Roaming Charges: In the Land of Unfortunate Things

Tip jar at a pizza cart in southeast Portland. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Dr. Bruce Jessen, the CIA’s torture shrink, was forced reenact his waterboarding technique on a defense attorney for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the Saudi detainee who is being tried for plotting to bomb the USS Cole. In court, Jessen rolled up a towel, twisted it around the neck of defense lawyer, Annie Morgan, slowly pulled the lawyer toward him and lifted her up on her toes, at which point Jessen protested to the court: “It feels like I’m beating up my daughter.”

Morgan wasn’t stripped naked, slapped, shoved into a containment box or waterboarded, the way her client had been multiple times, during his interrogation at a CIA black site in the Philippines in 2002.  Instead she was subjected to a demonstration of Jessen’s “attention grasp,” a form of simulated strangulation the shrink said was designed “to dislocate your expectation” and shock the detainee into believing “this is real, this person wants me to pay attention.”

The hearing was in response to a motion by Nashiri’s defense lawyers to exclude from evidence an FBI interrogation of Nashiri as the product of four years of torture, isolation and sexual abuse, where the defendant wasn’t even permitted a lawyer. The judge in the case, Col. Lanny J. Acosta Jr, permitted the demonstration because the CIA, under the auspices of Gina Haspel, had destroyed the videotapes of Nashiri’s torture.

Jessen told the court that while his torture regime was “intense,” it was simply a method to gradually coerce the detainee’s confidence and cooperation. “It’s all about establishing rapport and finding that path ahead,” Jessen said. Jessen claimed that he and his partner James E. Mitchell put multiple safeguards in place to make sure no excessive abuse of the prisoners took place.

Under Jessen’s watch, however, the waterboarding of Nashiri soon went awry. Nashiri was placed in the same restraints as Jessen’s previous torture subject, Abu Zubaydah. But Nashiri kept slipping out of his straps–which Jessen described as safety restraints–because Nashiri is a tiny figure, only 5’5” inches tall, and Zubaydah was 5’10”. Eventually, they stopped trying without extracting any useful information.

But Jessen admitted there were times when he was not in the room when some what he called “unfortunate things” were done to Nashiri. Among these unfortunate things was a simulated “game” of Russian roulette, where CIA torturers placed a bag over Nashiri’s head and ran a power drill next to his ear. Prison guards also placed a broomstick between Nashiri’s legs, then pushed his body back, while he screamed in pain. Jessen also said the later learned that Nashiri had been chained to wall while naked with his hands tied up over his head and then repeatedly sodomized.

Still in the view of the lawyers for the US government, these unfortunate things, endured over the course of four years, left no lingering scars on Mr. Nashiri’s psyche and should in no way taint the information extracted from him by FBI agents at Guantanamo in 2007, which they contend was freely given and fairly received. To rephrase Obama’s dismissive tone: “It looks like we sodomized some folks.” No big deal.


+ FoxNews just shelled out $787.5 million to keep Rupert Murdoch off the stand.

+ There’s a lot sniping from liberals that Dominion sold out by settling with FoxNews. This is pretty silly. Dominion’s lawyers aren’t prosecutors or FCC regulators. They inflicted the one kind of damage Rupert Morduch understands: money.  Dominion is walking away with 50% of what they were asking for at trial. A settlement means it can’t be reduced on appeal, which is the current trend in the courts. To give you a sense of how big of victory the deal was, Dominion Voting Systems has annual revenues of about $14 million a year and they just took Murdoch for $787 million.

+ They also extracted nearly full confessions to Fox’s mendacity through the depositions taken under oath, which the judge ruled constituted evidence that Fox had knowingly lied about the election. The trial wasn’t going to televised, have recorded audio or even photographs of the witnesses. Dominion walked away more money than they would have probably ended up with after the lengthy and inevitable appeals. There were never going to be any admissions from Fox. Nothing new was going to come out on the stand. It’s not a criminal trial, so there wouldn’t be a “guilty” verdict. They got a huge settlement and set the table for the Smartmatic suit. In most settlements, the discovery is put under seal. Not here. The damning depositions, emails and internal documents are all in the public domain for use in other trials and investigations.

