Roaming Charges: Strange Coup

Prigozhin in Bakhmut. Concord Press Services.

                                                                             Love cools,
friendship falls off, brothers divide; in cities, mutinies;
in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and
the bond cracked ’twixt son and father. This villain
 of mine comes under the prediction: there’s son
 against father. The King falls from bias of nature:
 there’s father against child. We have seen the best of
 our time.

– King Lear, Act 1, Scene 2

Anyone who presumes to tell you what is going on in Russia now is almost certainly wrong. That includes me. So caveat lector. It is a war that confounds predictions, a war of dizzying turns, blunders and prolonged stagnation, as if from the beginning the conflict had entered not so much a deep fog as a hall of mirrors, where even professional deceivers emerge deceived.

Some of today’s most vociferous hawks (you know who you are) were a mere 18 months ago assuring us Russia would never invade Ukraine, while many of those who predicted a six-day putsch to the fall of Kiev are now bemoaning that the war is lost.

What should have been obvious then, and must be to all but the most obtuse now, is that this war can never be “won”, whatever victory might look like between nations that have merged and splintered numerous times over the last several centuries. Not only can’t the war be “won,” it might not even be possible to be totally “lost.”

By that I mean, even in the unlikely event that NATO and Washington pulls the plug on military support for the Zelensky regime Ukraine is unlikely to “lose”–any more than the Taliban “lost.” After the massacre at Bucca, the missile strikes on civilian targets across Ukraine on apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, power plants and restaurants, the animosity toward Russia is likely to be generational. Instead, the conflict will transform into an underground war of resistance, a campaign of sabotage, assassination and IEDs, as we’ve seen in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan–tactics that the Ukrainian militias have already shown themselves to be quite proficient at. The current war has already gone well beyond disputes over the Minsk Accords and will instead be driven by memories of fresh atrocities. Be careful what you think you’ve won. Military occupations come at a very bloody price.

The real question, the only question it seems to me, is how does such a war (where distant powers assert their own hidden agendas) end in the foreseeable future and who can and will broker the peace? For a brief moment, it seemed as if China might seize the moment. But one hears that Xi didn’t want to risk humiliation by mediating between two parties whose wounds were too fresh and grievances too deep to reach an accord. More cynically, China benefits from a war that weakens both Russia and NATO. Lula gave it a shot, but was rewarded with indifference from Moscow, Kiev, Brussels and DC. The poor African delegation, fronted by another BRICS leader, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, journeyed to Kiev only to be rudely greeted by Russian missile strikes, then had their Moscow meeting hijacked and prematurely terminated by an agitated Putin, whose imperious demeanor is resembling more and more that of an aging princeling of the Romanov clan he idolizes. One wonders whether Putin will now risk a trip to  Johannesburg for the August 22-24 BRICS summit, with an ICC warrant hanging over his head and the bomb blasts still ringing in Ramaphosa’s ears.

The view from South Africa of this unfortunate escapade has been fairly brutal. Here’s Steven Grootes writing in The Daily Maverick:

Ramaphosa is now likely to have to respond to accusations that this shameful series of events shows that he has absolutely no influence on the global stage. Various people are also likely to ask why, if, as Dirco Minister Naledi Pandor put it, Russia is a “friend” to South Africa, did it launch missiles on Kyiv knowing Ramaphosa was there? Pandor herself may well want to ponder the question. Does she still believe Russia is a friend, even after providing a friendly fire backdrop to Rampahosa’s few hours in Kyiv? This argument is likely to be intense. This is almost certainly the first time in the history of South Africa as a nation-state that its leader has been in a city against which missiles have been launched by a “friendly” nation which knew they were there. The criticism will be appropriately crisp: if your friend.

Russia has struggled to secure the very oblasts that Putin claimed the war was meant to liberate. Putin’s “special military operation” launched to thwart NATO’s eastward ambitions, backfired spectacularly, expanding the Alliance and bringing some of its most sophisticated weapons to Russia’s doorstep. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military and civilian casualties have been horrendous, large cities like Bakhmut, Mariupol, Kherson and Kharkov have been effectively destroyed–habitable now only for the dogs of war. The Russian spring offensive and the Ukrainian summer counter-offensive were duds. The only ground gained was by the Wagner Group, on a strange two-day mutiny against its own patrons that saw the mercenaries shoot down Russian planes and seize control of Rostov-on-Don, then suddenly evaporate, with Wagner’s trollish leader Yevgeny Prigozhin scuttling off to neighboring Belarus, where the bombastic strongman Aleksandr Lukashenko eclipsed his putative boss Vladimir Putin as the man who saved the day.

