Roaming Charges: Gaza Without Mercy

The Gazan Cage. Image: JSC and AI Art Generator.

“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we will act accordingly.”

– Yoav Gallant, Israel Defense Minister

+ You won’t have to interrogate them afterward. They’re explicit about the war crimes they’re planning to commit.

+ On Friday, the Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, doubled down on the idea of collective punishment on the eve of a ground offensive, claiming there were no “innocent” Gazans and that all who remain (and, really, where can they go?) should pay the retributive price for Hamas’ attacks: “It’s not true, this rhetoric about civilians [being] unaware, uninvolved. It’s absolutely not true. They could have risen up. They could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup d’etat.”

+ When you declare total war against Gaza, which has been under perpetual siege since 1967 after being seized by Israel during the Six Day War, what is it you’re going to war against? There are no airbases, no army bases, no tank battalions, no air defense systems, no naval ports, no oil refineries, no rail system, no troop barracks, no armored personnel carriers, no howitzers, no satellite systems, no attack helicopters, no fighter jets, no anti-tank batteries,  no submarines,  no command-and-control centers. Just people, most of them women and kids. It’s why the entire population must be dehumanized, turned into “human animals” whose lives don’t matter.

+ According to Johannes Steizinger, “human animals” was a term frequently used by the Nazi race theorists about Jews, Slavs, gypsies, and blacks, who held that “only some groups of people “groups of people meet the metaphysical criterion of being human. Members of these groups are considered as essentially and hence fully human. However, other groups are reduced to the biological sense of being human. They simply lack the metaphysical essence of humanity and are thus characterized as human animals. These creatures are human only from the naturalistic point of view, but not human from a metaphysical point of view. Thus, they are regarded as subhumans who are not fully human.” (Johnannes Steizinger, The Significance of Dehumanization: Nazi Ideology and Its Psychological Consequences, 2018.)

+ The reaction in the US to Hamas’s attacks was more hysterical, the calls for ultra-violence more grotesque, and the lack of dissent more uniform, than in Israel itself (which is saying something because Netanyahu blustered this week that “Every member of Hamas is a dead man”)…

+ Joe Biden controls the flow of money and arms to Israel and is one of the few global figures who could have exerted some restraint on Netanyahu’s vows to destroy Gaza as we know it. Instead, he played his customary role, one he has perfected over the last 40 years, of an enabler for the Apartheid State’s worst impulses. Biden stifled any voices inside his administration urging a ceasefire, doomed as those lonely calls may have been, and instead pledged “unwavering” support for an Israel regime that has consistently ridiculed him and repeatedly flouted modest requests that it curtail the violent encroachment of Israeli settlements into the West Bank. While Biden expressed condolences to the families of the Israeli dead and wounded, he said nothing about the Palestinian families in the confined ghetto of Gaza, whose neighborhoods were being pulverized by Israeli airstrikes financed by the US.

+ A handful of Democratic lawmakers, led by Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush and Andre Carson, have called for a ceasefire. They’ve been swiftly rebuked by the Biden White House. In a press briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre fumed: “I’ve seen some of those statements this weekend. We’re going to continue to be very clear. We believe they are wrong. We believe they’re repugnant and we believe they’re disgraceful.”

+ Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is considered one of the most reasonable of the current crop of Republicans. “Finish them.” Genocide is now her campaign theme.

+ Lil Marco went on CNN to join the Genocide Caucus…

+ Lindsey Graham has reverted back to John “Bomb-Bomb-Bomb Iran” mode: “We are in a religious war, and I am with Israel…Level the place.”


+ Josh Hawley, not the anti-interventionist Glenn Greenwald might’ve led you to believe he was: “Any funding for Ukraine should be redirected to Israel immediately.”

+ John the Hoodie Fetterman is hardly much better: “I support any necessary military, intelligence, and humanitarian aid to Israel. I also fully support Israel neutralizing the terrorists responsible for this barbarism.”

+ Come and get your “peace candidate,” Jimmy Dore…

+ You can’t make this up: Dennis Kucinich is out as RFK Junior’s campaign manager and has been replaced by RFK’s daughter-in-law, Amaryllis Fox, a former CIA officer!

+ I guess you can thank Michelle Obama for helping to rehabilitate this guy…

+ Then there’s poor Mike Pence, who really is dumber than his mentor Dan Quayle: “If I was President of the United States, I’d have the team in the Situation Room and direct the Joint Special Operations Command to stand up special forces and have them immediately be prepared to deploy into Gaza…I’d tell Hamas: You either give up all the American hostages, give up all the Israeli hostages, or we are going in with IDF forces.”

