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Roaming Charges: Shallò: 120 Days of COVID

Still from Pasolini’s Salò: 120 Days of Sodom.

“They put your mind right in a bag and take it wherever they want.” – Malcolm X

+ As the USA approaches an official tally of 100,000 dead from Covid-19, let us recall that this bracing toll is still 467,000 fewer deaths than the number of Iraqi children who died as a result of the Bush/Clinton economic sanctions (not to mention the ongoing war itself.)

+ In a leaked audio of a call with local business leaders, Georgia Sen. David Perdue compared the risks of Covid-19 with car crashes and the seasonal flu. “A certain number of us will die on our public roads every year,” he said. (Many fewer thanks to Ralph Nader.) The Covid-19 death toll is now at least 2.5 higher in a mere three months than the 39,000 people killed in the US last year in car crashes.

+ It’s not bad enough that we have some of the stupidest people on the planet running our government. They’re also among the vilest…Here’s Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro accusing China of using air travelers to “seed” Covid-19 across the US and Europe.

+ Stat of the Week: The United States has more than double the COVID-19 deaths of Filipina healthcare workers than the Philippines itself.

+ Runner-up Stat of the Week: Half of Fox News viewers believe Bill Gates is plotting to use a mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 to implant microchips in people and track their movements. Only 26% say that’s false.

+ Are the people who think Bill Gates wants to implant microchips in their bodies through his vaccine former MS Windows users? If so, I don’t blame them…

+ Paula Reid: “Why haven’t you announced a plan to get Americans back to work?

President Trump: “Just a rude person you are…The plan is that each state is opening.”

+ No one seems to trigger Trump quite like CBS’s Paula Reid, perhaps because she looks like the typical docile FoxNews hostess who excitedly nod their heads and wriggle in their seats at Trump’s banal flirting, but instead strikes his “erroneous zones” with almost every precisely-worded question, especially those for which he has no answer…

+ Is it any surprise that under Trump, the US would lead the world in bankruptcies? This week it was the venerable JC Penny’s turn to seek shelter from its creditors. In 1992, department stores accounted for 14.3% of overall retail sales (excluding gas and car dealer sales), according to data from the Commerce Department. That figure fell to a meager 3.7% last year.

+ Trump announced this week that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine: “A lot of good things have come out about the hydroxy … you’d be surprised at how many people are taking it…. I happen to be taking it… Right now, yea. A couple weeks ago, started taking it.”

Asked what evidence there is that hydroxychloroquine has a preventative impact, Trump snapped: “Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it.” Trump followed this up by saying the study showing an increased mortality rate from patients at VA hospitals who were given hydroxychloroquine was “not very scientific.”

+ According to a study of 96,000 COVID-19 patients published this week by The Lancet, for those receiving hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic — the cocktail plugged by Trump — there was a 45 percent increased risk of death and a 411 percent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias.

+ Hannah Arendt:”Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest—forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries.”

+ Is it ethical (or even legal) for an MD to prescribe a drug for a patient who is not suffering from any of the conditions that the drug has been approved for as a treatment and, in fact, is in a class of patients for whom the drug is contraindicated?

+ Killing veterans to test Dr. Trump’s Magic Elixir, that he learned about from watching well-known pharmacologist Laura Ingraham…

+ Experimenting on Veterans with a drug that may kill them is a helluva way to celebrate Memorial Day…

+ Trump referring to the VA hydroxychloroquine study: “If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape. They were very old. Almost dead. It was a Trump enemy statement.”

+ Through the NIH, his own administration co-funded the study of the risks of hydroxychloroquine that he’s now furiously deprecating.

+ Is Trump really taking ‘hydroxy,’ as he calls it. Who knows. If he is, it’s likely because he freaked out after learning, two weeks ago, that one of his valets had tested positive for COVID-19.

+ As I noted a while back, the side effects of hydroxychloroquine include paranoia, hallucinations and psychosis. Of course, Trump was exhibiting all these before popping “hydroxy”…

+ Remember when Dr. Feelgood, Max Jacobson, doped up JFK and almost started World War III?

+ Trump’s confession was quickly reiterated by his most loyal disciples. Rep. Roger Marshall of Kansas announced that he and his family were doping themselves with hydroxychloroquinine “prophylactically”…despite the paucity of evidence that the malaria drug shows any efficacy at preventing infection by the coronavirus.