This turn of events certainly wasn’t in the Kremlin’s script, if there was much of a war plan, which is looking less and less likely. Patrick Cockburn has called the Russian invasion “shambolic” and up to this point, at least, it certainly has been a shambles, against a weaker, under-armed and poorly trained opponent. But wars of invasion rarely turn out well even for the most disciplined and well-equipped invading forces in the long run, something the Russians should understand better than almost anyone. And Putin, as Prigozhin himself repeatedly complained, has been fighting the Ukraine war on the cheap. So far Putin’s invasion has largely been run on the model Russia used in Syria–by some of the same commanders–with a heavy reliance on airstrikes, cruise missiles, Iranian drones and by flinging two mercenary armies to the front: Prigozhin’s Wagner Group and the Chechen paramilitaries under the control of Ramzon Kadyrov, who has repeatedly urged the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine. (I would note that the Syrian war is still ongoing, 12 years later. Proof that wars are “won” by controlling territory not by destroying cities from above and afar.)

Of course, Putin had good reasons for being frugal with his war budget. Even under Western sanctions and the cut off of pipeline oil and gas sales to EU nations ($6.6 billion in annual sales Russia has yet to find a new market for), the Russian economy has remained remarkably resilient, at the national level. (The economy for Russian oligarchs may be a different and more problematic story.) The cost of an all-out war and occupation of Ukraine–as Putin is being pressed to mount from his right–may be too much for the Russia economy and, given the fact he’d probably have to double or triple the rate of conscription–and a war-weary society to bear.

+ I have no idea how, or if, the Ukraine war will end, but a military insurrection is certainly one possibility, especially in a war fought by conscripts and convicts. I’ve always believed that fragging of officers by US troops did more to end the US’s rampages in Vietnam than the peace movement back home.

+ The idea that the MAGA-right must be humiliated by what’s going on in Russia is silly. The potential eruption of civil war in one of the world’s richest and most industrialized nations–a country with the world’s largest nuclear stockpile–must whet their dreams of fomenting civil war here.

+ One of the very first Civil Wars we have a detailed account of–the so-called Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta–was a direct fallout from the Greco-Persian War a decade earlier. Wars rarely if ever solve conflicts or the issues that drive them, but create new contentions.

+ The Afghan Wars led to a civil wars. The Iraq War led to a Civil War. The Syrian intervention led to a civil war. The disposition of Qaddafi led to a civil war. The civil wars following the interventions have almost always been bloodier than the interventions themselves..

+ If Alexei Navalny ends up doing more time than Prigozhin for ‘promoting extremist actions that threaten the State”, we’ll know that either this escapade was some kind of a ruse or the Russian military is even weaker than we thought or Putin really really hates Navalny.

+ The UN Human Rights Monitoring Office has “documented the summary execution of 77 civilians while they were arbitrarily detained by” Russian forces, which also “engaged in widespread torture and ill-treatment of civilian detainees,” including instances of  sexual violence. 

+ On Monday, Biden issued a pious statement noting that it is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: “Torture is prohibited everywhere and at all times.  It is illegal, immoral, and a stain on our collective conscience…” That same day, the War Court was in session at at Guantanamo Bay for hearings in the USS Cole bombing case where prosecutors disclosed they’d suddenly found at least  17 videotapes of CIA interrogations from 2007 that had been deemed “so sensitive” that even the judge couldn’t have copies.

+ In a damning report for the UN, Fionnuala Ni Aolain, a law professor in Minnesota serving as special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, asserted that the remaining 30 detainees in the Guantanamo prison are being held by the United States under conditions that constitute “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law.” Aolain concluded that the treatment of the prisoners “may meet the legal threshold for torture.” Aolain’s inspection of Gitmo was the first known visit to the prison by an independent observer since the military ended journalists access to the detention center in April 2019. According to Aoalin’s report, the Bush administration’s use of torture has become “the single most significant barrier to” bringing to justice the alleged ringleaders of the September 11, 2001. She reminded the Biden administration that: “There is no statute for limitations on [Bush’s] torture. Those who perpetrated it, engaged in it, concealed it…remain liable for the entirety of their lives.”

