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DRY WEATHER with near normal temperatures and occasionally breezy conditions are forecast for this weekend. A colder system will follow Sunday night through Monday, providing light rain and mountain snow. A series of colder storms will bring lowering snow levels and a potential for subfreezing temperatures to coastal areas mid to late next week. (NWS)
HEAD-ON CRASH ON HIGHWAY 101 Leaves Laytonville Woman Dead, Eureka Woman Injured
On, 11/19/2022, at approximately 1554 hours, a Toyota 4Runner, being driven by Beatriz Diaz-Rodriguez was traveling northbound on US-101 near mile post marker 32.30. A Subaru Impreza, being driven by Zora Culps was traveling southbound on US-101 north of mile post marker 32.30. For reasons still under investigation, the Toyota crossed from the northbound lane over the solid double yellow divider lines into the southbound lane into the direct path of the Subaru. The Subaru struck the Toyota head on, on the Toyota’s passenger side and both vehicles came to rest blocking the southbound #2 lane of US-101.
As a result of the crash, the driver of the Toyota succumbed to her injuries at the scene. The driver of the Subaru sustained moderate to major injuries and was transported to St. Joseph Hospital from the scene for medical care. US-101 remained open with one-way traffic control for approximately five hours for the investigation, clean-up and vehicle recovery. It is unknown at this time if drugs or alcohol were a factor in this crash.
The California Highway Patrol, Cal-Trans, Miranda Fire Department, Cal Fire, and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office all responded to the scene. This collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol – Garberville Area.
(California Highway Patrol)
UPWELLING WITH MALCOLM
My new book, Mendocino History Exposed, will be a topic of discussion with host Michelle Blackwell on her KZYX radio interview show, “Upwelling,” on November 30th at 9 AM.
In the meantime, you can pick up your copies of Mendocino History Exposed at local independent book sellers like Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino or in Fort Bragg at The Bookstore on Laurel St. as well as Windsong on Main St.
gallerybookshop.com offers an easier online way to order than through the impersonal corporations.
If you already have your own copy, Mendocino History Exposed's tales of our county, from pre-Gold Rush to “the tire baby” make a wonderful gift.
THIS ORNATELY DECORATED CAR, festooned with glass objects glued to the roof and hatchback, appeared in Boonville Friday afternoon to gas up and the Redwood Drive-In. In the car were two attractive middle-aged women who walked a few yards off to do some tai chi while the pumps were pumping.
CANNED FOOD DRIVE AT AV JUNIOR/SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
Class Canned Food Drive: AVHS Students, Which class will take the coveted title and bring in the most canned food to benefit the food bank?
The goal is 200 pounds of food for the food bank.
Bins are in front of the office by class and will be counted every morning. Drop off your donation and tallies will be announced daily.
The class winner on December 14 will earn an ice cream social the day before break.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
ANOTHER GROTESQUELY BOTCHED execution the other day, this one in Alabama. The doomed man was repeatedly jabbed as his executioners futilely sought a vein to get the fatal IV needle into his arm. And because they couldn't find a vein, the guy walked back to his cell to await another try.
PRISON EXECUTIONS are carried out in medical conditions, typically around midnight with a ghoulish doctor looking on, and aren't open to the public in whose name the state's mandated murder is being carried out, and thus don't serve the deterrent purpose they theoretically are intended to serve.
I WOULDN'T DARE tell the families of these Death Row bastards not to execute the man or woman who drove emotional holes in their surviving hearts, but why not require the victim families to either personally approve the ultimate needle or plunge it in that elusive vein themselves?
BUT, BUT, BUT we're not medical professionals, the families might say, which brings me to the point — if we're going to keep the death penalty, and good on Gavin Newsome for commuting to life in prison California's condemned, how about carrying it out in as dignified a manner as possible in the grim circumstances?
BRING BACK firing squads, and hold the executions in football stadiums, with proceeds to the victims, the condemned perhaps enjoying a last cigarette on the Jumbotron as the crowd chants, USA! USA!. Firing squads get it done fer shure where midnight needles and hangings don't. Guillotines — “France's national razor” — would also be an effective and undoubtedly popular means of execution, but by whatever means state murder is carried out by making the executions public, the public's atavistic desire for revenge might be temporarily slaked and a goodly sum of survivor's benefits raised.
LOCAL HISTORIAN KATY TAHJA will be selling her books at the Unity Club Holiday Bazaar at the Fairgrounds Saturday December 3rd from 10-4. She invites everyone with questions about county history to stop by and say Hi! (Questions about the details of Anderson Valley history are best answered by locals.)
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, November 25, 2022
LINDA ALMOND, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
LAURA BALLUS-VIVO, Ukiah. DUI.
TARA HILL, Ukiah. Petty theft, probation revocation.
JOSHUA LEONARD, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JONATHAN PARKER, Covelo. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury.
ENRIQUE RAMOS-AQUINO, San Francisco/Ukiah. DUI, no license.
CHRISTIAN REYES-ALFARO, Ukiah. Battery with serious injury.
ANDREA SANTOS, Upper Lake/Fort Bragg. DUI-alcohol&drugs, addict driving a vehicle, probation revocation.
OUT OF SERVICE
At midday on Nov. 15, I drove to six Petaluma gas stations (both east and west side) after my car’s tire pressure indicator light went on. Three stations had signs on their pumps that read “out of service/broken.” Two had attendants who told me the pump was free, but the pumps barely pushed any air out, and one station right off the freeway was unattended and had a malfunctioning air pump with no warning sign. Lord help electric vehicles drivers who are going to need service station assistance when California cars convert to electric only.
I HAVE A TEACHER TO THANK FOR MY PROUDEST MOMENT AS A KID
by Justine Frederiksen
I loved P.E. class as a kid, even more than recess. While both meant we could go outside and play, I liked P.E. much more because it required everyone to play together.
That was cool.
Because recess usually left me adrift, watching the other kids swim to their islands of friends, where they played games I wasn’t invited to join. But P.E. class not only let me in on all the action, there I suddenly became popular, even a bit cool!
No longer the girl who was always saying the wrong thing and wearing the wrong clothes, I was now the girl everyone wanted on their team because I could run fast and was good at throwing, kicking and hitting balls.
