Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq

Photo Source Bush Library | CC BY 2.0

At the close of the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was denounced as a ferocious villain for ordering his retreating troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields, clotting the air with poisonous clouds of black smoke and saturating the ground with swamps of crude. It was justly called an environmental war crime.

But months of bombing of Iraq by US and British planes and cruise missiles has left behind an even more deadly and insidious legacy: tons of shell casings, bullets and bomb fragments laced with depleted uranium. In all, the US hit Iraqi targets with more than 970 radioactive bombs and missiles.

It took less than a decade for the health consequences from this radioactive bombing campaign to begin to coming into focus. And they are dire, indeed. Iraqi physicians call it “the white death”-leukemia. Since 1990, the incident rate of leukemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent. The situation is compounded by Iraq’s forced isolations and the sadistic sanctions regime, recently described by UN secretary general Kofi Annan as “a humanitarian crisis”, that makes detection and treatment of the cancers all the more difficult.

“We have proof of traces of DU in samples taken for analysis and that is really bad for those who assert that cancer cases have grown for other reasons,” said Dr. Umid Mubarak, Iraq’s health minister.

Mubarak contends that the US’s fear of facing the health and environmental consequences of its DU bombing campaign is partly behind its failure to follow through on its commitments under a deal allowing Iraq to sell some of its vast oil reserves in return for food and medical supplies.

“The desert dust carries death,” said Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist and member England’s Royal Society of Physicians. “Our studies indicate that more than forty percent of the population around Basra will get cancer. We are living through another Hiroshima.”

Most of the leukemia and cancer victims aren’t soldiers. They are civilians. And many of them are children. The US-dominated Iraqi Sanctions Committee in New York has denied Iraq’s repeated requests for cancer treatment equipment and drugs, even painkillers such as morphine. As a result, the overflowing hospitals in towns such as Basra are left to treat the cancer-stricken with aspirin.

This is part of a larger horror inflicted on Iraq that sees as many as 180 children dying every day, according to mortality figures compiled by UNICEF, from a catalogue of diseases from the 19th century: cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, e. coli, mumps, measles, influenza.

Iraqis and Kuwaitis aren’t the only ones showing signs of uranium contamination and sickness. Gulf War veterans, plagued by a variety of illnesses, have been found to have traces of uranium in their blood, feces, urine and semen.

Depleted uranium is a rather benign sounding name for uranium-238, the trace elements left behind when the fissionable material is extracted from uranium-235 for use in nuclear reactors and weapons. For decades, this waste was a radioactive nuisance, piling up at plutonium processing plants across the country. By the late 1980s there was nearly a billion tons of the material.

Then weapons designers at the Pentagon came up with a use for the tailings: they could be molded into bullets and bombs. The material was free and there was plenty at hand. Also uranium is a heavy metal, denser than lead. This makes it perfect for use in armor-penetrating weapons, designed to destroy tanks, armored-personnel carriers and bunkers.

When the tank-busting bombs explode, the depleted uranium oxidizes into microscopic fragments that float through the air like carcinogenic dust, carried on the desert winds for decades. The lethal dust is inhaled, sticks to the fibers of the lungs, and eventually begins to wreck havoc on the body: tumors, hemorrhages, ravaged immune systems, leukemias.

In 1943, the doomsday men associated with the Manhattan Project speculated that uranium and other radioactive materials could be spread across wide swaths of land to contain opposing armies. Gen. Leslie Grove, head of the project, asserted that uranium weapons could be expected to cause “permanent lung damage.” In the late, 1950s Al Gore’s father, the senator from Tennessee, proposed dousing the demilitarized zone in Korea with uranium as a cheap failsafe against an attack from the North Koreans.

After the Gulf War, Pentagon war planners were so delighted with the performance of their radioactive weapons that ordered a new arsenal and under Bill Clinton’s orders fired them at Serb positions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. More than a 100 of the DU bombs have been used in the Balkans over the last six years.

