Roaming Charges: The Specter of Equity and Other Evils

Homeless encampment under Broadway Bridge, Portland, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Having saved once again saved Christmas from the cultural Marxists, FoxNews’ Greg Gutfeld, another man who failed at comedy and took up political commentary, has now declared war on “equity,” calling it an “evil word…a word that causes communism…and leads to (class?) war.” It’s like the movie Candyman. Say “Equity” three times in the mirror and presto: You’ll be forever haunted by the specter of … Communism!

+ The flip side of “equity” is inequity. According to Oxfam’s annual report on inequality, the planet’s richest 1% grabbed nearly 2/3 of all new wealth since 2020–almost twice as much money as the rest of the world put together.

+ Consider the Kenya workers who sanitized the often profane violent and racist language blurted out by the widely-hailed AI program ChatGPT’ owned by OpenAI, a Bay Area company now valued at $29 billion. According to an investigation by TIME, the Kenyan workers were paid between $1.32 and $2 per hour “depending on seniority and performance.”

+ Big Bill Haywood: “I never got around to reading Marx’s Capital, but I have the marks of capital all over my body.”

+ $52,127,252: the net worth of Rep. Rick Allen, the Georgia Republican who called for cutting Social Security this week. Allen wants to raise the retirement age to 70 and cut SS benefits by as much as 23% across all categories. Allen said: People come up to me, they actually want to work longer.”

+ A million people took the streets in France to protest Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Meanwhile, crickets here over the end of pandemic relief, strike-busting, a minimum wage that hasn’t been raised in 13 years and looming cuts to social programs, including pensions, social security, and Medicare…

+ Why Macron is raising the retirement age?

+ It’s been a year of strikes (and strike-busting), but still US union membership rate fell to a historic low of 10.1% last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

+ If y0u want a measure of just how far rightward the US has gone, consider that in the years before WW I at least 175 Socialists had been elected to public office…in Oklahoma alone.

+ Get out your hankies: Goldman Sachs’ fell by two-thirds in the fourth quarter of 2022, while Morgan Stanley’s dropped by 40 percent.

+ Under the Biden administration prosecutions for white collar crimes have fallen to new lows. Last year, only 4,180 white-collar defendants were prosecuted. White-collar prosecutions last year were lower than in any year during the Trump administration. By contrast, there were 10,162 such prosecutions in 2011.

+ As detailed in an excellent report in the NYT by David Farenthold and Talmon Smith, most new restaurant employees are required to take a $15 food-safety class with most of the proceeds going to fund the National Restaurant Association’s campaign against minimum wage increases.

+ Barbara Ehrenreich: “The ‘working poor’ are in fact the major philanthropists. They live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. They are an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone.”

+ Streetsblog reports that the US spends almost ten times more subsidizing parking ($2300 per car per year, or about $2000 per person per year) than it does subsidizing HOUSING ($215 per person per year).

+ For the first time, there are now more non-farm jobs in Florida than in New York state…

+ According to a big story in the Financial Times, over a 20-year period Apple’s Tim Cook hitched the company’s fortunes to China by investing billions of dollars building its supply chains there: “Apple was not really ‘outsourcing’ production to China. Instead, Apple was starting to build up a supply and manufacturing operation of such complexity, depth and cost that the company’s fortunes have become tied to China in a way that cannot easily be unwound.”

+ The post-Brexit British economy is shrinking on all fronts, led by its once mighty financial sector.

+ How the Daily Mail is covering the health care worker crisis in the UK…

+ I’ve always thought of Keir Starmer, who said recently that given the choice of sitting next to Jeremy Corbyn or Piers Morgan he’d pick Morgan, as that most dangerous political commodity “a more competent version of Toryism.” But I’m not sure he is more competent…

+ “The effective corporate tax rate on large, profitable companies declined to 9% in 2018 in the aftermath of the 2017 tax law, down from 16% in 2014.

