From Popovers to Popunders: The Kind of Decarbonization That Can Succeed

Stan Cox and Priti Gulati Cox

From the field and kitchen of discomfort food

So much carbon dioxide has now accumulated in the atmosphere that it’s no longer possible to prevent a dangerous rise in global temperatures through purely technological means. In other words, it’s too late to prevent catastrophic ecological damage and human suffering simply through building more renewable electric capacity and improving energy efficiency. 

Humanity can keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration within tolerable limits, but only if we do not aim to sustain today’s profligate material production and wealth accumulation, let alone continue increasing production. Instead, we must deeply reduce production and thereby shrink energy and material use.

In contrast, conventional green-growth thinking starts with “decarbonizing” the economy (by building more and more wind farms, solar parks, electric vehicles, energy-efficient appliances, etc.) in order to reduce carbon emissions per dollar of wealth generated, thereby making it possible, in theory, to sustain and even increase material production without increasing the rate of carbon emissions. But in practice, progress in decarbonization gets swamped out by growth in material production.

The energy supply required to meet current and expanding global demand can never be fully decarbonized. That’s because solar irradiation and wind energy, thinly and intermittently dispersed as they are, cannot substitute for the bonanza of highly concentrated, portable, storable energy from fossil fuels that we’ve enjoyed century and a half. Even if that were possible, building industrial parks across vast swaths of the Earth’s surface to harvest that energy would result in irreparable ecological damage. 

Policy should not start with the assumption that growth can be increasingly “decarbonized” by building more and more wind and solar capacity and improving energy efficiency indefinitely into the future; in any case, that is barred by non-repealable physical laws. Policy should instead aim to reduce total carbon emissions by reducing total material production. 

A downsizing economy will require a smaller and smaller energy supply; in time, energy demand will become modest enough that it can be fully satisfied with renewable sources, sustainably deployed. Fossil carbon emissions will be reduced to zero, while, if goods and services are distributed equitably, the reduced material output can be made sufficient to meet society’s material needs.

It’s not just us saying this. A highly respected international group of researchers recently evaluated the various climate-action scenarios laid out by the international climate-science body IPCC. They weighed each of the scenarios with regard to their relative ability to limit greenhouse warming to 1.5º C—a threshold once thought safe and now viewed as too hot but probably the best we can hope for at this point. 

Only a strategy that reverses growth in material production, concluded the researchers , can “substantially minimize many key risks for feasibility and sustainability compared with established, technology-driven pathways.” They showed that all pro-growth approaches will probably fail to keep up with growing demand for renewable energy, fail to sustain increases in energy efficiency, and fail to avoid extensive ecological damage. Could the world’s policymakers decide to be optimistic, roll the dice, and pursue green growth anyway, to see if humanity can make it work? They could, but by the time we find out that sure enough, green growth is leading to collapse, it will be too late to turn back.  


These dozen sourdough popovers can serve as a metaphor for reducing material production steadily over time, until it reaches a sustainable “steady state”. The first eight rolls in the lineup(right to left) were made with batter containing 1.5 percent ground charcoal (a stand-in for fossil carbon). The four at the end were made from the same batter, but before the charcoal was mixed in. 

 If we follow the implications of IPCC’s report Global Warming of 1.5º C or the UN’s latest Emissions Gap Report, then greenhouse emissions must be reduced very steeply within the next fifteen years. Accordingly, viewing this lineup as a time series, each popover would represent a period of about two years.

The first popover was made with an excess of batter, relative to the standard recipe. Each of the seven succeeding black popovers contains less batter, and therefore less total carbon, than the one before.
The last four, and smallest, popovers (let’s call them “popunders”) are of equal size and free of charcoal, with somewhat concave tops. They represent the continuation of production at a lower, now constant, rate—a rate that can be supported entirely by non-fossil energy sources.

To instead portray a green-growth scenario in this way would have looked very different. Starting with an almost full cup and increasing the amount of batter used for each successive popover not only would have resulted in a messy culinary catastrophe; it would have also required that carbon be added to all dozen rolls, because each would represent an economy far too large to be “powered” by non-fossil energy. Even with increased technological efficiency, which could be illustrated by gradually reducing the concentration of charcoal in the batter as the quantity of batter increased, the total quantity of carbon would not diminish and would probably increase, as over time, exponential growth outstripped diminishing returns on efficiency.  

Assorted Sourdough Popovers and Popunders

113g sourdough starter (discard or fed)

3 large eggs 

227g slightly warm milk

5g salt

120g all-purpose flour

8g powdered charcoal

Place a muffin pan in a 450°F preheating oven. Meanwhile, combine the starter, eggs, salt and milk. Add the flour and mix till just combined. Don’t over-mix. Weigh out and divide 60g of the batter into four small bowls—15g into each. Add the charcoal to the remaining batter and lightly mix it in till just combined. Once the oven is preheated, take the muffin pan out and spray generously with oil. Orienting the pan with four cups across and three down, start at the top left cup, pour the carbon batter right to the top with a little spilling over the rim. Then pour each of the 15g charcoal-free batter portions into the second, fourth, sixth and eighth cups (counting left to right and top to bottom). Pour the remaining charcoal batter into each of the remaining cups, measuring by eye, and reducing the amount of batter in each successive cup. There will then be the first cup, which is slightly overflowing; the third cup almost full to the rim; the fifth cup a little farther below the rim; the seventh cup about three quarters full; and so on, until the twelfth cup has slightly more than the cups that have 15g. Now all the 12 cups have batter in them — eight with the charcoal batter and four without. Place the pan in the oven and bake at 450°F for the first 15 minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 375°F and bake for another 18 minutes or so.  

discomfort food compost. Includes last week’s recipe: Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Gritty-Swirl Bread

The Assorted Sourdough Popovers and Popunders recipe is modeled after our favorite popovers recipe by King Arthur.

The Gritty Reality of Solar Power

Priti Gulati Cox and Stan Cox

Time is fast running out. The world’s affluent nations, with their abundant greenhouse emissions, have to finally drag themselves across the starting line and begin phasing out fossil fuels at the accelerated pace that the climate emergency demands. And if they can manage to do that, they clearly will need to quickly build up wind and solar electric capacity to partially compensate for the shrinkage of oil, gas, and coal supplies while addressing the prospect of energy shortages by securing production of essential goods and services for everyone

Unfortunately, mainstream climate visions have strayed far from confronting the existential necessity to banish fossil fuels. They simply assume that the buildup of renewable energy will automatically chase fossil fuels out of our lives and fully replace them, watt for watt and Btu for Btu. These visions hold out the promise of a world in which a pristine, Sun-powered economy fulfills any and all of our material desires far into the future—a delicious, guilt-free cornucopia. But the green-growth promise is a mirage, and the realities of a high-production, wind- and solar-powered world will be much less tasty. 