Already medical teams in the region have detected cancer clusters near the bomb sites. The leukemia rate in Sarajevo, pummeled by American bombs in 1996, has tripled in the last five years. But it’s not just the Serbs who are ill and dying. NATO and UN peacekeepers in the region are also coming down with cancer. As of January 23, eight Italian soldiers who served in the region have died of leukemia.

The Pentagon has shuffled through a variety of rationales and excuses. First, the Defense Department shrugged off concerns about Depleted Uranium as wild conspiracy theories by peace activists, environmentalists and Iraqi propagandists. When the US’s NATO allies demanded that the US disclose the chemical and metallic properties of its munitions, the Pentagon refused. It has also refused to order testing of US soldiers stationed in the Gulf and the Balkans.

If the US has kept silent, the Brits haven’t. A 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority predicted that if less than 10 percent of the particles released by depleted uranium weapons used in Iraq and Kuwait were inhaled it could result in as many as “300,000 probable deaths.”

The British estimate assumed that the only radioactive ingredient in the bombs dropped on Iraq was depleted uranium. It wasn’t. A new study of the materials inside these weapons describes them as a “nuclear cocktail,” containing a mix of radioactive elements, including plutonium and the highly radioactive isotope uranium-236. These elements are 100,000 times more dangerous than depleted uranium.

Typically, the Pentagon has tried to dump the blame on the Department of Energy’s sloppy handling of its weapons production plants. This is how Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley described the situation in chop-logic worthy of the pen of Joseph Heller.: “The source of the contamination as best we can understand it now was the plants themselves that produced the Depleted uranium during the 20 some year time frame when the DU was produced.”

Indeed, the problems at DoE nuclear sites and the contamination of its workers and contractors have been well-known since the 1980s. A 1991 Energy Department memo reports: “during the process of making fuel for nuclear reactors and elements for nuclear weapons, the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant… created depleted uranium potentially containing neptunium and plutonium”

But such excuses in the absence of any action to address the situation are growing very thin indeed. Doug Rokke, the health physicist for the US Army who oversaw the partial clean up of depleted uranium bomb fragments in Kuwait, is now sick. His body registers 5,000 times the level of radiation considered “safe”. He knows where to place the blame. “There can be no reasonable doubt about this,” Rokke told Australian journalist John Pilger. “As a result of heavy metal and radiological poison of DU, people in southern Iraq are experiencing respiratory problems, kidney problems, cancers. Members of my own team have died or are dying from cancer.”

Depleted uranium has a half-life of more than 4 billion years, approximately the age of the Earth. Thousand of acres of land in the Balkans, Kuwait and southern Iraq have been contaminated forever. If George Bush Sr., Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are still casting about for a legacy, there’s a grim one that will stay around for an eternity.

This article is adapted from Been Brown So Long, It Looked Like Green to Me.

Roaming Charges

+ As the neoliberal establishment rushed to eulogize Poppy and lament the degeneracy of honor and ethics in American politics, let’s not forget that Bush’s fingerprints are all over the October Surprise of 1980, when emissaries from the Reagan campaign convinced the Iranians to delay the release of the hostages in Tehran until after the elections, an illegal meddling that almost certainly sealed the election of Ronald Reagan. This was a far more serious crime than than Michael Flynn’s calls to Sergei Kislyak.

+ National Cathedral in a Republic built on the of separation of church and state seems like a bad idea.

+ The legacy of Poppy Bush shows just how deadly bi-partisanship can be. Political gridlock saves lives.

+ Poppy Bush went to war on Iraq in 1990. It hasn’t ended yet…

+ 88,500 tons: amount of bombs, by weight, dropped on Iraq and Kuwait by Poppy Bush.

+ Mark Thiessen, a columnist at the Washington Post, encouraged all Americans to become “the nation George HW Bush wanted us to be.” How do we go about doing that? By setting up a Go Fund Me page for death squads in El Salvador?

+ As a general rule, the more guns fired off in a funeral salute, the more people the departed dignitary has killed.

+ Leave it to the “historian” Jon Meacham to deliver the rosiest and most distorted hagiography of Bush of the day. According to Meacham the “real” George Bush is the one who cried in Cracow in the presence of a child with leukemia and not, I presume, the George Bush whose DU bombs caused thousands of childhood leukemias in Iraq.

