In this country the inability to say yes to life is part of our dilemma, which could become a tragic one. It is part of the dilemma of being what is known as an American.
– James Baldwin, “The White Problem”
Shortly after 6 PM on the evening of February 7, Leonard “Raheem” Taylor was executed by the state of Missouri for a crime he almost certainly didn’t commit: the 2004 murder of Angela Rowe and her three children in suburban St. Louis. Rowe had been Taylor’s girlfriend. She and her children shot and killed in the house she shared with Taylor. In the 19 years since the murders, Taylor never wavered in asserting his innocence and much of the evidence in the case backed him up and always has.
When the bodies were discovered on December 3, 2004, Taylor was 2,000 miles away in Oakland, visiting his daughter Deja. He’d been in California for more than a week and there was plenty of evidence to prove it, starting with security footage at the St. Louis airport showing Taylor on his way to catch his November 26th flight to Ontario, California on Southwest Airlines. Taylor’s daughter and her mother, Mia Perry, both said that Taylor called Angela Rowe from Oakland and put Deja on the phone to talk with Rowe’s children.
But none of this mattered to the cops, who had settled on Taylor as their only suspect. To the police, Taylor’s alibi was manufactured. They viewed it as evidence of his guilt, not innocence. A legal Catch-22: if he were really innocent, why would he need an alibi? The problem for the cops was they had no gun, no evidence and no motive. That’s when they went to work on Taylor’s brother, Perry.
Perry Taylor was a truck driver, who used Rowe and Taylor’s house as a kind of staging area for his life on the road. He stored his things there and sometimes slept in his truck in the driveway. He was in Atlanta when the bodies were discovered. Over the next couple of weeks, Perry was followed, harassed, threatened, and arrested by the Missouri cops. He was interrogated for five hours, during which Perry later said he was coerced into giving a statement implicating his brother, a statement he fully recanted before the trial.
According to Perry, “Some detective right off the bat told me, ‘OK, before we get to the station, here’s what you’re going to say.” As part of the coercion, Perry claimed the cops made threats against his disabled mother and ransacked her apartment. “That’s the kind of shit that makes you hate law enforcement,” Perry later said in a deposition.
The other key witness for the state was Philip Burch, the medical examiner. In his initial report and pre-trail deposition, Burch concluded that the murders took place no more than a week before the bodies were found. This assessment was fatal to the state’s case, because Taylor could prove he was in California during that entire week. Then at trial, Burch suddenly changed his theory to fit the state’s case, testifying that because the air conditioner was left on Rowe and her children could have been killed three weeks before the bodies were discovered.
Still the case strained credulity. For this theory to hold, the prosecutors had to argue that Taylor was so depraved that he stayed in the house with the bodies of his murdered girlfriend and three kids for several days. But that’s exactly what they argued and Taylor’s legal team, ambushed by the dramatically changed testimony of the medical examiner, put up a weak defense. Taylor was found guilty and sentenced to death. (For an in-depth account of this disturbing case see the reporting of Liliana Segura and Jordan Smith for The Intercept.)
In the ensuing years, more evidence supporting Taylor’s alibi and discrediting the police investigation has emerged. But none of his claims of innocence have ever been put to a legal test. Taylor’s supporters had pinned their hopes on the reform-minded Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County Wesley Bell, But Bell declined to invoke a Missouri law permitting prosecutors to reopen possible wrongful convictions, perhaps because of the brutality of the murders and Taylor’s criminal record. But should that really matter?
As Taylor’s execution date neared, Missouri’s Governor Mike Pearson, who has campaigned on accelerating the pace of executions in the state, turned down a request from Taylor’s lawyers for a Board of Inquiry investigation of the evidence of Taylor’s innocence. Pearson curtly dismissed the plea as “self-serving.” After the governor also denied Taylor’s clemency request, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected last appeal and the US Supreme Court refused to issue a stay of execution. In a final indignity, Missouri’s new Attorney General, Andrew Bailey, spurned Taylor’s entreaty to have his spiritual advisor present during the execution.
What is the rush to execute? Where’s the risk in hearing every bit of exculpatory evidence? What are we killing in the name of? Why must the cruelty be torqued up to the very last breath?