+ According to Southcom, 900 troops and civilians work at Guantanamo prison, which now holds only 30 detainees. That’s 30 Pentagon workers for each prisoner.

+ In a flagrant breach of international law, the Israeli government has approved a plan to build 5,700 new homes in the occupied West Bank. So much for those stern warnings from Foggy Bottom. In the first six months of the new Netanyahu regime, Israel has “advanced or approved” permits for more than 13,000 new housing units in West Bank settlements, the most  since 2012.

+ The UN human rights office has issued an updated list of companies that continue to do business with Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

+ Yuli Novak, the new executive director of Israel’s leading human rights organization, B’Tselem, said she took the position so that she “wouldn’t have to raise her daughter in a country that imposes apartheid on millions of Palestinians.”

+ At least 89 Kenyans, most of whom were domestic workers, lost their lives in Saudi Arabia between 2020 and 2021.

+ Yes, your daughter could be like Madeleine Albright, who Starved 10s of thousands of Iraqi children to death, let thousands of others go untreated for cancer, allowed none of these deaths to weigh on her conscience and proclaimed that you can’t be a feminist if you didn’t vote for HRC.


+ Continuing a demented tradition set by Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court has ruled that a finding of “innocence” is not enough to overturn a conviction. In a 6-3 ruling last week, the Court denied the appeal of Marcus Jones who in 2000 was sentenced to 27 years in prison on federal firearms charges. Jones’ conviction should have been invalidated, according to a later Supreme Court ruling in Rehaif v. US. But by the time of the Rehaif decision in 2010, Jones had already appealed his conviction and been denied and according to the Roberts Court you only get one bite at the appeal. The majority opinion came from the pen of Clarence Thomas, who wrote that: “A federal prisoner may not, therefore, file a second or successive §2255 motion based solely on a more favorable interpretation of statutory law adopted after his conviction became final and his initial §2255 motion was resolved.” Thomas based his decision on the odious 1996 crime bill authored by Clinton and Biden.  In a scorching dissent, Justice Sotomayor wrote: “A prisoner who is actually innocent, imprisoned for conduct that Congress did not criminalize, is forever barred by 28 U. S. C. §2255(h) from raising that claim, merely because he previously sought postconviction relief. It does not matter that an intervening decision of this Court confirms his innocence. By challenging his conviction once before, he forfeited his freedom.”

+ Kwame Ture: “We are saying that there is a system that allows for one or two Black people to get out and that’s the rationale for keeping other Black people down.” Consider Clarence Thomas…

+ The Supreme Court struck down affirmative action based on race. It left intact affirmation action for the privileged and the connected, for legacy admissions, the children of rich donors, staff, politicians and athletes. (A 2019 study found that 75% of those white students who entered Harvard on legacy admissions would have been rejected on the merits.)

+ From Justice Jackson’s dissent in the affirmative action case: “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”

+ Here’s Sotomayor: “Despite the court’s unjustified exercise of power, the opinion today will only serve to highlight the court’s own impotence in the face of an America whose cries for equality resound.”

+ Revealing that Chief  Justice Roberts’ majority opinion explicitly exempts military academies on using race as a consideration for admissions “in light of the potentially distinct interests [they] may present.”

+ As we contemplate the end of affirmative action in a case involving Harvard, it is worth remembering that more than a third of the money donated to Harvard up until the Civil War came from men who made their fortunes from slave labor.

+ After the Democrats swapped the New Deal for Neoliberalism, the last rationale they could muster for progressives voting for them was their vow to save the Supreme Court, which they promptly lost. There’s literally no justification now, since any progressive programs they pass will be struck down by the reactionary court they helped foster into decades-long dominance.

+ Recall that RBG was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009 (10 years after being diagnosed with colon cancer), when she was 76, and the Democrats controlled the Senate. (Of course, at a personal level at least, Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn’t seem to be an enthusiastic supporter of affirmative action. In her entire tenure on the federal bench, Ginsburg hired only one black law clerk.