+ Ted Koeppel to Sean Hannity: “You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.” “Ideology” is putting it a little grandly, Ted.

+ Matthew Freud, great-grandson of Siggy and former spouse of Elizabeth Murdoch: “One of the weird things about the Murdoch family is that they believe everything they read in the papers.” Especially when it’s about them.

+ In anticipation of the FoxNews trial, I picked up an e-book  collection of all Vanity Fair’s stories on Rupert and his brood. The piece on the courtship of Freud and Elizabeth is hysterical for its portrait of ambition, backstabbing, sibling rivalry, and the Electra Complex–way beyond the escapades of Succession.

+ Rupert Murdoch’s politics are even more retrograde than you probably imagined. According to Andrew Neil, the longtime editor of The Times (and Sunday Times) of London under Murdoch, one of the press lord’s favorite American politician was Pat Robertson. (You read that right. Not Pat Buchanan, but the Rev. Pat.)  Here’s how Neil put it in his VF story “Murdoch and Me”:

In the 1988 American presidential election his favorite for the Republican nomination was Pat Robertson, the rightwing religious fanatic who claims to speak in tongues and have direct access to God, takes credit for having persuaded the Lord to spare his headquarters from Hurricane Gloria, and believes in a Jewish money conspiracy. “You can say what you like,” Rupert said to me during the ’88 Republican campaign, but “he’s right on all the issues.”

+ Murdoch’s views on China were so hawkish that he once chastised his hero Margaret Thatcher for appearing to waver on the future of Hong Kong. Here’s Neil again:

Rupert wanted his papers to take a tough line to stiffen her [Thatcher’s] resolve against China. “She should hold out,” he told me one day, “make no concessions, and tell the Chinese that there’s a Trident submarine off their coast: if the Red Army moves into Hong Kong they should be left in no doubt that we’ll nuke Beijing…though I suppose we could fire a warning into the desert first,” he added, after a moment’s thought.

+ Then in the 90s he hooked up with Wendy Deng and began to sell his TV channels via satellite into China. Money’s always the bottom line.

+ By the way, FoxNews’s settlement with Dominion is tax-deductible…assuming FoxNews paid any tax.


+ Whistleblowers, if that’s what Jack Teixeira is, have come long way from Daniel Ellsberg: “The national guardsman, whose name is Jack Teixeira, oversaw a private online group named Thug Shaker Central, where 20 to 30 people, mostly young men & teenagers, came together over a shared love of guns, racist online memes & video games.”

+ Tucker Carlson and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. are making a lot out of one of the leaked documents (which appears to have been fabricated) alleging that 7 Ukrainian soldiers are being killed for every Russian (soldier or mercenary). One would have thought that the American experience in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq would have demonstrated the futility of using kill ratios as a metric of how a war is going. The US had kill ratios of at least 15 to 1 in each of these wars and eventually lost all of them. (The actual kill rate in Ukraine seems to be closer to 3 Ukrainians  for every Russian.)

+ Hong Kong’s security minister Chris Tang hailed the 100% conviction rate under the new national security law put in place in 2020. Tang said that “defending the rule of law and upholding justice is in the DNA of our prosecutors.” Pretty much the same here, which doesn’t bode well for Assange or the Thug Shaker Central leaker, Jack Teixeira.

+ Washington Post: “The friend said he met Teixeira before 2020 on a Discord server mainly focused on guns and libertarian politics, and bonded over their shared interest in Glock handguns and Catholicism.”

+ Wait until AI starts leaking disagreeable shit it comes across while roaming the secret vaults of the covert state. The next Seymour Hersh is going to be getting their stories from ChatGPT5…


+ We now know that in addition to lavishing Clarence and Ginni Thomas was luxury trips around the world, Harlan Crow also secretly bought property from Thomas, including the house his mother continues to live in, and Thomas failed to disclose the financial transactions in violation of federal law.

+ Thomas isn’t being bribed to make decisions; he’s being rewarded for the fact that he’d make these decisions without being bribed. So would Alito. Yes, they’re corrupt. But their retro judicial views were always clear & the senate approved their elevation to the high court anyway.

