“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”
– Doris Lessing
+ In this upside-down world, the Pentagon is pushing diplomacy and the State Dept war. Here we have General Mark Milley throwing some ice-cold water on the wide-spread notion that Ukraine is close to winning the war and suggesting once again that this is a fruitful moment for a negotiated settlement.
A Ukrainian military victory—defined as kicking the Russians out of all of Ukraine to include what they define, well, what they claim, is Crimea—the probability of that happening anytime soon is not high.
They do currently occupy about 20% of…Ukraine. So they occupy a piece of ground that’s about 900 kilometers long and, I don’t know, probably about 75 or 80 kilometers deep. So it’s not a small piece of ground. And they invaded this country with upwards of 170, 180,000 troops. They had multiple field armies, combined-arms armies, and they have suffered a tremendous amount of casualties. But [Putin] has also done this mobilization to call up additional people. So the Russians have reinforced. They…still have significant Russian combat power inside Ukraine.
You want to negotiate from a position of strength. Russia right now is on its back. The Russian military is suffering tremendously.
+ General Milley seems to understand what joystick bombardiers like Victoria Nuland and Tony Blinken don’t: that the only predictable event in war is that something unpredictable will happen to dramatically change its course, usually for the worse. We’ve seen several of these unanticipated turning points already in Ukraine: the thwarted run on Kyiv, the butchery at Bucca, the annexation of the four oblasts, the sabotage of the Crimean bridge and Nordstream pipelines, Putin’s nuclear threats, Zelensky’s belligerence, the resistance to Putin’s draft orders, the retreats from Kharkiv and Kherson, the attacks on Ukrainian civilian power plants, which have left upwards of 10 million people without electricity as winter sets in. This week we narrowly avoided another, when a grain facility in eastern Poland was struck by an errant Ukrainian missile, killing two people and threatening to detonate a chain of events that would have dangerously escalated the war, putting NATO on a direct nuclear collision course with Russia.
+ After nine months of bloodshed, it should be clear by now that this is a war which both sides could lose but neither can win. But with each massacre, the grievances on both sides deepen, almost to the point of becoming intractable. The precipitating causes of the war have now been eclipsed by dozens of other atrocities that are fresh in the mind and vivid in the memory. The Minsk Accords seem like ancient history now.
+ In his account of the war between Sparta and Athens, Thucydides used the term “stasis” to describe civil war as a form of internecine strife that yields nothing but bloodshed and enmity between neighboring states–a war where all parties end up losing ground. In today’s Greece, stasis is the term used for bus stops. It’s time to hop on board the one bound for Geneva or wherever they’ve put the old peace talks table, even if Biden has to hold Zelensky’s hand all the way there.
+ In Thursday’s edition of CounterPunch, Sam Husseini asked the obvious verboten question about the false AP report on the airstrike in Poland: when sources lie to you, especially on a matter that might’ve sparked a catastrophic confrontation between NATO and Russia, why not reveal the liar’s name?
+ Does the AP have a nickname for the source of its fake info on the Polish missile strike? Curveball, of course, was already taken by Judy Miller. Spitball perhaps?
+ There are multiple wars going on in Ukraine. One is a conflict between Russia vs. Ukraine. The other is a more insidious war of weapons-makers, who have no political allegiance at all, pitting their rival technologies against each other us pitting their rival technologies against each other with Ukraine itself as a realtime proving ground. Consider that the errant Ukrainian missile that hit a Polish grain facility and nearly sparked WW III was a Soviet-designed and Russian manufactured S-300. Among the incoming Russian fire the “Ukrainian” missile might have been targeting were Mohajer 6 drones launched from Russia but made in Iran using components from the US and optics designed by an Israeli firm, Ophir Optronics. This war is a racket and as long as billions are being made, diplomatic efforts are unlikely to bring it to a rapid end.
+ What’s trending with readers of The Atlantic…
+ Sergei Rudakov (Siege Notes): “At the time, verse was precisely a listing of facts. There was no certainty at all that the winter would end.”
+ Chris Mason, U.S. Army War College, quoted in the latest SIGAR report on Afghanistan: “U.S. efforts to build and sustain Afghanistan’s governing institutions were a total, epic, predestined failure on par with the same efforts and outcome in the Vietnam war, and for the same reasons.”