+ I didn’t find the odious Alan Simpson funny. If they really wanted comedy, the Bush family should have treated the nation to five minutes of Dan Quayle at the podium.

+ Simpson’s incessant quipping has always disguised the fact that he is one of the meanest bastards in DC.

+ Too bad Alex Cockburn wasn’t around to render his final judgment. Not on Poppy Bush, but on the two women he found himself so irresistibly attracted to: Marilyn Quayle and Laura Bush.

+ Cockburn on Bush at CIA: “Bush Sr., like JFK, sanctioned a Murder, Inc. in the Caribbean, and wilted under pressure from the [Scoop] Jackson Democrats, aka Military Industrial Complex. It was Bush who appointed the notorious “Team B” to contradict in-house CIA analyses suggesting the Soviet threat was not as fearsome as that depicted on the cartoon (aka editorial) page of the Wall Street Journal.”

+ More Cockburn on the Bushes: “Sr. arrived in Midland in 1948, later recalling that “We all just wanted to make a lot of money quick.” The time I interviewed her back in 1980, I thought Barbara Bush one of the meaner women I’d met in a long time.”

+ James Gibney (former US diplomat): “George W. Bush took another step on the road to national redemption with his address and its delivery.”

+ Those fizzing sounds in the background were the fonts of Holy Water beginning to boil when John Bolton and Dick Cheney entered the Cathedral…

Remind me of the first steps W. took on his road to redemption? Was it when he picked up a paintbrush or shared a candy with Michelle O?

+ Emmanuel Macron is probably despairing that he didn’t get an invite to Poppy’s funeral. Anything to get out of Paris before the yellow-vested san culottes storm the Elysée Palace…

+ Remember when George HW Bush called Michael Dukakis a “card-carrying member of the ACLU,” as if it was evidence of the Duke’s treachery against all the great things the Republic stands for. The best endorsement the ACLU has ever gotten.

+ Tim Shorrock: “A minister (Russell Levinson) who jokes about the US war against the Sandinistas during his eulogy for a dead president betrays the Christianity he is claiming to represent. How tawdry. There is nothing beautiful about empire.”

Last laugh: the Sandinistas are still here and George HW Bush is not.

+ Rev. Levinson: “Mission…..Accom-…uhm…no…Complete…yeah…Complete.”

+ Sorry, Rev., people didn’t forget “all President Bush did for us,” they are simply too overwhelmed by all he did to us…

+ Sitting in the second row at Bush’s funeral was Al Gore, the first politician to covertly use Willie Horton in a racially-motivated smear of Michael Dukakis, during the early (Gore didn’t last long) Democratic primaries in 1988. But Bush and his henchman, Lee Atwater, weaponized the Horton story with some of the most racist ads ever to air on network TV. The ads were sponsored by a group run by rightwing activist Floyd Brown. The name of his group? Citizens United.

+ As much as Trump enjoys maligning the Bush family, I’m sure his lawyers are closely scrutinizing Poppy’s pardons of the Iran/contra gang: Cap Weinberg, Elliott Abrams, Dewey Clarridge, Alan Fiers, Claire George and Robt. McFarlane…

+ Too bad Dan Rather isn’t there to reenact Poppy’s greatest victory (aside from bombing the hapless retreating Army snarled in traffic on the Highway of Death), when with Roger Ailes as his cornerman, Bush TKO’d Rather with a counterpunch accusing of him walking off the CBS set, then boasted on an open mic: “The bastard didn’t lay a glove on me.”. . . .(After his debate with Geraldine Ferraro, Bush bragged about “kicking a little ass tonight.”)

+ Thanks W. for the thrilling anecdote about James Baker messaging Poppy’s feet. But that begs the question: Who will rub Trump’s feet? Paulie? Pence? Miller?

