Activist Wenonah Hauter reviews the series of policy decisions and industry consolidation across the economic landscape that set the course for America's current fracking boom, and explains why fracked natural gas is not a "bridge fuel," but a backwards route away from renewable energy, and how collective action is America's only hope for steering the country off the dirty, disastrous course charted by politicians, business interests and (surprisingly) mainstream environmental groups.
Wenonah is author of Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment from The New Press.
On the origins, and persistence, of racist thought in America. - Ibram X. Kendi
Bright years of resurgence: The revolutionary potential of #BlackLivesMatter. - Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Why the practice of racism itself produces and prolongs the illusion of race. - Barbara and Karen Fields
On this day in 1890– (126 years ago) – William Kemmler, convicted of killing his wife with a hatchet, became the first person to die in the electric chair. This new form of execution had been developed by a dentist named Alfred P. Southwick, who adapted a dental chair for the purpose and tried it out on hundreds of unfortunate stray dogs, experimenting with various voltages and placements of electrodes before arriving at a hardware configuration that he believed would kill a human efficiently. The new device was promoted as a more humane alternative to hanging, and it found favor with state governments after a recent series of bungled hangings that had made national news. On the day of his execution, Kemmler was strapped into the chair and given a seventeen-second burst of electricity that failed to kill him. As he lay in agony, the doctors in attendance ordered that more current be applied immediately — but several minutes had to pass before the generator was sufficiently recharged for the second big shock that finally finished the job. The famous electrical engineer George Westinghouse, who witnessed the whole grisly event, later remarked: “They would have done better using an axe.”
On this day in 1945 – (71 years ago) – some 80,000 people were killed instantly when an American B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb called “Little Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, population 350,000. Many thousands more people died in the following years from burns and radiation poisoning, as the result of a decision taken by US President Harry S. Truman to use the bomb, which destroyed 90 percent of the city. Three days later, another American plane would drop an atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki, killing another 80,000 people. The overwhelming majority of dead in both cities were civilians. Truman argued that it was the lesser of two evils — the alternative to a US ground invasion that, according to American generals, could have cost the lives of 400,000 to 800,000 Americans and some five to ten million Japanese. But the atomic bombs were targeted less at military installations than at areas with high civilian populations—and the Japanese government was already in surrender negotiations with the United States, which some historians believe were progressing so well that the use of atomic bombs may have only hastened Japan’s surrender by a few days. Even documents from US General Douglas McArthur show that the Japanese surrender was just a matter of time. Some speculate that the US government’s intention in using the bombs was less to end the war than to punish the Japanese for their bombing of Pearl Harbor, and to frighten the Soviet Union.
On this day in 1988 – (28 years ago) – in New York’s Tompkins Square Park, which had become a de facto crash spot for homeless people, drug pushers, and runaway youths, several hundred people gathered to protest neighborhood gentrification, housing shortages, and a new 1 a.m. curfew in the park. New York law enforcement responded with an all-out police riot in which thirty-eight people were seriously injured, including professional journalists and passive bystanders. More than a hundred brutality complaints were later lodged against police, and a city review turned up many instances of their misconduct, but only two officers lost their jobs. The riot, which galvanized anti-police sentiment in the neighborhood, was later commemorated in songs by Lou Reed, Bongwater, and Blues Traveler.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi
David is author of the new book The Making of Donald Trump from Melville House Books.
Nicole wrote the article The Long Road to Crisis in the latest issue of Jacobin.
Brian has been writing about Rio and the Olympics for Brasilwire for months now.
Amr is author of the paper Egypt’s Regime Faces an Authoritarian Catch-22 for the Carnegie Middle East Center.
Michael will also be exploring the SAB/Miller/Coors/AB/Inbev consolidation that will soon cover 71% of the beer market.
You may remember Jeff from painting Ozzy Osbourne's house, or maybe writing the soon to be released, Brie Larson-starring Basmati Blues.
On this day in 1811 – (205 years ago) – Father Miguel Hidalgo, leader of the first great struggle for Mexican independence, was executed in Chihuahua, Mexico, by a Spanish firing squad. According to some accounts, his body was then decapitated for good measure. While Hidalgo had violated his Catholic priestly vows by fathering at least two children, and had made serious tactical blunders as an inexperienced military leader, he was nonetheless widely admired for his courage, political leadership, and dedication to the freedom and economic security of Mexico’s poorest people. With his partner Ignacio Allende, Hidalgo raised a peasant’s army that tormented the colonial rulers in several Mexican cities before he was finally captured by a traitor and turned over to the Spanish.
On this day in 1865 – (151 years ago) – The paddle steamboat Brother Jonathan, en route from San Francisco to Portland with 244 passengers and crew and a large shipment of gold, was several miles off the coast of northern California when it got caught in a violent storm and hit a rock that tore a big gash in its hull. As the ship began sinking, the crew tried to deploy lifeboats, but most of them capsized in the heavy waves, rain, and wind. Only one lifeboat, carrying nineteen survivors, made it safely to land. The other 225 people aboard the Brother Jonathan died as the steamboat sank in 275 feet of water just a few miles from shore. Before it hit bottom, the boat was apparently carried several miles by underwater currents, so that the wreck was not located until 1993. It contains a hoard of gold coins and bars now valued at an estimated fifty million dollars, most of which still lies on the sea floor.
On this day in 1975 – (41 years ago) – Jimmy Hoffa, former president of the powerful and corrupt Teamsters union, had an appointment to meet with two Mafia caporegimes outside a suburban Detroit restaurant. Several witnesses saw him waiting in the parking lot, and then leaving in a car with three other men. Hoffa was never seen or heard from again. He had recently been sprung from prison by President Richard Nixon, who had commuted his sentence for a conviction on bribery, fraud, and jury tampering. It’s now believed that Hoffa was trying to regain his former job as Teamsters president, but that the mob had other ideas. After he disappeared, federal investigators searched for his remains on a farm in Wixom, Michigan, owned by a Teamsters official. Later, Hoffa’s former driver claimed that Hoffa was buried in wet cement in the foundation of Detroit’s huge Renaissance Center, which was under construction when he disappeared, and which is now the corporate headquarters of General Motors. More recently, Hoffa was rumored to have been shot to death in Michigan, and his remains run through a cardboard shredding machine, packed inside a fifty-five- gallon oil drum, driven to New Jersey, and buried in a landfill there. But in spite of repeated investigations and testimony from diverse witnesses, a grand jury in Detroit never found enough evidence for an indictment. Investigators now say that the mystery of Hoffa’s disappearance will probably never be solved.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi
Kristen is author of Breaking the WTO: How Emerging Powers Disrupted the Neoliberal Project from Stanford University Press.
Dave's already had Zika, but the conspiracy interest is new.
Nazmul wrote the Jacobin article Terror and Politics in Bangladesh.
Matt is co-author of the investigation Inside the Corporate Utopias Where Capitalism Rules and Labor Laws Don’t Apply for In These Times.
Anjali wrote the chapter "The Baltimore Uprising" in the Verso Books collection Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter.
Here's what Chuck is reading to prepare for Saturday's show:
Breaking the WTO: How Emerging Powers Disrupted the Neoliberal Project - Kristen Hopewell [Stanford University Press]
Terror and Politics in Bangladesh - Nazmul Sultan [Jacobin]
Inside the Corporate Utopias Where Capitalism Rules and Labor Laws Don’t Apply - Matt Kennard & Claire Provost [In These Times]
"The Baltimore Uprising" from Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter - Anjali Kamat [Verso Books]