Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues

Mexican wolf. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ This seems like a big deal to me, but then I don’t get out much: The world’s seed-bearing plants have been disappearing at a rate of nearly three species a year since 1900.

+ From 2001 to 2017, the Pentagon’s emissions totaled 766 million metric tons, according to a new Brown University report. That makes the U.S. military by far the world’s largest single source of CO2 emissions.

+ The planet’s carbon concentration jumped 3.5 parts per million last year—more than twice as fast as it grew as recently as the 1980s and 50% faster than the average this decade.

+ The Greenland ice sheet is experiencing an unprecedented spasm of melting this week, losing half of its surface cover (more than 2 billion tons) in a matter of days…It hasn’t happened before. But almost certainly will again.

+ What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic…

+ 14 of the 15 cities with the worst air pollution in the world are in India, where simply breathing is like smoking a 1/2 pack of cigarettes per day. The toxic particles in India’s air ultimately end up in the country’s lakes and rivers, — 70% of which are dangerously contaminated. All of this is wrecking havoc on the health of India’s human population, where the dirty air is reducing life expectancy by at least 2.6 years.  Air pollution is now the third leading cause of death.

+ Climate change is fast-forwarding the development patterns of sockeye salmon

+ CO2 emissions from international flights leaving from California have increased by 40% in the last five years. (Don’t worry the airlines are compensating by investing in palm oil biomass plants as “carbon neutral” offsets!)

+ To date, 195 countries have signed the Paris climate agreement, and 183 have submitted their own decarbonization targets. Even if all these countries were to meet their goals, global CO2 emissions would stay about the same or even increase slightly until at least 2030.

+ Destined for Bartlett’s Book of Quotations. Trump: “China, India, Russia, many other nations, they have not very good air, not very good water, and the sense of pollution. If you go to certain cities, you can’t even breathe, and now that air is going up. They don’t do the responsibility.”

+ Joe Biden, who once plagiarized from Neil Kinnock and Martin Luther King Jr, is now reduced to lifting innocuous passages on climate change from Beto O’Rouke, who was one of the leading recipients of oil & gas largesse in Congress…

+ More journalists have lost their jobs in the last 15 years than coal miners….

+ A lot of people in Flint won’t get no justice tonight

+ Flint ain’t got safe water and Whitey goin’ to Mars (of which the Moon is a part)

I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And Mars looks very different today
For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Mars has stolen the Moon
And there’s nothing I can do…

+ The cost of cleaning up Alberta’s tar sands zone: $260 billion.

Number of years it could take for the tar sands zone to be cleaned up: 2,800.

+ In 2002, Ireland became the first nation to regulate the distribution of plastic bags…

1999: 328 bags per capita
2002: Government regulations enacted
2016: 12 bags per capita

+ Bison evolved as migratory animals. Now they’re slaughtered (by our govt.) for crossing imaginary boundaries in search of forage…

+ The Trump administration secretly reversed its own policy and is now permitting the body parts of slaughtered elephants to be imported into the United States. Do you think Don Jr. & Stephen Miller have brainstorming sessions over a tub of Chick-Fil-A and a case of Coors to come up with the most disgusting things imaginable the Trump administration could legalize? Or does it just come naturally to them?

+ The Trump administration is also moving to expand hunting inside National Wildlife Refuges. “Refuge” has always been a misnomer for what most of these places actually are, which is shooting galleries…

+ A distressing note about grizzlies from Louisa Willcox:

“An astonishing 11 grizzlies are dead this year in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, one for killing “several” chickens. Despite the availability of nearly free electric fencing from at least 3 nonprofits, the handful of chickens were not protected by electric fence. And the involved subadult male appears not to have had a record of prior conflicts with humans.

“Back to the lander” chicken farmers are exploding in the remaining stronghold for the 900 grizzlies in the NCDE, that are part of the 2% remnant of the grizzlies that we once had. Former Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen has called chickens “the new garbage.” About 410,000 chickens are raised in Montana, very few as a commercial venture.

Meanwhile 3 grizzlies have been killed in the Selkirks in north Idaho – a population of perhaps only 40 grizzlies – in retaliation for depredation on domestic sheep, another bear food that is notoriously incompatible with recovery of endangered grizzlies.”

+ In 2018, USDA’s Wildlife “Services,” mercenaries for Big Ag, killed 22,000 beavers, 515,000 red-winged black birds, 19,000 mourning doves, 17,000 black tailed prairie dogs, 552 great blue herons, 357 wolves, scores of owls and much more.

+ According to the Living Planet Index, more than half of all living creatures have died out in the last 40 years.