+ Intriguingly, Mike Pence seems to be a doubting Thomas, claiming his doctor advised against taking hydroxychloroquinine, with a Z-pac and zinc chaser. Does Pence sense that his presidential moment might be approaching? What would a Pence presidency under COVID conditions look like? Instead of popping hydroxy, he’d likely be dabbing Crisco on his forehead and chanting the Lord’s Prayer five times a day, which is certainly understandable.  Politically, it would be a less histrionic, though perhaps more insidiously effective version of what we’ve got now, with Pence obediently rushing to implement the cruelest components of McConnell’s agenda…

+ Here’s the FDA safety warning against the use of hydroxychloroquine outside of a hospital setting…

+ With news that the President has confessed to taking legal drugs for illicit purposes (orchestrating a distraction from mass death at his hands), perhaps it’s time to revisit Norman Ohler’s Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich

+ Do the Hydroxy…

+ Adorno: “There is laughter because there is nothing to laugh about.”

+ Pelosi: When they go low, we go wide

+ Is the hydroxychloroquinine pill the red one? (Asking for Elon Musk.)

+ From my old history prof at AU, Allan Lichtman: “The Journal of the Am. Med. Assoc. said ‘the surge in demand’ for quinine drugs to treat COVID-19 is ‘leading to shortages.’ For patients who need them for ‘approved indications, the shortages are consequential” and are ‘exacerbated by misinformation regarding their efficacy.'”

+ It’s been 10 days since Katie Miller tested positive for Coronavirus and still no word on her “husband” Stephen Miller. Looking more and more likely that marriage wasn’t consummated after all…

+ The unmasked people barging their way into businesses that require masks are the same people who hang “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” (ie, blacks and Hippies, if there are any left outside of Humboldt County) signs in their shops, bars, pool halls, strip clubs, shooting galleries and diners…

+ Dying for the Dow Update: American billionaires got $434 billion richer during the pandemic. In the Coronavirus Bailout package, $1.4 trillion went to Wall Street, billionaires and millions and you got $1,200 (if that).

+ For the average family of four, the maximum stimulus check covers 13-14 days of expenses.

+ The unemployment rate may hit 30 percent this week, but 44% of U.S. unemployment applicants have been denied or are still waiting on checks…

+ State officials in Florida knew by February 18 that more than 500 people in the state may have been exposed to COVID-19, confidential memos show. But the state refused to release the data, even to local hospitals and to state senators.

+ Finally an answer to the question that has puzzled the nation, why has Florida handled the coronavirus crisis so well? According to a study by the Tampa Bay Times, the state failed to count hundreds of likely Covid-19 deaths…”The analysis suggests the epidemic’s true toll may be between 17 percent and 58 percent higher than published death figures. Health experts say that likely includes some people who died of coronavirus but were never diagnosed as well as others who might have lived had the pandemic not kept them from getting care.”

+ The woman who designed Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard has been removed from her position because she was ordered to censor some data, but refused to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.”

+ As Florida starts to reopen, the architect and manager of Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard, announced she’d been removed from her position, Florida Today reported. Rebekah Jones said in an email to CBS12 News that her removal was “not voluntary” and that she was removed from her position because she was…

+ On Thursday, Florida recorded 1,200 new cases, the most since April 23…

+ The COVID-19 death rate in the Bronx much higher than in other parts of the city: 240 per 100,000 people compared to 135 per 100,000 in Manhattan.

+ Meanwhile, the CDC itself has been conflating viral and antibody test results in its COVID-19 data, presenting an inaccurate picture of the pandemic and corrupting a key metric. Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas, and other states are doing the same.

+ 54,000: the number of lives in the US that could have been saved if social distancing and stay-at-home orders had been implemented on March 1.

36,000: the number of lives in the US that could have been saved if social distancing and stay-at-home orders had been implemented on March 8. (See report in NYT.)

+ A study out of Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health suggests that  stay-at-home orders prevented the deaths of nearly 250,000 people in the 30 largest US cities, as well as preventing 2.1 million people from being hospitalized.

+ Very Good People Alert…National Edition.

+ Ryan Marino, MD: “I’ve been called a lot of names & accused of a lot of things by ER patients but it’s surreal to have a patient accuse me of falsifying their COVID result – because they don’t believe the virus is real – as I’m actively trying to keep them from dying from multi-organ failure from COVID. This is not a critique of the patient in this case, who needed help and had been lied to by others, but a critique of the fact that we live in a time where people are willing to deny their own reality to fit an imaginary narrative.”

