How to Create a Broken World

A Reminder of Cause and Effect for the Refugee Crisis
A belated Earth Day Message—Part 3
by Thea Halo

One of the most ludicrous consequences of the dire circumstances millions around the world find themselves in, is the outrage of wealthy Western nations that have their borders bombarded by refugees searching for safety and a better life. Do any of the leaders or inhabitants of those wealthy nations believe in, or understand cause and effect? Do any ask themselves why they allowed or participated in the bombing of other nations? Do any ask why they allow or acquiesce to conditions that incite violence in parts of the world, such as the years of sanctions after the 1990 bombing of Iraq that caused the death of half a million Iraqi children? Do they understand that the callous remarks of then US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, might cause rage and animosity when she calmly claimed on National TV—and broadcast to the world—that the deaths of those half million Iraqi children “was worth it”?1 Would any Western Nation take such a callous statement about the death of half a million of their own children in stride?

Did the nations that took part in, or acquiesced to the bombing and destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia believe that would mean the citizens of those countries would be happy to have their lives, homes, and countries destroyed, and they and their children would be content to sleep in a field somewhere and eat grass? In some nations, even grass is unavailable. And do they believe that starving and/or struggling against violence in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere, with no change in sight would mean those citizens would be willing to simply give up while knowing there is a better life outside their own borders? When US legislators and the public decry the influx of ‘migrants,’—who should more accurately be referred to as refugees—do they ever ask why violent dictators are being propped up by the US in Latin America?

What did these leaders think would happen when cities and countries were destroyed? Or is it that they didn’t think past the moment? If these leaders are ignorant enough to allow the destruction of other countries, wouldn’t it be cheaper to quickly repair the damage to insure that citizens of those countries are not forced to flee to their countries to seek a safer life… countries that not only don’t want them, but decry the influx of refugees, as if the reason for the influx is some unforeseeable virus that has somehow developed from nowhere? In other words, wouldn’t it be more equitable to create an atmosphere in poorer and/or broken nations that make their citizens happy to stay in their own communities? Does it really take a rocket scientist to understand cause and effect—to understand that when a head of state is murdered and the country bombed, waring factions and/or criminals will often take over to fill the vacuum, which in turn often drives the population to flee for their lives?

These refugees didn’t spring from the earth. They sprang from the policies of those Western Nations that destroyed their homes, their countries, their infrastructures, and their lives. Afghanistan was attacked allegedly because the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden without first given proof of culpability. Bin Laden was later found in Pakistan. Iraq was attacked allegedly to rid the country of Saddam Hussein while conjuring up fake stories of Al-Qaeda, and weapons of mass destruction. Libya was attacked allegedly because of the policies of Muammar Gaddafi, who inherited one of the poorest nations2 in Africa and turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation, with a total adult literacy rate of 89.5% from 2008-2012.3 A release of Hillary Clinton’s emails “has revealed evidence that NATO’s plot to overthrow Gaddafi was fueled by first their desire to quash the gold-backed African currency, [that Gaddafi was sponsoring] and second the Libyan oil reserves.”4 Libya is now a failed state. Syria was attacked allegedly because of the policies of Bashar Hafez al-Assad. However, Assad’s Syria, although far from perfect, was the last secular state in the Middle East, and one of the countries the U.S. sent suspects to for U.S.’s deplorable rendition program after 9/11.5 Even more revealing: “Just as in Libya, … Mrs. Clinton championed the strategy of arming Islamist “rebels,” the Syrian “rebels” who ultimately received weapons included the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and ISIS.”6

The fighting in Syria caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and sent millions of Syrians fleeing their broken homes and their broken lives. The accusation that chemical weapons were used by Assad on his own people seems absurd, since Assad was not only winning the war at the time, he was warned about crossing Obama’s ‘red line,’ the one thing that would cause the US to invade. 

Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, reported that “the Obama Administration falsely blamed the government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad for the sarin gas attack that Obama was trying to use as an excuse to invade Syria; … Hersh pointed to a report from British intelligence saying that the sarin that was used didn’t come from Assad’s stockpiles.” In an interview with Alternet.org “Hersh was asked about the then-US-Secretary-of-State’s [Hillary Clinton] role in the Benghazi Libya US consulate’s operation to collect weapons from Libyan stockpiles and send them through Turkey into Syria for a set-up sarin-gas attack, to be blamed on Assad in order to ‘justify’ the US invading Syria.”7

Conflicting reports on the number of deaths, and speculation as to who was responsible, should also give us pause. “The US claims that Sarin nerve gas killed more than 1,400 people in the attack last month that triggered Mr  Obama’s call for military action to punish and degrade the Assad regime.  British intelligence said that at least 350 people died in the attack, which was ‘highly likely’ to have been carried out by Assad.”8 9 

The fact that Obama chose not to enforce his ‘red line’ threat after chemical weapons were used in Syria, suggests that Obama knew something the rest of us did not know. And perhaps, at the last moment, Obama decided he didn’t want to further tarnish his pre-election anti-war legacy by being responsible for yet another failed state.

