The Green Blues Show
In today’s edition of the Green Blues Show: A Palestinian village that resists military occupation, and its most renowned citizen; a conversation with one of Canada’s most distinguished ecologists, and an online game that lets you do more than just procrastinate.
It’s one word that comes to mind, gazing south of the border at US President Donald Trump — amazing.
Amazing, that a guy like Donald Trump could be handed what some consider the biggest and most important job in the world. A man of such limited language skills. The antithesis of presidential demeanor. Zero gravitas. Boorish, vulgar, racist, misogynist. A self-professed serial abuser.
But, Americans voted the guy in. Sure, more Americans voted for Hillary than for Donald, but the very real human beings in the Electoral College, who could have boldly voted their conscience, cast their vote for the Trumpster instead. Not the sort of move the Founding Fathers would have advised.
Thirty years into its third century, the American Republic definitely seems to be going through hard times. Gazing upon all this from inside another glass house, north of the border, one may well question the vitality and strength of Canadian political culture, with its telegenic, far more intellectually capable young leader at the helm.
Judging from the Trudeau government’s response to what appears to be grave ecospheric crisis – a melting Arctic; expanding dead zones in plastic-strewn oceans; decimation of pollinators and bird populations; global surge of pathogenic superbugs – it’s not immediately evident young Trudeau thinks anything is terribly wrong. Is he up to the job?
It’s a David and Goliath struggle – with a twist. Instead of a powerful young man taking on some big brute who’s never taken a fall, this is a story of a mighty, seventeen year-old girl and her tiny village — dispossessed, occupied and oppressed by one of the most powerful military forces in the world – that resists.
No one has become more emblematic of that struggle than young Ahed Tamimi. Seventeen-year-old Ahed was arrested by Israeli soldiers on the night of December 19, following an incident that’s gone viral, in which she kicked and slapped an Israeli soldier who had entered her family’s property and was refusing to leave.
Ahed Tamimi and her family – the village of Nabi Saleh — are renowned for their weekly popular protests. Israeli occupation forces routinely greet these and other protests up and down the West Bank with gas grenades, high velocity teargas cannisters, noxious, sewage-smelling fluid called “skunk,” rubber bullets and live rounds. Two members of Ahed’s family have been killed in the course of their protests. Days before the slapping incident, Ahed’s 15 year-old cousin had received a rubber bullet in his face. He is now recovering.
Young Ahed now faces a host of charges, including assaulting a soldier and interfering with military operations, and will almost certainly be convicted. She is currently scheduled to face a military court this coming Tuesday, February 13. Some 95% of Palestinian minors tried in occupation courts are convicted. An estimated 700 children and youth are currently in Israeli detention, most of these inside Israel ‘proper’. The forced transfer of members of an occupied population into the territory of the occupying power violates Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention. According to Defense of Children International, Palestinian youth detained by Israel are routinely mistreated.
Listen to this conversation with Ahed Tamimi’s aunt and uncle, Manal and Bilal.
Another scary report in the news recently: Insect populations are plummeting. The abundance of flying insects has droppd by 75% over the past thirty years, the report’s authors found, in parallel with a fifteen percent drop in bird populations. Pollinators – including insects of various sorts and bats – seem to be taking a major hit. Given the huge role of pollinators in terrestrial ecosystems and human food production, decimation of the pollinators is … scary.
I spoke with William Rees, Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning. Rees is the originator and co-developer of ecological footprint analysis.
This being the age of the hand-held digital device, and its host of reportedly ineluctable sequelae – child and youth insomnia, dreadful traffic accidents, widescale student cheating – some apps turn out to be useful to society! Phylo is one of these. Phylo is an online puzzle/game with an aim: To help medical genomicists drill down into nucleotide sequences linked to rare medical disorders.
Turns out the human eye and quick thumbs can resolve things computer algorithms can’t. Version 3.0, unifying mobile and web function, will soon be released, followed by an additional RNA layer in the Spring.
Following up on Phylo’s success, McGill University computer scientist Jerome Waldispuhl and his web developing colleagues have come up with a brand new game that lets you “unravel the secrets of microscopic life,” while contributing to research on the human microbiome. It’s called ‘colonyb’. Check it out!
In this edition of the Green Blues Show, music by Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, Junior Wells and his Chicago Blues Band, Mickey Baker and Stefan Grossman.