+ Ted Cruz called for Merrick Garland’s impeachment after learning that the Justice Department had opening a probe into the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh by the IDF: “Biden and his administration view Israel and Netanyahu as political enemies, so they’re responding the way they respond to all their political enemies: by unleashing the FBI.”
+ $28.5 million: the amount AIPAC spent in the midterms to punish Democratic candidates who criticized Israel.
+ The Biden administration has given Mohammad Bin Salman immunity from lawsuits over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Only enemies of the state end up at The Hague. Our butchers get a license to kill and a Manhattan penthouse and a yacht after they’re finally run out of their own countries….
+ David Price’s important new book, The American Surveillance State: How the US Spies on Dissent, is just out from Pluto Press. Here’s what I wrote about it when asked for a blurb: “Few writers have done more than David Price to drag the secret history of America out of the shadows and into the clarifying light of public scrutiny. In a nation obsessed with secrets, the biggest and darkest secret of all is the one Price exposes here: the deviously surreptitious – and often illegal – lengths our own government has gone to surveil and disrupt the daily lives of its own citizens.”
+ An 18-month Senate investigation found that migrant women detained at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia endured excessive, unnecessary gynecological procedures, often without consent. According to the report, immigrants at the Irwin County center were subjected to unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds, contraceptive injections, and dilation and curettage procedures (ie., D&C abortions.) The doctor at the center of the Irwin County allegations accounted for 6.5% of OB-GYN visits among ICE detainees nationwide during a three-year period, but performed more than 90% of the contraceptive injections and more than 82% of the dilation and curettage procedures, which remove uterine lining.
+ ICE learned about the systematic medical abuse of migrant women detained at the Irwin County Detention Center as far back as 2018. Yet they refused to take any action. Instead, they began to cover evidence of the abuses and in the fall of 2020 began deporting survivors and witnesses. The Senate investigation confirmed earlier reporting by Project South.
+ A Trump-appointed federal judge named Patrick Wyrick ruled that a federal law barring individuals from acquiring a firearm while under federal indictment violates the Second Amendment. His “originalist” ruling argues that 10 historical laws aren’t enough contest and that even a tradition dating back to 1835 is too late to get at the original meaning of the 2nd Amendment.
+ Texas has now spent “a little over $26 million” to bus around 13,000 migrants to cities run by Democratic mayors in other states. That includes security, food, water, blankets. This works out to around $2166 per migrant to bus them to DC, NYC, or Chicago. At that price, Texas could have bought each person multiple first-class plane tickets.
+ Texas State Motto: “The Land of Gun Care and Health Control.”
+ There were two dreadful executions this week. The State of Arizona put to death 76-year-old Murray Hooper even though his case was riddled with allegations of official misconduct, starting with the fact that the investigation was largely overseen by Chicago police associated with Jon Burge, the CPD commander who was notorious for torturing confessions out of suspects. In the 40 years since he was sentenced to death for his alleged role in a contract killing, Hooper never wavered in proclaiming his innocence, even when to do so may have spared him from being executed. The case against him relied almost exclusively on witness testimony, notoriously unreliable, especially when the defendants are black men. In Hooper’s case, the cops seem to have rigged the identification, with a Chicago detective patting Hooper on the shoulder during the lineup. No physical evidence connected Hooper to the crime and his appellate lawyers were able to show that exculpatory evidence was withheld during his trial. None of this swayed the governor of Arizona or the clemency board. Reporter Liliana Segura broke the news of Hooper’s execution, writing: “Murray Hooper has been executed. They cut into his femoral artery to carry out the lethal injection. Thinking of him, the witnesses & prison staff who joked with him on the day I visited. Hooper said they didn’t want him to be killed even if they couldn’t say it. I believe him.”
+ Lucy Steigerwald: “The death penalty is the easiest problem to fix. New methods of justice might take time, rethinking punishment is daunting, but you could so easily just not kill people. Just stop legally scheduling a murder and carrying it out. Easy.”
