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Roaming Charges: Nuclear Midnight’s Children

Do CounterPunch, Aagosto 26 2022
Por JEFFREY ST. CLAIR



Radioactive steam plumes from the shattered reactor #4 at the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Photo Credit: USFCRFC, IAEA, Imagebank.

“Is it possible that such minds are fit to govern?”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

As one of the world’s largest, and most troubled, nuclear power facilities has become a radioactive pawn in an increasingly savage and internecine war, the atomic clock is about as close to ringing Midnight as it can get. Yet most of the world seems to be sleeping–or sleepwalking–soundly, either unaware or unruffled by the immediacy of the peril in Ukraine.

How can this be? After cowering under the nuclear menace for nearly eight decades, after Trinity, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after the big blasts at Novaya Zemlya, Amchitka and the Marshall Islands, after the radioactive disasters at Church Rock, Three Mile Island, Rocky Flats, Chernobyl, Hanford, and Fukushima? How can a demonic technology that has left only death, destruction, environmental ruin, cancer, sterility and genetic mutation as its legacy be treated so cavalierly by so many? We’ve reached the point where even Oliver Stone is pushing the virtues of nuclear power, despite its inextricable ties with the military-industrial complex he’s assailed most of his career.

In large measure, this dismal state of affairs is the consequence of the deepening fractures in the global environmental movement, a large swath of which has desperately embraced nuclear power as an atomic shield–dubious though it will prove to be–against cataclysmic climate change.

The emerging compact between the nuclear industry and some high-profile environmentalists is surely one of the most surreal–and treacherous–alliances of our time. Freelance nuclear shills, such as the odious James Hansen and the clownish George Monbiot, have left carbon footprints that would humble Godzilla by jetting across the world promoting nuclear energy as a kind of technological deus ex machina for the apocalyptic threat of climate change. Hansen has gone so far as to charge that “opposition to nuclear power threatens the future of humanity.” Shamefully, many greens now promote nuclear power as a kind ecological lesser-evilism.

Of course, there’s nothing new about this kind of rationalization for the doomsday machines. The survival of nuclear power has always depended on the willing suspension of disbelief. In the terrifying post-Hiroshima age, most people intuitively detected the symbiotic linkage between nuclear weapons and nuclear power and those fears had to be doused. As a consequence, the nuclear industrial complex concocted the fairy tale of the peaceful atom, zealously promoted by one of the most devious conmen of our time: Edward “H-Bomb” Teller.

After ratting out Robert Oppenheimer as a peacenik and security risk, Teller set up shop in his lair at the Lawrence Livermore Labs and rapidly began designing uses for nuclear power and bombs as industrial engines to propel the post-World War II economy. One of the first mad schemes to come off of Teller’s drafting board was Operation Chariot, a plan to excavate a deep-water harbor at Cape Thornton, near the Inuit village of Point Hope, Alaska, by using controlled (sic) detonations of hydrogen bombs.

In 1958, Teller, the real-life model for Terry Southern’s character Dr. Strangelove, devised a plan for atomic fracking. Working with the Richfield Oil Company, Teller plotted to detonate 100 atomic bombs in northern Alberta to extract oil from the Athabasca tar sands. The plan, which went by the name Project Oilsands, was only quashed when intelligence agencies got word that Soviet spies had infiltrated the Canadian oil industry.

Frustrated by the Canadians’ failure of nerve, Teller soon turned his attentions to the American West. First he tried to sell the water-hungry Californians on a scheme to explode more than 20 nuclear bombs to carve a trench in the western Sacramento Valley to canal more water to San Francisco, the original blueprint for Jerry Brown’s Peripheral Canal. This was followed by a plot to blast off 22 peaceful nukes to blow a hole in the Bristol Mountains of southern California for the construction of Interstate 40. Fortunately, neither plan came to fruition.

Teller once again turned to the oil industry, with a scheme to liberate natural gas buried under the Colorado Plateau by setting off 30 kiloton nuclear bombs 6,000 feet below the surface of the earth. Teller vowed that these mantle-cracking explosions, marketed as Project Gasbuggy, would “stimulate” the flow of natural gas. The gas was indeed stimulated, but it also turned out to be highly radioactive.