+ Harlan Crow is a billionaire with a bulging stock portfolio and vast real estate holdings. Almost everything that comes before the court will have an impact him.

+ Does Crow collect child porn to demonstrate how much he abhors pedophiles?

+ When Ginni Thomas worked for the Heritage Foundation, Justice Thomas checked the box “none” on his financial disclosure form for his wife’s income. She’d actually been paid more than $686,000. When the deception was disclosed, Thomas said it was “due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”

+ This seems like a fairly minor blunder to me, except for the fatal fact that Thomas considers himself a “textualist”, where the precise meaning (in 1789) of every word can be a matter of life and death. So petard prepare to be hoisted…

+ Thomas isn’t the only recipient of Crow’s largesse. The coffers of rightwing lawmakers Texas have been infused with at least $19 million from the Dallas-based real estate tycoon.

+ Cory Doctorow: “The reason the rich pour money into campaigns to stoke divisions among working people isn’t because they get off on hatred. The hatred is a tactic. The cruelty is a tactic. The strategic goal is wealth and power.”


+ On June 2, 2020 (Teargas Tuesday), thousands of Portlanders to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd. To disperse them, Portland police saturated downtown with CS gas at more than 50 times the level federal regulators consider “immediately dangerous to life or health.”


+ Last June 27, Jayland Taylor, a 25-year-old black man, was killed by police in Akron, Ohio. The cops had tried to pull over Taylor, who had no criminal record, for busted light over his license plate. A chase ensued. After pulling to a stop, Taylor jumped out of his car and started to run. Eight Akron police officers went after him and began shooting, firing at 94 shots at Taylor, whose body suffered 46 gunshot wounds. When he was shot and killed, Taylor was unarmed. This week an Akron grand jury declined to indict any of the officers involved in the killing of Taylor.

+ Meanwhile, a Virginia grand jury refused to indict Fairfax police officers for the killing of Timothy Johnson, a young black man who was suspected of shoplifting a pair of sunglasses from Nordstrom. The cops were called by a store clerk who believed “a larceny was about to take place.” The cops chased Johnson through a parking lot, across a boulevard and into the woods, where they shot and killed him while he was laying on the ground. Johnson was unarmed.

+ After the grand jury refused to indict the killers of her son, Johnson’s mother Melissa said this: “My truth is that I am a Black mother and I have a Black son. And the truth of my people’s experience here is that freedom, liberty and basic human rights have cost the lives of not just many Black people, but of many White people, as well.”

+ The Memphis Police Department has learned nothing from the killing of Tyre Nichols. Last week it announced the formation an eight-officer unit that will arrest unaccompanied minors who sell food, play loud music, are “inappropriately dressed” or dancing in the street in downtown Memphis.

+ Chicago police are refusing to help people who are being assaulted during episodes of street violence, then blaming the crimes on newly elected Mayor Brandon Johnson, who hasn’t taken office yet. Other Chicago police have told witnesses who tried to intervene they’re not doing anything because Johnson won the election.

+ New York City has agreed to pay $53 million to settle a lawsuit on behalf of thousands of detainees in city jails on Rikers Island and in Manhattan who were illegally kept in solitary for up to 23 hours per day.

+ In one 24-hour period last weekend, there were at least 15 mass shootings in the US, including 4 shot in Northridge, California, 6 in Louisville, 36 in Dadeville, Alabama, 6 in Cyrus, Minnesota, 3 in New Orleans, 6 in Paterson, NJ, 5 in Wiainai, Hawaii, 4 in Detroit, another 3 in Louisville, 4 in Phoenix, 3 in Los Angeles, 3 in Charlotte, 4 in Newark and 3 in Cincy.

+ Mass shootings in the US by year:

2014: 272
2015: 336
2016: 383
2017: 348
2018: 336
2019: 415
2020: 610
2021: 690
2022: 646
2023: 164 [through first 108 days]

+ This week in America…

1. A teenage boy was shot for ringing the wrong doorbell.
2. A teenage girl was shot for entering the wrong driveway.
3. A cheerleader was shot for going up to the wrong car.
4. A six-year old girl shot for rolling a ball into the wrong yard.