Any industrial installation, including solar and wind farms, profoundly disrupts the landscape on which it sits. If it were possible to fully satisfy the bloated energy appetites of affluent nation by covering hundreds of millions or billions of acres of the Earth’s surface with power-harvesting hardware, the result would be irreparable ecological damage. 

Meanwhile, the manufacturing booms to supply such a sprawling proliferation of solar arrays, wind power plants, battery-backed electric grids, electric-vehicle fleets, and other hardware would require outrageously large inputs of metals such as lithium, cobalt, silver, copper, aluminum, nickel, iron, and a host of exotic rare earth elements. 

The global rush to mine these metallic ores is on, and the dire ecological and humanitarian consequences that always follow have spurred growing concern. But the mining and processing of a much more mundane, often overlooked mineral resource—sand—is also critical to renewable-energy expansion and terrible for the Earth and its human and non-human inhabitants.


The solar-energy industry, like digital electronics, is built on a foundation of silicon. Number 14 in the periodic table of the elements, silicon is abundant in the Earth’s crust. But the industries that mine and process sand, quartzite rock, and other sources of silicon dioxide to obtain pure silicon for use in solar equipment belie the popular, sunny green conception of an alternative-energy economy.   

Manufacturing a solar panel’s photovoltaic cells requires very high-quality silicon. Before the rapid growth in solar panel production took off, manufacturers could satisfy their need for the element by recycling flawed computer chips cast off by computer makers. As the solar industry’s demand for silicon exploded, however, they had to start producing their own supplies, by extracting pure silicon from sand and other minerals. 

Sand headed for solar uses must go through energy-intensive, and often toxic, processing. It begins with heating sand or quartzite rock, along with a carbon source like wood chips or charcoal, to 3,500 degrees F, resulting in a chemical reaction that produces metallurgical grade silicon. Both the energy for heating and the combustion of the carbon sources contribute to greenhouse warming. Producing one pound of this form of silicon generates an estimate pound and a half of carbon dioxide emissions.

Further refining the metallurgical grade silicon, in order to achieve the 99.9999% purity required in photovoltaic wafers, requires additional heating and chemical treatment. That process produces four tons of the highly toxic compound silicon tetrachloride for every ton of the desired product, polysilicon. And the ultrathin wafers that are sliced from polysilicon blocks for use in photovoltaic cells must be cleaned and smoothed, typically with extremely dangerous hydrofluoric acid.  

Sand’s central role in solar energy and its ecological impacts doesn’t end there. The glass sheet that covers and protects a solar panel must have higher transparency than ordinary window glass, to maximize light capture. That requires starting with sand that carries minimal impurities. Most desirable is sand mined from river beds—causing severe disruption of local and downstream ecosystems. Then even the highest quality sand must be deep-cleaned, which involves further energy- and chemical- intensive industrial techniques

And there’s more to solar energy’s footprint than silicon—for example, the panels’ requirements for large quantities of pure silver and the exploding demand for aluminum frames and supports. In sum, the broad ecological impacts of manufacturing, installing, operating, and, finally dismantling and disposing of a solar installation at the end of its life span include global warming potential (mostly from the silicon processing), ozone depletion, eutrophication of water bodies, and toxicity to humans and non-humans. The lifetime energy consumed is equivalent to a year and a half to three years of the solar farm’s energy output. And photovoltaic panels last only 25 years on average. Their power output declines year by year, and then they have to be replaced—and the cycle of ecological damage begins again.

The chief reason for recent, much-touted decreases in the cost of solar-generated electricity is the increasing share of solar component manufacturing being performed in China, with its low-wage labor force and cheap coal-fired power supply. A whopping 80% of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon is produced in China, with 45% in the northwestern province of Xinjiang alone. 

Recent news reports show how China’s solar-energy industry is having dire consequences not only for the environment but also for human rights and well-being. In Xinjiang, members of the persecuted Uyghur ethnic minority make up most of the labor force in the hazardous quartz mining and polysilicon manufacturing industries. And most of the Uyghurs are employed through the government’s so-called “surplus labor” and “labor transfer” programs. 

A 2021 investigative report from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK concluded, based on strong evidence, that these initiatives “are deployed in the Uyghur Region within an environment of unprecedented coercion, undergirded by the constant threat of re-education and internment” and are “tantamount to forcible transfer of populations and enslavement.” The researchers found that the supply chains of at least ninety solar energy companies worldwide included polysilicon produced by this forced-labor system.


We must be pragmatic, of course. If the world is going to start leaving oil, gas, and coal in the ground forever, an expansion of wind and solar energy capacity will indeed be necessary. (Some industry insiders turn to a reliable if rusty old saw in advising us that to make a “renewable omelet”, you have to break—and “melt”—some ecological eggs.) 

New energy development, however, must be pursued judiciously, minimizing ecological impacts and aiming for a much more modest energy capacity and less industrial production than we have today. Affluent societies worldwide will need to adapt to life with a much smaller and much more equitably shared energy supply; otherwise, we will keep extending our plunder of the Earth, jogging along on the same old ecologically destructive industrial treadmill.

Both of these sourdough cinnamon-swirl loaves above look yummy to the naked eye. They are very similar, but only one is edible. Both include the ingredients typically used in this type of bread. And, yes, both recipes, in accord with physical and biological reality, require that eggs be broken before being added to the dough. But while one of the loaves is—like the mainstream renewable-energy utopia—tasty and satisfying, the other is more realistic: its sweet center “swirl” contains a big dose of sand, rendering the loaf as absurd and indigestible as the cornucopian dream of unlimited “clean” energy.


Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Gritty-Swirl Bread

From the field and kitchen of discomfort food

(makes one loaf)

for the dough:

113g sourdough starter (discard or fed)

180g all-purpose flour

180g whole wheat flour

2½ tsp yeast

1 tbsp clean, white, fine-grained sand

8g salt

1 large egg

71g melted (or room temp) butter

152g lukewarm water

for the filling:

50g clean, white, fine-grained sand

1½ tsp cinnamon

2 tsp perennial sorghum flour

1 large egg, beaten

74g raisins 

(Modification for Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Sweet-Swirl Bread:

Use the above ingredients, but substitute sugar for sand in the dough and filling.)

