Roaming Charges: How to Kill a Wolf in Society

Timber wolf. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

There are many ways to kill a wolf in America. But most of them are mundane and prosaic. They’re not likely to bring you acclaim and notoriety. Few will hear about your feat if you simply gun down a wolf from a helicopter, kill a wolf with an M-44 cyanide bomb, pour gas into a wolf den filled with pups and strike a match, put out a contract on a wolf with a hired killer from the government, track down a wolf with a drone and shoot it with a long-range rifle and telescopic scope, inject rat poison in an elk carcass and wait for wolves (and whoever else) to feed on it and die an agonizing death, run one over with your cybertruck or, like the current Governor of Montana, catch a wolf in a trap and then after it has struggled to free itself for a few painful days heroically shoot it.

But if you want to get your name in the papers and your drunken face on cable TV, you’ve got to be more creative. You can’t just be a routine sadist anymore, you’ve got to go the extra mile. You’ve got to bring your wolf torture to the people. Consider this: since wolves lost their protection under the Endangered Species Act more than 1,000 wolves are killed in the US each year, either by hunters, poachers or government wolf killers. They’re killed quietly, remorselessly, anonymously. Hardly anyone notices.

A Wyoming hombre named Cody Roberts set out to change all that. Roberts runs a trucking company in Daniel, Wyoming, a small town in the Green River valley southeast of Jackson. He’s a grown man who likes to post photos of himself on Facebook with animals that he’s killed: pheasants, elk, deer and a mountain lion. But merely posing with slaughtered wildlife didn’t get him that much acclaim. Then one day in late February, Roberts was out on his snowmobile, when he spotted a wolf, hit the throttle and began to chase it. All in good fun, you know. Ultimately, Roberts caught up with the terrified, exhausted animal and ran over it–twice, for good measure. He could have run over it a third time and no one would have given a damn. Like 85 percent of Wyoming, this section of the Green River Valley, cleaving between the Gros Ventre and Wind River Mountains, is a predator kill zone, which means you can kill pretty much any wolf you see, however you want to kill it and nobody will pay much attention, certainly not the government or CNN. Chasing down a wolf with your snowmobile and running over it repeatedly is a perfectly legal thing to do in Wyoming. Some even call it sport.

Then Roberts got the idea that would make him famous. Rather than put the injured wolf out of its misery (or, god forbid, find a vet to treat its wounds), why not take it back to town and show off his captive in society? So Roberts duct-taped the wolf’s mouth shut and hauled it all the way home to Daniel, population 158, where he took selfies of himself and his prize. In one photo, the grinning Roberts is holding a beer, as he squats next to the distressed animal, which biologists later estimated was little more than a pup, probably only nine months old. But in Wyoming, even pups are fair game. You can shoot them, trap them, cudgel them, poison them, burn them, and use them as jumps for your snowmobile. Nothing wrong with any of that, legally speaking.

Here’s where Roberts crossed the line that made his name. That evening, Cody took his prize to the oldest building in town, the Green River Bar. Ever a prankster, he walked into the saloon announcing that he’d found a “lost cattle dog.” The bartender, who knew something was up, said, “Cody, you better not bring in a fucking lion!”

It wasn’t a lion (this time, anyway). It was an angular, trembling, gravely injured wolf pup with a light gray coat–a wolf that could barely move. The wolf was now muzzled and had two collars strapped around its neck, a tracking collar and a shock collar. Roberts pulled the wolf around on a leash, showing off his mangled catch to the 30 or so patrons in the Green River Bar, many of them apparently his relatives.  After a couple of hours of drinking and boasting, Roberts dragged the wolf out of this venerable establishment and shot it. Shot it dead. (Though to give you an idea of what the Wyoming Fish and Game officials think of wolves, their write-up on the incident referred to the leashed and shock-collared wolf pup Roberts shot behind the saloon as being “harvested.”)

Word of this inspiring spectacle soon spread, ultimately reaching the offices of Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department. An investigation was launched. Not into the wolf’s torture and death, which from the state of Wyoming’s point of view was a thing to be desired, but into how the wolf went social, how it got into town, into a bar, spending hours with humans without killing or even biting anyone, some of the patrons even petting and sympathizing with this wild canid of legendary ferocity.  This was the line that must not be crossed. This was the act that must be punished. So Roberts was given a citation for the offense of illegally possessing warm-blooded wildlife. He was fined all of $250, a penalty Roberts gladly paid. One local told WyoFile that Roberts has “been going around town telling people it was worth it. $250? That’s a round for the bar.” It’s the price of fame…or infamy. The two are pretty much inseparable in American society these days.

