Happy Trails

By Mickey Friedman
June 10, 2017

I’m at Fuel by seven, and with the added enthusiasm of espresso, quickly traveling the happy trails of our world. My friends fly; but those days are mostly gone for me. I’ve come full circle: for my parents’ generation a flight was reserved for the wealthy. And it was only because my mother’s brother died that she spent a good part of their savings flying to California.

For me, the long lines, cramped space, and the great traipse through airports the size of small cities to rush from flight to connecting flight makes it difficult for me to imagine going somewhere far.

Instead I catch a daily ride on the worldwideweb, transcending time and space. Flitting from web portal to web portal. The other day, thanks to the Sacramento Bee, I learned about the brave nurses who sent a raucous message to Tom Perez, the new head of the Democratic National Committee, that they will fight the politicians who resist real national health care for all. And they will challenge Republicans and Democrats alike in primaries.

Christopher Cadelago and Angela Hart helped me to see the scene: “As California Democrats kicked off their weekend convention here with a cocktail reception featuring trays of scallion pancakes with Hoisin sauce and red grapes rolled in blue cheese and coated in pistachios, the throng advocating for a statewide publicly funded, universal health care system snaked down a staircase behind Perez, shouting down his calls for unity.” I offered a silent cheer as I sipped my iced latte.

For the moment at least, before the Trumpsters savage the internet with toll booths and speed limits and Putinesque, or Saudi-like censorship, I can zip from warm to cold, from Sacramento to Spitsbergen. Spitsbergen, Damien Carrington of the UK Guardian, reminds us is the Norwegian island that hosts The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the “impregnable deep-freeze” created “to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever.” Sadly, Carrington informs us, it’s “been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.”

Soaring temperatures have threatened the vault, 390 feet inside a frozen Arctic mountain, endangering “a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide ‘failsafe’ protection against ‘the challenge of natural or man-made disasters.’” And still The Trumpsters regard the climate crisis as fake news.

Speaking of the Saudis, I accompanied the Presidential Party to Riyadh via cyberspace. And wasn’t that a time. The home of the hijackers where women can’t drive and are legally controlled by male Guardians. Where Princess Ivanka spoke of expanded opportunity for women to the wealthiest women in the Saudi Kingdom attending only with the approval of their Guardians. While the President spoke of religious freedom and opportunity to the deaf Saudis authorities who, as the Human Rights Watch website reminds us, in 2017 “continued to arbitrarily arrest, try, and convict peaceful dissidents. Dozens of human rights defenders and activists are serving long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms. Authorities systematically discriminate against women and religious minorities. In 2016, Saudi Arabia carried out 154 executions, 23 for non-violent drug crimes.”

The McClatchy news website tells us POTUS came bearing gifts: “The United States completed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia totaling $110 billion Saturday as President Donald Trump seeks to strengthen economic and security ties with one of the world’s largest energy producers.”

The President was quick to boast about the tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar, communications and cybersecurity equipment we’re selling them: “That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States,” Trump said. “Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs.”

But not so fast, because as McClatchy told us: “the Saudi government quickly announced that 150 Lockheed Martin Blackhawk helicopters would be assembled in the kingdom, leading to about 450 jobs in Saudi Arabia.”

CNBC says US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross found it “fascinating” that there was not a “single hint” of protests during Trump’s visit to the kingdom. “Not one guy with a bad placard,” Ross observed. “There wasn’t anything,” Ross said. “The mood was a genuinely good mood.”

Here’s pesky Human Rights Watch: “Saudi authorities in 2017 continued to arbitrarily arrest, try, and convict peaceful dissidents. Dozens of human rights defenders and activists are serving long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms. Authorities systematically discriminate against women and religious minorities.”

Arbitrary arrests. Try and convict peaceful dissidents. Long prison sentences for criticizing authority. No wonder the Trumpster loves the tyrants.

But tomorrow’s another Fuel day. Roy Rodgers had his prized horse, Trigger. I’ve got Macbook Air. Happy Trails to you.

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Mickey Friedman’s Berkshire-based I Ching mysteries, “Danger” and “Folly”, as well as his non-fiction “A Red Family” are available on Amazon.com.

For more information:
Human Rights Watch information about Saudi Arabia:
https://www.hrw.org/middle-east/n-africa/saudi-arabia

Trump to Reward Saudi War Crimes with Weapons
https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/20/trump-reward-saudi-war-crimes-weapons

Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen Cabinet member praises absence of protest in a country where protests are illegal
http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21444&LangID=E

Saudi Arabia, UAE Donate $100 Million To Women’s Fund Proposed By Ivanka Trump
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/saudi-arabia-uae-ivanka-trump-fund_us_5921c1d9e4b034684b0d17a1

CNN – Cabinet member praises absence of protest in a country where protests are illegal
http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/22/news/wilbur-ross-saudi-protests/index.html

Happy Trails was first published in The Berkshire Record on June 1, 2017.

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