+ Not content with harassing whales with sonar, explosions and ship strikes, the Navy now wants to invade one of the quietest places in the lower-48 with the screaming engines of its training flights: Olympic National Park.

+ Tables are turning: Cheyenne River Sioux tribal police stopped workers on the Keystone XL pipeline and transported them off the reservation…

+ Four of Alexander Cockburn’s old pals arrested on Rainbow Ridge blocking logging operations in critical salmon habitat by Humboldt Redwoods: David & Jane Simpson, Ellen Taylor and Michael Evenson…Respect!

+ Did any mad scientist ever brew up a more evil potion than Round-Up?

+ Carrie Lam, the “chief executive” of Hong Kong, has suspended the extradition law with China that propelled more than a million demonstrators on to the streets. And they say protest doesn’t work. Now, where are the protests against the extradition of Julian Assange?

+ Health insurance costs across the US jumped 1.5 percent in May, up 12.4 percent over last year. (You see what can happen when Obama and Trump work together to create something special for the American people?)

+ Even Bloomberg rates the US health care system as one of the most costly and least effective in the world, just behind Russia but still (barely) ahead of Bulgaria.

+ Nations which have somehow found a way to provide their citizens with universal health care…

Czech Republic
New Zealand
S Korea

+ Living in an economy that kills

+ DH Lawrence declared that “the essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.” The statistics suggests this wasn’t hyperbole.

+ Since 1989, the top one percent in the US gained $21 trillion in wealth, while the bottom half lost $900 billion.

+ Many retirees in the US, Canada and Europe are running out of money a decade before their deaths. Of course, Social Security was built on the assumption that most working-class people would die before they got back everything they’d paid into it…

+ The war on the poor never ends…now the Trump administration wants to charge stores a fee to accept food stamps.

+ Can anyone cite one issue where Biden is more progressive than Hillary Clinton? What kind of institutional laughing gas have the Democrats been inhaling to convince themselves that another center-right candidate with even less rhetorical skills than HRC could defeat Trump?

+ Biden in Iowa on his desire (compulsion?) to work with Republicans if elected: “With Trump gone you’re going to begin to see things change. Because these folks know better. They know this isn’t what they’re supposed to be doing.”

+ This week’s Monmouth poll out of Nevada is the first in any early primary state that shows Warren over Sanders.:

Biden – 36%
Warren – 19%
Sanders – 13%
Buttigieg – 7%
Harris – 6%

+ Strange allies: In the Morning Consult poll, Joe Biden is the second choice for 33% of Bernie Sanders voters, the highest level for Biden among any of the contenders. While Sanders is the second choice for 30% of Biden voters (the only candidate for whom Sanders is the second choice.) So much for ideology. Is it the geezer factor that unites them?

+ Biden’s numbers are already falling. The only thing that’s keeping him in the lead is that he hasn’t started campaigning yet…

+ Finally an answer to what women want: Socialism!

+ So, if socialism is rising, why is Sanders struggling? You can’t sustain the role of “insurgent” after endorsing and campaigning for the villainous politician you strived to overthrow. Bernie is now just another Left Democrat, a party loyalist with many excellent positions and some serious baggage.

+ The Koch brothers funding network is opening its checkbooks to Democrats. Why? Because the old Paul Ryan Republicans are the new Democrats…

+ In spite of Trump’s tariffs, the budget deficit has swelled to $739 billion in May–an increase of 38.8 percent over a year ago. Of course, this was always the plan: cut taxes for corporations and the super-rich, pump up defense spending, explode the deficit and use the deficit as a pretext to eviscerate entitlements.

+ Robert Reich: “So far Trump’s tariffs have cost each American household $850. If Trump slaps a 25% tariff on all Chinese goods, it will be $2100. If he raises all tariffs he’s threatened, $4000 — the same amount he promised would trickle down from his giant corporate tax cut but didn’t.”

+ This is one of those rare occasions where Reich’s analysis is backed up Goldman Sachs, which suggests that the entire burden of Trump’s tariffs falls on American businesses and consumers.

+ How the FDR administration propagandized its concentration camps…

+ Following in the footsteps of the Greatest Generation, the Trump Administration plans lock up migrant children at Fort Sill, which once served as a detention camp for Japanese-Americans and before that Native Americans, including Geronimo

+ One of the most important points historian Andrea Pitzer (One Long Night: a Global History of Concentration Camps) made in her too-brief appearance on MSDNC was that once concentration camps are opened they don’t close. They set down roots and grow, often into something even more malign, as in her examples of the French Camps from the Spanish Civil War and Gitmo.