+ World map of per capita prison populations…
+ The US is home to less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but holds 20 percent of the planet’s prisoners.
+ Even though we keep putting people to death, more and more prisoners are serving life sentences, a kind of death penalty on the installment plan. These merciless sentences now account for one-in-seven incarcerated people in the US. Our prison system is becoming more punitive not less.
+ In Massachusetts, anyone 18-years-old and above is automatically given a life sentence after being convicted of first degree murder. The state’s supreme court is now considering two cases on whether it is constitutional for people between the ages of 18 and 20 — sometimes referred to as “emerging adults” — to receive mandatory sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
+ An new study by the Sentencing Project calculates that at the current rate of decarceration, it would take 75 years—until 2098—to return to 1972’s pre-mass incarceration prison population.
+ There’s a new move in California to reverse this awful trend in life sentences. California Senate Bill 94. SB 94 will provide judicial review for individuals serving life without parole or sentenced to death for offenses committed before June 5, 1990 and who have served at least 20 years of their sentences.
+ After the raid on Cop City in Atlanta, where police shot protester Manuel Terán 13 times, law enforcement officials justified the shooting by claiming that Terán had fired first, wounding a Georgia State Trooper. But newly released body cam footage suggests that the trooper was likely struck by friendly fire, instead. “You fucked your own officer up,” an Atlanta Police Department officer is heard saying. He later approaches two other officers and asks, “They shoot their own man?”
Moments after police opened fire on Tortugita, killing them, and Atlanta Police officer can be heard saying, "Man…you fucked your own officer up?" in reference to the trooper that was also shot. pic.twitter.com/qw8G0G34b0
— Atlanta Community Press Collective (@atlanta_press) February 9, 2023
+ Through the first week of February, police in the US had killed at least 133 people –a 20% increase over the same period last year.
+ Newly released documents show, the cop who pulled Tyre Nichols from his car before police fatally beat him never explained why Nichols was being stopped. This was apparently a common tactic of the Scorpion Unit.
+ Memphis police officer Demetrius Haley took a photo of Tyre Nichols after the beating and sent it to at least five people.
+ During the campaign, Biden promised he’d develop a “police misconduct database.” Two years after taking office there’s still no sign of it.
+ A Boston cop named David Williams was fired twice for misconduct. Twice he filed for arbitration and got his job back. It turns out that 33% of fired police officers in the city eventually get reinstated.
+ The New York Civilian Complaint Review Board found police used pepper spray and batons on peaceful protesters in 140 instances. It also documented case of officers refusing to identify themselves, concealing their badges, and making false or misleading statements. The review board suggested 89 officers should be fired.
+ For the first time, a detention officer has been hit with criminal charges in the death of an inmate at the notorious Harris County, Texas Jail.
+ Last year Gus Vallas, the son of Paul Vallas, now leading in the polls to become Chicago’s next mayor, was one of three police officers who chased and fatally shot Kevin Johnson, a 28-year-old black man in San Antonio.
+ The Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, is pushing a bill that calls for people accused of certain violent crimes to remain jailed without bond until their trial. A legislative analysis estimates it could cost the cash-strapped state up to $15.3 million a year.
+ The majority of people in state prisons were first arrest before the age of 18, according to an analysis by the Prison Policy Institute.
+ There are still more than 4.6 million people prohibited from voting because of state laws denying the franchise to those with felony convictions.
+ Federal subsidies to police have reached a 10-year high of $4.5 billion, $900 million more than the peak funding under Trump.
+ The parallels between Flint and Jackson are stunning: This week a white supermajority of the Mississippi House voted to create a separate court system and expanded police force within the city of Jackson — America’s blackest city — that would be appointed completely by white state officials.
+ Charles B. Dew: I was born and raised in St Pete (FL) and I grew up a racist. I have written about this process in a book titled “The Making of a Racist,” and one reason for my persistent juvenile bigotry was the fact that my racist ideas were never challenged, not once as I went through North Ward Elementary School and Mirror Lake Junior High in the 1940s and ‘50s.”