+ Federal Judge Carlton Reeves on why he felt compelled by the Supreme Court’s recent swath of “originalist” opinions to rule that the 2nd Amendment prohibits laws restricting the sale of firearms to convicted felons: “Judges are not historians. We were not trained as historians. We practiced law, not history. And we do not have historians on staff. Yet the standard articulated in Bruen expects us ‘to play historian in the name of constitutional adjudication.'” Reeves had asked both the Justice Department and the defendant whether he should appoint a historian to assess the constitutionality of felon-in-possession laws. Both said no, so he didn’t. The entire 77-page opinion (US vs. Bullock)  is compelling–if dispiriting–reading.

+ It took years to destroy the misplaced trust in the Court. Why work to restore it now?

+ Stop-and-Frisk policing seems to have returned with a vengeance in NYC. In the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, tickets for low-level crimes are up 2,000%. In a recent case, Manuel Morales threw a Mike and Ike candy box at a trash can and missed. Nearby cops jumped out of their car, grabbed Morales shoved his face into the sidewalk, arrested the bloodied man, and jailed him for 7 hours.

+ John Askins and Chris Drake were friends in Oklahoma City. They were both Christians and addicted to fentanyl, living hard lives, often on the streets. One morning Askins, going through withdrawals, showed up at Drake’s grandmother’s house and said he was in pain. Drake suggested they buy some fentanyl to take off the edge. Drake bought three-tenths of a gram from a street dealer for $30, took the first hit and collapsed, his lips turning blue. Askins tried to revive his friend by performing CPR and called 911. When the cops showed up, they arrested Askins and, under merciless new “death by delivery” drug laws, prosecutors charged Askins with Murder One.

+ A Florida couple hired a man to clean their pool. When they heard someone outside their porch, they hid behind their couch and fired 30 rounds from an AR-15 at the man who showed up to clean the pool as requested. The shooter wasn’t charged because the Pinellas County sheriff concluded that his was protected by the state’s “stand your ground” law.

+ The National Association of Medical Examiners now says “excited delirium” should not be cited as a cause of death for people who die in police custody.

+ Inmates in Alabama’s prisons are around three times as likely as other residents in the state to have HIV. While HIV rates have been dropping in the US over recent decades, the new data shows that inmates continue to be a high-risk population.

+ According to CDC data, Florida (37.5 per 100,000) has more fatal drug overdoses per capita than California (26.6 per 100,000)–though you’d assume the reverse was true after listening to Ron DeSantis: “Don’t tell me it doesn’t affect people’s lives. I was just in San Francisco. In 20 minutes on the ground, I saw people defecating on the sidewalk. I saw people using Fentanyl.”

+ DeSantis’ immigration plan could have been written by Stephen Miller: It includes ending birthright citizenship, mass detention of people, possible military action against Mexico and a change in the rules of engagement to allow for deadly force to be used against illegal immigrants cutting through the border wall: “If you drop a couple of these cartel operatives, they’ll stop coming.” Will they be wearing “cartel operative” fatigues? Or will Border Patrol be able to fire on any 12-year-old girl scaling the border wall?

+ As Texas swelters under a record heat wave with the heat index approaching 127°F,  70% of the prison units within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice do not have full air conditioning, creating stifling conditions for the state’s large prison population. This is policy not negligence…

+ Anthony Sanchez is a prisoner on death row in Oklahoma, convicted of a murder his father confessed to committing. Last week, Sanchez rejected a chance to plea for his life before the state’s clemency board, saying: “I’ve sat in my cell and I’ve watched inmate after inmate after inmate get [recommended for] clemency and get denied clemency…. They went out there and poured their hearts out, man. Why would I want to be a part of anything like that?”

+ A federal appeals court in Louisiana ruled that a cop can sue a protest organizer for injuries caused by another person during a demonstration, ratifying a novel legal theory that threatens to further suppress protests and 1st Amendment rights more broadly…

+ A recent Washington Post-Ipsos poll found that 51% of Black Americans expect racism together worse within their lifetimes and 70% said that it’s more dangerous to be a Black teen now than when they were younger.


+ According to an upcoming book by Miles Taylor, a former Trump Homeland Security official, Stephen Miller advocated using U.S. drones in 2018 to blow up migrant boats full of unarmed civilians, And Miller’s HS classmates said Creepy Stevie would never amount to anything…

+ At least 10% of every dollar coming in to Trump’s PAC is being diverted to pay his legal bills–though one wonders if the lawyers will still get paid.