So let’s not pretend that these Middle Eastern countries were destroyed for righteous reasons. Would any of the leaders of those Western nations, including the US, that took part in, or acquiesced to the bombings, honestly claim that it would be righteous to bomb a home in their own country, while the whole family was still inside the home, because the parent was a tyrant? Is that really the way one saves a family, or the population of a nation from a tyrant, by killing them and destroying their homes, towns, and infrastructure? And how is starving 22 million innocent civilians in Yemen, and bombing their towns and schools, and a school bus full of children righteous?10 Would any of these Western nations acquiesce to these deplorable acts in their own countries, or acquiesce to another nation interfering in their elections—as the US has done in Latin America—to put despots in charge, despots whose policies make the population run for their lives?

Julian Borger wrote in The Guardian: “The United States interventions in Central America have ranged from creating and arming right-wing death squads to propping up some of history’s most bloody dictatorships. The United States has over and over again put its ideals before the lives and well-being of the various peoples living throughout Central America, and because of that, much of the history of Central America has been that of violence, civil wars, and revolts.”11 12

Concerning the influx of refugees, how many countries must Western nations destroy before they realize that they have made their own beds, then they refuse to lie in them? 

As British Somali poet Warsan Shire wrote in her perfect poem called ‘Home’: “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”13

  1. May 12, 1996. Madeleine Albright. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM0uvgHKZe8
  2. Garikai Chengu, Libya: From Africa’s Richest State Under Gaddafi, to Failed State After NATO Intervention. Global Research , October 19, 2014. https://www.globalresearch.ca/libya-from-africas-richest-state-under-gaddafi-to-failed-state-after-nato-intervention/5408740
  3. Unicef. https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/laj_statistics.html
  4. Sheep Media, Hillary Emails Reveal NATO Killed Gaddafi to Stop Libyan Creation of Gold-Backed Currency. Global Research, June 13, 2017. https://www.globalresearch.ca/hillary-emails-reveal-nato-killed-gaddafi-to-stop-libyan-creation-of-gold-backed-currency/5594742
  5. Mehdi Hasan, Syria has made a curious transition from US ally to violator of human rights, The Guardian, February 12, 2012. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/feb/19/syria-us-ally-human-rights
  6. Andrew C. McCarthy, Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Debacle: Arming Jihadists in Libya . . . and Syria, The National Review, August 2, 2016. https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/08/hillary-clinton-wikileaks-benghazi-scandal-arm-syrian-rebels-al-qaeda-isis-libya-turkey/
  7. Eric Zuesse, Hillary Clinton approved delivering Libya’s sarin gas to Syrian rebels: Seymour Hersh, Global Research, May 01, 2016. Strategic Culture Foundation 28 April 2016. https://freeukrainenow.org/2016/05/01/hillary-clinton-approved-delivering-libyas-sarin-gas-to-syrian-rebels-seymour-hersh/
  8. Sarin gas used in Syria massacre – evidence against Assad growing all the time, says David Cameron. Evening Standard, September 5, 2013. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/sarin-gas-used-in-syria-massacre-evidence-against-assad-growing-all-the-time-says-david-cameron-8800569.html
  9. Robert Parry, Consortium News, Was Turkey Behind Syria Sarin Attack? First published on April 6, 2014. https://consortiumnews.com/2015/09/16/was-turkey-behind-syria-sarin-attack-2/
  10. Moustafa Bayoumi, US bombs are killing children in Yemen. Does anybody care? The Guardian, 25 Aug 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/25/us-bombs-yemen-children-humanitarian-disaster
  11. Website by Jason Rukavina (jruk@umich.edu) and Cyril Cordor (ccordor@umich.edu) for American Culture 213: Intro to Latina/o Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  12. Julian Borger, The Guardian, Fleeing a hell the US helped create: why Central Americans journey north. December 19, 2018.
  13. https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/home-433/

Thoughts on the Coronavirus Pandemic

Do Humans Deserve This Beautiful Earth?
A belated Earth Day Message—Part 2
by Thea Halo

During this Coronavirus pandemic we’re reminded of the multitude of people working on the front lines around the world, risking their own lives every minute of every day to save strangers they don’t even know, and the multitude of others bringing food and services to fellow citizens. We must also acknowledge the scientists who spend their lives finding solutions for such crises, or work to find ways to improve our lives in general. Most of these scientific discoveries are now intrinsically woven into our daily lives.1 Tim Bernes Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web, for instance, has connected us in ways not even dreamed of in former times. Other scientists we will probably never hear about are working to give us a greater understanding of the world we inhabit and the greater universe in which we live.

