Roaming Charges: The Pitch of Frenzy

Shooter’s, Portland, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

“There is laughter because there is nothing to laugh at.”

– Theodor Adorno

Let’s consider the tale of two extraditions.

On October 16, 1998, London police arrested Augusto Pinochet, Chile’s military ruler from 1973 to 1990, at the request of Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzón, whose indictment against Pinochet included genocide, murder, and torture of thousands.

The Vatican, at the direction of Pope John Paul II, implored the Blair government to reject the Spanish request and free Pinochet for his unyielding defense of capitalism and Catholicism (and persecution of Liberation theologists and their communist allies.)

During his detention, Margaret Thatcher sent the former dictator a bottle of single malt whiskey with a note reading, “Scotch is one British institution that will never let you down.” In the end, neither did the Blair government, whose Home Secretary Jack Straw ruled in January 2000 that the former dictator should not be extradited to Spain.

The contrast with the UK’s treatment of journalist Julian Assange is revelatory. Assange has effectively been under detention since he sought (and was subsequently granted) asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy in London in 2012. During that time, Assange’s health deteriorated, his ability to work was curtailed, he was placed under constant surveillance and was the subject of an assassination plot by the Trump-era CIA. For the past four and a half years, Assange has been confined to a dank cell in Belmarsh Prison, awaiting extradition to the US on charges brought by Trump’s Justice Department alleging that Assange had violated the Espionage Act.

As with Assange, every British court ruling in Pinochet’s case affirmed Spain’s right to extradite Pinochet. Yet in the two-years it took to adjudicate his case, the dictator never spent a single night in a British prison or jail, despite the heinous charges pending against him, before the Blair government flouted international law and set him free. By contrast, Assange, who did nothing more than expose crimes that both the British and American governments had desperately tried to conceal, has repeatedly had his life put at risk. And here we get to the rub. Both the British and American governments were deeply complicit in the coup that brought Pinochet to power and supportive of the repressive regime that ruled Chile for the next 20 years. Much of the support for Pinochet was covert and they were (and remain) desperate to keep the details of that blood-drenched aid secret.

If you need a reminder of the crimes of the Pinochet regime, which both Thatcher and the Vatican begged the Blair government to turn a blind eye toward, consider the account of Luz de las Nieves Ayress, a 25-year-old graduate student, who was arrested by Pinochet’s secret police shortly after the overthrow of Salvador Allende. In a sworn statement, Ayress recounted that after her arrest she was stripped naked, had an electrodes attached to her mouth, ears, breasts, vagina and anus, then was repeatedly shocked with electric currents. But this ordeal, Ayress wrote, was “the easy part.” They “electroshocked everyone,” she said. Then the torture got much worse. During her four-year prison term, months of which were spent in solitary confinement, Ayress says she was repeatedly raped, had her breasts and stomach slashed, and was sexually assaulted by dogs. Ayress was one of 38,000 Chileans who were tortured under Pinochet’s dictatorship and her horrific experience was a routine, not exceptional, case.

Julian Assange has also been enduring a kind of torture for the last 11 years, inflicted by governments that have abetted torturers and rented out their torture chambers around the globe, those chill bureaucrats of the dark arts who are unlikely to condemn themselves by setting him free.


+ Even as children in Iraq continue to be born with birth defects as a consequence of the radiological weapons used during the US invasion and occupation, the Biden administration is now shipping depleted uranium weapons to Ukraine, another “gift”, like cluster munitions, which will keep on “giving” long after the conflict has finally ended.

+ The Cuban government announced this week it wants no part in Russia’s war on Ukraine and said “has uncovered a human trafficking ring that has coerced Cuban citizens to fight for Russia in the war in Ukraine.” Cuba’s foreign ministry said it is working to “neutralize and dismantle” the network.

+ Back in February, the World Bank estimated that Ukrainian reconstruction would cost $411 billion. That was before the spring Russian offensive, the Ukraine counter-offensive and the expansive use of drones by both sides. The figure will likely be closer to $800 billion if the war continues into 2024. As a reminder, Iraq reconstruction cost $60 billion, Afghanistan $90 billion. The Marshall Plan only cost $170 billion in 2023 dollars.

