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Roaming Charges: Ain’t Living Long Like This

The Triumph of Death (detail) by Pieter Breugel the Elder.

James Baldwin: “When you try to stand up and look the world in the face like you had a right to be here, you have attacked the entire power structure of the western world.”

You’re going for a run the way you usually do. You’re a good runner, a star athlete in high school. You’re 25 and you run almost every day to stay in shape and because you like running. It’s a sunny day. Warm for February. The route is familiar, 2.23 miles weaving through suburban roads. You notice you’re being following by two men in a truck. They’re yelling at you. They have guns. You’re scared now. You are black. The two men are white. This is southern Georgia. You try to explain. They aren’t listening. You take off, running for your life. Then you hear the shot.

This is how Ahmaud Arbery died. Shot down in the street in cold blood. Let’s not call it vigilantism. Vigilante justice implies that a crime had been committed and people had taken the punishment into their own hands. Arbery was merely jogging while black when he was spotted by two violent racists. He was lynched by gunfire in broad daylight.

Arbery was killed in February. One of his killers, Gregory McMichael, is a retired police detective. The other killer is McMichael’s son, Travis. One had a handgun, the other a shotgun. For more than two months, no charges were filed, despite the pleas from Arbery’s family. McMichael told his friends in the cop shop that he believed Arbery was a suspect in a string of robberies in the neighborhood in Brunswick. But police records show there’d only been one reported burglary in the past month. No charges were filed. The prosecutor, searching for an excuse, said the McMichaels had the right to detain Arbery under Georgia’s archaic “citizen’s arrest” law. And to shoot him when he ran away.

Then, earlier this week, a cellphone video of the shooting surfaced, showing that Arbery was shot within mere seconds of being accosted by the McMichaels.

Finally, on Thursday night charges were finally filed against the McMichaels. Only international pressure forced them to file charges. Keep the pressure on. In fact, turn it up…

+ The lynching of Ahmad Aubery is just the latest sickening instance in a continuum of state-sanctioned violence against black youth that Kevin Alexander Gray, JoAnn Wypijewski and I chronicled in our book, Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence. A book which I would gladly see go out of date and out of print. Alas…

+ Disgusting, revolting, predictable: Wanda Cooper, Arbery’s mother, told CNN on Sunday, that when police notified her of her son’s death, she was told her son was involved in a burglary and that there was a confrontation between her son and the homeowner and a struggle over a gun.”

+ The DA in this case, who cynically, if not criminally, used Georgia’s ludicrous “citizen’s arrest” law as an excuse not to prosecute Aubery’s killers  is a conspirator after-the-fact in a lynching.

+ The DA who charged a black woman for felony voter fraud and took her to trial TWICE is the same DA that chose NOT to arrest the McMichaels for murdering Ahmaud Arbery.

+ At least 330 people have been shot and killed by police since January 1, 2020, including 3 people in Indianapolis in an 8-hour span.

+ 40 people have been arrested (many of them roughed up) by the NYPD for violating social distancing rules. 35 of them are black.

+ Frank Wilhoit: “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition. There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”

+ The choice that confronts us: two serial molesters, both old enough to know who Donna Reed is…

+ The detestable rationalizations liberals make for sticking with Biden despite Tara Reade’s convincing story can’t come as any surprise. It’s the same ritual contortions they’ve made about the Iraq war, fracking, abortion, the drug war, Anita Hill, social security, segregation, climate change, health care, deportations, a living wage, student debt, the Patriot Act, pipelines, the Libyan coup, climate change. To be a Democrat is to live in a constant state of denial, self-contradiction and moral hypocrisy.

+ Tara Reade says she will take a polygraph if Joe Biden takes one. She points out that her being the only one to take one sets a bad precedent, that only the survivor is questioned, which sounds entirely reasonable to me.

+ Linda Hirshman wrote an oped in the NYT saying that she believes Tara Reade but is voting for Biden none-the-less. I guess that’s a wrap…for #Metoo feminism.

+ Now Dianne Feinstein has joined in the trashing of Tara Reade, dismissing her story by using the old rubric, “Where has she been all these years?

+ Who’s writing DiFi’s lines now, Lindsey Graham?

+ In fact, new court documents from Reade’s divorce show that she told her ex-husband about Biden’s harassment in … 1996.