+ Former NYT editor Jill Abramson on the NYTs and Davos: “The coverage was a sweetener to flatter the CEOs by seeing their names in the NYT so that they could then speak at high-dollar NYT conferences–and, of course, get phony news stories from the conferences into the paper. It was–and is a corrupt circle jerk.”

+ Speaking of corrupt circle jerks, Björk wants her sweater back…

+ According to New York magazine, Twitter’s revenue is down by 40 percent from last year. Musk’s first big interest payment on the acquisition is due in a couple of weeks.


+ The Republicans’ bill which bans abortions after 15-weeks would force women to carry a pregnancy to term, even if it’s a medical certainty that the child will either die during birth or live a brief, pain-filled life. Doctors who terminate such a pregnancy would face up to 10 years in prison.

+ After the state of Illinois moved to codify the right to an abortion, someone tried to burn down a Planned Parenthood clinic in Peoria. Imagine the coverage if this was the summer cabin of one of the Supremes who voted to overturn Roe…

+ A six-month investigation into the leaking to Politico of Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in Dodds overturning Roe v. Wade has failed to identify the culprit. That’s because, as I argued at the time, the leaker is almost certainly Alito himself. According to the report, the investigation only looked at “court personnel” (law clerks and staffers) and not the nine justices themselves.

+ All is not well in the House of McCarthy, as some of the secret deals, including committee slots, he cut to gain the speakership come to light. After learning that he was going to be denied a promised slot on the Ways and Means committee, Vern Buchanan (R-FL) screamed: “You fucked me, I know it was you, you whipped against me.” Fucked and whipped? That won’t play well back in DeSantis’ Florida, Vern.

+ One of the first bills to emerge from the House is a plan to abolish the IRS, the income tax, the payroll tax and the estate tax and replace them with a…30 percent national sales tax.

+ Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed the nation’s strictest (so far) voter ID law, requiring voters to show valid driver’s licenses at the polls. But in a state with 8 million registered voters at least 1 million Ohioans have suspended licenses because of debts from things such as a lack of insurance, unpaid fines, and court costs. In other words, Ohio has just instituted a poll tax by other means.

+ In the 2022 elections, GOP turnout in Florida was at 104% of 2018 totals. While Democratic turnout was 80% of 2o18, resulting in an electorate that was +12 GOP. In ’18, the GOP edge was only +1.5. The Democrats largely sat this one out, especially Democratic women, Turnout among women, younger voters, and voters of color, all of which were at or below 2014 levels. Can you blame them for staying home? In the two lead races, the Democrats put forward a former police chief and a candidate who’d previously run as a Republican and an independent, losing each time.

+ The aliases of George Santos…(John Miller would be impressed.)

Anthony Santos
George Santos
Anthony Devolder
George Anthony Devolder
George Devolder
George A.D. Santos A
Anthony Zabrovsky
George Anthony Santos-Devolder
Anthony Devolver
Kitara Ravache (See below)

+ Perhaps the revelation that Santos performed as a drag queen in Brazilian pageants will prompt the Proud Boys to try shut down hearings of the Small Business Committee

+ Trump’s deposition in the E. Jean Carroll defamation suit is a case study in Freudian psycho-pathology…

Q. The point of saying “She’s not my type” is to persuade people that you didn’t rape her because she wasn’t attractive enough; correct?

A. When I say she’s not my type, I say she is not a woman I would ever be attracted to. There is just no reason for me to be attracted to her. I just…it’s not even meant to be an insult. There’s no way I would ever be attracted to her. Now, some people would be attracted to her perhaps. I would never be attracted to her. So in addition to the fact that it never happened, never could happen…so I say it’s politically incorrect to say essentially she’s not my type on top of everything else.

Later Trump is handed a photo of an NBC event in 1987, showing Trump, his then wife Ivana and journalist John Johnson. Lawyer Roberta Kaplan points at the figure of a blonde-haired woman near them. “Do you know who that is?”

