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Roaming Charges: The Dr. Caligari of American Empire

Do CounterPunch, 1  de Dezembro 2023
Por JEFFREY ST. CLAIR


Art by Nathaniel St. Clair


+ Gore Vidal used to tell the story of visiting the Sistine Chapel with a friend, where they encountered Henry Kissinger, staring intently at Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. Vidal turned to his friend and said, “Look, he’s apartment hunting.” (See Vidal’s memoir Palimpsest for the full story.)

+ CounterPunch has been threatened with lawsuits from oil executives and oil kingdom sheiks, a timber baron, a homicidal governor of South Dakota, former CIA officers, a corrupt CEO of a major environmental group, killer cops, a prison warden, and numerous politicians of greater or lesser notoriety. But no legal notice was more gratifying than the one CounterPunch received when Ken Silverstein published these photos of Henry Kissinger picking his nose during a press conference on Brazil. As Ken noted at the time, “Kissinger was OK having his picture taken with murderers like Pinochet but upset when outed as a snot eater. A fucking monster.” When the photos were reprinted in Silverstein and Cockburn’s book, Washington Babylon, the caption read: “Henry the K.: a nose in every pie, a finger in every nose.”



Photo: Adriana Lorete.

+ Kissinger’s greatest triumph–and perhaps his only real talent– was to seduce three generations of American political and media elites into believing that his diplomatic genius could be measured by the Himalayan heights of the body count he left in his wake.

+ Kissinger, a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians from Vietnam to Cambodia and Bangladesh, East Timor to Chile and Argentina, got a prime slot in major newspapers to shape and warp public opinion whenever he wanted it, often, no doubt, in favor of his dark roster of clients at Kissinger & Associates. Over his career, he wrote more than 200 op-eds for the Washington Post.

+ Kissinger guarded the identities of the clients of Kissinger and Associates that he resigned as head of the 9/11 Commission rather than unmask them, citing “conflicts of interest.” How many were Saudis? Realbizness trumps Realpolitik.

+ Like Robert McNamara, who went from supervising the Vietnam War to inflicting global misery at the World Bank, Henry Kissinger may have killed as many people in his five decades out of office as a globetrotting “consultant” as in his 8 years in office. Unlike McNamara, he never even feigned repentance.

+ When asked about the forced displacement of Micronesians from the Marshall Island so that the US could detonate nuclear weapons on Bikini Atoll, Kissinger quipped: “There are only 90,000 of them out there. Who gives a damn?”

+ In his memoir, Kissinger claimed to be “deeply upset” by the Kent State massacre. But HR Haldeman’s diaries revealed that Kissinger was all for “clobbering the students,” who were protesting his illegal and murderous war on Cambodia. (P=Nixon, E=Ehrlichman, K=HK)… “K wants to just let the students go for couple of weeks, then move in and clobber them. E wants to communicate, especially symbolically … K very concerned that we not appear to give in any way. Thinks P can really clobber them if we just wait for Cambodian success.”

+ Despite the misogyny that drips from nearly every conversation recorded in the Nixon White House tapes, a whole generation of women diplomats–HRC, Condi Rice, Samantha Power–were drawn by Kissinger’s blood stench like the vampire wives to Dracula…

+ One of the lessons HK taught his acolytes like Samantha Power is that when you fashion yourself as a humanitarian realist, your license to kill never expires.

+ In a June 1976 meeting with the Argentina Junta, Kissinger, fearing the Republicans would lose the upcoming presidential elections, advised the generals, “If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly.” (Deaths during Argentina’s Dirty War: 30,000.)

+ Often suspicious and jealous of each, Nixon and Kissinger found common ground in their bigotry, which was crude and rancid. A few examples:


Here’s RN to HK on Indians:“To me, they turn me off. How the hell do they turn other people on, Henry? Tell me…I don’t know how they reproduce!”

Kissinger to Nixon: “The Pakistanis are fine people, but they are primitive in their mental structure.”

After a phone call with India’s PM Indira Gandhi…

Nixon: “This is the point where’s she’s (Indira Gandhi) a bitch.” Kissinger: “Yeah. The Indians are bastards anyway.” Nixon: “We really slobbered over the old witch.”

During a meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group, Kissinger said, “If it were not for the accident of my birth, I would be antisemitic. Any people who has been persecuted for two thousand years must be doing something wrong.”

From the same profile in The Forward: “During a Vietnam War-era chat from October 1973 with Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Kissinger found American Jews and Israelis ‘as obnoxious as the Vietnamese.'”

Kissinger in 1973: “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.” (That ‘maybe’ gives insight into the moral void that was Henry Kissinger, where every life–indeed, millions of lives–could be reasoned away for his own advancement, assuming he took the time to think of them at all.)