+ Depravity as policy: doctors claim that migrant patients are being treated like felons, which is both an indictment how migrants and prisoners are treated by the government.

+ Thank you for your service…ICE is routinely deporting veterans without screening their records.

+ If you can’t send the entire regime to Hell, at least send them to The Hague: DHS stuffed 900 detainees into a “facility” that had a capacity of 125 people.

+ Ralph Nader: “The biggest hole on our southern border is Trump’s giant, open mouth threatening to close the border, to end asylum, and cut off poverty aid to Central American countries. No wonder desperate families are streaming north before its to late.”

+ Nancy Pelosi says the House shouldn’t impeach Trump because it will go nowhere in the Senate. Of course, that’s also true of every piece of legislation that the House passes.

+ By blocking the impeachment of Trump, Pelosi is complicit in every Constitutional abuse Trump makes. Her abuses may be more grievous since she is explicitly violating her oath to protect and defend the Constitution with the one remedy the Constitution has to restrain a power-mad executive.

+ At least 406 people have been killed by police in 2019.

+ The DC police department denied every request by families for body-camera footage for police killings in 2018.

+ Biden: “I do not buy the concept, popular in the ‘60s, which said, ‘We have suppressed the black man for 300 years and…in order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start or even hold the white man back.… I don’t buy that.”

+ Trump bellowed on Wednesday that “never in his life” had he ever considered calling the FBI about anything. He is conveniently forgetting about that time he offered to be an FBI snitch to cover his own ass.

+ Pompeo Maximus told a group of Jewish leaders that he would intervene in British elections to keep Corbyn from becoming PM…

+ The combined support for the Tories and Labour in the UK has dropped to about 40%—the lowest share since 1979.

+ How pathetic is Kamala Harris? Even DiFi signed the relatively modest resolution introduced by Warren and Sanders condemning Netanyahu’s land theft scheme for the West Bank  and Madame Prosecutor refused…

+ US diplomats have never been “honest brokers” in the Middle East and now they don’t even pretend to be

+ Once she was a cause célèbre of the human rights crowd. Now Aung San Suu Kyi’s a xenophobic, anti-Muslim bigot who is making common cause with the likes of Orban…

+ Embattled tenants in NYC score a rare victory against the slumlords, and for once Governor Andrew Cuomo sided with them…

+ In downtown San Diego, homeowners are paying as much as $90,000 for a single parking spot…

+ A survey of CEO confidence in the economy has dropped to the lowest level in the Trump presidency. Trump must be doing something right…

+ Joe Biden met a voter’s granddaughter in an Iowa coffee shop and asked her age. She told him she was 13. He addresses her brothers. “You’ve got one job here, keep the guys away from your sister.” I hope they started by giving Biden a swift kick in the nuts…

+ Biden: “William Barr one of the BEST attorneys general.”

+ Ronald Reagan, 1961: “Medicare will bring a socialist dictatorship.” (Still waiting…)

+ The New York Times will no longer run editorial cartoons. Take heart. Many of their stories will continue to read like cartoons…

+ Now Trump’s gaslighting his loyal gimp Mike Pence. On Friday, Trump refused to say he’d support Pence in 2024. This may help explain why:

“Why does he [Pence] look at me like that? He’s a religious nut. He was a sitting governor and was going to lose when we gave him the job. So I guess he’s got good reason to love me. But they say he was the stupidest man in Congress.” (Siege, page 32)

+ At least 22 foreign governments have spent money at Trump properties since he became president. Remember when Jimmy Carter was forced to put his peanut farm in a blind trust?

+ Barbara Ehrenreich: “Trump invites foreign nations to come and influence our elections. The only condition is that any agents they send here stay in Trump hotels.”

+ Dear Ilhan Omar,

Impeach Trump for things he does (locking kids in cages, lying us into war with Iran, killing 40,000 Venezuelans with vicious sanctions, suppressing science on planet-killing climate change) not bullshit he says.

+ Trump on his speech in Poland last year: “I can say it but I don’t want to say it but some people said it was the best speech ever made by a president in Europe. But I did not say that, I’m just quoting other people.” (Can he name one?)

+ Joe Biden was the chief architect of one of the most noxious tentacles of the war on drugs, the asset seizure program.

+ Who will tell AIPAC? Israel isn’t a top issue for American Jews who care about Israel…

+ Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Iran would not repeat the “bitter experience” of negotiating with Trump: “The U.S. president, after a meeting with you and discussions on Iran, imposed sanctions on Iranian petrochemical sector. Is this a message of honesty? Does that show he seeks honest negotiations?”

