Roaming Charges: Tears of Rage, Tears of Grief

Post-Uvalde street art, Portland, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Democracy don’t rule the world
You’d better get that through your head
This world is ruled by violence
But I guess that’s better left unsaid…

–Bob Dylan, Union Sundown

+ Police lie. They lie as a matter of course. They lie incidentally. They lie strategically. They lie habitually. They lie when lives are on the line. They lie to protect their own skin. They lie to protect their buddies. They change their stories to fit the facts. They change the “facts” to fit their stories. They lie when they interrogate you. They lie in affidavits and depositions. They lie on TV. They lie in court testimony. They lie to put you away. When the lies run out, they stop talking. They refuse to cooperate. They blame you for not trusting them.

This pattern of lying has played out over the past 10 days since the Uvalde mass shooting. The police lied about what they did. They lied about what they didn’t do. They lied about the time line of the shooting. They lied about who was on the scene, when they got there and what they did. They lied about barricades, 911 calls, and the shooter’s weapons. They lied about doors. They lied about the school resource officer. They lied about a teacher. They lied about their lies.

+ The police did their job. What you saw them doing in Uvalde, on a sidewalk in Minneapolis and in Breonna Taylor’s apartment was their job. These disparate events were not aberrations.

+ Every police atrocity–either by actions (Floyd, Taylor, Brown), negligence or incompetence–will inevitably be used as a justification for more police power.

+ Nearly every one who spoke at the NRA convention was blasting the gun violence in Chicago (perceived as a black city with a black mayor with strict gun control laws). The level of gun violence in Chicago is certainly appalling, but nowhere near as bloody as many other cities. Most of the the guns used in Chicago shootings have poured in from other states–states where you’re much more likely to be killed by a gun than in Illinois.

+ According to Alex Vitale, “almost 7% of all homicides in the US are committed by police officers […] I found cities where there were years when 15% of all homicides in that city were committed by police.”

+ James Madison Preparatory Academy, a Florida charter high school, raffled off guns as part of a fundraising campaign. Every day, from May 2-to June first the school picked a name from a tumbler. On Tuesday, a week after the shooting in Uvalde that killed 21 people, the school raffled an AK 47. School officials said, “It was all about the kids.”

+ More children die by gunfire in a year than on-duty police officers and active military members…

+ In St. Louis, a man who was open-carrying his rifle at a grocery store was robbed at gunpoint of his rifle. He went to his car to grab another gun. A shoot-out ensued. One of the shooters and a couple of bystanders were wounded…

+ GOP on the causes of mass shootings: doors, mental illness, social media, wokeness, video games, single parent homes, porn, unarmed teachers, and pot…

+ How many mass shooters are misogynists? The Uvalde shooter frequently harassed and threatened girls in his high school. He sent them photos of guns and threatened to rape or kidnap them. This behavior reminded me of one of the bloodiest mass shootings in Texas history, the Luby’s diner massacre. In 1991  a man ran his truck into a packed cafeteria in Killeen. Before he started firing his semi-automatic handguns, he screamed: “All women of Killeen and Belton are vipers!” He shot 50 people, 23 of whom died.

+ Biden: Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn are “rational Republicans” who could “get something done” on gun control. The dementia is progressing quite rapidly now…

+ Earlier this month, two Trump-appointed federal judges overturned California’s law prohibiting people under 21 from buying AR-15s or other semi-automatic weapons.

+ We all all know that the GOP is against intrusive government mandates. Of course, there are exceptions: A new Texas law requires every bank and professional services firm to file statements affirming that they will do business with the NRA and gun makers.

+ On same day Biden gives his big speech assailing assault weapons, he agreed to sent Ukraine High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems capable of inflicting mass death. The assault weapons won’t be banned, but the rocket systems will be used.

+ The American Medical Association has repeatedly condemned gun violence and called for stricter gun laws. The sincerity of this message is called into question by the fact that its political action committee regularly donates more money to pro-gun candidates than it does to those who support gun control.

+ Brendan Behan: “I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn’t make it worse.”