More crucially, in 1957 at speech before the American Chemical Society Teller, who later helped the Israelis develop their nuclear weapons program, became the first scientist to posit that the burning of fossil fuels would inevitably yield a climate-altering greenhouse effect, which would feature mega-storms, prolonged droughts and melting ice-caps. His solution? Replace the energy created by coal and gas-fired plants with a global network of nuclear power plants.

Edward Teller’s deranged ideas of yesteryear have now been dusted off and remarketed by the Nuclear Greens, including James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis, with no credit given to their heinous progenitor.

There are currently 460 or so operating nukes, some chugging along far past their expiration dates, coughing up 10 percent of global energy demands. Teller’s green disciples want to see nuclear power’s total share swell to 50 percent, which would mean the construction of roughly 2100 new atomic water-boilers from Mogadishu to Kathmandu. What are the odds of all of those cranking up without a hitch?

+++

+ After nearly a year of his retinue declaring he didn’t have the power to cancel student debt, Biden canceled some student debt, which means, of course, that he had the power to fulfill his campaign promise to cancel all student debt.

+ But Biden doesn’t do things in half-measures. He does them in tenth-measures, then blames their inevitable failure to materialize on the Senate Parliamentarian.

+ Funny, Larry. When you were running Clinton’s economic program you failed to cancel student debt and then gutted welfare for poor mothers and children.



+ Just retitle your degree a Toxic Asset–which it probably is–and the entirety of the loans that paid for it will be forgiven with interest in no time.

+ $109,000: Average size of PPP “loans” to businesses forgiven without a bleat from Summers or almost anyone else.

+ Acting as a collection agent for loan sharks is a strange kind of populism…



+ GOP members of Congress whose PPP loans were forgiven…

Brett Guthrie (KY): $4.3 million
Carol Miller (WV): $3.1 million
Vern Buchanan (FL): $2.8 million
Roger Williams (TX): $1.43 million
Kevin Hern (OK): $1.07 million
Markwayne Mullin (OK): $988,700
Mark Kelly (PA): $970,100
Matt Gaetz (FL): $476,000
Vicki Hartzler (MO): $451,200
Ralph Norman (SC): $306,520
Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA): $180,000
Greg Pence (IN): $79,441
Ralph Abraham (LA): $38,000

+ Speaking of paying it back, Trump’s social media venture, Truth Social, owes its web hosting company $1.6 million. The company says it hasn’t been paid in months.

+ Trump had more than $280 million in loans forgiven and failed to pay taxes on most of the money he pocketed.

+ Why are neoliberals and cultural conservatives opposed to student debt relief? Look no further than the reasons Ronald Reagan ended free-tuition in California’s state university system, when he was governor. Roger Freeman, one of Reagans top advisors in the 60s, who was later to help craft Nixon’s ruinous education policy, spelled it out pretty starkly: “We are in danger of producing an educated proletariate. That’s dynamite! We have to be selective on who we allow to go through higher education. If not, we will have a large number of highly trained and unemployed people.”

+ It’s probably a good time to revisit the Lewis Powell’s 1971 memo to the Chamber of Commerce on how to crush the left, where he lays out a plan (still the playbook for today’s Republicans) for how conservatives can take back universities from the Marxist contagion. He argues that one strategy is to raise the cost of higher education, both to keep the working classes out and to force those who do take out loans to get a degree to go to work in corporate American to pay off the debt.

+ Here’s a timeline of tuition at California’s state universities, which were basically free as long as the student body was exclusively white. The fees mounted the more integrated it became.

+ And now a word from Astra Taylor, one of the original leaders of the debt cancellation movement, dating back to Occupy Wall Street…



+ If you’re curious about what’s driving inflation, it’s always advisable to look first at corporate profit-making, where the margins are now wider than at any time since 1950…

+ A school district in Missouri has reinstated spanking as punishment. The principal explained that: “Parents have said ‘why can’t you paddle my student?’ and we’re like ‘We can’t paddle your student, our policy does not support that. There had been conversation with parents and there had been requests from parents for us to look into it.”