+ Trump doubling down this week on his death to drug dealers campaign plank…
TRUMP CALLS FOR EXECUTION OF DRUG DEALERS: "We're going to be asking everyone who sells drugs — gets caught selling drugs — to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts, because, it's the only way. […] I don't even know if the American public is ready for it…" pic.twitter.com/Ze9W41we6C
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) November 16, 2022
+ Sackler Family take note…
+ Is Rodrigo Duterte the front-runner to head the DEA in the next Trump administration?
+ Greg Grandin: “Fox is treating Trump like MSNBC treats Bernie.”
+ Jeff Tiedrich: “Republicans should be forced to carry Donald Trump to term, even it if endangers the life of the party.”
+ Fantastic news, people. All it took was an election to defeat the Great Crime Wave (at least on FoxNews)!
+ Federal judge Emmett Sullivan finally struck down the obscene use of Title 42 to deny asylum seekers entry into the US on the specious grounds of protecting public health, but stayed the order “with great reluctance” for five weeks after an emergency appeal from the Biden administration. Since March 2020, Title 42 expelled migrants 2,426,297 times from the US-Mexico border with no chance to ask for asylum, while doing little if anything to deter desperate people from migrating north in historic numbers. This is all on you now, Biden. No more blaming Trump and Stephen Miller.
+ Who does the Chemical Castration shopping in the Miller household, Stephen or Katie?
+ A study by the Prison Policy Institute finds that more and more prisons and county jails are replacing physical mail to prisoners and detainees with scans. In the last 5 years, prisons in 13 states have adopted mail scanning. Yet, there’s little or no evidence that this policy – does anything to make prisons safer. But it does benefit the private corporations that run jails and prisons, who offer mail scanning as part of a “bundled package” of services, including such as phone calls, tablet computers, and electronic messaging. Mail scanning forces incarcerated people to use these other, paid communications services provided by the companies with the facilities themselves often getting a kickback.
+ “Don’t make a wrong move. Period,” a cop shouted, as he pinned a struggling black second-grader in a North Carolina grade school to the ground, holding him there for 38 minutes. As the cop tightened the handcuffs on the student’s small wrists, the child screamed: “Ow, ow, ow, it really hurts!” The cop pressed his knee against the kid’s back and replied: “If you, my friend, are not acquainted with the juvenile justice system, you will be very shortly.” The kid was 7-years old. His crime? He allegedly spit at a teacher.
+ This week Tim DisPennett, a 17-year veteran of the Vermillion County (near Terre Haute, Indiana) Sheriff’s department was teaching a class of 8 to 10 high schoolers “how to be police officers.” As DisPennett was conducting “a drill” on how to deal with “a bad guy,” he “accidentally” fired his gun, shooting a student. The student was taken to the hospital with “non-life threatening” injuries. In a letter to parents, the high school principal described the shooting as “an isolated incident in one of our vocational classrooms.”
+ A new policy requires that before LAPD officers can make pretext stops, they are required to record themselves on video cameras stating their reasons for suspecting a more serious crime. Now police are less frequently using small infractions as a reason to stop Black people.
+ Audio from a strategy session between Tennessee lawmakers and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America reveals the anti-abortion group telling politicians to wait a year or two before trying to ban IVF and contraception…
+ A pregnant woman from DC went to Ohio for her brother’s wedding, where she began to miscarriage. She was refused treatment even though her fetus had no heartbeat and was saturating diapers with her blood. She later passed out in a bathtub and nearly died.
+ Here’s Pastor Dave Barnhart of Birmingham, Alabama, writing in 2018 about why the political right seized on “the unborn” as a political issue…
+ How Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer, Mark Werksman, described Jennifer Siebel Newsome, one of the woman Weinstein is charged with raping: Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). If Siebel Newsom wasn’t married to the governor, “she’d be just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.” In his aggressive cross-examination of Siebel Newsom, Werksman accused her of faking an orgasm to “get him to finish having sex with you.”
+ Calling it a “positively dystopian” effort to “impose its own orthodoxy of viewpoints” in violation of the First Amendment, federal judge Mark Waller struck down Ron DeSantis’ law gagging Florida university professions from expressing “woke” views in the classroom.