But perhaps the coolest thing about P.E. is not how it made me feel like I finally belonged with the other kids, but how one teacher made me feel. My proudest moment as a kid was in P.E., and I think now it was all due to the kindness of a teacher who knew how much I wanted to earn my Presidential Physical Fitness Award badge.
Every year I tried, and every year I failed because of one darn thing, the pull-up, while everything else I completed nearly effortlessly:
Cardiovascular: You had to run a certain distance within a certain time. Done, super easy for me.
Flexibility: With your legs in a V, you had to reach your arms a certain length. Done, easy for me.
Core strength: You had to do a certain amount of sit-ups within a certain amount of time. Done, pretty easy for me.
Upper-body strength: As a girl, I only had to complete just one pull-up, but I never could. So every year, I did everything but the pull-up. And every year, I didn’t get my badge.
Until one year, my P.E. teacher told me the rules had changed: Girls could push off with their foot at the beginning, then pull themselves up the rest of the way. Done! Finally, I earned my badge.
Only now do I realize that it’s very likely the rules hadn’t changed at all. That my teacher just felt sorry for me and thought of a way that he could give me my badge, yet still have me feel like I earned it. And if that is true, that’s even cooler.
Because that never occurred to me at the time. I was just so dang happy to get my badge, and was convinced for decades that I earned it fair and square.
That was super cool.
P.S. If anyone reading this happened to teach physical education in Rio Del Mar around 1980, thank you very much!
TO ASGARD AND BEYOND! MOTA annual Thorgellen show live from Franklin St. all night tonight!
Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is about 5:30pm. Or send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via KNYO.org. Also the schedule is there for KNYO's many other even more terrific shows.
Any day or night you can go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night I'll put the recording of tonight's show there. And besides all that, there you'll find a dazzling Rainbow Bridge of educational delights to frolic among and slosh mead on until showtime, or any time, such as:
Our whole galaxy of 100+ billion stars is the single pixel at the bottom of this new map of just a tiny fraction of the /real/ world.
Much ado with Lissajous (say LEE-suh-zhoo). (via Clifford Pickover)
And the saga of CUM: Canadian United Media.
— Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
WHAT HAVE I DONE?
by Paul Modic
What the hell! How did I end up in a goddamn brand new car?
I thought I was doing all the right things this year: I spent six weeks last Spring putting eyedrops in my eighty-eight year old mother's eyes after cataract surgery, then when she got out of brain surgery in Summer I paid my sisters a stipend to take care of her when she got back home. After two days they realized it was too much for them, she was moved into assisted living, and then I was due back in Tacoma to be the family member around when my sister took a three week vacation to France in September. (Even when you have a parent in assisted living or a nursing home it is still good to have family members to advocate for them, if possible.)
I had been in my mountain hideout in Mexico thinking, “Really? Stick to my plan and drive all the way back to Tacoma for mom duty?” I changed them, hollowed out a space in my friend's virulent bamboo grove on the south edge of Austin, stashed my truck then flew to Seattle.
I visited her every day at the facility then flew home in late September. I was down to my twenty-year old backup Nissan, the little truck that my girlfriend at the time used fifteen years earlier to build my house in Mexico. It didn't have a working fuel gauge, speedometer, or cruise control but it was okay for getting around town or out to my cabin in Whale Gulch.
I wanted to get it fixed but the mechanic couldn't find that old part anywhere except for one junkyard in San Bernardino which refused to ship it up. I drove it to Eureka a couple times but it was annoying not knowing how fast I was traveling. (Once I thought I was going at an acceptable pace, as a car passed me the driver gave me the finger, and all I could do was smile back.) A long trip up north to Tacoma to see my mother was out of the question without cruise control.
I started looking around for used cars and would have been happy to find a nice one with 100,000 miles on it but it finally seemed easier to just get a new one. For some reason I became fixated on mini-SUVs and test-drove a Honda CRV and a Subaru Forester.
On Thanksgiving I went to the Benbow Inn with my chef friend as she wanted nothing to do with cooking a turkey. As I walked up to the reception desk I marveled at how far I'd come: from a dirty hippie fresh off the highway from Indiana I'd finally arrived at the Benbow forty-six years later.
I lined up a deal for a Subaru in Santa Rosa, got the financing in order, and the chef drove me down. “You know, I might get down there and just change my mind,” I said, “and then we'll come back together, which would be more fun anyway.”
As other brands flew past on the highway I thought, “Why not a Honda? A Toyota? A Nissan?” No, I was intent on a Lez-baru.
We sat in the car, the salesman showing me the computerized controls with many features I didn't like. For example, if you veered to the shoulder it would correct your steering back onto the road or if you got too close to the car in front it would brake for you. The cruise control tracked three or four cars ahead slowing and speeding up automatically. At stop lights or in heavy standstill traffic the engine turned itself off then restarted when I took my foot off the brake. I tried to deactivate as many of these features as I could but some just switched themselves back on every time. After about fifteen minutes I thought, “No way. This just isn't me. I'm not going to get it.” (A feature I discovered later is actually pretty nice: if you leave the lights on by mistake they’re turned off after awhile—no more drained batteries and jumping adventures.)
“Alright, well, let's go in and do the paperwork,” the salesman with these weird little squinty eyes said.
“What about a test drive first?” I said. I had already driven one in Eureka but wanted to try this one.
“Oh, of course!” he said, as if he meant it. We drove out of the lot and down the street out of town. This was all I wanted, a ride, and it felt good, my doubts about being dragged into the modern world were diminishing.
“When you were showing me all the controls, all the bells and whistles, I was doubting I would go through with this,” I said. He looked over in alarm. “But it drives great so it's probably a go.”
We went back to the dealership and started on the paperwork. When that was nearly completed I asked about the all-weather floor mats he had said he'd throw in when we were negotiating over the phone. He said he didn't remember saying that, I sternly insisted he had, and it ruined the mood of the whole deal. (Later when I got home I sent him copies of the emails and he admitted I was right. A couple days later I sent another email to him and a copy to his manager. He called and said they would be shipped to me soon, which they were.)
I must have signed ten or fifteen forms, then he sent me in to the guy who tried to sell me all the extra maintenance packages, which I refused. I paid him and the brand new Subaru Forester with sixteen miles on the odometer was irrevocably mine.
