By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
August began with a United States drone strike which killed Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri at a hideout, not in the mountains, but in an upscale urban neighborhood in Kabul, Afghanistan. Al-Zawahir is considered the architect of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City in 2001.
On August 2, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan, becoming the highest-ranked American official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island that is claimed by China. China warned of “resolute and strong measures” if Pelosi went through with the visit.
No good deed goes unpunished
Standing on principle and putting our country and Constitution ahead of party allegiance or any particular candidate or office holder is, by any standard, the right thing to do, but it might not always be good for one’s political career.
Such was the case for Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash. 3rd Congressional District, one of 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, as she conceded her re-election bid to Trump-supported challenger Joe Kent.
She had served six terms.
The Republican from Battle Ground, Washington, joined several U.S. House Republicans whose political careers ended shortly after they voted to impeach then-president Donald Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
We all knew that Donald J. Trump would be anything but a predictable candidate/political leader – that, in fact, is why most of his supporters stand by everything he says and does.
The second week of August began with an FBI search warrant carried out Monday morning, August 8th. They were in search of nuclear weapons documents, details on our foreign service agents and covert operations around the world.
Former president Trump is currently being investigated for tax fraud (New York City), election tampering (Georgia), inciting insurrection (January 6), and multiple violations of the Espionage Act.
This is quite an expansion from his public admission of sexual assaults and long history of not paying workers and legal counsel.
One online journal described him as a “true renaissance man of crime”.
Apparently, for one political party at least, that is the requisite qualification for holding the highest office in the land.
Mikhail Gorbachev was the eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union, he was 91.
Among other things, Gorbachev is recognized for ending the Cold War.
On a related note, Russia’s current president, Vladimir Putin turns 70 in early October.
And the rains came
Rain was in the news in August.
From droughts and floods to much more, rain (or its absence) dominated our headlines and, even, in many areas, the economy, especially as it is related to agriculture.
More than 8 weeks of flooding covered one third of Pakistan, with about 50 million impacted. More than 1,500 have died.
No water in Jackson, Mississippi
It sounds like a line from a Depression era folk song…
Thanks to staffing shortages and three decades of deferred maintenance, flood waters overwhelmed the city’s water system.
In early 2020, the Jackson water system failed an Environmental Protection Agency inspection, which found the drinking water had the potential to be host to harmful bacteria or parasites.
In February 2021, a severe winter storm hit, freezing and bursting pipes which left many residents without water for a month.
The city was already under a boil-water notice since late July.
The Jackson population is about 80% Black.
But, wait, there’s more
Most of us grew up with the assumption that there was no water purer than rain.
It is after all, distilled by nature.
And that was true. Until now.
According to a new study by Stockholm University scientists rain water everywhere on the planet is unsafe to drink due to levels of toxic chemicals known as PFAS that exceed the latest guidelines. PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are used in packaging, shampoo or makeup but have spread to our entire environment, including water and air. You can see details on this study here.
Wenn du mich seehst, dann weine
The drought across Europe is the worst in several centuries. Rivers, from the Danube to the Rhine, among many others, hit record low points.
Low water levels exposed the Elbe River’s “hunger stones”, carved centuries ago to mark the low-water levels that were recorded on years when crops failed and continent-wide famine occurred. (https://www.iflscience.com/what-are-hunger-stones-and-why-did-they-terrify-people-in-europe-64921). One, dating back to 1616, translates to “If you see me, then weep.”
For a little historical perspective, the Pilgrim landing at Plymouth Rock was in 1620. That famine would have been in the recent memory of most of them.
Crop failures, at some regions of Europe as high as 80% this year, are not a good sign.
Polio, after an absence of about a generation (at least in North America) has returned.
It has been found in the waste water of New York City. Among other urban areas.
“Best before” dates removed
Several major British grocery chains are abandoning use-by dates in an attempt to eliminate food waste.
The assumption is that grocery shoppers could “exercise their judgment”.
“Best by” dates have only been around a few years.
Generations have done just fine without them.
“Exercising our own judgement” when it comes to spoiled food should not be difficult for most of us.
After all, we’ve been “exercising our own judgement” when it comes to electing political leaders and that has worked out.
And in sports
Tennis phenom Serena Williams announced her plans to retire after the 2022 U.S. Open. The winner of 23 Grand Slam titles is ready to move on.
Forgive us our debts…
President Biden announced his long-awaited plan to cut federal student loan debt, saying he will forgive $10,000 for borrowers earning under $125,000 a year, or couples making under $250,000.
Biden also said recipients of Pell Grants who make less than $125,000 annually will be eligible for an additional $10,000 reduction.
The majority of student debt is not the amount borrowed, but the interest accrued – in other words, the vast amount of college debt went to lenders – not schools.
Threats against a children’s hospital?
An online campaign based on false claims led to threats against staff and patients at Boston Children’s Hospital toward the end of August.
If you are wondering what would drive people to make hostile phone calls and harassing emails, including threats of violence toward clinicians and staff of a well-respected children’s hospital, you would have to put yourself in the shrill, nonsensical, vile, menacing, delusional mind-set of 2022.
Apparently, to some at least, it seemed like the right thing to do.
Books are scary
And in yet another move that will baffle historians, the day before school started for one Texas school district, librarians were ordered to remove from the shelves 41 books that were challenged by parents, among them The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Diary of Anne Frank, and all versions of the Bible.
All the “dangerous” books were pulled from the library and classrooms. A “complaint” by any local citizen could result in the removal of any book.
Another Texas school district preemptively pulled more than 400 books from its libraries for review following an inquiry from a Republican state lawmaker.
The mainstay of book provision in schools, Scholastic Book fairs have been banned in many school districts.
I sing the body electric
California’s state air regulators voted unanimously to phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars, passing a rule that will require auto makers to electrify 35% of their new vehicle fleets by 2026, 68% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. Washington and Oregon are considering similar legislation.
Where’s the beef?
As yet another example of how primed we have all become for conflict of any kind, on any topic, it’s difficult to come up with a flash point more ridiculous than the hub-bub over a new menu item offered by Cracker Barrel.
Yes, somehow vegetarian sausage is a threat to all that America stands for.
Yes, the regular sausage that has always been available at the restaurant is still on the menu, but for whatever reason, some seem upset that there is now an option for non-meat-eating diners.
I don’t know if this just a symptom of how crazy we get in August or a barometer of what America is like in the second half of 2022.
Pro-life – The Russian Version
Russian President Vladimir Putin revived a Soviet-era award launched in 1944 (by Joseph Stalin), to encourage Russian women to have large families.
The “Mother Heroine” award goes to women who bear 10 or more children. The award will offer Russian mothers a one-time payment of 1 million rubles (about $16,500) after their 10th child turns 1 year old — only if the other nine children have all survived.
No word yet on whether other nations will follow suit.
The end of time
If you study history, you see that one theme emerges over and over – these are the last days.
But this time we mean it. Or at least some people do.
You can see the fine print here.
Many are projecting the end of life as we know it by the end of September of 2022.
Just remember that you heard it here first.
And if the world doesn’t end then, my birthday is in the last week of September.
Cowboy boot Crocs
Love them or hate them, Crocs are taking over.
If there was ever a piece of clothing that would be appropriate for our times, it would be these boots.