+++

+ On her first day in her new job as a reporter for Dream Radio based in Hebron, Ghufran Warasneh was shot in the chest by the IDF outside the entrance to the Al-Arroub refugee camp. She died an hour later at a local hospital. Warasneh is the second Palestinian journalist killed by the IDF this month. Mourners at Warasneh’s funeral procession was also attacked.

+ Public attitudes in the US seem to be steadily shifting toward Palestinians and against Israelis. In a new Pew poll, 61 percent of respondents under 30 had positive views of the Palestinian people while 56 percent shared similar views of Israelis.

+ A new report charges that Israeli airstrike on an agrochemical warehouse in Gaza release so much toxic debris into the air that it function as a “chemical weapons” attack.

+ Even so, a pro-Israel PAC operating under the anodyne name of Urban Empowerment Action is sinking $1 million into unseating Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

+ After a two-year campaign calling on General Mills to stop making Pillsbury products in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory, the company has sold its interests in the Israeli company.

+ A US drone strike in Yemen on March 29, 2018 hit a party of five civilians in an SUV. They were all cousins on their way to the village of Al Uqla. Four of them were killed. The other, Adel Al Manthari, was seriously wounded and is now in need of emergency medical care to save his legs and possibly his life. Congress has set up a fund to compensate civilian victims of US airstrikes, but despite pleas from Al Mathari’s lawyers, the Pentagon refuses to even acknowledge the drone strike.

+ After 7 seven years of backing the Saudi war on Yemen, more 50 members of Congress have introduced a resolution invoke constitutional war powers in order to end unauthorized United States military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen.

+ “Doing a Biden:” accusing Russia of genocide in Ukraine, while traveling to Riyadh to kiss the orb of the Bonesaw Prince who is committing genocide with your weapons in Yemen.

+ George Galloway in a debate with Christopher Hitchens on the Iraq war: “But you’re not ashamed of yourself at all. It’s true, I praised you. You were a butterfly. You’re now a slug. You did write like an angel, but you’re now working for the Devil, and damn you and all your works.”

+ Teen Vogue poll of under 35 voters shows that the only politicians with net favorable ratings are Sanders (+20) and AOC (+11)….

+ The critical right direction/wrong direction numbers are devastating for the party in power: 10/90.

+ As the war ravages the nation’s economy, Ukraine’s central bank has been forced to raise interest rates to 25%.

+ Michael Chertoff as Minister of Truth?

+ 14% of gig workers earned less than the federal minimum wage on an hourly basis, according to a national survey from Harvard’s Shift Project.

+ More than 1-in-3 Americans earning at least $250,000 annually say they are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

+ Susan Schattenberg, author of the new biography Brezhnev: the Making of a Statesman, on the Ukrainian-born Soviet leader: “Instead of a Cold Warrior, I was faced with a man who passionately fought for peace and ruined his health in the process. Instead of a dogmatic ideologue, a heart-throb who loved fast cars and liked to crack jokes.”

+ A new study out of UCLA found the deaths of some 30 people in Los Angeles County jails were classified as “natural” despite evidence of physical harm done to their bodies. The researchers were only allowed access to 59 of 292 autopsy reports because of security holds imposed by the LA County Sheriff’s office.

+ The State of Massachusetts will be forced to pay thousands of dollars to more than 30,000 defendants who were convicted of crimes based on the junk forensics testimony of disgraced chemists in the state crime lab.

+ Sen. Mazie Hirono, the Democrat from Hawai’i, has been privately urging Biden to pardon AIM activist Leonard Peltier, who has languished in federal prison for almost 50 years. “It is clear that our criminal justice failed Mr. Peltier,” Hirono said. This was much more likely to happen under Trump, if only to tweak the FBI, than Biden who is the Bureau’s biggest fan…

+ Peltier has written a harrowing account of his own experience in boarding schools for Native children.

