Roaming Charges: Through a Sky Darkly

I-90 at Milepost 277, closed by smoke. Photo: Washington Department of Transportation.

“The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.”

– Leonard Cohen

I-90 was closed last week. By smoke. The air quality in Spokane hit 635, air as lethal as any major city on the planet has ever seen. Then the wind currents shifted and the grey streams of smoke from fires in British Columbia and eastern Washington turned back on themselves, merging with the palls of smoke percolating northward from fires in southern Oregon and California to blanket the entire Northwest under a suffocating layer of smoke for three days.

The sweet smell of burning forests saturated the air. Forest I’d walked in many times. Forests, like the Harry Andrews Experiment Station in the Oregon Cascades, that harbors some of the last low-elevation old-growth. Forests that had been the source of much of what we now know about the webs of life in these ancient ecological systems.

Farther south, the forests along the Smith River were also ablaze–that enchanted corridor along Highway 199, the so-called Redwood Highway that twists through the Siskiyou Mountains to the California Coast at Crescent City. A road I’ve driven dozens of times to visit Alexander Cockburn, Becky Grant, Deva Wheeler and CounterPunch headquarters in Petrolia. Forests of old-growth Doug-fir and redwoods, spotted owls and black bears, a rushing green river with salmon and cutthroat trout. For a week, I could smell it going up in flames, like the cremation of an old friend.

Here the sunlight was fractalized by the smoke and ash. But the yellow sheen of the sky didn’t do much to tamp down the temperature. We had a string of 100-plus days on top of a run of 90-plus days. In the last four years alone, the northern Willamette Valley, where we live, has experienced 17 days where the temperatures topped 100F, more than it has in any 10-year period on record.

We’re far beyond 1.5° warming here. The average temperature greater Stumptown this May was 5.4° above normal. The average temperature for June was 3.9° above normal. The average temperature for July was 3.3° above normal. The average temperature for August to date has been 5.1° above normal. The marine layer that often shields the sun in the mornings here has been largely absent and with it the morning dew. The sun sets late and rises early, full-blast.

Everything is brown and has been for weeks: grass, gardens, parks, median strips, cemeteries–all withered by unrelenting sun and lack of rain.  Even the leaves are beginning to turn–sickly pale colors, not the vibrant shades of autumn. We haven’t had a major rainfall since the end of April. “Sere” is the Keatsian term that sticks in my head: “And the fallen leaves are sere.” The old rule of thumb was to expect showers in western Oregon until the Fourth of July. The Farmer’s Almanac needs a major revision. The creek in our canyon, a salmon-spawning stream, has shriveled to a few pools in the gravel streambed. The silky falls at the head of the canyon is dry. The Clackamas River, whose once verdant valley has been scorched by the fires that nearly reached our house three years ago, is reduced to a near trickle at its confluence with the shrunken Willamette.

The point has been tipped, as they say. We’ve lived on the same ridge for 34 years. But it’s not the same. The ecosystem around us has changed. Been changed, one should say. And continues to change, rapidly. Summers, which now start in late March, don’t look, feel or smell the same. Places that were once a refuge for exploration and contemplation–Big Bottom, Pup Creek, Roaring River canyon, Opal Creek, Oneonta Gorge–are now danger zones, ghost forests. Shorn of its multilayered canopy, the forest floor is braised by unfiltered sunlight, where you step on trails of ash and hear the crash of falling trees.

It’s a metaphor for our time. There is no escape from the strange spasms of the world as we’ve remade it.


+ The tragedy of Lahaina is compounded by the kind of government incompetence corporate indifference we witnessed in New Orleans. Despite repeated warnings, Hawaiian Electric refused to shut down the power lines, which have contributed to killer fires in California and Oregon, even as they were whipped apart by near hurricane-force winds, sending spark-showering wires writhing in parched grasses. Then, the only road out of town was barricaded by police and cars were either stuck in line or sent back into the burning town. Only those chose to drive around it ended up surviving the fast-moving fires. During Katrina, the bridge to Gretna was one of the few ways out of the flooded city, until police used force to stop desperate pedestrians, most of whom were black, from crossing it.