+ A Quincy Institute analysis of articles related to US military involvement in Ukraine found that media outlets cited think tanks with financial backing from the defense industry 85% of the time.

+ According to Walter Isaacson’s new biography, Elon Musk  secretly ordered SpaceX engineers to turn off the Starlink satellite communications network near the Crimean coast last year in order to thwart a Ukrainian surprise attack on Russia’s naval fleet.

+ Tommy Tuberville, the Alabama senator who lives in Florida, told FoxNews that he will continue blocking senior Pentagon appointments until the plague of “wokeness” is driven out of the military. “We got people doing poems on aircraft carriers,” the senator exclaimed. “Doing poems?” We certainly wouldn’t want a Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves or Siegfried Sassoon to emerge from the ranks of our Navy!

+ Naturally, the response to Tuberville from Navy brass is equally bonkers. The Cuban-born Carlos del Toro, Secretary of the Navy under Biden, accused Tuberville of “aiding and abetting communists,” which is a strange kind of woke.

+ Claiming that the current US nuclear arsenal was designed for “a more benign world,” a new report from the gunslingers at the Heritage Foundation calls for the Pentagon to “consider fielding road-mobile, theater-range land-attack nuclear missiles.”

+ Israel now holds at least 1,264 Palestinians in administrative detention, the since the Intifada 30 years ago. That means one quarter of Palestinians currently in Israeli custody are being jailed without trial.

+ A comprehensive new UN study on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories concludes that the 56-year long Israeli occupation is illegal, having breached fundamental norms of international law.

+ Doubling down on his imposition of apartheidist methods, Benjamin Netanyahu, whose views of Black Africans are to the right of DeSantis, said he wants Eritreans involved in a violent clash in Tel Aviv to be deported immediately and has ordered a plan to remove all of the estimated 25,000 African asylum seekers in Israel.

+ The Netanyahu government has plans for “13,000 new settlement units” during 2023, almost three times that of last year, in what amounts to a de facto annexation of the West Bank.

+ Gideon Levy on the latest round of “forcible transfers” in the West Bank: “Never before, in all the years of the occupation, has there been a Palestinian abandonment of villages in such proportions… This is the beginning of a real ethnic cleansing. You’ve been warned.”

+ Netanyahu is also pushing to build 300 kilometer-long wall on the Israel and occupied West Bank border with Jordan.

+ This week IDF soldiers made at least five Palestinian women strip naked in front of their children during a raid on their home in Hebron. Such strip-searches are becoming routine.

+ Calling Lula’s imprisonment, “one of the greatest legal errors in the history of our country,” Supreme Court Justice Dias Toffoli this week annulled all Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash) evidence against Lula and others and ruled it can never be used again.

+ Hannah Arendt: “Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines, totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself.”


+ The hagiography of RBG continues unabated, even though her selfishness helped give us the current court, which is taking a sledgehammer to everything she professed to believe in. Even worse is the legacy she left from the bench. Each Supreme Court justice gets four clerks per term. These are highly sought positions that are a launching pad for future federal judges. RBG hired one black clerk. Not one a term, mind you. But only one in 25 years–one out of more than 100 who clerked for her!

+ After winning his manufactured religious rights case at the Supreme Court, Joe Kennedy, the praying football coach, appeared at one game at a Bremerton, Washington high school–where no students prayed–and then quit and returned to his home in Florida.

+ California judges call for the elimination of cash bail: “The misunderstanding of bail as a tool to incarcerate people before trial has left in its wake a simultaneously unsafe, unfair & unjust legacy…. No arrested person should be detained simply because they cannot afford monetary bail.”

+ Anita Earls, a supreme court justice in North Carolina, has filed suit against the state’s judicial standards commission after the commission launched an investigation into her statements about how racial bias continues to infect the judicial system. In a law review article this June, Earls pointed to the lack of racial diversity in Supreme Court law clerks: “If you look at who is hired to serve as clerks to the justices … we have plenty of female clerks, but on racial diversity we’re lacking,” Earls said that there was only one Black clerk and one Latina clerk employed in the court’s latest term.  In her lawsuit, Earls asserts that the investigation by state’s judicial standards commission represents a “chilling of [my] first amendment rights.”