Trump: “It’s Marla.”

Kaplan: “You’re saying Marla is in this photo?”

Trump: “That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife.”

Sensing disaster, Trump’s  lawyer Alina Habba interrupts, “No, that’s Carroll.”

Trump: “Oh, I see.”

Kaplan: “The person you just pointed to was E. Jean Carroll.”

Habba repeats to Trump, “That’s Carroll.”

Trump: “That’s Carroll?”


+ In one of the government surveillance programs in recent history, the state of Arizona worked with the Dept. of Homeland Security to create a nationwide surveillance program to track Americans’ personal money transfers. The scheme to collect records of millions of money transfers sent to or from Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico was first exposed last year by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. But a trove of new documents unearthed by the ACLU show Arizona has sent over 140 illegal subpoenas to money transfer companies compelling them to turn over their customers’ private financial data, which is then put into a huge database. As of 2021, this database contained over 145 MILLION records of transactions. More than, 700 law enforcement entities had access to this database, from small sheriff’s offices to the Los Angeles and New York police departments, to federal law enforcement agencies and military police units.

+ In Alabama last year, 106 people over the age of 60 were considered for parole. Just seven – or 6.6 percent – were granted parole. 21 people over the age of 70 have come up for parole. None were granted release. By law, the parole board is allowed only 6 minutes to consider and render a decision on each case.

+ An Arizona man was sent to jail on a drug charge for taking fentanyl to ease chronic pain so he could continue working and pay for the insulin needed by his 9-year-old Type 1 diabetic son. After he was incarcerated, his son was placed into state custody, where two weeks later the child died of ketoacidosis. Where’s the bigger crime?

+ US taxpayers spend more than $5 billion a year to buy firearms for law enforcement agencies, many purchased from dealers that have been cited for violations of federal gun laws.

+ There are three times as many AR-15s on the streets of the US than Ford-150 trucks, the top-selling vehicle in the country.

+ Two weeks after a 6-year-old shot his teacher, a Las Vegas gun trade show is hosting a manufacturer promoting its “JR-15,” a child-size AR-15 rifle.

+ Meanwhile, in Beech Grove, Indiana, a few miles from where I grew up…

+ Clearly, the only solution is to arm all pre-schoolers…

+ More than 70 inmates in Texas are on a hunger strike, protesting solitary confinement in the state’s prison system, which has locked more than 500 people in isolation cells for longer than a decade.

+ New York City taxpayers are on pace to pay $820 million in just overtime for NYPD this year, which is enough to house all 14,000 homeless families in NYC and pay several years of rent for 7,000 families out of work and facing eviction.

+ Our friend Arun Gupta has written a detailed piece exposing the cozy relationship between the Proud Boys and the Portland (Oregon) Police: “Since 2017, police have allowed the Pacific Northwest city to serve as a proving ground for fascists like the Proud Boys. They received legal impunity and even police support with few attempts to stop it. The far-right used political violence to network with white nationalists, militias, and other extremists, raise their image nationally, gain recruits, and build capacity.”

+ Cops in Louisiana coerced a woman into working as an informant after her drug arrest. Then failed to protect her, as she was raped twice while undercover. “She was an addict and we just used her as an informant like we’ve done a million times before,” said retired Lt. Mark Parker, who oversaw the operation. “We’ve always done it this way. Looking back, it’s easy to say, ‘What if?’”

+ As California moves to dismantle its death row, Louisiana is using to the former death row block at the infamous Angola prison to incarcerate juveniles. One of the imprisoned kids said: “It is very depressing to be here knowing this is the former death row. When the lights go out at night, I think I see shadows going past.”

+ The city of Pittsburgh passed an ordinance banning officers from stopping drivers for certain minor offenses. The Pittsburgh Police chief has decided to ignore the ordinance, claiming that the rules deflated “officer morale.