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Speaking of wolves: For the first time in 16 years, Oregon’s wolf population did not grow last year, but held steady at 178 wolves. The number of wolf packs declined from 24 in 2022 to 22 in 2023, while the number of successful breeding pairs fell from 17 to 15. Meanwhile, there were 36 recorded wolf deaths, 33 of the wolves killed by humans. At least 44 wolves illegally killed in Oregon since 2012. Meanwhile, 16 wolves were killed in response to “kill orders” issued by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for 10 different packs, the most ever. The total number of wolves killed based on government orders is twice as many as the previous high of 8. Four other wolves died in vehicle strikes, two died natural deaths and one was shot, allegedly in self-defense. Oregon lost another 10 wolves, which were captured in the state and shipped for release in Colorado. Oregon’s wolf population had been expected to grow by 30% per year since reintroduction began in 2008. Instead, the growth rate for the past 8 years has been an anemic 6.3%. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we’ve reintroduced wolves in such a politically compromised way as to give wolf-haters the sadistic pleasure of killing them.

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Using Andres Malm’s “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” as the pretext, three House Republicans, Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer of Kentucky Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin and Mike Waltz of Florida, are launching a probe into “potential threats against critical domestic energy infrastructure after a spike in calls for violence by radical eco-terrorists.”

“With radical environmentalists around the world commonly engaged in the destruction or attempted destruction of art and other property, blocking transit, disrupting private gatherings, and delaying energy infrastructure projects,” the three wrote in a letter announcing the probe. “The Committee seeks to understand the threat that environmental violent extremists also pose to the physical energy infrastructure of the United States and implications for national security.” 

When FBI director Christopher Wray appeared before the Committee last month, Rep. Waltz grilled Wray on the dangers of the book (published Verso) being taught on college campuses:  “We have 16 universities teaching [Malm’s book]  as part of their curriculum. Sixteen universities! I would consider that facilitating domestic terrorism.” the book by Andreas Malm. As a point of reference, there are around 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. A film of Malm’s book made many top 10 lists last year, including my own.

If Comer and Company were really worried about exploding pipelines, they’d be investigating the pipeline companies, themselves. Since 1986, there have been more than 8,000 pipeline explosions, causing more than 500 deaths, 2,300 injuries and $7 billion in damages, according to data from the federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. None of the incidents are attributed to sabotage. They blow up on their own.

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+ Nine of the 10 hottest years have been recorded in the past 10 years and all 10 since 2005.

+ Under Biden, the Climate prez, US LNG exports are at record highs (almost 16 billion cubic feet per day) and are projected to keep on growing. In 2016, LNG exports from the US were nearly zero.

+ UN climate chief, Simon Stiell: ’It’s blazingly obvious that finance is the make-or-break factor in the world’s climate fight.’”

+ A new “rapid analysis” study shows that the “dangerous humid heat” that oppressed western Africa in mid-February was made 10 times more likely by human-caused climate change.

+ Summer temperatures across much of Western Europe have risen three times faster than the global mean warming since 1980.

+ Around 77% of Texas’ electricity is now powered by solar, wind and nuclear.

+ A recent study by Australia National University predicts that Australia is facing 20-year-long megadroughts.

+ Marine protection areas in the Caribbean haven’t helped to revive failing fish populations.

+ Most nuclear plants in the US are unprepared for climate-driven disasters, such as wildfires and floods, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nearly 60% of the country’s nuclear power capacity is directly threatened.

+ Last month a scientific expedition to Antarctica found at least 532 dead Adelie penguins. Thousands more are believed to have died. Was bird flu the culprit?

+ While we’re on the subject of Antarctica, a 2022 report by the National Science Foundation found that 59% of the women at McMurdo and other field stations run by the US Antarctic program, said they’d been sexually assaulted or harassed. A story in Wired, quotes a former fuel foreman at McMurdo, Britt Barquist, as saying that she’d been compelled to work next to a supervisor who’d sexually harassed her. “What was really traumatic was telling people, ‘I’m afraid of this person,’” Barquist said. “And nobody cared.” Another woman told Wired that a supervisor slammed head into a cabinet and then raped her.