+ Christopher Blackwell, a CounterPunch contributor who is incarcerated in a Washington State Prison near Spokane: “The smoke is so bad at my prison from the wild fires across the state that when I blow my nose it’s black. I can’t imagine what’s it’s like for the thousands of people incarcerated at the prisons right near the fire. You can’t disentangle climate justice and mass incarceration.”

+ Between 2017 and 2022, the average number of air quality warnings issued by Environment Canada during Canadian wildfire season was 897. This year, the agency has already released more than three times as many: 3,166.

+ The temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean hit 25.3°C for the first time in observational history.

+ Cities in the Pacific Northwest are now building smoke shelters.

+ As Canada burns from border to border, Rich Kruger, the CEO of Suncor, the country’s biggest CO2 emitter, pledges to accelerate its fossil fuel production: “I play to win. We’re in the business to make money and as much of it as possible.”

+ He’s not alone. Check out Bidenmentalism in action: US domestic crude oil production has reached 12.7 million barrels per day, up 600,000 barrels per day from one year ago, the highest level since 2020.

+ The IMF estimates that fossil fuels are being subsidized at rate of $13 million every minute or about $7 trillion a year.

+ A study published in PLOS Climate estimates that the richest 10 percent of Americans account for 40 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions. Sounds low to me.

+ Starting on May 27, 2023, State Farm will become the biggest company to stop offering insurance to California homeowners, attributing the decision to the rising risk of wildfires. The company, which held the most policies in the California property market in 2021, experienced about a 60% loss that year.

+ Allstate isn’t trailing far behind State Farm. It lost 32 cents on the dollar in the first six months of 2023 insuring homes…

+ Europe has already experienced at least 1,100 fires this summer, scorching more than 1,100 square miles of land–far above the average of 724 fires a year from 2006-2022.

+ The flooding in Slovenia is now the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. More than two-thirds of Slovenia is devastated with hundreds of villages still cut off from the outside world.

+ New Orleans endured more than a month with a heat index of at least 105 degrees, nearly doubling the record set in 2021. For nine consecutive days during that stretch temperatures felt like 115 degrees or higher.

+ For the third time on record (since 1851), three Atlantic tropical cyclones formed over 24 hour period (Tropical Depression 6, Emily, and Franklin). The historic outbreak of tropical cyclones was matched only by August 22, 1995, and August 15, 1893.

+ What are currently considered 1-in-100 year extreme sea level events are projected to occur at least annually in over half of the world’s tide gauge locations by 2100.

+ Terry Tempest Williams: “In Castle Valley (Utah), according to our town’s weather keeper, we have had 47 days this summer where the temperature exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, and the average high was 107 degrees. At its peak the heat reached a sweltering 114 degrees. From Texas to Phoenix to the Four Corners, there has been no relief.”

+ An analysis by RStreet reveals that the most rigorous level of environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is used far more often for clean energy projects than for fossil fuel projects. In fact, many fossil fuel projects are “categorically excluded” from NEPA even when similar scale clean energy projects aren’t.

+ According to the IPCC, by 2050, about half of the European population are likely to be exposed to high or very high risk of heat stress during summer months.

+ The Alexandroupolis wildfire complex in Greece and Macedonia is now the largest wildfire on record in the EU.

+ A study by researchers in Norway finds that when it comes to motivating people to become climate activists “anger” is seven times stronger than “hope.”

+ Voters in Ecuador voted overwhelmingly to ban oil exploration in the Block 44 area, situated within Yasuní National Park, one of the world’s most biologically diverse regions.

+ The debt owed by global south countries has increased by 150% since 2011, according to a new report by Debt Justice. At least, 54 countries are in a debt crisis, having to spend five times more on repayments to rich industrial nations than on addressing the climate crisis.

