Roaming Charges: History Ain’t Changed

Megatherium americanum, skeleton, Natural History Museum, London. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

“The modern fact is that we no longer believe in this world. We do not even believe in the events that happen to us, love, death, as if they only half concerned us. It is not we who make cinema; it is the world which looks to us like a bad film.”

– Gilles DeLeuze, Cinema II: The Time-Image

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Thankfully one of our longtime supporters has stepped up this week and promised to match every donation of $50 or more through next week. The matching grant is landing right on time, but it will only make a dent in our modest goal if our readers pitch in. C’mon, let’s end this thing and get on to the very important matters at hand.

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+ When the votes come in on Tuesday night and some of the most rancid characters we’ve ever seen get elected and the GOP takes back both the House and Senate, remember that Pelosi and Schumer funded many of the primary campaigns of these pied piper candidates, thinking–wrongly, as ever–they’d be unelectable–just as unelectable as Trump.

+ The big winner in Israel’s elections was Itamar Ben Gvir, leader of the ultra-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, who is set to be the next Homeland Security Minister. As a lawyer Ben Gvir defended Israeli nationalist terrorists in the courts, threatened the late PM Rabin before he was assassinated by a rightwing Zionist, and has been convicted 8 times for incitement and related felonies. In his victory speech, Ben Givr vowed: “It is time that we will be back the owners of this land, it is time that our kids will feel safe to walk around the streets.”

+ Still it’s unlikely that the Israeli elections will change much. It will continue on pretty much the same thuggish, defiant, unrepentant course set by Ariel Sharon. Governments come and go with greater frequency now but the oppressive Zionist imperative remains. What will have to change is the rationale of the US for supporting such a brutal regime that flaunts human rights and international law with the impunity of an NYPD street cop. It no longer has the hollow liberalism as represented by Yair Lapid to hide behind. The violent racism that was once implicit is now explicit. At most, it will give the Biden administration the chance to issue a few entirely performative press releases remonstrating against some atrocity before approving the next Israeli aid package.

+ 2,747,943: number of Palestinians living in the West Bank.

+ 0: number of Palestinians living in the West Bank who were permitted to vote in the Israeli elections.

+ 687: the number of houses and buildings Israel has demolished in the West Bank this year.

+ Thomas Friedman took to his usual pasture in the NYT to graze over the re-election of Netanyahu and concluded that the “Israel We Knew is Gone.” Who’s this “we” you’re talking about, Friedman? And what “Israel”? The Israel of Sabra and Shatila? The Israel that ran over Rachel Corrie? The Israel of phosphorus bombs in Gaza? The Israel of an Apartheid Wall? The Israel that shot Linda Abu Akleh in the head? History ain’t changed.

+ A map of Lula’s victory (Lula red, Bolsonaro blue) shows him prevailing by a nearly two-to-one margin in Brazil’s poorest and most working-class sectors.

+ Glenn Greenwald performed some strange historical contortions to explain why the Biden administration immediately recognized the legitimacy of Lula’s election.

+ “There’s nothing the Deep State hates more than right-wing populism?” This may come as news to Salvador Allende, Patrice Lumumba, Che Guevara, Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Muhammad Mossadegh, Fidel Castro, the Sandinistas, Michael Manley, Maurice Bishop and the Zapatistas.

+ Is that the same Deep State that recruited actual Nazis (see Klaus Barbie) to run death squads across Central and South America killing leftwing populists?

+ By no means should Lula feel like the Biden administration has his back. Recall that in 2016 a mere three days after the procedural coup ousting President Dilma Rousseff, a member of Lula’s Worker’s Party, when things were still unsettled and most Latin American governments refused to recognize the interloper President Michel Temer, Joe Biden rushed to Brasilia to meet with Temer and inform him that he enjoyed the full backing of Obama and the US government.

+ Kate MacKenzie and Tim Shay argue convincingly that Lula’s victory will do more for the climate than anything coming out of the COP27 summit in Cairo: “When Lula was last in power, soy and beef moratoriums reduced Brazil’s deforestation of the Amazon by 80% between 2004 and 2012, even as Brazilian agricultural production boomed. Norway paid over a billion dollars to Brazil for avoided deforestation.”

+ On Thursday, the UN voted 185 to 2 to end the inhumane US embargo against Cuba. The two no votes: the US and Israel. This is the 30th year in a row that the UN has voted to condemn the embargo and the 30th year in a row the US will ignore the near-unanimous global consensus against its cruel and inhumane policies on Cuba. Still the two predictable abstentions–Brazil and Ukraine–may be signs of imperial slippage. Is there any country any more beholden to the US than Ukraine at the moment? Yet even Ukraine didn’t feel compelled to vote “no.”