+ When you’re caught asleep at the switch, just blame the dead for their own deaths…

ALEX AZAR: The coronavirus results for the US could’ve been vastly worse

JAKE TAPPER: It’s worse here than anywhere else

ALEX AZAR: When you look at mortality rates, that’s simply not correct

JAKE TAPPER: I’m looking at number of dead bodies

ALEX AZAR: The US population has significant unhealthy comorbidities

+ Comorbidities and suicides seemed to be the Trump Team’s bizarre theme for the week. It didn’t travel very well…

+ In Ypsilanti, an unmasked Trump lionized Henry Ford, one of the country’s most prominent pro-Nazi, anti-semites: “Good bloodlines. If you believe in that stuff, you’ve got good blood.”

+ The portrait of Ford in David Simon’s HBO interpretation of Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America is a scathing and accurate reflection of what he believed…

+ Blood and night soil!

+ This is the week that hospitals in Central Alabama finally ran out of ICU beds, according to Montgomery Mayor Steven Reid: “If you are from Central Alabama, and you need an ICU bed, you may not be able to get one because our health care system has been maxed out.”

+ Praise the Lord and Pass the Virus: According to the CDC, one-third of the attendees at Arkansas church events contracted COVID-19 during six-day period in March …

+ In an act of petty pique, Trump is refusing to unveil Obama’s portrait at the White House. Good start. Now, can we re-veil the others?

+ As president, Obama spoke and he droned. At least now all his droning is verbal.

+ + Raptured: Texas church that rushed to reopen cancels masses after priest dies and parishioners contract Coronavirus.

+ Apparently, the Freedom Brigades have fully digested and put into practice the theories of Felix Guattari, but the deeper implications of Gilles’s work stubbornly continue to elude them…

Still it makes me wonder if this rowdy crew might at least know a few of the tunes from the Italian Wedding Fake Book, last played by so fervently by Billy Barf at the estate of Bay Area mobster Ralph Wayvone. (See: Vineland.)

+ Perhaps it is Deleuze’s remarks on Wilhelm Reich and the nature of fascism, which are proving the most resistant to their powers of critical interpretation:

Reich is at his profoundest as a thinker when he refuses to accept ignorance or illusion on the part of the masses as an explanation of fascism, and demands an explanation that will take their desires into account: no, the masses were not innocent dupes; at a certain point, under a certain set of conditions, they wanted fascism; and it is this perversion of the desire of the masses that needs to be accounted for.

+ Think of the failures of the Unemployment Insurance program (44% of the claimants still haven’t gotten checks) as a kind of time-released austerity program, which activates at the very moment people need help the most, from a program which they have paid into…

+ The coming child-care collapse: “Industry groups predict that one-third to half of child-care centers may not reopen at all.”

+ One of the reasons the Governor of Michigan didn’t call out the National Guard when these armed goons took over the capitol building in Lansing. The sheriffs (and many in the Guard, no doubt) support them…

+ New estimate on grocery worker deaths from UFCW: They say at least 68 workers have died, and at least 10K sick or exposed to COVID19, but that is only among chains where they represent workers. Numbers for the industry in general would be higher.

+ Christine, a Kroger employee from Michigan, said on a UFCW conference call this morning that she used to politely offer shoppers a mask if they weren’t wearing one. Not anymore. “Now masks have become a political war. Employees are downright scared.”

+ Eight people who worked JBS’s Greeley slaughterhouse in Greeley, Colorado are dead. When Tina Aye, a refugee from Burma, went to the company clinic with Covid symptoms, they told her she just had a “normal cold” and instructed her to get back to work. She spent a month battling on a ventilator before dying.

+ Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, says Colorado has tested about 23,000 people for COVID-19. They estimate that about 3% of the population has had it (167,000 people). “We’re really just still at the beginning of this epidemic.”

+ When the Joad family finally arrived at Weedpatch Camp in California, what did they do first, go to the barber or Hooters?

+ The new arms race is between the Democrats and Republicans over who can start a war with China first. Pelosi has shot out to an early led with her vow to introduce legislation delisting Chinese companies from the New York Stock Exchange.

