The Green Blues Show – Edition 38

Monarch Butterfly 2006-3

Monarch butterfly (Credit: Clive Baugh)

In this edition of the Green Blues Show: Formerly abundant insects have vanished from a lush Puerto Rican rainforest. In tiny Gaza, under crushing Israeli military siege, antibiotic-resistant microbes infect high-velocity sniper wounds. And a big green dream: endless clean energy from a tiny compound that soaks up solar rays.

 

Lots of news these days about Justin Trudeau and his government’s declared commitment to the “Rule of Law.”

On the horns of a series of terrible ethical predicaments – whether or not to extradite that Huawei executive to the US, and trash Chinese relations; forced to explain why engineering giant SNC-Lavalin should be forgiven for its corrupt ways – Mr. ‘Sunny Ways’ seems to be saying one thing and doing another, all the while claiming that Canada is a “Rule of Law Country.”

There is only one country in the world, that I can think of, that gets to violate international law with complete impunity. That is to say, with the blessings of the international community. i.e, with the blessings of the US, Canada, European Union and Australia (for whatever Australia’s blessing is worth).

Jewish-American protesters at Damascus Gate, Jerusalem (David Kattenburg)

Since 1966, the United Nations Security Council has levied sanctions on Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, the former Yugoslavia, Haiti, Iraq, Angola, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, the DRC, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Lebanon, Iran, Libya, Guinea-Bissau, the Central African Republic, Yemen, South Sudan and Mali (notice how most of these countries are African?), not to mention Da’esh, Al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The Canadian government has imposed sanctions on all of these countries, plus Myanmar, North Korea, Russia, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela and poor, tiny little Yemen.

In contrast, the human rights abuses of this other tiny country are notorious, but it gets off scot-free.

Some would say the five Permanent Powers who pretty much call the shots at the UN Security Council – the US, Russia, China, France and the UK — get to do whatever they want. The US certainly does. But Russia is currently sanctioned for its seizure of Crimea, and Chinese telecom giant Huawei faces a boycott by the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, for supposedly spying on them, and for doing business with Iran, something the US  strictly prohibits.

Shebab ballet (David Kattenburg)

This other little country is an entirely different story, free as one can be to violate the most canonical of post-war laws – the 4th Geneva Convention — with nothing more painful than a lukewarm reprimand. Certainly no punitive consequences. As if this weren’t sufficient slack to be cut, condemning the legal lapses of this little country — calling for it to be sanctioned — is considered unfair, and even hateful!

To borrow and extend a line from the great pianist and songster Mose Allison, everybody’s cryin’ justice – just as long as it’s business first, starting with our best friends. Such is the position Justin Trudeau seems to take. Though perhaps he’s misunderstood.

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We live in scary times, bombarded daily with reports of one civilizational threat or another: cataclysmic climate change, global plastic pollution, drug resistant microbes, mass extinction.

Here’s something chilling: Earth’s insect populations – the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems — are rushing towards extinction. Beetles, flies, mosquitoes, ants, bees and wasps, butterflies and moths, caddisflies and dragonflies, crickets, grasshoppers, roaches. Termites. Wherever scientists look, creepy crawly creatures are getting harder and harder to find.

Monarch enjoys milkweed (Credit: Clive Baugh)

A recent metastudy of 73 individual papers has revealed that forty percent of Earth’s insect species are in decline and a third are endangered. At the current rate of decline — 2.5% annually – Earth’s insects will be just a memory within a hundred years.

Brad Lister is a tropical ecologist in the Biology Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Rensselaer, New York. On a recent trip to Puerto Rico’s Luquillo rainforest, in search of the insect diversity he had documented decades earlier, Lister couldn’t believe his eyes.  Listen to our conversation in today’s podcast (SoundCloud link above), or here:

 

It’s a perfect storm: horrific, bone and tissue-pulverizing wounds from high velocity sniper rounds, a health care system crushed by twelve years of military siege, and bone infections resistant to all but the most powerful and costly antibiotics.

Great March of Return, Gaza (Credit: Peter Larson)

Such is the tempest sweeping tiny Gaza, ten months after the launch of popular protests along the perimeter of what gets called, alternatively, an open-air prison or ghetto. Almost 200 Gazans have been shot dead by Israeli snipers since the start of the Great March of Return on March 30, 2018.

Now fast approaching the first anniversary of their movement, protestors demand the right to go home to their ancestral lands inside Israel.

According to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Palestinian fatalities include 38 children, two women, two journalists, and three paramedics. Over fourteen thousand have been injured, including 3,058 children, 630 women, 171 paramedics, and 149 journalists, Al Mezan reports.

The Green Blues Show spoke recently with Lebanese physician Ghassan Abu-Sitta, about the nature of Gaza injuries. Adding infectious insult to injury — a troublesome rise is now being reported in the incidence of multiple-drug resistant osteomyelitis and other sniper wound infections, resistant to ‘third generation’ carbapenems and imipenems, with nothing but colistin, the antibiotic of last resort, to turn to.

Dina Nasser is a health advisor at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem. She’s also a technical advisor on infection control for the Palestinian NGO Juzoor for Health and Social Development, also based in Jerusalem. Listen to our conversation in today’s edition of the Green Blues Show, or click here:

 

It’s a green drunkard’s dream: some device or substance that can soak up the sun’s infinite flood of energy, store that energy, release it as heat and electricity — in controlled fashion — then absorb it all over again in a continuous closed loop.

A little organic molecule called norbornadiene promises to deliver on this dream, in the pivotal realm of home heating and cooling. Modified by a group of Swedish researchers, norbornadiene morphs back and forth between low and high energy isomers, releasing heat in the presence of a catalyst. Kasper Moth-Poulsen is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, Sweden. Listen to our conversation in today’s podcast edition (SoundCloud link on top), or click here:

 

In this edition of the Green Blues Show, songs by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, Muddy Waters and the Reverend Gary Davis.

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