+ The Democrats have herded themselves into such a tight corner with Biden that they can’t credibly bleat out an objection to this infuriating move by Cruella DeVos to gut Title IX and require college women who have been raped to be cross-examined on their claims …

+ The hallowed “middle” of the Democratic Party, which Biden habitually migrates to, only moves inexorably to the right, year after year, election after election…

+ Biden is part of the same DLC wrecking crew that reconstructed the Democratic Party into a corporate friendly habitat after the loss of Mondale. He’s right at the core, even if he remains one of the least articulate of the Apostles of neoliberalism…

+ I admire Noam Chomsky more than almost any other American intellectual. Yet his position on lesser-of-2-evil voting is repudiated by the last 40 years of American history, where both parties have lurched farther and farther to the right. That Chomsky, of all people, can rationalize to himself voting for a politician who backed the Iraq War is one reason the Democrats keep nominating politicians who backed the Iraq War. Ralph Nader may not be as “radical” as Chomsky, but he has never wavered on this vital point: lesser evil politics only serves to propagate more evil.

+ For Chomsky it seems to come down to nuclear war. He believes the Republicans are more likely to ignite one. Yet, the Democrats were the ones who actually dropped nuclear weapons on civilian cities, twice, brought us to the brink of nuclear conflict again in 1962, and have spent the last 3.5 years hyping a new cold war with nuclear Russia. Now Biden is running rabid ads against nuclear China.

+ Biden treated Jesse Helms, a truly evil man who used to whistle Dixie every time Carole Moseley Braun walked by him in the Senate, with more respect and courtesy than young climate and health care activists…

+ These three headlines, collected by David Sirota, pretty much tell the whole political story…

+ Pelosi and Schumer say they are coming up with a “Rooseveltian” COVID-19 recovery plan. If they were serious (they aren’t), they’d have designated Bernie Sanders to write it.

+ Would Roosevelt have bailed out K Street lobbyists, as Pelosi wants to do?

+ At least 20.5 million people were jobless in April. The unemployment rate has hit 14.7 percent, the highest since the Great Depression. And the Dow was up 1.6 percent. Capitalism kills, then loots everything you left behind, except your debts which it relentless pursues your relatives to pay off, at endlessly compounding interest.

+ Trump speaks nonsense. But he speaks it forcefully, which is why he still stands a good chance of defeating the cowering, timid Biden, even under these dismal and deteriorating circumstances…

+ With news that one of Trump’s valets tested positive for COVID-19, the president will now be tested more frequently. But the test that is being used on Trump has a false-negative rate of 14.8 percent, according to a Cleveland Clinic study…

+ Momma Mia! The latest Pence staffer to test positive for COVID-19 is Katie Miller, wife of Stephen the Xenophobe, who has spent the last 3 years looking for a way to block immigrants from entering the USA on the specious grounds that they carry infectious diseases. Recall that it was Katie Miller, who sent Mother out to defend Pence for not wearing a mask at the Mayo Clinic, then sought to retaliate against the reporter (VOA’s Steve Herman) who exposed Mother’s lie that Mikey didn’t know about the rules by publishing the memo from Katie or her staff warning reporters of Mayo’s strict rules about wearing masks.

+ If Stephen Miller doesn’t have COVID-19 are we to assume the marriage was never consummated? And who could blame her?

+ Trump: “Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time and then all of the sudden today she tested positive… This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great.”

+ Meanwhile, at least 11 members of the Secret Service have contracted COVID-19 and Trump didn’t want people around him wearing masks because he thought it made them (and him) “look weak.

+ Joshua Potash: “There have been more new cases of COVID in the White House over the last 24 hours than the entire country of New Zealand.”

+ TRUMP: “I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests. This is going to go away without a vaccine, it’s gonna go away, and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully.”

+ Give Trump some credit. He was half-right for once: the coronavirus didn’t disappear, but it appears the task force did.

+ Pence says that the White House plans to wind down the operation by the end of May and it’s not clear whether any other group might replace it. Of course, doing nothing will almost certainly cause less harm than what they’ve been doing. (A day later, Trump undercut Pence again, saying the task force will continue “indefinitely.” Whatever that means.)

+ According to CBS News, at the very moment Pence was telling reporters his goal is to wind down the coronavirus task force by Memorial Day, Dr. Anthony Fauci was on the phone with reporter Paula Reid saying he’d heard no such thing …

+ Ok, kids, adjust your Zoom and look closely at these two graphs. Can anyone spot the Failed State?

+ How many travelers have been infected with COVID by TSA agents? 500 TSA screeners have tested positive, but TSA did not require them to wear masks until … yesterday.