+ After learning that she’d repeatedly been denied jobs because background checks showed she had a criminal record (she didn’t), Julie Hudson, a black 31-year-old Ph. D. student, visited a Philadelphia police station to try and clear things up. She was promptly arrested and taken into custody after being mistaken for a suspect with the same name.

+ David Carrick, a Metropolitan police officer in London has admitted this week to at least 80 sex attacks, including 47 rapes, against a dozen women. England’s worst sex offenders has been working at the nation’s largest force for 20 years.

+ John Adams is often offered up as a counter to his rival Thomas Jefferson, a Bostonian with more enlightened views on slavery and human equality. But I don’t think you’ll find anything in the slave-owner’s writings as explicitly racist as this from Adams in 1765: “Our forefathers came over here for liberty. Providence never designed us for negroes, I know, for if it wou’d have given us black hides, and thick lips, and flat noses, and short woolly hair, which it han’t done, and therefore never intended us for slaves.”


+ The United States has 3,708 stockpiled nuclear weapons–1,770 deployed and 1,938 in reserve, plus another 1,536 awaiting dismantlement. (See: Nuclear Notebook published by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.)

+ The Kirtland Underground Munitions Storage Complex outside of Albuquerque, alone harbors around 2,400 nuclear weapons, many of which have been retired and are awaiting dismantlement at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas.

+ Total spending on the US nuclear arsenal is equal to half of all US debt.

+ By contrast, Russia’s nuclear stockpile consists of 5,977 nuclear weapons, of which 1,588 are actively deployed.

+ Gen. Kellogg is another graduate of the Curtis LeMay School of Defense Strategy…These psychopaths make the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction sound downright pacifist.

+ Jacques Lacan: “…this war has, I think, sufficiently demonstrated that it is not from too great an indocility of individuals that the dangers for the future of humanity will come.” (“British Psychiatry and the War”, 1947.)

+ So Harvard reversed itself and re-offered Ken Roth, ex-Human Rights Watch head, the fellowship it had rescinded because of protests from pro-Israel donors.

+ “Fathered” is one way to put this. But not a very good way…

+ 372: the number of family separations at the border under Biden.

+ Edward Said: “Rather than affirming the interdependence of various histories, the rhetorical separation of cultures assures a murderous imperial contest between them–the sorry tale is repeated again and again.”

+ The destruction of the Florida public school system continues…In January, the level of teacher vacancies in state’s school system rose to 5,300. And that was before DeSantis banned AP (Advanced Placement) African-American Studies courses in Florida, alleging they violated the state’s “Stop W.O.K.E.” Act.

+ By contrast, this week Camilo Santana, Brazil’s new Education Minister, raised the lowest wage legally permitted for public school teachers by 14.9%, nearly 4 times the minimum wage.

+ Speaking of wokeness, meet the History Department faculty at Liberty University…

+ If you want to see how the Espionage Act was used to stifle almost any kind of dissent against the First World War (or the mining industry) read Adam Hochschild’s book American Midnight. Of the first 500 cases brought under the new law only 12 alleged any kind of “espionage”. The book is a rogue’s gallery of some of the most despicable figures in US history, headlined by Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Ralph Van Deman (head of military intelligence), Mitchell Palmer and Henry Cabot Lodge. If Twain had managed to live another 10 years, he would have had rich sport with this crowd of bigots, torturers and censors. He did get his teeth into Teddy, who just got more rabid with age. Of course, they probably would have jailed him and banned his writings. It will be interesting to see how long Hochschild’s book survives on the shelves of public and school libraries south of the Ohio River.

+ One of the latest tactics of the new book-banners is to target individual librarians. In a recent case out of Louisville, Kentucky, a homophobic Bible-thumper filed a civil suit against Kristen, at Waggener High, for stocking the shelves with books like All Boys are Not Blue. The suit $2,300 in damages, claiming the books were “obscene,” “pornographic” and encouraged the “grooming” of minors for sexual exploitation. The case went to trial were it was swiftly dismissed. After denying the claim, the judge told Heckle: “I just want to say I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. I admire your courage. I wish you had been my librarian when I was a kid.” Of course, that’s how it played out in Louisville. Similar suits might well end differently in towns like Paducah or Hazard. We’ll find out soon enough.