+ A constitutionally questionable ordinance in St. Louis allows courts to banish people from large sections of the city as a punishment for petty crimes. These orders of neighborhood protection often prevent people from accessing vital services or visiting relatives. Police can arrest them if they return.

+ The same Georgia RICO statute liberals cheered for its use against Trump and his co-conspirators is now being used against 60 Stop Cop City protestors. They were indicted by the same grand jury that indicted Trump.

+Thomas B. Harvey:  “The logic of this RICO case suggests you could be indicted in the future if you: are an abolitionist, donate to a bail fund, buy food for unhoused people, think we should protect the environment, believe we should protect people over profits, or support anyone who does.”

+ Nine months ago, the State of Alabama tortured death row inmate Kenny Smith with a botched attempt at a lethal injection. Now the state wants to try to execute him again, this time by suffocating him with nitrogen gas, a method veterinarians consider too cruel to use for the euthanasia of most mammals.

+ An East LA sheriff’s deputy was caught stealing $500 in poker chips during a traffic stop. But the DA dropped the prosecution after the driver stopped cooperating because he said he feared his life would be put in danger from deputy gangs.

+ Baltimore Police arrested 77 kids in July.  But there’s no record of any calls from the police department to the city’s youth counsel hotline where an attorney could explain their Miranda Rights. This means many of them were likely interrogated by cops without a lawyer, in violation of a state law banning the questioning of minors that local prosecutors are trying to overturn.

+ Minnesota passed a state law preventing school police from putting kids in face-down physical restraint or restricting their breathing. This sensible legislation prompted several police departments in the state to pull their officers out of schools altogether (a salutary response which will undoubtedly make schools safer), which led Republicans to denounce the measure as “anti-police.”

+ Last year a Department of Justice investigation found that more than 5,000 deaths in the criminal legal system had gone uncounted over the previous three years alone. But that figure is an undercount, since fifteen states failed to report any arrest-related deaths in that period.

+ Multiple women in New York’s prisons who said they were sexually assaulted by prison guards also described being placed in solitary confinement. One called it “a means of intimidation following the rape.”

+ After his client Joe Biggs, one of the leaders of the Proud Boys gang, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the January 6 insurrection, lawyer Norm Pattis pointed the finger at Trump: “Where’s Donald Trump in all of this? He basically told people, 76 million of his followers, the election’s stolen, go to the Capitol, fight like hell or you won’t have a country any more. Some people listened to him, were they supposed to know he was full of hot air? I look forward to his trials. I look forward to seeing him testify some day.”

+ In pleading for a lighter sentence for his client, Proud Boy leader Enriqué Tarrio’s lawyer highlighted the fact that Tarrio had been an informant for law enforcement, which is probably not the smartest thing to disclose as your client begins a 22-year sentence in the federal pen. Of course, Tarrio’s lawyer wasn’t wrong. In Portland, the cops often huddled with the Portland Police, who considered the sedition-minded Proud Boys “much more mainstream” than the BLM protesters, who they regularly harassed.

+ The Proud Boys trials represent a textbook case of how prosecutors use plea deals to coerce guilty pleas and punish those who insist on their constitutional right to a trial.

Pre-trial offer | Sentence after trial

Tarrio: 9-11 yrs| 22 yrs
Nordean: 6-8 yrs | 18 yrs
Biggs: 6-8 yrs | 17 yrs
Rehl: 6-7 yrs | 15 yrs
Pezzola: 4-5 yrs | 10 yrs

+ For 17 years, the state of Oregon tried to execute Jesse Johnson for a murder the attorney general now says he didn’t commit. After 25 years in prison, Johnson is finally a free man, who can’t be retried.

+ Forty-eight years ago, Leonard Mack,  23-year-old Vietnam War veteran and father of two who was working toward his GED, was arrested by cops in Westchester County, NY because he matched the description of a rape suspect: a black man wearing a hat and an earring. Mack, who has always maintained his innocence, was convicted at trial and served seven years of a 15-year sentence. But newly obtained DNA evidence exonerates Mack and led to a new suspect, who has confessed to his role in the 1975 rape case. Mack’s case represents the longest wrongful conviction in US history.