+ Trump says of the elderly veterans he was with on Friday without wearing a mask: “They’re so pure, it will never happen, alright? They’ve lived a great life.” Has he checked the COVID-19 death count inside VA hospitals lately (831)? Of course, what he means is that it will never happen after being in His presence. He’s reenacting the medieval myth of the King’s Touch, which was supposed to cure mysterious diseases like the King’s Evil (Scrofula).

+ Trump likes veterans who don’t get sick.

+ FEMA is providing D.C. with six, 53-foot trailers to hold bodies because there have been so many COVID-19 deaths in the city — 285 as of Thursday. You can see why Trump fears DC (not to mention Puerto Rico) becoming a state

+ Two weeks after a mob of Covidiots gathered together on the steps of the Capitol building in Olympia without masks Washington state saw its single highest daily increase in new cases since early April….

+ A Your Money or Your Life Health Care System: An influential drug pricing group has calculated the experimental coronavirus treatment drug Remdesivir is worth up to $4,500 per patient.

+ REPORTER: Are you concerned that deaths are projected to rise because states are relaxing guidelines too early?

TRUMP: No … the fact that we’re letting people go and go to their jobs — they have to do it … between drug abuse, suicide — there’s no great win one way or the other…

+ Death toll undercount: According to a report on Frontline, at least 66,081 more people in the United States have died than expected since January 1. More than 32,300 of the excess deaths have not been attributed to COVID-19…

+ Wisconsin’s Republican chief justice, Patience Roggensack, dismissed a coronavirus flare up this week because it only impacted people who work in meat packing plants and not “the regular folks.” Immigrants be damned…

+ Texas restarted the cow killing business with predictable results: COVID-19 has spread inside a Tyson beef processing facility in Amarillo, marking the latest apparent outbreak of the virus at a Texas meatpacking facility.

+ Block the meat pipelines, before meat blocks yours!

+ Kroger will be eliminating the $2 per hour ‘hero pay’ for grocery workers on May 17, according to the UFCW. So we’re going to see these small hazard pay premiums start to vanish soon. The hazard of the virus will still be there, the pay for being a “warrior” (as Trump says) on the frontlines won’t…

+ Jared Kushner’s Coronavirus task force screwed up almost every thing they tried to do (on those rare occasions when they tried to do something)…

+ his team followed leads from “Fox & Friends” on where to find PPE.
+ took 30% of national stockpile for drive-through testing site plan that failed.
+ had no experience in health care, procurement, supply chain etc.

What did you expect from a Slumlord?

+ Trump was so fixated on hydroxychloroquine that he got a Mar-a-Lago friend and vitamins executive to call California Governor Gavin Newsom on his cell to pitch a deal for California to buy the drug from an Indian manufacture. Newsom declined.

+ The Trump administration is suing the Sacred Heart ORPHANAGE for the right to survey its property, in preparation to build Trump’s border wall, during a global pandemic…

+ Total U.S. coronavirus tally at the end of each Friday. As Andrew Yang would say: MATH…

• Jan 17 — 0
• Jan 24 — 2
• Jan 31 — 7
• Feb 7 — 12
• Feb 14 — 15
• Feb 21 — 30
• Feb 28 — 65
• Mar 6 — 310
• Mar 13 — 2,224
• Mar 20 — 17,962
• Mar 27 —  102,636
• April 3 —   275,000
• April 10 — 504,000
• April 17 — 707,000
• April 24 – 923,470
• May 1 –     1,130,786
• May 8 –    1,321,707

+ Nobody understands & reveres the Constitution like Trump, who says he will only submit to GOP oversight of his administration.

+ In the Oval Office hosting the Governor of Iowa, who was at the White House celebrating the reopening of the Hawkeye State even though she’d never closed it, Trump says “in a way by doing all this testing we make ourselves look bad… we’re going to have more cases” of COVID because of more testing.

+ Despite the high fives in the Oval Office, Iowa’s testing falls short of what is recommended before opening up commercial businesses. The state averages 3,119 tests per day — much lower than estimated minimum needed by May 15. In the past week, 16.3% of tests have come back positive, exceeding the recommended rate of 10% or lower…

+ Jay Rosen: “The plan is to have no plan, let thousands of daily deaths become normal, and create massive confusion about who is responsible, in part by fighting with the press when it shows up to be briefed or to ask questions. Don’t say “spin.” It is way beyond spin.”

+ The number of people you know who have died from COVID-19 is a pretty good indicator of your degrees of separation from black America.

+ The New Orleans City Council just unanimously voted to support Medicare for all.