+ The Columbus, Ohio police department designed a Black History Month patrol car and put an MLK quote on it, “Be the peace you wish to see in the world.” The problem is: there’s no record of King ever saying this.
+ I was deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Jen Angel, the social justice activist and owner of Angel Cakes bakery in Oakland. On Monday, Jen was the victim of a car-jacking. As she struggled for her purse, she was knocked to the ground and apparently dragged for 50 feet behind the getaway car, suffering a severe head injury. She was declared dead on Thursday. Jen was a well-known and beloved figure in the Bay Area for years, especially in the anarchist community. But I knew her mainly as a writer and publisher of the fiesty leftwing zine Clamor. Jen wrote for In These Times, where I was a contributing editor. We spoke on panels together and at protests over the years. She helped organize the Anarchist Book Fair. She was a fiercely humane and loving person, so deeply committed to the decarceration of American society that her “family is committed to pursuing all available alternatives to traditional prosecution, such as restorative justice.” Her enormous gift to the community, the Angel Cakes bakery, plans to remain open, but they need your patronage to do so. Jen’s friends have set up a Go Fund Me page to help support her partner Ocean, Jen’s mother’s travel expenses and the bakery itself. Please consider making a donation.
+ I read with intense interest Seymour Hersh’s account of the bombing of the Nordstream pipelines. Hersh certainly presents a plausible scenario for how the sabotage could have been executed. The reaction has, of course, been polarized, largely because the piece, published on Substack without, one presumes, any irritating queries from fact-checkers, rests entirely on the word of one unidentified source (referred to somewhat coyly throughout as “the Source”), who seems to command an almost omniscient knowledge of an operation involving many parts and players, including another country: Norway.
Hersh has built a dazzling career based on the use of anonymous sources, with major exposés over the decades in the New York Times, New Yorker and London Review of Books. In most of those cases, the anonymous source was backed up by tangible evidence of some sort. That’s not the case here. There’s no documentary or evidentiary trail. Indeed, some of the public data that is available seems to undermine (so to speak) Hersh’s account in at least one respect: there don’t appear to have been any Norwegian Alta-class ships in the area during the Baltops operation (June 5 to June 17, 2022).
Long-time Moscow correspondent John Helmer (who is convinced it was a NATO operation, involving the UK, Germany and the US) points out another curious, and perhaps revealing, blunder in Hersh’s piece. Hersh refers to meetings on the plot taking place in the Old Executive Office building at the “President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB).” As Helmer notes: “This reported acronym comes from the Carter Administration’s revival of the organization in 1978 and before the Clinton Administration merged and reorganized it in 1993. Nowadays — when Hersh’s source claims they were meeting – the acronym is PIAB.”
The piece plays to your prejudices and it has spawned a real guessing game as to who Hersh’s source is, what kind of axe he’s grinding, and against whom. If you’re curious, the current PIAB is chaired by retired Navy Admiral Sandy Winnfeld. At the time of the Nordstream caper its members included venture capitalist Gilman Louie, former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, former US Ambassador to India Richard Verma, and former Indiana Governor and US Senator Evan Bayh.
Is the US capable of such a plot? Yes. Has it done such things in the past? Yes. Did it have an incentive to act here? Maybe, though the risks of exposure were high and the consequences potentially catastrophic.
So, you can understand the skepticism. Imagine if Hersh had written a similar piece based on information from an unidentified intelligence source alleging that the bombing of Nordstream was a false flag attack conducted by the Russians to blame the Ukrainians and keep the European nations, especially Germany out of the war. The reaction would have flipped.
For years, Hersh has been sitting on a demolition of Dick Cheney. He has said that it can’t be published as long as his inside source is still alive. The question in Washington has long been: who’ll die first, Cheney, Hersh or the Source? Woodward and Bernstein just gave their source the name of a porn film and went with it.