Because of the bitter taste over the floor mats discrepancy I didn't feel like asking the salesman for directions back to 101 North, my first mistake. My second was having the chef follow me out of town instead of me following her, something I would have been better able to do with my ex-New York cabbie aggressive instincts still intact. (Whenever people asked me to slow down or be more careful I always said, “Relax! I was a New York cabbie!” Followed almost immediately by, “Well, I was fired for accidents.”)
“Should we ask someone for directions?” I said.
“I think we just go out to the access road and take a left,” the chef said.
It was dark and rainy and I drove out first, got to the intersection, and turned onto the freeway. I could barely make out the sign saying 101 South as I headed the wrong way toward San Francisco and lost the chef immediately. I got off at the next exit and drove around on side roads for a while until I found the ramp to 101 North.
I wove through the city traffic then out on the open highway, with intense buyer's remorse, for about an hour toward our arranged meeting at the Ukiah Costco. There were about seventy LED lights on the dashboard, steering wheel, and door, each linking to some function that is apparently necessary for the modern driver. I finally realized that the cab was like a smart phone, it was a computerized world and car and I was sitting in the future still with only my dumb phone, so dumb it was actually a pre-flip phone. What had I done?
I looked around the Costco gas station but saw no sign of the chef. I called and found her frantic, crying, and having a panic attack by the side of the road in Hopland, ten miles south. She had, of course, gotten immediately lost in Santa Rosa and went all over the side roads trying to find the freeway. Her night vision was bad and she feared she had caused accidents in her wake. (I had suggested we leave early in the morning but she had insisted on the afternoon. Also, I had gotten her to the optometrist two or three years earlier, she still hadn't gotten glasses, and had narrowly passed her vision test at the DMV by guessing correctly.)
She just wanted to go home, we cancelled dinner in Ukiah, and I got my gas and looked around the new Costco for a while. I hadn't eaten since a small salad for lunch on the ride down.
I got back on the highway, took the Gobbi Street exit to see if the food co-op was still open, and stopped to call her again to check how she was doing. She said she was parked just ahead in a motel parking lot, I found her in a minute and suggested she follow me to the food store about a mile away.
I kept looking behind and saw nothing, no car following. I called her from the co-op parking lot and she said she was just pulled over by the cops.
“I'm not high and I don't have any weed,” she told them.
“Do you know why I stopped you?” the cop said.
“Because of my expired plates?” the chef said.
“No, I didn't even notice that,” he said. “You didn't have your lights on.”
She ranted to him how bad things were going for her and he let her go.
The co-op had just closed so we walked around Safeway but I could find nothing healthy to eat except string cheese. She found something, headed up the freeway, and I went the other way to the Mexican place by the airport, El Azteca.
The place was jammed and raucous. “Is this normal?” I asked the cashier.
“It's Friday night,” she said.
I looked at the menu and found something I could eat, though I declined the chips. I ordered whole beans (frijoles de la olla), a side of guacamole, and a fish taco, which I ate but only took one bite of the greasy tortilla. After dinner the waitress brought over a complimentary delicious-looking sweet tortilla chip with whipped cream or something on it and I waved it away. (My three month glucose test for pre-diabetes was coming up the next week and I didn't want to blow it.)
The new car sat outside my house and I didn't drive it for a week, instead I took the old red pickup around for errands in town, trips to the park, and out to the Gulch for house maintenance issues. I finally fired it up, zipped to Eureka for a blood draw and hip x-ray, and noticed that every tenth of a mile was tracked on the odometer. (What a modern world and now I'm in it big time but I still don't need a smartphone.)
I let it mostly sit in the driveway for the next six months until I finally got fully into it when driving north to Tacoma for the holidays.
So here I am driving my annoyingly fancy “grandma car,” wielding the remote key to unlock it, my Christmas or retirement gift to myself. At some point I’ll probably love it and stop regretting that I left my reliable old Toyota pickup in a tropical bamboo forest on Creekside Farms Road in Austin, Texas.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
People like Kyrie Irving and Kanye West were cancelled because of alleged anti-semitism.
They didn’t say anything antisemitic, they were just accused by the people who decided that they were the sole arbiters of who is and isn’t anti-semitic; and those people are wielding that accusation much the same as they wield the charge of racism, i.e., anyone who has an opinion they don’t like on anything at all, is going to be a racist or anti-semitic or misogynistic.
We are going to be seeing more people able to express their views where more people will see them. The phony “you are anti-semitic” weapon is wearing out.
“WITHOUT JOE HILL, there's no Woody Guthrie, no Dylan, no Springsteen, no Clash, no Public Enemy, no Minor Threat, no System of a Down, no Rage Against the Machine.”
— Tom Morello, Rage Against the Machine
On 19th November 1915, poet and musician Joe Hill was executed by a firing squad in Utah, United States. Joe Hill was a Wobblie, a member of the IWW, Industrial Workers of the World, created in Chicago in 1905 by sectors too marginal and radical to be content with reformism of the official American union, which represented white, male, skilled workers. He left this message: “Don't mourn, organize.”
ANTON BRUCKNER wrote the same symphony nine times (ten, actually), trying to get it just right. He failed.
— Edward Abbey
by David Yearsley
Thanksgiving was born of war: first, colonial conquest masquerading as concord, then a means to bind the nation in the midst of the Civil War.
Abraham Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation on October 3rd, 1863, a week after Sarah Hale, editor of the Lady’s Book magazine, had written a letter to the president urging him to elevate the occasion to a national holiday: “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive [sic] fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”
For nearly two decades Hale had been lobbying indefatigably for a unified national celebration, printing in her periodical heartwarming tales of Thanksgivings of yore and printing recipes for turkey and pumpkin pie and other “traditional” New England dishes.
Following Hale’s advice, Lincoln’s proclamation set the date as the last Thursday in November, to be promulgated in unison by the governors of the states and territories. Thanksgiving had been celebrated at various times across the autumn, even as late as January, but not consistently and not everywhere. The custom was largely unknown in the South.
