I asked to leave and they told me I’d be fired

The U.S. is the most special nation in the history of the world

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The other day I wrote in here about civil asset forfeiture and I heard from a reader that worked in that realm for a while. It was not a pleasant experience you won’t be surprised to hear.

“I didn’t come from any line of attorneys (or any semblance of money) so my only option to get resume building experience [after law school] was to intern within the State’s Attorney’s office,” they said.

“I wound up assigned to the civil forfeiture unit, which I never heard of before starting there in the summer. Two experiences stick out as to just how fucked that whole principal is. First, a dude was caught with like $300,000 in cash in his luggage at Union Station, trying to board a train to Oregon. He was flagged because he paid with cash for a one-way ticket within an hour of traveling, which apparently automatically triggers an investigation of sorts. Anyway, cops break open his locked luggage, take all his money. The criminal case is thrown out because of the illegal search, but there’s a ‘quasi-criminal’ component of law that’s applied to civil forfeiture. Long story short, even though the search was illegal the State was still keeping all his money. Probably the first time I realized how fucked the entire system is and that ideals of justice and holding the State to a standard are make believe.”

“The second incident was when a guy had his car seized,” they went on.

“He was broke as shit and showed up pro se to fight for the return of the car. The State opened the hearing with a recitation of the facts: the guy was pulled over on a suspended license, the suspension was the result of a DUI, under the law the State can seize the asset. The guy had his chance to speak and was like ‘I made a mistake, I went for a drive after me and my old lady got into a fight. I don’t know shit, but one thing I do know is that’s a 1999 Buick that’s not worth the tow fees. But if I don’t have that car, I can’t get to work on time. And if I can’t get to work on time, I get fired. And if I get fired, I’m out on the streets. I need that car to survive, and if you auction it you’re just gonna scrap it and probably lose money.’”

“And the judge considered it for about a millisecond and was like, ‘My hands are tied.’”

For one reason or another this piece below was one of the most popular and widely shared Hell Worlds in a long time so if you didn’t read it maybe skip this one and go back and do that instead. This one today is… fine.

Yesterday’s main Discontents piece by Spencer Ackerman was great as well.

Those of us who report either about the drone strikes or about the police slayings tend to write about these things as disconnected phenomena. They are in fact the same thing. Turning off the drone cameras is the same sort of cover-up for the military (and the CIA) that turning off the body cameras is for the police. There is not one United States that slays Black and brown people at home and a different United States that slays Black and brown people abroad. There is only one United States of America. Its works at home forecast its works abroad and its works abroad are beta tests for its works at home. A global policeman wants what his local counterparts want: qualified immunity.

As a reminder if you subscribe to a year of Hell World you’ll also get a free six months paid subscription to Foreign Exchanges by Derek Davidson and Forever Wars by Ackerman (or vice versa).

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Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

As the storm was approaching workers at a scented candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky asked their supervisors if they could leave so they could go home to take cover from the coming tornado with their families instead of staying at work but they were told no. Some left anyway. Fuck this.

The factory which as a reminder makes scented candles was completely leveled. You’ve probably seen photos of it you wouldn’t have any idea it had been a scented candle factory a few hours prior if no one told you.

At least eight people died in the destruction there and at least seventy five around the state. McKayla Emery who is twenty one and worked there gave an interview from a hospital bed and said she heard managers telling her co-workers that they would be fired if they left early according to NBC News. Others said the same.

Elijah Johnson, 20, was working in the back of the building when several employees wanting to head home walked in to speak with supervisors. He joined in on the request.

“I asked to leave and they told me I’d be fired,” Johnson said. “Even with the weather like this, you’re still going to fire me?” he asked.

“Yes,” a manager responded, Johnson told NBC News.

Johnson said managers went so far as to take a roll call in hopes of finding out who had left work.

Mayfield Consumer Products said that’s not true though so who is to say what happened?

According to the Lexington Herald Leader the scented candle factory had recently been hiring at $8 an hour which is 75 cents more than the minimum wage. “Mandatory overtime will be required frequently, either by extending your shift or working on Friday,” the company said in its job listing. They also had prison inmates working in the scented candle factory for a lot less than even that measly wage you can be sure.

“When a tornado destroyed the factory late Friday, seven jail inmates were working inside,” the paper reported. “All survived, although one later took the opportunity to escape, and a deputy jailer who was at the factory to monitor the inmates was among the many killed inside the building.”