+ One of the few endearing attributes of the MAGA-trons was their professed belief that US involvement in Middle East wars was a bad idea. Well, goodbye to all that…

+ These frothing demands for collective punishment of a defenseless population traduce every pretense of the West’s devotion to rules-based warfare it has professed since the slaughter at the Somme.

+ There are currently around 500 hundred US citizens living in Gaza.  How many of them have been killed or wounded? Had their apartments destroyed? Or will now be forced to somehow flee northern Gaza with their kids or grandparents to god knows what safe shelter?

+ Only Israel is allowed to act in “self-defense.” It is a term reserved for the powerful, a shield against the daily acts of violence, coercion, land theft, illegal detention and economic strangulation imposed on a captive population, whose own self-defense is termed “terrorism” and thus becomes yet another justification for inflicting more overwhelming state violence–what any rational person would call “terrorism”–on impoverished and largely defenseless people.

+ The obvious parallel to Gaza is the Tet Offensive, which was a defeat for the Vietnamese, but it was the defeat that won the war, exposing the vincibility of the US military machine. It also triggered something deep in the psyche of the American occupiers, who responded with attacks of pointless savagery. The massacres and gang rapes at My Lai were a direct response to Tet.  Netanyahu has vowed that Israel’s response will be equally sadistic, which is, of course, a sign of its own weakness–moral and military–and a harbinger of its ruin.

+ All of the “security raids” and airstrikes Israel has conducted almost non-stop for the last few years have done nothing to make Israel more “secure.” Based on yesterday’s “surprise” counter-attack, they’ve done just the opposite. That’s because the raids were never about “security.” They were motivated by territorial expansion and the need to tighten Israel’s control over an occupied population– illegal incursions that would be resisted by any besieged society.

+ When the Israeli generals talk of leveling Gaza, keep in mind what that means. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on earth, with 5,500 people squeezed into each square kilometer with no exits. More than 10 times the average population density of Israel. 

+ The reports were horrific and they ignited the internet for three days: Hamas had killed and beheaded 40 babies in the village of Kfar Aza. It’s the kind of story that would make the most devout Quaker want to pick up a rocket launcher. But did it happen? Even Biden fell for (or exploited for his own purposes), the ghoulish reports: “I never really thought that I would see…have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children.” The White House had to walk this claim back hours later, admitting that U.S. officials and the president have not seen pictures or confirmed such reports independently. (He was arrested in South Africa trying to free Nelson Mandela, too.)

Four days later, the IDF, whose soldiers retook the village and recovered the bodies of its slain inhabitants, still refused to confirm the account, which originated with Israel’s i24 News, a network with close ties to the Netanyahu family. One of the primary sources for the story appears to have been a militant Israeli settler leader named David Ben Zion, who has a history of making calls for mass violence against Palestinians.  There are plenty of precedents for this type of story, perhaps none more glaring than the allegation that Iraq forces had killed hundreds of Kuwaiti babies by throwing them out of their incubators leaving them to die on hospital floors, a claim used to justify the Gulf War. It didn’t take much digging to expose the heart-wrenching story as a fraud, part of a propaganda campaign run by the Hill and Knowlton PR firm and financed by the government of Kuwait. 

+ All wars breed atrocities and Hamas’ attacks have certainly been no exception to that rule. There are atrocities we are meant to see and atrocities we aren’t. Atrocities which are treated as war crimes are almost invariably committed by the losing or weaker side. Thus the current spectacle at Gitmo, where the torturers are sitting in judgment of the tortured. Though many questions remain, the slaughter at the rave in the Negev is criminal by any standard. But so were the US dronings of wedding parties in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, by a military armed with the most sophisticated intelligence technology and precision weaponry. One is treated as an obscene crime, the other as a regrettable accident, though one which happened routinely.

+ Secretary of State Antony Blinken before leaving DC to meet with Netanyahu in Israel: “What separates Israel, the US and other democracies when it comes to difficult situations like this, is our respect for international law and the laws of war. Hamas uses children as human shields.” Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir, a few hours after Blinken’s ludicrous statement: “HRW has confirmed—based on verified video & witness accounts—that Israel used white phosphorus in Gaza & Lebanon. White phosphorus causes excruciating burns—causing lifelong suffering—and can set homes afire. Its use in populated areas is unlawful.”

+ Using children as “human shields” is morally offensive. Killing them anyway is depraved.

+ Since 2000, Israeli forces have killed 7779 Palestinians in Gaza alone, including 1741 children and 572 women, according to a database maintained by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. By contrast, 448 Israeli forces and 881 Israeli citizens have been killed by Palestinians.

+ IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari: “The emphasis is on (creating) damage, not precision.”

+ On Thursday, the Israeli Air Force announced that over the last five days it had dropped 6,000 bombs, hitting more than 3,600 targets in Gaza. That’s more than the United States dropped during any month of the five-year-long US air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

+ As of Thursday, Gaza’s health ministry has reported that 1,417 people have been killed and around 6,268 wounded– 447 children and 248 women are counted among the casualties.

Sky News: “What about those Palestinians who are in hospital on life support & babies in incubators that will have to be turned off because Israelis have cut the power to Gaza?”

Ex-Israeli PM Naftali Bennett: “Are you seriously asking me about Palestinian civilians? What’s wrong wth you?”

+ In the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun, Palestinian families were told by the Israeli army to leave their homes and head for the Jabalia refugee camp in the city center. Hours later, the IDF bombed the city center.

+ More than 180,000 Palestinians in Gaza are squeezed into U.N. shelters as Israel continues to pulverize the Strip with airstrikes every four hours. There is no safe passage out. And nowhere to go if there were. The U.N. reported on Tuesday that one of its shelters suffered a direct and five others have been damaged.

+ As of Thursday morning, the UN estimated that more than 338,000 Palestinians have been displaced in Gaza by thousands of Israeli airstrikes. 500,000 Gazans have no access to food relief because UNRWA was forced to close 14 food distribution centers. Gaza’s sole power plant is out of fuel; 11 UN staffers have been killed by Israeli air strikes; 13 health facilities have been hit; hospitals are facing dire shortages; and all of the border crossings are closed.

+ Dr Khamis Elessi, a neuro-rehabilitation and pain medicine consultant based in Gaza City, told the BBC: “Everywhere you go, you see funerals, you see death, buildings collapsing. It’s like you’re watching a movie about the end of life on this Earth. The kids are crying and screaming. There’s no electricity. There’s no internet. So you feel you could be next.”

+ Dr. Ghassan Abu Sittah, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Gaza: “The hospitals, because of the siege, are so short of supplies that we had to clean a teenage girl with 70% body surface burns with regular soap because the hospital is out of chlorhexidine (antiseptic).”

+ There are an estimated 50,000 pregnant women unable to access clean water in Gaza– 5,500 of those women are due to give birth in the next month.

+ Over the history of the Occupation, more than half of all Palestinian males have been detained at least once by Israeli forces.

+ It stretches credulity to claim, as so many have, that Hamas’s attack was unprovoked. The Nakba, which continues to this day, was “unprovoked.” By the same measure, it is absurd to claim that Hamas “invaded” Israel. Is it really possible  to invade your own homeland, even if they’ve tried to fence you out?

+ The Israeli military will provide settlers throughout the West Bank with around 1000 M16 rifles (presumably actually US-made M4).  In other words, paramilitary death squads, armed with US weapons, like in Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador…

+ But many, if not most, former Israeli military leaders understand the futility of Netanyahu’s war. Here’s the former head of IDF strategic planning Shlomo Brom, writing in The Economist: “It is absurd to hope that Israel can indefinitely contain with its military might and security services millions of Palestinians who claim the right to self-determination and a free, normal life.”

+ The Israeli press, not just Haaretz, and public have a far more acute understanding of where the blame lies for the current spasm of violence than the US press: “Four out of five Jewish Israelis believe the government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are to blame for the mass infiltration of Hamas terrorists and the massacre of Israel’s South, a new poll released on Thursday found.”

+ How Wall Street responded to Netanyahu’s declaration of total war on Gaza…

But there was a problem for the hawks and war profiteers. Gaza is not, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld on Afghanistan a “target-rich environment.” The Hamas attacks, which many dubbed  “Israel’s 9/11,” were ripe for exploitation into a wider war. The challenge was to identify the real culprit, the hidden hand directing Hamas’s horrorshow. It didn’t take long to settle on one: Iran. And good old Joe Lieberman, Obama’s former  mentor in the Senate, who now heads a war-mongering outfit called United Against Nuclear Iran, was one of the first to issue the West’s fatwah: 

+ Trump’s former National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, who wrote a book on how the US should have fought the Vietnam War (much more savagely), is all in on hitting Iran.


+ Meanwhile, Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan seems only slightly less eager: “Iran is complicit in this attack in a broad sense…they have supported Hamas in the past.” Well, if that’s the standard for complicity, then so is Israel, which nurtured Hamas for years as a rival to the PLO and, later, the Palestinian Authority. Take it from the Times of Israel or the Wall Street Journal

+ CNN, now back in Iraq war mode, brought on John Bolton–who falsely claimed Iraq was behind 9/11– to assert with no evidence that Iran directed the timing of the Hamas attack.