However, one has to wonder if pandemics such as the Coronavirus are Nature’s way of telling us that as a species we have failed in our stewardship of the earth and the creatures that dwell upon it. We have failed to listen to the warnings of those scientists. We have failed to heed the repeated environmental disasters: the floods, the mudslides, the wildfires, the tornadoes, the hurricanes. So now perhaps we’ll listen to the sound of hundreds of thousands of coffins being slammed shut around the world.

Even then, the sound of that warning may only be temporary, just as the observance of all other warnings were temporary, or even ignored. As in the past, everything will go back to the old normal soon after this particular crises passes. After all, even as thousands and perhaps millions around the world died from air pollution, and the weather became more erratic made worse by human activities, we went back to the devastating normal that created those crises. In fact, in the midst of this deadly virus, we read: “White House poised to weaken coal plant mercury rule. The Trump administration is expected to withdraw justification underpinning Obama-era environmental regulation…”2 The Trump administration even decided to weaken the auto emissions standards,3 and withdrew the United States from the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, and the nuclear agreement with Iran. As late as April 02, 2020, in the midst of this deadly Coronavirus, Trump was still attempting to erase the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obama Care.4 It’s as if Trump thinks his penis will fall off if he doesn’t reverse all of Obama‘s initiatives.

How often must we read that certain species are going extinct because of the destruction to their habitat, because of poaching, or because some fool wants to hunt our most beautiful wild animals: lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinos, and elephants for sport. Think of that. For sport!!! We are wiping out some of the most beautiful creatures on earth for sport. Pangolins are being killed by the ton for their meat and scales, as are elephants and rhinos for their tusks. And people are eating bats. Can anyone claim that bats and pangolins were ever meant to be eaten by humans? Perhaps in the stone age or in desperately poor nations where the food source amounts to whatever one is able to find and kill, like eating rats and cats during world wars, and during periodic mass starvation as in China before the 1980s. However, for those nations that are responsible for most of the slaughters, i.e. those nations that create a market for these animals, such as China, that necessity no longer exists. Apparently, for some, old habits developed during times of famine or wars do not die easily. Consequently, there are too many who fail to realize or care, that each of those species has a purpose on this earth, such as helping to keep nature in balance. Or perhaps, they simply don’t care. Greed and immediate gratification takes precedence over conservation and the health of our planet. For the poorer nations where poachers rely on any means to support themselves and their families, we should ask why they are so desperate in a world where some have billions of dollars, while others don’t have clean water to drink?

“A study published … in the journal Cell found that antibodies in llamas’ blood could offer a defense against the coronavirus.”5 In other words, the animals we kill off may have been the saviors of the human species. Nature always provides unless we choose to annihilate her creations.

If these pandemics only killed off those who are responsible for the devastation, at least we could believe there was justice in nature. However, that we are all at risk, and sometimes suffer the consequences of these deplorable crimes, perhaps Nature no longer gives a damn who is at fault. Perhaps Nature behaves—and perhaps rightly so—as if we are all at fault, because let’s face it, we all continue in our old ways out of convenience or because we haven’t figured out how to effectively stop using non-recyclable plastic containers, for instance… how to demand pesticides are no longer used on our produce and land… how to stop companies from polluting our air and waters… how to stop nations from killing off some of these precious animals… and how to stop the wars and the insane targeting of minorities in various societies.

If this pandemic can destroy businesses in such a short span of time, perhaps we can go on strike against the large corporations, banks, and nations that refuse to abide by conservation and environmental standards, and the standards of decency, to give them an economic pandemic they won’t forget.

This Coronavirus pandemic may be Nature’s WWIII. Global carbon monoxide emissions were down by at least 17% during this pandemic, so perhaps Nature has won, if only temporarily.6

That should give us a hint as to where to go from here if we want to avoid an even greater pandemic in future. Our first step should be to vote for those politicians who educate themselves and who listen to and fund our scientists. The Coronavirus pandemic has proven that we are all connected around the world—that we are one people, regardless of race, religion, national origins, or economic status. We are all subject to Nature’s rules and, in the end, Nature will have her way with us.