+ Proconsul Pompeo Maximus just blamed Iran for attacks on an oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, while the Japanese prime minister was in Tehran trying to negotiate a relief of sanctions. Doesn’t make any sense for the Iranians to have done this, while many others in the region stand to benefit from instigating a hot war with Iran…

+ Pompeo Maximus presented no evidence for his claim that the Iranians targeted oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Apparently, they’ve learned the lesson of the Bush administration. Don’t put forth any evidence that can later be exposed as fabricated. Just say it and walk away without any questions.

+ More deadly presents for the Saudis, more in-your-face provocations for Iran…

+ Saree Makdisi: “Crisis in the Gulf: on the one hand, a careful, canny, prudent, calculating & strategically rational power, and on the other hand, the USA.”

+ As the Trump administration moves closer to war with Iran, remember that the US hasn’t had a Secretary of Defense for six months and Mad Dog, for all of his faults, was one of the few voices in the regime urging a more moderate policy towards Iran.

+ With Iran now in the crosshairs, I’m going to repeat this heresy, because, with Cockburn dead, apparently I’m one of the few people alive who believes it: Even if Saddam had WMDs, there was still no justification for invading Iraq.

+ In Trump’s first year in office, formal complaints about Hatch Act violations increased by 30%. The most frequent violator was Kellyanne Conway. The Office of Special Counsel just recommended that she “be removed from the federal service.”

+ Sen. Mark Warner (Demwit-VA): “The Intelligence Community has stayed true to its mission of … SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER.”

+ Trump just used the south lawn of the White House as a showroom for a flyover by the F-35, the world’s most expensive and useless fighter-jet. Last year, he seemed to believe the plane was invisible.

+ Biden: “I did not find anywhere in the record on that issue where he [Clarence Thomas] evidenced extreme views ― where he said ― where he, on the face of what he said, as anything extreme or an explicit endorsement,” Biden said to the women who testified on Sept. 19, adding that they showed a “failure of logic” in coming to such a conclusion.

+ Priorities, priorities: Alabama has moved to protect the parental rights of rapists.

+ The Hyde Amendment was passed just three years after Roe v. Wade. For more than 40 years, the Democratic Party has been just fine with Joe Biden and the fact that the Constitutional right to an abortion was restricted for poor, minority and young women soon after it was granted.

+ Bernie Sanders claimed that he consistently voted against the Hyde Amendment and his supporters have slammed Elizabeth Warren (and others) for voting for spending bills containing the Amendment. In fact, Sanders voted against bills containing the Hyde Amendment 4 times (good for him) & FOR it 26 times!

+ From Michael Wolff’s Siege on how Trump would do an abortion: “When Marla Maples became pregnant in the early 1990s, before their marriage, he debated with one friend how he could avoid both the marriage and the baby. The scenarios included pushing Marla down the stairs to cause a miscarriage.” Over to you, Tiffany…

+ More evidence Biden is entering his second childhood, which of course might not be a bad thing if he regresses far enough…

+ Millennials are posing a huge challenge to the advertising industry. How do convince a generation that is broke and hounded relentlessly by creditors to buy shit they don’t need?

+ LAX is ranked by Fodor’s as the worst airport in the world and it is awful, but in my experience the Las Vegas airport is the worst. It’s dirty, always packed, and many people are drunk, depressed and distraught about having lost money they didn’t really have…

+ LA has also been rated the most “stressed out” city in the US. I can understand why. A few weeks ago, I took Uber from Sherman Oaks to UCLA campus, about 6 miles. This was 11 am. Far from rush hour. We avoided the dreaded 405 by taking twisty Beverley Glen over the hills and down the canyon. It still took almost an hour. I asked the Uber driver if his passengers understood he had no control over LA traffic and travel times. He said, “Hell, no and I’m moving back to Sheboygan as soon as I can…”

+ LA’s homeless population is surging. The official count is now 59,000 living on the streets–the real number of homeless is probably more than 100,000. Why? An Angeleno would need to earn $47.52 an hour just to afford the median monthly rent in Los Angeles.

+ John Dean testified this week about how Nixon ordered the firebombing of the Brookings Institute. How times have changed. These days it’s Brookings which is doing the firebombing (Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia…)

+ The Democratic Resistance© is now attacking Trump for opposing the Vietnam War. At least they’re consistent. JFK started the war. LBJ propelled it to its maximum carnage and then the DNC sabotaged its own antiwar candidates, McCarthy in 68 and McGovern in 72.