+ Odd, that W. didn’t thank Poppy for the nanny he hired for him back in 2000, Dick Cheney…

+ W. joked that Poppy used to call him and Bill Clinton brothers with different mothers. I guess we finally know who Bill Clinton’s real father was …

+ The network commentators are now following Bush’s hearse as it winds its way to Andrews Airbase with the same attention to detail and narrative nuance that they gave to the OJ’s van on the 405.

+ Poppy named Jeb! and W. the executors of his estate. I guess he still didn’t trust Neil (Silverado S&L) Bush with the checkbook…

+ Disappointed that W. didn’t thank his dad for pulling those strings to get him out of Vietnam. This is the kind timely of confession that would spotlight the common ground in Washington, heal the country and bring the Bushes, Clintons and Trumps closer together.

+ With Trump not messing on the carpet at Poppy’s funeral and news that he is poised to nominate Bill Barr, GHWB’s former AG, to replace Sessions, the icy relationship between the Trumps and the Bushes seems to be thawing. The next thing you know Trump will be sharing hard candies and Diet Cokes with Laura and hanging one of Shrub’s paintings in the Lincoln Bedroom.

+ Barr, a fanatic proponent of the unitary theory of executive power, was the architect of Bush’s Iran/contra pardons.

+ Now that both families have spilled rivers of blood in the Middle East, I guess all is forgiven…

+ Another thing Bush and Trump share: both of their fathers were Nazi sympathizers, the difference being that while Fred attended solidarity rallies for the Nazis in New York, Prescott the Banker actually helped finance their rise to power.

+ The Washington Post’s slobbering eulogy for Bush praises Poppy’s “competence.” Competence? The man picked the male Sarah Palin as his VP running mate: Dan Quayle.

+ The Post’s editorial department also hailed Bush’s alleged “restraint.” Tell it to the 408 civilians who perished when Bush targeted the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad with two “smart” bombs.

+ Chris Matthews keeps nattering on about how the Bush funeral was a showcase for “nobility in government.” I thought the point of the American Revolution was to expunge nobility from government?

+ Give me a raw Trump Tweet over this disingenuous froth any day…

+ “He Was a Crook,” Hunter Thompson titled his Rolling Stone obituary for Richard Nixon. It’s not Hunter at his sharpest, he was a good 15 years beyond that by this point, but it’s more acidic than any necrology for Poppy Bush.

+ The spike in opioid deaths starkly parallels the rise of the Global War on Terror…

+ Bloomberg News reports that the Russians have now soured on Trump and believe that his administration will ultimately prove more hostile to Russian interests than Hillary Clinton.

Surely, the Kremlin knew this all along. Regardless of what Trump said publicly or whatever “dirty linens” the Russians had to constrain him, his Adm. would be run by anti-Russian zealots like Pompeo, Mattis, Coats, Pence, McMaster/Bolton, & Haspel–just as virulent as HRC’s gang. The Russian regime is many things, but stupid isn’t one of them.

No doubt the Kremlin was intrigued by Trump’s campaign pledge to “drain the swamp.” But they couldn’t have believed he would actually succeed in deflating the power of the defense-intel lobby. The Russians have been devoted students of the American political system for decades and hey certainly understand its power dynamics better than courtier historians like Jon Meacham. At least one would hope so.

The Russians must have prepared a psychological profile of Trump. They knew he was both incompetent and weak, a man capable only of jailing small children. While this kind of instability could prove a strategic advantage in the short-term, it also meant that more of the real power in the Administration would soon wielded by others.

+ Even the Washington Post is contemptuous of the Guardian’s still unsubstantiated story that Paul Manifort met with Assange three times in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Manafort is a professional liar, but he now seems to have more credibility than Luke Harding, the Guardian “reporter”, whose record of transgressions against the art of journalism is beginning to rival Judith Miller’s…

Many of the people now swallowing whole the Guardian reporting of Luke Harding savaged Gary Webb. One of the most striking differences between their style of journalism: Harding leans heavily on unnamed sources, while Webb’s Dark Alliance series relied solely on documentary evidence which he made publicly available. There were no anonymous sources. Webb’s career, and life, were destroyed, but Harding goes on keyboarding his vaporous “exposés”, not even attempting to answer the numerous critics of his dispatches. Why the difference? One journalist exposed the CIA, the other is doing its bidding.