+ Countries that have lost the most forest since 2001:

Brazil 517,464 Km2 (9%)
DRC 181,721 Km2 (13%)
Angola 111,012 Km2 (14%)
Sudan 106,213 Km2 (37%)
Indonesia 95,903 Km2 (9%)
Mozambique 44,688 Km2 (11%)
Argentina 45,979 Km2 (14%)
Myanmar 62,712 Km2 (18%)
Paraguay 68,266 Km2 (30%)
Tanzania 80,220 Km2 (15%)
Bolivia 42,791 Km2 (8%)
Colombia 36,001 Km2 (6%)
Nigeria 32,661 Km2 (13%)
Peru 30144 m2 (4%)

+ China’s holdings of US financial assets, as a share of China’s GDP, have dropped back down to where they were when China joined the WTO …

+ On April 6th, the low temperature in Biarritz was +72.5°F, which was the highest minimum temperature ever recorded in France for the month of April. In fact, +72.5°F was one of the highest minimum temperatures ever measured in Biarritz (for any month).

+ The European Court of Human Rights last week ruled that the Swiss government had violated the human rights of 2,000 women over the age of 64, known as KlimaSeniorinnen, or Senior Women for Climate Protection, their government’s failure to combat climate change put them at a higher risk of dying in heatwaves. The women argued they could not leave their homes and suffered ill-health during frequent record hot spells. The landmark ruling forces Switzerland to take aggressive steps to reduce carbon emissions, in line with targets to keep warming to below a global 1.5 C rise.

+ The Economist: “About a tenth of the world’s residential property by value is under threat from global warming—including many houses that are nowhere near the coast.”

+ Around 54% of ocean waters containing coral reefs have experienced heat stress high enough to cause bleaching, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch. The bleaching is increasing at a rate of 1 percent a week.

+ A study of mice that had ingested microplastics found that after four weeks the microplastics had penetrated far beyond the mice’s intestines, infiltrating tissues in their livers, kidneys and brains.

The diminishing snowpack on the southern slopes of  Mount St. Helens, mid-April, 2024. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ With another dry summer forecast for the Pacific Northwest and the snowpack in the Cascade Range at the lowest level in at least a decade, Washington officials have declared a statewide drought emergency.

+ Airborne toxins are linked to cognitive decline and other brain disorders: “Higher levels of PM2.5 are linked to differences in the shape, neural architecture, and functional organization of the developing brain, including altered patterns of cortical thickness and differences in the microstructure of gray and white matter.”

+ Since the introduction of video monitoring on 123 New Zealand fishing vessels, dolphin bycatch reporting up 680%

– Albatross interactions up 350%

– Number of fish species up 34%

– Fish discards up 46%

Only 30% of the videos have been reviewed. Someone hasn’t been being honest.

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Columbia students were right in 1968. History proved it. Columbia students are right today. The university has no good answers to their demands that the school stop investing in genocide. Calling in the NYPD proves it.

+ Abbie Hoffman: “The only reason you should be in college is to destroy it.” In Columbia’s case, the administration is doing the job for the students.

+ Columbia Professor Rebecca Jordan-Young: “The faculty who are supporting the students do not all agree on the issue of Israel and Palestine, [but] we are astonished and disgusted with the way the university has cracked down on the students.”

+ From Wednesday’s House interrogation of Columbia University’s President, Minouche Shafik…

+ God also wanted Abraham to slit his son Isaac’s throat, which is pretty much what Shafik did when she called the NYPD goon squad on the kids in her care. When it comes to protecting academic freedom, Giordano Bruno she’s not…What Shafik is, by contrast, is a former vice president of the World Bank,  a former Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, and a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, who also enjoys a life peerage in the House of Lords. She’s going to serve the university’s donors not its students.

+ Since Eric Adams became mayor of NYC, at least 31 people have died while awaiting trial at Rikers.

+ Before the eclipse, prisons in New York State handed out eclipse glasses to the inmates, then just before the solar event took place the prisons were placed on lockdown. “Then after it was over, they collected the glasses, and the prison literally opened up the doors an hour after it happened, and it was regular movement,” inmate Joseph Perez told HellGate. “Once in a lifetime event, missed.”