+ Three of the last four US presidents evaded the Vietnam War. This should be a cause for celebration during Trump’s 4th of July gig. I hope he pays homage to the other 500,000 men who served their country by resisting a genocidal war. They get my vote for the “Greatest Generation”…

+ NEWSFLASH: After a meticulous analysis of his Normandy speech, Trump has now been declared “presidential”, according to MSDNC’s Andrea Mitchell.

+ To totally eliminate tuition for California residents at University of California and Cal State would cost the state $4.3 billion. Sounds like a lot, but it’s only 3% of the state’s general fund.

+ Headline of the week: Phony Betomania Has Bitten the Dust.

+ Some shows are just beyond parody…

+ There’s only one tyranny honest, red-blooded Americans find more odious than the metric system and that’s the autocracy of orthography. Here we cherish the right to spell (whales, wales, wails) as we damn well please…Death to Spellcheckers, human and automated!

+ 11% of visitors to Portland in 2017 said they came to experience legal weed…And from the traffic jams on the 205 it looks like most of them forgot their way home.

+ Trump doesn’t want Americans visit to Cuba anymore, but you can spend two refreshing weeks vacationing in Saudi Arabia.

+ Fidel Castro, ever the optimist: “Many peoples of the world will look hopefully to the American people as the only one capable of putting a straightjacket on, or stopping, the bigots in their lust for power, abuse and conflict…”

+ When You See Us, the dramatized account of the Central Park jogger case, has been the most watched show on Netflix every day since its release.

+ Good riddance to  Elizabeth Lederer, the prosecutor in the Central Park jogger trials, though a stain remains on Columbia Law School for not dropping her and allowing her to drop them

+ Flashback: Pat Buchanan on the Central Park 5: “If the eldest of that wolf pack were tried, convicted and hanged in Central Park, by June 1, and the 13- and 14-year-olds were stripped, horsewhipped, and sent to prison, the park might soon be safe again for women.”

+ If you read one thing this weekend, it should be this stunning collection of slave testimonials, which the Montgomery Advertiser published on “Jefferson Davis Day.”

+ Need another reason to hate the Patriots? Thomas Boswell (the great baseball writer at the Washington Post): “Two months after Tom Seaver’s family announced he was suffering from dementia & retiring from public life, Tom Brady wants to steal his nickname –Tom Terrific– and trademark it so he can slap it on his merchandise crap. Time for Brady to let some air out of his ego.”

+ Kick-ass version of Hard Rain from the Scorcese docu-fable Rolling Thunder Revue: a Bob Dylan Story….with Mick Ronson doing much of the ass-kicking.

+ Ronee Blakley: “Mick, don’t you just love Bob?”
Mick Ronson: “I don’t know. He’s never spoken to me.”

+ Sam Shepard: New England was just experiencing the backbone of that economic fallout. You know, way back then, it was desolate, really, really difficult economic times. People suffering behind that. You know? And rock-n-roll was some kind of medicine or something…

Interviewer: Wasn’t that [Rolling Thunder] the year of the Bicentennial?

Sam Shepard: The Bicentennial, particularly in the little towns, they didn’t give a shit, you know? What is the Bicentennial, you know what I mean? They certainly weren’t celebrating the birth of America.”

+ From Ian McLagan’s fantastic memoir, All the Rage:

“Hello, Bob. I’m Peter Grant, I manage Led Zeppelin.”

“I don’t come to you with my problems,” Dylan snapped.

+ Drink like Thomas Pynchon.

+ I’ve been listening to Milestones all week. If Kind of Blue is modal jazz at its most mannered, Milestones is where the band first started exploring that approach. One of the key differences between the two records, both of which are seminal recordings, is at the keys. Milestones swings in ways that Kind of Blue doesn’t and that’s largely attributed to Red Garland’s playing. Bill Evans was going down different sonic corridors.

+ In 2002, Buddy Gist gave the University of North Carolina at Greensboro the trumpet his friend Miles Davis played during the Kind of Blue sessions. Soon afterward, the University had the trumpet appraised at $1.6 million. Two years before his death in 2010, Gist was homeless, sleeping in Greensboro’s Center City Park.

We Miss You Already, Roky…

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Tuscaloosa by Neil Young and the Stray Gators (Reprise)

Rainford by Lee “Scratch” Perry (On U Sound)

History by Youssou N’Dour (Naïve/Believe)

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Book Reports: a Music Critic on His First Love, Which was Reading by Robert Christgau (Duke)

Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman (NYRB)

Dark Day, Dark Night by Jonah Raskin (McCaa)

Something to Do With Cats

Seymour Hersh: “I came out of a lower-middle-class background. At that time, everyone used to define themselves: Stalinist, Maoist, whatever. I thought they meant ‘miaowist’. Seriously! Something to do with cats.”

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