+ Trump’s indictments have been a boon to him financially and politically. He is now far outpacing all of his rivals and is within striking distance of the hapless Biden.

NBC News poll – 2024 GOP Presidential Primary

Trump 51%
DeSantis 22%
Pence 7%
Christie 5%
Haley 4%
Ramaswamy 3%
Scott 3%
Hutchinson 2%

General Election

Biden 49%
Trump 45%

Biden 47%
DeSantis 47%

+ After the crushing of the Jackson and Sanders campaigns, we all know that the Democratic Party primaries are rigged to ensure the triumph of a centrist candidate. (HRC and Obama were largely indistinguishable at a policy level.) So what is the function of RFK, Jr’s doomed campaign? One result seems certain: his movement seems destined to kill off the one lasting legacy of Sanders’ campaigns: single payer. RFK’s relentless attacks on public health as a totalitarian plot are fatal to the prospects for a government run national health care system, at the very moment it is most needed.

+ Apparently, RFK, Jr. took a medical junket to Japan last year for surgery to try to fix his voice, which I rather crudely once described as having the tones of Elvis’ last words, as he died, according to the coroner’s report, “straining at stool.” Jr said:  “I’ve got these doctors that have given me a formula. They’re not even doctors, actually, these guys.” No real surprise, they aren’t “doctors, actually.”

+ Now he’s out torturing rattlesnakes as a campaign stunt?

+ Apparently Kennedy’s views on rattlesnakes are in synch with his views on immigrants and Palestinians, round ’em up, move them somewhere else…

+ RFK Jr.: “I’m proud that President Trump likes me.”

+ The air seems to have gone out of the Eric Adams balloon. The New York mayor’s popularity is in freefall, especially among the city’s black residents, where he’s favorability rating has plunged from 56% last May to 29 percent this June, according to a new poll by Sienna.

+ Wrong, again, Scott. Abolition would have come much earlier, if the colonies had remained part of the British Empire. Britain ended slavery in its colonies in 1834 and in Lower Canada in 1793. The Declaration of Independence itself, which Hawley credits as the ignition point for the slo-motion abolition of slavery in the US, actually cites as a reason for separating from the Empire, Britain’s instigation of slave revolts.

+ Will there be Commie Inspection Stations at the border, like the fruit fly inspections in California? Will Florida State troopers rummage through your trunk looking for copies of the 18th Brumaire and Pedagogy of the Oppressed?

+ Without the socialist Medicare programs, Rick Scott wouldn’t have had anything to rip-off

+ 35% of Florida’s state budget comes from the federal government.

+ I wonder which, uhm, Disney movies groomed Haley’s views of this prelapsarian America?

+ Give Nikki credit. Perhaps she’s talking about those easier, simpler days–only a year ago–when 10-year-old girls weren’t forced to give birth to their uncle’s child and 12 year-old boys weren’t sent to work on the midnight shift sharpening cutting blades at the slaughterhouse.

+ Drug overdose deaths soared 533% from 2018 to 2022, mainly from fentanyl. Thirty-three people overdosed on fentanyl in ’18. Fentanyl deaths climbed to 209 in 2022. 

+ Take from the, as Bruce Cockburn would say, “IMF, dirty MF”: Rising corporate profits were the largest contributor to Europe’s inflation over the past two years as companies increased prices by more than the spiking costs of imported energy.”

+ CEO-to-worker pay ratio at:

Amazon: 6,474:1
Expedia: 2,897:1
McDonalds: 2,251:1
Coca Cola: 1,791:1
Bath & Body Works: 1,662:1
Apple: 1,447:1
Chipotle: 1,131:1
Norwegian Cruise Line: 1,018:1
Walmart: 1,013:1

(H/t Public Citizen)

+ New data from the World Inequality Lab shows that the USA, Russia and India are all more unequal today than they were 200 years ago.

+ According to Bloomberg, homebuyers in the US would need an annual salary of $125,000 to qualify for a loan to purchase more than half of the houses now on the market.

+ A study in Science magazine documented an estimated 1,179,024 excess deaths in the US during the first two years of the pandemic (634,830 in 2020 and 544,194 in 2021). The report found that “despite the initial concentration of mortality in large metropolitan Northeastern counties, nonmetropolitan Southern counties had the highest cumulative relative excess mortality by July 2021.”

