Roaming Charges: It’s in the Bag

Iowa GOP caucus worker collecting paper voting slips in a grocery bag.

Q:  “Are there holes in the bag?”

John Lennon: “There’s a hole to get in and out.”

Q: “Are you gonna come out of the bag, once?”

Lennon: “Not during this press conference, no.”


Q: “How could you prove that you are John Lennon?”

Lennon: “I don’t have to. I’m here just to talk about peace. It doesn’t matter who I am.”

Q: “Are you the ghost of John Lennon?”

Lennon: “Could be.”

– At John and Yoko’s Bagism protest against the Vietnam War in Vienna, March 31 1969

+ Though you may not have heard about it given the minimal press coverage, over 400,000 people converged on DC last weekend to demand an end to the US-financed war in Gaza. That’s 300,000 more people than voted in the Iowa caucuses on Monday night, many of whom cast their preferences on slips of paper stuffed into grocery bags. Still, Trump barely won a majority of his own party’s vote. As my friend Michael Colby noted: “In 1980, Carter got 59% of the caucus vote (Kennedy got 32%) and he was considered toast for the general election.” Trump won about the same percentage of the Iowa vote as LBJ did in New Hampshire in 1968, a humiliating showing that prompted a sitting president to pull out of the race.

+ Around 71,000 people braved 10 below zero temperatures in Kansas City to watch the Chiefs play the Dolphins–that’s 20,000 more people than showed up in all of Iowa’s precincts to cast a vote for Trump.

+ Only 14% of registered Republicans (99% of whom are white) turned out to vote in the Iowa caucuses. Trump captured 51% of them or a little more than 7% of the state’s Republicans. Yet, some, like Glenn Greenwald are interpreting this as a massive rebuke of the NatSec/deep police state…

+ Yet, only 11% of the 100,000 Iowa GOP voters even cited “foreign policy” as their top issue, while 40% want a harsh crackdown on immigrants and presumably support Trump’s vow to bomb Mexico. Iowa isn’t a border state, though even some of its voters (& GG) may not realize this.

+ None of Iowa’s arch-conservative cohort of voters seems to have cited the threat of gays, trans people or “dirty” books in the library as among their most pressing concerns.

+ GOP caucus turnout in Polk County (Des Moines):

2016: 31,098
2024: 17,433 

+ Even more dismal in Johnson County (Iowa City)

2016: 7227
2024: 3578

+ Amount GOP candidates spent per vote in Iowa

Haley: $1,760
DeSantis: $1,497
Ramaswamy: $487
Trump: $328

+ 5th place finishers in the GOP Iowa caucuses:

1996: Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX)
2000: Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
2008: Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)
2012: Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX)
2016: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
2024: Businessman and Pastor Ryan Binkley (Tex)

+ Binkley says, unlike Ramaswamy, Doug Burgum, Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, he’s not dropping out! Lucky us!

+ Before Ron DeSantis ran an ad or ate a corndog in Iowa he was polling at 30%. He finished with 21%, which lends weight to my political theory that the less voters hear and see from you the better they feel about your campaign.

+ Will Menaker: “Ron DeSantis went from being the governor of a major state on an ascendant trajectory to be the leader of a post-Trump Republican party to the most disliked politician in America just by running for President.”

+ Nikki Haley: “We’ve never been a racist country.”

+ Iowa voter on Ramaswamy: “I’m not being prejudiced, guys, but I don’t like his name. I don’t like where he came from. After 9/11, I still harbor a lot of hard feelings.” As despicable as Ramaswamy’s policies are, he was born in Cincinnati. Yes, he’s of Indian descent. But there were no Indian hijackers on 9/11 and at least 41 Indians died on September 11. Don’t know what this person thinks of Nimarata (Nikki) Haley.

+ It’s like we’re living in a Borges story, where the most incompetent people on the planet have amassed–no one is quite sure how–all of the money and power.

+ Vivek, who garnered only 7.7 percent of the vote, ended his campaign using a light-up karaoke mic to address the meager crowd at his campaign HQ.


+ RFK, Jr.’s MLK Day message was a defense of the FBI’s wiretapping of the civil rights leader: “My father gave permission to Hoover to wiretap them so he could prove that his suspicions about King were either right or wrong. I think, politically, they had to do it.” Who’s still supporting this reprobate?