+ And we’re supposed to insulate these jerks from any liability for their outrageous, if not lethal, demands placed upon their low-paid workers?

+At a single Walmart in Worcester, Massachusetts, 61 workers have tested positive for Covid-19…

+ As in most states, in Oregon the risks of rapidly reopening the economy will fall most heavily on the very people who have already been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 shutdown: blue collar workers who without a college education or any money stashed away in the bank.

+ Amount in “small business” relief funds claimed by Sidwell Friends, the elite DC prep school: $5 million. Endowment: $52 million. Annual tuition: $45,000.

+ Tonight’s match-up features superpower USA v. the underdog Denmark. Let’s go to the scoreboard…

Unemployment:
United States 14.7%
Denmark 4.9%
 
McDonald’s hourly wage:
United States $9
Denmark $22
 
Weeks of paid vacation:
United States 0
Denmark 5
 
COVID19 deaths per million:
United States 231
Flag of Denmark 87
 
COVID19 tests per 1,000:
United States 24
Denmark 49

+ Curzio Malaparte: ‘Italy never ended a war on the same side on which she started.’ I don’t know where this leaves them in the war on COVID-19.

+ The first person to die from COVID-19 in ICE detention, a 57-year-old man from El Salvador named Carlos Ernesto Escobar-Mejia, was denied bond on April 15th, reportedly because the judge wtanted to know more about a charge against him which had been dropped (the arrest was due to mistaken identity).

+ William Sobczyk died from COVID-19 complications on Monday after spending 16 months awaiting trial in the Cook County Jail. He was already being treated for aggressively spreading cancer in his liver, lung, bones and brain before the COVID19 pandemic. He was the 7th inmate to die of COVID-19 complications in the Cook County Jail.

+ New Mexico’s prison population: 6,500; Number of inmates in NM prisons tested for COVID-19: 5.

+ I used to write for the Texas Observer, when Mike King was the editor, and I’m very glad to see they continue to kick ass by breaking important stories like this one exposing how Texas official have undercounted COVID-19 cases by excluding many sick prisoners in a state where in at least nine counties the current prison cases make up more than 10 percent of the total COVID-19 cases in the county.

+ Boston Police William Gross Commissioner: “I could care less if they get sick in jail or not.”

+ Perhaps Melania will send the Commissioner one of her rain jackets…

+ Susan Farrell was the first woman to die of COVID in Michigan prison. She was 74. Served over 30 years for allegedly killing her husband, who sexually and physically abused her. Her bunkmate tried to alert prison guards to Farrell’s deteriorating condition and they put her in solitary for it.

+ The COVID-19 virus was first reported in South Korea and the USA within the same 24 hours. But since then…

Population of Seoul: 9+ million
Population of NYC: 8+ million
COVID-19 deaths in Seoul: 2
COVID-19 deaths in NYC: 19,00

+ A French-Algerian fishmonger, 42, showed up with COVID-19 at an ER in Paris on December 27, only two weeks after the first cases presented in hospitals in Wuhan. The man had not traveled overseas since a trip to Algeria in August.

+ No wonder the Trump administration seized all the respirators. Darth Vader needed to replenish his stockpile. (Of course, perhaps Team Trump should have watched the entire movie before modeling their campaign on the Death Star?)

+ Trump told FoxNews on Friday that he’s “learned a lot from Richard Nixon.” First the Death Star, now Nixon. He’s really going all in on trying to make a virtue of villainy.

+ Having listened to hour after hour of Nixon’s tapes, I’ve come to believe that assertions of his great intelligence have been vastly over-rated, usually by biographers, politicians and journalists who supported Nixon’s foreign policy and abandoned him during Watergate. Even so, his mind begins to look larger and larger with each Trump press conference and Tweet.

+ Finland’s 2-year experiment with providing a universal basic income, which ran in 2017 and 2018, paid 2,000 randomly selected unemployed people across the country a regular monthly income of €560, and with no obligation to seek a job and no reduction in payment if they accepted one. A new study finds that it improved mental well-being, confidence and life satisfaction of the recipients.

+ According to the International Council of Nurses (ICN), 90,000 health workers have tested positive for coronavirus and at least 260 nurses have died of the virus…

+ On the occasion of National Nurses day, President Shithead rebuked a nurse who said that while “PPE has been sporadic, but it’s been manageable.”

Trump: “Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people. That was fine, but I have heard we have a tremendous supply to almost all places.”

+ Who says heroism is dead in America?