+ More than 200 cargo ships are backed up waiting to enter the dwindling waters of the Panama Canal, where each crossing requires 51 million gallons of water. Mired in the worst drought since the opening of the Panama Canal more than 100 years ago, some ships are waiting more than 3 weeks to cross the canal, which handles around 40% of US container traffic.

+ According to CERES, the Earth Energy Imbalance (EEI) hit another all-time high in June. The 36-month EEI now stands at a record 1.46 W/m², which is about 11.9 Hiroshimas per second, or 1.12 billion Hiroshimas over the last three years.


+ On June 23, Evgeniy Prigozhin, the head of the Russian mercenary outfit the Wagner Group, announced his “March of Fairness” mutiny. Exactly two months later his plane was apparently shot out of the sky over the Tver region. while Putin was handing out medals at the same annual military ceremony where last year the Russian president feted Prigozhin.

+ Chances of dying in a plane crash: 0.000009%.

+ But imagine the odds of dying twice in a plane crash? In October 2019, when an an-72 military aircraft crashed with eight people aboard in the Congo, it was alleged that Prigozhin was among the dead, only to have him resurface, apparently no worse for wear, later in Moscow.

+ Prigozhin is in ashes, but Erik Prince flies on…

+ Perhaps Prince’s pilot is unvaxxed?

+ Prigozhin will be missing out on the war loot. In 2022, the number of Russian millionaires also rose by about 56,000 to 408,000, while bank accounts of people worth over $50 million climbed by nearly 4,500.

+ When Putin’s revenge came, it was as swift as in a Godfather film, knocking out three of his top enemies on the same day: Prigozhin, his Wagner Group partner Dmitry Valerievich Utkin and Sergei Surovikin, the Wagner ally, who was removed from his position as head of Russian aerospace forces. I wonder what opera was playing?

+ The New York Post described Prigozhin, once known as Putin’s Chef and more recently as the butcher of civilians in Africa, Syria and Ukraine, as a “dissident,” which makes a mockery of the term. Last week we an unrepentant letter from our imprisoned friend, the Russian Marxist Boris Kagarlitsky–one of a reported 20,000 anti-war activists jailed by Putin’s regime–which is about twice the size of the entire US peace movement from the looks of things.


+ Looking for a mug shot from Atlanta? Here’s one worthy of study: Eugene V. Debs…

+ Kari Lake defending Trump’s decision to skip the Iowa debates: “Trump is the Babe Ruth of all of politics. Why would we even waste his time?” The Babe Ruth of All Politics lost the popular vote to two of the worst politicians of all time: HRC and Joe Biden, which is like the ’27 Yankees losing to the ’62 Mets. Twice.

+ Back in 2022, the Biden administration justified its massive weapon sales to Saudi Arabia as purely “defensive” in nature. But now, as the regime tries to sportswash its reputation for savagery, we learn that Saudi border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers in the past year alone. Women and children are among the murdered, some in brutal and sadistic ways. In a new report from Human Rights Watch, “‘They Fired on Us Like Rain’: Saudi Arabian Mass Killings of Ethiopian Migrants at the Yemen-Saudi Border,” Saudi border guards have been cited for using explosive weapons to kill many migrants and shooting other migrants at close range. In several instances, Saudi border guards asked migrants what limb to shoot, while other Saudi border guards fired explosive weapons at migrants who were attempting to flee back to Yemen. This is the murderous state Biden wants to offer security guarantees to…

+ Vivek Ramaswamy, 9/11 Truther: “I think it is legitimate to say how many police, how many federal agents, were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers. Maybe the answer is zero. It probably is zero for all I know, right?”

+ Ramaswamy has been accused of hiring someone to scrub his Wikipedia page of unflattering (to the MAGA base he is so urgently courting) biographical episodes, including his receipt of a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans in 2011, as well as his role on Ohio’s COVID-19 Response Team. But his association with the son of the Dr. Mabuse of the Left hasn’t escaped the attention of the intrepid investigators at FoxNews.

+ American history according to Vivek Ramaswamy: “the US Constitution was what won us the American Revolution.” The Constitution was written in 1787, 6 years after the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown, 11 years after the Declaration of Independence and 12 years after the Revolution started, in 1775.