+ It tells you a lot about AOC’s office that one of her top staffers would take a job with the Biden campaign, which gets more indefensible with every airstrike…

+ According to the latest ABC News poll, only one-third of US adults say they approve of Biden’s job performance, a record low for his presidency and for any president in the last 15 years.

+ Do the political limbo: how low can Joe go?

+ In a new poll by Detroit News, 17% of Michiganders say Biden deserves a new term. He trails Trump 47/39 in Michigan in the poll.

+ Asked at a presser on the South Lawn of the White House, if US/UK airstrikes are working in Yemen, Biden said: “Well, when you say ‘working’–are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes.”

+ In other words, the bombing will continue until our internal poll numbers improve.

+  I don’t envy the people at the Wax Museum who have to recreate this episode as the signature moment of the Biden presidency…

+ Oil prices rose 2% after the US/UK airstrikes on Yemen, largely out of concern that Iran might respond by blocking the Strait of Hormuz: “If a large part of Strait of Hormuz flows were to be halted, it would present up to 3 times the impact of the 1970s oil price shocks and over double the impact of the Ukraine war on gas markets, atop already fragile supply chains.” Do you get the sense Biden doesn’t really want to get reelected?

+ In order to keep killing Russian conscripts in Ukraine, Biden is willing to put thousands of Central Americans in immigration detention camps, deny nearly all asylum claims and close any path to citizenship–an immigration (or more properly, anti-immigration) deal far more punitive than Trump could ever achieve. And most of the Democrats in Congress seem eager to go along. The problem is selling the deal to House Republicans, who want to deny Biden any legislative victory, even the fulfillment of Stephen Miller’s political wet dream.

So Biden has dispatched his old Republican pals in the Senate to do the arm-twisting. Here’s Lindsey Graham: “To those who think that if President Trump wins, which I hope he does, that we can get a better deal—you won’t.” Graham’s message was backed up by Senate minority whip John Thune, who warned: “To my Republican friends: to get this kind of border security without granting a pathway to citizenship is really unheard of. So if you think you’re going to get a better deal next time, in ’25, if President Trump’s president, Democrats will be expecting a pathway to citizenship for that. So to my Republican colleagues, this is a historic moment to reform the border.”

+ Shithole country…

+ There’s a movement in New Hampshire for Democrats to write-in “Ceasefire” in the primaries on Tuesday.


+ During his campaign, Biden pledged to end the federal death penalty. But his Justice Department just announced it would seek the death penalty in the racist mass murder at a Buffalo supermarket, even though the defendant, Payton Gendron, is already serving a life without parole sentence in New York State. Janai S. Nelson, director of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund denounced the decision, saying the organization “roundly condemns the pursuit of the death penalty in all circumstances.” Nelson said that the 2022 mass shooting was a “heinous act of white supremacist violence that had a devastating impact on the black community in Buffalo and beyond. We stand with the Buffalo community as it continues to reel from this painful event and works to continue to heal. We also demand that the federal government pursue an all-of-government approach to the hate motivated incidents that leads with prevention of and protection from white supremacist violence. We do not, however, believe that the death penalty is part of this equation.”

+ Not only is Rudy Giuliani’s personal reputation in tatters but so is the reputation of the tough-on-crime policing system he supervised as mayor of NYC in the 90s. There have now been 18 overturned convictions from that era based on the testimony of a single corrupt NYPD detective, Lou Scarcella. 

+ In 2021, Philadelphia created a Police Oversight group. Nearly three years later it hasn’t investigated a single case.

+ An LA Sheriff’s deputy shot a coworker’s gang tattoo off on a camping trip. Internal documents on the incident uncovered by the LA Free Press show:

+ Investigators never asked about tattoos or deputy gangs

+ Shooter & victim lied in statements

+ 22 people, incl. 1 known deputy gang member attended

+ It’s official: Police in the US killed more people in 2023 than any year in the last decade:

+ At least 1,232 killed, a rate of more than 3 a day 

+ 445 victims were fleeing police 

+ There was a rise in killings by sheriffs and in rural areas 

+ Black people were killed at a rate 2.6 times higher than whites

+ California K-12 schools have more police officers than social workers and more security guards than nurses, according to state data released earlier this month. Police stopped 6,441 kids in schools in 2022. Black youths are handcuffed at twice the rate of white youths.