+ Even though inflation has largely stabilized, the Fed won’t be happy until they drive the country into recession: “The Federal Reserve may have to raise its benchmark interest rate much higher than it has previously projected to get inflation under control,” James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, proclaimed this week.
+ According to a piece in the Washington Post, Twitter data suggests most of the people buying Twitter Blue are promoting three things: right wing politics, cryptocurrency, and porn.
+ A Caterpillar employee in its Mapleton, Illinois foundry fell into a vat of molten metal and was “immediately incinerated“. The company was found not to have provided required fall protection, but walked away with only a $145,000 fine.
+ In a review of how Title IX offices on college campuses handled sexual assault complaints, a USA Today story found that “the offices struggled to reach victims and effectively address complaints. Schools steered cases toward outcomes that required minimal action and imposed light sanctions against perpetrators that undercut findings of fault. Universities suspended just 1 of every 12,400 students enrolled each year for sexual misconduct. They expelled 1-in-22,900.
+ Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin introduced a new proposed K-5 history curriculum, which completely removes all mention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but includes Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Stonewall Jackson, and, oddly, Gilbert Stuart!
+ Economist Sandrine Rousseau, a Green member of France’s National Assembly, declared that the French deserve a “right to idleness” and that being less productive is a much healthier goal. She cited a new study from the French Institute of Public Opinion backing her up, which shows only 24% said work was important to them, compared to 60% in 1990.
+ By passing Ballot Measure 111, Oregon became the first state to make health care a constitutional right, giving every Oregonian a right to “cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care.” I’ll try to keep you updated on how this works out in practice.
+ There’s no question Nancy Pelosi will go down as one of the most effective politicians in American history. Effective at what, though, is the question. Like LBJ, the power-dressing Pelosi was a ruthless disciplinarian. In large measure, she succeeded in almost totally squashing any progressive resistance within her own party to the neoliberal agenda she relentlessly advanced.
+ Another measure of Pelosi’s nearly unrivaled expertise at playing the political game on the Hill: Did any Speaker of the House do as well in the stock market as Nancy?
+ Although she’s relinquishing her role as leader, Pelosi says she’s going to stick around for two years to “guide” her replacement, Hakeem Jeffries. Jeffries already seems to have absorbed her primary lesson: “I’m a Black progressive Democrat concerned with addressing racial and social and economic injustice with the fierce urgency of now. … There will never be a moment where I bend the knee to hard-left democratic socialism.”
+ I was reminded by Richard Estes of an old quote from 1980s by the conservative columnist Robert Novak (who’d seem like a woke liberal by today’s standards) who quipped when he started reporting on the Hill in the 1950s, people came into Congress with one or two suits, but, within a year, they were millionaires.
+ The Tories have effectively gutted the NHS. As the Financial Times reports, the UK has spent 20% less per person on health care than similar European countries over the past decade. Health spending in the UK would have needed to rise by an average of £40 billion per year in the past decade to match per capita health spending across the 14 EU countries.
+ All together now!
Yes, Glasgow! ✊🏴 pic.twitter.com/hQ0TwddcHx
— Jamie Webster (@JamieWebster94) November 16, 2022
+ Does Accenture get a rebate on their “premium sponsorship” of this NYT “Event?” Or is it gone like the crypto?
+ Here’s that paragon of “effective altruism” (ie., only I am enlightened enough to know how to best spend money, therefore I’m justified in accumulating as much as possible, through whatever means I deem necessary) Sam Bankman-Fried on regulation of the financial industry: “Fuck regulators. They make everything worse. They don’t protect consumers at all.”
+ Of course, there is some justice in the world. Among the biggest losers in the crash of FTX are: Temasek ($320 million), Paradigm ($315 million), SoftBank ($100 million), Sequoia Capital ($350 million), Tom Brady ($45 million) and Anthony Scaramucci!
+ Celebrity promoters of crypto: Tom Brady, Steph Curry, Larry David, Mila Kunis, Jimmy Fallon and Matt Damon.
+ What are we gonna deregulate today, Bro?
+ Like the Master Thespian of the old SNL routine, the more serious Mike Pence attempts to sound the less believable he becomes.