+ Pompeo Maximus on the head of the WHO and China: “I understand that Dr. Tedros’ unusually close ties to Beijing started long before this current pandemic, and that’s deeply troubling.” For some reason, he neglected to mention that in a period of two months China granted 18 trademarks to Trump and his daughter, Ivanka…

+ Speaking of the NYSE, Senator Farrah Fawcett Hair’s husband, Jeff Sprecher (chairman of the New York Stock Exchange), made his largest-ever federal political contribution in late April, as the senator’s stock dumps (and his own) were coming under scrutiny for insider trading: a $1 million donation to pro-Trump super PAC America First Action.

+ Only Bolsonaro could screw this up worse than Trump…Here is a troubling graphic from the Financial Times of Brazil’s COVID-19 epidemic. It has now the fastest growing caseload of any major country…

+ Arthur Virgilio Neto, mayor of Manaus, the largest city in Amazonia: “We aren’t in a state of emergency – we’re well beyond that. We are in a state of utter disaster, like a country that is at war – and has lost.”

+ Richard Horton: “What kind of person is it who owes his life to overseas health workers and then not only insists they have to pay a surcharge to use the NHS themselves but also plans to increase that surcharge in the worst recession for 300 years. Answer: Boris Johnson, our Prime Minister.”

+ In anti-immigrant Britain at least 27 nationalities among the National Health Service staff have been killed by COVID-19…

+ Twice as many people have died in care homes in England, Wales and Scotland during the Coronavirus pandemic than would be expected in normal times…

+ And it’s a similar story here, where in at least 17 states more than half of reported COVID-19 deaths have been at nursing homes…

+ The federal government estimate is that the United States needs 3.5 BILLION masks to respond to a serious pandemic. As of May 7, according to the FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services and the private sector combined have “coordinated the delivery of or are currently shipping” 86.1 million N95 respirators….

+ The Bell Tolls for …Orange County.

+ According to a study in Health Affairs, if the infection fatality rate is accurate, and if the coronavirus continues spreading at current rates even before most states open their economies and relax social-distancing restrictions, the COVID-19 disease could claim between 350,000 and 1.2 million American lives by the end of this year,

+ Over the last week, Sweden, with its experiment in herd immunity, racked up 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants, higher than the UK, USA and Italy.

+ About 90% of the 3,700 people who have died from coronavirus in Sweden were over 70, and half were living in care homes, according to a study from Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare at the end of April. “We failed to protect our elderly. That’s really serious, and a failure for society as a whole,” health minister Lena Hallengren told Swedish Television.

+ Just when you thought you were out, it pulls you back in…Italy’s COVID-19 new cases and deaths are rising again.

+ There’s a lot of talk about how UV light and heat will weaken, if not eradicate, the virus. Yet on Tuesday of this week, when the temperature in Cairo topped 105 F, Egypt reported 745 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily increase since the start of the outbreak in mid-February…

+ The World Bank estimated this week that COVID-19 could push 60 million more people into extreme poverty.

+ Ralph Nader: “McDonalds is unpatriotic. In Denmark, they pay their unionized workers twice as much as U.S. workers with long paid vacations and benefits, because they have to. In our country they strip-mine their unorganized workers, because they can. In both countries, McD’s makes profits.”

+ Will Covid-19 be followed by outbreaks of Legionnaire’s Disease in office buildings with stagnant water?

+ Trump is pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, which permits each state-party to conduct short-notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the others’ territories to collect data on military forces and activities, a provocative move even the most rabid Russia hawks describe as “insane.”

+ Can it get more ridiculous? Trump hosted a biker rally at the White House on Friday, as leather-clad geriatrics puttering around the White House grounds with Guns N Roses blaring from the speakers. Did Jared do the security clearances for the bikers?

+ I wonder if Trump reached a deal with some of his fans in outlaw motorcycle gangs, perhaps under the Defense Production Act, to replace their normal meth distribution network with “hydroxy”?

+ Joementum building…not. The pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country saw a massive fundraising collapse last month, raising just over $723,000, a 93% drop from their haul in March.

+ The latest contestant to take a stroll down Biden’s VP catwalk is…Amy Klobocop.

+ Excuse me, I just dropped my comb in my salad.  Now clean it!

+ Klobocop was one of 25 Democrats to vote for Marco Rubio’s anti-Israel boycott bill in the Senate. Sanders, Warren, Harris, and Booker all voted against it.

+ During her interview with the New York Times, Klobocop said, “And so one of the things that I see as this really high-stakes opportunity for a new president is to bring in American support again in a big way for Israel.” It’s probably the statement which won her the NYT’s (co) endorsement…

+ This squares firmly with Biden’s vow not to “show any daylight between the US and Israel in public.”