+ New euphemism alert: “Officer-involved discharging.”

+ New disclosure filings show that Ginni Thomas was paid $700,000 by the Heritage Foundation, the rightwing white-paper mill that has weighed in on Supreme Court justice confirmation processes, filed multiple amicus briefs and had cases before the Court…

+ Suicide by firearms claims 25,000 American lives every year, a rate that is 12 times higher than other high-income nations.


+ Leave it to Elon Musk to do the impossible: drum up sympathy for the Anti-Defamation League, who he is blaming for the decline of Twitter his own incompetency has nearly destroyed.

+ Jews being blamed for ruining businesses, where have we heard that before?

+ Surely I’m not alone in hoping the war between the ADL and Musk goes internecine, taking them both down? If Frank Zappa were alive, I think he’d share this view, recalling how the ADL went after him for “Jewish Princess,” his scathing parody of ethnic stereotypes that the ADL scolds were too thick to get.

+ Once they were sweethearts

+ Meanwhile, a new lawsuit accuses Twitter of “helping Saudi Arabia commit grave human rights abuses against its users, including by disclosing confidential user data at the request of Saudi authorities at a much higher rate than it has for the US, UK, or Canada.” MBS is the seconding leading investor in Twitter, behind only Elon Musk. 

+ On July 10, 2023, Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court, convicted Muhammad al-Ghamdi, 54, a retired Saudi teacher, of several criminal “terrorism” offenses stemming solely from his peaceful statements online. The court sentenced him to death, using his tweets and retweets as evidence of his “apostasy.” Not a word from Twitter HQ on Tweets being used to justify execute someone.

+ According to Axios: “Saudi Arabia’s extension of oil production cuts until the end of 2023 or longer helps ensure energy prices will become an election 2024 battleground.” Still Biden continues to sing “I Wanna Be Your Dog” every time MBS is within earshot.

+ Adam Singer: “The speed at which people are pivoting from worried AI is going to brick the universe to mad AI isn’t smarter than a 5th grader is breathtaking.”

+ Nearly one-third of people living in Los Angeles County experience some a level of food insecurity, ranging from difficulty finding a meal to persistent hunger.

+ Researchers from Princeton gave $7,500 without conditions to homeless people in Vancouver, BC. The result? The program helped many of them spend fewer days homeless, increase their saving and move into housing faster, which saved the shelter system $8,277 per person.

+ An analysis of runaway slave ads placed Virginia and North Carolina newspapers revealed that the Dismal Swamp was often suspected as the likely destination.

+ The Hippie Pope in Mongolia: “The true progress of nations is not gauged by economic wealth, much less by investment in the illusory power of armaments, but by its ability to provide for the health, education and integral development of its people.”

+ Much of what we’ve been told regarding American attitudes about the Covid pandemic is just wrong. For example, the anxiety over public schools. One recent poll showed 78% of families were satisfied with how public schools handled the pandemic; in another, the approval rate was 80%.

+ One-in-four nursing homes in New Jersey have reported COVID outbreaks this month.

+ In August, Covid killed forty times as many people as influenza in the US.

+ The evidence is now conclusive that it is Covid itself (and not the vaccines) that is ravaging the human circulatory system. A new study in the Journal of Medical Virology reveals that between March 2020 to March 2022, there were approximately 90,000 more deaths in the United States attributed to cardiovascular disease than were expected for that span of time. The study found that the steepest increase in deaths from heart attack during that period was among 25- to 44-year-olds.

+ As federal Covid relief money dries, more than 70,000 daycare centers are at risk of closing. The shortage in childcare facilities is bound to exacerbate after state bans on abortion go into effect.

+ According to a new study in JAMA on inequality and mental health, Americans who received $600 additional unemployment insurance during the pandemic saw a 10% decrease in depression versus those who didn’t get the extra support.

+ Cancer cases worldwide in people under-50 are up nearly 80% in the last three decades, a study published in the BMJ Oncology finds, with more than a million people under-50 dying of cancer each year. The figure is figure expected to increase by another 21% by 2030.