+ Is there one case where economic sanctions have achieved the desired result, unless you believe, as I do, that the desired result is to inflict pain and misery on the general population of a country whose government has been demonized? Perhaps Libya, where Qaddafi–foolishly, it turned out–relinquished his rather primitive (compared to Israel, certainly) WMD program only to see his regime overthrown the old-fashioned way…

+ Giorgia Meloni’s new Italian government is beginning to take shape and it includes several people who have openly praised Mussolini and a junior minister who was once photographed wearing a swastika armband.

+ In the Politics, Aristotle offered a field guide for identifying the kind of political structure of a polis based on the dominant form of its military: navy: democracy; cavalry: oligarchy; army: monarchy. I don’t know what level of tyranny we’ve reached as a nation relying on drones, but I think we’re about to find out.

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+ According to the Prison Policy Institute, about 1-in-10 people in state prison today was homeless before turning 18, 1 in 5 was in public housing before 18 and 1 in 5 was in foster care. For Black incarcerated people, the numbers are even  higher.

+ Clarence Thomas said in this week’s oral arguments on affirmation action that the has “no idea what diversity means.” I think he’s proved this for the last 40 years.

+ How much “chemistry” did Thomas learn? Not much considering the fatuous ravings in his opinions on the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts…

43 percent of white Harvard freshmen in 2019 were athletes, legacy admission, members of the families of donors or of staff (ALDS). 75% of those white applicants “would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs.”

+ According to the latest tranche of papers from Trump lawyer John Eastman the whole plot to overthrow the 2020 election results crumbled on New Year’s Eve because the coup-mongers couldn’t find a … notary public: “There’s no one they can call to come to the White House that’s a notary? I don’t know how we file without it. Presidential trip to a UPS store?”

+ The plotters were desperate to get the document before Clarence Thomas, who they believed was their “only chance” to keep Congress from counting the electoral college votes from Georgia. (Eastman was a former clerk for Thomas and a close friend of Ginni Thomas.)

+ Corrections in Ink, Marshall Fund reporter Keri Blakinger’s riveting memoir of her own jail term, has been banned in Florida prisons.

+ The LA Sheriff’s office spends 90 percent of its budget on traffic stops. And who are they stopping? Mainly black drivers, who are pulled over 5 times more frequently than white drivers.

+ Prosecutors have nearly $1 billion more at their disposal than defense attorneys. It’s not a level playing field.

+ In 2020, over howls of protests from prosecutors, Honolulu opened the cell doors of its jails, releasing many inmates. A year later, crime rates fell to their lowest level since 1975.

+ Bite mark analysis is a form of junk science that has been deployed by prosecutors across the country to wrongly convict hundreds of people. But bite mark analysts often can’t even agree on what bite marks actually depict. In one 2015 study, 39 experts were asked to examine 100 case photos. The experts were asked to answer basic questions, such as: “whether a bite mark was human or not, and whether there was enough evidence in the photo to determine what (human or animal) or who (which person) made the bite. In only 8% of the cases did the experts agree at a high rate (90%). In other words, for almost every case photo given, experts couldn’t even agree on the basic facts: was the photo of a human bite mark, and did it have enough information to be useful.”

+ In 2000, former L.A. DA Gil Garcetti denied Maurice Hastings’ request for DNA testing in his 1983 murder conviction, as a result this innocent man spent an extra 22 years in prison before he was finally exonerated…

+ Four of the Uvalde victims were still alive when cops finally entered the classroom. Eva Mireles, the teacher who called her husband after being shot, died in an ambulance in the Robb Elementary parking lot. One child died in Hondo on the way to a San Antonio hospital and two children died at Uvalde Memorial Hospital. Ambulances were at the scene five minutes after the shooting was reported. Would they have survived if the police hadn’t cowered in the hallway for an hour as the gunman continued his heinous slaughter?

+ In San Diego, police are raiding homes using redacted search warrants, which kind of defeats the point, constitutionally speaking.

+ 4.6 million: the number of US citizens prohibited from voting because of felony convictions.

+ In the last week before the midterms, this is the kind of crap running on TVs in Georgia and other states…

+ Is Tiger Woods the new “Willie Horton”…?

+ Nearly two years into the Biden administration, more than 0ne-third of the people housed in adult cells in migrant prisons in the US are children.

+ There were at least 64 suicide attempts by young people at the Ware Youth Center in 2019 and 2020, a higher rate than in any other juvenile prison in Louisiana, a state notorious for its harsh treatment of jailed children.