+ The cop convicted of brutally killing Elijah McClain avoided prison, instead he was sentenced to 14 months in jail with authorized work release. The judge cited his “positive social history and service to his country and community.”

+ Police in Phoenix went on a foot chase of a man accused of domestic violence. They tackled the suspect in an alley, fired beanbags at him, then shot him with a shotgun and ran over him in a police SUV. The cops were agitated because the man had pointed a pellet gun at them in self-defense. All along, the cops had been chasing the wrong guy.

+ At a press conference last week, NYC Mayor Eric Adams first denied that a passage in his 2009 book in which he fired a gun at school ever happened, then blamed a coauthor (none is listed), and finished off by claiming to be unaware that his own book had been published at all. Speaking of the Mayor, the NY Daily News reports that Adams’ legal defense fund has been fattened by donations from Leonard Blavatnik, a billionaire businessman with ties to a US-sanctioned Russian oligarch, and crypto mogul Brock Pierce.

+ NYC Mayor Eric Adams to the graduating class of the Department of Corrections, telling the new Rikers guards he’ll always have their backs no matter what abuses they commit: “People are trying to take away your power and authority to do the job right…But…you have a Goddamn mayor that believes in what you’re doing, and I will fight like all hell to be with you.”

+ In an attempt to slow the rate of re-incarceration, a bill in Colorado would give people up to $3,000 after release from prison. If passed, it would make Colorado the first to codify a program like this into state law.

+ Tony D. Vick, who has been incarcerated in Tennessee for the last 27 years: “The private, for-profit prison I’m housed at does not offer fruit or milk on any of the meal trays, nor fresh vegetables or anything that has any hope of pleasing the palate or the stomach.”

+ Members of the Texas National Guard “physically barred” US Border Patrol agents from trying to rescue three migrants (a woman and two children) who drowned in the Rio Grande. Doesn’t this qualify as negligent homicide, at the very least?

+ When someone calls 911 in Santa Monica now, a drone is dispatched from the roof of the police station.  In as little as 30 seconds, it can start collecting information before officers arrive. Meanwhile, Serve Robotics, a company that delivers food for Uber Eats, provided footage filmed by its robots to the LAPD as evidence in a criminal case. Emails show that the robots, which are now a ubiquitous presence in the city, are being used for surveillance.

+ Yet another dead prisoner in Alabama has been found missing all of his organs, including his brain.


+ Only 11 US Senators voted to enforce a US law that countries getting US weapons not use them to commit war crimes: Sanders, Hirono, Merkley, Markey, Warren, Paul, Butler, Lujan, Van Hollen, Heinrich, Welch. When it comes to the “international rules-based order”, we don’t even consent to follow our own.

+ Israel has dropped eight times more bombs (most Made in the USA) on Gaza in the span of 100 days than the US army did during six years in Iraq.

+ Ready or not, here they come: NATO is gearing up the largest drills since the Cold War, featuring 90,000 troops, in exercises to rehearse “how US troops could reinforce European allies in countries bordering Russia … if a conflict were to flare up with a ‘near-peer’ adversary….

+ Why we can’t have nice things, like national health care: “The U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimates that the country will need about $750 billion in the next decade to boost its nuclear capability.”

+ Despite sanctions meant to block Moscow’s access to key components of weapons, Western companies sent Russia parts worth nearly $3 billion in the first 10 months of 2023. There’s always a loophole in sanctions for weapons, but rarely when it comes to getting food and medicine to the civilians of sanctioned nations.

+ Tony Blinken was late to the World Economic Forum because of a malfunction in the Boeing-built plane scheduled to fly him to Davos, which is a pretty apt symbol for the condition of the Late-Imperial Economy. Military Keynesian will only take you so far, which these days often isn’t even to the end of the runway. Before joining the Biden administration, Blinken served as a paid consultant for Boeing.

+ Someone could make a mint by developing an app allowing people to book a flight on non-Boeing-made planes.

+ When Blinken finally showed up, things didn’t get much better for our hapless Secretary of State, where he was subjected to the rare, perhaps even singular, experience of having Tom Friedman, perhaps the most ardent Zionist in the New York Times’ stable of pro-Israel columnists, critique him from the Left…

Tom Friedman to Blinken: “Given the incredible asymmetry in casualties, do Jewish lives matter more than Muslim and Palestinian-Christian lives?”

Blinken, after a stunned pause: “No.”