+ Barbara Ehrenreich: “The poor know a lot about the rich. Victorina Morales —Trump’s longtime undocumented maid, for example — knew about his orange makeup from the stains on his shirt collars, while he knew nothing about her, probably including her name and immigration status.”

+ Joe Biden said this week that he’s the “most qualified person in the country to become president.” He says his verbal gaffes only serve to humanize him. If Biden wants to have a real chance, he needs to plagiarize better speeches this time round.

+ Speaking of gaffes, did Roger Stone hack Wikileaks’ Twitter account? “For decades, Dr. Corsi has been a recognized and distinguished investigative journalist.”

+ Limping behind Biden is John Kerry, who is contemplating a return to Iowa. The Democratic Party is beginning to resemble a traveling Madame Tussaud’s exhibit…

+ Bruce Springsteen said this week that there aren’t any Democrats who are capable of beating Trump, who he thinks will win a second term. And people accuse me (correctly) of not having any hope…No one will ever label me a big Springsteen fan, but few artists are as wired into the Democratic establishment as Bruce. He knows all of the contenders much better than I do. His assessment of the field of contenders seems sound to me.

+ Speaking of which, the latest Kennedy Airhead with presidential aspirations, young Joe, says he will be pursuing a platform based on “moral capitalism.” Moral Capitalism? Another Democratic oxymoron that should be dumped in same trash bin as “humanitarian war,” “sustainable development,” and “clean coal.”

+ Clintonite Hakeem Jeffries beat Rep Barbara Lee by 10 votes, 123-113, to become leader of the House Democratic Caucus (number 3 position in House leadership) with Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaking on behalf of Jeffries. Plus ça change!

+ Bill Clinton, 1992 (as quoted in new Whitewater documentary): “Together we can make America great again.”

+ The Trolling Award of the Week goes to the vile Shinzo Abe of Japan for telling Trump at the G20: “I want to congratulate you on your historic victory in the midterm election in the United States.”

+ REPORTER: Would you support full wall funding if you got a bonafide solution on DACA?


Have you cleared that with Chuck yet, Nancy?

+ After consulting with Chuck, Nancy apparently revised her position. Pelosi now says she’s okay with a continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security that includes funding for the border fence because “that’s not a border wall.” (Of course, Israel calls their apartheid wall a “security fence.”)

+ Trump’s pick to replace Nikki Haley at the UN is former FoxNews celebrity Heather Nauert, who when asked to pinpoint the highpoint of US/German relations answered with the firmness of a contestant on Jeopardy!: “D-Day!” Some say Nauert’s appointment will represent a diminution of the office, but as chief scold for the Empire, and implacable defender of Israel and Saudi Arabia, her resumé seems consonant with those of her predecessors: Kirkpatrick, Albright, Bolton, Rice, and Haley.

+ I hope someone intrepid reporter (perhaps Sam Husseini, if he’s willing to risk another detention) will ask Heather Nauert the question that we all really want to know the answer to: FoxNews Dye No. 1 or No. 3?

+ Swampwater Rising: Heather Nauert’s husband Scott Norby, who did his basic training at Goldman Sachs, is now a private equity banker at Morgan Stanley.

+ Rexxon has finally dropped a load on Trump, telling Bob Schieffer of CBS a bunch of things we already know about the President: Trump acts on instinct, Trump doesn’t read, Trump doesn’t read, Trump doesn’t care about facts, Trump doesn’t care about acting within the law. Still it’s the biggest dump Tillerson has taken since the day John Kelly fired him while he was sitting on the toilet.

+ Translation: Pompeo Maximus does “illegal things” without being asked…

+ In a former political era, not that long ago, a former Secretary of State confessing that the president repeatedly pushed him to do “illegal things” would be the story of the year. Now it’s not even the story of a single hour in a day.

+ Rexxon is as dumb as a rock. We can agree with Trump on this. But what kind of rock? Some shale formation from the Permian Era, probably.