+ From Peter Biskin’s My Lunches With Orson


Orson Welles: I hate Kissinger even more than I hate Nixon, because I just can’t get over the fact that he knows better, somehow. He must have talked himself into it. But he’s a selfish, self-serving shit.

Henry Jaglom: They’ve all forgotten Cambodia. They’ve forgotten the whole thing. It’s really amazing.

Orson Welles: And the fact that Kissinger got free of Watergate. Walked away without a scratch! No wonder he worships Metternich.

+ When a few protests erupted after Clinton started bombing Serbia in 1999, Kissinger, reflecting on what he considered to be the relatively paltry body count amassed by Bubba over the previous 6 years, declared: “Bill Clinton lacks the moral fiber to be called a war criminal.”

+ These days few probably remember that among the charges J. Edgar Hoover made in 1971 against one of America’s greatest citizens, Philip Berrigan, was that he plotted to blow up the tunnels (wait, we have tunnels?) under the Capitol, then kidnap Henry Kissinger and hold him ransom until the US withdrew from Southeast Asia.

+ Of course, Hoover and Kissinger were old allies. In 1953, when Kissinger was a member of the faculty at Harvard, he volunteered to act as an FBI informant on his colleagues. Kissinger illegally opened other people’s mail and sent any compromising (that is, leftist) information to Hoover’s Red Scare G-men.

+ Despite its use of LSD, hypnosis, and psycho-surgery, the CIA’s MK-Ultra program never developed a method of mind control nearly as powerful as the voice of Henry Kissinger–the Dr. Caligari of American politics–exerted over the people who have run the Empire for the last 56 years.

+ And not just in America. Kissinger’s hypnotic power was truly global. Consider this nauseating tribute from Tony Blair


There is no one like Henry Kissinger. From the first time I met him as a new Labour Party Opposition Leader in 1994, struggling to form views on foreign policy, to the last occasion when I visited him in New York and, later, when he spoke at my Institute’s annual gathering, I was in awe of him. The range of his knowledge, the insights which would tumble out of him effortlessly, the lucidity, the mastery of the English language which made him a joy to listen to on any subject, and above all the ability to take all the different elements of the most complex diplomatic challenge and weave from them something astonishing in its coherence and completeness, and, most unusual of all, leading to an answer and not just an analysis: no one could do that like Henry. If it is possible for diplomacy, at its highest level, to be a form of art, Henry was an artist.

+ If you’re looking for an obituary for Henry Kissinger, Greg Grandin wrote a book-length one, an indictment for eternity worthy of Dante: Kissinger’s Shadow

+ Like Pol Pot painting Pinochet by numbers…



+++

+ Proposition: 80 percent of immigrants who just crossed the border know more about US history and foreign policy than the average member of Congress. Prove me wrong.

+ Case in point: Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who seems ignorant of the fact that his own congressional district in California was acquired through a war of conquest in 1848 or that the districts his colleagues in the House from Guam and Puerto Rico represent were acquired after a war in 1898 or that the district his colleague from American Samoa represents was seized after a war in 1899.


+ The US has nearly 1000 military bases, “installations” and “black sites” in over 85 countries around the world. Also, the Federal government demanded and received all of the American South back after the Civil War.

+ The US acquired the Marshall Islands after a bloody naval battle with the Japanese. Evicted most of the native population. Then kindly gave the now irradiated islands back after detonating 23 nuclear bombs between 1946 and 1958…

+ As a result of the Pig War with Great Britain (1859-1871), the US acquired San Juan Island in Puget Sound, thus solidifying the final boundary (so far) between the US and Canada.

+ Has McCarthy already signed a deal to produce a series of videos on American history for PragerU?

+ On its 200th anniversary, two US senators, Pete Ricketts and Jim Risch, are introducing a resolution to ‘reaffirm’ the Monroe Doctrine.

+ Greg Grandin: “Since its proclamation in 1823, the Monroe Doctrine is the gateway drug by which self-professed “isolationists” become “kill ‘em -all-and-let-god-sort-them-out” internationalists.”

+ A new analysis by the Costs of War Project at Brown University reveals that between 2021 and 2023, the U.S. government conducted “counterterrorism” operations in at least 78 countries, including ground combat in at least nine countries and air strikes in at least four countries during the first three years of the Biden Administration. The report notes that: “Though the total number of countries with U.S. counterterrorism operations has decreased slightly from 2018-2020 – from 85 countries – the counterterrorism footprint remains remarkably similar to what it was under the Trump Administration.”



Source: Costs of War Project.

Though it’s slipped out of the headlines since Israel’s barbaric campaign against Gaza, the Russian-Ukraine war is as bloody as ever, bloodier if the most recent casualty numbers are to be believed. The British military claims Russia has suffered more dead and wounded troops over the last six weeks than almost any other period of the war so far. According to the Ministry of Defense status report released on Monday: “Previously, the deadliest reported month for Russia was March 2023 with an average of 776 losses per day, at the height of Russia’s assault on Bakhmut…Throughout November 2023, Russian casualties, as reported by the Ukrainian General Staff, are running at a daily average of 931 per day.”