 

+ Mao said that “a revolution is not a dinner party,” which must have come as a shock to Leonard and Felicia Bernstein. But it turns out that’s a good thing, because under the Plague House Rules of social distancing we’d never get around to having one…

+ The writer Jill Nelson (Straight No Chaser, Volunteer Slavery, Sexual Healing) was arrested, handcuffed and jailed for writing “Trump = Plague” on a wall in NYC with pink chalk. Chalk!…Jill is 67.

+ Deflating news regarding one of the three best museums in the US, along with the Field Museum in Chicago and, of course, the best of all the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles….”The American Museum of Natural History said on Wednesday that it would cut its full-time staff by about 200 people, amounting to dozens of layoffs. 250 other full-time employees will be put on on indefinite furlough, officials said.”

+ Very Good People Alert, Oklahoma Edition…Customers at an Oklahoma City McDonalds shot two employees who told them they couldn’t sit inside to eat their meals. Freedom fries!

+ Move over Guattari and Deleuze. It looks like you’ve been replaced on college syllabuses by…checks notes…Garcetti and De Blasio?

+ We can at least credit Jim Jordan for following Gilles Deleuze’s dictum that we should all “bring something incomprehensible into the world.”

+ I see a red wall and I want it painted black…Trump has told aides to move forward with his plan to paint the border wall black.

+ The cost of painting Trump’s border wall black: 153,000 ventilators ($500 million)…

+ According to a Pro Publica investigation, TSA officials stockpiled a huge shipment of N95 masks they knew they didn’t need even after two agency officials asked to donate them. Airport traffic fell 95 percent, and the masks have sat unused as hospitals searched desperately for them…

+ While the U.S. coal industry was collapsing, vocal Trump supporter and Murray Energy founder and CEO Bob Murray were paid at least $70 million and potentially as much as $100 million in excessive compensation based on an analysis of their peers. On the day Murray Energy filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring, Robert Murray’s base cash salary for his role as the chairman of the board was $12 million, an amount 33 times higher than the average of chairpersons at comparable coal companies, the creditors said.

+ The COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in the biggest surge in bankruptcies that the US court system has ever experienced. “Without an immediate increase in judicial capacity to manage the coming flood of cases, an even larger economic disaster awaits.”

+ Here’s a very useful, and very incriminating, timeline of the first 100 days of the CoronaCrisis put together by the Project on Government Oversight…

+ Lamar Alexander better beef up his security before the Committee to Reopen America Prematurely (CRAP) shows up with a team of professional long-distance spitters on his lawn…

+ Very Good People Alert, Ohio Edition…Anti-Jewish protestors have been showing up outside the home of Ohio Department of Health’s director Dr. Amy Acton, apparently spurred on by Ohio State Rep. Nino Vitale (R) who smeared Dr. Acton as a “globalist.”

+ Can’t go to work, can’t afford to stay home…

Stimulus check: $1,200
Average U.S. rent: $1,231
Average COBRA premium: $569

+ Ted Rall: “My dead mother received a $442 Trump stimulus payment. How is she going to live on that?”

+ The Snitch Economy: 1,200 people in Ohio who stayed home have already been “turned in” for not returning to work in unsafe conditions…

+ Just get off your ass and lead by example, Big Fella…

+ If Hegseth wants to get infected he could join one of the Superspreader Death Cult parties in Walla Walla, where people are trying to “spread their disease”….

+ The people waving the Don’t Tread on Me flags are treading COVID-19 three other unsuspecting people. We are all externalities of their right to infect themselves…

+ From this day forth, these women will represent America to me..

+ Very Good People Alert, Louisiana Edition: Asked about another round of stimulus checks, Sen John Kennedy said, “Well, people in hell want ice water too.

+ IHME, Trump’s favorite model, which earlier predicted 60,000 deaths by August, finally updated their mortality charts, and showed a sharp increase in the number of projected deaths to 134,475.

+ A study by the Wharton School of Business (where Trump snoozed through marketing classes) estimates that reopening the economy will result in an additional 233,000 deaths by July. Still, they conclude it will be worth the price for corporate America.

+ This number is squarely within the new range projected by the CDC of 3,000 deaths a day by June.

+ Anticipating the growing body count, FEMA has order more than 100,000 body bags and has placed bids for an additional 200 cold trailers to store bodies.