+ At the debate, DeSantis repeatedly tried to associate himself with the Navy SEAL teams in Iraq, by saying “I was with the SEALS in places like Fallujah and Ramadi.” But DeSantis wasn’t a SEAL, he was a JAG. The role of JAGS in Iraq was advise the SEALS on who they could “legally” capture, torture and kill. Or, in his own tart phrase, whose “throats they could slit.”

+ In a landslide a victory, Bernardo Arévalo has won Guatemala’s presidential election. Arévalo will become the country’s most progressive leader since Jacobo Árbenz was deposed in a CIA-backed coup in 1954.

+ The CIA used torture to extract a confession from alleged Cole bombing planner Abd al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al Nashiri. Last week, a Guantánamo military commission judge barred its use at trial.

+ Over the last decade,  investment in the American space sector ($133 billion) has nearly doubled that of China ($79 billion) or the rest of the world combined ($68 billion).

+ In early August, the German government acquired the Arrow 3 missile defense system from Israel in a $3.5 billion dollar deal. The Arrow 3, which won’t become fully operational until 2030, is meant to protect Germany and neighboring countries from intermediate and long-range Russian missiles. Only days before the Arrow 3 deal was announced, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholtz reportedly blocked the publication of a Foreign Ministry statement strongly condemning the illegality of Israel’s West Bank occupation.

+ Itar Ben Gvir asserted this week with his customary bombast that Israelis have a Biblical right to move and settle wherever they want in the West Bank: “My right, my wife’s right, my kids’ right to move around freely on the roads of Judea and Samaria is more important than the right of movement of Arabs. Sorry Muhammad, but this is the reality.”

+ NYC Mayor Eric Adams, who has compared himself to Jesus and Gandhi in recent weeks, is the latest Democrat to make junket to Israel. He didn’t do it on his own dime, however. His trip was funded ($39,999) by the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. Adams said he was there to review Israel’s drone surveillance technology with the goal of adopting it in New York. “One thing that really caught my eye was utilizing motorcycles and drones together,” Adams said.

+ In Finland, the number of homeless has dropped sharply after the government instituted a policy of offering small apartments counseling with no preconditions. Around 4 out of 5 people affected have made their way back into a stable life.

+ Baltimore has around 2.4 times the drug overdose death rate of San Francisco. But Baltimore’s rate of homelessness is less than a third of San Francisco’s. Why? Because housing in Baltimore is cheaper.

+ According to a report in The Intercept, forensic genealogists working with law enforcement agencies are searching the DNA profiles that people provided to private genealogy companies, even when those people explicitly said they didn’t want their DNA profiles shared with law enforcement.

+ Out of 8.7 million doses of mRNA Covid vaccines in kids aged 5-11, there were only 11 myocarditis cases, all of whom have recovered.

+ Since August 2020, Covid has killed at least 10 times more children than the flu.

+ A new study out in Nature Medicine documents the persistence of long Covid symptoms–and the risk of death–more than two years after contracting the virus.

+ RFK, Jr’s Theory of HIV/AIDS manages to merge medical conspiracy theory with homophobia: “There’s a lot of people that said it is not a virus. The virus is a passenger virus, and these people are dying mainly because of poppers. 100 percent of the people who died in the first thousand [with] AIDS were people who were addicted to poppers, which are known to cause Kaposi sarcoma in rats. And they were people who were part of a gay lifestyle where they were burning the candle at both ends. There were poppers on sale everywhere at the gay bars.”

+ In an interview a couple of weeks ago with the medical website STAT, Alexander Hardy, CEO of Genentech, said the company’s considering slow-walk research on new cancer treatments for diseases with smaller populations in favor of making sure diseases with larger patient populations are the first to market so that they can avoid having to negotiate lower drug prices under the Inflation Reduction Act. It’s worth noting that according to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, two years after a cancer diagnosis 42.4 percent of patients have depleted their entire life’s savings.

+ An infant born in the United States is now 70 percent more likely to die than in other wealthy countries.