+ If the civil suits don’t pan out, the state of North Dakota is entertaining more punitive measures. A new bill introduced in the state legislature would prohibit books depicting sexual or gender identity and would punish librarians who refuse to remove banned titles with up to 30 days of imprisonment.

+ With Marjorie Taylor Greene on the Homeland Security Committee, I guess we’ll finally learn what kind of object the Jewish Space Lasers shot out the sky and fell on the Pentagon on 9/11.

+ A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that blacks and Hispanics are less likely to get “lifesaving” CPR from bystanders after suffering a cardiac arrest. According to the report, the likelihood of getting bystander CPR at home was 26% lower for Black and Hispanic people than for Whites, and the likelihood of bystander CPR for cardiac arrests in public was 37% lower for Blacks and Hispanics than for Whites.

+ A meta analysis with 60 million participants published in the Frontiers of Cardiovascular Medicine shows that the rate of myocarditis is 7 times higher in COVID-19 cases versus vaccinated individuals.

+ The UK’s Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) issued their quarterly Mortality Monitor report this week covering Q4 2022 and the year as a whole. The death rates in Q4 were higher than recent years, even during the pandemic. There were more excess deaths in the second half of 2022 than in any year since 2010. The death rates for men under 65 and women under 45 were among the highest seen in the last decade.

+ According to a report from DataOne, only 1-in-5 people in the poorest countries have been fully vaccinated against COVID.


+ The Sierra Nevada Range after a month of snow…

+ Even after over 350 inches of snowfall in the Sierra, most of California remains in drought conditions.

+ Today’s “cool” La Niña years are now warmer than the “hot” El Niño years of 20 years ago.

+ Two months ago at the Cairo climate summit, the world’s major countries signed an agreement to provide aid for escalating climate damages in the developing world. To date, the new fund hasn’t received a single pledge.

+ The state of Louisiana alone is home to more than 4,000 abandoned oil and gas sites, nearly of them toxic, many of them leaking.

+ A nine-month investigation by the German weekly Die Zeit, the Guardian and SourceMaterial, a non-profit investigative journalism outfit, into Verra, the world’s leading provider of forest carbon offsets used by large corporations to greenwash their emissions, found that more than 90% of their rainforest offset credits are likely to be “phantom credits and do not represent carbon reductions.”

+ US climate czar John Kerry has endorsed Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., to the head the next round of UN climate talks in Dubai, a choice which Alice Harrison of Global Witness compared to “asking an arms dealer to lead peace talks.” Kerry called al-Jaber a “terrific choice.” Bring back the Swiftboaters!

+ During his recent Oxford address, billionaire Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and one of the largest individual donors in US politics, referred to Greta Thunberg as part of the “autistic children’s brigade.” Thunberg was hauled off by German police this week while protesting the open pit Garzweiler 2 coal mine.

+ Meanwhile, it’s estimated that the Whitehaven colliery, the big coalmine in New Cumbria, will release about 17,500 tonnes of methane every year, shattering UK’s climate pledge.

+ The International Energy Agency predicts that, as China loosens it Covid restrictions, oil demand will hit an all-time high of 107 million barrels a day in 2023

+ The eastern front of Montana is clotted with large-scale confined chicken rearing operations, hot-houses for avian flu. Chicken encounters are now the leading cause of grizzly deaths and that’s before bears began getting infected with avian flu

+ Wolf 1229 has been killed by a trapper in Montana. She was the fifth of 6 wolves allowed by the state of Montana to be killed on the border of Yellowstone Park this winter. 1229 was a member of the Junction Butte Pack. She broke no laws. Was a threat to no one. Did nothing wrong, except wander across an invisible line on her home landscape. Trapped to death in the prime of her breeding life, her living legacy to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem senselessly wiped out. Statewide, more than 200 wolves have been killed in Montana this hunting season.