+ The Capitol Hill Police have a network of 1800 cameras monitoring the Capitol and the homes of ranking members of Congress. It turns out that one of those cameras was trained on the Pelosi house and captured footage of David DePape breaking into the backdoor with his hammer. The footage was broadcast live into the police department’s control room. But no one was watching. We’ve built a 24/7 panopticon that sees and records everything, but is all about surveillance and not crime prevention or protection…

+ In 1985, an 18-year-old Glenn Greenwald ran for the city council of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. One of his big campaign issues was increasing the budget for the city’s police department. He lost. Undeterred, he ran again five years later on a similar tough-on-crime theme.

(H/T Matt Lech.)

+ Remember when they killed the Public Option over non-existent (except in the actuarial rooms of the insurance companies) death panels? Now they want rape/incest panels for abortions…

+ Alyssa Jones, the ex-wife of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra, says that he impregnated her when she was 20-years-old and took her to an abortion clinic in 1983. In September, Zahra voted to block an abortion-rights measure from going on the ballot.

+ So George Will wrote a sclerotic column urging both Biden and Harris to announce they will not run for re-election in 2024. As might be expected, Will was particularly harsh on Harris, who he haughty wrote “sounds like someone giving a book report on a book she has not read.” Will’s racism is never buried too deeply. It always leaks out.

+ This is, of course, the same George Will who concealed his role in prepping Reagan for his 1980 debate with Carter. The same Will who Kurt Vonnegut called “an owlish nitwit” after Will condemned Slaughterhouse Five for “trivializing the Holocaust.” The same Will who lied about sea level rise. The same Will who dismissed campus rapes as an attempt to gain status thru victimhood. There are many reasons to dislike Kamala Harris, but not his…

+ For years, Carter believed that Will had a role in the theft his debate prep book which ended up in Reagan’s hands. (Carter eventually retracted the allegation, but the stench of Will’s unacknowledged role as a journalist in prepping Reagan remains.)

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+ After the new left-wing Xiomara Castro government moved to nullify two special economic zones where private investors enjoy special privileges, two US Senators – Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Ben Cardin (D-MD–are threatening to cut off foreign aid for Honduras.

+ The Fed often justifies its actions in syntax even more opaque than Donald Rumsfeld’s. But during this week’s meeting, where the latest plans to crater the economy were set forth, Esther George, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, was refreshingly explicit about its belief that working class Americans are earning and saving too much money: “We see today that there is a bit of a savings buffer still sitting for households, that may allow them to continue to spend in a way that keeps demand strong. That suggests we may have to keep at this for a while.”

+ New York City now requires companies to post salary data for open positions. Here’s one for Citigroup: Primary Location Salary Range: $0.00 – $2,000,000.00

+ CEO-to-worker pay ratio since 1965…

1965: 20-to-1
1978: 30-to-1
1989: 58-to-1
1995: 121-to-1
2020: 351-to-1
2022: 399-to-1

+ Gov. Brian Kemp–allegedly the “rational” Republican left in Georgia–said this week he’s “open” to banning contraception.

+ Homeless campers in Portland’s Laurelhurst Park were evicted on Halloween morning so that the city to turn a two-block section of SE Oak Street into pickleball courts.

+ In Seattle, 191 unhoused people have died on the streets from January through September of 2022.

+ Meanwhile, there are now more homeless people in Sacramento than San Francisco. The homeless population in the California state capital has swelled by 70 percent since 2019.

+ With the important caveat that Border Patrol invariably undercounts migrant deaths, 2022 will go down as the deadliest year ever for migrants trying to cross the US/Mexico border. Already this year, at least 853 people have died, far surpassing the 650 who perished in 2021, the previous record.

+ Post-Brexit Migrant Channel crossings to UK under the anti-immigrant Tory regime…

2018: 299
2019: 1,843
2020: 8,466
2021: 28,461
2022: 39,430

+ Tony Benn: “The way a government treats refugees is very instructive, because it shows you the way they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could away with it.”

+ Over the objections of its own lawyer, Sumner County, Tennessee formally adopted language stating that its mission is to be “reflective of the Judeo-Christian values inherent in our nation’s founding.”

+ According to Civil Rights lawyer Matthew J. Perry, until 1951 any graduate of a state law school in South Carolina could practice law under the “diploma principle.” This changed abruptly after the state’s historically black college, South Carolina State, opened its own law school in 1951, prompting the state legislature to pass a measure requiring all law school graduates to pass the state bar exam. Perry said, “I always tell lawyers who had to take the bar exam after 1951 that they can blame me.”