+ Biden: “Bibi, You’re wrong about everything but I love you…”

+ If Biden the Trichophiliac picks Klobocop, he’ll probably be more than willing to clean all the combs she eats her salads with, as long as he can sniff them first.

+ If your campaign is going to be nothing more than a string of greeting card-style platitudes, you’ve got to get some better platitudes than these. If you can’t come up with them on your own, you’d better steal some. You haven’t forgotten how to do that, have you, Joe?

+ Joe Biden: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

Charlamagne Tha God: “It don’t have nothing to do with Trump, it has to do with the fact — I want something for my community.”

+ The “ain’t” is a true Biden touch. How many ways does Biden need to prove that, even though he may be “stupid”, may be prone to “gaffes,” may have a cognitive “disorder”, may “plagiarize” from time to time, he’s still, and always has been, a racist…?

+ Well, that didn’t take long…

+ Biden: “I have a record that is second to none, the NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run!” Just one problem, as a 501(c)3 nonprofit the NAACP is prohibited from endorsing political candidates.

So Biden lied about being endorsed by the NAACP. Though perhaps he was confusing them with Nelson Mandela…

+ The 1994 Crime Bill, which was drafted by Biden’s Judiciary Committee, was the domestic equivalent of the Iraq War for black America, which, naturally, Biden also supported. At least he’s consistent.

+ I think Rachel Dolezal might be in line for a cabinet position in a Biden White House..

+ None of this matters to Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, naturally, who vows to vote for Biden even “if he boiled babies and ate them.

+ A story in Bloomberg News says that “Biden’s Wall Street pals think they’ve got his ear.” They don’t “think”, they “know.” Wall Street knows Joe. These days having a public position and a private position is a prerequisite for becoming the Democratic nominee.

+ Trump is bailing out his campaign manager’s company. Pelosi wants to bail out corporate lobbyists on K Street. They don’t even try to conceal the grifting any more. Still, I’m pretty confident I know which one will do more damage with the money.

+ Wasn’t the only rationale for Biden’s campaign his alleged appeal to white, working-class men? Biden has a 50%-39% margin in new Quinnipiac national poll, but…

Among white men
Trump 56%
Biden 35%
Among everyone else
Biden 57%
Trump 31%

+ So the Sanders campaign is requesting that its delegates at the DNC convention sign a pledge that they will not openly criticize Biden. Even I didn’t think Bernie would humiliate himself to this degree, at least openly…I thought he had an incentive to maintain at least the illusion of internal resistance to the neoliberal elites of the party. But in betraying his movement he remains consistent to his true political character, ever loyal to the party he pretends not to be a member of.

+ Some Sanders delegates aren’t obeying their marching orders.

+ The Congressional Black Caucus PAC is supporting a white incumbent, pro-Israel extremist, and Russiaphobe (Eliot Engel) over a black progressive (Jamaal Bowman) in the New York primary. You can read the feeble rationale by Gregory Meeks here

+ According to Newsweek, Trump is compiling a new secret watchlist allowing his spooks to track American citizens without a warrant. Send your thanks to the Resistance@ for voting to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act under Trump…(and to Bernie for not bothering to show up to vote at all.)

+ Talladega County in Alabama, where mayoral candidate Michael Ray James just called for a return to public hangings for “drug dealers”, had at least five lynchings, from 1877 to 1950, according to a database compiled by the Equal Justice Initiative.

+ The shape of Trumpism after Trump. Sen. Josh Hawley: “the existing international order must be ripped up to avert a future in which America takes ‘second place to the imperialists in Beijing.’”

+ The Arizona House Judiciary Committee just passed a very good civil asset forfeiture reform bill that would require convictions before most forfeitures. Typically, all of the Democrats on the committee voted against it, citing their concerns about law enforcement budgets…!

+ Bona damnatorum: the confiscated property of convicted felons in the Roman Empire. (H/t John Carl Baker)

+ Charles Hobbs was arrested on a technicality for a 22-year-old crime. He was supposed to be released. Instead he caught COVID, deteriorated and died alone. His family didn’t even know he was sick. Get the full story of this nightmarish case from Radley Balko

+ Trump: “I tested very positively in another sense so— this morning. Yeah. I tested positively toward negative, right. So. I tested perfectly this morning. Meaning I tested negative.”

+ Confusing a positive for a negative is, of course, Trump’s defense for molesting women after they repeatedly screamed “No.”