+ State prisons in Michigan are banning Spanish and Swahili dictionaries, justifying the move on the grounds that its necessary to quell inmate uprisings:  if inmates “decided to learn a very obscure language, they would be able to then speak freely in front of staff and others about introducing contraband or assaulting staff”

+ Coronavirus variants have now caused more than 460,000 deaths in the U.S., nearly half of the million COVID-19 deaths.

Alpha: 40k deaths
Delta: 274k deaths
Omicron: 118k deaths (as of May 12)

+ COVID case in the US are six times higher than they were at this point last year. Heckuva job, Tony…

+ At the peak of the Omicron outbreak, 156 children the US died of Covid-19 in a single month (January 2022). In the 10 years leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, an average of 120 children died of flu per year.

+ Amnesty International on the discriminatory consequences and blowback from Covid restrictions: “Far from containing the virus, decisions to fine, arrest, detain and use force have increased the social and economic challenges of complying with Covid-19 health advice and often risked increasing contagion”

+ Time to cancel Pride Week…

+ During Pride week, the Biden White House will be unveiling a new stamp honoring Nancy Reagan in a ceremony featuring Jill Biden and Louis DeJoy…

+ Number of AIDS deaths in the US during Reagan’s term: 89,343.

+ Biden: “The idea we’re going to be able to click a switch, bring down the cost of gasoline, is not likely in the near term. Nor is it with regard to food.” So much for FDR. Biden can’t even fill Nixon’s shoes, who was quick to impose price controls by Executive Order when he thought inflation might threaten his re-election.

+ Vice obtained internal Amazon documents showing how the company tracks every single minute of workers’ shifts using its “Time Off Task” tool, including how much time each worker spends in the bathroom and talking to co-workers.

+ The Ohio House passed HB 151, the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which allows anyone to challenge the gender of a student athlete.  Section C of the bill sets out a verification process, where child accused of being trans is required to undergo: External and internal genitalia evaluation, a Testosterone level check and a Genetic makeup test–which seems like a lot of fondling of child sexual organs for a party obsessed with the sexual grooming of children.

+ At FoxNews, the search for the clitoris continues…

+ A new report from the Economic Policy Institute paints a stark portrait of the economic plight of home health care workers, who are grossly underpaid in every state. The national average for these workers is a mere $13.50 an hour. But home health care workers typically make less than $12 an hour in the lowest-paying states—Louisiana, West Virginia, Texas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

+ “I am not a witch“, the Utah variation…

+ Sheryl Sandberg begins her resignation letter from Meta (Facebook) this way:

When I first met Mark, I was not really looking for a new job – and I could have never predicted how meeting him would change my life. We were at a holiday party at Daniel L Rosensweig‘s house. I was introduced to Mark as I walked in the door, and we started talking about his vision for Facebook. I had tried The Facebook, as it was first called, but still thought the internet was a largely anonymous place to search for funny pictures.

For the record, when Sandberg met Zuckerberg and thought the “internet was a largely anonymous place to search for funny pictures”, she was the vice-president for sales at Google.

+++

+ According to an analysis by Climate Action Tracker not a single country is on pace to meet the Paris goal of 1.5C warming. Not one.

+ Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe warning that humanity can’t simple “adapt itself” out of the climate crisis: “People do not understand the magnitude of what is going on. This will be greater than anything we have ever seen in the past. This will be unprecedented. Every living thing will be affected…The reality is that we will not have anything left that we value, if we do not address the climate crisis.”

+ Fatih Birol, head of the IEA, told Der Spiegel that the current energy crisis sparked by the Ukraine war will rival the energy crisis of the 70s: “Now we have an oil crisis, a gas crisis and an electricity crisis at the same time. This energy crisis is much bigger than the oil crises of the 1970s and 80s. And it will probably last longer.”