Before the Civil War, the only official American holidays had been Washington’s Birthday and the Fourth of July. At the urging of his Secretary of State and former rival for the presidency William Seward, Lincoln had called for other observations in 1863 that might help bind the nation. In March he issued a “Proclamation Appointing a Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer” to be observed on April 30th (a Thursday) “It behooves us … to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
Gatherings of joy went on to supersede those of repentance on the calendar of national holidays. We don’t get together with relatives for fasting or invite those without plans over for “Humiliation.” If a Puritan of 1621 or a pious clergyman of 1863 were beamed forward in time to late November of 2022, he would certainly think that an occasion called “Black Friday” marked not an orgy of consumption but a day of atonement.
Rituals of expiation had been crucial to Puritan culture. But most Thanksgiving guilt now gets shoved to the side of the moral plate like that dismal green bean casserole, only partially hidden beneath some turkey bones stacked next to a mound of diversionary cranberry sauce.
In David Silverman’s illuminating This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving, we learn that celebratory Puritan banquets were called “Rejoicings.” A “Thanksgiving” was a day of devout prayer and penance.
Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation makes no mention of Pilgrims, but it is saturated with puritanical language. The text extols the nation’s flourishing industry and agriculture, the clearing of land and expansion of settlements and (white) population across the continent. These developments are “the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.”
Lincoln believed the nation ready for Thanksgiving. A week before the first national observance of the holiday, the president held his address at in Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War fought on the three days directly before the Fourth of July that same year of 1863. What is it about Thursdays in the baking of America’s homemade history?
Though signed by Lincoln, the Thanksgiving Proclamation was written by Seward. As the excerpt above confirms, this stilted slab of prose is hardly of the oratorical timber of the Gettysburg Address.
Given the religious language conjuring it into existence, the new national ritual needed an anthem. The noted Episcopal clergyman W. A. Muhlenberg, founder of St. Luke’s Hospital in New York and author of A Plea for Christian Hymns as well as much religious poetry, rushed to his writing desk and transformed scraps of Seward’s words into seven rhyming verses, the first of which raises a jubilant voice to Manifest Destiny:
Give thanks, all ye people, give thanks to the Lord,
Alleluias of freedom, with joyful accord,
Let the east and the west, north and south roll along,
Sea, mountain and prairie, one thanksgiving song.
Next, the music had to be found. J. W. Turner was drafted into service by the Oliver Ditson Company of Boston, one of American’s leading music publishers. This tunesmith had made a name—and a good living—for himself in the 1840s churning out numbers for the Virginia Serenaders, the wildly popular blackface band that was the first such group to “elevate” minstrelsy to the status of concert entertainment.
Turner’s music for Muhlenberg’s poetry doesn’t depart much from the style he honed for the blackface minstrels: roughly hewn harmonies; sweet and easy melodic contours often of a rustic bent; the twang of few chromatic barbershop inflections; the occasional ardent leap. The “President’s Hymn” is marked “Maestoso,” as if pleading for sacred heft. Although martial dotted rhythms and repeated notes emit a whiff of triumphalist Victorian hymnody, the style could be best described as “down home,” and doesn’t stray terribly far from the sound of Turner’s Virginia Serenader hits like “Nigger put down dat Jug” and “Yallar Gals.”
Muhlenberg had hoped that his text would be taken up as an official Thanksgiving anthem for the nation. Various late 19th– and early 20th-century hymnals included the “President’s Hymn” in their Thanksgiving sections, but unstitched from Turner’s tune. After stoking the celebratory fires of the first Thanksgiving in 1863, Turner’s setting seems quickly to have disappeared from national earshot, Lincoln’s Thanksgiving declaration seemingly spared the taint of blackface.
This 1863 Protestant rejoicing, from Hale to Muhlenberg to Turner, responds to the tragedy of war and to the promise of industrious peace. There is no mention of slavery. Yet if one gathers round to sing as some sang in 1863, one hears a chorus of voices dissonant with Thanksgiving’s white-meat myths.
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
US OFFICIALS CONCERN TROLL About World Press Freedoms While Assaulting Them
by Caitlin Johnstone
I will never get used to living in a world where our rulers will openly imprison a journalist for telling the truth and then self-righteously pontificate about the need to stop authoritarian regimes from persecuting journalists.
Just today US State Department spokesman and CIA veteran Ned Price tweeted disapprovingly about the Kyrgyz Republic’s decision to deport investigative journalist Bolot Temirov to Russia, where press freedom groups are concerned that the Russian citizen could face conscription to fight in Ukraine.
“Dismayed by the decision to deport journalist Bolot Temirov from the Kyrgyz Republic,” said Price. “Journalists should never be punished for doing their job. The Kyrgyz Republic has been known for its vibrant civil society — attempts to stifle freedom of expression stain that reputation.”
This would be an entirely reasonable statement for anyone else to make. If you said it or I said it, it would be completely legitimate. But when Ned says it, it is illegitimate.
This is after all the same government that is working to extradite an Australian journalist from the United Kingdom with the goal of imprisoning him for up to 175 years for exposing US war crimes. Price says “Journalists should never be punished for doing their job,” but that is precisely what the government he represents is doing to Julian Assange, who has already spent three and a half years in Belmarsh Prison awaiting US extradition shenanigans. This is in top of the seven years he spent fighting extradition from the Ecuadorian embassy in London under what a UN panel ruled was arbitrary detention.
A UN special rapporteur on torture determined that Assange has been subjected to psychological torture by the allied governments which have conspired to imprison him. Scores of doctors have determined that his persecution is resulting in dangerous medical neglect. Yet he is being pulled toward the notoriously draconian prison systems of the most powerful government in the world, where he will face a rigged trial where a defense of publishing in the public interest will not be permitted.
All to establish a legal precedent that will allow the most powerful empire that has ever existed to extradite journalists from anywhere in the world for exposing inconvenient truths about it. But sure, Ned, “Journalists should never be punished for doing their job.”
Earlier this month US secretary of state Antony Blinken posted a tweet of his own commemorating the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, without the slightest trace of self-awareness.
“No member of the press should be threatened, harassed, attacked, arrested, or killed for doing their job,” Blinken said. “On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, we vow to continue protecting and promoting the rights of a free press and the safety of journalists.”