+ As Ken Silverstein noted: “Friedman may be the biggest hack in all US journalism, tho admittedly there are many contenders, but Israeli war crimes even giving him pause. Nothing gives Blinken pause, he’s an utterly amoral sociopath.”

+ According to federal court documents employees at a Boeing subcontractor behind the Alaska Airlines exploding door crisis warned corporate officials about safety problems and were told to falsify records.

+ Rep. Mike Garcia, a Republican from California, secretly sold thousands of dollars of stock in Boeing while he was a member of the House Transportation Committee, which was investigating Boeing.


Trump in Iowa: “Our military leaders have gone woke and we’re teetering on the brink of World War III. I am the only candidate in this race who’s up to the task of saving America from every single Biden disaster, starting on day one.” 

+ Needless to say, I’m not a huge fan of Julius Caesar (though he was almost certainly more honorable than the gang of landlords, money-lenders and slave traders who murdered him) but even he knew–and he reportedly led and won more major battles than any general in history until Napoleon–the problem with the Roman army was that its officer class was filled with privileged aristocrats, who routinely flogged their troops for minor behavioral infractions but were more concerned with the amount of loot and slaves they’d acquire in Transalpine Gaul than how to defend their flanks from guerrilla attacks by Vercingetorix’s Delta Force teams. According to the great chronicler of imperial debauchery Suetonius, Caesar didn’t care about his legionnaires’s “lifestyle or wealth, only their courage.” Strabo quoted Caesar as saying, “My troops will fight just as well smelling of perfume.” His cross-dressing legionnaires certainly didn’t have any trouble committing mass murder in the name of the Empire. By one estimate, Caesar’s legions killed more than a million people during his campaigns in Spain, Gaul, Britain, Germany, Greece and North Africa. (See Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy.)

By almost any standard, the real problem with the Pentagon leadership isn’t their “wokeness”, but their incestuous ties to the industries that profit from war-making, something Trump never mentions because it would mean condemning many of his own top financial backers.

+ A year on from a major operation by Lula’s government intended to rid the Yanomami territory of illegal gold miners, the Yanomami are suffering an acute health crisis, and hundreds of children are severely malnourished, Figures from the official health service in the Yanomami area show:

+ The incidence of malaria increased 61% in 2023, with at least 25,000 cases.

+ Levels of flu have also increased dramatically, from 3,203 in 2022 to 20,524 in 2023 – an increase of 640%.

+ 308 Indigenous people have died (Jan – Nov 2023), most of them children under five.

+ Newly released Australian cabinet records show that Canada led efforts to weaken the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the UN, working secretly with Australia to develop a watered-down substitute in the early 2000s.

+ A rightwing judge in El Salvador is using an investigation into a 1981 massacre at El Mozote by government-sponsored death squads to jail a leading human rights activist, Rubén Zamora, who sought to expose the perpetrators of the killings and is a vocal critic of the country’s despotic new president Nayib Bukele. “The decision is a mockery of justice and an affront to victims,” said Juanita Goebertus Estrada, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of prosecuting members of the military who killed hundreds of people in El Mozote, the Salvadoran authorities are using trumped-up charges against a prominent human rights advocate who has been tirelessly seeking justice for the victims.”

+ Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to the newly-elected, Ayn Rand-obsessed berserker Javier Milei of Argentina: “A message to Javier Milei… You were put in Argentina to destroy the rule of law, destroy the State, destroy all social and labor rights, destroy the national economy and to colonize Argentina and deliver it on its knees to US imperialism… you are a fatal mistake.”

+ Javier Milei in Davos: “Communists, Nazis, fascists, socialists, social democrats, national socialists, Christian democrats, Keynesians, neo-Keynesians, progressives, populists, nationalists, globalists: In the end, there’s no substantive difference.”

+ That charmer Vladimir Putin (or his double) claimed this week that people who had left Russia are now returning because they can’t stand…unisex toilets: “You know, shared toilets for boys and girls and other things like that. This has become an everyday, ordinary phenomenon. And those who left Russia for various reasons, many of them are now returning. Or are thinking of returning? It’s very difficult to live in such conditions, for people with traditional, normal human values.” (China has had unisex toilets since at least 2012.)