Meanwhile, last weekend Russia unleashed a 75-drone attack on targets in Kyiv, the largest since the invasion began almost two years ago. According to CNN: “The attack on Kyiv left 77 residential buildings and 120 establishments in the city center temporarily without power Saturday, before supply was restored later in the day.”

Though the war remains locked in what seems to be a perpetual stalemate, Russia’s ambitions don’t seem to have diminished, at least rhetorically. During his speech at the World Russian People’s Council, Vladimir Putin, battling growing discontent with the war at home, continued to call for the annexation of all Ukraine, declaring its citizens should be part of a single “Russian nation” and a wider “Russian world” including other non-East Slavic ethnicities in both Russia and the former territories of the Soviet Union and Russian Empire.

The Ukraine war is one of the first drone-on-drone conflicts, with Russia set to deploy a new drone boat “equipped with grenade launchers and machine guns, and can potentially serve as an attacking [unmanned surface vessel], counter-Ukrainian USV drone, or an ISR or port defense platform” and Ukraine is allegedly now using remote-controlled ground robots to penetrate Russian combat lines.

Much of this senseless carnage can be laid at the feet of former British PM, Boris Johnson, according to Davyd Arakhamia, the parliamentary leader of Zelensky’s ”Servant of the People” Party, who led the Ukrainian delegation at peace talks with the Russians in Belarus and Türkiye in 2022, a few weeks into the war. In a recent interview, Arakhamia claims that: “[Russia] really hoped almost to the last moment that they would force us to sign such an agreement [not to join NATO] so that we would take neutrality. It was the most important thing for them. They were prepared to end the war if we agreed to, – as Finland once did, – neutrality, and committed that we would not join NATO. In fact, this was the key point. Everything else was simply rhetoric and political ‘seasoning’ about denazification, the Russian-speaking population and blah-blah-blah….When we returned from Istanbul, Boris Johnson came to Kyiv and said that we would not sign anything with them at all, and let’s just fight.” If what Arakhamia says is accurate, Johnson pushed Ukraine to reject an agreement that would have left the country largely intact and saved hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian lives. It would go down as one of the biggest, and bloodiest, diplomatic blunders since World War I.

+++

+ The total number of migrants held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities has grown to 39,748, the most since January 2020. Most of the detainees are jailed in just one state: Texas. The vast majority of migrants held in ICE facilities — 71% — have no criminal record.

+ According to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi thinks that the phrase Abolish ICE “was injected into the political discourse by the Russians and that the Democrats need to quash it.” AOC reportedly said to her colleagues in the Squad, “This is how the leader of the party thinks?” (See Ryan Grim’s new book, The Squad: AOC and the Hope of a Political Revolution)

+ Latinos now make up around 40.2% of Texas’s population, surpassing non-Hispanic whites, who make up 39.8% of the population. Blacks account for 13.4% of Texas’s population.

+ Nearly 38% percent of Americans seem willing to embrace an authoritarian leader “who is willing to break some rules if that’s what it takes to set things right,” according to a recent poll on American Values by the Public Religion Research Institute, and 33% of Republicans endorse the idea that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save the country.”

+ Trammell Crow Jr., the brother of Republican mega-donor and Clarence Thomas sugar daddy Harlan Crow, must face a lawsuit that accuses him of running and participating in a sex trafficking ring…

+ In 1851, the Supreme Court of Georgia held that killing a slave is not murder because American slaves were property and held a status even lower than other historical slaves and serfs.

+ NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ financial disclosures from his years in the state Senate failed to detail a 2012 trip he took to Azerbaijan and Turkey. Two two other lawmakers who went with Adams reported their travel was funded by government entities in the countries.

+ As Adams’s political fortunes crumble, disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering running to replace him. Our political candidates all seem to be riding in the same sushi train from Dante’s 8th Circle of Hell…

+ Episodes in Gerrymandering: out of more than 300 districts in Louisiana and Mississippi, not a single legislative election this fall ended up being within 10% between the two parties.

+ Peter Antonacci, Ron DeSantis’ appointee for overseeing “election integrity,” abruptly left a heated meeting in the governor’s office, collapsed in the hallway, and lay on the ground dying for 24 minutes before anyone noticed him. By then he was dead.

+ Kim Phuong Taylor, the wife of a former Iowa House Republican, was convicted of 52 counts of voter fraud for taking Democrats’ absentee ballots and using them to vote for Republican candidates, including Donald Trump.