+ The sharp decline in China’s fertility rate is unprecedented: a 20% drop in the last two years, following a 40% drop in the previous five years.


+ Leonard Leo, the impresario of the Federalist Society, became a very wealthy man after he helped plot and execute the strategy to block Merrick Garland’s appointment to the Supreme Court. According to a complaint filed with the IRS about Leo’s extraordinary level of compensation since 2016, the rightwing lawyer and legal activist’s lavish spending surged…

+ The three affidavits used as the basis for an August 11 police raid on the Marion County Record, a small Kansas newspaper that was investigating corruption in the department,  were not filed until three days after the search warrants were executed. Many civil libertarians are blaming the judge for blindly signing the warrants. “Too often the warrant process is just a way for police to launder their lack of probable cause through a compliant judge,” Jared McClain told the Kansas Reflector. “Until we start holding judges accountable for enabling the abusive and lawless behavior of the police, incidents like this are just going to keep happening.

+ After a no-knock raid on a house in Ville Platte, Louisiana a cop is dead, a father, disabled veteran and former cop is dead, a mother is fighting for her life, and their 23-year-old son is now charged with murder. All this carnage merely to try to serve a narcotics warrant.

+ After winning a new contract, a jail phone company in Georgia gave a $160,000 “donation” to the Glynn Count Sheriff, which will go directly towards buying three new police cruisers. Meanwhile, the jail will charge $0.30 per minute of video visitation calls, which amounts to $6 per 20 minute video call. The sheriff will receive 25% of the revenue while Pay Tel receives the other 75%.

+ Over the past decade in Florida, kids—some as young as 5—have been seized and subjected to 335,000 forced psychiatric exams under the Baker Act. Advocates say the detentions and exams are traumatic, especially to those with disabilities who may not understand what is happening.

+ Laura Ann Carleton was the owner of the clothing store Mag.Pi in Cedar Glen, California. After Carleton displayed a Pride flag in her store window, a man began to harass her by making disparaging remarks about the flag. Last Friday, he returned to the store, where he shot and killed her.

+ Cops arrested 10-year-old black boy in Senatobia, Mississippi because he had to pee and the law office where his mom was having a meeting didn’t have restroom. Police saw him peeing behind his mom’s car, took him to jail and charged him with public urination.

+ This week the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve the new LAPD contract, which will increase the LAPD budget by a billion dollars over the next 4 years.

+ Over a three-year period, repeated misconduct by 116 officers in the Chicago Police Department has cost the city $91.3 million.

+ Gun-related deaths among children claimed 4,752 young lives in 2021, a bloody new record. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths were homicides, although unintentional shootings have killed many children.

+ In Texas’s stifling prisons, most of which lack air conditioning, at least 41 inmates have died of heart-related or undetermined causes since the summer’s unrelenting heat wave began.

+ From Federal Appeals Court Judge James Ho’s concurring opinion in the abortion pill ruling.

Wait until Judge Ho hears about what goes on inside a confined feeding facility, slaughterhouse or animal testing lab…

+ In South Carolina, the nation’s only all-male state supreme court upheld a ban on abortions after six weeks, even though the state constitution explicitly protects the right to privacy.

+ At Bunnell Elementary School in Flagler County, Florida, black (and only black) fourth- and fifth-grade students were hauled out of class last Friday an “assembly” on how to improve their grades, which were becoming a “problem” for the school. Even black students who had passing grades were pulled out of class and given the lecture. Students were selected to attend based on their race, Flagler Schools spokesman Jason Wheeler told The Washington Post on Wednesday.


+ Here’s the key point in the Ronan Farrow’s account in the New Yorker of the rise of Elon Musk: “In the past twenty years, against a backdrop of crumbling infrastructure and declining trust in institutions, Musk has sought out business opportunities in crucial areas where, after decades of privatization, the state has receded. The government is now reliant on him, but struggles to respond to his risk-taking, brinksmanship, and caprice.”