+ The bad news Bolton and for the Bomb Iran Chorus is that according to a report by NBCNews American spy agencies have gotten intelligence that shows Iranian leaders were surprised by Hamas’ attack on Israel. Of course, such intelligence undercutting a drive for war hasn’t stopped the hawks in the past.

+ Haaretz called for the immediate exchange of prisoners between Israel and Hamas: “No government, and certainly not the most reckless government in Israel’s history, has the right to traffic in the lives of innocent civilians and decide to sacrifice them on the altar of national pride. We must pay whatever is demanded, with no delays, no fancy maneuvering and no tricks.”

+ Apparently, it’s not about the hostages for the Netanyahu regime. Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s rightwing Minister of Finance: “We have to be cruel now and not consider the captives overmuch.”

+ For years, the IDF has kidnapped and held Palestinians without trial. Currently, Israel is holding more than 1,100 Palestinians in “administrative detention” in violation of international law. Some might call them hostages…

+ Netanyahu’s “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” moment? Abbas Kamel, the powerful head of Egyptian intelligence, called Netanyahu 10 days before the attack, according to the Associated Press. Kamel warned that “something unusual, a terrible operation” was about to take place. Kamel was said to be aghast at Netanyahu’s passivity.

+ Earlier this year, Ronen Bar, the head of Israel’s domestic intelligence service, Shin Bet, warned Netanyahu that violent attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers were going to threaten Israel’s security. His warnings were dismissed and he was fiercely denounced by members of Netanyahu’s Likud Party in the Knesset for being too woke. One of them griped: “The ideology of the Left has reached the upper echelons of Shin Bet. The Deep State has infiltrated Shin Bet and the IDF.”

+ Since 1946, Israel has pocketed $124.3 billion in military aid from the United States, including $12.4 billion since 2020. More is coming.

+ Haaretz reported that US Secretary of State Tony Blinken twice deleted Tweets calling for a cease-fire and urging Israel to exercise restraint. So it seems clear US diplomats have abandoned any attempt at diplomacy.

+ James Zogby:” Outrageous: the US deletes two statements calling for “ceasefire” or to “refrain from violence & retaliatory attacks,” replacing them w/ all out support for whatever Israel wants to do. We are not a solution. We are the enabler of occupation & escalation. Thousands more will die.”

+ Meanwhile, in an interview on MSNBC Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, compared the recent Palestine solidarity events to the 1939 Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden.

+ The minimum wage in Gaza is about $11 a day. But fully 80 percent of Gaza’s private workforce earns much less than that meager amount, with a median income of only $167 a month. That’s if you can find a job. Before the bombing, the unemployment rate on the Strip had risen to 45%.

+ Let’s see: Crusade I, Crusades II, the Albigensian Crusade, the Northern Crusades, the Aragonese Crusade, the Spanish Inquisition, the conquest of the “New” World, the French Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, the English Revolution, Jacobite Rising, the Irish Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, The Troubles, the War on Terror…

+ Haaretz’s lede editorial, October 7, 2023: “The disaster that befell Israel is the clear responsibility of one person: Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister… completely failed to identify the dangers he was consciously leading Israel into when establishing a government of annexation and dispossession, while embracing a foreign policy that openly ignored the existence and rights of Palestinians”.

+ Netanyahu to his Likud Party Knesset members in March 2019:  “Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas. This is part of our strategy.” And you wonder why conspiratorialists believe Netanyahu’s government wanted this to happen…

+ There aren’t many Tony Benns left in the world. Probably there never were…

+ Biden has ordered the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to deploy near Israel this week in support of the country. That group includes the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy; and four Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers—USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt. One of the last times the US did this was during the Six-Day War, when the Israelis attacked and almost sank the USS Liberty. killing 34 US sailors and wounding 174.

+ Is there room enough in the Mediterranean for the armada of ships racing from the US and UK to support Israel against a captive population that doesn’t have a Navy? Wouldn’t they be better served rescuing migrants in unseaworthy dinghies fleeing the nations destroyed by  NATO bombs? But aid here is only allowed for those who already have plenty. Recall that in 2010, Israel attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a group of six ships trying to break the naval blockade and bring humanitarian aid to the starving residents of Gaza. The Israeli navy forcibly boarded the Turkish ship MV Mavi Marmara. When some of the activists on board tried to fend off the Israeli commandos with iron rods, the Israelis opened fire, killing 9 Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American, 19-year-old Furkan Doğan, a high school student who was born in Troy, New York. Dozens were injured.