+ Corporal punishment is, of course, yet another a grisly instance of religious practice infecting the public sphere. Fetuses are pure, but children are born into a state of sin. They are guilty of something sinister from their first breath and must of have “goodness” and “morality” whipped into them.

+ This is the educational mentality that Jean-Jacques Rousseau sought to demolish. Children, Rousseau argued, were born innocent and had the evils of society beaten into them: “Let us lay it down as an inconvertible rule that the first impulses of Nature are always right; there is no original sin in the human heart. The how and why of the entrance of every vice can be traced.” (I doubt Emile or the Social Contract are on the approved reading lists in Missouri schools these days. Ironically, the Divine Jean-Jacques, himself, wouldn’t even have permitted libraries in schools, believing that the reading of all books (with the notable exception of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe) had a pernicious effect on the mental development of children before the age of 15.)

+ Here’s A.S. Byatt’s description of the disciplinary torments inflicted on students at Christ’s Hospital, the public school attended by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the essayist Charles Lamb (Elia): “Lamb gives a vivid picture of the inhumanities of punishments at the school. At the age of seven, on his first day there, he saw a boy in fetters–the punishment for running away­. If a boy ran away for the second time he was put in the dungeons–‘little square, Bedlam cells, where a boy could just lie at his length on straw and a blanket…with a peep of light let in askance from a prison orifice at top, barely enough to read by.’ Boys were kept there day and night–the porter brought bread and water but was forbidden to speak: the beadle came twice a week to administer the ‘periodical chastisement.’ If a boy ran away a third time he was expelled after a state of flogging in front of all of his schoolfellows. ‘Scourging after the old Roman fashion, long and stately.’ Lamb felt, he says, very sick.” (Unruly Times: Wordsworth and Coleridge in Their Time)

+++

+ One out of every five people in Kentucky live beneath the poverty line, but Mitch McConnell said this weekend that “the single most important thing going on in the world right now is to beat the Russians in Ukraine.”

+ Here is where old differences can be set aside and unity in government can be achieved. Biden and McConnell have worked out another deal for the largest arms package yet for Ukraine, a shipment of $3.8 billion worth of weapons, including:


+ Up to 245,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition.

+ Six additional National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems with additional munitions for NASAMS.

+ Up to 65,000 rounds of 120mm mortar ammunition.

+ Up to 24 counter-artillery radars.

+ Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems and support equipment for ScanEagle UAS.

+ VAMPIRE Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems.

+ Laser-guided rocket systems.

+ Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.

+ The latest arms deal comes only five days after the Pentagon announced a $775 million package of advanced missiles, armored vehicles, and artillery. It’s the one well in the US that never runs dry…

+ It appears that Dennis Rodman is the last American diplomat

+ Marco Rubio: “We don’t need a military focused on the proper use of pronouns. We need a military focused on blowing up Chinese aircraft carriers.”




+ I wonder if Nancy Pelosi will be inviting Rubio over for (non-alcoholic, thanks to Paul) drinks?

+ From Ferdinand Mount’s review of In the Shadow of the Gods: the Emperor in World History by Dominic Lieven: “The overwhelming impact of most empires was thumpingly military, not aristocratic or religious and certainly not democratic. In the early 12th century, over four-fifths of the Song government budget went to maintain an army of more than a million men. In Augustus’s reign, roughly half the state budget went on the armed forces, supporting 300,000 troops. The million-strong armies of the 20th century have plenty of precedents.”

+ There are some big lingering questions over Biden’s announcement proclaiming the assassination of Ayman al-Zawahiri, like what airspace did the killer drones traverse? It had to be Pakistan’s, which denies it. Yet Zawahiri’s killing took place shortly after Gen. Qamar Bajwa, chief of the Pakistan Army, asked the Biden administration for help in securing an urgently needed IMF loan to shore up his country’s cratering economy. But the biggest question of all is: where are Zawahiri’s remains? The Taliban says it’s found no evidence of Zawahiri’s body at the bomb site, where a missile supposedly killed him as he stood on the balcony of his hideout in a Kabul neighborhood. How long before the US drones Zawahiri again?