+ From 2020 through April of this year, at least 5614 people were suspected to have caught COVID while in public hospitals in the Australian state of Victoria for other conditions. More than as one-in-ten of these patients (659) later died of COVID.

+ Merck, one of the Big Pharma companies now suing the federal government to stop Medicare from being able to negotiate lower drug prices, had a net income of $14.5 billion in 2022, up 18% over the previous year.

+ Amy Klobuchar on abortion: “I support allowing for limitations in the third trimester that do not interfere with the life or health of the women.” So Sen. Klobocop’s against something that never happens, but by being against a red herring she weakens the fundamental right to control over one’s body…

+ Nearly half of Americans said they’d be willing to spend up to $100 a month for new weight-loss medicines such as Ozempic, according to a Harris-STAT News Poll, and more than a third say they would indefinitely pay whatever they can afford to get the drugs, according The informative clerk at the local Tractor Supply, Inc. said Ivermectin works just as well…

+ A study published in the British Medical Journal concludes that people who commute by bicycle have:

+ a 52% lower risk of death from heart disease
+ a 46% lower risk of developing heart disease
+ a 40% lower risk of death from cancer
+ a 45% lower risk of developing cancer

+ Three years after Egypt’s population topped 100 million, it has now become the world’s largest importer of wheat.

+ Joe Donnell, a member of South Dakota’s House of Representatives, believes that Mount Rushmore is a demonic portal. He should support giving it back to the Lakota, who’d be happy to close the portal the way the Taliban did those Buddhas.


+ According the latest report by the World Meteorological Organization, Europe is heating up faster than any other continent. Last year, Europe was 2.3 degrees C warmer than in the preindustrial era.

+ The city of Del Rio, Texas Del Rio has already experience 20 record highs this year, including 8 in a row.

+ More than a fifth of ecosystems worldwide, including the Amazon rainforest, are at risk of a catastrophic breakdown within a human lifetime, according to a research paper published in Nature Sustainability.

+ At least  half of the native plants in the UK and Ireland are in decline, according a 20-year study published in Plant Atlas.

+ Last summer, the Thames River had become so hot and saturated with sewage that it had to be pumped with tonnes of oxygen for 11 days to keep fish and aquatic plants from perishing.

+ Tropical forest loss increased by 10 percent last year with the planet losing more than 10.2 million acres of primary rainforest. Brazil alone is now losing forest canopy the size of Belgium every year.

+ In 2022, global deforestation caused the release of carbon dioxide equivalent to the annual fossil fuel emissions of India.

+ At least, 257 fires are still burning out of control across Canada, having already burned a record 20 million acres, an area about the size of Maine.

+ Why is Canada burning? Climate change and drought, obviously. But less obviously: plantations. Research has shown that logged areas of the boreal forest in Canada are more susceptible to fires in the decade after they’ve been clearcut than native forests.

+ Gas stoves pollute homes with benzene, emitting more of the known carcinogen than present in secondhand smoke, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford published in Environmental Science and Technology.

+ More gas is now being delivered by LNG tankers than through inter-regional pipelines, according to the latest report from the Statistical Review of World Energy.

+ According the Financial Times, this year global spending on solar energy production will outpace spending on oil production for the first time in history: $380 billion on solar compared with $370 billion on oil.

+ The big winner here is China, which has now eclipsed both the EU nations and the US in renewable energy production: “China now generates 650 terawatt-hours of wind electricity, almost twice as much as America. It provides a third of the world’s solar power, 330 terawatt-hours, more than twice as much as the US.“

+ Still according to the Energy Institute’s Statistical Review of World Energy, global energy-related CO2 emissions continued to grow by 0.8%  in the “post-pandemic” (so-called) period and the overall dominance of fossil fuels is largely unchanged at almost 82% of total consumption, despite the impressive growth in renewables.

+ The exception is Europe, where fossil fuel generation is expected to fall by 20% in 2023.

+ In 2011, the average range of electric cars was a mere 73 miles. The average is now 247 miles with some models getting as much as 500 miles per charge.

+ On the other hand, the now ubiquitous doubled-sided digital advertising screens use as much electricity per day as three households.

+ A federal judge has given Enbridge three years to shut down parts of an oil pipeline that illegally crosses reservation land in northern Wisconsin and ordered the energy company to pay the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa tribe more than $5 million for trespassing.