+ A far-right school board in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, packed with Moms for Liberty censors who pulled numerous books out of classrooms and off library shelves, was voted out of office a few weeks ago. Before their terms expired, they quickly gave their equally censorious superintendent, Abram Lucabaugh, a $700,000 golden parachute.

+ The latest variation on a poll tax is being implemented in Tennessee which has added new requirements for residents who’ve lost their voting rights and want to regain them. Residents of Nashville would have to pay $159.50 to petition a judge to regain their rights.

+ In February, Siavash Sobhani, a doctor living in northern Virginia, applied for a passport renewal. Months went by. Then a letter arrived from the US State Department denying his renewal request. The Department informed Sobhani that he was never a citizen of the US, despite having been born in DC 61 years ago, holding a US passport for decades and practicing medicine here for more than thirty years. A State Department official told him that he should not have been granted citizenship at the time of his birth because his father was a diplomat with the Embassy of Iran. “I trust that you can imagine how difficult it must be to believe that you were a citizen of the U.S. your entire life, just to find out you actually were not,” Sobhani told the Washington Post.

+++

I come back to find
the stars misplaced
and the smell of a world, that’s burned
Yeah well, maybe
Maybe it’s just a little
Change of climate…

+ More than 70,000 people are expected to show up at COP28 in the UAE, that’s double the previous record. The climate conference has become a kind of global trade show. What’s the collective carbon footprint of that migration?

+ According to Amnesty International, Sultan Al Jaber the president-designate of COP28, who also serves as the chief executive of ADNOC, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) state oil and gas company, was briefed to advance the business interests he represents during COP meetings. The documents contain a summary of the objectives for the meetings, including information about the minister or official Dr Jaber was scheduled to meet and what issues he should raise in the UAE’s efforts during the climate talks. For more than two dozen countries, the documents also contain talking points developed by ADNOC and Masdar, the UAE’s renewable energy company:


* The Brazilian environment minister was to be asked for help “securing alignment and endorsement” for ADNOC’s bid for Latin America’s largest oil and gas processing company, Braskem. Earlier this month, ADNOC made a $2.1 billion offer to buy a key stake

* Germany was to be told by Adnoc: “We stand ready to continue our LNG supplies”

* ADNOC suggested the oil-producing nations of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela be told “there is no conflict between the sustainable development of any country’s natural resources and its commitment to climate change.”

+ Atmospheric CO2 is 422.36 parts per million, 5.06ppm more than the same day last year. The increase over the last 12 months is the largest ever recorded – more than double the last decade’s annual average.

+ November will be the 6th record-warm month in a row, probably in the order of +0.3°C above the previous warmest November.

+ According to the UN Environment Program, global greenhouse gas emissions reached a record high of 57.4 GtCO2e in 2022, increasing by 1.2%. This rate is slightly above the average rate in the decade preceding the COVID-19 pandemic (2010–2019), 0.9%/yr.

+ At least 86 days between January and the start of October had average temperatures exceeding 1.5C. November 18, 2023 was the first time in recorded history that the global 2m surface temperature breached 2.0°C above the 1850-1900 IPCC baseline. And then did it again. The long-term average remains below 1.5°C. But not for long.

+ The domestic greenhouse gas emissions generated by the UK account for 3% of total world emissions dating back to 1850. When you include emissions in countries while they were under the British empire’s rule, the figure rises to more than 5%.

+ China deployed a record 142GW in the first 10 months of 2023, up 144% compared to 2022. China had 540GW of total installed solar capacity by October 2023.

+ Long considered a weak investment, clean energy now yields a 6% return on capital invested, approaching the 6-9% average return for oil and gas.

+ On the eve of COP28, the US and France have proposed banning private financing for new coal plants. Meanwhile, Modi’s government in India is planning to triple its rate of underground coal mining.

+ Four years ago Jeff Bezos pledged that Amazon would lead the way on carbon reduction. Since then, the corporation’s emissions have soared by 40 percent. (The real figure is likely much higher.)

+ The devastating drought in the Amazon region is now expected to last until mid-2024. Long stretches of the Amazon River, and its major tributaries, now have their channels exposed. At Manaus, the largest city in Amazonia, the water levels are the lowest since recorded keeping began 121 years ago. More than 150 dolphins died in a lake where water temperatures hit 39°C (2°C above human body temperature).

+ As drought grips much of the world and aquifers are being depleted, “luxury water” is becoming a thing among the rich.

+ Nearly, a decade ago the EPA detected the chemical TCP (a likely carcinogen) in the water of 6 million people. The agency still hasn’t set any safety limits on TCP in drinking water.

+ A new report on the “state of the cryosphere” issued by the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) predicts “catastrophic global damage” to the Earth’s frozen land and seas from sustained warming at 2C. The report concludes that the real “‘guardrail’ to prevent dangerous levels and rates of sea level rise is ‘not 2C or even 1.5C, but 1C above pre-industrial.’”

