The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Ann McFeatters, Tribune News Service
It’s beginning to feel like 1980s news tape showing America’s despotic enemies running amok. In Russia, a mysterious fatal explosion a few days ago in one of the country’s 10 secret cities where nuclear research takes place has caused an uptick in radiation and raised alarm around the world.
It also raises memories of the 1986 meltdown at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant Chernobyl, which Russia tried desperately to hush up, lying repeatedly about how serious it was. An estimated 4,000 people died; new cancers are still appearing. It could be 20,000 years before the site is safe.
In Hong Kong, a huge Chinese military presence is threatening to put down the pro-democracy movement, bringing to mind the 1989 slaughter at Tiananmen Square in Beijing when military tanks fired on and rolled over students, killing and injuring thousands.
As a reporter I covered aspects of both stories and eventually went to both sites. The silence at Chernobyl was chilling; abandoned toys strewn around in evidence that normal life was over. Radiation from the meltdown spread around the globe.
In Beijing the absolute lack of any indication of what had happened in Tiananmen was equally horrifying. People were terrified to talk about what they had seen. The current incident in Russia apparently involved a disaster over Vladimir Putin’s promise to his people that he would build a cruise missile with a conventional warhead powered by an onboard nuclear reactor with a range that easily could take it to the United States. It’s called Skyfall. Whatever the project, five Russian nuclear scientists reportedly died, possibly thrown into the White Sea. Two other state employees were also killed.
Doctors who treated the victims of the explosion were themselves taken to Moscow to be treated for radiation exposure. The people who live near the explosion have been given one conflicting story after another. All they know for certain is that radiation levels spiked at least 16 times higher than normal right after the explosion.
In Hong Kong, long a British protectorate now controlled by China, demands by protesters for democratic reforms, including dismantling a new law that permits Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to and prosecuted by mainland China, are being met with full-blown police violence.
It should be noted here that China is expected to surpass the US as the world’s largest consumer market by 2021. China already has 55% of the global e-commerce market. At the same time there are plans for a glorious 70th anniversary celebration of the rule of communism in China on Oct. 1. If China sends in mobilized troops against the protesters at Hong Kong’s airport, it will spark international anger.
Actually, we have no idea what Trump’s policy is on China. He has started a trade war that is slowly choking US farmers and costing the average American family about $700 more a year for everyday goods. He says he and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a great relationship, but there is no agreement on how to resolve the trade dispute. We have stopped demanding that China subscribe to international codes of human rights.
We also don’t know what Trump’s real policy is toward Russia. He has not sympathized with pro-democracy protesters challenging Putin in Moscow. He has dismantled decades of arms control agreements with Russia. He tried desperately to build a hotel in Moscow. His campaign had dozens of contacts with Russia, lying about most of them. He has held private meetings with Putin without permitting any US officials in the room. He laughed when he sarcastically answered a reporter’s query by saying, oh yeah, Vladimir, don’t interfere in US elections again.
Currently, Trump seems to have no words of wisdom for Russia as it continues to obfuscate and tries to contain the damage, literally and figuratively, from its latest nuclear explosion. How many times can we say it? Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it.
China’s parliament last week approved a decision to create laws for Hong Kong to curb sedition, secession, terrorism and foreign interference. Mainland security and intelligence agents may be stationed in the city for the first time.
Sheung Shui boasts dozens of pharmacies and cosmetic stores that are hugely popular with mainland merchants who snap up goods in Hong Kong — where there is no sales tax — and resell them across the border.
Saturday's rally was a moment for the establishment to muster their own supporters. Hong Kong's police are in the midst of a major reputational crisis.
Friday turned out to be a black day for the people of Kerala.
When I heard Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speak out against Florida GOP Representative Ted Yoho, I felt nothing but admiration for her eloquence and grace in response to him calling her “disgusting” and a “f****ng bitch.”
Surging coronavirus cases across the United States may offer one upside, increasing the chances of a vaccine breakthrough before November, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force, told McClatchy in an interview on Friday.
This month marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when humanity learned of the devastation a single nuclear bomb can unleash. The lingering suffering caused to the survivors, the hibakusha, should give us daily motivation to eliminate all nuclear arms. The survivors have shared their stories so the horror experienced by Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never be forgotten. Yet the nuclear threat is growing once more.