+ The late Swedish novelist Henning Mankill, author of the Wallander series, was on board one of the other ships in the Flotilla, the Sofia, when it was also halted and raided by Israeli soldiers in international waters. “I think the Israeli military went out to commit murder,” Mankell said a few days after the attacks. “If they had wanted to stop us they could have attacked our rudder and propeller, instead they preferred to send masked commando soldiers to attack us. This was Israel’s choice to do this.”

+ Pentagon insiders say the move is intended to send an explicit message to Iran,  One official told NBCNews: “This is all about deterring Iran.”

+ As the Hamas offensive began, I had just started reading Nathan Thrall’s A Day in the Life of Abed Salama, one of the most vivid accounts ever written of what it’s like for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Here he is writing about the post-Oslo era, as Israel prepared to carve up the Palestinian territories into smaller and smaller islands, divided by checkpoints, fences, walls, settlements and highways.

The prospect of a PLO-led police force operating in West Bank cities was a radical departure for Israel. To accommodate it, Dany Tirza planned a new transportation network to separate Jewish settlers from Palestinians, creating the bypass roads and highways that would allow Jews to travel around rather than through the Palestinian cities and checkpoints, and setting up what the army called “sterile roads” that Palestinians were not allowed to use at all.

In parallel, he designed a system of underpasses and circuitous routes for Palestinian villagers who were barred from accessing the settler highways cutting through their lands. These were given the benevolent-sounding name of “fabric of life” roads. In private, Israeli officials called them something more honest. Speaking to the US ambassador in Tel Aviv, who summarized the conversation in a diplomatic cable, Israel’s deputy defense minister referred to them as “apartheid roads.”

+ They knew the kind of occupation they were creating from the beginning and precisely what it was modeled on.

+ Yes, there are two sides to this war. But only “one side” has an air force. Only “one side” has a Navy. Only “one side” has guided missiles. Only “one side” has phosphorous bombs. Only “one side” has tanks. Only “one side” has an air defense system. Only “one side” has nuclear weapons. Only “one side” controls the water supply, electrical power and food supplies of the other. Only “one side” has freedom of movement. Only “one side” gets $3 billion a year from the US government and an “unwavering” pledge to refill their stockpiles of depleted munitions.

+ From Mahmood Darwish’s “I Have a Seat in the Abandoned Theater“…

You and I are two masked authors and two masked
I say: How is this my concern? I’m a spectator
He says: No spectators at chasm’s door … and no
one is neutral here. And you must choose
your part in the end
So I say: I’m missing the beginning, what’s the beginning?


James Baldwin: “When any white man in the world says, give me liberty or give me death, the entire white world applauds. When a black man says exactly the same thing, he is judged a criminal and treated like one.”

+ On October 3, 500 Indian police officers detained almost a hundred journalists and researchers, including our own Prabir Purkayastha. This week Modi’s government suddenly decided to move forward with the prosecution of the writer Arundhati Roy for “provocative speaking” in a case that has languished for more than 13 years…

+ In 1996, Gerardo Cabanillas of Los Angeles was sentenced to 87 years to life in prison for two separate carjackings and a rape. Two weeks ago he was exonerated after DNA testing excluded him and identified DNA profiles implicating two other men.

+ In April, Mike Mascorro, a sergeant in the Thermopolis, Wyoming police department, illegally broke into the home of Buck Laramore to confront him over his suspected use of meth, a misdemeanor. Laramore shot at the cop. Missed. The cop shot back, hitting and killing Laramore. But Mascorro wasn’t charged because of Wyoming’s Stand Your Ground Law, which has an exemption when you shoot at a cop, even if the cop acted illegally.

+ A single county (Washington) in Western Pennsylvania accounts for 25% of the state’s pending death penalty cases, even though it contains only 2% of the state’s population. 

+ According to a lawsuit filed over the appalling conditions in the solitary confinement cells in Pennsylvania’s prison, where more and more prisoners are being locked up on secret evidence, within months of entering the Security Threat Group Management Unit at SCI Fayette, one man smeared, “Kill me, I’m ready to go,” on the cell in his own blood.