+ The report predicts that “if global average temperatures rise by two degrees, the Earth faces a sea-level rise of more than 12 meters, or 40 feet — and that’s the conservative estimate. The report states sea levels could rise up to 20 meters, or 65 feet.”

+ Kaitlin Naughten, British Antarctica Survey: “It looks like we’ve lost control of melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. If we wanted to preserve it in its historical state, we would have needed action on climate change decades ago.”

+ Yet, according to the UN’s new report, emissions will be reduced by only 2% by 2030 which will result in 3°C (5.4°F) of warming. But even that isn’t guaranteed since the 2% reductions are based on pledged policies not current policies.

+ According to the latest data from the UNDP and the Climate Impact Lab, climate change’s influence on coastal flooding could increase 5 times over this century, subjecting more than 70 million people to expanding floodplains.

+ Last week, Brazil recorded its hottest-ever temperature – 44.8C (112.6F).

+ By simply allowing forests to grow old and restoring degraded forests, ecologists estimate that at least 226 gigatonnes of carbon could be sequestered, an amount roughly equivalent to the last 50 years of US emissions. More than 60% of this potential could be realized merely by protecting standing forests.

+ Cars and trucks keep getting bigger and bigger, negating many of the gains in fuel efficiency: “Emissions from the motor sector could have fallen by more than 30% between 2010 and 2022 if vehicles had stayed the same size.”

E-bikes and scooters displace four times as much demand for oil as all of the EV cars, buses and trucks in the world.

+ On Sunday, November 26, 2023, the Transportation Security Administration screened 2,894,304 individuals at airports nationwide, the busiest day ever for air travel in the US.



+ Over the last 20 years, coal power plants in the US killed at least 460,000 people, twice as many premature deaths as previously thought. According to a new study published in Science, much of the increase is owing to a new understanding of the dangers of PM2.5, toxic air pollutants known as fine particulate matter that elevate the risk of life-threatening medical conditions including asthma, heart disease, low birth weight and some cancers.

+ According to the European Environment Agency, toxic air killed more than half a million people in the EU in 2021. Nearly half of those deaths could have been prevented by cutting pollution to the limits recommended by the World Health Organization.

+ Soils in Paris are so contaminated with dioxins & PFAS that people have been warned not to eat eggs from chicken coops in their backyards, as toxins have accumulated in them.

+ In the four years between 2015 and 2019, the world lost at least 100 million hectares of productive land a year to desertification, according to an analysis for the United Nations.

+ Drilling has started on two mineral exploration projects in the Patagonia Mountains of southern Arizona. These destructive operations were approved last year by Biden’s Forest Service, even though they call for blasting up land inside critical habitat for endangered and threatened species such as the Mexican Spotted Owl, yellow-billed cuckoos, jaguars and ocelots. The drilling at several of the sites is expected to continue around-the-clock for the next 7 years. Just how much more Bidenmentalism can the West take?

+ Here’s a gorgeous photo of a highly endangered wild jaguar crossing the Sonoran desert, captured by a trail camera in northern Mexico by the Northern Jaguar Project. The current northern range of jaguars stretches from Sonora, Mexico across the desert border both Trump and, now Biden, want to wall-off into the Sky Island Mountains of Arizona and New Mexico.



Photo: Northern Jaguar Project.

+ A crew tried to deter orcas from attacking their boat by blasting heavy metal music underwater. It only seemed to further infuriate the already pissed-off orcas, who proceeded to attack the boat’s rudder, making it impossible to steer.

+ How Trump claims to have saved the oil companies by hiking gas prices: “I had to save the oil companies. They were going to go bust. This is the first time I’ve said we’ve got to get it [oil prices] up a little bit. So I actually called Russia and the King of Saudi Arabia. We had a three-way call and we cut back on the oil production.” Was King Salman, who was reported to have Alzheimer’s in 2015, still taking calls?

+++

+ In 2022, there were more than 48,000 firearm-related deaths in the United States – that’s about 132 people dying from a firearm-related injury each day. Guns were the leading cause of death for children and teens (ages 1-19) for the fifth straight year–a total of 4,590 deaths in 2022. In the past decade (2013-2022), the gun death rate among children and teens has increased 87%. In 2022, Black children and teens were 20 times more likely to die by firearm homicide than white kids. There are about 80,000 gun-related injuries in the US every year that require medical treatment, costing well over a billion dollars a year, Medicaid and other public health coverage accounts for more than 60% of the costs for this care.

+ One of the justifications for the gross violations of civil liberties in post-911 America was that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.” In fact, it is. Last year, 26,993 people died by gun suicide, a 2% increase over the previous year’s all-time record. Since 9/11, there have been more than 430,000 gun-related suicides in the US.