Still Hersh’s recent track record isn’t unblemished. (Cf., the LRB piece on Bin Laden, the strange interview with Errol Morris in the documentary Wormwood on the CIA’s role in the death of Frank Olson (Hersh claimed to know how and why Olson died but couldn’t reveal it because he’d blow his source) and his unfortunate Seth Rich “theorizing,” (Hersh claimed to have an FBI source who saw a–nonexistent–report confirming Rich had been in touch with Wikileaks, which helped boost one of the more depraved conspiracies of the Russiagate era. He later claimed it was just DC gossip. See: Andy Kroll’s recent book A Death on W Street.)
I was struck by Hersh’s paragraph about NATO supremo Jen Stoltenberg having been a trusted CIA source “who had cooperated with the American intelligence community since the Vietnam War. He has been trusted completely since.”
Impressive. Stoltenberg and I are the same age, both of us born in 1959. When Saigon fell, I’d just gotten my driver’s license and was following Led Zeppelin around the Midwest, while trying to fake my way through Algebra II as a junior in high school. Stoltenberg must’ve been a real prodigy at the espionage game.
+ I’ve always admired Sy Hersh, but I can’t help but contrast his style of reporting, largely based on anonymous inside sources, with that of my old friend and fellow Hoosier Gary Webb. Webb’s Dark Alliance series was a meticulously researched and documented investigation, based on court records, government documents and on-the-record interviews. Gary didn’t use one anonymous source in his string of stories exposing the CIA’s role in amplifying the So Cal crack trade during the contra war. But that didn’t save him from being vilified by his peers, targeted by the National Security establishment, abandoned by his own paper and chased out of his career, leading to a deepening despondency that ultimately cost him his life. There are some stories that won’t be tolerated no matter how definitively the facts are presented.
+ My view of these kinds of complex conspiracies is that they’re very hard to keep under wraps, which may be why this one–assuming it happened–was leaked to Hersh. But they’re also very hard to pull off and the US’s track record isn’t all that inspiring. The Deep Staters tend to think of it as an all-powerful entity, a kind of institutional theory-of-everything, explaining the crushing of populist aspirations from the assassination of JFK to 9/11 to the confabulations of Russiagate. But I see a record of bungled operations and failures, perhaps none more glaring than the inability of a covert team to plant WMDs in Iraq even after the country came under US occupation.
+ With Russia’s re-invasion of Ukraine in the works, and renewed bluster from all sides about nuclear strikes, perhaps it’s useful to recall just what a nuclear blast feels like from those who witnessed one…
+ The M-1 Abrams tank’s fuel efficiency isn’t calculated in miles per gallon but gallons per mile (2-3).
+ It’s pretty hard to get outplayed by a stumbling old man, lost on the teleprompter who can’t hear exactly what you’re heckling at him, but the House Republicans managed to pull it off at the State of the Union…
+ Does Jon Meacham get a residual every time Biden says, “Soul of America”?
+ Biden: “I’m committed to work with China…where we can advance American interests.” Well, that’s generous.
+ Kevin McCarthy: “China is infiltrating our culture.” No matter how low Biden sinks, McCarthy will, as a matter of principle, sink lower.
+ This is the kind of blatant racist trolling from American politicians that was used to justify the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps–to the detriment of the war effort, the economy and whatever moral character the country had left at that point.
+ During WW II, US Army doctors were convinced that “races” exuded unique body odors. To test their bio-racialist theory, they pulled dozens of Japanese American soldiers, many of them fresh out of internment camps, and tried to train K-9 packs to attack them by smell, the idea being they would then let these scent-trained packs of killer dogs loose on Japanese positions in the Pacific. These “tests” were carried out for five months on Cat Island on the Gulf Coast off of Mississippi. In the end, many of the Japanese Americans were repeatedly bitten, but, like most race-theory, the whole project proved bogus. The dogs couldn’t tell the difference between a Japanese-American from Seattle from a Polish-American from Cleveland.