+ After the driest start to a year on record, the Sierra snowpack of January is now almost gone…

+ Salaries of Gang Green Big Wigs, FY 2021 …

Carter Roberts, World Wildlife Fund: $1.09 million
David Yarnold, Audubon: $855K
Fred Krupp, EDF: $824K
Gina McCarthy, NRDC: $800K (FY 2020)
Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife: $569K
Andrew Sharpless, Oceana: $492K
Abigail Dylan, EarthJustice: $459K
Collin O’Meara, National Wildlife Federation: $392K
Ken Kimmel, Union of Concerned Scientists: $358K
Mike Brune, Sierra Club: $300K
Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters: $224K

+ Since March, Russia has risen from ninth to sixth place in the ranking of the largest oil suppliers to the United States, almost doubling supplies in monthly terms – up to 4.218 million barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration of the US Department of Energy (EIA).

+ Global warming has fueled a decisive increase in Atlantic Ocean hurricane activity in the last 40 years, doubling he chances for extreme seasons like 2020.

+ A study published in the Journal of Advances in Climate Change Research shows the probability of a marine heatwave in the South China Sea during the 2010s is four times (28.4%) of that in the 1980s (7%). The increasing trend can be largely attributed to the long-term increase in mean ocean temperature.

+ Before the start of the Ukraine war, more than 800 million people around the world suffered extreme hunger. This number may double this summer as wheat from Ukraine and Russia fails to reach global markets. On top of that, in the US both the winter and summer wheat crops are in big trouble.

+ Half of France’s 56 reactors (a record) are currently offline. 12 are shut because of inspections for corrosion problems.

+ Small modular nuclear reactors will produce much more radioactive waste per unit of energy than the traditional kind.

+ With micro-plastics already lodged inside the bodies of nearly every living creature on the planet, a new report predicts that plastic waste is set to triple by 2060.

+ Plastic recycling doesn’t work, largely because there are thousands of different kinds of plastic, each containing different chemical compounds and colors that can’t be recycled together.

+ Vanguard, the world’s second-largest asset manager, is refusing to end its investments in new fossil fuel ventures,  citing its obligation to maximize returns for clients

+ According to research out of the DOE’s Oak Ridge Lab, fuel economy for a light-duty vehicle going 80 miles per hour (mph) is about 27% lower than when traveling at 60 mph. Between 40 and 50 mph is the optimum cruising speed for the best fuel economy in cars and light trucks. The best fuel economy is typically obtained when the vehicle is traveling at the lowest speed in the vehicle’s highest gear.

+ Peak Internal Combustion Engine? After 130 years growth, the global supply of cars with only an internal combustion engine will like peak in 2022.

+ Even “green” hydrogen could make climate change worse in the short term. Why? It tends to leak and once it gets into the atmosphere, its more potent than CO2. Over 20 years, it has 33 times the global warming potential of an equal amount of carbon dioxide.

+ In order to keep the water levels in Lake Powell high enough to continue producing hydropower, the Bureau of Reclamation is draining Flaming Gorge reservoir. But the transfer may actually waste nearly as much water as Lake Powell will gain.

+ The the largest wildfire in the history of New Mexico was entirely caused by prescribed burns started by the US Forest Service.

+ The largest wildfire in the history of Colorado was an arson started by a seasonal Forest Service employee, Terry Lynn Barton, working for near-poverty wages.

+ A study of 93 bonefish caught off the Florida coast 93 found the body of each fish contained an average of seven pharmaceuticals, including blood pressure medications, antidepressants, prostate treatments, antibiotics and pain relievers. One fish tested positive for 17 different drugs.

+ The Forest of Dr. Moreau: Scientists at MIT are brewing up lab-grown wood.

+ According to the Washington Post, Harvard retains the remains of at least 7,000 Native Americans and enslaved people, while a secret society at Yale still possesses the skull of Geronimo.

+ I remember when Manuel Lujan, Interior Secretary under Poppy Bush, said the Endangered Species Act had to be gutted before “another damn fish comes along” to fuck up a new dam proposal or clearcutting plan. Little did he know, the fish would come in the form of a bee.

 

+++

+ Bob Dylan on the late Ronnie Hawkins:  “He looked like a shit-kicker, but he spoke with the wisdom of a sage. He was like a gladiator that wrestled and raced in some nondescript Roman arena. You expected Ronnie to wear a toga instead of that ratty cowboy hat.”