Wolf 1229, as a yearling.

+ Has meat peaked?

+ According to disgraced former Interior Secretary and current Montana congressman Ryan Zinke the Deep State is out to get the American cowboy…and him.

+ According to the UN, nearly 2 billion of the world’s 80 billion  animals raised for food every year, most of them chickens, are exported alive to different countries, many of them in cargo ships confined in brutal conditions.

+ A new report predicts that the world’s 50,000 dams are at risk of losing 28% of their storage capacity by 2050…and that’s from sedimentation alone.


+ Let’s recap the opening Act of Macbeth, shall we? Macbeth and Banquo are on the heath, after vanquishing the Thane of Cawdor’s rebel army, when they encounter three strange figures, unsure who or what they are. Banquo enquires:

What are these,
so withered and wild in their attire,
That look not like inhabitants of the earth,
And yet are on’t? Live you? Or are you aught
That man may question? You seem to understand me,
By each at once her chappy finger laying upon her
skinny lips; you should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so…”

Macbeth (more to the point, as usual): Speak, if you can, what are you?

It’s worth noting that Shakespeare wrote the roles of the Weird Sisters knowing they would be played by men, perhaps even by himself….

+ The great Charles Simic, who died last week: “A poem is a secret shared by people who have never met each other.” (In the creative writing classes I took–probably the worst place to learn how to write–I felt they were “inflicted” rather than “shared.” But I kind of know what he means, especially the “secret” part, given the limited reach poetry has today.)

+ Release the files!

+ Last week basement flood destroyed much of the backlist of Third World Press, including work by Gwendolyn Brooks and Sonia Sanchez. They’ve set up an Go Fund Me Page to help repair the damage.

+ Here’s part of a letter from the dissolute Kingsley Amis, father of Martin (the corrupt tree doesn’t grow far from the fallen rotten apple) to the surly poet Philip Larkin, in which Amis describes how he had read most of Ulysses, the novel written by “the Irish fellow who died not so long ago.” Amis professed “it isn’t worth going to all that trouble and expense in order to be funny once in a dozen pages.” In the same letter he disses Flann (“At Birds!”) O’Brien! You get the feeling Amis didn’t much like “Irish fellows.” Well, who’s laughing now, Kingsley?

+ Dylan on David Crosby: “Crosby was a colorful and unpredictable character, wore a Mandrake the Magician cape, didn’t get along with too many people and had a beautiful voice — an architect of harmony. He could freak out a whole city block all by himself. I liked him a lot.”

+ You told Crosby he didn’t know the proper way to roll a joint at your own risk…

I Won’t Toe Your Line Today, I Can’t See it Anyway

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Last Heroes: Foot Soldiers of India’s Freedom
P. Sainath

Himalaya: Exploring the Roof of the World
John Keay

Secret Power: Wikileaks and Its Enemies
Stefania Maurizi

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Margo Price
(Loma Vista)

Alive at the Village Vanguard
Fred Hirsch & Esperanza Spalding

Every Loser
Iggy Pop

Poor Human Nature

“Poor human nature, what horrible crimes have been committed in thy name! Every fool, from king to policeman, from the flatheaded parson to the visionless dabbler in science, presumes to speak authoritatively of human nature. The greater the mental charlatan, the more definite his insistence on the wickedness and weaknesses of human nature. Yet, how can any one speak of it today, with every soul in a prison, with every heart fettered, wounded, and maimed? John Burroughs has stated that experimental study of animals in captivity is absolutely useless. Their character, their habits, their appetites undergo a complete transformation when torn from their soil in field and forest. With human nature caged in a narrow space, whipped daily into submission, how can we speak of its potentialities?” (Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays)

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3