+ Pence is on the circuit hawking his piously titled book, So Help Me God. But it’s clear there’s no help for him. He can’t even distance himself from the people who wanted to lynch him.
+ Tapper: I was surprised to see you campaigning for Bolduc and Masters, who were two people who lied about the election.. Why did you campaign for them?
Pence: I’ve often said I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican in that order. But I’m a Republican.
+ 700: the number of Egyptians who have been arrested in government attempts to prevent protests from breaking out during COP27 summit.
+ Limiting global coal emissions is the key challenge for reaching climate targets. If nothing is done, emissions from existing coal plants alone would push the world over the 1.5C limit.
+ More than 40 scientific studies have established that methane pollution from the U.S. oil and gas sector, leaking from wellheads to stovetops, power plants and LNG export terminals, is at least double the EPA’s official estimate.
+ The latest evidence that carbon capture is a corporate con: After six years of operation, the world’s biggest carbon pollution reduction project at Chevron’s Gorgon gas plant is working at just one-third capacity.
+ A new EU report warns “without adaptation measures, and under a scenario of 3°C global warming by 2100, 90,000 Europeans could die from extreme heat annually.” Of course, Covid has taught us that 90,000 deaths a year is an acceptable risks for those elites who are see themselves as being the least likely to die.
+ At the base of Antarctica’s ice sheet, an area the size of Germany and France combined is flushing meltwater into a hyper-pressurized, 290-mile-long river running to the sea.
+ A family of four in North America uses more energy than an extended family of 200 people across large regions of Africa.
+ Though it received almost no attention during the midterms, the Desert Southwest is facing a water crisis that will impact upwards of 40 million. The Colorado River is running dry. It’s reservoir levels dropping steadily to the point where the water level of Lake Powell may well sink below the 3,490 feet by next November, at which point Glen Canyon Dam could no longer generate hydropower, and, if it sinks a few feet more, have no safe way to release water downstream to the Grand Canyon, Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico. There’s no quick fix, as detailed in this report from the Denver Post.
+ After a fierce 20 year struggle, FERC, the federal power regulators, ordered PacifiCorp to surrender its license for the lower Klamath River dams, clearing the way for the largest dam removal project in US history. The vote was unanimous.
+ After relinquishing its salmon-killing dams, PacifiCorp seems ready to turn to Bill Gates’ new generation of nukes…
+ Your “vaccine microchips” were safer than this shit, Bill…
+ According to a piece in Heated, “only last year did Tesla begin making profits without the help of carbon credits.”
+ A new study in Nature re-confirms that environmental degradation and climate change are increasing the possibility of disease spill over, largely from bats, and the likelihood of future pandemics.
+ A Montana judge has issued a temporary restraining order for the state’s wolf “hunt. ” The order bans snare traps and decreases the number of wolves a hunter can kill from 20 to 5. Lower quotas were also reinstated around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.
+ As readers of CounterPunch are probably aware, Point Reyes National Seashore has basically been turned over to the ranching industry, at great ecological cost to the native plants and wildlife of the park. And now it seems like the managers of the park have adopted the demeanor of the Bundy Gang. It’s all laid out in a story by Patrick Byrne in The Bohemian. Since 2019, Point Reyes park administrators have stockpiled at least $54,000 worth of guns and ammunition. In 2019, they bought Sig Sauer and Luger pistols with silencers and some 30,000 rounds of ammunition. In 2022, park managers bough a “Less Lethal Launcher” capable of firing “less lethal” bullets and tear gas for $12,612 and shelled out $8,333 on “frangible” bullets, which fragment upon impact. According to annual reports by USASpending.gov, the recent purchases of weapons and ammo are more than 10 times amounts spent in previous years.
+ Colin Campbell, the geologist who coined the term “peak oil,” died this week. In 2000, Campbell co-founded the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO). He wrote dozens of articles and several books on petroleum geology and oil depletion. Campbell advocated global petroleum rationing plan he referred to as an “oil depletion protocol,” under which the world’s oil-producing nations would agree to reduce annual oil extraction rates by their rates of depletion, thereby conserving the resource for the future.