+ David Crosby gave an interview to a high school journalism class. It’s more informative than almost any you’ll read in Pitchfork or Rolling Stone. Here’s Crosby answering a question on the Vietnam War: “It was a bad war; it was a bullshit war and after a while we could tell that it was a bullshit war. We weren’t there to accomplish anything. We were there trying to exercise and expand our influence, and keep them from expanding theirs. We had this whole vision of the world as being divided between them and us and we were all just out there trying to sell our ideas as the way to go.”

+ President Xi’s favorite movies: Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and Scorsese’s The Departed (based on the Hong Kong film Internal Affairs).  Xi expressed a preference for World War II movies. “Hollywood makes those well, and such Hollywood movies are grand and truthful. Americans have a clear outlook on values and clearly demarcation between good and evil. In American movies, good usually prevails.” Looking forward to Xi’s review of Top Gun: Maverick.

+ I watched Josef von Sternberg’s 1931 stark pre-code version of Dreiser’s An American Tragedy (much better than the prettified George Stevens remake with Monty and Liz), the tragedy being two unnecessary deaths (one in the electric chair), precipitated by unwanted pregnancy and the inability to secure an abortion.

+ From Vulture’s interview with actor John C. Reilly:

You once told Paul Thomas Anderson you were tired of playing “heavies” and “child men” and wanted to play a character who falls in love, and so he wrote your part in Magnolia. Do you think that movie changed the way audiences saw you?

I don’t know. I hope so, because that was a personal role and I really felt connected to it. Paul saw I was capable of doing more than character work, that I was someone who could carry a story. And actually, what I said to him was, “Hey, you’ve got to write me my Sunrise.” What I meant was a movie called Sunrise from the 1920s. It’s this romantic story. I can’t even remember what it’s about,Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is a 1927 romantic drama directed by F. W. Murnau about a woman (Margaret Livingston) who woos a farmer (George O’Brien) in hopes that he will murder his wife (Janet Gaynor). but at that point, I had just seen it. Paul didn’t realize I was referring to that movie, so he wrote the scene at the end of Magnolia in the morning when the sun is coming up. He thought I literally was like, “Write me a sunrise.” He and I have actually never talked about that.

+ When Ben Jonson, in his catty eulogy of Shakespeare, wrote of the Bard’s “small Latin and less Greek” most of us Eng Lit types assumed that the classically-educated Jonson was suggesting that the greatest wordsmith of the English language was actually a country bumpkin with a limited education. Hogwash, argues Tom Moran in the Antigone journal. Jonson was actually praising his rival. It all hinges on the meaning of “though.”

+ SF novelist Kim Stanley Robinson defending the idea that his climate crisis novel The Ministry of the Future depicts a “utopian” future: “It’s utopian—if you put the lowest bar possible on utopia. It supposes we might dodge a mass extinction over the next 30 years. That is utopian compared to the other stories that are possible.”

Come to Me Now, You Know, We’re So Low and Life is Brief

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Property Will Cost Us the Earth: Direct Action and the Future of the Global Climate Movement
Ed. Jesse Kindig
Introduction: Andreas Malm
(Verso)

The Small Matter of Suing Chevron
Suzana Sawyer
(Duke)

Travels With Trilobites: Adventures in the Paleozoic
Andy Secher
(Columbia)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Cruel Country
Wilco
(dBpm)

In the Spirit of Ntu
Nduduzo Makhathini
(Blue Note Africa)

Dear Scott
Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band
(Modern Sky)

A Flabby Toothless Fascism

“God save the Queen and a fascist regime … a flabby toothless fascism, to be sure. Never go too far in any direction, is the basic law on which Limey-Land is built. The Queen stabilizes the whole sinking shithouse and keeps a small elite of wealth and privilege on top. The English have gone soft in the outhouse. England is like some stricken beast too stupid to know it is dead. Ingloriously foundering in its own waste products, the backlash and bad karma of empire.”

– William S. Burroughs, The Place of Dead Roads

 

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 @JeffreyStClair3