+ On World Against the Death Penalty Day, the State of Texas executed Jedidiah Murphy, shortly after the Supreme Court revoked an appeals court order granting him a reprieve. Murphy had spent 22 years on death row for the 2000 murder of 79-year-old Bertie Lee Cunningham. As he was strapped to a gurney, Murphy, a halachic Jew, started to recite Psalm 24, ending with the words “The Lord redeems the soul of his servants, and none of those who trust in him shall be condemned.” He then shouted, “Bella is my wife!” His body seized and he lost consciousness and, then, his life. Murphy, who suffered extreme abuse as a child, was executed despite his history of severe mental illness, which included blackouts, hearing voices and hallucinating snakes. Murphy had been diagnosed as psychotic with multiple personality disorder at the time of the murder. In order to secure a death sentence, prosecutors told the jury that Murphy would present a “continuing threat to society” if sentenced to life imprisonment, instead of being put to death.  As evidence, they presented false testimony that he had been involved in a carjacking that took place three years before Cunningham was shot, even though Murphy had never been charged or even investigated for the crime. On Monday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed his execution after being presented with evidence that  Murphy had an alibi for the carjacking, that his fingerprints didn’t match those left on the stolen vehicle, and that DNA samples left by the perpetrator had never been tested. The stay was quickly quashed by the Supreme Court, which is becoming increasingly reluctant to allow new evidence to slow the pace of the death machine. Here’s the Huntsville Prison’s Death Watch summary of how Murphy spent his last three-and-a-half days…

+ A North Carolina man Mario Alberto Gomez-Saldana II molested a 5-year-old girl. During an investigation into his sexual assaults, cops with the Mint Hill Police found $70,000 and some marijuana in his home. Even though Gomez-Saldana wasn’t charged with a drug crime, the police seized the cash, telling the victim’s family the money would be awarded to her after they filed a civil suit. So they sued. The judge in the case awarded the money to the young girl. But it turns out there was no money, the cops had already spent it, claiming they needed it to fight drug crime. Moreover, the money the cops seized and spent wasn’t part of a drug ring. The molester, now in prison, had won it at the lottery. However, the police weren’t entitled to spend the money in the first place since North Carolina law prohibits the police from spending cash seized through asset forfeiture.  To get around the law, the cops colluded with the federal government, which allowed them to spend the money under its “equitable sharing program” as long as they shared some of it with the US Justice Department. In the end, the North Carolina cops got $45,000, the DOJ $25,000, and the victim of sexual assault? She got nothing.

+ In 2014, a Mississippi sheriff named Bryan Bailey convinced the local district attorney’s office to use a grand jury issue subpoenas to compel a phone company to turn over call records and text messages for what Bailey claimed was a “confidential internal investigation…of possible wrongdoing by a school district employee.”

The school district employee was a man Bailey suspected of having an affair with the sheriff’s married girlfriend, Kristi Shanks. Shanks worked as an administrative assistant for Bailey, when they began their sexual relationship. Throughout 2014, Bailey made seven more requests for subpoenas for records of texts and calls between Shanks and the school employee.

Two years later, Kristi Shanks’ former husband Fred, now dating another sheriff’s office employee, learned that Sheriff Bailey had been spying on his ex-wife’s phone and text records. Fred informed the local DA, Michael Guest, that Bailey had conned the local prosecutors into seeking the subpoenas, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Guest told the Mississippi Today that he didn’t feel he could investigate the case because of his longtime friendship with Bailey, so turned the investigation over to the state attorney general. Guest is now a member of Congress and chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

But the attorney general at the time, Jim Hood, never pressed charges. When asked why not by the Mississippi Today, Hood said because he believed the subpoenas were targeting people implicated in “some criminal activity, maybe drugs or a home burglary.” There’s never been any evidence of either and, in any event, the sheriff certainly shouldn’t have been investigating his former lover.

By the way, Bryan Bailey is the same sheriff whose department employed the Goon Squad, five deputies who pleaded guilty earlier this year for torturing two black men during an illegal raid on a house, filing false police reports and planting fake evidence. Bailey is up for reelection in November and it looks like he’s going to win.

+ Darryl George is an 18-year-old  junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas. Since August 31, George has been suspended from school because he refused to cut his dreadlocks. Now he’s being removed from the high school altogether and placed in what the principal describes as “an alternative disciplinary education program.” Despite the passage of the CROWN Act, which is meant to prohibit discrimination on race-based hairstyles and bars schools from penalizing students (and teachers) because of hair texture or hairstyles including Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists or Bantu knots, the Barbers Hill School district still maintains a policy banning male students from having hair falling below the eyebrows, ear lobes or top of a T-shirt collar. It also demands, more subjectively, that the hair on all students must be clean, well-groomed, geometrical and not an unnatural color or variation. Darryl’s mother, Darresha, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state’s governor and attorney general, alleging they failed to enforce a new law outlawing discrimination based on hairstyles.