+ The great balloon caper may prove to be China’s most cost-effective operation ever…
China published the balloon fight … LMAO pic.twitter.com/nJjiproiJT
— Lord Bebo (@MyLordBebo) February 8, 2023
+ It’s come to this, apparently…
+ Meanwhile, it looks like the pro-Putin bloc has found its own Bolton in Scott Ritter…
+ Suddenly everyone wants to be a war strategist, a laptop general, what “Vinegar Joe” Stllwell called “a barstool commando,” even though there’s scarcely been a war strategy that’s worked according to plan since the Napoleonic campaigns. Tolstoy expends at least 100 pages of War & Peace excoriating the war strategists, even the strategies of Mikhail Kutusov, who “saved” Moscow by letting it burn. All the generals and their planning–he experienced it up close in Crimea–turned him into a pacifist. Where has the Tolstoyan empathy gone for the conscripted soldiers from Russia and Ukraine, thrown into the fields of slaughter in a war they have no say in? Where’s the view from the trenches, instead of the war rooms?
+ My feelings align pretty closely with those expressed by the great Irish revolutionary James Connolly: “A people, who, secure in their own homes, permit their rulers to carry devastation and death into the homes of another people, assuredly deserve little respect no matter how loudly they may boast of their liberty-loving spirit.”
+ If this had been an Imam, they’d’ve called in a drone strike….
A church congregation cheered as Lauren Boebert said she prays for Joe Biden's demise: "May his days be few and another take his office.”
Boebert then called Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s “great insurance policy.” pic.twitter.com/KzqT2RFdYb
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) February 6, 2023
+ Tucker Carlson is very worried about the racial make-up of Biden’s judges: “Out of 97 federal judges confirmed under Joe Biden, total number of white men.. five. Twenty-two are Black women.” Gotta wonder about those five, eh?
+ 2022 was the deadliest year at the US-Mexico border with 800 migrants dying during their journeys.
+ The latest data from ICE show that there are currently 24,170 immigrants in detention–66% of whom were arrested by CBP and 34% were arrested by ICE. 14,732 out of 24,170 (61.0%) held in ICE detention have no criminal record and most of those with a record, committed only minor offenses, such as traffic violations.
+Another 324,554 families and single individuals are being subjected to electronic monitoring by ICE’s Alternatives to Detention (ATD) programs.
+ Meanwhile, Ron DeSantis has asked the Florida legislature for a $12 million fund that would allow him to pick up migrants anywhere in the U.S. (not just Florida) and transport them as a political stunt anywhere else in the U.S.
+ Large numbers of Americans across the political spectrum are looking for “strong, rough,” leaders who will “crackdown.”
+ The Great Accuser Accused by an Accused Accuser…
+ Bayard Rustin in 1969: “I am opposed to any program in Black Studies that separates the contribution of black men from the study of American history and society. Racist textbooks and historians have played this game too long.”
+ Several Marines who were arrested for participating in the January 6 riots at the Capitol were later given “highly sensitive” positions with US military intelligence, including the NSA.
+ A new Iowa bill would roll back child labor laws, allowing 14 to 17-year-olds to work in mining, meatpacking, demolition, operating guillotine shears, and other dangerous jobs. Under the business-backed bill, employers wouldn’t be civilly liable if kids are injured or killed. The Iowa bill would also completely lift a ban on 14 and 15-year-olds working in freezers and meat coolers, and allow kids as young as 14 1/2 to drive themselves to work. How will we clean our chimneys, if we can’t send the lil’ ones down them?
+ These Dickensian notions are spreading. In Idaho, state Rep. Ron Mendive has proposed making poor students work for their school lunches, saying it’s a good way to “deal with waste” in the system.
+ Percentage of wealth owned by the top 1 percent…
United Kingdom: 21%
Source: World Inequality Database, 2021.
+ A recent UN Report finds that poverty and the prospects for better-paid work, rather than ideology, are what fuel the recruitment to jihadist and other violent groups in Africa.
+ New polling shows that Sinn Féin is now the most popular party in Ireland on both sides of the border and by a pretty wide-margin.
+ Even though Hispanics in the US have lower incomes, education-levels and less health insurance coverage, their health outcomes are roughly equal to or better than whites. According to a new study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, in 2019 the Hispanic population had a life expectancy advantage of 3.0 years over the non-Hispanic White population (and 7.1 years relative to the non-Hispanic Black population), despite having real household income 26% lower than non-Hispanic White households.”
+ Aides to Kamala Harris gave names of people who would speak well of her job performance to the New York Times. When the Times’ reporters called those people, they privately confided “that they had lost hope in her.”