+ Two years after ruling that abortion was not a crime in the states of Coahuila and Sinaloa, the Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion nationwide this week. Mexico is 72% Catholic. The ruling will likely become the latest MAGA justification for building the wall…

+ Bill Maher, the biggest asshole in show business, went after striking screenwriters this week, claiming that while they getting “screwed a little bit by the streamers” many of their demands are “kooky and they kinda believe that you’re owed a living as a writer, and you’re not.”

+ A new poll shows 72% of Americans supporting the Hollywood writers’ strike.

+ More and more of the potatoes used for French fries in American fast-food restaurants are being harvested by middle school age (11 – 13) kids in Idaho, as American industrial agriculture depends increasingly on exploitative child labor.

+ Jacob Woocher has written a very informative account of the city of Los Angeles’ war on public housing. It’s a bracing history of demolition and privatization, as the houselessness crisis exploded.

+ From the New York Times (usually from the keyboard of Nicholas Kristof) to Reason, we continue to hear about the alleged “death of Portland.” But the facts don’t back it up. For example, Portland’s office vacancy rate is better than the national average, and even better than places that routinely get hailed as ‘business-friendly’ cities such as Dallas, Atlanta and Nashville, Tennessee.

+ Three Delaware Beach towns with decades-long reputations as booze-fueled summer party spots (Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany) have banned marijuana businesses: “It’s somehow perfectly acceptable to get sloshed drunk, but it’s not acceptable to get a little stoned.”

+ As Brett Favre became linked to the widening welfare fraud scandal in Mississippi, Todd Reeves, the brother of the state’s governor Tate Reeves, suggested the state official investigating the case to publicly praise the former NFL quarterback.

+ Last week, Poland’s neo-fascists Konfederacja party, now polling third for the upcoming elections, announced that one of their candidates would be Samuela Górska, a reality TV star who says she “does not want Jewry and LGBT in Poland.”

+ A new report by Debt Relief for a Green and Inclusive Project shows that external debt in sub-Saharan Africa has more than tripled since 2008. Angola, Zambia, Benin and Ghana are now spending at least 25% of government revenue on the servicing external debt, much of it to China, which is now the biggest state lender to the region.


+ I was surprised to learn of the death of Bill Richardson this week, who apparently died in his sleep at only 76. Spent the night in a yurt in the Sangre de Cristos mountains with Richardson and Dave Foreman in the early 90s. We were speaking at the same conference. Bill, then a congressman for northern New Mexico, was funny and not nearly as stiff as his political self. He wanted to know if we had any pot. We didn’t. We did have mezcal, which we duly extinguished. There’s more to this story, but one has to save something for the memoir. In an age of belligerent diplomats like Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton, Richardson was a born negotiator, who was willing to talk to anyone from Kim Jong-un to Saddam Hussein, and he repeatedly proved the value of such diplomacy, often returning from villainized nations, with freed prisoners. Most recently, Richardson’s back channel communications with Putin proved crucial in striking the deal that led to the release of Brittney Griner.

+ Who needs Giuliani, when you’ve got an apex xenophobe like Eric Adams as mayor of New York: “[Migrants] will destroy NYC. How many of you are organized to stop what they’re doing to us? It’s going to come to your neighborhoods. All of us are going to be impacted. The city we knew we’re about to lose.”

+ What kind of “democracy” do you call this? In 2016, Republican candidates for the Wisconsin general assembly won 52% of the vote but 64 of 99 seats. Two years later, Democratic candidates won 53 percent of the votes, but Republicans still won 63 of 99 seats.

+ Mike Huckabee is the latest right-winger to predict civil war, if Trump loses in 2024. On the Christian TBN Network (which describes itself as “committed to sending the message of hope and grace of Jesus to the world via live streaming”) Huckabee declared: “If they keep Trump from winning or even running in 2024, it is going to be the last American election that will be decided by ballots rather than bullets.” At least Huckabee admits the election will be decided by ballots…

+ Forget DeSantis, Pence and Ramaswamy, Trump is chomping at the bit to debate…Megan Markle because he “didn’t like the way she dealt with the Queen.”

+ Trump isn’t the only one ignoring DeSantis, so are many of his early donors. According to Politico, DeSantis has lost more than two-thirds of his top contributors.