Two weeks later, the Biden administration shockingly granted Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman immunity from lawsuits regarding the gruesome assassination of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, thereby slamming the final door on all attempts to hold the tyrannical ruler responsible for his brazen assault on the press.
“No member of the press should be threatened, harassed, attacked, arrested, or killed for doing their job.”
We are ruled by tyrannical, hypocritical freaks who do not care about truth and freedom; they care only about power and what they can use to obtain it. The only press they support are those whose persecution can be politically leveraged, and those who can be used to peddle propaganda like the notorious AP editor who recently said she “can’t imagine” a US intelligence official being wrong.
Pointing out hypocrisy is important not because hypocrisy is an especially terrible thing in and of itself, but because it draws attention to the fact that the hypocrite does not really stand where they claim to stand and value what they purport to value. The rulers of the western empire care about press freedoms only exactly insofar as they can use them to concern troll foreign governments they don’t like to advance their global power agendas. And not one molecule further.
UKRAINE, FRIDAY, 25TH NOVEMBER
More shelling in Kherson as Ukraine gradually restores power.
Ukrainian official says 10 people killed and dozens injured in Russian attacks on recently recaptured city of Kherson.
The Ukrainian city of Kherson has faced multiple attacks for the second day in an escalation of shelling since Russia withdrew from the city two weeks ago following an eight-month occupation.
Ukrainian officials said Russia continued to bombard Kherson on Friday and that at least 10 people were killed in the previous day’s attacks.
“The Russians targeted private and apartment buildings, a shipyard, a building on the school grounds, and gas pipes,” Yanushevych said. “The enemy also shelled the following settlements in the district: Zelenivka, Chornobayivka, and Stepanivka.”
Yanushevych added that 10 residents were killed and 54 others injured in the bombardment.
Lilia Kristenko, 38, lost her parents after a missile struck their building. “Russians took the two most precious people from me,” she told The Associated Press news agency. “They lived so well, they lived differently. But they died in one day.”
As Kherson was picking up the pieces from the continuing shelling on Friday, Ukraine gradually restored power to millions of people left in the dark after devastating Russian air attacks.
The country’s four nuclear power plants were reconnected to the national grid after completely losing off-site power earlier this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Friday.
The facilities were all disconnected from the power grid on Wednesday for the first time in Ukrainian history.
In a statement, the IAEA nuclear watchdog said Ukraine had informed it on Friday that its Rivne, South Ukraine and Khmelnytskyi plants had been reconnected. Ukraine reconnected its vast Zaporizhzhia plant on Thursday, Kyiv said earlier.
THE RETAIL CARRION FEEDERS OF RURAL AMERICA
by Jeffrey St, Clair
I’m so tired
Tired of waiting
Tired of waiting for you
– The Kinks
For the last month and a half I’ve driven the backroads of southern Indiana, crisscrossing the unglaciated hill country 40 miles south of Indianapolis and 40 miles north of Louisville. It’s mostly forested here, large remarkably unbroken stretches of deciduous woodlands, thick with red oak and shagbark hickory, tulip poplar and black walnut, white ash and wild cherry, American beech and sugar maple. The soil is largely red clay, not productive for farming (or septic systems), but quite satisfactory for morel mushrooms, homegrown weed, and copperheads. The towns are small, little more than villages, clustered near the railroads and old blue highways.
I spent my summers here for 20 years and lived here for a decade. We raised both of our kids here. And since moving to Oregon in 1990, we’ve come back every year or so. For most of that time nothing much about the landscape, the people or the towns changed. They were much as they were in 1982 or 1972. To the north, the suburbs of Indianapolis gnawed up more and more farmland and woodlots, including the 40-acre farm of my mother’s family, which dated back to the 1820s. The fields are now covered by a super-drugstore, a Kroger, a Chick-Fil-A, a furniture store, and a church with a vast parking lot, where carloads come in search of salvation. The place is Jesus mad, though few could tell you more than a couple garbled lines of his teachings. I can’t bear to go back without wanting to blow something up.
For years, the hill country seemed immune to this kind of cultural entropy billed as progress. But in the last five years, the economic decay has accelerated. Familiar stores are boarded up. Houses have been abandoned. Cars left to rust in fields and yards where they stopped running months ago. Handmade for sale signs are tacked to telephone poles. It’s a yard sale economy. Even churches have padlocks on their doors, especially the denominational churches of my youth–Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and Catholic–replaced by evangelical and Four Square churches in trailers, barns and pre-fab buildings, their devotional services announced on yard signs like advertisements for the Second Coming.
The old family-owned grocery store, which served people in a 20-mile radius for 50 years, is gone, replaced by a Dollar General store, whose aisles haven’t been washed in weeks, where the air smells of body odor and spilled dairy products. I took it as a sign. When Dollar General shows up in your town, it’s like a death notice for your community and don’t expect it to offer you a chance to win your life in a game of chess or quick-mart Keno.
These stores are replicating across rural America. There are now more dollar stores (50,000 of them by one count) than there are McDonalds and Walmarts combined. They rang up $34 billion sales during the first year of the pandemic, selling crap for a dollar, more or less. As they drive out the local groceries, fresh food is replaced with the kind of high-calorie, sugar-rich processed junk that is fueling the health crisis in low-income America. The owner of an IGA in a town 10 miles to the north, where a Dollar General store sprouted up, told me that his store lost 35% of its sales the first year after Dollar General moved in and the sales have kept declining each year since. “We can’t keep up,” he told me. “We’re hanging on by our fingernails and not long for this world.”
The average hourly wage for Dollar General workers–sales associates, they call them–is $9 an hour. An assistant store manager makes, on average, $11 an hour. That’s hardly enough to shop for essentials at Dollar General, if you can find any essentials on those forbidding shelves.
The rot is metastasizing. Dollar General and Dollar Tree want to add another 30,000 stores in the next few years. Their corporate executives are attuned to the scent of decay. They are retail carrion feeders. Their stores are as austere and bland as any state-run outlet in Ceaușescu’s Bucharest. Step inside one and you couldn’t tell whether you were standing in Bean Blossom, Indiana or Hinton, West Virginia.