+ Yet, here’s Ted Cruz denying that gun violence is a public health crisis: ”They call it a public health crisis because they want to put supposed experts in charge of disarming you. The Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights is not a public health crisis.”

+ Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA): “Why do you think that Chicago has become America’s largest outdoor shooting range?”

+ Dr. Megan Ranney of the Yale School of Public Health: “Mississippi, Louisiana, and Missouri actually have higher firearm death rates.”

+ Ryan Busse, a former executive at Kimber America, a major gun manufacturer, in an interview with Pro Publica: “Now we have a gun called the Wilson Urban Super Sniper. I mean, what are you supposed to do with that? We now have a gun called the Ultimate Arms Warmonger. What are you supposed to do with that?”

+ More of the vast social wreckage inflicted by the “tough-on-crime” policies of the Clinton/Biden era is documented in a new study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, showing that the ubiquitous three-strikes laws of the 1990s negatively impacted birth weights for Black infants, in part because of the stress caused by the racially stigmatizing political discourse about “wildings” and “super-predators” that saturated the airwaves for a decade.

+ It’s become increasingly difficult for prisoners who qualify for parole in Alabama to win release. An investigation by Lauren Gill, a reporter for Bolt magazine, shows that last year, under pressure from the state’s punitive governor and attorney general, the Alabama parole board approved just 10 percent of applicants. In July of this year, just 11 of 245 applicants were paroled, a rate of only 4 percent, even though Alabama’s prisons are dangerously overcrowded. One of the board’s members told Gill: “There were cases where I did not vote to parole even though I knew I needed to because I was afraid of losing my job.”

+ New York punished 2,000 prisoners over false positive drug tests, according to a report by Inspector General Lucy Lang. “The prisoners had committed no offense,” wrote Lang. “But the flawed results were used to put them in solitary confinement, halt family visits, or cancel parole hearings.”

+ Terrence Richardson and Ferrone Claiborne were accused of killing a white police officer in the small southern town of Waverly, Virginia. Police had evidence pointing to another suspect, but kept it from defense attorneys. A jury found them not guilty of killing the cop. A federal judge sentenced them to life anyway.

+ The NYPD is spending $390 million on a new radio system that will encrypt officers’ communications Police radio channels, which have been public since 1932, will be fully encrypted by December 2024. The chief’s justification? “Bad actors have used our radios against us.”

+ The 9th most common household in America is a person in prison.

+ Since 1976, a staggering 82% of the death sentences meted out by Louisiana trial courts have been overturned on appeal after defense attorneys exposed serious violations that occurred at trial. Most of these sentences were reduced to life; but many prisoners were exonerated.

+ The LAPD is paying $200,000 a year for an Israeli surveillance software program called Cobweb that tracks people’s cellphone usage and employs AI software to trawl social media activity and create detailed profiles on individuals.

+ On January 19, 2020, deputies with the Jefferson Parish, Louisiana Sheriff’s Office arrested 16-year-old Eric Parsa in Metairie. Parsa was restrained and pinned to the pavement, where officers sat on his back for more than 9 minutes. Parsa, who suffered from severe autism, died at the scene. The coroner ruled the teen’s death an accident as a result of “excited delirium,” with “prone positioning” as a contributing factor. Parsa’s parents had taken him to play laser tag at the Westgate Shopping Center. As they left the building, Eric had an emotional “meltdown” and began wrestling with his father and slapping his own head with his hands. Someone at the shopping center called the sheriff’s office. When the deputies arrived, they were informed of Eric’s condition and that he wasn’t a threat to himself or anyone else. Ignoring Parsa’s parents, one of the deputies tackled Eric, then cuffed and shackled him. About 10 minutes later, as his mother screamed that they were choking him, deputies noticed Parsa had gone “limp” and urinated. Only at that point did the deputies move Eric into the recovery position. But by then he was dead. In September, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office agreed to contribute to a $1.25 million settlement with the Parsa family.

+ A new report from Human Rights Watch documents that reckless high-speed chases by police in Texas have caused 74 deaths, 189 injuries, and $4.4 million in damage in a mere 29-month period.

+ So Kyle “Shooter” Rittenhouse is making the rounds on rightwing media to promote his book, Acquitted, with his PTSD therapy dog. How many times have FoxNews and other rightwing outlets ridiculed not only therapy animals but the very concept of therapy itself?



+++

UnitedHealthcare, the largest health insurance company in the US, is allegedly using an AI algorithm to override doctors’ judgments and wrongfully deny critical health coverage to elderly patients. This has resulted in patients being kicked out of rehabilitation programs and care facilities far too early, forcing them to drain their life savings to obtain needed care that should be covered under their government-funded Medicare Advantage Plan.

