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Floods, Fires, Coups and Impeachment Make a Busy Week

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Forest on Fire
Forest on Fire
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Venice is flooded. The water is hip high in St. Mark's Square threatening the church and the expensive shops and restaurants on its perimeter. The mayor blames climate change.

In Australia, the bush fire season is underway. One in New South Wales is scorchingly close to nearby homes having already destroyed two buildings on a country property owned by the actor Russell Crowe.

Floods, too, in the north of England, while Boris the chameleon has a comfortable 10-point lead in the polls over his labor opposite number, Corbyn the plonker. No matter how outrageous or inept, Boris might be, the plonker makes nary a dent on that voluminous target. So much for the left in Britain as it awaits another drubbing at the polls.

Then in Bolivia, Evo Morales has fled to Mexico claiming his life was at risk. If he clearly looks Bolivian Indian, his successor, the leader of the senate, Jeanine Anez is just as clearly white. As in South America elsewhere, the white Spanish elite are at the top of the food chain, followed by the mixed mestizos and at the bottom the indigenous people. The exceptions are Argentina where the original inhabitants were massacred out of existence, and Chile which is German immigrants from long ago.

Trump welcomed the coup in Bolivia -- was there covert support? If Morales won plaudits for fighting poverty and as the country's first indigenous leader, he also overstayed his welcome, at least internationally. He defied constitutional limits by running for a fourth term in a close election which the Organization of American States faulted for "clear manipulation". Mr. Morales promised fresh elections. But the elite-run military and police clearly saw an opportunity. Morales supporters are organizing demonstrations.

The US does not have coups; it has impeachment. Bill Clinton notable for his expression, "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is" ... and for a new low in disgusting personal behavior, was impeached. The procedure requires the House to determine articles of impeachment and then send a team to prosecute in the senate. The individual being impeached has the right to his own lawyers to mount a defense. The senate eventually retires to consider and deliver a verdict. A two-thirds majority is required for conviction. Bill Clinton survived despite his impeachment being based on facts unearthed by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Can anyone then imagine a Republican senate convicting Donald Trump over a sentence in a phone call?

So what is the purpose of this futile exercise in the House of Representatives? Perhaps Democrats hope to sling enough mud to sway the independent note in the forthcoming election. Perhaps they want a few moments in the limelight, and TV interviews before, during and after.

A fraught world with real climate issues the legislators prefer to ignore -- after all they are well-funded by fossil fuel interests. Forget the actual storms, our elected representatives prefer storms in a tea cup. The House Intelligence Committee, which is holding the hearings, will probably forward the matter to the full house as the political games continue.

Meanwhile, record numbers of homeless sleep under bridges as temperatures plunge to -15C (5 F) in the midwest and the east of this wealthy country. Do the politicians care?







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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)
 
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