+ According to an analysis by Matt Binder in Mashable, “of the 153,209,283 X accounts following Musk…around 42% of Musk’s followers, or more than 65.3 million users, have zero followers… Just over 72%, or nearly 112 million, of these users following Musk have less than 10 followers on their account.”

+ Steve Bannon on Musk: “He’s a man-child. This is a deeply disturbed individual. He sold us out to the Chinese Communist Party. Now he’s driving by Zuckerberg’s – they’re gonna fight in the back yard? Are they 9 years old?”

+ As the potential of a strike by the United Autoworkers nears, the level of fear-mongering about the economic consequences of a walkout rises predictably. One figure that has been bandied about in the press is that a 10-day long strike at the nation’s three biggest automakers would cost “the economy” as much as $5 billion. But this eye-catching number derives from a “study” by the Anderson Economic Group (AEG), a consultancy shop that represents both Ford and GM as clients. AEG conveniently failed to highlight the conflict of interest.

+ In the five-year period between the beginning 0f 2017 and the end of 2021, the New Year Department of Labor documented that $126 million in wages had been stolen from workers. To date, the agency has yet to recover more than half of those wages.

+ New Jersey state labor officials have temporarily shut down 27 of the state’s 31 Boston Markets after documenting rampant wage theft. The chain owes 314 workers over $600,000 in back pay. And the company has been fine nearly $2.6 million.

+ All I needed to know I learned as an enslaved child laborer…

+ Grad student workers at Duke University voted by a margin 1,000 to 131 in favor of unionizing.

+ Nikki Haley: “I didn’t want any company to come to South Carolina if they were unionized. I would not–we never wanted a unionized company. I didn’t want them to taint our water at all.”

+ And now a message from SAG actor Ron Perlman…

+ There’s a lot of talk about the impending collapse of California (economically not geologically) and the rise of Texas. But the numbers tell a strikingly different story. Let’s look at the Austin metro area versus the supposedly withering Bay Area. In 2017, the GDP of the Austin metro area was $63,893 per year. At a growth rate of 2.2% per year it had risen to around $69,000 in 2021. By contrast, in 2021 San Francisco had a per capita GDP of $290,000.


+ The distance between between NYC and Chicago is roughly the same as that between Beijing and Shanghai. The NYC-CHI rail route is served by one train a day with the trip taking 19 hours. The Beijing – Shanghai route is served by 35 trains a day at 4.5 hours per trip.

+ An investigation by AP found that a pattern of Norfolk Southern railroad workers getting disciplined or fired for reporting safety violations or injuries by managers who don’t want to see the trains slowed down.

+ Norfolk Southern has spent $1.9 million in Washington after the East Palestine derailment, as Congress watered down the rail safety bill. “I’m honestly just not surprised, East Palestine resident Amanda Greathouse, told The Intercept. “That’s what Norfolk does. They throw money at people to make them complicit. They don’t care about safety. It’s all about their bottom line.” That’s what Norfolk does. They throw money at people to make them complicit. They don’t care about safety. It’s all about their bottom line.”

+ Here’s a data audiovisualization by Isao Hashimoto of all the nuclear detonations from 1945 to 1998…

+ According to Utah writer and downwinder Mary Dickson, since the beginning of the nuclear age the US government has spent more than $12 trillion on nuclear weapons. But in the 33 years of compensation, it has spent only $2.6 billion to help the Americans sickened by nuclear testing and research.

+ As of March, the National Nuclear Security Agency’s projects that were in the construction phase collectively overran their cost estimates by more than $2 billion and were behind on their schedules by almost 10 years.

+ According to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, microplastics have been detected for the first time in the hearts of humans undergoing cardiac surgery.

+ More than 90 percent of water samples taken from the Great Lakes show harmful levels of microplastics.  The Great Lakes provide drinking water to more than 40 million people in the US and Canada, harbor nearly 90% of the US’s freshwater, and provide aquatic habitat to around 3,500 species of plants and animals.