+ The US is still bombing Syria, which it justifies as a retaliation for Shia militia attacks against US troops, which are, for some reason, still in Syria!

+ The new populism: A candlelight dinner with Trump in Jersey will only cost you $100,000…

+++

+ A 2020 study in the Sociology of Race and Ethnicity journal found that homicides in predominantly Black neighborhoods received less coverage than those in predominantly White neighborhoods: “On average, Black victims received 2.8 news articles each, versus 3.8 news articles for White victims and 2.6 for Hispanic victims.”

+ Rayshard Brooks was sleeping in his car in a Wendy’s parking lot in Atlanta 2020. Some busy body called the police. They awakened Brooks, forced him to take a breathalyzer, handcuffed him, took him to the ground, and wrestled with him. When Brooks somehow got his hands on one of the cops’ tasers, by now discharged, they shot him in the back twice. The cops were initially charged with manslaughter. Now two years later a special prosecutor has dropped all the charges against the two cops who killed him, saying that the cops feared for their lives and that the events must be seen “through the eyes of the officer on the scene.”

+ Don’t worry, if these cops get fired Biden has already funded their replacements–and 100,000 more just like them.


+ By now, it should be clear to just about everyone that these are not rogue cops practicing rogue compliance techniques. They’ve been trained in this kind of brutality. Here’s how one police sergeant in North Carolina explained the practice of beating suspects into submission: “It’s like hitting that funny bone to make that muscle go numb, then that officer can pull that arm away from whatever it may be.”

+ Between August 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022 there were 193 incidents of gunfire in US schools, more than doubling the total of the previous year and rivaling any numbers recorded in nearly a decade.

+ A University of Chicago/AP poll finds more than 59 percent of respondents favor a ban on the sale of AR-15 rifles and similar semiautomatic weapons, and for making 21 the minimum age to buy a gun nationwide.

+ Despite the manufactured panic over a new crime wave, newly released figures show that since 1996 youth arrests are down 84 percent.

+ An Atlanta city judge named Terrine Gundy–who has gained a reputation for intentionally holding people in jail for days with even a first appearance hearing–has been reprimanded by the Georgia Supreme Court for “excessive tardiness,” showing up two hours late for 8 am sessions at least 50 times!

+ A Yale Law School study estimates that there are between 41,000 and 48,000 prisoners in the US kept in solitary confinement, under conditions that UN considers a form of torture.

+ Of the 11,000 federal prisoners released on home confinement under the CARES initiative only 17 were arrested for new crimes and most of those were drug related.

+ About 25% of the people in US prisons are locked up not because of new crimes but for technical violations of their probation or parole, usually from failing a urine test or missing a meeting with a parole officer.

+ Have you heard of the Trolley Problem? It’s an ethical dilemma described by law professor Judith Jarvis Johnson, where a runaway trolley threatens to kill five people. An onlooker has the opportunity to pull a lever switching the trolley to a different track where it would only kill a single person, but that person would be killed as the direct choice of the onlooker. This thought experiment was cited in a ruling this week from the 11th Circuit Court granting qualified immunity to police officers who shot and killed a hostage in a logging truck that was moving toward. This judges noted in their opinion that: “While the outcomes were not nearly as certain here as in the hypothetical, the officers had no choice but to let the trolley roll on by. We disagree.”

+ It turns out that many (if not most) Texans pay more in taxes than Californians. But look what they’re getting for their money…

+In Texas, the cops are investigating library books

+ Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, Scott Esk, a Republican running for a seat in the state legislature, suggested that it would be “totally just” to stone homosexuals to death: “Well, does that make me a homophobe?… It simply makes me a Christian. Christians believe in biblical morality, kind of by definition, or they should.”