We build your penitentiary, we build your schools
Brainwash education to make us the fools
Hate is your reward for our love
Telling us of your God above
We gotta chase those crazy bald heads
Gotta chase those crazy bald heads outta town…

+ According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 60% of sexual assault exonerees are Black, but less than a quarter of people in prison for sexual assault are Black. This suggests that Black people are nearly 8 times more likely than white people to be wrongly convicted of sexual assault.

+ 35 people have died this year in Los Angeles County’s jails, 17 since June 1st, averaging about one every week.

+ For only the second time in forty years, the Cook County Jail population has fallen below 5,000, a consequence of Illinois’ move to end cash bail.


+ Last week California Governor Gavin Newsom, with an eye toward the spigot of Big Pharma money if he decides to enter the presidential race, vetoed a bill that would have set a $35 cap for insulin.

+ Newsom has also vetoed:

– expanded protections for trans kids in custody disputes

– unemployment benefits for striking workers

– anti-caste discrimination bill

– a bill supported by truck drivers/labor unions to protect their jobs by requiring drivers in self-driving cars

+ Suella Braverman, the hugely unpopular Home Secretary in the UK’s Tory government, defended her “tough on crime” policies by saying: “We cannot let British cities go the way of San Francisco or Seattle.”

+ “My grandparents came from poverty. When I see people from Mexico or Venezuela being vilified, I see my grandparents. They were born in Kentucky and Tennessee rather than across the border, but I don’t see them as different.” – President Shawn Fain, United Auto Workers

+ An NLRB judge ruled Starbucks founder Howard Schultz personally broke labor law by telling Madison Hall, a Starbucks worker and union organizer, that they should quit if they didn’t like Starbucks’ anti-union behavior.

+ According to the Financial Times, almost half of all listed companies in the US are unprofitable.

+ According to Reventure Consulting, the median home payment has now gone from $1,035/month to $2,839/month in just 10 years. Since the pandemic, the median home payment is up ~$1,300/month, an 87% increase. Meanwhile, mortgage rates just hit their highest since 2000, at 7.93%. Housing affordability is now officially at its lowest levels in US history.

+ When she was four months pregnant, doctors told Miranda Michel that her twins would die minutes after they were born. Texas’ new abortion laws forced her to carry the pregnancy to its horrific end.

+ Four former wrestlers at Ohio State University — who have accused Rep. Jim Jordan of failing to protect them from a sexual predator when he was the team’s assistant coach — are speaking out against his candidacy for Speaker of the House.

+ Matt Huffman, Ohio Senate President, spoke out on the floor of the Senate this week against a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana. Huffman declared that while he is “not a scientist” he is convinced legalization will lead teenagers to kill themselves: “If Issue 2 passes, there will be more teenagers in the state of Ohio committing suicide.”

+ According to new research out of Duke University, Newborns in 2019 could be expected to take prescription drugs for roughly half their lives: 47.54 years for women and 36.84 years for men.


+ Earth’s average temperature in September crushed the previous record by more than half a degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit), which represents the largest monthly margin ever observed.

+ “This is not a fancy weather statistic,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College of London. “It’s a death sentence for people and ecosystems. It destroys assets, infrastructure, harvest.”

.+ As of October 10, the daily average temperature for the Northern Hemisphere had been at a record high for 100 consecutive days

+ Plans for new oil and gas power plants have grown by 13% in 2023.

+ According to a new study in Nature, from 2000 to 2019, the total human-caused climate change-attributed costs for extreme weather events reached $2.86 trillion, averaging $143 billion annually. The study attributes 63% of these costs to the loss of human life. These climate crisis-related damages have averaged $16 million per hour over the past two decades.

+ This year, the USA has experienced 24 weather and climate disasters with losses of more than $1 billion – a new record. Total cost exceeds $67.1 billion, with 373 fatalities, according to NOAA.

+ Climate-driven extreme weather events (fires, floods, droughts, hurricanes) have displaced around 43 million children in the last six years.

+ Hurricane Lidia, which made landfall with 140 mph winds just south of Puerto Vallarta on Tuesday night, was one of the fastest-intensifying hurricanes on record, going from a Category 1 to a Category 4 storm in only 9.5 hours.

+ The UK is now 40% behind on its $14.2 billion climate finance pledge.

+ From the latest dire report published this week in Nature on the irreversible damage being inflicted on ocean ecosystems by climate change: “We find that changes in ocean temperature and oxygen drive a centuries-long irreversible loss in the habitable volume of the upper 1000 meters of the world ocean…These results suggest that the combined effect of warming and deoxygenation will have profound and long-lasting impacts on the viability of marine ecosystems, well after global temperatures have peaked.”