+ Police reform advocate Dana Rachlin has filed a federal lawsuit against the NYPD. Rachlin charges that officials in the department leaked information about rape allegations she had made, as retaliation for her criticism of violent policing.

+ NYC agreed to a $17.5 million payout for women forced by NYPD to remove hijabs.

+ Newly released documents show that at least 12 Minneapolis police officers were disciplined after the George Floyd protests of 2020. One sergeant was fired for pepper-spraying a Vice reporter. Another was let go for brutally beating Jaleel Stallings, a 29-year-old Army veteran who was out after curfew. Eight were suspended for using excessive force on protesters, failing to de-escalate encounters or turning on their body-worn cameras. The city has paid out $50 million in police brutality cases since the murder of Floyd.

+ The US is the only country in the world that sentences children to life without parole, meaning many of them will die in prison.

+ The Appeal has published the first national database of prison commissary prices, revealing an exploitative system that forces incarcerated people to pay up to 5 times the market price for some items. For example, Indiana prisons charge $33 for an 8-inch fan. A similar one sells online for $23 at Lowe’s. In Georgia, where prison labor is unpaid, a 10-inch electric fan is marked up more than 25% to $32. In 2023, the commissary vendor for the Texas state prisons raised the price of water inside by 50%.

+ Kwaneta Harris on how Texas prisons control what women read: “People in solitary aren’t allowed to go to the prison library… we qualify for one book a week… the librarian always sends a Christian-themed book. In 2018, I asked her, “Why don’t you give me what I request?” She said, “I’m called to save your heathen soul.”

+ It sounds like something out of Kafka or Stalinist Russia. Someone stole the identity of William Woods. Woods was later arrested by the LAPD, who believed the man who swiped his identity over him.  A judge later sent Woods to a mental hospital because he continued to insist that he was the real William Woods. He spent two years locked up before he was finally released.

+ A cop in Indian River, Florida was arrested on child porn charges, after he was recognized during a call at a high school by one of his victims, who said the officer had been contacting her police that the officer had been contacting her on Snapchat, asking for naked and topless photos. The deputy, Kai Cromer, was arrested on his first day on the job. Cromer is 19 years old and had told friends, ‘I’m going to be law enforcement, I’m very powerful.’ 

+ A St. Louis judge awarded almost $23.5 million to Luther Hall, a former police officer who was beaten by colleagues when he was working undercover during a protest. Hall suffered several herniated discs and a jaw injury that left him unable to eat.

+ The Albuquerque Police Department has been under federal oversight for the last 10 years. In that time,  Albuquerque police have continued to shoot people at a higher rate than any other large city in the US. In 2014, when the Department came under a federal consent decree, Albuquerque cops killed 9 people. Last year, they killed 13.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

+ Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says that if the government locks up 15% of the population, there will be no crime: “Only about 15% of all Americans commit 100% of the crime … If you lock up the 15%, we don’t have any crime.” In other words, he wants to lock up nearly 50 million people. Patrick calls himself a “libertarian.”

+ Louisiana’s House of Representatives passed a bill giving the police the power to arrest anyone who can’t produce identification to the arresting officer and take them in for fingerprinting.

+ A federal judge ruled this week that Los Angeles city officials altered and fabricated evidence to support the city’s defense against allegations that it illegally seized and destroyed the property of homeless people in the city.

+ For decades Idaho has locked psychiatric patients in maximum-security prison cells. The patients haven’t been convicted or, in many cases, even charged with a crime.

+ Brent Hall, a police officer in Bullitt County, Kentucky, died of a heart attack while chasing some teens when he was off duty. Hall had previously been fired from the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office after being accused of rape and sodomy but quickly landed a job in the Pioneer Village Police Department in the very same town.

+ Jonathan Stone, county chair of the Trump campaign, in New Hampshire is a former cop who threatened to kill his colleagues in a shooting spree, murder the chief of police and rape the chief’s wife because he was suspended by the department 5 days after it was revealed he had been having a relationship with a 15-year-old high school girl. The incident occurred in 2006 but was just made public last week, after a court case brought by a local paper. After Stone was fired from the department, he opened a gun store and later gave Trump an inscribed AK-47. He now serves as a New Hampshire State representative.