  1. https://www.history.com/news/11-innovations-that-changed-history. Also see: https://bestreviewof.com/top-10-scientific-discoveries-that-changed-the-way-we-live-our-lives/
  2. Brian Snyder/Reuters, Aljazeera, April 16, 2020. https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/white-house-poised-weaken-coal-plant-mercury-rule-sources-200416153114099.html
  3. Nathan Rott and Jennifer Ludden, Trump Administration Weakens Auto Emissions Standards, NPR March 31, 2020 https://www.npr.org/2020/03/31/824431240/trump-administration-weakens-auto-emissions-rolling-back-key-climate-policy
  4. Nan Aron, Trump Wages War on the Affordable Care Act in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Ms Magazine, April 2, 2020. https://msmagazine.com/2020/04/02/trump-administration-wages-war-on-the-affordable-care-act-in-the-midst-of-the-covid-19-pandemic/
  5. Matthew Cantor ‘Llamas are the real unicorns’: why they could be our secret weapon against coronavirus, The Guardian, May 17, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/16/llama-coronavirus-antibodies-study-benefits,
  6. Doyle Rice, USA Today, Coronavirus lockdowns have caused a whopping 17% drop in global carbon emissions. May 19, 2020.

The Crime of Breathing While Black

A belated Earth Day Message—Part 1
by Thea Halo

Perhaps the world has finally gone mad, and although the burning and looting of stores and buildings—that had nothing to do with George Floyd’s death—is rather mind boggling, the anger about the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd is not. That Police Officer, Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck and actually watched his life drain from him, as bystanders told him Floyd is now bleeding from his nose, and finally not moving, is the most cold-blooded crime I have ever witnessed. Even the video of Eric Garner’s murder, although equally reprehensible and criminal, doesn’t compare in how deliberate, calm, and cold-blooded Floyd’s murder was. There was no struggle from Floyd. He had no chance to struggle. He was pinned firmly to the ground on his stomach, with his hands cuffed behind him, and Derek Chauvin’s knee and weight on his neck. We all know there are compassionate cops. These were not among them.

Why Derek Chauvin and his accomplices are not charged with first degree murder is beyond reason. For what crime was Floyd murdered? For allegedly trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Even if true, without an investigation, we have no way of knowing if he knew the bill was counterfeit. It could have been passed to him from an unknowing party. But even if Floyd knew the bill was counterfeit, does that really deserve a death sentence? As with Eric Garner’s murder, is selling loose cigarettes really a capital offense undeserving of a trial and a jury of one’s peers? Is it even worth a citation? Doesn’t selling loose cigarettes tell the police that this man is just trying to make a few cents, perhaps to buy food? In a civil society, the police would have asked Garner if he needed help, and directed him in how to seek help, instead of wrestling him to the ground and choking him to death.

Who are we as a country… as a people? How have we become so ruthless? How did those who are supposed to be entrusted to serve and protect become the people we must fear? How does Atatiana Jefferson, the 28-year-old Black woman who is simply playing video games in her own home with her nephew, get shot dead by police through her second story window? How does an innocent Black woman, Breonna Taylor, who is sleeping in her own bed, get shot dead by police who break into the wrong home? How does Philando Castile, a 32-year-old Black man, get shot seven times by police during a traffic stop, while in a car with his fiancé and her four-year-old child? What kind of trauma must that child face, not to mention the trauma to Castile’s fiancé and his family?

How does a stupid White woman, who is breaking a local leash law with her dog, think it’s acceptable to threaten a Black man—who simply reminds her to follow the law—that she is calling the police to tell them an African American man is threatening her life?

How did we get so ignorant and cruel as a society? Where is this heading? And how is burning and looting our cities supposed to help? Unless it’s to remind us that in some cruel way we are all to blame for not demanding that our police are not chosen from the bottom of the barrel. That they are tested and trained properly to deal with every situation to determine which situations are actually life threatening enough to need force. Selling loose cigarettes on a street corner is not life threatening to anyone. Nor is sleeping in one’s bed. Nor is playing video games in one’s home. Even passing a counterfeit bill threatens the life of no one.

However, instead of burning businesses and looting, causing trauma to even more people, which in turn may cause more animosity, wouldn’t it be more of a tribute to George Floyd’s memory if each of those protestors marched peacefully and gave even one dollar to help fund after-school projects in Black communities, or bought musical instruments and books for gifted Black children? With so many protestors, hundreds of thousands of dollars could have been raised to honor the life of George Floyd and the many other Black Americans whose lives were cut short by police brutality. There are so many others not mentioned here. They are all equally tragic.

Witnessing Chauvin watch Floyd die as he presses his knee into Floyd’s neck, while ignoring Floyd’s pleas that he can’t breath, is beyond cruel. It is almost inhuman. I say almost because, although humans are the most brilliant, creative, innovative, and versatile creatures on earth, and have a great capacity for compassion and kindness, we have demonstrated that we are also some of the most diabolical creatures on earth. Most other creatures on earth kill to survive. Nature is cruel after all. Every creature must eat. But humans sometimes kill for sport. We kill for revenge. We kill out of depravity. We kill to even scores. We kill because of greed. We kill in the hundreds of thousands, even millions, by dropping bombs. We sometimes even hire others to do our killing for us. What a legacy we have left on this earth.