+ In yet another blow to human exceptionalism, cognitive test of corvids (crows, ravens and jays) show that birds are able to grasp a complex pattern-forming concept once thought to be unique to humans…
+ The Qatari government has spent at least $250 billion on development since it was awarded the World Cup tournament in 2010, more than the oil kingdom’s entire GDP. The expenditure is also more than the cost of every previous World Cup and Olympic Games combined. Much of the labor was performed by hundreds of thousands of Nepali migrant workers in scorching heat and grueling conditions.
+ What a remarkable life Robert Clary lived, before dying this week at 96. The French actor and singer is known to most Americans for playing the role of the diminutive Corporal LeBeau in Hogan’s Heroes, the 60s sitcom about a Nazi POW camp. “For 36 years I kept these experiences during the war locked up inside myself,” Clary said. “But those who are attempting to deny the Holocaust, my suffering and the suffering of millions of others have forced me to speak out.”
+ When Brian Eno pissed on a Duchamps (a work called “Fountain”)…
Hey, is it really true that you peed on a Duchamps?
Yes I did.
Really? No security guard saw you?
No. In fact there was a security guard standing within two meters of me when I did it but he had his back to me. The way I did it was rather complicated. I noticed that this vitrine that the urinal was in had two pieces of glass about five millimeters apart — there was a tiny gap. So I went to a plumber’s near the Museum of Modern Art and I found some fine plastic tube that I knew I could get through it. I used that and a pipette. I went to the toilet and peed in the sink — God, they’d hate to know this. I pipetted it up, covered the end so it held the golden liquid in there, and then stood by the vitrine and was feeding the pipe through. I mean, it was symbolic in a way because it was a tiny amount of pee.
You weren’t worried about damaging the priceless art?
No. I didn’t think my urine was that acidic.
+ As an example of how much of a role the mind plays in pain, a study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine reports that merely possessing a fake placebo pain cream is just as effective at pain relief as actually using the fake placebo pain cream, which was itself fairly effective. Perhaps. But keep your hands off my White Tahoe Cookies.
+ I learned this morning from Marcus Rediker of the scholar-activist-lawyer Staughton Lynd (1929-2022), who died on Thursday. Lynd spent his adult life fighting for civil rights, working-class justice and the rights of prisoners. It was a privilege to edit and publish some of his work over the years here on CounterPunch. As Tony Figs noted: “At the beginning of the modern-day civil rights movement, Staughton Lynd and Howard Zinn were the only two teachers on the Spellman College faculty (in Atlanta, Georgia) who spoke truth to power. They stood alone; then others followed in their footsteps.”
+ In its obituary for Nazareth frontman Dan McCafferty, the NYT asserts that “Mr. McCafferty was not the first to sing ‘Love Hurts, but his rendition — vocally scratchy but belted out behind reverberating guitar lines — became the definitive one.” I’d’ve thought Gram and Emmylou’s version was the definitive and Nazareth’s the parody. But what do I know?
+ From a letter to Robert Christgau: “It is with respect and admiration that I share my revelation with you. Everyone from our planet knows about the Dock Ellis on acid no-hitter. There are songs, books and probably t-shirts and buttons. But did you, or anyone, till me, notice that in the box score that day was the line: Ellis, D. pitcher (LSD!!!!)
— Bernie Kellman, San Francisco”
Some Fools Fool Themselves, I Guess, They’re Not Foolin’ Me
What I’m reading this week…
Data Cartels: The Companies That Control and Monopolize Our Information
The Huxleys: An Intimate History of Evolution
Different Speeds, Same Furies: Powell, Proust and Other Literary Forms
What I’m listening to this week…
Sun Ra Arkestra
Back in Your Life
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
The United States of the Broken Hearted
Jeb Loy Nichols
(On U Sounds)
“In the “free world” (Natopolis) the centres of ideological orthodoxy are rarely defined. The diversity of intellectual trends within the orthodoxy, the indeterminate and shifting character of its boundaries, the existence of real centres of dissent (and the license given to even Stalinist opposition)–all these conspire to create the central illusion of ‘Natopolitan’ culture, that there is in fact no orthodoxy but only an infinite variety of opinions among which one is free to choose.” (