+ The Lummi Nation, on Puget Sound, had  been a model of COVID-19 response with widespread coordinated community testing; strict stay-at-home rules, free telemedicine for all. There were no reported cases in weeks. Then kids started playing together again and COVID-19 struck the reservation hard…

+ Here’s a dispatch from Indian Country by CounterPuncher Ruth Hopkins, a lawyer and tribal judge:

“My Tribe, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (Sioux) now have the most Covid cases out of the 9 Tribes within South Dakota’s borders. Elders were taken by ambulance last night, a boy from my old neighborhood is on a vent. And no $ for relief from the federal government yet. We are all doing what we can. Yesterday my aunt was live-streamed with other praying & singing in Dakota to encourage our people. I’m helping make meals for quarantine security & law enforcement personnel. Still running errands for others housebound, too. We are strong.”

+ Jared’s pirates seize PPE gear meant for former confederate stronghold of Loudon County, Virginia (and one of my ancestral homes)…How does the Federal Govt is Tyranny mob process this heavy-handed crackdown?

+ Very Good People Alert, Colorado Edition…The FBI arrested a pro-Trump anti-lockdown protester in Colorado after finding four pipe bombs in his basement.

+ I see a red wall and I want it painted black…Trump has told aides to move forward with his plan to paint the border wall black, and costs are projected to be at least 153,000 ventilators ($500 million)…

+ Joe Biden: “I want Donald Trump to look one of these essential workers in the eye… and tell them they don’t deserve a livable wage.”

Federal Minimum Wage under Obama/Biden 2009: $7.25 hour
Federal Minimum Wage under Trump/Pence 2020: $7.25 hour

+ Memo to Democrats: 49% of eligible voters despise your candidate….

+ When your candidate is on the wrong side of the Trust Gap with Donald Trump it’s a good sign that your campaign is doomed….
Trust more to handle…

The economy:
Trump 46% (+9)
Biden 37%

Jobs:
Trump 43% (+4)
Biden 39%

National security:
Trump 43% (+4)
Biden 39%

Immigration:
Trump 43% (+3)
Biden 40%

Gun policy:
Trump 40% (+1)
Biden 39%

@MorningConsult/@politico 5/2-3

+ The 11.5 million people now being thrown off their health insurance face the brutal reality of Obama/Bidencare in action. When you need it most, it’s not there for you…

+ Has anyone told Trump how low of a bar that is?

+ It’s the same story of racial disparities in COVID deaths in the UK: Black men and women are 4.2 and 4.3 times more likely to die from the coronavirus when compared to white men and women, according to the British statistics office…

+ Chris Giles, the economics editor of the Financial Times, estimates the real death count in the UK is 53,800, which may be the worst COVID-19 mortality rate in Europe…

+ Two-thirds of all Canadian COVID deaths have been in Quebec, their Premier, François Legault, has starting to lift social distancing restrictions — and is now is blocking release of information about outbreaks.

+ Trump: “The whole world is excited watching us, because we’re leading the world.” In deaths (77,000 and counting)…

+ Laurie Garrett to the NYT: “I’m quite certain that this is going to go in waves. It won’t be a tsunami that comes across America all at once and then retreats all at once. It will be micro-waves that shoot up in Des Moines and then in New Orleans and then in Houston and so on, and it’s going to affect how people think about all kinds of things.”

+ 23 of the top 25 largest health insurers haven’t clearly committed to waiving the cost of out-of-network COVID-19 care…

+ Carnival Cruise Line, coffers reloaded with US taxpayer bailout money even though they are registered offshore and don’t pay taxes here, announced that it will begin offering cruise trips in August. I wonder if they’ll offer free Burial at Sea services as an enticement?

+ Mississippi spent 10s of millions in welfare money on lobbyists, football tickets, religious concerts and fitness programs for state lawmakers…

+ After decades of fruitless searching in the tenements and public housing complexes of America, we finally found a real Welfare Queen: Brett Favre…

+ Trump has offered Putin assistance as COVID-19 cases continue to soar in Russia. With help like that, who needs nuclear weapons?

+ Pompeo Maximus on the failed Bay of Piglets invasion of Venezuela: “There was no US government, direct involvement, in this operation. If we’d have been involved it would have gone differently.” Note the qualifying tell: “direct involvement.”

+ The key word here, of course, is BRANSON…”Goudreau, a Canadian-born US citizen, first walked through the looking glass of the anti-Maduro world in February 2019, when he worked security at a Venezuelan aid concert on the Colombian border organized by British billionaire Richard Branson.”