+ If you were a Democrat, why would you want to drive George Santos out of Congress? He’s one of your best assets. You ought to spend your time trying to dislodge James Clyburn and Steny Hoyer from their encrusted perches. They’re the ones doing real damage.
+ As of mid-January, Twitter only had around 180,000 paid subscribers in the US, less than .2% of the platform’s monthly active users. With around 290k paying subscribers globally, this works out to about $28 million in annual revenue or around 1% of Twitter’s total.
+ Conservatives like Ben Shapiro and Elon Musk are really upset that ChatGPT AI has been programmed not to say the N-word and other racist slurs.
+ The LA Times ran a big piece on students aggrieved about politics intruding on their study of philosophy:“I just wanted to study Hegel, Marx, Heidegger, and Husserl without being exposed to politics.” Imagine!
+ A poll by the Telegraph shows the calamitous state of the Tory party. If a snap election were held today, Labour (even under its pathetic leadership) would land 509 seats and the Tories only 45, trailing the Scottish National Party. No surprise, really. All the old Tories in Starmer’s Labour now. Go SNP.
+ It will be interesting to see how these numbers change in the 21st century (if humanity lasts the entire century) with the rising resistance to all vaccines…
+ According to a new survey of US adults, people who report using any of the classic psychedelics at least once in their lives also reported smoking cigarettes less often and eating healthier diets.
+ People with “heightened narcissistic admiration” tend to have higher self-esteem , along with higher perceived status and inclusion, according to a new study published in the Journal of Theory and Research. Those who exhibit “heightened narcissistic rivalry,” however, are indirectly associated with negative self-esteem.
+ Speaking of narcissistic rivalry, Trump demanded that Twitter take down a Tweet by Chrissy Teigen referring to him as a “pussy ass bitch.”
+ According to a report by the Williams Institute at UCLA’s law school, nearly half of all LGBT workers in the U.S. are not out to their supervisors and more than a quarter are not out to any of their co-workers.
+ Finland just passed legislation abolishing the requirements for trans people to endure invasive medical and psychiatric procedures before they can have their gender recognized.
+ Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols.” Hmmm. I didn’t get those memos. I feel left out.
+ Speaking of rituals….They are the Knights who say, “Ni, for Jesus!”
Swordplay and speaking in tongues for Jesus… pic.twitter.com/JKUePijrn8
— Christian Nightmares (@ChristnNitemare) February 7, 2023
+ But I wouldn’t let them around your shrubbery.
+ Since February 3, more than 100 earthquakes have rocked the border region between Turkey and Syria, including the major 7.5 and 7.8-magnitude quakes on Monday that have killed more than 22,000 people.
+ Extreme weather forced more than 3 million adults in the US to evacuate their homes in 2022, at least 480,000 of them were unable to return. In Louisiana, nearly 370,000 people– 11 percent of the state’s adults — were displaced last year due to a weather disaster, the highest rate of any state and far ahead of second-place Florida.
+ 30% more land burned in Western wildfires from 2010 to 2020 than the previous decade, but because of escalating sprawl into woodland habitat the number of buildings destroyed went up by 250%.
+ The latest data from NOAA shows again that 2022 was another record high for ocean heat content. Looks like they’re going to need a bigger graph…
+ Record wildfires have been scorching Chile all month prompting Interior Minister Carolina Tohá to proclaim: “Chile is one of the countries with the highest vulnerability to climate change, end this isn’t theory but rather practical experience, The thermometer has reached points that we have never known until now.”
+ After nearly killing the Gulf of Mexico, British Petroleum rebranded itself as BP: Beyond Petroleum. Well, that didn’t last long. Now the company is Back (to) Petroleum, it’s CEO having announced this week plans to “dial back” its investments in green energy and pursue maximizing profits in oil and gas.
+ Big Oil’s profits last year were 20 times larger than the EPA’s budget in 2022.