+ Positively …

+ Since January, there have been more than 200 million tweets about the coronavirus, 45% have been generated by bots.

+ Fisher Sand and Gravel, Trump’s favorite border wall builder, has won a $1.3 billion contract to install 42 miles of black-painted fencing through southern Arizona. It’s the single largest wall contract to date…

+ Israeli settlers are setting fire to Palestinian West Bank farm lands virtually every day, with the tacit approval of the Netanyahu government and its backers in the US.

+ Mahmood Abbas finally announced the Palestinian Authority is revoking its agreements with Israel and the US. What took him so long? I guess the checks finally stopped coming…

+ Hannah Arendt: “The mere reading of a book requires some degree of isolation, of being protected against the presence of others.”

+ OK, what the hell am I going wear now?….”Managers at Columbia Sportswear called some workers too dumb to know what a union was and made jokes about retaliation. Columbia also hired union-busting consultants to spread misleading information among warehouse staff.”

+ Trump at Thursday’s cabinet meeting: “When you say per capita, there’s many per capitas…”

+ And there are likely to be many “de capitas” when the revolution comes…

+ South Korea is shipping thousands of face masks and medical supplies to the Navajo Nation  in a show of humanitarian gratitude for their participation in the Korean War. (Let’s hope Kushner’s PPE pirates don’t intercept them.) In a case you want to make a direct contribution to COVID-19 relief work on the Big Rez, you can donate here.

+ In contrast, South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem, hired gun of frackers and big ranchers, seems intent on provoking a violent confrontation at the Pine Ridge Reservation. Neom is asking the Feds to remove Lakota highway checkpoints within reservation boundaries.

+ Economist Katherine Toran calculated the wealth of the characters in Jane Austen’s novels. Turns out that Mr. Darcy was quite a catch…

+ A Nebraska woman named Sylvia Driskell has filed suit in federal court against all homosexuals in the US, asking a judge to declare homosexuality a sin and an abomination. In her handwritten brief, Driskell declared: “that homosexuality is a sin and that they the homosexuals know it is a sin to live a life of homosexuality. Why else would they have been hiding in the closet(?)” In that spirit, I’m filing suit against everyone who has ever taken the Lord’s name in vain.

+ Trump: “We’re going after Virginia, with your crazy governor, we’re going after Virginia. They want to take your Second Amendment. You know that, right? You’ll have nobody guarding your potatoes.” Who will tell Idaho that Virginia is the new Potato State?

+ Who will be guarding Idaho’s tobacco plantations?

+ Things you didn’t even know you should’ve been worrying about:  the Earth’s magnetic poles are weakening so quickly that satellites and spacecraft are beginning to malfunction: “Known as the South Atlantic Anomaly, the field strength in this area has rapidly shrunk over the past 50 years just as the area itself has grown and moved westward. Over the past 5 years a 2nd center has developed SW of Africa, which indicates the anomaly could split in two…”

+ This means that Trump’s Space Force might be obsolete even before the uniforms are shipped from the Chinese sweatshops where they’re being manufactured…

+ One way to judge whether America is really open for business and back to “normal”: mass shootings.

+ It’s stunning to see how quickly the image we once had of the country is crumbling: Colorado Waffle House shooter was told to wear a mask, refused…

+ The official count of Covid-19 cases in ICE detention surpassed 1,000 this: 1073. 2172 people have been tested, which means almost 50% of people tested are positive, an indication the outbreak is likely much greater than the number of confirmed crises.

+ Nobody seems to know the real infection rate inside American prisons and jails, but its much higher than than been reported. Reuters documented well over three times the CDC’s tally of COVID-19 infections – about 17,300 – in its far more modest survey of local, state and federal corrections facilities conducted about two weeks later. The infection rate in some state prisons is as high as 65 percent.

+ COVID-19 cases inside Michigans prisons…

Lakeland: 827 cases
Harrison: 747
Cotton: 723
Thumb: 278
Parnall: 255
Macomb: 139
Egeler: 134
Milan: 126
Huron Valley: 123

+ Fidel Torres, the latest federal inmate to die in the coronavirus pandemic, was a 62-year-old man with less than two years left on a 18-year sentence for marijuana charges.