There have been three suicides in this sparsely populated county in the past two weeks, all of them men younger than 30. One was an acquaintance who shot himself in his mother’s house, while his younger brother slept in the adjacent room. No one saw it coming. Some hoped it had been an accident, that he had been cleaning his gun when it went off. Those hopes, slim as they were, were dashed when they found his note. But there was no why. Yet deep down, everybody seemed to know that he’d looked into the future and saw none.
He had come to believe that his life was a failure, that he was a burden on those he loved, a burden they were struggling to afford, a burden that weighed on his conscience, a burden he just couldn’t think about anymore and had to silence with a bullet to the head.
But it was this increasingly perverse society that failed him, failed his family, failed his dying community. A society that failed to listen, that failed to care, that failed to act, until his funeral when the trustees donated some money for his funeral and burial.
I didn’t know the young man well, but I knew the contours of his life. He was bright, honest, good with his hands. He could fix a broken engine or rewire an exterior outlet. He could hang drywall and shoe a horse. He could lay a septic system and trim trees. These are valuable skills in a functional economy. But this isn’t a functional economy–it doesn’t function for people, anyway. It grinds them down and doesn’t look back.
He should have been able to make it. Life shouldn’t have been as hard as it was for him. But opportunities kept shutting down, options for escape kept closing. Abandoned by his father, protective of his mother and brother, he was stuck, as the community around him, the few stable anchors in his life, began to crumble. There was nowhere to go, nowhere left to turn.
Of course, I’m not attributing his death to the coming of Dollar General…directly…but to an economic model that favors, in nearly every aspect of our lives, that kind of predation on the vulnerable and the marginalized.
Just down the block from the funeral home, there was a big sign advertising jobs in the county. The local high school can’t find a head custodian. Little wonder. The starting salary pay is $13.50 an hour. The McDonalds in another nearby town, a regional tourist spot, put up a sign announcing they were closing at 8PM on Friday and Saturday nights because they were short of staff. They too are advertising jobs at less than $14 an hour for dull, thankless work. Corporate America thinks rural America has no choice but to take these jobs at shit pay. The unions have been beaten down. The politicians blame extended unemployment benefits. The churches are obsessed with gun rights and the tyranny of Covid masks.
Still people are starting to refuse the slops that are offered them. The Covid lockdowns–hated here in the hollows and hills as intensely as anywhere–have taught people there are other ways to get by, modes of life that don’t require you to submit to the least that’s offered, to work crap jobs for crap wages in dangerous conditions with no health care. It may be a silent resistance, but its building.
People don’t trust their bosses, their banks, or their government. They don’t trust that the insurance they pay out the ass for will really cover them if they have a stroke or get cancer or contract COVID on the job. Yet, the people most in need of national health care are among the least likely to support it. If you don’t trust the government–if it’s never done much of anything for you, except demean your existence, humiliate you for asking for help, and make life harder than it already is–why would you want them tending to your failing body or injecting a vaccine (no matter its efficacy) into your bloodstream? The fear isn’t irrational. It’s been learned over generations.
The Dollar General Theory is as cruel as it is simple. They want you to work cheap, live cheap and die cheap. They don’t want to pay you what you’re worth or pay for you when you’re ill, even if they caused your sickness. Where are you going to go? Who are you going to turn to? The town you’ve known all your life is boarded up. The grocery store and hardware store are gone. The coffee shop is closed. The gas stations no longer have mechanics. Most don’t even have attendants. Just insert a card and go. You need a credit card for everything now, even if your credit is in the toilet.
It’s not just the supply chains that are broken. The threads that have bound these small communities together since the Great Depression are fraying. No one knows their banker any more. Many of the local banks have been replaced by ATM machines, racking up hidden fees for every impersonal service rendered. There hasn’t been a town doctor here in five years. People have to drive 20 miles west to Bloomington or 30 miles east to Columbus and then they are often treated by a nurse or physician’s assistant for the diseases that are ravaging these small towns: diabetes, congestive heart failure, emphysema, opioid addiction. The diseases of the passed over and forgotten. The diseases that don’t pay.
For some reason, I was struck by the recent proliferation of MIA flags, which I’d rarely, if ever, noticed down here before. There are now more of them than Trump flags, of which there are still many. These black flags fly from houses and schools, Post Offices and fire stations, city parks and some of the few remaining local businesses. It’s been nearly fifty years since the fall of Saigon and the end of that savage war seems more immediate than ever. I asked a few people if they knew any MIAs. No one could name a single one. No surprise, there were hardly any. Few people even knew anyone that served in Vietnam. It seemed clear that what had really gone missing was an idea of America itself, a void in the national identity, that remains dark and inexplicable, and, as the scenes of planes ferrying desperate people out of Afghanistan play endlessly on cable TV, it’s a hole that continues to grow, consuming what we thought we knew about ourselves.
A couple of nights ago, I met up with some old friends in a bar we used to frequent near Lake Lemon. It’s seen better days and is now kept afloat largely by the throngs of bikers who pass through on most weekends. As a group, we didn’t have much in common except our youth. Those differences in background and education never stood in the way before. But tonight the room crackled with tension. You could feel it in the air. It was palpable. I grew up with many of these people. Played baseball with them. Got lost in the woods looking for chanterelles with them. Fished for small-mouthed bass with them. Got drunk on the porch with them. Now every conversation seemed hard, strained, freighted with suspicion and latent anger. Everyone seemed wary of each other. The camaraderie of youth had been broken, like so much else. The mood was as sour as the beer. I rarely talk about politics. I usually find it the most boring topic on earth, aside from NFL football. But now everything seems intensely political, which is, perhaps, as it must be. Each phrase, no matter how inconsequential, was spoken with caution, as if the wrong inflection might set off some chain reaction. All patience has been lost. People are tired of waiting, though waiting for what no one would, or perhaps even could, say. Yet, we all agreed and then almost immediately questioned our agreement: Politics has failed. But what comes next?
Something’s gotta give. Something’s gotta break wide open.
(This essay is excerpted from An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. Available only from CounterPunch Books.)
LIKE MOST INSOMNIACS, I am a sound sleeper. It is when I remain awake that I become uneasy and distressed. Unlike most sound sleepers, I awake instantly at any change which would put me on the alert when not asleep. It is as if inside me there is stationed a sleepless, 24 hour duty guard who hears everything but arouses me only when the unusual is detected. Thus if I heard a cow at any hour in Petersburg I would sit up immediately. Here, Vera's two milkers, those straying pieces from a black and white jigsaw, can sound their throaty foghorns whenever they like without any of us noticing.