+ Johnny Teague, a Republican running for Texas’s 7th Congressional District, has written a novel (The Lost Diary of Anne Frank) where Anne Frank converts to Christianity while awaiting her death in Auschwitz. Next they’ll be turning MLK, Jr. white. Oh wait. They’ve already done that…

+ Dan Savage: “If kids got raped by clowns as often as they get raped by preachers it would be against the law to take your kids to the circus.”

+ Dan Bolduc, the GOP nominee for US senate in New Hampshire, this weekend in North Hampton: “Guess what? We have furries and fuzzies in classrooms. They lick themselves, they’re cats. When they don’t like something, they hiss. And get this. They’re putting litter boxes, right? Litter boxes for that. I wish I was making it up.” Uh, he is making it up…

+ Sean Hannity: “Not a single Republican has ever said they want to take away your Social Security.”

+ Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): “It will be my objective to phase out Social Security. I want to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it.”

+ Imagine how different the dynamics of the furor would have been if instead of endorsing a vile piece of trash like “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” Kyrie Irving had promoted a film like Ameen Nayfeh’s 200 Meters about a Palestinian family separated by the Apartheid Wall.

+ Last year, Twitter’s interest expense was about $50 million. With the new debt taken on in the Musk deal, that will now swell to nearly $1 billion a year. Yet the company’s operations last year generated about $630 million in cash to barely meet its financial obligations.

+ Despite his alleged dalliances with Vladimir Putin, the Pentagon’s top brass feted Elon Musk this week. Here’s the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley: “He symbolizes is the combination of the civil and military cooperation and teamwork that makes the US the most powerful country in space.” This gives you some idea of the kind virtual Gitmo Twitter’s about to become…

+ Ben Collins: “His gravest miscalculation was he believed the people with opinions were bots and the bots who loved only Elon and crypto were people.”

+ After being bought and gutted by a private equity firm, the newsroom of the Great Falls Tribune, which once employed 45 staff journalists, is now down to two reporters.

+ Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s “tip line” to crack-down on Critical Race Theory in public schools was quietly de-activated in September for…lack of tips.

+ Firebombing a Tulsa donut shop because it hosted a drag show…

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+ According to the UN’s new Emissions Gap Report on climate change, the emissions gap in 2030 is 15 GtCO2e annually for a 2C warming pathway and 23 GtCO2e for a 1.5C warming pathway. Those are big gaps.

+ Global oil demand is expected to rise to 110 million barrels a day by 2045, largely driven by non-OECD nations.

+ 26: the number of years it would take for a low-earner to generate as much carbon emissions as the richest do in a single year.

+ According to a study Autonomy, from 1998 to 2018, people earning £170,000 or more in 2018 in the UK were responsible for greenhouse gas emissions far greater than the 30% of people earning £21,500 or less in the same year.

+ This aligns with a new paper published in Science which concludes that “human-caused increases in heat waves have depressed economic output most in the poor tropical regions least culpable for warming. Cumulative 1992–2013 losses from anthropogenic extreme heat likely fall between $5 trillion and $29.3 trillion globally.”

+ A new model developed by researchers at Stanford and Cal-Berkeley to reverse the trajectory of climate change,” according to a new model developed by scientists from Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley suggests that a rapid phase-out of animal agriculture represents “our best and most immediate chance to reverse the trajectory of climate change.”

+ In only 10 years, drought, wildfire and bark beetle s devastated almost one-third of the forests in the southern Sierra and 85% of its mature forests either lost density or became non-forest vegetation.

+ The new Land Gap Report exposes the flawed accounting of many carbon offset schemes, which rely on planting of tree seedlings: “the amount of carbon stored in dense primary and old-growth forests is greater than the amount of carbon stored in monoculture tree plantations, which hold fractions of the amount of carbon in mature trees.”

+ Meanwhile, a new study finds that logging produces more than 10% of Canada’s total CO2 emissions, nearly on a level with tar sands mining.

+ The state of Arizona is illegally hauling shipping containers to the border, blocking migration routes for endangered jaguars, but probably not serving as much of an impediment to migrants.

+ In 2008, the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to stop planting on low-quality lands, stood at 35 million acres. The improved air quality alone was estimated to have saved 1300 lives. But by 2021, the CRP had shrunk to 20.5 million acres, as farmers (or the corporations that employ them) seeking to capitalize on the ethanol boom put more and more marginal land back into production with detrimental consequences for air quality and human health across the Great Plains and Midwest.

+ Big Ag spent more than $150 million in lobbying expenses last year–largely aimed at gutting environmental regulations. That more than the defense or construction sector.

+ To save the Amazon, first you must … mine it?

