Journalist Amanda Sperber reports on the US campaign of air and drone strikes in Somalia - escalating in the Trump era and floating above local sovereignty and public knowledge about casualties, civilian deaths, terms of engagement, definitions of targets or even which US agencies are engaged in the war itself.
Amanda wrote the article Inside the Secretive US Air Campaign In Somalia for The Nation.
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... read more
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... read more
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]
On this day in 1942 – (74 years ago) – the Bulgarian poet Nikola Vaptsarov, who wrote in his spare time while working as an industrial and railroad mechanic, was executed by firing squad for his role in organizing supplies of weapons and documents for the underground communist resistance against the rule of the Bulgarian Tsar Boris III, who allowed Nazi forces to pass through Bulgaria on their way to invading the Soviet Union. Aside from publishing his work in newspapers and writing several plays, Vaptsaraov only produced one actual book of poetry, entitled Motoring Songs, published in 1940. In spite of his small output, he’s remembered today in Bulgaria and Macedonia as an important revolutionary voice, and as a peer and counterpart to Bertolt Brecht and Federico García Lorca. His poetry draws on Bulgarian folk traditions to critique dominant versions of history and emphasize the unsung labors of common people in shaping the achievements of society. He was 34 years old when he was arrested by the fascists and shot.
On this day in 1967 – (49 years ago) – in Detroit, citizens’ spontaneous resistance to a police raid of an unlicensed after-hours bar quickly escalated into one of the deadliest and most destructive urban riots in US history. Though Detroit had been cited positively for a degree of progress in education and employment for African Americans that looked better than the situation in some other American cities, its population still harbored resentment over poverty, housing discrimination, poor policing, and other large-scale manifestations of racism. These long-simmering grievances erupted in a wave of violence, arson, and looting that spread across the city’s West Side and continued for almost a week. Not only did Michigan Governor George Romney (father of Mitt) call in the National Guard, but President Lyndon Johnson decided to mobilize the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions into the inner city to restore order. By the time the rioting died down, 43 people were dead, almost 350 were seriously injured, and some 1,400 buildings had gone up in flames. Coleman Young, who was elected Detroit’s mayor in 1974, would later write of the ’67 riots that they “put Detroit on the fast track to economic desolation.”
On this day in 1983 – (33 years ago) – Air Canada Flight 143, a Boeing 767 jetliner... read more
Max is co-author of the Jacobin article What Happened in Turkey.
Julia was interviewed in the piece Venezuela After Chávez at New Left Review.
Jacquelin wrote the article Fed up and not afraid! for Africa is a Country.
Douglas is co-author of the 100 Reporters investigation Training the Planet: America’s Vast Global Network to Instruct Foreign Security Forces Gets Scant Oversight.
Alex and Brian wrote the chapter "The Emergence of Command and Control Policing in Neoliberal New York" for the Verso collection Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter.
He won't tell me whether it's Chapo Trap House but I think it's probably not.