Combine the dough ingredients and [‘no kneed’] knead (adding a little flour if needed) to form a smooth doughball. Place the doughball in a lightly greased container and let it rise, covered, for 1½ to 2 hours till doubled. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing the sand with the cinnamon and sorghum flour. Lightly grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan and set aside. Transfer the risen doughball to a lightly greased surface and roll into a 6” x 20” rectangle. Leaving about a 1” bare strip on one of the 6” edges, brush the remaining 19” of the dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle it evenly with the filling and raisins. Starting with the 6” edge that has the filling, roll the dough into a log till you reach the bare strip and pinch it closed. Pinch-close the two ends as well. With the seam side facing down, transfer the log to the loaf pan and let it rise, covered, for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 350° F (or 3500° for the “Gritty-Swirl” version, if you want to try making polysilicon), and bake for 45 minutes. To avoid over-browning the top, you could place a piece of foil on top of the loaf after the first 20 minutes of baking.

The only ingredient that tells the two loaves apart is the clove in the center of the sweet-swirl version.

Stan Cox is on the editorial board of Green Social Thought and the author of The Green New Deal and Beyond (2020) and The Path to a Livable Future: Forging a New Politics to Fight Climate Change, Racism, and the Next Pandemic (November 2021).

These recipes are modeled after our favorite swirl bread recipe: King Arthur’s Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Bread.

Reading Between Blinken’s Li(n)es

Losses on both sides were profound — U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken, May 25 press conference with Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu in Israel, AlJazeera. (All of the following li(n)es were uttered during the same press conference.)

Yes. Losses were profound. But not on both sides. On one side, among Palestinians, of whom 253 were killed, including 66 children, and 2,000 injured, including 200 who may suffer from long-term disability. None of this would’ve happened if it wasn’t for the continuing U.S. policy of showering Israel with unconditional military, diplomatic and political support.

Casualties are often reduced to numbers. — Antony Blinken

Well that depends on whether you’re looking for details or not. Let’s go behind some of these numbers Blinken is referring to, starting with Bashar Ahmad Ibrahim Samour.

Bashar was just 17 years old when Israeli forces targeted him with the help of the United States’ continuing bipartisan silence of mass destruction, which currently amounts to $3.8 billion of military aid, every year. That’s almost $500,000 of U.S. taxpayer dollars spent every hour of every day on the Occupation and resulting atrocities committed by Israel on Palestinians like Bashar.

Bashar was killed on the morning of May 12 with two gunshot wounds to the right side of his chest. At 10 a.m. to be precise. Bashar worked as a farmer and “was connecting irrigation pipes about 500 meters from the fence when he was shot and killed. Relatives working with him at the time transported him to a hospital in Khan Younis where he was pronounced dead on arrival.” If you search the web for a picture, you’ll find one of him strapping a camera and smiling, wearing a pink hibiscus flower in his hair.

According to Defense for Children International (DCI) – Palestine, 16-year-old Rashid Mohammad Rashid Abu Arra, was shot and killed by Israeli forces on May 13th in Ramallah, in the village of Aqaba, in the occupied West Bank. Occupation forces entered his village to conduct “search and arrest operations,” and Rashid was shot from behind, sustaining “two gunshot wounds to his upper and middle back.”

I underscored to the prime minister something that president Biden made crystal clear throughout the violence. The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks such as the thousands of rockets fired by Hamas indiscriminately against Israeli civilians. — Antony Blinken

On May 10, 16-year-old Ibrahim Abdullah Mohammad Hassanain and 11-year-old Hussein Muneer Hussein Hamad were killed in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip in a blast. It has still not been determined whether they died as a result of Israeli drones and warplanes that were reportedly flying overhead, or if they were victims of  rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups toward Israel that fell short. But to Ibrahim and Muneer and their families it doesn’t matter how they died. What matters is that they died as a result of 73 years of the United States’ $146 billion silence of mass destruction.

At 8 p.m. on May 19, in Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, 10-year-old Dima Sa’d Ali Asaliya who, according to her uncle, had gone to her sister’s house to get an electric cooker that her family often borrows to bake bread, was walking back home with it when she was struck and killed by an Israeli drone on the street between their two houses. Her little body was “covered in shrapnel wounds.” In the photo I used as a reference to embroider her outline portrait, you can see her hands decorated in henna, framing one side of her smiling face. 

According to DCI, 2-year-old Mariam Mohammad Odeh Talbani, “had been missing and presumed dead since May 12 until her body was located in rubble” on the 21st, nine days after the building she lived in with her family was demolished in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City’s Tal Al-Hawa neighborhood. The attack also killed her 4-year-old brother Zaid, and her 5-month-pregnant mother Rima.

These are just six out of the 66 children’s stories illustrated here. No, not those kind of children’s stories that we, those whose taxes feed our government’s apartheid-friendly silence, read to our children 6700 miles away, but the ones our corporate, biased media don’t bother to inform us about.

As the prime minister mentioned we had a detailed discussion about Israel’s security needs including replenishing Iron Dome. — Antony Blinken

Replenishing Iron Dome” indeed. Maybe the focus on Israel’s missile defense system has something to do with the fact that Israel was caught off guard by the Palestinian resistance, with their bodies and rocks in hand ready to use for self-defense, in response to Israel’s increasing attempts of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem; the rockets that were launched by Hamas and other resistance factions after Israel refused to meet their demands that included withdrawing its military forces from the Al-Aqsa mosque and from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood — all of which led to the latest round of hostilities. 

Why rocks for self-defense? Because remember, the United States believes that Palestinians, unlike Israeli’s, neither have a right to any, leave alone $3.8 billion of its military aid, nor a right to defend themselves against Israeli military and settler violence.

As Ali Abunimah, the co-founder of The Electronic Intifada said recently in an interview with that “the goal was to break the popular resistance in Jerusalem so that the settler march could go through the old city and Israel could show who’s boss, but it failed to do that, and Israel was forced into a humiliating retreat.” He added that “the miscalculation Israel made is that they thought that they had fragmented the Palestinian people so much” that they were a broken people. But the truth is that “Palestinians throughout historic Palestine are in common resistance to Israel, the settler colonial occupying state. So they are fighting from Gaza. People are resisting in the West Bank, they’re resisting in Jerusalem, and for the first time in decades, there is a broad uprising among Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

We know that to prevent a return to violence we have to use the space created to address a larger set of underlying issues and challenges. And that begins with tackling the great humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild. — Antony Blinken

Bravo, Blinken! And if you have to break things down to numbers, maybe you can start by responding to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) appeal by defunding Israel and handing over about 2.5 percent of the monies — $95 million — to them? They need it for “immediate humanitarian and early recovery responses for the coming 3 months, requesting… to address the needs of 1.1 million Palestinians, in the areas of protection, health, water and sanitation, education and food security.” You can go here to access the breakdown of needs.

A Dark Earth Day

embroidery and graphite on khadi

The New Dealpart of the Green New Deal is mostly good and necessary. But the Greenpart has a big hole at its center: the lack of a direct mechanism to rapidly reduce the use of fossil fuels in the economy; therefore, it cannot guarantee their elimination on a crash deadline. It relies instead on an erroneous assumption that an industrial mobilization to build up non-fossil energy capacity will automatically eliminate fossil fuels and other sources of greenhouse emissions through the magic of the market. It also ignores the heavy ecological and humanitarian impacts of all greenindustrial means of energy generation, including wind, solar, and (especially) hydroelectric power. It embodies the worst of technology-dependent magical thinking. — Stan Cox, author of The Green New Deal and Beyond (City Lights, 2020). 

The Green New Deal (GND) and its vision to address the threat of climate emergency is an idea born out of an elite imagination. Its provisions for jobs, workers’ rights, racial justice, economic equality, social safety nets, and universal health care, laudable as they are, serve as sugar coating for a massive industrial stimulus program that is incapable of achieving a phase-out of fossil fuels and will likely juice greater emissions. 

When I think “Green” I think growth. Something to be harvested, and whose value has always been measured not by its usefulness to its own existence and in harmony with the ecosphere it inhabits, but by its usefulness to the myriad product-designs of our harvesting eyes. Green has became a “left” color for a cause, a movement, a public policy proposal. Just another (maybe a darker) Green product. But a product nonetheless.

We tend to forget that there would be nothing green on this planet if it wasn’t for the brown: the soil that births what’s left of the lower-case green around us. Call it The Old Brown Steal: an arrangement for the continuation of a certain human lifestyle for a certain type of human. 

In fact, there would be no green left on this planet if it wasn’t for Brown, indigenous fighters like Berta Cáceres, who stood between the corporation Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) and her peoples’ sacred and precious body of water — the Gualcarque river, and was assassinated defending it. What a heavy price to pay for Green.

Capital must build in increasingly unsafe locations after the safest locations are used up… This is true for the construction of dams just as it is true for fossil fuels. It is also true for the location of solar arrays and the location of wind farms. It is likewise the case for mining the massive number of minerals that go into the production of various type of energy. This is why alternativeenergy cannot be cleanor renewable.Perhaps it is time to realize that there is only one form of cleanenergy – less energy. — Don Fitz,From the Murder of Berta Cáceres to Dam Disaster in Uttarakhand, Green Social Thought, March 2.

March 2 marked the five-year anniversary of the murder of Berta Cáceres, an Earth defender and indigenous Lenca from Honduras. DESA’s design was to plant the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque. It took many Brown lives, including Berta’s, to stall the construction of an “alternative” form of energy. For now. 

“Alternative energy” sounds like another genre of music — very groovy, but still very much part of the capitalist system. Capital, no matter how Green, has always plucked pieces of the brown earth to keep the engines of extraction greased and moving. It keeps plucking another piece, and another, and another, till a Brown person like Cáceres and millions like her who have had enough stand in its way with their bodies like juggernauts of resistance, an extension of the brown beneath their feet, if you will. And so they must be plucked as well.

Cáceres was murdered for standing in the way of Green energy. And since August, 2019, about 1900 miles away, someone else is still living under house arrest for standing in the way of fossil fuels.

Making Chevron and other companies clean up the messes created by their oil production will speed the transition away from fossil fuels, according to Rex Weyler, an environmental advocate who co-founded Greenpeace International and directed the original Greenpeace Foundation. ‘If hydrocarbon companies are forced to pay for the true costs of their product, which include these environmental costs, it will make the alternative energy systems more competitive.’ The Intercept, January 29.

embroidery and graphite on khadi

A public defender and life-long crusader for the rights of indigenous people and farmers of the Amazon rain forest, Steven Donziger has also paid a heavy price for standing in between the oil-drilling interests of Chevron and the complete devastation of the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador. The corporation in question didn’t take Donziger’s life like they did Cáceras’ but took everything else away from him including his law license, his bank account, his passport, and other things. They did leave him with one thing though: an electronic monitoring device around his ankle that “he calls ‘the black claw,’” and that feels to him like “the government still there on my ankle.” 

This is how capital works with its gradations of injustice. If you’re a Brown earth defender like Cáceres and living among the green, the government will mow you down. If you’re a white earth defender like Donziger and live far away from the green, the government clasps itself around your ankle and destroys your life. Either way, governments are still puppets in the hands of corporations like DESA and Chevron and will continue to play to their tune, alternative or otherwise, unless something drastic is done about it. Revolution anyone?

Justice for George Floyd’s lynching doesn’t end with the gaveling of Chauvin’s guilty verdict but with the gaveling down of institutional racism and violence. Similarly, climate justice won’t end with gradations of Green, alternative energy fixes, but as Cox says, with a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.

Meanwhile in the dungeons of the U.S. Congress:

While we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law and that we also — because we can chew gum and walk at the same time — must address the root causes that cause people to make the trek. — Kamala Harris, “Kamala Harris gets high-profile, politically fraught immigration assignment,” Washington Post, March 25.

Really, Kamala? Wanna get to the “root causes” of “the trek?” How about starting with the economic consequences of the 2009 coup in Honduras and United States’ role in keeping it fed and intact? How’s that for Green?

We’re still far from recognizing our elite theft of the planet’s resources as the Old Brown Steal and are stuck on Green. Why else would someone like Rex Weyler talk about “alternative energy systems” being “more competitive” like as if that’s a good thing? This imagination, so far, lacks the ability to limit the usefulness of the green toward a landscape where there is sufficiency for all and excess for none. Something not driven by competition but by accountability and fairness and justice for all.

Earth Abuse and the Next Pandemic

By Stan Cox

Human Miasma, embroidery and graphite on khadi

Humanity’s transgression of ecological limits has caused widespread damage, including a climate emergency, catastrophic loss of biodiversity, and extensive degradation of soils around the world. Earth abuse is also at the root of the Covid-19 pandemic and the grim possibility that new pathogens will continue to emerge from other animal species to infect humans.

Cultivation, deforestation, mining, livestock raising, and other activities degrade and destroy wildlife habitat, leaving animals no choice but to move closer to humans, potentially bringing pathogens along with them. Suburban sprawl and tourism (especially “eco-tourism”) also bring humans and wildlife closer together. Hunting involves the most intimate contact with wild animals; indeed, the prevailing hypothesis is that the hunting of horseshoe bats probably kicked off the chain of events that led to the current coronavirus pandemic. 

Humans have lived with domestic animals for millennia, and our bodies may have learned how to deal with the pathogens passed back and forth. But when ecosystems are disturbed or encroached upon, novel zoonotic viruses can move from wildlife into domestic animals and from there into humans. There is strong circumstantial evidence that the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, which killed more than 675,000 Americans and as many as 50 million worldwide, began with the flu virus jumping from swine into humans in Haskell County, Kansas, moving on to what is now Fort Riley with new army recruits, and from there reaching the battlefields of World War 1.  

The horrific wildfires that were ignited across Southeast Asia for land-clearing in 1997-98, combined with a regional drought, killed off many fruit-bearing trees in the forests of Malaysia. Fleeing the dead forests, fruit bats found sustenance in domestic orchards, bringing with them the Nipah virus. Swine being raised within the orchards became infected through the bats’ virus-laden droppings and passed the virus on to the people who handled them. Nipah brings high mortality among both hogs and human population, killing approximately 50 percent of the people it infects.     

We saw during the past year that once the new coronavirus gained a foothold in our species, the modern human propensity for long-distance travel quickly turned local outbreaks into a pandemic. Air conditioning, another technology with severe climate effects, was also implicated in Covid-19 outbreaks. Summertime, a season in which respiratory viruses typically wane, instead saw dramatic infection peaks throughout the Sun Belt as people escaped the heat and gathered in tightly enclosed, air-conditioned spaces. 

Vacation cruises, which should have been banned decades ago given their exploitation of workers and heavy effect on the oceans and atmosphere, hosted some of the worst early outbreaks. The industrial meat industry, despoiler of soils and water, prolific emitter of greenhouse gases, also turned out to be an efficient viral incubator. 

In some cases, greenhouse warming itself creates conditions for spread of zoonotic infection. In East and North Africa, for example, droughts have become more frequent and intense thanks to climate change. Many pastoralists have responded by replacing their cattle herds with camels, which, famously, can survive for long stretches of time without access to water. As a result, much larger numbers of camels are now in close contact with humans in the region. Worryingly, the coronavirus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome is circulating in dromedary camel populations in several countries in the region. 

MERS originated in bats, has become endemic in camels, and then over the past decade has repeatedly made the jump from camels into humans. It does not spread as readily from person to person as the Covid-19 virus, but it is orders of magnitude more deadly. Of approximately 2,500 people who have been infected by the MERS virus since 2012, one-third have died. As droughts worsen, farmers and herders take their camels on increasingly long journeys in search of forage. Trips often extend for days, and, without fuel for fire building, the herders often must sleep close to the camels for warmth. For want of fire and water, they also may sustain themselves by drinking the camels’ milk raw. All of this increases the risk of virus transmission.

We may wriggle out from under the Covid-19 pandemic by year’s end, but we won’t be in the clear. It is likely that we will continue to encounter novel coronaviruses. Never before the year 2000 were coronaviruses known to emerge from bats into human populations and cause highly lethal disease in humans. In the two decades since, however, there have been three such events, involving SARS-CoV-1, which caused the 2002-2004 “severe acute respiratory syndrome” (SARS) pandemic; MERS-CoV, which causes MERS; and SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19. 

In a 2020 article in the journal Cell, David Morens and Anthony Fauci – yes, that Dr. Fauci – wrote that as we continue disrupting the ecosphere, pathogens are finding their way into human populations with increasing frequency: “The COVID-19 pandemic is yet another reminder, added to the rapidly growing archive of historical reminders, that in a human-dominated world, in which our human activities represent aggressive, damaging, and unbalanced interactions with nature, we will increasingly provoke new disease emergences. We remain at risk for the foreseeable future. COVID-19 is among the most vivid wake-up calls in over a century. It should force us to begin to think in earnest and collectively about living in more thoughtful and creative harmony with nature, even as we plan for nature’s inevitable, and always unexpected, surprises.”

Our encroachment on the ecosphere has opened a Pandora’s box. In addition to the viruses causing SARS, MERS, and Covid-19, some of the other bat coronaviruses studied so far have all the necessary pathogenic tools for attacking humans, and they have been shown to infect and sicken laboratory mice. According to a paper authored by a national group of ten researchers in the field, there are “enormous groups of bat coronaviruses distributed globally,” and many, like SARS-CoV-2, are “functionally preadapted” to infecting humans. That preadaptation may be related to similarities among bats, minks, cats, humans, and some other mammalian species in our lung-cell membranes’ susceptibility to entry by this group of viruses. 

There’s more. Since 2017, another coronavirus – emerging, like the Covid-19 and SARS viruses, from horseshoe bats – has been triggering deadly outbreaks among piglets in China. In the laboratory, the new bug appears to have the genetic potential to infect human airway and intestinal cells. Three different coronaviruses that cause severe disease in cattle, horses, and swine are closely related to another virus that has long been causing the common cold in humans. These livestock viruses may acquire, through genetic exchange, the ability to infect us. 

Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about the propensity of different coronavirus strains to engage in recombination, that is, to swap blocks of genetic code with one another. Reportedly, the code for shaping the “spike” protein that allows the virus to enter host cells is especially prone to recombination, raising concerns that code for versions of the spike that can serve as “keys” for opening human cells to infection could pass from human pathogens like the Covid-19 or common-cold viruses into livestock viruses. The latter might thereby acquire the ability to infect the people who work around them. In researchers’ words, “[C]oronaviruses can change rapidly, drastically, and unpredictably via recombination with both known and unknown lineages.”

The ten scientists who warned that coronaviruses are functionally preadapted to the human body further stressed that their data “reaffirm what has long been obvious: that future coronavirus transmissions into humans are not only possible, but likely. Scientists knew this years ago and raised appropriate alarm. Our prolonged deafness now exacts a tragic price.”

What’s good for the ecosphere is good for human health, and we are not helpless victims. Escaping ecological catastrophe and reducing the frequency of pandemics that might be lurking in the decades ahead is well within our capability, but it will require assiduous respect for ecological limits and great restraint in our interactions with nature.   

Stan Cox is the author of The Green New Deal and Beyond (2020) and the upcoming The Path to a Livable Future: Forging a New Politics to Fight Climate Change, Racism, and the Next Pandemic.

This article was originally published by The Land Institute’s Land Report.

Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Injustice Industrial Complex

As his 67th birthday nears, and Pennsylvania political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal faces challenging and potentially fatal health crises, his legal case is still slowly winding its way through the arduous appellate court system. — New court filings for Abu-Jamal’s appeal, Workers World, March 22.

chain stitch embroidery and graphite on khadi

Injustice is an industry in the United States of America, just like militarism and prisons. An inorganic perennial landscape irrigated by lies, silence, deception, fossil fuels, white-freedom-weapons and the victimization of black and brown people. A rhizomatous perpetual motion machine whose oozing pus fertilizes itself and keeps going.

This industry is undemocratic and bipartisan. It uses words like freedom and dreams and green to describe the journey. 

Don’t be fooled. There’s nothing free and dreamy and green about this journey. It is in fact shackled and nightmarish and grey, rooted in the oxymoronic and popular yet fantastical belief in infinite human potential on a finite planet. This potential, still needs a piece of the planet to thrive. And if we turn around to face the diabolically long and wide landscape, we might get a sense of the human miasma in this journey of injustice. We might see Mumia Abu-Jamal, somewhere in the distance, 39-40 years ago. Like a lotus blooming through the muck.

Conventional wisdom would have us believe that it is insane to resist this, the mightiest of empires, but what history really shows is that todays empire is tomorrows ashes; that nothing lasts forever, and that to not resist is to acquiesce in your own oppression. The greatest form of sanity that anyone can exercise is to resist that force that is trying to repress, oppress, and fight down the human spirit. — political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, Incarcerated at SCI Mahanoy, Pennsylvania; his twelfth book, “the sweeping historical polemic, Murder Incorporated: Empire, Genocide, and Manifest Destiny marks a historic pinnacle for Abu-Jamal as a writer and critic of the American Empire.”

We don’t need some unreal green message from the future where everyone is living off the fat of the land. Maybe we’re going about it all wrong and need to stop and look back instead of looking forward. Maybe the answer to the human miasma lies there? In a small piece of the planet-past. Maybe then it will hit us. That solutionism itself needs a piece of the earth, and the end result will be more violence, more displacement and death and devastation. Not less. 

Mumia and his story sits on one of those pieces of the planet-past. Forgotten and neglected in our liberal quest for quenching immediate injustices, and future ones. All Black Lives Matter. Not just those who the state and white supremacists kill instantly, but also those that the state kills slowly. Like Mumia. 

The state wants Mumia to die… Congestive heart failure…Covid-19 breathing difficulties…Organ failure of the skin… Unrelenting skin eruptions are causing damaged, ruptured, leathery, dry, exposed wounds. Not one spot on his body is free of dry cracked and bloody open wounds… The message from his personal physician, Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, could not be clearer, ‘Freedom is the only treatment.’Prison Radio, March 9.

What the system has done to Mumia’s life, his body, his mind, his words, to me encapsulates the dark nature of this miasmic journey: a microcosmic example of what we’re continuing to do to the earth, in a corner of which we planted a state that planted a system that planted an injustice industrial complex that planted the prison industrial complex that planted Pennsylvania prisons that planted Mumia, an innocent man inside it, “still writing by hand and on a plastic typewriter — no computers are allowed”…

…and that planted the trial judge Albert Sabo and the infamous six words that he was “going to help them fry the ‘n***r’.”

White supremacy is an ideology that gets its message across using very few words, and represents one of the darkest greys in the grey scale of the human miasma. But those six words of judge Sabo, for example, bring home the limits of the human potential. That the poison (if you’re a white supremacist) or elixir (if you’re a liberal human supremacist) is always going to be sought through violent means no matter how hard or how light your blow to the planet and the ecosphere: something always moving forward; something extractive; some more pieces of the planet; and the piece that still holds the forgotten freedom for Mumia.

Mumia’s freedom isn’t the freedom you and I are used to and that we take for granted. It’s the real thing: something that has to be unjustly snatched away from you first and then never granted if the system continues to have its way. Our freedom is part of the miasma. An illusion. It’s meaningless if we don’t use it to fight for someone else’s. 

But yes, freedom is the only treatment. Freedom for Mumia by other fellow humans. And freedom for the earth, from human superiority. 

It’s time to let go of the idea of infinite human potential and let the planet breathe. Let Mumia breathe. That’s one of the few things that we can do that’s within our modest human potential. Our mobilization for freedom of political prisoners like Mumia will actually plant something beautiful and non-violent on this planet without taking a piece of it away.

Your support, from Philadelphia to France, from points across the nation and literally around the globe, has pulled me from a prison cell and placed me in a hospital room to be treated for a condition I didn’t know I had. In the age of pandemic… as of January 2021, over 300,000 prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19. Imagine that… Imagine an elder man, or a woman, or even a young person, because yes, we are also in an age of mass incarceration which day by day increases its infliction upon the elderly, struggling unsuccessfully, to breathe. To walk. To be. I thank you all for reaching out, and I urge you all, let our mission be abolition. — ‘A Letter of Thanks’ by Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio, March 19.

Resources, updates and calls to action:

Watch the March 18 forum sponsored by the Prisoners Solidarity Committee of Workers World Party titled Mumia Abu-Jamal: The Only Treatment is His Freedom!

Prison Radio

International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Campaign to bring Mumia home

The fact that this case is old, 39 years old, and that an innocent man with severe health concerns, is languishing in prison makes it even more critical that you do everything in your power to make sure that justice is not delayed. — What Krasner Needs to Do!, March 18

Write to Mumia: Smart Communications/PADOC, Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335, SCI Mahanoy, PO Box 33028, St Petersburg, FL 33733.

“Yes I believe that prisoners deserve a voice!” Please consider making a donation to Prison Radio.

Free Sanaa Seif !

It is outrageous from the beginning that she was arrested and prosecuted instead of investigating the physical assault against her… The sentence shows the status of the Egyptian judiciary today, which is largely in the service of the political interests of the government, rather than assisting in delivering justice.” — Amr Magdi, Egypt researcher at Human Rights Watch, Middle East Eye, March 17.  

An Egyptian court has convicted the 26-year-old film editor, writer and activist Sanaa Seif on charges of spreading false news, misusing social media and insulting a police officer on duty, sentencing her to 18 months in prison. Sanaa’s sister, Mona Seif, confirmed the March 17 conviction in a tweet stating that her sister has been charged with “spreading false news related to the Covid 19 pandemic,” and “using a Facebook account to terrorize people.” This is nothing less than a travesty of justice. 

Sanaa’s brother, revolutionary activist and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah has been held in administrative detention at Cairo’s Tara prison since September 2019. In March of the same year, he had finished serving a five year prison sentence for something he never did: organize a protest.

On June 21, 2020, Sanaa was sleeping on the pavement outside Tara prison along with her mother and sister, peacefully demonstrating their right to receive a letter from Alaa that the prison authorities were holding from them. The following morning “a group of female beltagiya (thugs) attacked” them, beating them severely and stealing most of their belongings.

On June 23 when she went to the Public Prosecutor’s Office to file a report of the incident, some plainclothes policemen grabbed and shoved her into a white minivan, abducting her. According to the site, Sanaa was taken to “Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution, which is notorious for detaining political opponents and critics in prolonged pre-trial detention over unfounded ‘terrorism’ charges.”

Since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power following the 2013 coup, Sanaa had been detained twice before. She is one of many thousands who have been unjustly imprisoned by the Sisi regime. 

It’s really sad that the price we had to pay for a letter from our brother who shouldn’t even be in prison, was Sanaa being beaten and arrested. So the price we had to pay for that letter was another one of our family in prison… What Sanaa would want is that we don’t loose sight of the bigger picture. To talk about all political prisoners and what the state is doing to deny them their rights and put their lives in danger. — Mona Seif, Free Sanaa, August 3, 2020.

Free Sanaa! Free Alaa!

JatiIndia Flag of Atrocities Caste, Present and Future: Thangjam Manorama

On this International Women’s Day let’s take a moment to remember one of JatiIndia’s victims, 32-year-old Thangjam Manorama from Manipur, India who was hauled out of her home at night, brutally tortured, raped and then shot dead by Indian paramilitary forces — the 17th Assam Rifles — on July 11, 2004. There were bullet wounds found in her vagina and thighs. According to The Polis Project, “Manorama’s murder was the turning point in the fight against extrajudicial encounters in Manipur, where the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) has been in effect since 1980… Since AFSPA was introduced in Naga Hills and later in Manipur and then in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990, there have been a large number of civilian deaths and human rights violations including enforced disappearances, torture in custody and extrajudicial executions.”

Part of a continuing series, each of these flags of JatiIndia (my name for this country of jatis/castes) features a face of resistance to upper-caste violence and injustice. The color orange symbolizes Hindutva politics; blue—a color historically adopted by the Dalit movement—here represents the country’s Dalits, Adivasis, Kashmiris, people of the Northeast like Thangham, and other minorities; and the bottom green bar embodies the regions ecological foundations endangered by the ideology of extractive capitalism. The circular image, replacing the Dharma Chakra (Wheel of Law), signifies the view through the crosshairs of a saffron (Hindu nationalist) gunsight.

JatiIndia Flag of Atrocities Caste, Present and Future: The Farmer We See and the Farmer We Don’t

The new farm laws will make it more difficult for farmers to earn an income, said R.S. Amaresh, a 65-year-old farmer from Renukapura village in Challakere taluk of Chitradurga district. ‘It is very difficult to survive as a farmer. There is no value for our crop. We have given up hope on agriculture. If it continues like this, a day will come when there will be no farmer.’ —  A day will come when there will be no farmer, People’s Archive of Rural India [PARI], January 27.

Whether you’re a Kashmiri or a kisan (farmer) in India growing sugarcane, wheat, rice, bajra (pearl millet), urad (black gram), toor (pigeon pea), rice, ragi (finger millet), jowar (sorghum), maize, mustard, banana, vegetables… in the fantastical eyes of the current BJP government or the private market, or Ambani or Adani or any extractive and exploitative corporation, your life and livelihood are a disposable commodity. Maximum-for-us-few and nothing for you is the maxim of the day, and those with all of their stinking power and money will deploy every violent tactic in their playbook to keep it that way. 

Security forces, road blockades, barbed wires, tear gas, water cannons, police lathis (batons), 10-feet trenches, water and electricity cut offs, that were in PARI’s words, “making it almost impossible for journalists to reach the protesting farmers, punishing a group that has already seen perhaps 200 of its own die, many from hypothermia, in the past two months,” paramilitary forces in full riot-gear with AK-47s, restrictive internet services, surveillance drones, and of course their predictably favorite one: labeling kisans who grow our food as anti-nationals — This is the violence you and me are witness to in the immediate scheme of things. But just like in every other sector, this latest assault by the Indian government and the establishment on the country’s poorest is not new. India’s agrarian crisis was set in motion a few decades ago. These new laws are just the latest pattern in a long chain of atrocious patterns.

On September 27, 2020, the central government of India passed three ag laws without any consultation with the kisans themselves. These laws would give superpowers to corporations and, kisans rightly see these laws as sabotaging an already wobbly support structure that includes the minimum support price (MSP) and the agricultural produce marketing committees (APMCs) — the system of mandis — that assures farmers procurement of their food grains; while at the same time paralyzing “the right to legal recourse of all citizens, undermining Article 32 of the Constitution of India.” 

Two months later farmers began gathering on the borders of Delhi and other parts of the country, in the streets and maidans (public spaces) to protest these new laws and make other demands including stability from fluctuating crop prices, “a dignified pension for elderly [women] farmers and farm workers… free treatment at good government hospitals… recognition of women’s labour in agriculture by giving them the status of farmers… strengthening the PDS (public distribution system) for rations,” (according to PARI), reforming APMC instead of  gutting it, long overdue land titles for Adivasi (indigenous) farmers, debt waiver, adequate storage facilities of their winter crops, freedom from agents who buy at a lower rate than the MSP because you’re at their mercy and so on and so on.

Like Ojha, many farmers in Bihar have been struggling to get better prices for their crops, especially after the state repealed the Bihar Agriculture Produce Market Act, 1960, in 2006. With that, the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) mandi system was abolished in the state. This points to what farmers in the rest of India might face with three new farm laws that were passed in September 2020. — My Troubles Begin After I Get a Good Harvest, PARI, February 20.

Part of a continuing series, each of these flags of JatiIndia (my name for this country of jatis/castes) features a face of resistance to upper-caste violence and injustice. The color orange symbolizes Hindutva politics; blue—a color historically adopted by the Dalit movement—here represents the country’s Dalits, Kashmiris, Adivasis and other minorities; and the bottom green bar embodies the regions ecological foundations endangered by the ideology of extractive capitalism. The circular image, replacing the Dharma Chakra (Wheel of Law), signifies the view through the crosshairs of a saffron (Hindu nationalist) gunsight. 

The blue strip is done in chain-stitch embroidery, illustrating the long chain of atrocities that have been carried out by JatiIndia over the years on its own people, and the people of occupied Kashmir. Each blue chain-stitch, of which there are more than twenty thousand, represents a face of resistance.