+ New analysis of Trump’s endorsements from 2018 to 2022 reveals that he gave Republicans a double-digit boost in primaries, but cost them big in the general elections.

+ According to ex-employees and an internal audit, James O’Keefe, founder of Project Veritas, spent the rightwing nonprofit’s money on private helicopter travel, a romantic relationship with Alexandra Rose, a star of Netflix’s Selling Sunset reality show, and his futile attempts to DJ at Coachella. He also reportedly left an employee to nearly drown during a hurricane, while he fled to Virginia for a performance of the musical “Oklahoma!”

+ Leave it to Chuck Grassley to accurately describe the condition of the post-Corbyn Labor Party.

+ A Colorado middle schooler was sent home after bringing a backpack with patches of semi-automatic weapons and the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. The boy soon became the latest cause celebré in the war on “wokeness.” The expulsion was silly. But the tattered history of the flag isn’t. The Gadsden Flag is named after the South Carolina plantation owner Christopher Gadsden, who owned & traded in slaves. More enslaved people from Africa arrived in S. Carolina than any other state, most of them at Gadsden Wharf in Charleston, which Christopher Gadsden built.

+ According to the latest Human Rights Watch report on the status of children: “Children in the US can be legally married in 41 states, physically punished by school administrators in 47 states, sentenced to life without parole in 22 states, and work in hazardous agriculture conditions in all 50 states.”


+ This was the hottest summer ever recorded and August (16.82°C) was the second hottest month on record, behind only July  (16.95°C) of this year.

+ Jonathan Donges, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research: “To effectively prevent all tipping risks, the global mean temperature increase would need to be limited to no more than one degree – we are currently already at about 1.2°C.’”

+ Since the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, international banks have provided around $3.2 trillion to the fossil fuel industry to expand operations.

+ A new study published in Energies by Joshua Pearce at the University of Western Ontario, and Richard Parncutt from the University of Graz, still climate change could led to more than one billion deaths in the next century: “If global warming reaches or exceeds two degrees Celsius by 2100…it is likely that mainly richer humans will be responsible for the death of roughly one billion mainly poorer humans over the next century.”

+ The 2023 global temperature peak was around 0.3C higher than 2022.

+ West Antarctica is warming twice as fast as climate models predicted. If it’s ice sheet collapses, it would raise sea levels by several meters.

+ At least five of the nation’s largest property insurers—Allstate, American Family, Nationwide, Erie and Berkshire Hathaway—have told regulators that extreme weather patterns caused by climate change have led them to raise premiums and stop writing coverages for natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires, in some regions.

+ From 2003 to 2020 California experienced about 18,000 fires, 380 of them included at least one day when the fire grew by at least 10,000 acres. Climate change increased the likelihood of that explosive growth for most of the fires.

+ In British Columbia, four of the most severe wildfire seasons of the last century occurred in the past 7 years: 2017, 2018, 2021, and 2023.

+ By 2050, more than 5 billion people could face at least a month of extreme heat each year.

+ Africa will need around $277 billion annually to implement “nationally determined contributions” to meet the continent’s 2030 climate goals, according to the Climate Policy Initiative. Currently, however, Africa is receiving only $30 billion a year in climate financing.

+ A couple of months before Hurricane Idalia ravaged the Gulf Coast of Florida, Ron DeSantis rejected $350 million in federal funds meant to help tackle climate change. Then DeSantis refused to meet with Biden as he toured the damage and doled out emergency relief funding from FEMA….

+ When Hurricane Lee intensified into a Category 5 with more than 160 MPH winds, it became the 8th Cat 5 Atlantic storm in the last eight years. Comparing 1970-2000 with 2001-2022, the frequency of Cat 5 storms has tripled.

+ Water levels at Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake in the world, are dropping dramatically after an historic winter heat wave, which has seen Peru smash records for both minimum (87.6) and maximum temperatures (103).

+ Currently, air pollution contributes to around ten million deaths a year. An additional two degrees of global warming will lead to an extra 153 million air pollution-linked deaths this century alone.

+ As reported in ScienceDirect, a series of epidemiological studies concluded that higher wood stove and fireplace usage is associated with a 70% higher incidence of lung cancer.