+ The story the Chicago cops told was that they pulled Dexter Reed over in Humbolt Park on March 21 for not wearing his seat belt, then in the next 41 seconds shot at him 96 times. But a video released this week shows that the police officers couldn’t have seen into Reed’s car, given their location and the GMC Terrain’s darkly tinted windows. Three of the four officers emptied their guns and reloaded and continued firing at Reed as he staggered out of the car, unarmed. One officer fired “at least 50 times.” Reed was shot three times while he was on the ground.

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+ Arizona State Sen. Eva Burch (D): “A couple of weeks ago, I had an abortion — a safe, legal abortion here in Arizona for a pregnancy that I very much wanted. Somebody took care of me. And now we’re talking about whether or not we should put that doctor in jail.”

+ Alabama just introduced a ban on interstate abortion travel for minors. HB378 would make transporting or helping a minor get an abortion a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. 

Minnesota State Sen. Glenn Gruenhagen (R) railed against sex education in schools, claiming it produces dopamine in small children and leads to addiction. “You’re producing addiction to pornography, and some of those young boys will turn into human sexual predators.”

+ Wisconsin State Rep. Chuck Wichgers took to the floor of the statehouse to inveigh against contraception, claiming it leads to infidelity, men devaluing women, women thinking they’re better than nature and the “proliferation of STDs.”

+ Life expectancy in Bangladesh is now higher than Black residents of Mississippi. Too bad George Harrison isn’t alive to perform a benefit concert for the people of the Delta–no one in power seems to give a damn.

+ Eric Hovde, a Republican candidate for Senate in Wisconsin, thinks that people in nursing homes should be disenfranchised because they’re too close to death to be allowed to vote.

Number of doctors in Congress: 19
Number of doctors in Congress who support single-payer: 0

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+ The Pentagon budget is transferring billions of dollars of wealth into the coffers of big tech. The top five contracts to major tech firms between 2019 and 2022 had contract ceilings totaling at least $53 billion combined.

+ A new GAO report finds that the F-35 fighter jet continues to cost more and fly less. In the past five years, costs have risen by 44 percent, now topping $1.5 trillion. Air Force and Navy are trying to save money by flying the plane less.

+ Mike Johnson has taken to calling himself, rather ostentatiously, a “wartime speaker.” He was referring, I think, to his efforts to pass a $$95 billion defense spending bill that includes funding for Ukraine and Israel. But it might better apply to the war within his own party, where the Gaetz/Greene faction wants to dethrone him.

+ Ukraine’s eastern front seems to be collapsing, low on ammo and even lower on morale. Zelensky: “Today, our artillery shell ratio is 1-10. Can we hold our ground? No. In any case, with these statistics, they will be pushing us back every day.”

+ In the last few weeks, the US Navy has spent nearly $1 billion on missiles fired in the Middle East, either against Iranian drones and missiles, Houthi positions, or against insurgents in Syria and Iraq. “We’ve been firing SM-2s, we’ve been firing SM-6s, and—just over the weekend—SM-3s to actually counter the ballistic missile threat that’s coming from Iran, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro testified during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing this week.

+ Mike Davis: “Anybody who knows American history knows at least 30% of America has been protofascist forever. and it’s a huge mistake not to understand how deeply reactionary so much of the petty bourgeoisie and middle strata in so many parts of the country is.”

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+ Scranton Joe Biden, the blue-collar Prez, just handed anti-union Samsung $6.4 billion in federal subsidies to build a chip plant in anti-union Texas. Here’s a piece from South Korea, when Samsung barricaded its corporate offices against striking workers.

+ Janet Yellin made some unhinged comments about China last week, accusing the country’s EV industry of becoming too efficient and bemoaning the fact that China’s clean energy sector is supported by government subsidies.

+ On Thursday, a Louisiana House committee voted to repeal a law requiring employers to give child workers lunch breaks.

+ Two years ago, AIPAC targeted Squad member Summer Lee and nearly took her down. This year even though Lee is supporting a ceasefire, AIPAC chose not to get involved in the race, largely because Lee has become much more popular in her Pittsburg district.

+ Kevin McCarthy unloaded on Matt Gaetz last week: “I’ll give you the truth why I’m not speaker. It’s because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint because he slept with a 17-year-old.”

