Ho hum, Donald Trump's Homeland Security agency expected violence on January 6, but didn't tell anyone who could do anything about it. Oh, they told each other to be careful, but otherwise lol-ed each other in texts. This unconscionable failure came not too many months after HHS's Intelligence and Analysis head, Brian Murphy, quit and filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that his superiors at DHS were pressuring him to downplay reports of right-wing terror and play up fantasies about left-wing terror. Now would be a good time to note that if Donald Trump becomes President again in 2024, he has said he will push to have absolute authority to fire people like Brian Murphy merely for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing.
Josh Boak at the Associated Press asks "Two years into COVID, was $800B payroll aid plan worth it?" And answers that "just 23% to 34% of PPP dollars went to workers who would have lost jobs, at a cost of as much as $258,000 per job retained," and that "most of the benefits accrued to the affluent," which I'm sure was a complete accident! Seriously, the AP report does its best to be even-handed, but as a famous philosopher used to say, there's just no there there -- reports that the Biden Administration made it a little nicer to Black and Brown folks shouldn't convince you otherwise. Having banksters run the program was a stupid idea; how many small businesses do banksters know anymore? The original legislation contended that Ruth's Chris Steak House was a "small business," after all!
You might hate Spotify for its absurdly low musician royalties and its enabling of Joe Rogan, but here's another reason to hate it: it invests in artificial intelligence tools on the battlefield, and regardless of how you feel about war, I hope you don't imagine that AI "saves lives," for Philip K. Dick exploded that supposition in "Second Variety" almost 70 years ago. Also, Spotify hosts plenty of podcasts that generally make war seem like a fun video game and specifically advance the cause of drones and robotics on the battlefield, which see previous sentence.
Hard to believe, Harry, but today's battles over book banning are a lot like the 1980s battles over book banning, and I guess when Jerry Falwell didn't actually spew racial epithets, he probably caught a lot of folks off-guard. Today's "critical race theory" may be yesterday's "secular humanism," which I guess suggests how far we've come if our enemies are more willing to spell out what they hate. It also suggests the utter emptiness of right-wing arguments, which I wish meant more; desperate people fight ugly, true, but they only beat civilized folks when civilized folks aren't sure of themselves, which illustrates, if it needed it, that post-modernism has its limits.
Cal Winslow at Counterpunch profiles Will Smith, a prodigious offensive line talent who played only two years of professional football in the early '60s because racism. Yeah, when the Raiders' legendary/notorious owner, Al Davis, won't pay you what he pays the other starting guard who happens to be white, you can say "because racism." Will Smith had a tough time even getting as far as he did, surviving Southern segregation and its only slightly-less oppressive Northern flavor -- his Michigan coaches benched him because he was serious with a white woman, whom he eventually married and started a family with, and crowds everywhere shouted racial epithets at him, until he silenced them with his play. No teams contacted him after the Raiders let him go; he made a pretty good career in education after that. Thus endeth a lesson you now cannot receive in many public schools across America because waaaaaaaaaah!
Finally, journalist Marina Ovsyannikova goes on Russian TV to protest the war against Ukraine, not long after releasing a video detailing her shame at having propagandized on Russia's behalf for so many years. "Only we have the power to stop all this madness," she said in that video. "Go to the protests. Don’t be afraid of anything. They can’t imprison us all." Indeed, they cannot! And even if they decide to shoot them all, it'll take more than 10 generations to wash out that stain. She's a hero, and so are all the Russians who have already taken to the streets to protest this war; we would welcome them into our hearts and communities even as we would ostracize Vlad the Bad forever.