+ More than 75% of food crops depend on animal pollination, yet air pollution is drastically reducing effective pollination because it degrades the scent of flowers. For example, ozone has degraded honeybees ability to recognize odors by up to 90% from just a few meters away.

+ The reservoir behind China’s Three Gorges Dam shifted so much water it has altered the shape of the planet, extending the length of a day by 0.06 microseconds.

+ From a new report on the benefits of Walkable Cities: “Someone with a 1-hr car commute needs to earn 40% more to be as happy as someone with a short walk to work. On the other hand, if someone shifts from a long commute to a walk, their happiness increases as much as if they’d fallen in love.”

+ Brachycephalic dogs, like pugs, boxers, terriers and bulldogs, will suffer the most from climate change, since their snoutless faces make them more vulnerable to heat and wildfire smoke.

+ Alex Speed: “Coral bleaching presented as adapting to environmental change is like saying diarrhea from cholera is your body adapting to its new gut flora.”

+ Looking for some good news? Southern Africa’s elephant population is estimated at 227,900, according to the results of the first-ever aerial survey done which spans across five nations. That’s up 5% from the previous estimates, which put it at 216,970, in 2016.

+ Nearly half of the total land area under the control of the National Park Service experiences at least three decibels of sonic pollution, from cars, jets, bikes and even hikers.

+ Thirty-five years after the reintroduction of the red wolf to the Alligator National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina, the species is once again on the brink of extinction. The population has been reduced from 120 wolves in 2012 to just 6 animals today, most of the mortality caused by illegal shootings and vehicle strikes on U.S. 64 which cuts through the middle of the refuge.

+ The latest  wolf “management” plan for Idaho calls for killing nearly two-thirds of the state’s wolves.

+ A new report from the GAO documents how Trump (and now Biden’s) border wall permanently altered wildlife migration patterns, drove endangered species closer to extinction and dynamited Indigenous sacred sites and burial grounds.

+ From the Financial Times: “This year’s Burning Man aimed to celebrate the animal world and challenge the belief that ‘somehow, despite all evidence to the contrary, mankind is somehow not part of the Animal Kingdom.'” Mission accomplished!

+ Crypto companies based in Texas are making twice as much money from Ercot, the company that runs the state’s power grid, than they are from bitcoin mining. For example, Riot reported this week that it made $31.million in energy credits from Ercot in July as a heat dome settled over the state for weeks by voluntarily reducing its energy consumption. The company made only $8.9 million from its bitcoin operations over the same time period.


+ Richard Hanania transitioned (without surgery, as far as we know) from a smirking neo-Nazi troll into a smug libertarian smart-ass, who is the crackpot du jour of the tech bro fraternity, but he hasn’t lost his deranged hatred for the cultural left, even if the object of his scorn is multi-millionaire Florida real estate developer, franchise-owner and troubadour of the fantasy-life of white suburbanites.

+ My first night on campus at American University Jimmy Buffett played an outdoor concert in the Woods-Brown Amphitheater right next to my dorm (Hughes Hall), opening for Roger McGuinn. Buffett had recently broken his leg and gamely played his set in a full cast. The music was innocuous; his stories amusing. Everyone was high. It was the twilight of the 70s, before everything turned to shit. (As my friend Greg King, author of the excellent new book on the Redwood Summer protests The Ghost Forest, says: “The 70s are when everyone did the 60s.”)

+ Move over Smokey Robinson and tell Phil Ochs the news!

BILL FLANAGAN: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?

BOB DYLAN: Jimmy Buffett I guess.

BF: What songs do you like of Buffett’s?

BD: “Death of an Unpopular Poet.” There’s another one called “He Went to Paris.”

+ Joan Baez: “I begged Bob to do something we knew, but he wanted to do this Jimmy Buffett tune, ‘A Pirate Looks at Forty.’ He scribbled it all over his wrist, and then forgot to take his jacket off. It’s always an interesting happening when Bob appears.”