+ $93,000: cost for one year of undergraduate college education at NYU.

+ Brazil’s environmental protection agency IBAMA found Elon Musk’s Starlink equipment in 32 illegal gold mining operations on indigenous reserves in 2023. Miners poison rivers with mercury, causing illness, starvation and death of indigenous people.

+ According to Forbes’ annual richest scumbag rankings, “the U.S. is now home to a record 813 billionaires worth a combined $5.7 trillion. China remains second, with 473  billionaires worth $1.7 trillion. India, which has 200 billionaires, ranks third.

+ An investigation by NBC News found that at least 150 paid “Premium” subscriber X accounts and thousands of unpaid accounts have posted or amplified pro-Nazi content on X since Musk took over Twitter, often in apparent violation of X’s rules. Seems low to me.

+ Yanis Varoufakis talking about his new book, Technofeudalism: What Killed Capitalism: “We’re all the serfs of Jeff Bezos. He doesn’t produce anything. He simply has encased us in a digital fiefdom.”

+ A new Commonwealth Beacon/GBHNews poll shows that 50% of Massachusetts residents favor legalizing teachers’ strikes, while 34% say they should remain illegal. The largest share of support comes from the youngest age group (those 18-29), 64% of whom favor legalizing teacher walkouts. 

+ Boeing whistleblower Ed Pierson testified before the Senate that Boeing illegally stopped conducting thousands of quality control inspections and hundreds of airplanes rolled out of Boeing factories without those inspections: “I’m not going to sugar coat this: This is a criminal cover-up.” Meanwhile, according to Senator Richard Blumenthal, the latest Boeing 787 whistleblower Sam Salehpour had his tires slashed.

+ Hot Wheels has better quality control than Tesla, which had to stop all Cybertruck deliveries for seven days because of an issue with the accelerator pedal

+ Still, Tesla plans to ask its shareholders to reinstate CEO Elon Musk’s $56 billion compensation package, which a Delaware judge voided earlier this year.

+ The IMF projects that Brazil will have the 8th largest economy in the World by the end of the year, topping Italy.

+ Nestlé “adds sugar and honey to infant milk and cereal products sold in many poorer countries, contrary to international guidelines aimed at preventing obesity and chronic diseases.” It doesn’t do that in Europe, its primary market.

+ A recent 5-year study out of Belgium shows the huge impact of increasing vehicle weight on road deaths & injuries. When a person on a bike or walking is hit by a pick-up, the risk of serious injury increases by 90% compared to a car. The risk of death goes up by 200%.

+ The U.S. post-9/11 wars have displaced at least 38 million people, exceeding the number of those displaced by every war since 1900, except for World War II.

+ The EU has ended the winter with a record volume of stored gas, while prices have declined to the level they were in 2021, when they began rising. While two consecutive mild winters helped, most of Europe has gone without pipelined Russian gas and reduced demand by 20 percent without, as the Financial Times notes, “anything like the social and political upheaval once feared in European capitals.”

+ Production workers at DreamWorks Animation voted 94 to 41 in favor of unionizing.

+ The Supreme Court of Brazil has ordered an investigation of Elon Musk over the dissemination of fake news and obstruction, running a criminal organization and incitement.

+ Twice this week, Biden suggested at campaign events that his uncle, Ambrose Finnegan, may have been eaten by “cannibals” in New Guinea during World War II. “He got shot down in an area where there were a lot of cannibals at the time,” Biden said at a campaign event in Scranton. Military records show that Finnegan’s plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean.

The news out of the NY courtroom isn’t all bad for Trump. One of the dismissed jurors said he “looked less orange” than she expected.

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+ To try washing Gaza out of my head for 20 minutes a day, I’ve been slowly making my way through James Kaplan’s new book on the three titanic forces, so often at odds with each other, who merged harmoniously for a few days to create Kind of Blue: Miles, Coltrane and Bill Evans. There’s not a lot new here, but Kaplan’s a very fluid writer and a vivid storyteller. The scenes of heroin use and withdrawal, which all three struggled with, are especially gripping. Still, there are a few nuggets that were new to me. First was Evans’ devotion to the poet William Blake, whose spare, suggestive verses he tried to imitate in his own playing, even to the point of setting many of Blake’s works to music.  The other is that Miles’ song “Mademoiselle Mabry“, from the great 1968 LP Filles de Kilimanjaro, is a reworking of Hendrix’s The Wind Cries Mary, largely arranged by Gil Evans, with the idea of the three of them one-day joining forces with Hendrix. That never came to pass, obviously, though Gil Evans did record a magnificent record of Hendrix’s music with a large ensemble. The LP includes an incredible version of “1983…A Merman I Should Be.