+ Oklahoma, they don’t want to test you for COVID-19, but they are eager to test, then jail, you for smoking pot…

+ It’s one thing to have a moral, ethical or even political conversion on abortion rights. But to fake it for money, and then brag about how good of an actress you are, when women’s lives and health are at risk is appalling beyond measure. I have more respect for Anita Bryant than Norma (“Jane Roe”) McCorvey…

+ Jenna Ellis, a top adviser and lawyer for President Trump’s re-election campaign, has a long history of pushing anti-gay positions, including linking the legalization of same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia. Explains why she got the job.

+ It’s Infrastructure Week…Collapsing Infrastructure, that is: A central Michigan dam that failed on Tuesday, requiring mass evacuations that left the state and residents struggling to juggle a natural disaster amid a global pandemic, had its license revoked in 2018 by federal regulators…

+ Michigan is hardly alone in this respect. A two-year long investigation by Associated Press identified 1,680 dams nationwide that are rated as high-hazard because of the potential for loss of life if they failed and are considered to be in poor or unsatisfactory condition.

+ Thea Riofrancos: “In the midst of a pandemic, a historic flood, linked to climate crisis, overwhelms privately-owned hydroelectric plant, flows to Dow chemical plant & its toxic superfund site. EPA official in charge of superfund cleanups was Dow’s lawyer. Capitalist realism, stranger than fiction.”

+ Listening to Dow executives, I got the sense that they believe the floodwaters in Michigan weren’t being contaminated by their toxic stew of chemicals so much as their lethal concoctions were being contaminated by the floodwaters.

+ Still, the downstreamers can count themselves lucky in at least one respect. There almost was a nuclear power plant near the Dow chemical factory in Midland, but it was cancelled in 1984 after massive cost overruns, construction problems and fierce opposition from local anti-nuke activists.

+ The Nuclear Regulator Commission reported today (May 22) that on May 13 there was a fire within a hot cell at the Curium isotope production facility in Noblesville, Indiana that caused a containment breach, releasing airborne radioactive material. Six workers were contaminated. It took them 10 days to notify the public.

+ A contractor’s serious blunder allowed the release of Cesium radiation into Harborview Research and Training Building in Seattle, which is still closed one year after this accident. Seattle’s KING-TV News has just posted raw footage of the radiation leak…

+ A new report projects that electricity generation from coal will fall by 25 percent this year compared to 2019, while electricity from renewables will jump by 11 percent, overtaking coal for power generation for the first time…

+ During the peak of global lockdowns in early April, average daily emissions decreased by 17% compared to the 2019 average, hitting their lowest point since 2006, though if history holds those reductions are not likely to last for long.

+ At just 1.1C, the planet is now  hotter than it has been in the history of human civilization.  The implication, according to David Wallace-Wells, is that almost everything we have ever experienced as a species is the result of climate conditions we have already left behind.

+ Svalbard when it sizzles: it hit 80F in the Arctic this week.

+ Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette ranted to Axios this week that bank restrictions on the financing of oil and gas drilling in the Arctic amounted to a form of “redlining” — the practice of not loaning to communities of color. So, not lending to companies that engage in egregious acts of environmental racism (not to mention ecocide) is the equivalent of not loaning to the people those acts are committed against. Gotcha.

+ What’s a new Great Depression without…dust bowls! Dust Bowl conditions are now at least two and a half times more likely to occur, with a frequency probability of about once in 40 years, according to projections by an international group of scientists published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

+ The Wilderness Society, one of the most slickest corporate enterprises masquerading as an environmental group, is now actively hawking “renewable energy” projects on public lands…

+ Yellowstone opened this week and maskless hordes crowded Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Falls and Old Faithful. It took only a few hours for a woman to be gored by a bison. A good friend of mine was a ranger at Yellowstone for many years. Bison gorings are incredibly common, even in the pre-selfie days. Bison spend a lot of time rutting around in fresh bison pies and their horns are often covered in shit. Wounds from such injuries quickly turn septic. Not a pleasant way to go…

+ I really hope this virus doesn’t jump to grizzlies and bison…But if you’ve read Lawrence Wright’s prescient new novel (written last year) about a global novel coronavirus pandemic, The End of October, you know that it ends with a mass die off of polar bears in Kamchatka…(I’m not really spoiling much by exposing this.)

+ The Navajo Nation now has the highest COVID-19 infection rate per capita in the United States, but this weekend the Park Service will reopen Grand Canyon National Park, which shares a border with the Navajo Reservation, over the objects of the President of the Navajo Nation. Tourists stream across the Rez to get to and from the Park.

