In today’s edition of the Green Blues Show: Billions of viruses lurk in the animal wilderness, threatening to hop over to humans and trigger the next pandemic. Scientists are mapping them. And, an increasing number of observers have concluded that Israel is a settler-colonial apartheid state. One Palestinian voice calls for justice and the rule of law.
Just when you thought it couldn’t behave in a more medievally hideous fashion, Saudi Arabia has one-upped itself.
The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, presumably on the orders of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman – he of the lopsided smile and droopy eye – surpasses the Russians for its audacity and depravity and seems to be testing the limits of Saudi Arabia’s Western allies and patrons.
Khashoggi vanished on October 2, after entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul to finalize papers for his wedding. At first, the Saudis denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate. But their embassy was stuffed with audio and video bugs, planted there by the wily Turks. The Washington Post columnist and permanent US resident, it seems, was brutally tortured before his death, then dismembered with a bone saw and disposed of. Faced by calls to fess up, the Saudis have now admitted Khashoggi is indeed dead, but claim he was strangled in the course of a fist fight between him and a dozen rogue security agents! Must have been quite a dust-up! The British, French and German governments have scoffed at the claim and are demanding that Riyadh come clean.
An astonishingly hypocritical position, given their support for – or complaisance over — Saudi Arabia’s genocidal assault on little Yemen. An estimated ten thousand have been killed and millions have been displaced since Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen began, in 2015. Saudi missiles, procured from the US and Europe, have repeatedly targeted hospitals, schools and crowded markets. Just last week, nineteen civilians were killed in a Saudi airstrike on a crowded bus in the Yemeni port city of Hodeida. According to a UN report, up to thirteen million Yemenis, many, many of them children, now face starvation.
Donald Trump is anything but hypocritical. The Saudis “are ordering military equipment,” Trump told CBS News’ 60 Minutes. A hundred and ten billion dollars worth. “Everybody in the world wanted that order,” Trump blustered. “Russia wanted it, China wanted it, we wanted it. We got it and we got all of it. Every bit of it. I don’t want to lose an order like that.” Of course, Donald Trump has lucrative personal business ties to the Saudi regime, a petard of his own he may well be hoisted by, if Democrats sweep midterm elections on November 6. Pocketing bribes from foreign governments violates the US Constitution.
As calls for justice mount in the wake of the hideous murder of Jamal Kashoggi (amidst silence on Yemen, a glitzy trade conference due to take place this week in Riyadh – Davos in the Desert – is coming apart at the seams. Governments, industry titans and major media outlets have been backing out in droves, driven by conscience, they say. Amidst the collapse of Riyadh’s trade show and stock market and looking sanctions over the Kashoggi murder (the Germans have just announced an arms embargo), the Saudis have been threatening to retaliate. With 260 billion barrels of oil reserves, those desert sheiks can easily throw the global economy into turmoil.
Let them. A Saudi oil freeze may be the second-best thing to a carbon tax.
Ebola, SARS, Zika, West Nile – these viruses have struck global panic over the past twenty-five years. They are but a tiny fraction of the millions, perhaps billions of viruses lurking in animal populations, some of which, some day, somewhere, may leap into a human, then go spread around the planet.
Identifying the animal reservoirs from which viruses might emerge is the aim of a scientific network called the Global Virome Project. Sam Halabi co-chairs the project’s Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications Working Group. He is the 2017-18 Fulbright Canada Research Professor in Health Law, Policy, and Ethics at the University of Ottawa, a Scholar at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Missouri.
Imagine what would happen if Canada, or the US or some European country were to enact a law restricting national rights to white Christians. Imagine the uproar that would provoke in international legal and political circles, and on round-the-clock cable TV.
This is precisely what Israel — purportedly liberal and democratic — has just done, without very much reporting in the mainstream media. “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people,” Israel’s new Nation-State law declares. Between the lines: Palestinians are aliens in their own land.
For an analysis of Israel’s new nation-state law and larger matters arising, I turned to Dr. Hanan Ashrawi. Dr. Ashrawi is a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and sits on the 132-member Palestine Legislative Council. I reached Hanan Ashrawi by Skype in Ramallah.
In this edition of the Green Blues Show, songs by Lightnin’ Hopkins and Johnny Sonnier