+ Charles Bukowski: “It was true that I didn’t have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved.”

+ In 1996, Neil Young told an audience how he came to write Cortez the Killer in high school after having eaten too many hamburgers: “One night I stayed up too late when I was goin’ to high school. I ate like six hamburgers or something. I felt terrible, very bad. This is before McDonald’s. They were just real bad. I was studying history and in the morning I woke up and I’d written this song.”

+ People who watch NBA or NHL games are hit with as many as three gambling ads per minute.

+ Whitey Herzog, the great manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, who died this week: “I was good friends with Pete Rose. On the day the Vincent Report on Pete’s gambling was revealed to the press, we were in Cincinnati. When Pete came out with the lineup card before the game, he said, ‘Whitey, we’re going to kick your ass tonight.’ And I said, ‘You wanna bet?'”

+ In 8 years of high school and college basketball, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s teams went 212-8. In the six years he played varsity at both of those levels, his teams went 162-3 and won the championship every year he was eligible to win. Kareem the Great, a History major at UCLA, turned 77 this week: “Every Black celebrity knows that, whether they like it or not, they represent the entire Black community.  Sadly, despite admirable accomplishments as an athlete, OJ Simpson was not able to live up to that responsibility.  His life is a reminder of how quickly one’s legacy can crash and burn.”

+ From the House hearing to excoriate college presidents for their alleged wokeness…

Jim Banks: “Can you explain why the word “folks” is spelled ‘f-o-l-x’ throughout this guidebook?”

Columbia President Shafik: “They don’t know how to spell?”

+ Brian Cox on Joaquin Phoenix’s “truly terrible” portrayal of Napoleon: “It really is appalling. I don’t know what he was thinking. I think it’s totally his fault and I don’t think Ridley Scott helps him. I would have played it a lot better than Joaquin Phoenix, I tell you that. You can say it’s good drama. No, it’s lies.”

+ Luis Buñuel on the politics of surrealism: “All of us were supporters of a certain concept of revolution, and although the surrealists didn’t consider themselves terrorists, they were constantly fighting a society they despised. Their principal weapon wasn’t guns, of course; it was a scandal. Scandal was a potent agent of revelation, capable of exposing such social crimes as the exploitation of one many by another, colonialist imperialism, and religious tyranny–in sum, all the secret and odious underpinnings of a system that had to be destroyed. The real purpose of surrealism was not to create a new literary, artistic, or even philosophical movement but to explode the social order, to transform life itself. Soon after the founding of the movement, however, several members rejected this strategy and went into ‘legitimate’ politics, especially the Communist Party, which seemed to be the only organization worthy of the epithet ‘revolutionary.'” Then there’s Salvador Dali, who became a fervent supporter of Franco’s brand of fascism.

+ Dickey Betts surviving into his 80s was an even more miraculous achievement than Keith Richards becoming an octogenarian. Dylan feted the great guitarist and songwriter in his song Murder Most Foul: “Play Oscar Peterson, play Stan Getz / Play, ‘Blue Sky,’ play Dickey Betts.” Let’s…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Everyone Who is Gone is Here: the United States, Central America and the Making of a Crisis
Jonathan Blitzer
(Penguin)

Outside the Outside: the New Politics of the Suburbs
Matt Hern
(Verso)

Paranoia: a Journey Into Extreme Mistrust and Anxiety
Daniel Freeman
(William Collins)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Red Hot & Ra: The Magic City
Meshell Ndegeocello
(Red Hot Org)

All Gist
James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg
(Paradise of Bachelors)

Love in Constant Spectacle
Jane Weaver
(Fire Records)

The Normalization of Denial

“The most sophisticated form of denial is ‘normalization’. the intolerable becomes ‘no longer news’ and people invest in ‘not having an inquiring mind about these matters’.” – Alex de Waal

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: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3