+ Two or three years from now (if any of us make it that long), the unwelcome face Pompeo Maximus will be popping up on a YouTube ad before the music video you wanted to watch hawking a Master Class in How to Lie About Lying…

Pompeo on Weds: “We don’t have certainty about whether it began in the lab or whether it began someplace else.” This after he said there was “enormous evidence” that the novel coronavirus originated in the Wuhan lab over the weekend.

+ Pompeo Maximus, on being challenged by the BBC’s Barbara Plett, about his contradictory statements about the origins of Covid-19: “Barbara, Barbara, Barbara, Barbara, Barbara, Barbara, Barbara…”

+ The Pentagon has quietly released its annual civilian casualty report for its bombing raids in Afghanistan. They report admits to killing 132 Afghan civilians, an undercount worthy of Jared’s Coronavirus task force. But it does confess responsibility for an airstrike in Helmand Province that killed 15 civilians, all members of the same family.

+ Why couldn’t Trump withdraw from Afghanistan as fast as he did with all the women who consented to sleep with him (and those he slept with without consent)?

+ She’s back!

+ Five companies–Caterpillar, Black & Decker, Levis, Steelcase & World Wrestling Entertainment– paid a combined $700 million to shareholders while cutting jobs & closing plants.

+ As the nation approaches 20 percent unemployment, the percentage of likely American voters who support giving the Federal Reserve the ability to make direct payments to households grew from 31 percent in February to 45 percent in April , according to new polling released by Employ America

+ The Seattle Indian Health Board asked for COVID-19 medical supplies and protective gear. They got body bags instead…

+ Like Shakespeare and Joyce before him, Trump is redefining the dusty old rules of English grammar: “Now, the one thing that the pandemic has taught us is that I was right. You know, I had people say, ‘No, no, it’s good. You keep — you do this and that.’ Now those people are really agreeing with me. And that includes medicine and other things.”

+ Last month was statistically tied for the hottest April on record for our planet. Dramatic ‘warmth’ across northern Siberia once again. Maybe it will melt a mastodon corpse and release a new virus…

+ It’s probably a bad sign whenever “billions” and “inhospitable to life” show up in the same headline, as in: “Billions could face temperatures inhospitable to life in the next 50 years, study finds.” Tom Linton, one of the authors of the National Academy of Sciences study, said: “It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that we must be looking at hundreds of millions of people being triggered to migrate.”

+ According to Interior Department’s IG, Secretary David Bernhardt has spent virtually nothing of $157 million in COVID aid Congress specifically gave to the Office of the Secretary to respond to the pandemic and keep people safe. But Bernhardt continues to keep national parks open….Here’s a link to the IG report.

+ A barrel of oil (including the price of the barrel) is going for less than the tab for a Cinnamon Dolce Latte at Starbucks, but the BLM is charging forward with plans to drill next to Chaco Canyon!

+ A recent study published in Science examined the last 10 years of research on tree mortality and concluded that forests are in big trouble if global warming continues at the present pace. Most trees alive today won’t be able to survive in the climate expected in 40 years…

+ In Colorado, new oil and gas permits fell 96% in April. Oil companies in the state have to apply to drill a well, but don’t have to inform anyone when they shut one down, as many companies are doing during the oil bust.

+ It’s a different story entirely in California. As oil prices plunged during COVID pandemic, new California oil permits rose 7.8% in 2020’s first quarter. The Newsom administration issued 1,623 permits in 3 months.

+ Great Britain has now gone the 19 days without generating any coal-fired power, the longest period of time since the Industrial Revolution (and still going). Meanwhile, Portugal has now gone 53 days without using coal-based electricity

+ Wild tigers in India are now dying of COVID…

+ Very Good People Alert, Idaho Edition…”Ammon Bundy Blames the Jews for Holocaust at Anti-Lockdown Rally.”

+ Relax. If the pandemic doesn’t kill you, the 100 environmental rollbacks probably will, including Rule 71 “that required braking system upgrades for “high hazard” trains hauling flammable liquids like oil and ethanol.” Drive, he said.

+ The Montana judge’s opinions slamming the BLM for its incompetence in offering oil and gas leases are getting snarkier and snarkier…”The Court does not fault BLM for providing a faulty analysis of cumulative impacts or impacts to groundwater, it largely faults BLM for failing to provide any analysis.”

+ I always dig reading reports from the University of Saskatchewan that aren’t about GM wheat or tar sands: “Bat ‘super immunity’ may explain how bats carry coronaviruses, study finds: Bat-virus adaptation may explain species spillover, researchers say.”