+ The Grace Christian School in Valrico, Florida informed parents in an email this week that the school will only refer to students by their sex assigned at birth and that students who are gay, transgender or gender nonconforming “will be asked to leave the school immediately.”


+ Florida’s tough guy governor Ron DeSantis’s campaign to root out voter fraud has spent $3.9 million and detected alleged fraud in less than 0.0002% of the 11 million votes cast in the State, a cost of about $195,000 for each allegation.

+ By the way, DeSantis is almost certainly even more rotten that he appears. As Abby Martin pointed out he was “the lone legal oversight for US Special Ops in Fallujah during the brutal troop surge, tasked with ensuring “fair & humane treatment of detainees and military compliance with law”—he previously had that same job at Guantanamo Bay during the Bush torture program.”

+ As both the US and the EU continue to chastise Palestine over the content of school textbooks, Israel’s education ministry has prohibited Tel Aviv schools from using maps showing the 1967 Green Line, depicting the status of Occupied Territories.

+ According to a report by the NewsGuild on racial disparities in performance reviews at the New York Times: “The NYT’s performance review system has for years given significantly lower ratings to employees of color… In 2020, zero Black employees received the highest rating while white employees accounted for more than 90% of people who received the top score.”



+ This from the man who Tweeted while aboard a luxury yacht in Italy.

+ Dutch gas futures contracts are used as a benchmark for Europe. Over the last year, these cost of these contracts have soared from 20 Euros per megawatt-hours’ worth of gas in mid-2021 to about 280 Euros this week.

+ Alexandre Bompard, CEO of the retail giant Carrefour, on the deteriorating European economy: ‘“Crisis is the new normal. What we have been used to in the last decades – low inflation, international trade – it’s over.”

+ In yet another troubling sign of the fragile state of the global economy, Chinese youth unemployment has climbed to nearly 20%.

+ Not to worry, according to Jordan Kaplan, the CEO of Doug Emmett Properties (a $3 billion real estate firm in Santa Monica), a recession could be just what the economy needs–especially “if it comes with a level of unemployment that puts employers back in the driver seat and allows them to get all their employees back into the office.”

+ Dr. Oz, putting the crude into crudité



+ As “trigger bans” go into effect in numerous states, it’s now expected that as many as 1-in-3 American women will lose access to abortions in the post-Roe environment.

+ The collapse of emergency healthcare in England may be costing 500 lives every week, a close match for non-Covid excess deaths…

+ When private equity firms take over nursing homes, the death rates invariably go up, often by as much as 10 percent.

+ How Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, caught COVID at a college reunion: “I felt I looked so out of place with a mask on. I literally took my mask off for about 45 minutes, mingling with them and their family.”

+ The US represents 4% of the world’s population, 25% of global Covid deaths, 23% of Covid cases and 35% of all Monkeypox cases.

+ Jacob Silverman: “Someday we’re going to look back on this whole Covid disaster and laugh because we’ll all have 40% of our original brain matter and can barely process reality.”

+ A new California state law gave housing non-profits the first shot at buying foreclosed homes. So two Virginia housing groups started buying California houses and flipping them for a profit. Who says liberals don’t understand predatory capitalism?

+ In a country going backwards, the late Lani Guinier gets farther ahead of her time every day.

+ If you’re buoyed by a meme, you might be a Democrat…



Dark Brandon meme. @RFlaherty46

+++

+ China is in the midst of the worst heatwave ever recorded in global history. Over 260 locations have seen their hottest days ever during this 70+ day heatwave.



+ China’s Poyang Lake, fed by some of the nation’s largest, is going dry. In past years, the lake averages about 3,500 square kilometers (1,400 square miles) in high season, but has shriveled to only 737 square kilometers (285 square miles) during the current drought. The lake officially entered this year’s dry season on August 6, earlier than at any time since records began being taken in 1951. It is now a mere 25% of its normal size and shrinking steadily.

+ In some regions of Somalia, it hasn’t rained in more than two years.

+ Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was always going to a risky economic proposition, which is why major oil companies declined to submit bids when Trump pushed through a lease sale in 2021. Now, the only two remaining private companies (Knik Arm Service and Regenerate Alaska) with plans to drill in the Arctic Refuge have cancelled their leases. That leaves Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, a state agency, as the last lease holder in the refuge. The agency holds seven leases covering about 370,000 acres in the Refuge’s 1.6 million-acre coastal plain.

+ As the Rio Grande is drying up so quickly that Laredo, Texas (population: 255,000) and nearby communities could run out of water by next spring.

+ The Dallas-Fort Worth area has been hit the 5th 1-in-1,000-year rain event in less than 4 weeks in the US. Up to 14 inches of rain has fallen in just the last 12 hours, resulting in catastrophic flooding.



+ Five 1,000-year flood events in four weeks…

Death Valley (1.46″)
St. Louis (8.64″)
Kentucky (12″, 38 dead)
Illinois (10″+)
Dallas (15″+)

+ Nearly one-third of the rise in global temperatures can be attributed to methane. Atmospheric methane had its highest growth rate yet recorded by modern instruments in 2020. That record was broken again in 2021.

+ The French utility ⁦EDF announced this week that 4 of its nuclear reactors won’t come back online anytime soon, and will restart generating only from November 2022 to January 2023. The utility also warned that French nuclear generation in year 2022 might well be as low as 280 TWh (Terawatt-hours).

+ According to a new report from Global Forest Watch, forest fires are now causing 7.4 million acres of tree cover loss per year, an area larger than Belgium, and 50 percent more than in 2001. In 2021, fires were responsible for more than one-third of all tree cover loss for the year, one of the worst years in history. The majority fire-caused tree cover loss in the past 20 years (nearly 70%) occurred in boreal regions and the rate of loss there is increasing by 3% per year.

+ In May, Lancet published a major study that found those living within 30 miles a single wildfire were about 5 percent more likely to develop lung cancer and 10 percent more likely to develop brain tumors within the next 20 years.

+ On August 19th, many cities in western Washington experienced one of their warmest nights ever…

Bellingham – low this morning 67°
Daily Record: 61° from 2014
Month of August Record: 65° from 8/12/2014
All-Time record: 66° from 6/28/2021

Olympia – low this morning 65°
Daily Record: 61° from 1965
Month of August Record: 65° 8/18/2022

Hoquiam – low this morning 68°
Daily Record: 60° from 1962
Month of August Record: 64° 8/12/1992

Quillayute – low this morning 61°
Daily Record: 58° from 2019

+ According to research published in Nature Climate Change, at least 218 out of the known 375 human infectious diseases (58%) seem to be exacerbated by one of 10 types of extreme weather connected to climate change.

+ Herschel Walker on climate change and forests: “They continue to try to fool you that they are helping you out. But they’re not. Because a lot of money, it’s going to trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?”

+ The Tasmanian salmon industry used more than 2,400 underwater explosives–dubbed “seal crackers”–against seals in the last quarter.

+ Eliza Griswald, author of Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America, on the political economy of natural gas extraction in rural America: “Working people are screwed on several levels. Not only do they face exposure at a much higher rate, they’re also dependent on the jobs these industries provide. So they’re forced to make complex calculations all the time.”

+ Jeanette Armstrong (Syilx Okanagan): “My elders say that the territory has the knowledge about life and death and it’s the territory that’s teaching us. They say that the territory is constantly speaking. It is constantly communicating. To not know it’s language is the equivalent of disappearing.”