+ David Scott, the head of ExxonMobil’s shale oil and gas operations, was arrested at a Texas budget hotel on a sexual assault charge last week.

+ In the 1990s, there were two or three sand and dust storms per year in Tajikistan. In recent years, there have been as many as 35.

+ From 2012-2019, the US Forest Service dropped toxic fire retardant into or near water 459 times, all on the West Coast. The drops totaled 760,000 gallons, making an agency charged with protecting water quality one of the biggest polluters in the region.

+ Nine out of the 20 members on a federal government panel tasked with developing nutritional guidelines have significant links to big food companies and other entities that have a financial stake in the process’s outcome, according to a new report by the transparency group US Right to Know.

+ The use of an indoor wood stove or fireplace increases women’s risk of developing lung cancer by 43% compared with those that do not use wood heating, according to a study published in the journal Environment International.

+ More than a third of all Atlantic Right Whale deaths along the northeastern coastline of the US can be attributed to ship collisions. Though rising ocean temperatures are playing an increasing role

+ Among white evangelicals, the view that the Earth is in crisis dropped — from 13 percent in 2014 to 8 percent today.


+ Who’s Nancy’s Arthur Dimmesdale?

+ Jennifer Petersen,  one of 11 adults nationwide who are collectively responsible for 60% of book challenges filed during the 2021-2022 school year, says she grew up hating books.

+ Book bans have come to Illinois now. The Yorkville School District 115 Board voted to ban Brian Stevenson’s “Just Mercy” from a high school English class. They deemed the book, which focuses on two wrongly convicted Black men on death row, “too controversial.

+ Mike Pence says the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest unfairly portrayed state mental hospitals, causing states to close them in the 1970s, but says we should bring them back to lock people up who have mental illnesses. Wait until you hear his critique of demonic possession in The Exorcist

+ In a quiz of how much Americans know about religions, Jews and atheists consistently score the best.

+ According to a piece in the Austin American-Statesman, in 1953 it was “common knowledge that the city [of Galveston] had more than 20 brothels in operation on and around Post Office Street. What’s more, practically no one is at all interested in closing any of them.”

+ From the critic Kenneth Tynan’s diaries, October 1972: “Which 20th Century artists are beyond criticism–ie, accepted by everyone as masters to question whose status would be blasphemous? Not Joyce (it’s OK to dislike Finnegan); not Stravinsky (OK to find the latter works arid); not Picasso (John Berger’s book); not Eisenstein (OK to hold his work distorted by Stalinism); not Chaplin (OK to prefer Keaton); not Brecht (OK to hold his work distorted by dogmatic Marxism); not Shaw (OK to find him shallow); not Hemingway (infantile aggressions) etc. etc. The only exceptions I can think of are: Chekhov and Proust–and it’s stretching it to call Chekhov a 20th Century figure. (Footnote: to this list Mary McCarthy suggests an addition: Kafka.)”

+ In a suit brought by five Utah women who claim he sexually abused them, Tim Ballard, the anti-trafficking hero of Sound of Freedom, is said to have spent donor money on pills and strip clubs and got high on ketamine to talk to the dead Mormon prophet Nephi who told Ballard he’d become US president.

+ Q: Do you ever feel that you have exploited relationships by writing about them?

Leonard Cohen: That’s the very least way in which I have exploited relationships. If that was the only way I’d exploited a relationship then I’m going straight to heaven. Are you kidding me?

+ Virginia Woolf in a 1932 letter to the New Statesman: “Bloomsbury, W.C.1, that is the correct postal address, and my telephone number is in the book. But if your reviewer, or any reviewer, dares hint that I live in South Kensington, I will sue him for libel. If any human being, man, woman, dog, cat or half-crushed worm dares call me ‘middle-brow’ I will take my pen and stab him, dead. Yours, etc.”

Set the Captives Free

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama
Nathan Thrall
(Metropolitan Books)

Forbidden Fruit: an Anthropologist Looks at Incest
Maurice Godelier

Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt
Orisanmi Burton
(University of California)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Hostile Environment
Creation Rebel
(On-U Sound)

Solar Music
Butcher Brown

Rivers in Our Veins
Allison Miller
(Royal Potato)

History Has No Mercy

“History has no mercy. There are no laws in it against suffering and cruelty, no internal balance that restores a people much sinned against to their rightful place in the world. Cyclical views of history have always seemed to me flawed for that reason, as if the turning of the screw means that present evil can later be transformed into good. Nonsense. Turning the screw of suffering means more suffering, and not a path to salvation. The most frustrating thing about history, however, is that so much in it escapes language, escapes attention and memory altogether. – Edward Said, “The Screw Turns Again.”

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