+ So many Americans are just sitting at home with a gun on their laps watching Tucker feed them endless stories on a nonexistent crime wave, scared of shadows on the lawn and squirrels on the roof…

+ Globally, 87% of the children killed by gunfire were shot in the USA.

+ A Science Direct story reports that the predictors of firearm purchasing during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States found that “those who had firearms at home with no pandemic-related purchases are more likely to be male, live in rural settings, have higher income, and be Republican.”

+ John Sigg, an 80-year old Kansas man, was chased and then tasered by an Allen County Sheriff’s deputy for driving 3 MPH over the speed limit.

+ An FBI report on Involuntary Celibate Violent Extremism (incels) that contains this useful information: “incels unsuccessfully compete against Chads for attention.” It describes “Stacys” as “idealized versions of a female” who “choose Chad over incels.”

+ Less than a month after the school shooting in Nashville, the Tennessee legislature approved a measure giving gun and ammunition dealers, manufacturers and sellers more protection against lawsuits.

+ Rep. Scotty Campell, a GOP leader who voted to expel the Tennessee Three, resigned from office shortly after a Nashville news station disclosed that he recently had been found guilty of sexually harassing interns.

+ When you’re so devoted to your minimum wage job at Walgreens that you’re willing to shoot a pregnant woman who you believed may have shoplifted something. (Walgreen checkout clerks pack heat?)

+ At the urging of Ron DeSantis, Florida is set to become only the second state, along with Alabama, to allow juries to impose the death penalty on an 8-to-4 vote. All other states require an unanimous vote. (More death row prisoners in Florida  have been exonerated than any other state. This move will make it even easier for the state to execute innocent people.)

+ Boston cops shot two dogs this week while serving a warrant against a man for … driving without a license.


+ Women will pay the heaviest price for the fact that Dianne Feinstein has been unable to find her office or recall what a continuing resolution is for the last two years, just as they’ve been the one’s paying the steepest price for RBG’s selfish decision to cling to her Supreme Court seat.

+ Paris ’68 graffiti: “The young make love, the old make obscene gestures.” (At this point, DiFi can’t even do that.)

+ Moody’s has downgraded Israel’s credit outlook citing a “deterioration of governance.”

+ Here’s another reason to be thankful that Al Franken was chased out of the Senate: “Israel was our original home and Palestinians happened to live there.”

+ Franken aside, there are more signs of slippage in support for Israel in general and Netanyahu in particular in the US, even among Republicans.

+ From a Jewish Currents interview with one of the world’s greatest journalists, Amira Haas:

JC: You spend what seems like all of your time writing about the occupation. How do you sustain your outrage against the routine violence of the occupation? Does your anger ever dull?

AH: On the contrary, I’m always angrier. It continues to blow my mind. I just wrote about a Palestinian family in East Jerusalem that will be evicted because of one of the racist laws that makes it obligatory for the Israeli government to take over buildings that were owned by Jews before 1948 and pass it on to Jewish hands now. At the same time, it does not allow Palestinians who are Jerusalemites to get back their pre-1948 property in West Jerusalem. With every sentence that I wrote, I felt my rage growing. I live among the people who are the daily targets of Israeli violence, so how could my anger get dull? I see how my life is comfortable and safe in comparison to every Palestinian’s. Every friend of mine is a target of bureaucratic and military violence. I have freedom of movement, and I can go to Jerusalem whenever I want, but most of my friends here in the West Bank cannot go to Jerusalem. It’s about 15 kilometers away. Not to mention my friends who are jailed in Gaza, among the two million Gazans there. It makes me angry to just talk about it.

+ Jeremy David Hanson, a 34-year-old Californian, was sentenced to a year in federal prison after threatened to bomb and shoot the editors of the Merriam-Webster dictionary over its definition of “female.” Hansen called them Marxists who should be killed. Wait until he hears was the Marxists think of the family unit.

+ The Tennessee legislature just passed a bill that allows students to report professors who teach “divisive concepts“. The list of “divisive concepts” includes discussions of biases, white privilege and racism’s role in slavery.

+ Meanwhile, Republicans in Louisiana (a state which is 1/3 black) want to ban the study of racism at state colleges and universities, noting that the “inglorious aspects” of US history are divisive.

+ Trump vowed to build 10 new “Trump Freedom Cities” in the US, which will be free of government regulations so they can become manufacturing meccas. In other words, maquiladoras and braceros, Trump-style…

+ A study of the Pennsylvania health care systems shows that hospitals are more likely to give drug tests to Black women delivering babies than white women, regardless of the mother’s history of substance use.

+ America’s billionaires are nearly one-third richer than they were before the pandemic hit.

+ Fixing 9 bridges? Impressive!

+ There are at least 42,951 structurally deficient bridges in the US.

+ Iowa just passed a child labor bill that allows 14-year-olds to work 6-hour night shifts, 15-year-olds to work on assembly lines, and 16- and 17-year-olds to serve alcohol.

+ The fruition of Clintonism: Nine of the top 10 wealthiest congressional districts are represented by Democrats, while Republicans now represent most of the poorer half of the country. 64% of congressional districts with median incomes below the national median are now represented by Republicans.

+ 67.4% of asylum seekers from Guatemala, a country immiserated for decades by US policy in Central America, were denied asylum in court this fiscal year compared to 52.9% of all nationalities.

+ A woman named Usim escaped North Korea, but was sold to a human trafficker in China. She left that relationship (and her 2-year-old son) by crossing into South Korea and eventually getting to the US ,where she requested asylum. ICE decided to deport her.

+ Not surprisingly, black people tend to live longer lives in communities where there are black doctors. A new study published in JAMA Network found that life expectancy increased by about one month for every 10% increase in Black primary care physicians.”

+ Using this woman’s “logic”, the bodies of 10-year-old girls are also “designed” to be raped.

+ They force you to give birth, then leave you to do so in conditions like this: “After almost five days in a quarantine cell, I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I went to medical with contractions two days in a row only to be turned away both times. Saying I was faking it or dehydrated.”

+ In the wake of the Dobbs decision, at least 66,510 women were not able to receive a legal abortion in their home state between July and December of 2022. Of those, 35,330 appeared to have traveled to obtain one.

+  Texas lawmakers are considering a bill introduced last month that would make it illegal to provide information on how to access abortion. The bill would also require internet service providers to block websites offering content on how to get abortion pills, allow prosecution of abortion pill “distribution networks,” and permit anyone to sue a person who shared anything about how to access a medical abortion.

+ According to the abortion-pill-banning federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, the moral decline of America began with “no-fault divorce” and “permissive policies on contraception.”

+ Ghana has become the first country in the world to approve the highly anticipated R21 malaria vaccine that could save millions from the mosquito-borne disease. Good luck convincing people to take the shot.

+ Good for the Dodgers (who I loathe on the field), but bad for a country where this needs to happen for people to get vital health care…

+ So the nation’s most prominent anti-vaxxer, RFK, Jr, is running in the Democratic primary in a race he can never win (see Sanders), which will serve only to draw his followers, such as they are, back into the grip of a party enacting the very policies he claims to oppose. f he was serious–which he’s not–he’d run as a Green or an independent. Instead, he’s running as a paid-to-lose Democrat. It’s part of his ongoing grift.

+ Here’s Jr. at his most quotable, where, ranting about the alleged fascism of Covid protocols, he accomplishes the astounding feat of making his uncle Teddy sound smart by comparison: “Even in Hitler Germany [sic], you [could] cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic, like Anne Frank did. I visited, in 1962, East Germany with my father and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped, so it was possible. Many died, true, but it was possible.”

+ It doesn’t get dumber or more repulsive than that, in public anyway.

+ Adlai Stevenson, one of America’s greatest statesmen, was no fan of Jack and Bobby. He considered them both “cold and ruthless.” But he didn’t think they were stupid. Apparently, there’s been some significant genetic deterioration in the Kennedy stock.

+ In his meandering and often incoherent announcement speech (given not in his own state of California or his father’s state of New York but Massachusetts), Jr. quoted his uncle’s promise to “take the CIA and splinter it into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” His audience cheered enthusiastically. But what’d they say when Jr. quoted his father’s repeated vow to shatter Cuba into a thousand pieces or his badgering LBJ to sell F-4 Phantom jets to the Israelis, a move which Andy Kopkind believed lit Sirhan’s fuse? Oh, he didn’t remind them of that…

+ The well-traveled JFK quote, recently repeated by RKF Jr., about wanting to “splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds,” always sounded a little bogus to me. It didn’t fit the man’s character or his demeanor in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Yes, JFK used the debacle to evict the vindictive and incompetent Allen Dulles, but then brought in his own man, the SF shipbuilding tycoon, John McCone, who was just as virulent an anti-communist as Dulles or RKF, who, after all, had sharpened his teeth as Joe McCarthy’s pit bull during the Great Red Scare witch hunts. In the two years after the Bay of Pigs, Bobby worked closely with McCone, a fellow Catholic, on Operation Mongoose, the CIA plan to overthrow the Cuban government and assassinate Castro. The “splinter” quote–which derives from John Buchan’s great WW I era espionage thriller Greenmantle, is now part of JFK’s hagiography. But there’s about as much evidence he actually said it as there is of Richard III bellowing, “My kingdom for a horse!” The first time anything like it shows up is in a NYT story published two-and-a-half years after his assassination and then it’s attributed to an anonymous source in the administration, who probably had his own axes to grind against Langley. At least Harry Truman dared to go public with his antipathy toward the agency in a 1963 column for the Washington Post titled, “Limit the CIA Role to Intelligence.”

+ Speaking of “unfortunate things,” RFK Jr’s voice reminds me of the coroner’s description of Elvis’ final moments, “straining at stool.”

+ Back when RFK Jr was a putative environmental lawyer, he worked for NRDC, one of the most neoliberal outposts in Gang Green. It was led by John Adams who Cockburn & I reported as bragging to Al Gore about “breaking the back of the environmental opposition to NAFTA.” NRDC followed up this dubious “win” by spearheading the drive to deregulate California’s energy grid, with disastrous results. Not chastened, it then advanced the cause of Enron as a green energy company, and testified in favor of this fraudulent enterprise taking over Portland General Electric. Then it all fell apart.

+ The Kennedy mystique remains, well, a mystery, especially with the boys of the second generation. None of them are what you might consider intellectual stalwarts. Consider this anecdote from former Page Six editor Susan Mulcahy about JFK, Jr. Mulcahy’s office got a tip from a normally reliable source that JFK Jr had rented a film called, Bodacious Ta-Tas, from an Upper East Side video store and neglected to return it. That night he’d also rented Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose, which he had managed to bring back. Mulcahy ran the story and soon got a call from Jr., who remonstrated that he had rented the Allen film but nothing as salacious as Bodacious Ta-Tas. Kennedy told Mulcahy that he’d paid for it with his AMEX card and “wouldn’t be stupid enough to rent something like Bodacious Ta-Tas with his AMEX card.” Mulcahy wry noted, “I think that’s how we knew.”


+ In Pakistan and Egypt 50 cents out of every dollar of government revenue goes to interest payments on their international debt.

+ Texas congressman Dan Crenshaw, who lost an eye on a 2012 raid as a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan, spent at least $20,000 in campaign funds on promotional eye-patches.

+ Glenn Beck: “It wasn’t the Nazis that were killing people, per se. It was the doctors that were Nazis that were killing people.” That “per se” is carrying a heavy load.

+ The manufactured freak-out over the trans Bud Lite influencer is even more bizarre (and calculated) than it first appeared.

+ Last week Florida Rep. Randy Fine defended a law he’s sponsoring to criminalize some “adult live performances,” including some drag shows. Five days later he sponsored a charity event for children that featuring “sultry performers.”

+ Teachers in the Dysart Unified School District, one of Arizona’s largest, are now required to sign a pledge that says they will not attend sessions on critical race theory or social and emotional learning at conferences. What’s left to teach?

+ Only three other members of Congress have passed a fewer percentage of bills than Jim Jordan. We can all be thankful for that.

+ Musk is slapping so many labels on accounts now he’ll probably hire Tipper Gore to replace Matt Taibbi.

+ More “—-funded media” designations for Musk to consider: oil industry, credit card industry, pharma industry, tobacco industry, real estate industry, weapons industry, gambling industry, chemical industry, meat industry, timber industry, child labor industry, religion industry.

