In the days since Russia invaded Ukraine, we’ve tried to avoid World War III. There’s no doubt that the economic strategies are impressive. Putin is right to call out the sanctions as war. The Russian ruble has lost much of its value.The Russian stock exchange closed for days with one financial analyst toasting its death saying, “Rest in peace dear comrade”. Corporations exited in droves including Ikea, Exxon, Boeing, Ford, Harley-Davidson, Volkswagen, Disney, Nike, Apple, Dell, and Google. Visa and Mastercard suspended their Russian operations.
As devastating as these sanctions have been, Russia continues to demolish cities, take over nuclear facilities, and bomb neighborhoods. And while we’d hoped for a cease fire, plans to bomb Ukrainian military-industrial complex to smithereens were just announced.
Back in 2019, my opinion column called, Don’t Underestimate Putin’sThreat, was published. I quoted Ukrainian-born comedian Yakov Smirnoff’s joke about how the KGB, Soviet Russia’s secret police, stood for Kiss Goodbye Your Butt. Today’s Russia is “…a world erupting with new money and new power” says British producer Peter Pomerantsev in his book, Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible. Not much has changed. Russia still uses the KGB “false flag” strategy, claiming that the current conflict is Ukraine’s fault, pseudo-annexing Russian-leaning parts of Ukraine and sending in its military as “peace keepers”.
Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for families to gather together and eat their heads off. Many are unaware that November is Native American Month or they commemorate it with the usual “pilgrims and Indians” stories that celebrate the generosity of the Wampanoag people to the first settlers. They bypass the genocide of the Wampanoag that followed, and the removal of Native Americans from their lands. The invisibility has allowed ignorance of their history and land for many folks.
The banning of books has been around for centuries and America is no exception. We have banned books like To Kill a Mockingbird and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We banned 273 books in 2020 with more to come. But don’t the recent controversies over school library books seem a bit irrelevant to you? After all, we’re online 24/7 and the influence of books seems pitifully modest. Unless authors have a huge following on Tik Tok and Twitter, students are unlikely to storm classroom libraries. So why the brouhaha?
Some folks cried Death to Facebook while others turned to Twitter during the FB Blackout. Entertaining tweets welcomed newcomers and entertained us longtime Twitter-ists. “Is that (outage) before or after injecting bleach into the CPUs and shining a UV light in all the network ports?”Others referred to ads aimed at young women, “… if Instagram is down, who’s gonna constantly try to convince me that my life would be better with lip injections?” I laughed at the tweet suggesting we rename it “social NOTwork” but sighed at hopes that we’d return to a pre-2000 culture. Not gonna happen!
These days, everyone I talk to sounds anxious, scared and miserable. My first reaction is sympathy and empathy, the way my mother taught me. My second reaction is relief, since misery loves company.And when I feeling a bit guilty for that, I say to myself, “How can we not be?” Every time, I turn on the news, there’s another calamity. It feels like our world isimploding and none of us will escape unscathed.
First there’s a sense of world disintegration with the mess in Afghanistan. Seeing thousands of folks trying to cram into the airport to leave – scary. Watching people clinging to planes to get out – horrifying. Hearing the fears of women for the future – words escape me.
Our kids are in the COVID crosshairs. In July, 38,654 pediatric Covid cases were reported. Just a week later, that number increased 85 %. When today’s youth look back on this Covid era, I wonder what they’ll say. They might say that the delta variant might have been deterred if vaccinations had been embraced immediately. They may ask why it took so long to authorize a Covid vaccine for children.
If you’re the richest person on Earth, your next step might be to launch yourself into space. That’s what Jeff Bezos has done. I guess this planet is just too boring to invest in. Maybe that’s why his company, Amazon, paid an effective federal income tax rate of only 4.3 % on U.S. income, even when Trump’s administration dropped the rate to 21%.Continue reading Offshore billionaires launch into space – by Deborah Levine→
Attempts to bring our diverse society together is nothing new. Controversies and road blocks surrounding the attempts aren’t new either. It may seem that way to some folks with furious debate over “structural racism”, but it’s the terminology that’s new, not the reality.
Our language has struggled over decades to find ways to express the mission of inclusion without creating a nasty backlash. Back in the day, Multiculturalism was supposed to heal disparities. It did not. Then it was Diversity. That didn’t resolve much and Diversity & Inclusion became popular. Not a major game changer, so we went to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to address structural disparities. Has DEI had the desired results in the community, workplace, university, or any place? I’m not convinced. Continue reading Words shape us for better or worse – by Deborah Levine→
There hasn’t been much noise from the climate change deniers this week despite data showing that there are 109 congressional representatives and 30 senators, who refuse to acknowledge the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change. That’s 25% of our federal elected officials including Tennessee’s Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn and Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.
Maybe the silence is due to the unprecedented heatwave in the West and Southwest. The photos of livestock roaming brown fields with no grass might encourage the deniers to lay low. Not to mention the pictures of Lake Mead. If you’ve ever toured Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam you know that this symbol of American scientific innovation built during The Depression was a stunning tourist destination well as providing drinking water and farming irrigation. Today’s situation leaves the water level at its lowest since the 1930s. You can now see the stone walls of the lake and we’ll see even more in the coming months.