+ As flows from the Colorado River dwindle, the state of Arizona is quietly leasing water from its largest underground aquifer to the Saudis, who are pumping it into alfalfa fields, which is then harvested and shipped back to Saudi Arabia to feed cattle. The market rate for the lease is $5 million per year. The Saudis are paying $86,000.

+ According to an investigation by The Lever, amid the wreckage left by Hurricane Ian, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slipped a provision into recent legislation making it more difficult for Floridians to sue insurance companies that “wrongfully deny, delay, or underpay property damage claims after hurricanes.” And they say he’s a populist!

+ The ominous trend in Oregon wildfires: more frequent, bigger, deadlier.

+ Between 1982 and 2020, nearly 23 million acres of Siberian forest, almost half of that occurred in 2019 and 2020 alone!

+ A new study shows that protecting northern forests can slow the rate of warming near the ground by 20 percent

+ Making daylight savings time permanent could dramatically reduce the number of car/deer collisions, saving the lives of 37,000 deer across the US…

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+ Not the Onion…

+ Like the oil companies, Ticketmaster-Live Nation–the extortionate monopoly Pearl Jam tried to bust– reported record quarterly earnings of $6.2 billion. Not because of more ticket sales. The profits were generated by an all-time high in combined ticket prices and fee charges. Ticketmaster fees now cost as much as 78% the price of a ticket.

+ Sam Levenson: “The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.”

+ A Halloween week message from the ghost of Jacques Derrida: “To haunt does not mean to be present, and it is necessary to introduce haunting into the very construction of a concept. Of every concept, beginning with the concepts of being and time. That is what we would be calling here a hauntology.”

+ Art critic Peter Schjeldahl, who died this week at 80: “Irony is a breathing apparatus for us middle-class-niks, because we are subject to conflicts on every level.”

+ Dennis Hopper on his 8-day marriage in 1971 to Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas: “Seven of those days were pretty good. The eighth day was the bad one.”

+ Drummer Bill Bruford on the differences between the British and American members of the progressive rock band, King Crimson: “Robert and I would discuss pretty much everything…including the philosophy of life as we know it. The two Americans would go and play pool or have a burger, or whatever it is that Americans do, and they, having not said anything… played the shit out of the music anyway. So despite this vast weight of verbiage that the Brits would go through…it was a wonderful combination of balance of the American ability of can-do and some good strategic thinking from the more analytical Brits.”

+ Touch guitarist Trey Gunn described the experience this way:  “Being in King Crimson’s a bit like having a low-grade infection; you’re not really sick but you don’t feel well either.”

+ Scott Bradfield on the Queen of British crime fiction: “In a [Agatha] Christie novel, violent murder might happen at any moment—and yet the meals and tea still arrive on time, the beds are duly turned down, and the gardens properly managed.”

+ In 1973, Allen Ginsberg and Kurt Vonnegut were both inducted into the National Institute of Arts and Letters. During his speech, Vonnegut turned to Ginsberg and said of the most famous poem of the Beat movement:

I like “Howl” a lot. Who wouldn’t? It just doesn’t have much to do with me or what happened to my friends. For one thing, I believe that the best minds of my generation were probably musicians and physicists and mathematicians and biologists and archaeologists and chess masters and so on, and Ginsberg’s closest friends, if I’m not mistaken, were undergraduates in the English department of Columbia University. No offense intended, but it would never occur to me to look for the best minds in any generation in an undergraduate English department anywhere. I would certainly try the physics department or the music department first — and after that biochemistry. Everybody knows that the dumbest people in any American university are in the education department, and English after that.

+ Van Halen’s cover of “We Don’t Get Fooled Again” is pretty great and, of course, an eternal verity, politically speaking…(As a longtime synthophobe, I love Eddie playing all the annoying synth parts.)

The Morals They’ve Worshipped Will Be Gone…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Monumental Lies: Culture Wars and the Truth About the Past
Robert Bevan
(Verso)

The Hidden Universe: Adventures in Biodiversity
Alexandre Antonelli
(University of Chicago)

Poison Ivy: How Elite Colleges Divide Us
Evan Mandery
(The New Press)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam
The Comet is Coming!
(Impulse!)

De Todas Las Flores
Natalia LaFourcada
(Sony)

Mondays at the Enfield Tennis Academy
Jeff Parker
(Eremite)

Are You Happy?

“Progress is not one of those floating comparatives, so beloved of our friends in advertising. We need a context, a perspective. What are we better than? Who are we better than? Examine this statement: Most people are better off. Financially? Socially? Educationally? Medically? Spiritually? I dare not ask if you are happy. Are you happy?” (Jeanette Winterson, Art and Lies)

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