The five richest men in the world have more than doubled their fortunes since 2020. While most of the world’s five billion people were made poorer by the pandemic, the wealth of Bernard Arnault, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Larry Ellison and Elon Musk surged from $405 billion to $869 billion, padding their bank accounts at the rate of $14 million per hour.  “If you’d put their money in a room in 2020, and then you came back at the end of 2023, you would have found that the wealth has grown enormously,” says Rebecca Riddell, the policy lead for economic and racial justice at Oxfam America, and lead author of Oxfam’s new report, Inequality, Inc. “Three times the rate of inflation.”

+ For decades, Walmart has pressured its employees to work through illnesses and chronic pain. Janikka Perry was so worried about losing her job that she stayed in a motel near the store in North Little Rock, Arkansas during snowstorms, so she could walk to work. Perry had a heart condition and when she died on the job of a heart attack, Walmart failed to report the death to OSHA. Her mother ay told the New Republic: “In this state, everybody’s afraid of Walmart, cause they’re a billion-dollar company. But my daughter’s worth more than a billion dollars.”

+ States that expanded Medicaid under the ACA saw a 20% drop in arrest rates across all categories.   The states that refused Medicaid expansion want you sick, in debt and/or in prison, so that they can give your job at the lumber mill or slaughterhouse to a 13-year-old who they don’t even have to pay the paltry $7.25 minimum wage that hasn’t changed in 15 years….

+ An Indiana Republican has filed a bill that would allow kids as young as 14 to drop out and work on corporate farms during school hours. Kids would only need to complete 8th grade in order to work 40 hours a week as a farm laborer.

+ New York City has more office space than any city in the world. But more than 95 million square feet of the city’s office space is currently unoccupied – the equivalent of thirty Empire State Buildings. In other words, there’s plenty of room for the City’s homeless…

+ The most common living arrangement for young adults in the US used to be living as a couple with your children. Now it’s living with your parents. 

+ Last year the city of Portland, Oregon massively increased sweeps of homeless encampments but failed to keep accurate records of where those individuals ended up. “Why would the city blatantly neglect to collect this information?” asked Lauren Armony, of Sisters of the Road, a nonprofit that feeds homeless and other low-income people. “This is willful negligence. We can allocate resources more effectively if we have data on what types of shelter work best for unhoused residents.”

+ The Hippie Pope says Marxists and Christians have a common mission: “If I see the Gospel in a sociological way only, yes, I am a communist, and so too is Jesus.”

+ A coalition of 15 GOP governors is rejecting summer food aid for children in their states. What a thing to take a stand on!

+ Out of the 38 countries in the leading Western trade alliance, the US ranks 32nd in spending on early childhood programs.

+ Nicholas Bagley on the Biden administration’s attempts to negotiate with drug companies for cheaper prices instead of purchasing drugs from Canada: “We’re sort of trying to exploit the machinery that Canada has created and that we were too timid to create.”

+ Microsoft has nosed past Apple to become the largest U.S. company in terms of market value.

+ Tesla has lost at least $94 billion in market valuation in just the first two weeks of 2024.

+ From the “Don’t It Always Seem to Go, You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone” Newswire: On Friday morning the entire staff of Sports Illustrated was fired.

+ Every year, hundreds of thousands of people die because of diagnostic errors. Women and minorities are up to 30% more likely to be misdiagnosed than white men.

+ DeSantis (now polling at 5% in NH) at a town hall meeting: “Every booster you take, you’re more likely to get COVID as a result of it.”

+ According to a Rasmussen poll (which often provides a kind of X-ray into the political psyche of rightwing America) a majority of Americans believe COVID-19 vaccines are to blame for many unexplained deaths. Nearly one-in-four say someone they know might be among the victims.

+ Since December there have been 9 reported cases of measles in Philadelphia, five of them at a childcare center that an infected unvaccinated child visited in violation of a quarantine order.


+ You scour the headlines for little rays of hope and, instead, just keep finding shit like the bracing results from this recent AP survey on American attitudes about climate change: “Americans are less convinced that climate change is caused mostly or entirely by humans compared to data from recent years, declining from 60% in 2018 to 49% this year…This increased doubt was just as significant for someone who graduated from college as someone who has a high school diploma or less (11 percentage point drop) and was more pronounced for younger Americans (17 percentage point drop for those ages 18-29 vs. 9 percentage point drop for the 60+ age group)…Democrats and independents are becoming less convinced that climate change is caused mostly by humans, while Republican attitudes remain stable.”