+ What a difference a day makes…
+ In a virus-weary world, the advancing bird flu plague along the Pacific Coast of South America seems not to have gotten the attention that’s almost certainly warranted: At least 585 sea lions in Peru have died of H5N1 bird flu, according to the Peruvian environment ministry. Peru has also reported the Peru has also reported the deaths of at least 55,000 birds, including pelicans and penguins, from H5N1 bird flu, as well the death of a lion at a zoo in central Peru.
+ The WHO’s Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “Bird flu spillover to mammals needs to be monitored closely. While the risk to humans currently low we must prepare.”
+ Is it considered too Woke to say “we’re mammals”?
+ A new study in Nature reports the global area of wetlands has shrunk by one-fifth since 1700. The driving factor has been the conversion of wetlands to agricultural lands. European countries such as Germany and Ireland have drained three-quarters of their wetlands in the last century alone. In Ireland, there’s still illegal mining for peat taking place inside ‘Special Areas of Conservation.’
+ Pesticides containing glyphosate are ravaging Britain’s songbirds. A survey of 615 gardens in Britain detected 25% fewer house sparrows when glyphosate was used regularly.
+ A new report from NatureServe (Biodiversity in Focus: United States Edition) estimates that 40% of U.S. animals and 34% of plants are now at risk of extinction. In addition, the report, which used data collected by more than 1,000 scientists across the continent, forecasts that 41% of ecosystems are on the verge of collapsing from “habitat degradation and land conversion, invasive species, damming and polluting of rivers, and climate change.”
+ The amount of plastic generated by humans is equivalent to the weight of one billion African elephants.
+ 9: the average number of pounds of Mexican avocados a single person eats in the US per year. Up from only one pound in 1990.
+ Hannah Arendt to Giorgio Agamben: “Dear Mr. Agamben, It’s awfully nice of you to send me your paper, but I’m afraid it will take me quite a while to read it because my Italian is not just lousy, but almost nonexistent.” (February 27, 1970)
+ When the teenage Arendt told her rabbi she no longer believed in God, the rabbi retorted: “And who asked you?”
+ According to a study in the journal Sexuality & Culture, most of the people who have used the online adult site OnlyFans have “increased their knowledge” related to sexual activity and sexuality.
+ James Joyce: “I fear those big words that make us so unhappy.”
+ Red Sox outfielder (and pinch hitter) Bernie Carbo on his game prep for the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, in which he hit two pinch hit home runs, including a game-tieing 3-run shot over the Green Monster: “I probably smoked two joints, drank about three or four beers, got to the ballpark, took some speed, took a pain pill, drank a cup of coffee, chewed some tobacco, had a cigarette, and got up to the plate and hit.”
+ What Sid Vicious taught Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads about playing the bass: “I started out playing with my fingers. They were bleeding so much on tour, I started playing with a pick. That resulted in a different style. I played faster. In fact, that’s something that Sid Vicious told me. When I started doing this I wasn’t in love with any special kind of technique. I was a complete novice, but I had ideas. The most successful thing I could do was mold myself to a new style. We broke a lot of rules. I wasn’t playing root notes of what the guitars were playing and that kind of thing. I hope I’ll be great when I’m thirty. That’s my goal for the moment.”
They’re Holding Up the Spiritual Gun…
What I’m reading this week…
When Innocence is Not Enough: Hidden Evidence and the Failed Promise of the Brady Rule
Thomas L. Dybdahl
A Companion to Marx’s Grundrisse
Oil Beach: How Toxic Infrastructure Threatens Life in the Ports of Los Angeles and Beyond
(University of Chicago Press)
What I’m listening to this week…
Every Motherfucker is Your Brother
The Inner Sounds of the Id
He’s Not Your Husband Anymore, Not a Beloved Person, But a Radioactive Object
“There’s a fragment of some conversation, I’m remembering it. Someone is saying: “You have to understand: this is not your husband anymore, not a beloved person, but a radioactive object with a strong density of poisoning. You’re not suicidal. Get ahold of yourself.” And I’m like someone who’s lost her mind: “But I love him! I love him!” He’s sleeping, and I’m whispering: “I love you!” Walking in the hospital courtyard, “I love you.” Carrying his sanitary tray, “I love you.” (Svetlana Alexievich, Voices From Chernobyl: the Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster)