The other day Doug Henwood reminded me of the fabulous opening to Dwight MacDonald’s book The Men and the Millions, an exposé of the world’s biggest and most devious philanthropic enterprise: “The Ford Foundation is a large body of money completely surrounded by people who want some.” I’m no expert at raising money (which is why I’m reduced to writing these pleas), but I was never naive enough to stand outside the Ford, Rockefeller or Pew foundations with a begging bowl hoping to land some. Instead, Cockburn and I did the opposite. We wrote a series of pieces in the early days of CounterPunch detailing how the network of liberal foundations used their grants to neuter the radical impulses of NGOs and make them more dependent on the foundations than their own members. Condescending philanthropy, Foucault called it. This act of journalistic impertinence pretty much foreclosed any grant ever being dropped on us out of the blue, but it made us especially attuned to our readers. Before we had an online shopping cart, indeed before we were online at all, Cockburn used to take credit card donations over one of his six phone lines in Petrolia not reserved for bill collectors. So here we are at the bleeding edge of our spring appeal, asking you, dear readers, to pitch in as deeply as your fraying pockets allow to get us through the next few months of political tumult, economic upheaval and environmental collapse. Be of good cheer, we’re all in it together, more or less. You can donate online right here, ring up the CP office at (707) 629-3683 or drop a check in the mail to PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558.
“Americans have mastered the art of living with the unacceptable.”
– Breyten Breytenbach
+ Using data culled from United Nation reports to calculate the minimum number of excess deaths attributable to the war on terrorism, researchers at Brown University’s Cost of War Project put the death toll from the conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen at 4.5 million to 4.6 million and counting. The report estimates that around 3.6 million to 3.7 million were “‘indirect deaths,” inflicted by deteriorating economic, environmental, psychological and physical health conditions.
+ The Brown researchers could have added another million or so wrecked lives back here on the home front. Decades of war abroad have left the US with a rotting infrastructure and paralyzed political system, its population poorer, sicker and more unequal, its streets filled the homeless and the addicted, its prisons swollen, its social welfare programs gutted, its schools turned into shooting galleries and its life expectancy rate in free fall. Every drone and missile strike in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen left an economic crater in places like Mobile, Des Moines, Roanoke and Tacoma.
+ That Francis Fukuyama (the end of history guy) was taken seriously for even a minute by anyone is one of the great mysteries of our time, right up there with the appeal of “Ted Lasso” and the political ascent of Pete Buttigieg.
Francis Fukuyama: “The invasion of Ukraine was such a shock because in our lifetimes we’ve never witnessed one country militarily invading another.”
Chris Hayes: “Well, Iraq.”
Fukuyama: “Yeah but…well, OK.”
+ WEB Du Bois: “It is never possible to bring a historical treatise to a satisfactory end.”
+ I’ve always been dubious about the utility of high-tech weaponry and stealth technology. If the reports are accurate about the dismal performance of Russia’s hypersonic missiles in Ukraine, then the US should cancel its own multi-billion dollar R&D program into these duds. It won’t. In the perverse logic of Pentagon weapons procurement, past failures are the surest route to even bigger contracts in the future. Consider the McNamara Line, a crazy 1967 scheme by LBJ’s Defense Secretary to build an electronic anti-infiltration barrier south of the DMZ in Vietnam. (Al Gore Sr.’s proposed fix for the Korean DMZ was to irradiate with it with nuclear waste.)
+ Despite its ongoing manipulation of oil prices (and persecution of dissidents), the Biden administration just approved the sale of 300 MIM-104E Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia. The sale is valued at more than $3 billion. Saudi Arabia accounts for 23% of all US weapons sales abroad.
+ Manipulate oil prices to influence US elections? Check.
Chop up dissidents? Check.
Hide from lawsuits over complicity in 9/11? Check.
Commit genocide in Yemen? Check.
Never mind. Here’s your brand new Raytheon Missile System. Don’t forget to ring us up when you run low…
+ One wonders why the Saudis want them so badly? The Russians, who’ve barely been able to hit any target smaller than a power plant, just knocked out a Patriot battery in Ukraine. As I reported years ago in Grand Theft Pentagon, the Patriot missile has always performed better as a marketing gimmick than a missile defense system, where it’s large footprint and antiquated radar, which emits a strong “Here I Am” signal that can easily be picked up and located by modern intelligence systems, makes it a relatively easy target, even for non-hypersonic missiles.
+ Erik Prince, of Blackwater infamy, has been indicted in Austria on charges of gun-running in Libya in violation of the UN’s ban. If he shows up for trial and is convicted, Prince faces up to five years in prison.
+ As most readers of Roaming Charges know, I’ve been skeptical of Seymour Hersh’s reporting on the sabotage of the Nordstream pipelines. Some of his initial assertions were easily disproved and others seemed highly speculative and thinly, very thinly, sourced. Hersh’s narrative was problematic and antiquated. One of the most glaring issues to me was: why use scuba divers, like something out of a 70s Bond movie, which require decompression tanks and conspicuous naval support, when you could deploy the weapon de jour: underwater drones controlled by a joystick and a laptop? Now comes James Bamford, an intelligence reporter whose credentials are at least as accomplished as Hersh’s (and somewhat less tarnished), with a detailed and persuasive account in The Nation that explains how it’s much more likely that Ukrainian intelligence operatives, trained in underwater demolition techniques by the Brits and the US, blew up the pipelines using submersible drones, with the probable assistance of Poland. Where Hersh is vague, Bamford is specific. Where Hersh relies on a sole anonymous source, Bamford meticulously builds his piece from documents. Bamford explains in compelling detail how it was done, the kind of drones used and why both Ukraine and Poland wanted to take the pipelines out. Bamford also suggests that both Russian and US intelligence knew that a plot in was the works and that the US kept quiet because the sabotage had been committed by its allies. This is deeply informed journalism and also a terrific read.
+ In a period of 30 years, the Vietnamese ran out: the Japanese, the Chinese, the British, the French and the Americans. Has there ever been a more prolific breaker of imperial ambitions?
+ TE Lawrence worked covertly to subvert both the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration, even to the point of committing a treasonable act by informing Faisal Hussein of the details of the secret accords and how the Arab revolutionaries were likely to be betrayed by the British and the French after the Ottomans were driven out of Syria and Palestine. After a 1918 meeting with British Zionist Chaim Weissman, Lawrence noted that despite his claims of wanting a Palestine where Jews, Arabs and Christians could live together in harmony, Weissman was really working to secure “a Jewish Palestine, under a British facade, for the moment” and a “completely Jewish Palestine in fifty years.” The Nakba Lawrence foresaw, with at least 700,000 Palestinians forced from their homes, occurred 20 years sooner than he predicted and Weissman himself would become the Jewish state’s first president. (See Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia.)
+ While we’re on the subject of the Jewish State, this week RFR, Jr. endorsed Israel’s “security fence” (he seemed confused as to whether or not Israel has a “wall”) as a possible solution for the US/Mexican border.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr approvingly citing Israeli “fencing systems” as a model for the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. pic.twitter.com/648ihFdLLa
— Alexander Aviña (@Alexander_Avina) May 19, 2023
+ Hardly a surprise given the Kennedy family’s political DNA. One might recall that in the spring of 1968 a Palestinian Christian named Sirhan Sirhan, never a particularly political person, read a piece in the New York Review of Books by our late friend Andy Kopkind describing Robert Kennedy’s courtship of American Jewish voters and donors. Kennedy had disparaged his opponent Eugene McCarthy for being too indulgent toward the aspirations of the Palestinians. Kopkind also reported that Kennedy had pledged to push through the sale of US F-4 Phantom jets to the Israeli Defense Forces. After reading Kopkind’s piece, Sirhan inscribed “RFK must die!” in his diary. On the night of June 5th, Sirhan took his Iver-Cadet 22 calibre pistol to the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and shot Kennedy three times as the senator was talking to a dishwasher. Sirhan later told David Frost: “My only connection with Robert Kennedy was his sole support of Israel and his deliberate attempt to send those 50 bombers to Israel to obviously do harm to the Palestinians.”
+ Two former executives at Navatek, a Hawaiian defense contractor, pled guilty to making more than $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican. Lawrence Olivier, wrongly I think, described Hamlet as the tragedy of a man who couldn’t make up his mind. It more closely fits the career of Susan Collins. The fact that anyone would go to such lengths to give this perpetually conflicted politician money is a fatal indictment of what our political system has become.
+ The Democrats hold the White House and the Senate and yet you’d think they were helpless in the face of a political bumbler like Kevin McCarthy on an issue that should be used to fry the Republicans: the debt ceiling.
+ For example, one of McCarthy’s demands is to extend Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which would add almost $3.5 trillion to the debt.
+ It seems like Biden is giving into the Visigoths in the House. But he’s extolled punitive work requirements in exchange for a pittance in federal aid his political entire career, which dates back to the Cretaceous Period.
+ Biden played a key role in pushing Clinton’s dismantling of welfare through the senate, a key feature of which were onerous work requirements for SNAP (food stamps) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). These requirements are still in place, even though they made the recipients poorer and harmed children the most.
+ “Look: You saw the president himself say over this weekend he voted for these work requirements,” said Rep. Garret Graves, Republican from Louisiana. “Why would you back away from them today?”
+ Work requirements don’t work…at least in lifting people out of poverty. But they do function as a means of humiliating and punishing the poor, which seems to the political point of forcing forcing single mothers to work at shit jobs sweeping floors at Hobby Lobby, draining the deep fryer grease at Chick-fil-A or stocking shelves at Dollar General for stingy wages that pay less than it costs to put their kids in child care.
+ Kamala Harris: “Talk with your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues and make sure they understand the real consequences a default would have on their lives. Let’s organize, activate our communities and remind folks of what’s at stake.” Why did Harris get into politics? She’s helpless at it…
+ Back in 2016, it took Donald Trump (who, if nothing else, has a PhD in debt-nomics) to expose the phoniness of the debt ceiling charade: “These people are crazy. This is the United States government. First of all, you never have to default because you print the money. I hate to tell you, OK?”
+ Speaking of work requirements, more and more older Americans are being forced by economic necessity to work in dangerous jobs. According to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute, nearly half of older workers (ages 50–70) experience physically demanding jobs (50.3%), environmental hazards (54.2%), difficult schedules (53.7%), high-pressure jobs (46.1%), or limited autonomy over work decisions (45.9%). In addition, one-in-seven older workers (14.1%) are on the receiving end of abusive and violent behavior.
+ It’s always amusing to read “Rick Perry” and “thinking” in the same sentence, even more so when the alleged “thinking” is about running for president.
+ A banner day at the New York Times…
+ The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled unanimously this week that pedestrians arrested after a stop-and-frisk have the right to challenge the resulting criminal prosecution on the grounds that they were targeted by the officers on the basis of their race.
+ Speaking of good Samaritans, Border Patrol agents felt compelled to arrest a 75-year-old humanitarian worker who was bringing water to lost migrant children, including one holding a baby. The charge? Trespassing on public land.
+ NYC Mayor Eric Adams is apparently considering a plan to lock up migrants, including asylum seekers, in a notorious Rikers Island jail that was shuttered last year.
+ A report in Homicide Studies shows that the rate of firearm violence is increasing in smaller cities, not large ones like New York. Some small cities have had increases as high as or higher than 500% within a six-year window, including Dothan, Alabama (population 71,072) — a 500% increase.
+ After guards at the South Central Correctional Center in Missouri saw Anthony O’Neal “open kissing” his wife during a contact visit, they assumed (wrongly) she was passing him drugs. The guards placed O’Neal in solitary confinement for 17 days. During that time, he was held in arm and leg restraints and given no breaks for meals, sleep or restroom usage. Prison officials claimed they were trying to determine if he would pass the contraband through his bowels. According to court records: “While in the dry cell and full restraints for seventeen days, plaintiff was not able to bathe and was forced to lay in his own feces and rotten food that was on the floor. During these seventeen days plaintiff had at least ten bowel movements and… no contraband was ever found.”
+ In the last eight years, 5 of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in America have occurred in Texas, a state where nearly every household owns at least one gun.
+ For the 14th straight year, the United States was the only country in North or South America to execute people, according to Amnesty International’s annual report on the global use of the death penalty. At least 883 executions were recorded around the world last year, a 53-percent increase over 579 deaths in 2021. Executions in Saudi Arabia tripled to 196 people (the most in the country in 30 years) and included the execution of 81 people in a single day.
+ The Lancet on capital punishment: “At its core, execution is a barbaric practice that goes against the ethical foundation of the physician’s role, and draws medical professionals into the state-sanctioned murder of civilians.”
+ At least, 729 cops died from COVID from 2020 – 2021. According to a study in the Police Journal, he majority of these deaths occurring in the South. A larger percentage of COVD-19 deaths were reported for officers who were male, White, and older.
+ The Havana Syndrome of the War on Drugs: Dozens of cops across the country claimed by accidentally touching or breathing fentanyl while making an arrest. But there’s no evidence that fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin and a lot of evidence that it can’t be. Dr. Ryan Marino, a toxicologist and emergency room physician who studies addiction at Case Western Reserve University: “This has never happened. There has never been an overdose through skin contact or accidentally inhaling fentanyl.”
+ An AP investigation found that Black people are disproportionately denied aid from state programs that reimburse victims of violent crime. Using data from 23 states, the AP reporters found some states where Black applicants were nearly twice as likely as white applicants to be denied aid.
+ Last weekend in mass shootings: 3 in Portland, OR, 6 Anderson, IN, 3 ABQ, 3 Memphis, 3 Chicago, 3 New Orleans, 3 Portland, OR, 3 Mobile, 3 Albany, NY, 4 Sacramento, 7 Yuma, 4 Manchester, NH, 5 Louisville, 4 Shreveport, 3 New Orleans, 5 Augusta, GA, 5 Dallas, 3 Philly, 4 Laurel, MD, 3 Columbus, OH. Total shot: 77.
+ After Brazil enacted firearm restrictions in 2003, suicides using guns fell by 27 percent.
+ Yet more empirical evidence that bail reform has little to no influence on crime rates.
+ A study in Massachusetts shows that higher suicide rates were associated with being male, 65 years or older, White, and non-Hispanic or having military background. Suicide rates were highest in the construction industry sector.
+ In a suit filed this week against Rudy Giuliani, his former director of business development, Noelle Dunphy, claims Giuliani, who she describes as being drunk “morning, noon and night” and popping Viagra “all day long,” allegedly demanded that she work naked, in a bikini, or in skimpy shorts with an American flag on them that he bought her. She says Giuliani forced her to perform oral sex on him at work so that he could “feel like Bill Clinton.” The 70-page filing, which reads like the Starr Report as written by Brett Easton Ellis, also alleges that Rudy made racist, sexist and antisemitic comments, failed to pay his bill and sold Trump pardons for $2 million apiece. Rudy’s representing himself and denies all her claims. But Dunphy has recordings of their interactions, plus 23,000 texts and emails as proof.
+ She’s her very own case study…
Kandiss Taylor, who was recently elected a Georgia GOP district chair, refuses to "participate in the insanity" of accepting that Joe Biden is president: "We've got to stop this insanity that's perpetuating society. It is causing people who were normal to become mentally ill." pic.twitter.com/GqdB8JYWbm
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) May 16, 2023
+ Speaking of insane, during a hearing on the abortion pill case before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Trump-appointed federal Judge James Ho asked: “Is pregnancy a serious illness? When we celebrated Mother’s Day, were we celebrating illness?”
+ Between 2013 and 2021, New York raised its minimum wage by 72% in inflation-adjusted terms, an unprecedentedly large increase. Many economists predicted that this yield massive job losses. A new study indicates it actually sparked job “growth.”
+ In 2019, 12.5 million people applied for 35,000 job openings in the Indian railway system, one position for every 357 people who sought one.
+ Undoing one of the first neoliberal structural adjustments imposed on Brazil after the 2016 coup against Dilma Rousseff, the Lula administration moved this week to delink Petrobras’ gasoline, diesel and cooking gas prices from international market rates.
+ Nearly two years ago, our awful former congressman here in Greater Stumptown, Kurt Schrader, helped kill a bill to lower pharmaceutical drug prices for seniors, a sellout which led to his welcome defeat in the Democratic primaries last spring. But it appears Schrader has landed on his feet. We’ve learned this week that the man who depicted himself for so many years a rural, blue-collar, man of the people Oregonian has joined the elite DC-lobby shop Williams & Jenson, whose roster of corporate clients include drug makers Pfizer, Bayer, Merck, Amgen and Eli Lilly.
+ The Florida legislature overwhelming approved a bill (The House voted 107-5. The Senate voted 39-0.) that would shield private space companies, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, from lawsuits if their workers are killed in an explosion.
+ “Between 2008 and 2018, American adults’ daily time spent on social media more than doubled, to over 6 hours a day.” Only 6?
+ Between 2019 and 2023, the percentage of Republicans who said parents should be able to put their kids in public school without the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine (even if it creates health risks for others), more than doubled, from 20% to 42%.
+ Slate’s Jim Newell tracked down Dianne Feinstein in the hall of the Senate. Asked how it felt to be back at work in the Capitol, Feinstein didn’t seem cognizant of the fact she’d been absent for three months.
“No, I haven’t been gone,” Feinstein said.
“OK,” Newell replied. “But…”
“You should follow the–I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”
“You mean working from home?”
“No, I’ve been here,” Feinstein snapped. “I’ve been voting. Please, either you know or don’t know.”
+ Feinstein missed 93 floor votes since February. Even before going on Injured Reserve with shingles (and it now turns out an undisclosed case of encephalitis), Feinstein had one the worst voting attendance records in Senate history, missing 432 roll call votes since 1993 in a body where a single vote can actually mean something–nearly twice the lifetime average for a member of the Senate.
+ According to a report in Politico, the Pelosi network is running cover for Feinstein in the belief that the longer she remains in office, in whatever diminished capacity, it will help Adam Schiff (who Pelosi has already endorsed) in his campaign against Barbara Lee for Feinstein’s seat in 2024. If DiFi resigns from office, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has vowed to appoint a black woman to replace her.
+ In our geriatric government, Feinstein is far from alone. Pauline Newman is a 95-year-old judge with a lifetime appointment to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in DC. Newman allegedly threatened to have a staffer arrested, has asserted that her phones are bugged and her emails have been hacked and claimed to have communed with a judge who died in 2006. Newman’s still not as bad as the Fifth Circuit’s James Ho (See above), who is only 50 and will be on the federal bench for another 40 years…
+ Amid the cacophony of shrieks about teachers trampling on parental rights, Ron DeSantis just signed a bill that will allow the state of Florida to seize custody of a child if they have been “subjected to or [are] threatened with being subjected to” gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy.
+ Ron DeSantis is a censor, a bigot and apparently even a torturer. He’s also one really strange person…
oh my god why did no one tell me this is what the video looks like pic.twitter.com/pPcff2UeB7
— Tim Hogan (@timjhogan) May 16, 2023
+ Disney just pulled the plug on a new office complex in Florida that would have meant 2,000 new jobs. (Of course, the new -e-verify system for migrant labor implemented in Florida has led to a shortage of construction jobs, which may have also deterred Disney.) I hope Disney and DeSantis take each other down and out…
+ Apparently DeSantis’ wife, Casey, is the enforcer in the family. Politico quotes a former DeSantis campaign staffer as saying: “He’s a vindictive motherfucker. She’s twice that. She’s the scorekeeper.”
+ Still not many Republicans are buying what the DeSantis’ are selling. Since March 6, Trump’s lead over DeSantis has more than doubled…
Trump — 44.8% (+15.2)
DeSantis — 29.6%
Trump — 48.4% (+21.2)
DeSantis — 27.2%
Trump — 53.1% (+31.8)
DeSantis — 21.3%
+ Xuan Kha Pham, who allegedly beat two Democratic Congressional staffers for Rep. Gerry Connolly with a baseball bat on Monday, had recently filed a $29 million lawsuit against the CIA, claiming the Agency had imprisoned him in “Book World… in a lower perspective based on physics” and that he was being tortured “from the Fourth Dimension.” After our book Whiteout came out we used to get all kinds of strange calls from people claiming their lives were under the control of the Agency. One guy who rang up once a month or so for a couple years claimed he was the victim of a CIA mucus experiment, where the Agency’s MK-ULTRA labcoats turned on and off the flow of his snot and semen by manipulating his vagus nerve with sound waves.
+ Abandoned by his father at birth, Jimmy Butler, the dazzling guard for the Miami Heat, spent most of his teenage years homeless in Houston, after his mother kicked him out of the house at the age of 13, saying, “I don’t like the look of you. You gotta go.” He slept on the street or in the houses of friends for years. Still Butler became a star player in high school, but got no college scholarship offers, played in junior college, then at Marquette and has now become, against all the odds, one of the most unstoppable forces in the NBA. We can all be grateful that the young, unhoused Jimmy Butler didn’t complain about being thirsty in front of the wrong man on public transit in Houston.
+ $14 trillion: the estimated cost the Covid pandemic inflicted on the US economy. From 2020 to 2023, the cumulative net economic output of the United States will amount to about $103 trillion. Without the pandemic, the total of GDP over those four years would have been $117 trillion, according to researchers at USC.
+ Meanwhile, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association calculates that the economic burden of health inequities for racial/ethnic minority populations in the US is between $421-$451 billion, and for education-related inequities, nearly $1 trillion per year.
+ Mary Walton, a high school student in Springfield, Missouri, started recording her geometry teacher after they’d used the n-word multiple times in class. The video went viral, even though Walton didn’t post it on social media. Walton has been suspended and the school has refused to identify the teacher. Any doubt the teacher would have been fired if they’d been recorded talking about the life of Nat Turner…?
+ They want you hosing down the bloody floors of slaughterhouses at 12, giving birth to the baby of your rapist uncle at 13, working for lunch money as an armed hall monitor at 14, in ROTC at 15, in drone operator boot camp at 18…but they don’t want you anywhere near a voting booth or (god forbid) a mail-in ballot until you’re 25.
+ There’s now a 66 percent chance that global temperatures breach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) threshold of warming by 2027, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Only last year, the WMO placed the odds of exceeding the levels set by 2015 Paris Climate Agreement at 50/50.
+ New research out of Boston University found pollutants (nitrogen oxide, fine particulate matter and ozone) from U.S. oil and gas production contributed to 7,500 excess deaths, 410,000 asthma attacks, and 2,200 new cases of childhood asthma across the U.S. in 2016 alone.
+ $77 billion: the annual cost in health impacts nationwide every year from air pollution generated by oil and natural gas production in the US.
+ Surprise! It turns out that the Biden EPA’s most recent proposal will not effectively eliminate carbon pollution from the power sector by 2040, as has been widely reported …
+ Owing to the “slow circulation of the deep ocean,” the warming of the ocean is likely to continue “until at least 2300” even if greenhouse gas emissions nearly eliminated.
+ A study published this week in Environmental Research Letters finds that nearly 40% of forest area burned by wildfire in the western United States and southwestern Canada over the last 40 years can be attributed to carbon emissions from the world’s 88 largest fossil fuel producers and cement manufacturers.
+ The worst wildfires in the history of British Columbia have all occurred in the last five years: 2017, 2018 and 2021. The worst fires in Alberta have all happened since 2010 (2011, 2016 and 2019) and this year may be the most devastating of all. On average, 7,000 wildfires burn about 6 million acres in Canada each year. But that number has more than doubled since the 1970. By the 2080s, Canadian researchers predict, the acreage charred could easily quadruple or quintuple.
+ The air quality index for the Calgary on Tuesday hit the top of the scale, at 10+, or ‘very high risk,’ meaning that that the air quality from wildfire smoke was so poor that even those without pre-existing health conditions could experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing.
+ You can drill, but you can’t hide…
+ Meanwhile, south of the Alberta border Montana just outlawed state regulators from analyzing the impacts of climate change on environmental, water and energy policy. (In one week, the Montana legislature has eliminated the threat of climate change and Tik-Tok. Next week it will outlaw cancer and earthquakes.)
+ A study out this week in Science magazine finds that El Niño events persistently reduce economic growth in tropical countries and that global warming is likely to increase these costs by trillions of dollars. A new El Niño appears to be forming in the eastern Pacific this year.
+ The hottest days in Northwest Europe (i.e. UK, northern France) have warmed twice as fast as average summer days over the past 60 years. In a in a 2°C warming world, a hot day that occurs once every 20 years in the present-day climate would be about 2.5 times more likely.
+ Rahmbo of the Arctic: In order to attract private equity to invest in an 800-mile-long Liquified National Gas pipeline across Alaska’s melting permafrost, the Biden White House has called on the services of … Rahm Emanuel.
+ Snowfall stats for I-80 at Donner Pass this winter are staggering…
Total Snowfall: 730 inches (60 feet 10 inches)
Total Days of Snowfall: 64
Total Days of Chain Control: 78
Total Hours of Chain Control: ~900 hours (37.5 days)
Total Closures: 15
+ During a House hearing titled “Countering Left-Wing Organized Violence,” Marjorie Taylor Greene berated Amy Spitalnick, senior advisor at Human Rights First, about the Cop City protests snorting: “Being a police officer is a target for antifa. They actually murdered someone there. They actually murdered a police officer. Oh, you don’t know. That’s right, because you don’t study left-wing extremism. There was a 26-year-old activist Manuel Teran, shot and killed a Georgia state patrol trooper there. That was this year, you’re right, not last year, it was this year, so left-wing extremism is definitely on the rise and murder is a big part of it.” Everything about this statement is slanderously inverted. No trooper was killed during the raid. There’s no evidence Teran shot anyone. Teran was shot 57 times and killed by the trooper Greene claims Teran killed. The trooper himself was apparently injured in friendly fire by another trooper.
+ The Biden administration wants to sell “conservation easements” on public lands to protect ecologically vulnerable land from oil drilling, mining, grazing and logging, all of which it could do on its own under existing laws.
+ Birds are shrinking in size as temperatures rise, and small birds are shrinking faster, a new study finds.
+ In the last 50 years, Britain has lost around 30 million house sparrows, 20 million starlings, four million skylarks, two million blackbirds and one million chaffinches.
+ Meanwhile, the Biden administration is continuing the Trump administration policy of not prosecuting many criminal cases for golden eagles being killed by wind turbines, even as the toll inflicted by wind turbines increases dramatically. In Wyoming alone, new wind energy projects could kill as many as 800 to 1,000 golden eagles.
+ It turns out that many recycling plants are simply transforming plastics into micro plastics. A study in the Journal of Hazardous Material Advances finds a single plastics recycling plant in the U.K. produces as much as 3 million pounds of microplastics a year—and that’s with a filtering system, which many existing plants don’t have.
+ When all-electric vehicles (EV) debuted in 2011, there were only four models with driving ranges from 63 to 94 miles per charge. The median range was 68 miles. In 2022, the maximum range for one EV model has reached 520 miles on a single charge, while the median range for all EVs on the market climbed 257 miles.
+ However, according to research published in ScienceDirect, electrifying SUVs/pick-ups are likely to increase emissions by using up scarce battery material that could otherwise be used to electrify many more small cars and e-bikes.
+ 85 million: the number of animals slaughtered for meat every year. 229 million killed a day, 160,000 killed every minute.
+ Why is Oregon still subsidizing animal torture to feed the cravings of gambling addicts?
+ DH Lawrence: “The world is a raving idiot, and no man can kill it: though I’ll do my best. ”
+ Naomi Klein has just finished a book (Doppelgänger) about the experience of being confused for the doyenne of the anti-vaxxers, Naomi Wolf.
+ Megyn Kelly, who appears to be podcasting from someone’s tiny house these days, challenged Charlize Theron by asking (or perhaps imploring) the drag queen-supporting actress to “come and fuck me up.” Is this the way Kelly asks for a hook-up on Tinder?
+ Jane Fonda said that the French director Rene Clement (Purple Noon, Is Paris Burning?) tried to convince her to have sex with him by telling her in French that he needed to hear what her real orgasms sound like because her character is meant to have an orgasm in the movie (Joy House) they were shooting. Fonda refused. Clement was 51 at the time; Fonda was 26.
+ Jim Sheridan’s documentary “The Sky Road to Aqaba” on Peter O’Toole is excellent. There’s much gossip on the making of Lawrence, including the fact O’Toole was the lowest paid of all the major actors–only $19,000–in part, because producer Sam Spiegel thought he had the “Irish” disease, even though he was born in Leeds to an Irish dad. One of the funniest sequences is the story of O’Toole introducing Omar Sharif to a gorgeous Parisian transvestite. Sharif is immediately smitten. They go out, repeatedly. Then all is revealed, at which point Sharif freaks out and tries to gut O’Toole with a “bare bodkin.”
+ Here’s the British doctor Ernest Dunbar describing the auditory hallucinations he experienced when dosing himself with chloroform:
It seemed to me that deep down somewhere in my consciousness voices were wrangling and quarrelling . . . This sort of conversation would commence: “So you see we’ve got you again”. Then I would think, “Oh! won’t you leave me alone? I want to rest”, and the answer would come, “We’ll have the last word”, and with that would ensue a muttering and a grumbling, which occasionally rose to a whining complaint from these voices. I have never inhaled chloroform without hearing these voices. (See: Psychonauts: Drugs and the Making of the Modern Mind by Mike Jay, Yale University Press, 2023).
+ Amid the blizzard of stories about the Windsor family, I recalled an anecdote about EM Forster who attended the marriage of a friend who was a cousin of the Royal family. Thinking he had encountered Queen Mary at the reception, the short-sighted novelist bowed deeply in front of the wedding cake.
+ Bass player Paul Simonon on his post-Clash career as a Greenpeace campaigner: “I felt compelled to contribute my time and myself to the Greenpeace mission [in 2011]. I wasn’t expecting any flags or medals. I’d just come back from touring with Gorillaz. And I had the lowest job on the ship because I had no skills, so I was assistant to the chef and occasionally helped prepare for when we had to scale the Leiv Eriksson rig to ask for their oil spill response plan. I was only in prison for a month and ended up on cooking duties for our wing.” (From Simonon’s memoir, “Letter to My Younger Self”)
+ Important advice from Johnny Marr to musicians who dabble in making political statements: “It’s not a good idea to have a number one album called ‘Meat Is Murder’ and be seen eating a bacon sarnie.”
RIP Andy Rourke
What I’m reading this week…
Sea Change: an Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean
(University of California)
Class War: a Literary History
Easily Slip Into Another World: a Life in Music
Henry Threadgill and Brent Hayes Edwards
What I’m listening to this week…
Reflections in the Glass
Graham Day and the Gaolers
Come Back to Me
An Idea of the World
“Did Jesus Christ, he asked, suspect that someday his church would spread to the farthest corners of Earth? Did Jesus Christ, he asked, ever have what we, today, call an idea of the world? Did Jesus Christ, who apparently knew everything, know that the world was round and to the east lived the Chinese (this sentence he spat out, as if it cost him great effort to utter it) and to the west the primitive peoples of America? And he answered himself, no, although of course in a way having an idea of the world is easy, everybody has one, generally an idea restricted to one’s village, bound to the land, to the tangible and mediocre things before one’s eyes, and this idea of the world, petty, limited, crusted with the grime of the familiar, tends to persist and acquire authority and eloquence with the passage of time.” (Roberto Bolaño, 2666)