November 24, 2012
As of Friday afternoon, when I began this post, the fragile cease-fire between Gaza and Israel held, though one Gazan has been killed and ten wounded by Israeli soldiers. Hamas says the Gazans were farmers, trying to get to their farms in the no-go land on the Gaza side of the border; Israel says they were trying to break through the fence at the border. Either way, they were under the apparently mistaken notion that the truce meant they would not get shot or killed in whichever pursuit they were engaged in.
In Egypt, widespread protests broke out as President Morsi, lately lauded for his role in the Gaza-Israel cease-fire, appeared to have contracted a case of “swelled–head” when he gave himself wide new authorities that many see as a power grab putting opposition groups at a severe disadvantage as the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament writes a new Egyptian constitution. Morsi and his allies say the move is temporary. Of course, Egyptians remember that Mubarak’s “temporary” power grab lasted forty years and was only lately undone by the bloody revolution that led to Mr. Morsi’s election a few months ago.
As the European recession crawls along, the twenty-seven leaders of the various countries in the European Union, meeting in Brussels, failed to pass the next seven-year budget for the flailing Union recommended by the European Commission. The net contributor nations want the small increase to the budget whacked back while the receiver nations, of course, would like to see the increase maintained. This morning’s new was that the talks had collapsed and will be reconvened in 2013. The communal members are sounding more and more like our own Democrats and Republicans.
And Greece, who appears to have received about all the “largesse” from the contributor nations it can handle, worries , now, about a malaria outbreak in its southern regions where the number of cases has gone from forty last year to seventy-five this year. With the Greek health system suffering under the austerity programs put in place, there is fear that those most susceptible will not be able to access the healthcare needed to stop an outbreak from getting out of control.
(Something our own “Ming, the merciless” overlords of the Republican persuasion might want to consider in their rush to force austerity on our own most vulnerable. With cold weather pressing in and much of our upper east coast still laid waste from the aftermath of Sandy, it would not take much of a cut in Medicaid and Medicare to leave the poor of these states wide open to a deadly outbreak of one winter disease or another.)
Congolese rebels in the small northeastern province of North Kivu captured the city of Goma last week and have moved into Sake as, once more, thousands of war-battered civilians flee the fighting. The current war is a continuation of the Second Congo War which ended in 2003, which was a continuation of the First Congo War which ended in 1996 and changed the country’s name to the Democratic Republic of Congo which ended the thirty year dictatorship of Joseph Mobutu which ended the Congo Crisis and changed the name to Zaire which ended the Belgian rule over the Congo in 1960 and changed the name from Belgian Congo to the First Republic of the Congo. The current rebels have vowed to continue their fight despite “mounting international pressure” (which probably means World Powers have become antsy that the fighting now interferes with the continued plunder of the many Congolese resources needed to fight for their own economic lives).
Meanwhile, here at home, our stock market shivered with joy and jumped one and one-third percent, Friday, to bound back over 13,000, as herds of shoppers thundered through the malls and stores of America snapping up bargains this Black Friday. So far, no deaths have been reported. Black Friday has now bled backwards, of course, into Black Thursday – the holiday formerly known as Thanksgiving – while thousands of minimum wage Wal-Mart employees protest having to sacrifice their holiday to make the billionaire Waltons another billion or two richer and competing stores follow suit.
Whether the rest of the shopping season is a raging success or a dismal failure for retailers, I fully expect it to run full tilt through midnight mass on Christmas Eve, right up until the church doors open Christmas morning and for the after-Christmas sales to begin at eight o’clock Christmas evening as another holiday falls under the slings and arrows of outrageous commerce – fortune be damned; credit for everyone ahead.
And amidst all the global turmoil of this or that and sometimes both this and that, we continue this year’s lurch toward the annual afterthought of peace on earth/good will toward men with little of either as both are sacrificed to the gods of commerce and perpetual growth.
These gods will, in their turn, soon be sacrificed to the gods of Resource scarcity, Entropy and, perhaps, simple consumer ennui. Their retreat to the guarded halls of Wall Street will no more save them than the retreat of the Norse gods to Valhalla, the medieval Christian god to his cathedrals or the neo-Christian god to his Mega-churches.
What will happen after this next Gotterdammerung will not be up to the whims of gods, but to we mortals. As fearful as it may seem, we choose. As always. Minute by minute; day by day; this or that. And, sometimes, both this and that.