+ Chemical warfare over the fields of Gaza: According to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza, aerial herbicide spraying conducted by Israel in early April near Gaza’s perimeter fence damaged 145 acres of farmland in the Strip, harming the livelihoods of 93 local farmers.

+ As the country begins to re-open, we bring you this important message from the managers of Jurassic Park

+ Donald Trump claims he could have been a pro baseball player. Turns out he was a career .138 hitter in high school. (The so-called Mendoza Line, named after weak-hitting shortstop Mario Mendoza, long considered the cut-off point for batting incompetence was: .200.) And, no, Trump didn’t go to a tryout with Willie McCovey, who’d been in the majors for five years when Trump was in high school.

+ You know it’s getting weird outside when the Secretary of the Treasury attacks the patriotism of Axl Rose and then piously signs off with the flag of…Liberia. (Now deleted.)

+ I take it Mnuchin wasn’t a fan of Axl’s Chinese Democracy album?

+ The live music scene is struggling to find creative ways to stay afloat during the lockdown and their not getting much, if any, help from the government. “I am trying to get Bloodshot classified as a cruise ship or an airline,” said Rob Miller, co-founder of Chicago’s Bloodshot Records, “so Trump’s kleptocracy will shower us with billions.”

+ I was jolted by the death of Florian Schneider, co-founder of Kraftwerk, a band whose trippy synths came to be embraced and sampled by black dance DJs and hip-hoppers decades later. I recall an interview with him where he said that his two favorite bands were the Stooges and the MC5 and that he wanted the music of Krafwerk to capture electronically that kind of frenzied energy…

+ RIP Richie Cole, the great alto player who remained a bebop stalwart in a time of fusion and free jazz. I saw him several times in the late seventies at Harold’s Rogue and Jar in DC, one of the East Coast’s great secret jazz venues, which was about the size of a large living room and was owned by St. Matthews Cathedral, off of Rhode Island Ave. As I recall, there was a “singles club” on the second floor of the building. DC in the 70s…

+ I watched Vittorio De Sica’s devastating Shoeshine again last night, which remains the greatest film ever on the brutality of caging children. Welles: “What De Sica can do, that I can’t do. I ran his Shoeshine again recently and the camera disappeared, the screen disappeared; it was just life.”

+ Pauline Kael wrote one of her finest essays on the emotional experience of watching Shoeshine (h/t Alci Rengifo):

“When Shoeshine opened in 1947, I went to see it alone after one of those terrible lovers’ quarrels that leave one in a state of incomprehensible despair. I came out of the theater, tears streaming, and overheard the petulant voice of a college girl complaining to her boyfriend, “Well I don’t see what was so special about that movie.” I walked up the street, crying blindly, no longer certain whether my tears were for the tragedy on the screen, the hopelessness I felt for myself, or the alienation I felt from those who could not experience the radiance of Shoeshine. For if people cannot feel Shoeshine, what can they feel? My identification with those two lost boys had become so strong that I did not feel simply a mixture of pity and disgust toward this dissatisfied customer but an intensified hopelessness about everything . . . Later I learned that the man with whom I had quarreled had gone the same night and had also emerged in tears. Yet our tears for each other, and for Shoeshine did not bring us together. Life, as Shoeshine demonstrates, is too com­plex for facile endings.”

I’m at the Bottom in the Jailhouse Now

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Hidden World of the Fox
Adele Brand
(William Morrow)

Diary of a Foreigner in Paris
Curzio Malaparte
(NYRB)

The Crash of Flight 3804: A Lost Spy, a Daughter’s Quest, and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for Oil
Charlotte Dennett
(Chelsea Green)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Americana
Gregoire Maret, Romain Collin & Bill Frisell
(Act Jazz)

Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Fiona Apple
(Epic)

Oh Yeah?
Sunwatchers
(Trouble in Mind)

A Tragedy of Fate Alone

“Freedom is the possibility of isolation. You are free if you can withdraw from people, not having to seek them out for the sake of money, company, love, glory or curiosity, none of which can thrive in silence and solitude. If you can’t live alone, you were born a slave. You may have all the splendors of the mind and the soul, in which case you’re a noble slave, or an intelligent servant, but you’re not free. And you can’t hold this up as your own tragedy, for your birth is a tragedy of Fate alone. Hapless you are, however, if life itself so oppresses you that you’re forced to become a slave. Hapless you are if, having been born free, with the capacity to be isolated and self-sufficient, poverty should force you to live with others.”  (Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet)

More articles by:

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch

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