+ Has any academic institution inflicted as much human misery as Harvard and then brazenly adorned its buildings with the names of those it trained to act as agents of misery and mayhem? After pocketing a $300 million donation from hedge-funder Ken Griffin (purportedly the world’s 35th richest man), Harvard agreed to name the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences after the tycoon.

+ Speaking of financial swindlers, here’s Sam Bankman-Fried on his company Alameda: “Alameda is unauditable… we are only able to ballpark what its balances are, let alone something like a comprehensive transaction history. We sometimes find $50 million of assets lying around that we lost track of; such is life.”

+ In Hawaii, an elderly woman at a low-income housing project for seniors was sent an eviction notice over a debt of 50 cents. Another resident was sent a similar letter for owing $37.

+ John Kenneth Galbraith to JFK on the stupidity of US Secretary of State Dean Rusk: “Trying to communicate through Rusk is like trying to fornicate through a mattress.”

+ JFK to Gen. Maxwell Taylor on Day Two of the Cuban Missile Crisis: “I guess this shows why the Big of Pigs was right…if we’d done it right.” This was at the same series of meetings where the ExCom joked about making Bobby Kennedy “Mayor of Havana” after the US invasion.

+ Today Sen, William Fulbright, the Dixiecrat from Arkansas, is remembered–if at all– for his scholarships and eventual opposition to the Vietnam War, which manifested itself a year after he had moved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution through the Senate. Few recall he was also a virulent segregationist and anti-Castro zealot. When told by JFK of Soviet nukes in Cuba Fulbright fumed: “I’m in a favor of an invasion, an all-out one, as soon as possible.”

+ At the time of the Cuban Missile crisis, the US nuclear arsenal totaled around 5,000 warheads. The Soviets’ about 300, none of which were ICBMs. (See The Abyss by Max Hastings).

+ Gives new meaning to having a stake in the next elections…

+ Gossip among Musk’s former girlfriends is that the SpaceX rocket lasted two minutes longer than he did before exploding.


+ March 2023 was the 2nd-hottest March globally since record-keeping began in 1880, measuring at 1.21°C (2.18°F) above’s 1951-1980 baseline average. Nine of the 10 hottest Marches have occurred since 2015.

+ The Earth’s polar ice sheets have lost 7,560 billion tonnes in mass between 1992 and 2022. Seven of the worst melting years have occurred in the past decade. This annual melting is five times what it was 30 years ago.

+ The Biden administration has now approved exports for the Alaska LNG project. It consists of a pipeline, gas treatment plant, liquefaction facilities, and LNG terminal capable of exporting 20 million metric tons of gas per year. Most of which would go to Asia. This project could result in over 50 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually.

+ According to the new Banking on Climate Chaos report, the world’s 60 top banks provided $5.5 trillion in fossil fuel funding in 7 years since Paris Agreement. Royal Bank of Canada was biggest 2022 funder, providing $42.1 billion, making $253 billion since 2016.

+ Germany is now nuclear free, after its last nuclear energy plant powered down last week.

+ This happy news was followed by the German  cabinet on Wednesday approving a bill that bans most new oil and gas heating systems starting in 2024.

+ According to documents acquired by Ken Klippenstein, a Kansas intelligence agency (the Kansas City Regional Fusion Center)  is warning law enforcement that the fictional movie “How to Blow Up A Pipeline” poses a terror threat, even though they admit the film protected speech and that they couldn’t identify any specific threats.

+ Biden’s EPA approved a plan to allow the world’s largest Chevron refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi to turn plastic waste into fuel, even though EPA’s own review found that the production poses a cancer risk that is 250,000 times greater than it usually considers unreasonable.

+ Methane emissions from the US oil and gas industry were 70% higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s own estimates between 2010 and 2019, according to a new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

+ Washington Post: “Replacing coal with natural gas, while gradually expanding wind and solar, has reduced carbon dioxide emissions per unit of energy generated, but not by much. The carbon intensity of U.S. electricity has fallen very little in the last two decades.”