The JatiIndia flags featured here are portraits of a man farmer and a woman farmer surrounded by their crops and maati (soil) and water. That’s the front of the embroidery, representing a romanticized version of India, easy on the eye, where the ecosystem might seem a little disturbed but not threatened to the point of annihilation. And that’s why I’ve also included the back of the embroidery which I hope might communicate that which we don’t see and that which has been happening for decades in rural India — the systemic and institutional structure of violent government policies that have left us processing statements like that of R.S. Amaresh: “If it continues like this, a day will come when there will be no farmer.”  

This matrix stitches together a simultaneous kaleidoscopic pattern — one carefully crafted and intentional and the other its opposite. It’s of course impossible for us to see both, the easy front and the hard back at the same time. And we never will. Not unless we are willing to give up our lifestyles that rest on the backs of farmers like Amaresh and Ojha. They are what we eat. 

Why did [migrants] leave their villages in the first place to come [to the city]? And that was something called the agrarian crisis, which the media chooses to underplay, ignore, until it cannot…[and] what is rural distress? Rural distress is not just about agriculture… The handlooms plus handicrafts sector is the biggest employer in your country [after agriculture]… You know, if you look at the farm suicides, youll find, in many parts of this country, farmer suicides were preceded by weaver suicides… Why? When the farmers went bankrupt, the weavers lost their [first] market… These are allied professions… Your carpenters, weavers, potters, honey-hunters, fisherman – all those people are in your agrarian economy… So, if the economy of agriculture tanks, they are finished… When the lockdown came, people were making their way back to the villages, looking for those livelihoods which India had spent the last 25 years killing… What did COVID-19 do for you? It did a complete and thorough 100% autopsy on the society you are, on neoliberalism, on capitalist development under neoliberal capitalism; every nerve, sinew, bone, artery, vein is on display where its very ugly, including the maggots… Thats why Ive said often, the UPA [past government] was the gang that couldnt shoot straight. The NDA[current administration] is the gang that cant stop shooting. Every direction, everywhere, anything it can hit. — Farm Bills Will Create a Vacuum That May Result in Utter Chaos: P. Sainath, The Wire, September 23, 2020.

JatiIndia Flag of Atrocities Caste, Present and Future: Munawar Faruqui

The intruder [Gaur] was referring not to a joke Faruqui had just made, but one that hed uploaded on YouTube in April 2020. It referenced Rama, a widely worshipped Hindu deity, and his wife Sita. O Lord, my beloved, has come home,” Faruqui starts, dropping lyrics from an enormously popular Bollywood song in which a woman celebrates the return of her lover. Then comes the punchline: Ramji dont give a f-ck about your beloved.” The audience erupts. He says, I myself havent returned home for fourteen years.” — How An Indian Stand Up Comic Found Himself Arrested for a Joke He Didn’t Tell, TIME, February 10.

It seems for India’s ruling BJP government and its tentacles, like Eklavya Singh Gaur–the son of BJP legislator Malini Gaur–Rama and Sita, holy cows, and all things Hindu,are just a convenient catalyst to carry out atrocities against Faruqui and other Indian Muslims, smothering their voices and making their lives a living hell.

On New Year’s Day this year, 29-year-old Faruqui was set to perform in a café in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, when he was approached by Gaur, who accused him of hurting the fragile sentiments of Hindus like him. By the end of the evening, after a lot of back and forth among Faruqui, his audience supporters and Gaur, he was arrested by the police along with the show’s producer Edwin Anthony, its host Nalin Yadav, its opening performer Prakhar Vyas and his 17-year-old brother. A few days later, the police also arrested a friend of Faruqui, Sadaqat Khan. 

Since Vyas’s brother was a minor, he got bail before anyone else. Faruqui was released on bail on February 6, and a few days after that Anthony and Vyas were also granted bail. Yadav and Khan are still in jail.

Part of a continuing series, these JatiIndia Flags feature a face of resistance to upper-caste violence and injustice at the center of a modified flag of India. The color orange symbolizes Hindutva politics; blue—a color historically adopted by the Dalit movement—here represents the country’s Dalits, Kashmiris, Adivasis and other minorities; the bottom green bar embodies the regions ecological foundations endangered by the ideology of extractive capitalism; the circular image, replacing the Dharma Chakra (Wheel of Law) signifies the view through the crosshairs of a saffron (Hindu nationalist) gunsight. 

The blue strip is done in chain-stitch embroidery, illustrating the long chain of atrocities that have been carried out by JatiIndia over the years on its own people, and the people of occupied Kashmir. Each blue chain-stitch, of which there are more than twenty thousand, represents a face of resistance. 

My name is Munawar Iqbal Faruqui. I was born and brought up in Gujarat. I survived Gujarat. I had delivered this joke, and folks got upset… so I wrote a sequence joke. That I think I survived because I believe the government is not good in completing their target. Ten months back they said, well beat you up. Im still alive. — Full Video Before Comedian Munawar Faruqui’s Arrest, Indore, The Newsters, January 2.

This JatiIndia flag features a portrait of Faruqui and all that he stands for and for which he is a target: he was born a Muslim, he grew up poor, he’s young and good looking, funny and intelligent, and he jokes about surviving the 2002 Gujarat pogrom.

Between February 28 and March 2, 2002, sixteen of Gujarat’s twenty-four districts were engulfed in unspeakable mob violence unleashed upon Muslims—children, babies, women, men, and elderly alike. Mobs of five to ten thousand people armed with swords, trishuls, lathis, agricultural implements, stones, acid bulbs, bottles, petrol bombs, and burning cloth balls were let loose on helpless residents. According to The Citizens for Justice and Peace’s tally, as many as 1,926 people lost their lives in violence that erupted after the Godhra train tragedy in which 59 people—mostly kar sevaks (right-wing nationalist volunteers)—were burnt alive.

Faruqui is free. For now. 

The series so far: portrait of Masrat Zahra, January 9; portrait of Manisha Valmiki, December 24, 2020; portrait of Anand Teltumbde, December 13, 2020; portraits of Ram Chander Chhatrapati, Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M. M. Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh, Shantanu Bhowmick and Kancha Ilaiah, October 16, 2017; portrait of the sang-bazan (stone pelters), Kashmir, August 15, 2017; portrait of the 2002 Gujarat Pogrom, March 1, 2017; portrait of Teesta Setalvad, February 10, 2017; portraits of Afzal Guru’s wife and son, and a pellet-gun victim, Kashmir, December 23, 2016; portraits of Vinay Sirohi with his wife, Shaista Hameed and Danish Farooq, and Lingaram Kodopi,  March 29, 2016; portrait of Rohith Vemula, March 29, 2016.