A wall of toxic sludge bursts down your streets, flooding homes and killing with its chemical stew of industrial waste. Another B movie plot warning of the perils of pollution? No, just another nightmare scenario from the pages of yesterday's newspapers. The sludge, which burst from its aluminum plant reservoir in Hungary on Monday, overtaking seven villages and flooding 40 square kilometers, is now threatening Europe's Danube River, according to officials. Cleanup will take at least a year.
The Danube, one of the jewels of the Old World, has a name "from Celtic (Gaulish). It is one of a number of river names derived from a Indo-European word *dānu, apparently a term for "river", but possibly also of a primeval cosmic river, and of a river goddess (see Danu (Asura)), perhaps from a root *dā "to flow/wift, rapid, violent, undisciplined," according to Wikipedia.
Yet another massive slap to the face of our mother planet. We seem to be administering these on a monthly basis. The almost instinctual need for governments to cover-up from ourselves the awful consequences of our collective irresponsibility is a sign of the great shame we are under, but of course also only perpetuates it and brings greater problems to those in power. The Obama administration has not escaped this curse of authority, as reports from independent government investigators show that initial communication about the Gulf oil spill deliberately underplayed the worst case scenarios. Let us hope that European officials can hold themselves to a higher standard. The ten nations that share the Danube River watershed will presumably be on the lookout for hogwash concerning the fate of the sludge.
In the meantime, back in the US, so many people are fed up with the broken state of the political system and the harried lifestyle bred by America's love affair with laissez faire capitalism, that they are ready to vote anyone in power out of office, simply as a protest. Polling experts now are thinking that the pattern in the last several midterm elections of the incumbent party losing seats has little to do with the issues and more to do with a general sense of dissatisfaction with the state of the country. Voters just want to "throw the bums out" no matter what they say they stand for. Many are looking for a third party to speak truth to the voters and break the Washington gridlock that they see as threatening our global preeminence, much like the Roman Empire was undermined by its inability to reform. Call me a cynic, but we've been down that road before with Ralph and got nowhere. Truth is not enough. There has to be a sea-change.