+ I remember when the Sierra Club secretly pocketed $26 million from Chesapeake Energy, then hawked natural gas as a “bridge fuel.” Bridge to nowhere for the climate, it turns out…

+ Did Marge hire Herschel Walker as her climate staffer?

+ Asia has been broiling this week. Thailand crushed its all-time heat record with a temperature of 114F. While Hunan, China has sweltered under 22 consecutive days at 95F.

+ The 100th Meridian used to be the dividing line between the arid west and the humid east. But that line has moved eastward by more than 140 miles since 1980, portending major changes to what was once the nation’s breadbasket.

+ A 2021 study that determined that covering the California’s canals with solar panels could reduce evaporation by as much as 90 percent and save 63 billion gallons of water per year.

+ Even after a winter of record storms, rains and snowfall, more than 1,800 residents of California’s San Joaquin Valley continue to depend on state-funded water deliveries. Some of their wells went dry last year, while others have been coping with dry wells for as long as three years.

+ Nearly two-thirds of the homes in Norway now have heat pumps, the highest percentage in the world. Since 1990 emissions from home heating have fallen by more than 80%.

+ Nearly 120 million Americans are living in towns and cities with unhealthy levels of soot and smog, according the latest State of the Air report from the American Lung Association with 10 of the 11 most heavily polluted counties being located in California. Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics account for 54% of those living in counties with dangerous air quality, despite accounting for just over 40% of the population.

+ The Colorado River is running dry largely as a consequence of climate change. The river has the capacity to provide water for 1 in 8 Americans, but at least half of the water goes to meat and dairy production, industries which are a contributor to climate change.

+ Another of legacy of the atomic age: PFAS (perfluorinated compounds) “forever” chemicals were first produced on an industrial scale for use in uranium separation operations during the Manhattan Project.

+ Need more proof that our food system has run amok? A fire at a Texas industrial dairy operation killed as many as 18,000 cows!

+ If your town doesn’t have a toxic fire burning, does it really exist?


+ The latest Pew poll shows that the vast majority of U.S. adults (88%) say that marijuana should either be legal for medical and recreational use (59%) or that it should be legal for medical use only (30%). One-in-ten say the drug should not be legal in any form.

+ Top this for trivia of the week: Rickey Henderson, the greatest all-round player in the history of baseball (prove me wrong)–not to mention the most loquacious–was named after the teen idol of suburban America…Ricky Nelson.

+ Milan Kundera on the “spirit” of Prague: A Czech requests a visa to emigrate. The official asks him, ”Where do you want to go?” ”It doesn’t matter.” He is given a globe. ”Please, choose.” The man looks at the globe, turns it slowly and says, ”Don’t you have another globe?”

+ When Chrissie Hynde and Ray Davies of Kinks showed up to at the local registry office in Guilford get hitched, “the guy took one look at us and suggested we come back another time”. (They didn’t.)

+ Johnny Marr, guitarist for The Smiths, has just released a photo-memoir of his career titled Marr’s Guitars, which he says “documents my life and career through over 100 guitars.” Bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins only needed one, which he bought for about $20 from the Sears catalogue.

+ Georges Simenon’s mother to the novelist after the funeral of his brother, Christian, a Belgian diplomat: “I’m sorry, Georges, but I just can’t help thinking the wrong son died.”

+ Lost movies: “During the golden age of the silent movie (1912-29), 10,919 silent feature films of American origin are known to have been released in the US. Of these, only 2,749 (25.2 per cent) survive as complete films.”

Poisoned Water Poisons the Mind

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

American Slavers: Merchants, Mariners, and the Transatlantic Commerce in Captives, 1644-1865
Sean M. Kelley

Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right
Matthew Dallek

Cracked: the Future of Dams in a Hot Chaotic World
Steven Hawley

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Plastic Eternity
(Sub Pop)

Brand New Life
Brandee Younger

At First Light
Ralph Towner

The Conscience of the Culture

“In the common perception, there is something unseemly about young people getting rich. Getting rich is supposed to be the reward for hard work, preferably arriving when you are too old to enjoy it. And the spectacle of young millionaires who made their bundle not from business or crime but from avant-garde art is particularly offensive. The avant-garde is supposed to be the conscience of the culture, not its id.” (Janet Malcolm)

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