+ Jimmy Buffett’s cameo in Jurassic World was probably the best thing about the movie and it lasted about 3 seconds

+ Speaking of Dylan, for some reason (ka-ching!) he’s decided to release the full-recordings of his ponderous 1978 live performances at Budokan in Tokyo, where he transformed his catalogue into something resembling an evening of Vegas-show tunes. As if the reviews of the original release weren’t hostile enough, Dylan’s apparently eager to feed his fans more of what they didn’t seem all that tempted to swallow in the first place. Here’s Janet Maslin’s take on the original Live at Budokan record from Rolling Stone: “Can it really be that Bob Dylan had to go all the way to Budokan, to Japan, to find an audience with a short memory, a crowd that didn’t think he had anything to prove? In any case, the jig is up: he’s given up trying to outdo himself and begun something new.”

+ The account of how archivists at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts unearthed long-lost tapes of John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy’s ground-breaking performances at the Village Vanguard in 1961 is almost as thrilling as the recordings themselves, which are dazzling.

+ Deion Sanders in his postgame press conference after Colorado beat favored TCU: “We’re doing things that have never been done and that makes people uncomfortable. When you see a confident black man sitting up here talking his talk and walking his walk, coaching 75 percent African-Americans in the locker room, that’s kind of threatening. Oh, they don’t like that…but guess what, we’re going to consistently do what we do, becomes I’m here and I ain’t going nowhere, and I’m about to get comfortable in a minute.”

+ On September 4th 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared on Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Lewis introduced the couple as, “Two of the most unusual people in all the world, and I don’t mean just in the world of entertainment. They fit no patterns, meet no standards except the standard of excellence. Ladies and Gentlemen, John Lennon and Yoko.”

+ From Will Hermes’ forthcoming Lou Reed biography, The King of New York: a microphone intended to record crowd sounds for “Rock and Roll Animal” failed, so they dubbed in applause and cheers from a live performance by … John Denver.

+ Donovan on his 1966 song Sunshine Superman: “We knew we were doing something extraordinarily different and later people would say that ‘Sunshine Superman’ was the initiator not only of the psychedelic era but laid the groundwork for a lot of bands, especially the Beatles, to do exactly what they would like, with no qualms about it….Linda and I were in the car, and the car radio was on really quietly and you know how people are influenced by my music? I said, ‘Hey, listen to that. It’s another band that was influenced by what we did.’ And she said, “Don’t be stupid, Don. That is you!’ It was ‘Sunshine Superman,’ and I was listening to it at such a low level that all I could hear was the essence of the track and all I could think was here’s someone who has lifted the essence of ‘Superman’ and made a wonderful new record themselves.”

+ Jesuit priest Francis X Talbot, literary editor of the journal America, condemning James Joyce’s Ulysses in his 1934 review: “Lewd and vulgar stories and incidents, with blasphemies that curdle the blood.”

+ Three “people” band? They wouldn’t get very far into their set without the contributions of bassist Darryl Jones, drummer Steve Jordon (handpicked by Charlie Watts) or keyboardist Chuck Leavell, who has played with them forty years. (Not to mention back-up singers Merry Clayton and Bernard Fowler.)

+ An entry from French novelist Annie Ernaux’s diaries: “My whole life has been an effort to tear myself away from male desire, in other words from my own desire. In ’63, I repeated to myself these words from the Bible: ‘And I will extend peace to her like a river,’ not even knowing that these words referred to my own desire, sperm flowing over me like a river.”

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of Our Planet
Ben Goldfarb

Only a Voice: Essays
George Scialabba

Dust: The Modern World in a Trillion Particles
Jay Owens
(Hodder & Stoughton)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

The Pretenders

Odeon Budokan
Neil Young

Writing on the Wall
Coco Montoya

I’m not Scared of  Your Lovely Mouth, It’s Your Voice That Gets in the Way

Jubilant Captains of Industry

“All day long this man would toil thus, his whole being centered upon the purpose of making twenty-three instead of twenty-two and a half cents an hour; and then his product would be reckoned up by the census taker, and jubilant captains of industry would boast of it in their banquet halls, telling how our workers are nearly twice as efficient as those of any other country. If we are the greatest nation the sun ever shone upon, it would seem to be mainly because we have been able to goad our wage-earners to this pitch of frenzy.” (Upton Sinclair, The Jungle)

Correction: Leonard Mack was arrested by police in Westchester County, NY, not NYC.

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