+ Every year, around 7 trillion pieces of microplastics are washed by rainfall into into San Francisco Bay, a large percentage of it consisting of tire particles left behind on streets—about 300 times greater than what is shedded from polyester clothes, microbeads from beauty products and other particles that go down the drain in kitchens and bathrooms.

+ Ray Bradbury: “People ask me to predict the Future, when all I want to do is prevent it.”

+ Over 17 days in May and June, the Alaska Board of Game (six men and one woman appointed by the governor who are hunters, big game guides, trappers or fishermen and not scientists) authorized the killings of 94 brown bears, five black bears and five wolves. At a board meeting where the decision was made, state wildlife biologists presented data that showed that the state’s predator control program involving wolves had been ineffective in bolstering the state’s caribou herd. But the board ignored the science and voted to extend the state’s wolf killing program and add bears to the slaughter.

+ After spending more than 50 years as a captive at SeaAquarium, confined to “the smallest, bleakest orca tank in the world, deprived of any semblance of a natural life,” where she experience “severe psychological trauma”, Tokitae (aka, Lolita) the Orca has died.

+ Sink them all!

+ Hunter S. Thompson: “It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.”

+ The California’s top single-point methane emitter is the Brandt Company cattle ranch in the Imperial Valley, which releases 9,137 metric tons a year, more than any oil or gas well, refinery or landfill. The 643-acre confined feeding operation confines at least 139,000 beef cattle. Each year, the ranch emits more greenhouse gas emissions than 165,000 automobiles.  But the California Air Resources Board still refuses list dairies and livestock operations in its greenhouse gas reporting program.

+ Ranchers and livestock farmers in the EU and US receive about 1,000 times more public funding than farmers who produce plant-based and cultivated meat, according to new research published in the journal One Earth.

+ A BLM employee recorded dozens of grazing trespass incidents in the San Luis Valley in Colorado, but an unwillingness by the agency to enforce its own regulations has left the once-protected habitat in the valley no longer meeting minimal standards for water quality, vegetation, or wildlife.

+ Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket tests in Texas are emitting so much methane, it can be tracked from space…

+ Children living within a mile of a natural gas fracking well are about seven times more likely to suffer from lymphoma, a rare kind of cancer, according to a long-awaited study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh.

+ With rising sea levels, it no longer takes a severe weather event to cause damaging flooding along the coasts. Coastal towns in eight locations along the East and West coasts experienced record high tide flooding last year.

+ Vultures have been described as “Nature’s sanitation service,” cleaning up carcasses before the rotting tissue develops pathogens which spread into water supplies. In the 1990s, the near-extinction of Indian vultures has been linked to increased fatalities for humans. A recent study charts the mortality rate to rising by 4% in districts once populated by the birds.

+ According to the Department of Energy, in 2023, non-fossil fuel Sources will account for 86% of new electric utility generation capacity in the United States, primarily from solar (52%) and wind (13%), while batteries for stored energy will provide 17% of the new capacity. Natural gas is the only fossil fuel type contributing to new capacity and will account for 14% of the total. In contrast, nearly 100% of the capacity being retired is based on fossil fuel, led by coal (62%) and natural gas (36%). A total of 56.1 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity is being added and 14.5 GW of current capacity are being retired for a net gain of 41.6 GW in capacity. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly, February 2023.)

+ Over to you, Godzilla…

+ Tritium, it’s what’s for dinner…


+ Move over, Barbie…

+ John Lennon on “Dr. Robert“: “That was mine. Mainly about drugs and pills. It was about myself. I was the one that carried all the pills on tour. Later on the roadies did it. We just kept them in our pockets, loose, in case of trouble.”

+ WEB DuBois on television: “May I say that television is an example of the many devices which modern civilization has been able to invent but has neither the moral courage nor the mental power to use for the benefit of mankind. For the most part, television today appeals to morons and uneducated people. There are, of course, exceptions. But after repeated efforts to view television programs, I have given up and never look at one now unless I am caught where I cannot escape. Of course, I can think of splendid entertainment and education, but it will never come so long as the main object of television is, as it seems to be now, the entertainment of stupid people and the making of profits by almost compulsory methods of sales promotion.” (1952)

+ George Carlin: “Think of how stupid the average person is and then realize half of them are stupider than that.”