+ Democrats in Action: Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Sen. Amy Klobuchar have introduced a bill that would force the removal of Great Lakes gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act without scientific or public support.

It now seems apparent that feathered creatures preceded dinosaurs and that, in fact, the ancestor of all dinosaurs had feathers.

+ Last year, South Korea’s fertility rate dropped to a record low of 0.78 – less than half the 2.1 needed for a stable population and far below that of Japan at 1.3.


+ With David Ignatius’ The Tao of Deception, the Washington Post is publishing fiction on their homepage. The only thing new about this is the fact they’re labeling it as such.

+ Mike Drucker: “If Lance Armstrong actually believed people are pretending to be trans to cheat at sports, he would have tried it already.”

+ Over the last 30 years, red wine sales in France have fallen by half, the gap in consumption largely filled by an increase in rosé.

+ Before Herbie Hancock played “Footprints” at a gig last week, he introduced the Wayne Shorter composition by saying Shorter’s last words were: “It’s time to go get a new body and come back to continue the mission, before chanting ‘Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō’ over & over.”

+ Phil Spector: “Lenny Bruce died of an overdose of police.”

+ How Mao’s worst idea was adopted by the MAGA-right…

+ I rewatched Best of Enemies last night, the documentary on the 1968 debates between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal. The film is weighted down by excessive commentary, especially by the likes of Todd Gitlin and Eric Alterman. The presence of the Christopher Hitchens is grating, more so given the fact that he later savaged his former friend in print, just as he had done to Edward Said. There’s a play by the same title by the British playwright James Graham, which, unimpeded by these dull and rather uninformative interruptions, probably gets you closer to the raw thrills of watching the verbal combat live. The jibe that causes Buckley to lose his mind is when Vidal calls him a “crypto-Nazi,” which was true, of course. But Buckley couldn’t tolerate being exposed. The smug mask of Buckley’s face dissolves, revealing the seething hatred beneath, as Buckley lunges toward Vidal and spews from his rictus-like mouth:  “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi, or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face, and you’ll stay plastered.” Vidal doesn’t flinch. He merely grins in return, knowing Buckley had come undone. “Oh, Bill,” he says softly. “You’re too extraordinary.” But how times have changed. The GOP no longer runs away from such labels. They embrace them. But if there was one person Vidal hated more than Buckley, it was probably RFK, who he goes out of his way to disparage, even as the blood on the floor Ambassador Hotel was still drying. Vidal, who in 1964 joined with James Baldwin and Carey McWilliams to try to undermine Bobby’s campaign become a US senator from New York,  viewed RFK as “disturbingly authoritarian.” RFK, who was friends with Buckley (they both liked to sail), felt pretty much the same way about Vidal. At one point, Buckley unfolds a personal letter from Bobby, shakes it in Gore’s face and quotes RFK as writing: “Let’s give Gore Vidal to the Viet Cong.” Vidal grabs the letter, inspects the handwriting, smiles, points out the upward slanting script and declares: “this is the sure sign of a manic-depressive.” And thus laid waste to two of his most loathed targets in one blow.

+ As Harvey Pleshaw reminded me: “Both RFK and Buckley were raging homophobes, which, politics aside, likely contributed to their hatred of Vidal. This was one reactionary attitude RFK never abandoned. In fact, his top aide Adam Walinsky later became a prominent supporter of Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade.”

Why is He Acting So Strange?

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Blue Machine: How the Ocean Shapes Our World
Helen Czerski

Working Girl: Selling Art and Selling Sex
Sophia Giovannitti

In Praise of Polytheism
Maurizio Bettini
Trans. Douglas Grant Heise

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Changes: the Complete 1970s Atlantic Studio Recordings
Charles Mingus
(Rhino Atlantic)

Western Cum
Cory Hanson
(Drag City)

This Moment
(Abstract Logix)

Flee Into the Past

“Someday, with the right man in the White House, there will be a Department of Jesus, yes and a Secretary of Jesus. Then again, that’s the whole Reagan program, isn’t it?–Dismantle the New Deal, reverse the effects of World War II, restore fascism at home and around the world, flee into the past, can’t you feel it, all the dangerous childish stupidity—“I don’t like the way it came out, I want it to be my way.” (Vineland, Thomas Pynchon)

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