+ Pete Shelley: “I try to keep the lyrics I write ambisexual. I enjoy writing songs that don’t exclude anyone. The only people they exclude are people who don’t know anything about love.”

+ To cut the deficit he exploded by boosting the defense budget while slashing taxes for corporations and the 1%, Trump wants to slash the salaries of federal employees. Chief of Staff John Kelly asked Trump to estimate the annual income of the highest ranking general. Trump guessed, five million. It’s less than $200,000. (Until they retire and join the board of Lockheed.)

+ Soren Kierkegaard: “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” (One might argue, Soren, that “belief” itself is the problem.)

+ Here’s an example of textbook antisemitism, spoken by Louie Gohmert, a sitting member of congress, and broadcast without rebuttal by a major cable network (Fox Business Channel). Meanwhile, Marc Lamont Hill made an urgent call at the UN for human rights and democracy in Israel/Palestine. Guess which one got gagged, fired and smeared…?

Rep. Louie Gohmert on Fox Business: ‘George Soros is Supposed to Be Jewish But You Wouldn’t Know It’

Alan Dershowitz is still a commentator on CNN and Marc Lamont Hill is not. Draw your own conclusions.

+ Holocaust survivor Jacques Bude: “The duty of memory is to say never more dehumanization. If we say ‘never again,’ we have to decide where we stand and condemn it. I am against ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, which is a form of dehumanization.”

+ According to Pompeo Maximus, Trump is busy building a “new liberal world order.” So since 1945, we’ve had the Liberal World Order, then the New (i.e., neoliberal) World Order, and now the New-New World Order, which looks a lot like what we had before WW2 whose crash gave rise to the Liberal World Order…

+ President Xi: “I shot the tariffs, but I swear it was in self-defense…”

+ The four biggest drops in the Dow Jones (by points) have all happened in the last two years. Over to you, Tariff Man.

+ Will economic historians call this frenzy the Trump and Dump Economy?

+ A running count of Trump aliases….1. John Barron, 2. John Baron, 3. John Miller, 4. David Dennison, 5. Stable Genius, 6. Individual One, 7. Client One, 8. Tariff Man…

+ Buzzed reported that the Trump Org was so hot for the Moscow tower deal that they planned to offer the top floor penthouse (valued at 50 million Trump dollars) to Vladimir Putin. If wonder Donnie and Ivanka were willing to throw in a free Trump mattress to close the deal? (That would make Scott Pruitt envious.)

+ The dirty secret of “Russia-gate” appears to be that the “collusion” was never about winning the election. The campaign was a smokescreen to pursue contracts, deals, loans, money laundering. Trump getting accidentally elected, pretty much blew all of that up.

+ Excellent photo essay in La Jornada on the political odyssey of AMLO…

+ Like Donald Trump, Lena Dunham likes to get a lot of attention by saying something outrageous and racist and then to get more even more attention for writing a self-pitying apology. Then repeating the whole cycle a few months later, because she really is a bigot…

+ The Russian military has apparently intervened to nix plans to name the airbase outside Kalingrad after hometown hero Immanuel Kant. A Russian vice-admiral briskly dismissed Kant: “He wrote some incomprehensible books that none of those present here today has read, and won’t read.” It’s hard to argue with that sober assessment of the writings of the Sage of Königsberg.

+ Almost every piece of technology (or weaponry) made for the military eventually finds its way into the hands of da police, in this case the NYPD, which just announced its plans to track protesters with drones

+ The Union of Concerned Scientists has published a damning assessment of Ryan Zinke’s tyrannical tenure as Secretary of Interior…

+ After modest reductions over the past four years, carbon emissions by industrial nation’s increased by 0.5 percent this year. Tra-la-la-la-la….

+ Under the headline, “Clean Coal’s Dirty Secret,” Reuters reports that the clean coal program, heavily subsidized by US taxpayers, actually produces more pollution than the old dirty coal operations. In short, the utilities who have been treating their coal with calcium bromide were being paid to pollute. This may have been the worst kept dirty secret since the non-existence of WMD stockpiles in Iraq.