+ More than 810,000 Texas children (and 200,000 adults) have been kicked off of Medicaid coverage since April.

+ Another labor and delivery department at a rural Alabama hospital closed this month. Pregnant women in the county, where 22% of residents live below the poverty line, will now be forced to travel more than 100 miles for the next nearest facility.

+ The last twelve months of post-Covid America have averaged 7,100 deaths from COVID a month (85,200 a year). By contrast, the last twelve months have averaged 800 deaths from Influenza a month (9,600 a year).

+ The Eat-Lancet Commission recommends people consume no more than 15.7 kilograms of meat (33lb) a year. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, in the US, the average American consumes 127 kg of meat (279lb) a year compared with 7 kg (15lb) in Nigeria and just 3 kilograms (6lb.) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

+ Joe Lapado, Desantis’s anti-vax Surgeon General, landed a prized tenured professorship at the University of Florida without any vetting. Lapado receives a $262,000 salary on top of his $250,000 salary as Surgeon Gen. But he teaches no classes, doesn’t do any research, and goes AWOL whenever the university asks him to do any work. In his first year on the “job,” Lapado only visited the Gainesville Medical School twice.

+ How Trump says he saved old soldiers from sadists at VA hospitals: “We had sadists and thieves, a lot of bad people at the VA. But the worst were the sadists. “who would beat up old wonderful soldiers. Beat the hell out of them. They got their jollies out of it. They’re sick. And we weren’t allowed to fire them.”

+ Meanwhile, Trump is renewing his push to eliminate Obamacare and bashing Republicans who voted not to “terminate” it in 2017, vowing to rip it up if elected.

+ In the past, only women’s alcohol consumption was considered a risk during pregnancy, but new research points to the deleterious role of fathers’ drinking habits on fertility fetal brain development.

+ Less than a month after the Ohio electorate overwhelmingly voted to codify the right to an abortion, the Ohio state senate introduced a bill to outlaw abortions after 15 weeks.

+ Remaining in the Buckeye State, Ohio State Rep. Bill Dean, a Republican from Xenia, was the only State Representative who voted against ending Ohio’s spousal exceptions to rape. Dean called it “a great vote” and said “somebody had to vote no.” Dean said didn’t believe a husband could rape his wife in their shared home.

+ Rightwing groups have sued to shut down the Abundant Birth Project, which provides 150 pregnant Black San Franciscans a $1,000 monthly stipend. They allege the project illegally discriminates by giving the stipend only to people of a specific race. Black babies are more than two times as likely to die in their first year of life than white babies.

+ New COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 18,100 the week ending on November 18, a nearly 10% increase over the week prior, with the holidays coming.

+ A study published last month in the British Medical Journal: Family Medicine and Community Health shows direct evidence for COVID-19 sharply increasing the risk of RSV infections (40% higher after COVID) in children aged 0–5 years in the USA in 2022.

+ Big Pharma has contended for decades that the reason new drug prices in the US are so much higher than in the rest of the world is the “cost of innovation.” But China’s new cancer drug Toripalimab is now approved in the US, where a single-dose vial will have a wholesale price of US$8,892, thirty times more than the cost in the country where it was developed, where it is sold for US$280.

+ On the other hand, the overuse of antibiotics in China, leading to widespread antimicrobial resistance, may be behind the disturbing spread of a deadly pneumonia currently responsible for sending thousands of children to the hospital. The microbe– mycoplasma — is resistant to the only safe antibiotics for children. The disease is expected to spread widely over the course of this winter.

+ Cancer patient and litigator Robert “Skeeter” Salim on his fight against Blue Cross Blue Shield for denying coverage for a life-saving cancer treatment: “I would like to see other people that are not in the same situation not get run over by these people. There’s no telling how many billions the insurers made by denying claims on a bogus basis.”

+++

We have entered the Sell Your Vital Organs Stage of Capitalism…



+ Today, a child born in Norway or the UK has a much better chance of earning more than their parents than one born in the U.S. 92 percent of children born in the USA in 1940 went on out-earn their parents; among those born in 1980, only 50 percent did.

+ Even so, the UK is now is the second most unequal developed nation in the world, costing its economy £106.2 billion a year compared with the average developed country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), according to the Equality Trust’s cost of inequality report.

+ The richest 1% in the UK cost their government more than the 1% of any other European nation, paying the lowest taxes of any similar group out in Europe.

+ IMF: Nicaragua’s economy has remained resilient in the face of multiple shocks, supported by appropriate economic policies, substantial buffers, and multilateral support.

+ Biden’s unflinching support of Israel’s exterminationist war on Gaza isn’t the only reason young American’s have turned their backs on him. Check out the views by age on the state of the US economy in the latest NYT/Siena poll



+ According to a new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, the Child Poverty rate for Native Americans more than doubled in 2022, after Biden and Congress ended the COVID relief programs, and is now higher than it was before the pandemic.