But at 6 AM a scratching on the louvered shutters, as if a burglar was picking their locks? I had my feet on the cool birch floor and was crouching, Browning in hand, behind the chest of drawers before I recalled that the dacha had no locks. Indeed, now I think of it, none of the cottages of rural Finland ever closes its doors day or night, anyway during the summer. B.P. was talking to Shotman, one of the most resourceful of our Party messengers and turned to me his long academic face: "There had been an uprising in Peter," he said. "And they want you."
— Lenin, as channeled by Alan Brien
by Charles Bukowski
against the wall, the firing squad ready.
then he got a reprieve.
suppose they had shot Dostoevsky?
before he wrote all that?
I suppose it wouldn't have
there are billions of people who have
never read him and never
but as a young man I know that he
got me through the factories,
past the whores,
lifted me high through the night
and put me down
in a better
even while in the bar
drinking with the other
I was glad they gave Dostoevsky a
it gave me one,
allowed me to look directly at those
in my world,
death pointing its finger,
I held fast,
an immaculate drunk
sharing the stinking dark with
AS I WRITE, THE CURRENT PANIC is whirling around the rapper Kanye West, who’s been removed from social media and locked out of most of his business relationships after saying some stupid things online about Jews. People I know keep posting messages of “support for my Jewish friends and the Jewish people.” Serious types keep lining up to denounce this unacceptable antisemitism. We’re standing up to Kanye West! But whatever else Kanye might be, he is also not well. He doesn’t just have some antisemitic views; he appears to think that he is in direct communication with God, and that fake children have been planted inside his home. Does this excuse what he said? I don’t care! This is not a question that makes sense! But in light of Kanye’s madness, the mass freakout seems pretty unhinged itself. Is this where we are now? Is this what threatens us? Are we bravely standing up to a man in the middle of a serious mental crisis?
I still think it’s a tragedy, because Kanye had a particular kind of genius, and in the end his antisemitism is an index of his creative decline. He will never make a truly great album again: resenting Jews is the last refuge of the miserable failed artist. Nobody liked Hitler’s hideous watercolours, so he hated the Jews. Nobody wanted to see Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s treacly ballet, so he hated the Jews. There have been great artists who were also antisemites–Céline was one–but their art is always made of failure, bile and resentment. It’s for grudgeful losers; as Engels once wrote, ‘antisemitism betokens a retarded culture.’ (The people who are best at this stuff are usually, like Philip Roth or Antonin Artaud, themselves Jews.) Kanye, when he was still the most interesting person in pop culture, was doing something else; he was the last twenty-first century artist with a real sense of mad mythopoeic grandeur, a figure like Blake or Nietzsche. (Blake: ‘If Humility is Christianity, you, O Jews! are the true Christians.’ Nietzsche: ‘I am just having all antisemites shot.’) Petty resentment is fatal to any grand project. Even Ezra Pound ended up admitting it: ‘The worst mistake I made was that stupid suburban prejudice of antisemitism.’ Instead of freaking out over Kanye’s statements, maybe we should simply mourn one of the great talents of our time.
THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF DEAD MEAT
by Alexander Cockburn
There’s a sour irony to the fact that it took the extremely rare mad cow disease, which has killed a very small number of people in England, to raise the alarm about the consequences of intensive meat and milk production. Over the past 150 years the demands of such production have destroyed much of the world’s ecological balance and impoverished millions.
Start today with one giant U.S. corporation, Monsanto, which makes chemicals and agribusiness products. It has spent many years and a billion dollars or two developing recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. The purpose of this product is to increase milk yield in dairy cattle. Inject BGH into cows twice a week and the milk yield goes up by some 10 to 20 percent. But crucially, with the artificially increased milk production, the cows need the infamous protein supplements made from rendered cows and sheep, thus opening the way to diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease), which can transfer to humans.
There are other problems, of course. First, who needs higher productivity per dairy cow when there’s a huge milk glut in the United States? Second, as happened with poultry and now with hogs, BGH accelerates the demise of small producers and the emergence of the industrial dairy conglomerates.
Like any junkie, cows hooked on BGH tend to get sick, mostly with mastitis, an infection of the udder. Treatment of mastitis requires liberal doses of antibiotics. The antibiotic injected into the cow passes on to the human consumer, and thus contributes to the process whereby more and more bacteria are building up greater resistance to antibiotics. Moreover, BGH also causes cows to produce more Insulin Growth-like Hormone-1 (or IGH-1), which has been linked to a number of disorders in humans, including acro-megaly (gigantism in the form of excessive growth of the head and extremities) and an increased risk of prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer. There is also research to suggest that IGH-1 reduces the body’s ability to suppress naturally occurring
Mad cow disease–a degenerative brain disorder first detected in England in 1986–is a comparative trifle in some ways. Cattle apparently contracted BSE by eating protein supplements made from rendered sheep infected with scrapie, a form of spongiform encephalopathy. Infected cattle become disoriented, suffer seizures, fall down, and die. Scientists believe that consumption of meat from BSE-infected cattle leads to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a fatal neurological disease. The virus may incubate for 30 years. There is no way to detect it or treat it.
The U.S. government, of course, maintains that no BSE-infected cattle have been discovered in the United States. But in fact, the disease may have appeared in the U.S. before the outbreak in England. According to a Jan. 24, 1994 story by Joel Bleifuss in In These Times, Richard Marsh, a veterinary scientist at the University of Wisconsin, was raising the alarm about BSE in American cattle back in 1985. Marsh discovered an outbreak of spongiform encephalopathy at a mink farm in Wisconsin. The mink had been fed a protein supplement made from rendered cows that had supposedly died from “downer cow syndrome.” Marsh believes the cows had actually succumbed to a previously undetected form of BSE. (In 2012, a California dairy cow tested positive for Mad Cow Disease.)