+ The tree pollen levels in western Oregon have been off-the-charts, leading many to probably suspect they have COVID symptoms. But nothing like what’s going on in Alaska where in Fairbanks on Monday (5-11-20) the birch pollen count hit 7,045/m3, far outpacing the previous record, which was set in Denmark in 2014, was 4,698/m3.

+ How the Vancouver Sun covered the Dead…

+ Michel Piccoli, who died this week, was fabulous in almost everything, especially Godard’s Contempt. But it was a nice surprise to recently watch a fleeting performance by Piccoli that I’d forgotten about: as the lecherous tutor for aspiring casino card dealers, who keeps preying on Susan Sarandon, in Louis Malle’s Atlantic City.

+ Re-watching John Sayles’ 8 Men Out right after seeing The Last Dance shows how little changed over 80 years in the treatment of players by greedy owners in Chicago, from Comiskey, who paid the league’s best players 40% less than the league average, fed them crap food, made them do their own laundry & reneged on bonuses, to Bulls’ two Jerrys, Krause and Reinsdorf, who locked one the NBA’s top five players into a contract that left him the 122nd most paid player in the league. My sympathies are with the players who threw the 1919 World Series and with Scotty Pippen for sitting out as long as he did and not regretting it. Shame on Michael Jordan for not defending his running mate.

+ Most of the baseball scenes in  8 Men Out were filmed at Bush Stadium in Indianapolis with the diamond doubling for both Comiskey Park and Redline Field. My dad had been a club house boy there for several years back in the 1940s for both the Indians of the American Association and the Clowns of the Negro Leagues. I was a ballboy for one season, played an American Legion championship game there and watched the Cubans destroy the US team in the 1987 PanAm games. It used to have the one of the deepest centerfields in all of pro baseball, 500 dead away. The wall was brick and covered in ivy, which is where the Cubs’ owners got the idea for Wrigley Field. Even today, most of my favorite big league ballplayers are the ones I first saw play, bugged for autographs and even played catch with at Bush Stadium: Ken Griffey, Sr., George Foster, Bernie Carbo, Razor Shines, Andres Galarraga and my childhood hero, Hal McRae. The beautiful new Victory Field opened in downtown along the White River in 1996, where my crazed plot to sprinkle some of my father’s ashes in centerfield was foiled by an overzealous security guard. The city tore down most of the old ballpark in 2012, converting a portion of the Art Deco-style grandstand into an apartment complex. When I last drove by I had to avert my eyes.

+ The COVID-19 lockdown has apparently extirpated one of the last great bookstores in DC, Kramerbooks, which not only offered a terrific selection of books but also hosted a full-service bar and excellent restaurant. Kramerbooks opened on DuPont Circle the year before I arrived in DC. Most of the money I was able to scrape together over the next five years either ended up in their registers or those of Olsson’s Books & Records in Georgetown or the Uptown and Biograph theaters. If you spent any time at Kramerbooks, you were bound to encounter Ralph Nader, either skimming the shelves or hailing a cab or walking to or from his office….

+ The great sax player Gary Bartz, who played with Miles, Dolphy, Tyner and Blakey, on one of the most emphatic musical statements of  black liberation: “NTU Troop (1971, aka Harlem Bush Music) came out because I was going to stop playing music as a career. I felt that with all this mess, we didn’t need another musician. I was ready for the Black Panthers, or to leave the country or something.”

We’ve Been Testing You and You Failed…

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World
Vincent Bevins
(Public Affairs Books)

Galileo and the Science Deniers
Mario Livio
(Simon and Schuster)

Temptation
János Székely
Translated by Mark Baczoni
(NYRB Books)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Distant Radio Transmission
Roscoe Mitchell with Ostravská Banda
(Wide Hive)

Reunions
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
(Southeastern Records)

The Duo Sessions
Lenny Tristano
(Dot Time)

The Sensationless State of Cosmic Anonymity

“Before you were born, you were nothing more than an indistinguishable lump of unformed matter. After death, you simply will return to that nebulous state. You are going to become the raw material out of which new beings will be fashioned. Will there be pain in this natural process? No! Pleasure? No! Now, is there anything frightening in this? Certainly not! And yet, people sacrifice pleasure on earth in the hope that pain will be avoided in an after-life. The fools don’t realize that, after death, pain and pleasure cannot exist: there is only the sensationless state of cosmic anonymity: therefore, the rule of life should be … to enjoy oneself!” (Marquis de Sade, 120 Days of Sodom)

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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