+ 50 years from now, when DC is under 5 feet of water, I can guarantee you that historians, assuming there are any left, won’t be writing about your work on “supply chains”. It’s much more likely they’ll dissect your role in creating a Hell on Earth…



+ How much is the life of an Amazon warehouse worker worth? Apparently, $7000, which is what the corporate giant was fined by OSHA after 20-year-old Caes Gruesbeck died of blunt force injuries on the job at Amazon distribution center in Fort Wayne, Indiana when he got trapped by the machinery.

+ Benjamin Yen-Yi Fong: “The fear that large, profit-making enterprises would turn marijuana into a soulless and exploitative industry was well founded. In many places around the US today, we’ve got the drug itself, but without all the things that used to make it appealing.” (From his book, Quick Fixes: Drugs in America from Prohibition to the 21st Century Binge)

+ We all know that capitalism requires both Police and intelligence agencies, from which both Stewart and his brother, Miles the Third, sprang……



The Copeland brothers’ father, Miles II, was a CIA spy in Egypt working for Booz Allen Hamilton, the same firm that decades later employed Edward Snowden. (See Tim Shorrock’s book, Spies for Hire for more.)

In an interview with PuckNews, Michael Lewis, one of the most enthusiastic journalistic promoters of the fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried (see Lewis’s book, Going Infinite), compared the journalists attending his trial to people gathering to watch the lynching of black men in the South: “


“It reminded me of accounts I’ve read of families packing up their picnic baskets and going to see the lynching…I saw people just being–journalists, especially–just kind of enjoying the show. I felt like this is what it would feel like to go back to the day when people did that, to go for entertainment to a public lynching.”

+++

+ Is this what they play on endless loops to torture detainees at CIA black sites?



+ Q: Why write about slavery? Haven’t we had enough stories about slavery? Why do we need another one?

Colson Whitehead: I could have written about upper-middle-class white people who feel sad sometimes, but there’s a lot of competition.

+ An ex-L.A. area Taco Bell employee is suing the company after she claims a party at the restaurant descended into a drunken orgy that included open sex. She says she saw a co-worker “having sex with his wife in front of everyone,” while his wife was kissing her female manager and another female co-worker at the same time.

+ Data on the sex lives of up to 10,000 people in the UK was stolen from a British government department, part of a record number of ransomware attacks in 2023’s first half, according to the government’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

+ James Ellroy on the sex life of J. Edgar Hoover: “He only fucked power.”

+ Meanwhile, Linda Evangelista says she’s done fucking period, telling the Sunday Times: “I don’t want to sleep with anybody anymore. I don’t want to hear somebody breathing.”

+ Bonnie Tyler’s power-ballad “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was originally written by Jim Steinman for Nosferatu: the Musical.

+ Rapper Young Thug’s lawyer explaining the meaning of his client’s name during the opening statements of his trial in Atlanta: “If he could ever make it as a musical artist and help his family, himself and his many others out of this endless cycle of hopelessness, he would be Truly Humbled Under God. That’s what THUG means.”

+ Shane MacGowan: “People are talking about immigration, emigration and the rest of the fucking thing. It’s all fucking crap. We’re all human beings, we’re all mammals, we’re all rocks, plants, rivers. Fucking borders are just such a pain in the fucking arse.”

Bury Me at Sea, Where No Murdered Ghost Can haunt Me…RIP Shane



Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Someone Else’s Empire: British Illusions and American Hegemony
Tom Stevenson
(Verso)

A Myriad of Tongues: How Languages Reveal Differences in How We Think
Caleb Everett
(Harvard)

An Enemy Such as This: Larry Casuse and the Fight for Native Liberation in One Family on Two Continents over Three Centuries
David Correia
(Haymarket)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Dirt on My Diamonds, Vol. 1
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
(Provogue)

Rainbow Revisited
Carlos Niño / Thandi Ntuli
(International Anthem)

Songs of Silence
Vince Clarke
(Mute)

Single-Bullet Theory in Palestine

“For possession of a single bullet, Shaykh Farhan al-Sa‘di, an eighty-one-year-old rebel leader, was put to death in 1937. Under the martial law in force at the time, that single bullet was sufficient to merit capital punishment, particularly for an accomplished guerrilla fighter like al-Sa‘di. Well over a hundred such sentences of execution were handed down after summary trials by military tribunals, with many more Palestinians executed on the spot by British troops. Infuriated by rebels ambushing their convoys and blowing up their trains, the British resorted to tying Palestinian prisoners to the front of armored cars and locomotives to prevent rebel attack, a tactic they had pioneered in a futile effort to crush resistance of the Irish during their war of independence from 1919 to 1921.”

– Rashid Khalidi, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017


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.

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