+ Meanwhile, the mile-thick (at the moment) ice sheets of Greenland are melting at the fastest rate ever recorded…

+ How did the Democrats respond to the distressing news about the rapidly advancing catastrophic climate crisis? By naming Big Coal’s favorite senator, Joe Manchin, to be their leader on the Senate Energy committee.

+ Senator Bernie Sanders spent $300,000 for one month of frantic air travel in October on private jets. But why did Sanders have to travel at all, never mind on carbon-spewing private jets? Sanders could have appeared at each venue by video feed. When will the alleged climate warriors stay at home and spread their message by low-carbon technology? Are we to believe that St. Bernard’s carbon doesn’t stink as much as our own?

+ In a time of cataclysmic climate change, Beto O’Rouke, the Che Guevara of West Texas, voted to kill legislation that would have banned off-shore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico…

+ Democratic activists are swooning over Beto, openly calling him the white Obama.  Have they reviewed his drone target list?

+ Shipping giant Maersk announced this week its intention to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by the year 2050 and there will a lot more ocean to traverse by then.

+ How much is CNN paying people like Rick (“That’s Latin for Asshole“) Santorum to say that climate scientists are only it for the money?

+ Nome has one of the longest climate records in Alaska; nearly unbroken daily observations since Dec 1906. But no autumn has been as warm as this year. The avg temp of 36.9F (2.7C) is 7.4F (4.1C) above normal. The trend is +3F (1.7C) since early 1970s.

+ Q. Keith, what do you do to prepare yourself physically for a big tour?

Keith Richards: I get up.

+ Nelson George: “Funk was the black answer to Star Wars.”

I’ll raise your “May the Force be With You” with a heavy dose of “Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication”…

+ I spent Tuesday afternoon being truant from my obligations at CounterPunch by absconding into Portland to experience the Sun Ra exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. And what a trip it was. I’m still caught in the surreal orbit of Sun Ra artifacts, including some of the Arkestra’s handmade instruments, recreations of the band’s costumes, original album art and labels, all done by members of the band, many of them by Ra himself, Sun Ra’s handwritten application to NASA, lots of music and a wall of original Sun Ra album covers, many of them hand-drawn and painted, some on the day of concerts. If you live near Portland, go. If you don’t live in Portland, just travel the Space Ways…

+ In Sun Ra’s application Sun Ra’s to visit NASA’s space station he notes: “Without the proper type of music your program will be more difficult than it need be. You know it is said that music “soothes the savage beast” and what is called man is very anarchy-minded at present.”

Sound of Joy

Sound Grammar

I’ll put my cards on the (turn)table…

Jack Johnson over Kind of Blue
Rubber Soul over Sgt Peppers
Wild Honey over Pet Sounds
Giant Steps over Love Supreme
John Wesley Harding over Blood on the Tracks
There’s a Riot Goin On over Stand!
Let It Bleed over Exile on Main St.
Muswell HIllbillies over Village Green Preservation Society
The Who Sell Out over Who’s Next
Astral Weeks over Tupelo Honey
Maggot Brain over One Nation Under a Groove
Uncle Meat over Over-nite Sensation
Rust Never Sleeps over Harvest
Country Life over Stranded
Controversy over Purple Rain
London Calling over Sandinista!
Remain in Light over Speaking in Tongues
Adventure over Marquee Moon
Leave Home (original version w/ “Carbona Not Glue”) over Rocket to Russia
The River over Born in the USA
Fear and Whiskey over RocknRoll
Songs of the Free over Entertainment!
More Fun in the New World over Los Angeles
Blue Lines over Mezzanine
Evil Empire over The Battle of Los Angeles

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul by Andrew Delbanco

Advice for Future Corpses (And Those Who Love Them) by Sally Tisdale

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey

Soul Food

Sun Ra on the Angelic: “Angels like their minds and spirits to take wings. They’re artistically inclined. They find food in looking at a picture or they find food in hearing a beautiful song or a beautiful poem or looking a beautiful dance or just looking at a person smile. They find food in that. But Earth people they just find food in food. That’s all. Music is happiness.”

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3