+ According to Berkeley Earth’s 2023 Global Temperature Report 2023 was by far the hottest year since direct observations began: 2023 was 1.54 ± 0.06 °C (2.77 ± 0.11 °F) above the 1850-1900 average, the first year above 1.5 °C (2.7 °F).

+ The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet is accelerating rapidly. A new study published in Nature estimates that Greenland is losing an average of 30m tonnes of ice an hour–20% more than was previously thought. The torrents of freshwater flushing into the Atlantic are expected to speed the collapse of the ocean currents called the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (Amoc), the consequences of which will be dire.

+ There’s been a big leak in a pipeline on Alaska’s North Slope, very close to the boundary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The leak started on Saturday evening and the preliminary estimate is 11,550 gallons (275 barrels) of natural gas condensate, also known as “light oil.”

+ Modi’s climate two-step

Dec 11: India announces plan to double coal production by 2030

Dec 13: India signs off on “transitioning away from fossil fuels at COP28

Dec 22: India lays out plans to build 88 GW of coal power plants

+ A piece in the Financial Times predicts that the countries in the global south expected to experience the most extreme climate disasters “face a massive financing gap: they need $4.3 trillion by 2030 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

+ Thousands of U.S. homes have flooded over and over again: “The bottom line is that the risk and the damages are increasing faster than we are dealing with them.”

+ Recently reclassified as a ‘humid subtropical’ climate, New York City, experienced nearly 700 consecutive days with less than an inch of snowfall.

+ Battery storage on the U.S. electric grid is projected to grow by another 80% this year, after doubling the last two years and tripling the year before that. In fact, Hawaii’s last coal power plant has just been replaced by giant batteries.

+ In the last 50 years, the North American bird population has lost 3 billion breeding adults, nearly 30 percent of the population. Lark buntings are down 56%, canyon wrens by 23%, roadrunners and lesser scaups by 27%, tufted titmouse by 22%, bobolinks by 20%, Carolina chickadees down 22%, redwings blackbirds down 15%, American goldfinches down 12% and even seemingly ubiquitous crows, down 14%.

American Kestrel on the French Prairie, western Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ My favorite bird since I was kid, watching them hover and dive over fields in central Indiana, has been the American Kestrel. In college, I helped my Chaucer professor rehab an injured Kestrel in northern Virginia. The recuperating falcon, which we named Troilus, often perched over his desk on a bust of Dante, as if contemplating what contemporary villains most deserved damnation. And for the past 15 years, I’ve been doing Kestrel surveys here in the Willamette Valley, where their numbers have declined by more than 22%. Pesticides, the disappearing insect populations, the loss of old trees with nesting cavities, encroaching subdivisions, the recent mass conversion of fields and pastures into vineyards, and climate change have all played a nefarious role.

+ At least, 17,000, which amounts to about 96%, of the elephant seal pups on the Patagonian coast of Argentina now have been killed by avian flu.

+ Despite bans on chopping off shark fins for soup, the number of sharks killed in fishing operations is actually increasing, placing one-third of all shark species at risk of extinction, according to a new study in Science.

+ The two men charged with starting the 221,835-acre Caldor Fire in California by shooting illegal firearms in drought-parched forests are getting off without even facing trial.

+ There’s mounting evidence that air pollution increases the risk of dementia and stroke.

+ According to a new study published in the Journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the average liter of bottled water contains some 240,000 detectable plastic fragments—10 to 100 times greater than previous estimates.

+ Most tea bags are made from plastic, either nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET).  According to research from McGill University, a single plastic tea bag can release 11.6 billion microplastics into a cup of tea.


+ Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner couldn’t have cooked this up…The House Oversight hearing on Hunter Biden erupted when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene asked to introduce evidence.

REP. RASKIN: “In the past, she’s displayed pornography. Are pornographic photos allowed to be displayed in this room?”

MTG: “It’s not pornography.”

RASKIN: “Ok well you’re the expert.”

+ According to Jeffrey Epstein’s brother, Mark, Epstein “stopped hanging out with Donald Trump when he realized Trump was a crook.”

+ From Trump’s “Presidential immunity” hearing in DC…

Judge: “I asked you a yes or no question. Could a president who ordered S.E.A.L. Team 6 to assassinate a political rival (and is) not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution?”

Trump’s attorney:  “Qualified yes — if he is impeached and convicted first.”