+++

+ Samuel Taylor Coleridge was apparently terrified of dining out. Too many choices. People watching you as you consumed your food. The undercooked beef, still dripping blood. When he did venture out, often in the company of Charles Lamb, he usually went to a London Public House called the Salutation and the Cat. After one night of feasting in 1814, he stumbled home to his flat in Highgate and recorded the night’s menu, before calming his nerves and stomach with his customary digestif of laudanum:


Turbot, Lobster Sauce, Boiled Fowl, Turtle, Ham, a quarter of Lamb, Tatas and Cauliflower, etc.–then Duck, green Peas, a gooseberry and current pie, and a soft Pudding, Desert, Grapes, Pine Apples, Strawberries, cherries and other more vulgar fruits and Sweetmeats. Wines? –The host is a Wine-merchant!–Champagne, Burgundy, Madeira–I forget the Commonality!–Company? Not one to make such a dinner less unendurable to me, except a very lovely Woman called Mrs. Grove…

+ In Coleridge’s day, laudanum was sold mainly in pill form, usually to be dissolved in alcohol and then quaffed. The pills were often marketed as “Tabloids,” which, after the decline of religion and the rise of Rupert Murdoch, became the new opiate of the masses.



Bottle of opium tincture. Photo: Wellcome Images, Science Museum, London. (CC BY 4.0)

+ In the 1880s, Queen Victoria–that paragon of 19th century propriety–became such an enthusiast for a product called Vin Mariani–a pre-Coca-Cola mixture of alcohol and cocaine–that she wrote a testimonial for it: “delightful beyond measure!”

+ 185,000: the number of miles William Wordsworth is estimated to have walked in his lifetime (as calculated by his friend Thomas DeQuincy), while composing poems in his head to the meter of his gait. The striding poet probably accumulated half of that mileage trying to distance himself from the French Revolution, which he’d gone to Paris to witness if not cheer on.

+ If you’re wondering how Jared “The Slim Reaper” Kushner could have written such a scintillating memoir, it’s because he took a Master Class in “how to write a book” from…”novelist” James Patterson.

+ Speaking of Master Classes, I’m told there are still slots available for this one, as long as you leave your shoes at the door…



+ Last year, we transitioned (if that word is still permitted) our magazine from a bi-monthly print edition to a weekly online journal called CP +, where we published the same high-quality writing and in-depth reporting in a timelier and more accessible format. These enthralling stories are now read around the world by thousands more people, getting cutting-edge analysis when they need it most and can do something with it. But that doesn’t mean we’ve given up on print. After all, what are you going to read when the electromagnetic pulse takes the web down? In that spirit, we’ve cultivated some of the most compelling CP + stories of 2021 into a kind of greatest hits collection, featuring some familiar writers, like Dave Lindorff on the never-ending drive to privatize social security and TJ Coles on the CIA and the Israeli, and some sharp new voices, such as Naomi LaChance on the alliance between pro-Palestinian activists and trade unionist and Jack Wareham on whether there’s a future for cinema. This diverse suite of stories takes you from the oil fields of Alaska to the corrupt boardroom of Tesla, from the cancer wards of Gaza to the people who manufactured the hysteria over Critical Race Theory. Here in one hand-held volume is a year’s worth of stories about corporate villainy, official corruption, and heroic acts of resistance. There’s no need to find WIFI or an electrical outlet. It’s a book! You can take it with you wherever you go.

Fall Fell So Fast It Was a Hell-scape Haircut



Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Disappearance of Josef Mengele: a Novel
Olivier Guez
(Verso)

Last Times
Victor Serge
Trans. Richard Greeman
(NYRB)

The Long Land War: the Global Struggle for Occupancy Rights
Jo Guldi
(Yale)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Done Come Too Far
Shemekia Copeland
(Alligator)

Strange Time to Be Alive
Early James
(Easy Eye Sound)

Ride
Walter Trout
(Provogue)

The Basic Problem

“The basic problem…has always been getting other people to die for you. What’s worth enough for a man to give up his life? That’s where religion had the edge, for centuries. Religion was always about death. It was used not as an opiate so much as a technique—it got people to die for one particular set of beliefs about death. Perverse, natürlich, but who are you to judge? It was a good pitch while it worked. But ever since it became impossible to die for death, we have had a secular version—yours. Die to help History grow to its predestined shape. Die knowing your act will bring will bring a good end a bit closer. Revolutionary suicide, fine. But look: if History’s changes are inevitable, why not not die? Vaslav? If it’s going to happen anyway, what does it matter?” (Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow)


Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3.

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