“The signs that these cattle showed were not the widely recognized signs of BSE–not signs of mad cow disease,” Marsh told Bleifuss. “What they showed was what you might expect from a downer cow.” About 100,000 cows a year die from downer cow syndrome in the United States. Most of these dead cows are rendered into protein supplements to feed other cattle. If this is true, the U.S. cattle population may already be infected with BSE and American meat consumers may have already contracted CJD. Still, the U.S. government has done nothing to regulate the contents of animal feed.
Intensive meat production–these days mostly of beef, veal, pork, and chicken–is an act of violence: primarily, of course, an act of violence against the creatures involved. But it is also violence against nature and against poor people. David Wright Hamilton, a biologist at the University of Georgia, once wrote that an “alien ecologist observing… Earth might conclude that cattle is the dominant species in our biosphere.” The modern livestock industry economy and the passion for meat have radically altered the look of the planet. Today, across huge swaths of the globe, from Australia to the western plains of the United States, one sees the conquest landscapes of the European mass-meat-producers and their herds of ungulates. Because of romantic ideas of “unchanging” landscapes it is hard to grasp the rapidity of this process, or the degree to which it leaves the land changed forever.
Take California. In the late 18th century, when the first cattle herds arrived in what the Spanish colonists called Alta California, the region presented itself as a Mediterranean landscape, but of a sort that had been extinguished in Europe for many centuries. There were meadows with perennial bunchgrasses, beardless wild rye, oat grass, perennial forbs: 22 million acres of such prairie and 500,000 acres of marsh grass. Beyond this, there were 8 million acres of live oak woodlands and park-like forests. Beyond and above these, chaparral.
By the 1860s, in the wake of the gold rush, some 3 million cattle were grazing California’s open ranges and the degradation was rapid, particularly as ranchers had been overstocking to cash in on the cattle boom. Floods and drought between 1862 and 1865 consummated the ecological crisis. In the spring of 1863, 97,000 cattle were grazing in parched Santa Barbara County. Two years later only 12,100 remained. In less than a century, California’s pastoral utopia had been destroyed; the ranchers moved east of the Sierra Nevada into the Great Basin, or north, to colder and drier terrain.
California is one of America’s largest dairy states, and livestock agriculture uses almost a third of all irrigation water. It takes 360 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef (that’s counting irrigation for grain, trough water for stock, and so on), which is why, further east in the feedlot states of Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas, the Ogallala aquifer has been so severely depleted.
The answer? Drill deeper. Deep-drilling began as a response to the dustbowl disaster of the 1930s, itself a product of farming practices ill-suited to the natural conditions; intensive pumping of the high plains aquifer began after WWII. By 1978 there were 170,000 wells drawing off 23 million acre-feet of water each year. (An acre-foot represents the amount of water required to cover one acre with water one foot deep.) This is in large part a testament to the requirements of a livestock industry worth $10 billion a year.
And of course the gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas, and electricity required to pump the water up several hundred feet from the shrinking aquifer are as finite as the water itself. Sometime in the next century, the high plains will be forced back to dryland farming, with such descendants of the present population as remain facing other environmental disasters–prominent among them the poisoning of the remaining groundwater by herbicides, fertilizer, and vast amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus from the manure excreted day by day in the feedlots. At the end of the 1980s, Frank and Deborah Popper of Rutgers University began arguing that an era of agricultural “pullback” lay ahead, and the future of the plains might include “buffalo commons” in which native animals such as the buffalo would roam over federally owned grasslands once more.
The pattern is the same the world round: Unsustainable grazing and ranching are laying waste to drylands, forests, and wild species. Brazil’s military dictators, who came to power in the early 1960s, hoped to convert their nation’s Amazonian rain forests, which cover more than 60 percent of the country, to cattle pasture and thus make Brazil a major beef producer on the world market. A speculative frenzy ensued, with big companies acquiring million-acre spreads that they promptly stripped of trees in order to get tax write-offs and kindred subsidies from the junta. Big ranchers accounted for most of the destruction. Within a decade or so, degraded scrubland had yielded money to the corporations but few cattle, and none of these could be sold on the world market because they were diseased. Indeed, the Amazon is a net beef-importing region. Meanwhile, many of the 2 or 3 million people who lived in the rainforest have been evicted with each encroachment of the burning season.
Such are the assaults on the environment and the poor. By 1990 about half of all American rangeland was severely degraded, with habitats along narrow streams the worst in memory. Australian pastures show the same pattern. In the drylands of South Africa, overgrazing has made over 7 million acres useless for cattle, and 35 million acres of savanna are rapidly becoming equally useless.
Over the past quarter-century many national governments–prodded by the World Bank–have plunged into schemes for intensive grain-based meat production. In Mexico the share of cropland growing feed and fodder for animals went from 5 percent in 1960 to 23 percent in 1980. Sorghum, used for animal feed, is now Mexico’s second largest crop by area. At the same time, the area of land producing the staples for poor folk in Mexico–corn, rice, wheat, and beans–has fallen relentlessly. Mexico is now a net corn importer, with imports from rich countries such as Canada and the United States wiping out millions of subsistence farmers who have to migrate to the cities or to El Norte. Mexico feeds 30 percent of its grain to livestock while 22 percent of the population suffers from malnutrition.
Multiply this baleful pattern across the world. Grain-based livestock production inexorably leads to larger and larger units and economies of scale, in a kind of world beef gulag whose consequences are now causing such a panic.
(This essay is excerpted from An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. Available only from CounterPunch Books.)
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
Regarding “the wholesale demolition of truths, values, and principles,” I recently saw – and I am not making this up – a video clip titled “Brazilian deaf trans woman sings Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”
Clearly this person faces challenges in life, including confused sexual identity and, of course, being deaf and mute. Such a person deserves everyone’s kindness and compassion.
But there are still objective truths in this world. In gown and tiara this person makes a dreadful looking “woman” and, never having had the benefit of hearing the human voice, it is understandable that their “singing” sounds like a hound dog baying at the moon.
In a world of “truths, values, and principles” it would be cruel to put this person on a TV talent show with judges and a live audience, but in today’s America both are obliged to pretend to regard “her” as beautiful and wonderful.
Human society requires both truth and beauty for life to be worthwhile. Things of this sort make a mockery of both. All woke persons would surely agree that I am a terrible bastard for calling bullshit on this, but someone must, and I do.