights the power of debtor organizing and the severity of our nation’s student debt crisis. Biden campaigned on the “immediate” cancellation of at least $10,000 of student debt per borrower as crucial COVID-19 relief. He later committed to much more, including full cancellation for students who went to public colleges or HBCUs earning under $125,000. In April, the White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Biden would make a decision on student debt cancellation after instructing the Department of Justice to draft a memo on Biden’s legal authority. The White House has not provided an update on when the memo would be released, despite Klain’s initial timeline of a “few weeks,” leaving the verdict out on whether Biden will keep his campaign promise. It’s unlikely that Biden will cancel student debt out of the goodness of his heart, and it’s doubtful that a memo determining his authority to eliminate debt at broad-scale will be the final feather that weighs the ideological scale in our favor. What we’ll need is strong debtor organizing to push us over the edge — collective financial leverage so powerful it mimics the conditions that allowed for even a Trump administration to cancel debt. The Debt Collective, a debtors’ union and member organization I’m a part of that went as far as to write an executive order for Biden, is planning a Washington, D.C., action in September as the moratorium is slated to end. For those who want to push for full student debt cancellation and free college, joining that action would be a great place to get started. Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Environment & Health EPA Approval of PFAS for Fracking May Spell a New Health Crisis for Communities Politics & Elections Both the Delta Variant and Thin-Willed Democrats Are Lethal to Our Society Environment & Health Biden Promotes $100 Incentives to Encourage Unvaccinated to Get Their Shots Environment & Health Exxon-Influenced Senators Carved Climate Out of Infrastructure Almost Entirely Environment & Health Chomsky: We Need Genuine International Cooperation to Tackle the Climate Crisis Politics & Elections The Right Wing Wants Misinformation and Manufactured Ignorance, Not Democracy Two headlines had themselves a nasty little car accident in my mind yesterday. “Pro-Sanders Group Rebranding Into ‘Pragmatic Progressives’” blew through a stoplight and t-boned “‘The War Has Changed’: Internal CDC Document Urges New Messaging, Warns Delta Infections Likely More Severe,” right there in the intersection of my prefrontal lobe. Shattered safety glass everywhere, air bags sagging over steering wheels, a side-view mirror in the gutter like a lost shoe… it was ugly. “The delta variant of the coronavirus appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox,” reads the grim tide of words under the second headline, from the Washington Post. “The [Centers for Disease Control] document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.” Of course, I have absolutely had it with the “Because Trump” brigade and their Bellagio fountain of self-interested bullshit when it comes to getting the shot (among a great many other things, but we’ll leave that for later). Those who refuse to be masked and/or vaccinated as they cling to right-wing conspiracy theories have become petri dishes for the variants that are stealing more and more lives and putting all of us at grave risk. “Pro-Sanders Group Rebranding Into ‘Pragmatic Progressives,’” however, is the jerk that ran the light. “Rather than insisting on ‘Medicare for All’ — Sanders’ trademark universal, government-funded health care plan — or the climate-change-fighting Green New Deal, Our Revolution is focusing on the more modest alternatives endorsed by President Joe Biden,” reports the Associated Press. Check me here, because I could very well be off-base: In a time when drastic measures are shriekingly necessary to stave off a whole cavalcade of calamities, an advocacy group founded on the principles of lifelong advocate Bernie Sanders is downshifting from progressive advocacy to some sort of milquetoast cuddling with the conservative Democrat in the White House? The guy who got one quarter of what he asked for in his first infrastructure try and dared to call it a triumph after the Republicans ate his (and our) lunch. “The senator didn’t comment for this story,” reads the report, and Christ on crutches, I hope that means Sanders doesn’t endorse this move. Progressive advocacy groups are not supposed to get along with the conservatives they’re advocating against. Activists on our side seldom get what they came for, and are usually struggling against terrible odds — and that is the fugging point. We seldom get what we want, but we always push for what everyone needs. The view is foreshortened when your shoulder is to the wheel, and sometimes we don’t recognize progress when it happens. We never stop, and 20 years later, we look behind us and maybe say with dim surprise, “Damn, we got some stuff done.” The view is foreshortened when your shoulder is to the wheel, and sometimes we don’t recognize progress when it happens. But what we cannot do is trade in our shovels for some spats and a snazzy seat on the rubber chicken circuit. Shame upon you, “Our Revolution.” Your revolution isn’t just over; you surrendered. God save us from our “friends.” There were 71,621 new COVID infections yesterday, a two-week increase of 151 percent. The president and the media are going back and forth about “messaging” while nihilist Republicans do everything they can to kill off their own voter base (and everyone else) with lies and galling distractions. The Delta variant gains steam, and Democrats haggle over what to cut from vital legislation, with the cool hand of “Our Revolution” pressed fondly against their backs. We are embarked upon dark waters, again. It will be worse in two weeks, because this is COVID, and it’s always worse in two weeks when the virus trends as it does today. This is no time for advocates to seek the low road; it’s already underwater, and no half-assed infrastructure bill can fix it. “Stout hearts” is all I have to offer. I am holding on to mine with both hands, but as Stephen Crane wrote, it is bitter — bitter… “But I like it because it is bitter, and because it is my heart.” Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Former president George W. Bush recently took a break from painting portraits of the wounded soldiers he fed into the maw of dual wars 20 years ago to complain about the end of one of those wars. In a rare interview, given to German news agency Deutsche Welle (DW), Bush had himself a nice little sad about the fact that the Biden administration was finally shutting down U.S. military involvement in the two-decade bottomless pit that was, and will ever be, his Afghanistan conflict.
“If matters continue as they are,” I wrote on July 6 about vaccinations and the Delta variant of COVID, “a bright new line will be drawn between ‘Two Americas’: The Vaccinated vs. the Unvaccinated.” The Wall Street Journal this morning would seem to agree: “The Delta variant is hardening a divide between people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and those who aren’t, prompting hospitals to brace for new case surges and health authorities to redouble vaccination efforts. Now the most common strain in the U.S., Delta is spreading as public life resumes at restaurants, sporting events and other public settings across the country.”
Earlier this month, a Honduran court found David Castillo, a U.S.-trained former Army intelligence officer and the head of an internationally financed hydroelectric company, guilty of the 2016 murder of celebrated Indigenous activist Berta Cáceres. His company was building a dam that threatened the traditional lands and water sources of the Indigenous Lenca people. For years, Cáceres and her organization, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH, had led the struggle to halt that project. It turned out, however, that Cáceres’s international recognition — she won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 — couldn’t protect her from becoming one of the dozens of Latin American Indigenous and environmental activists killed annually.
It isn’t often that we see a New York Times paragraph so freighted with syrup and honeyed goo, but there it was on Sunday afternoon, like something you’d order at IHOP to beat back a hangover: “Soaring more than 50 miles into the hot, glaringly bright skies above New Mexico, Richard Branson at last fulfilled a dream that took decades to realize: He can now call himself an astronaut.” Better lede: “Fulfilling his desire to beat a fellow billionaire into the lowest verge of space, notorious tax cheat Richard Branson burned some of the money he owes his home country in order to fling himself past the troposphere so he could experience weightlessness for as much time as it takes to make a decent bowel movement. An achievement that will go down in corporate history, Branson now holds bragging rights over the guy whose monopolies are eating the economy alive.” Not what I’d call the right stuff.