+ Meanwhile, up in NYC at Trump’s second trial for defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll, who he raped in a dressing room at Bergdoff-Goodman’s…

Trump lawyer Alina Habba, struggling to make who knows what kind of point: You were a regular at Elaine’s, right?

E. Jean Carroll: Yes.

Habba: It’s hard to get into, isn’t it?

Carroll: No, not hard.

Judge Kaplan: It doesn’t exist anymore. That’s why it’s hard to get into.

+ Here’s Alina Habba, arguing that Trump’s legal entanglements are part of a “demonic plan”: “There’s God’s plan and then there’s a demonic plan, and the demonic plan is very easily confused with real life.”

+ Almost two-thirds of Canadians say US democracy can’t survive another Trump term. Canadian democracy may not survive another Trudeau term.

+ Just another pro-Nazi march in a large American city. Houston this time…

+ Michael Flynn will never get over being fired by a black man, even though the black man was acting whiter than the crippled arm of John McCain, which hadn’t been tanned by the sun in 55 years…

+ The UK Labour’s Shadow Minister for Equalities Anneliese Dodds confirms the party has reneged on its commitment to protect transgender rights. Dodds says Labour will protect single-sex spaces “for biological women”.

+ David Smith, the rightwing billionaire owner of Sinclair Media, who just bought the Baltimore Sun, is also a big funder of Project Veritas, Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA and Moms for Liberty.



+ Playboy: Nick, your salary is shooting up into the multimillions per movie. Reportedly $4 million to $7 million. Do those numbers make you chuckle?

+ Nicholas Cage: I don’t chuckle. I have respect for the dollar.

+ Verden Allen, keyboardist for Mott the Hopple, on the release of All the Young Dudes: “It came out right in the middle of the glam-rock explosion. Pete [Watts, the band’s bassist] got some 8-inch platform boots that were so high that the weight of his bass would topple him over into the crowd. One night I went out for a pizza with Bowie, who was in his blue Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit. He was suffering from malnutrition and his teeth were bleeding, because he’d not been eating.”

+ The book ban in the Escambia County, Florida school district now includes the American Heritage Children’s Dictionary, Webster’s Dictionary for Students, and Merriam-Webster’s Elementary Dictionary, all for defining words like “sex” and “intercourse.”

+ Florida’s State Board of Education has passed a rule to “permanently prohibit” Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on the state’s 28 college campuses and replaced the course “Principles of Sociology” with a course in American History. The Board stated: “The aim is to provide students with an accurate and factual account of the nation’s past, rather than exposing them to radical woke ideologies, which had become commonplace in the now replaced course.”

 + Stanley Kubrick, whose own film on the Holocaust was shelved after Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was released, to Frederic Raphael on Schindler’s List: “Think that was about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn’t it? The Holocaust is about 6 million people who get killed. Schindler’s List was about 600 people who don’t.”

+ Survivor winner Nick Wilson, now a state representative in Kentucky, quietly filed a bill that would remove first cousins from the state’s incest law. When news of the change leaked out, Wilson said it was all a mistake. The kind of slip-up anyone could make.

+ I was shocked to learn of the death of my friend Paul Lacques of cancer this week. Paul was a dazzling musician (I SEE HAWKS IN L.A.), who could play almost any style he wanted like he’d invented it. He was a brilliant, politically astute lyricist with a sharp sense of humor. Most importantly, he was an enlightened human at a time when darkness was descending. We had our debates over the years and I invariably learned something from all of them. It’s too simple to say I’ll miss him because what he gave me changed me for the better in ways I might not even fully understand yet. Peace, brother.

40 Pounds in the Back of My Van, It’s all a Part of the Master Plan, in Humboldt, Humboldt

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Journeys With Emperors: Tracking the World’s Most Extreme Penguin
Gerald L. Kooyman and Jim Mastro

Over the Seawall: Tsunamis, Cyclones, Drought and the Delusion of Controlling Nature
Stephen Robert Miller

A History of Fake Things on the Internet
Walter Scheirer

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Groove Street
Dave Stryker Trio
(Strikezone Records)

Czartificial Intelligence

Neil Young

Not One

“Not one of the first six US presidents was an orthodox Christian. Most of the founders were Deists, who doubted that Christ was a god and equated God with ‘the power behind nature, as discerned by science.'”

– Robert Sherrill

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