+ Speaking of TV…

Playboy: Any theories on what will happen to you after death?

Orson Welles: I don’t know about my soul, but my body will be sent to the White House. American passports ask you to state the name and address of the person to whom your remains should be delivered in the event of your death. I discovered many years ago that there is no law against putting down the name and address of the president. This has a powerful effect on the borders of many countries and acts as a sort of diplomatic visa. During the Eisenhower years, I would almost have been willing to die, in order to have my coffin turn up some evening in front of his television set.

+ During a breathless report on the decision to drop Queen’s “Fat-Bottomed Girls” from the children’s streaming service Yoto, Newsmax helpfully reminded viewers that: “Freddie Mercury was gay. Very gay.” Some viewers noted the irony of Newsmax decrying Queen’s capitulation to the woke mob of politically correct censors, while blurring the sleeve image for the single…

+ Why they never let Carlos Santana sing: “A woman is a woman and a man is a man. That’s it.”

+ On Tuesday, the censorious zealots at the Libs of TikTok posted a video trolling a public school librarian in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Within 24 hours the school had been hit with two bomb threats.

+ In more music news, Liberty University has apparently banned dancing on campus: “This year, the Liberty University Board of Trustees has decided to put an absolute stop to dancing, and instructed Res Life to enforce a strict no dancing policy. This action prevents halls from putting on hall formals, and instructs all RAs to put a stop to dancing when they see it.” As Laura Bassett noted, “this is the plot of Footloose.”

+ From the new collection of Dave Marsh’s writing, Kick Out the Jams (much of which first appeared on CounterPunch), is this great lede graph on one of his favorite bands, the MC5:

Somewhere there exists an alternate universe in which the MC5 became the biggest band in history–bigger than the Beatles (their ambition), bigger than Chairman Mao (their managers’). A universe in which thousands of their direct descendants express the White Panther Party’s three-point program–rock ‘n’ roll, dope and fucking in the streets–by accelerating social change through a musical fusion of Sun Ra, John Coltrane, the gutter-tongued rhythm and blues of Andre Williams and pre-psychedelic, non-nonviolent Anglo-rock glommed from the Who and Them.

+ James Joyce in a letter to Nora, August 21, 1909: “I like to think of you reading my verses. When I wrote them, I was a strange lonely boy, walking about by myself at night and thinking that some day a girl would love me.”

+ “A thousand times better than Joyce or St. Augustine”: Henry Miller’s assessment of his own writing after completing the “The Land of Fuck” episode in Tropic of Capricorn.

They Got the Weed and They Got the Taxis…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Ghost Forest: Racists, Radicals and Real Estate in the California Redwoods
Greg King
(Public Affairs)

The Man Who Closed the Asylums: Franco Basaglia and the Revolution in Mental Health Care
John Foot

Viruses: a Natural History
Marilyn J. Roossinck

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Live in Brooklyn, 2011
Sonic Youth
(Silver Current)

Live at Acton Town Hall
Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros

World Music Radio
Jon Batiste

Cultures of Violence

“The ‘culture of violence’ probably does exist, but it isn’t just a matter of TV networks and the NRA. We live in a country where commentators drool over the spectacle of immense tonnages of modern weaponry being used to level nations unable to strike back. We live in a country where almost a hundred prisoners have been executed in 1999, and there are 3,006 more men and women awaiting execution on death row. Every presidential candidate, including Gore and Bradley (not to mention liberal darling/New York senatorial candidate Hillary Clinton), is an avid supporter of the death penalty, an institution so barbarous that 105 countries have outlawed it. And, of course, we live in a country where the police who routinely kill people–often by shooting them in the back–are celebrated as heroes, as a linchpin of an officially approved ‘culture of violence,’ a culture opposed mainly by musicians who themselves are under constant attack for “violent” lyrics.”

– Dave Marsh, “Baby Please Don’t Go,” Kick Out the Jams

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