In Edwardsville, Illinois at least six workers were killed inside of an Amazon warehouse in the same storm right around the time Michael Strahan and others were flying to space. You can watch a video of the crew as they experience weightlessness and they’re all very giddy about it understandably. Imagine flying to space? What joy. For someone else I mean. For me it would be a nightmare. I don’t even like flying to LaGuardia.

“Oh my goodness sakes, this is heaven!” said Laura Shepard Churchley the daughter of astronaut Alan Shepard. “You just let go, and you go up! Holy moly,” she said.

The police chief in Edwardsville said over the weekend they had been having trouble determining how many people might be missing because only around seven of the almost two hundred people working at the Amazon warehouse were actually full time staff. Most were contractors. Workers there were reportedly given no training on what to do during a deadly storm and some have said they were also not allowed to leave work as the tornado hit like Larry Virden whose girlfriend shared their last text exchange.

You might remember that guy Dave Clark the Amazon executive in the tweet up above there whose name was in the news when we were talking about Amazon workers having to piss in bottles a while back. “I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace,” he joked around then with a mouth full of shit and deadness in his eyes. Clark’s nickname used to be the Sniper and he has reportedly bragged about how he would lurk in the shadows of a warehouse on the lookout for people not working hard enough so he could fire them.

I just went back and read a chapter from my book about the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland and a town called Paradise leveled by fires in California and a shooting at a bar near there around the same time that I have already forgotten because I wanted to remember something that I wrote. It went like so:

“I don’t really know what hell is but I don’t think it’s a place where bad things happen to people randomly such as natural disasters and death because that’s just what the regular world is. I think it’s probably more accurate to say it’s a place where bad things happen because someone wanted them to happen to you or just let them happen out of negligence and indifference. Where bad things happen and they didn’t have to but your life was less important to someone else than what they thought they had to gain.”

Speaking of which they’re having a pretty big sale on books right now at O/R including my two titles.

Mostly pretty good company there!


You may have seen this video going around social media the past couple days from a Sioux Falls Stampede minor league hockey game but if not here you go fuck you.

As I saw a couple people point out there’s something remarkable about the video in that none of the teachers are wrestling with each other over the cash they are just trying to get as much as they can without pushing and shoving and stealing from one another and that almost makes the whole thing feel even worse.

“With everything that has gone on for the last couple of years with teachers and everything, we thought it was an awesome group thing to do for the teachers,” Ryan Knudson of CU Mortgage Direct the company that sponsored the giveaway told the Argus Leader. “The teachers in this area, and any teacher, they deserve whatever the heck they get.”

I know he meant that last part as like a feel good kind of statement but it’s also on its face a pretty straightforward description of how they’re treated in the state. South Dakota trails only Florida and Arkansas for average annual salary for teachers at about $49,000 a year.

Michelle is a teacher in Massachusetts where they are paid considerably better but even still she often has to purchase supplies for her classroom. I have never in my life heard about a cop having to buy his own bullets though have you?

From the Rapid City Journal:

In her State of the State Address, Noem said the new curriculum should teach students “all that makes America unique,” and that it should explain “why the U.S. is the most special nation in the history of the world.”

In the Federalist, Noem wrote that “we have failed to educate generations of our children about what makes America unique,” including about a “decades-long fight” against communism. Noem also mentioned “the left’s indoctrination” of students from kindergarten through college graduation, without being specific.

What else?

“Noem’s new curriculum push follows other patriotic displays pushed in schools, such as recent legislation that requires “In God We Trust” be displayed prominently in every school.”


On the matter of schools and God:

Thank you for renewing your commitment to that The Democrats.

It’s the ninth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting today the day that we all now recognize as the day after which we knew nothing was ever going to be done about guns in this country. I was just looking back through the archives at something I wrote about it three years ago.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted recently that “Sandy Hook happened six years ago and we can’t even get the Senate to hold a vote on universal background checks,” and that is very true and a good point and all but did you realize Sandy Hook was only six years ago because to me it feels like it was a lot longer than that. It feels like it’s a story that we were born with. It’s like the thing about how Romulus and Remus were raised by wolves and then went on to found Rome but in our case it’s about how a guy with a gun massacred a school full of tiny little babies hundreds of years ago and we decided to build a country on the very spot to mark the occasion and weave its inevitability into our patriotic mythology.

If we ever end up redesigning the American flag it should probably be a third grader with a bullet hole in her face and then you could have an eagle or something in the background so everyone still thinks we’re tough.

It’s also the anniversary of this moment in history.

I just watched this last night and it was stylish and evocative of giallo style horror and very effective at maintaining an atmosphere of dread from start to finish but the main idea is that the lead Niamh Algar plays a censor working for British Board of Film Classification during the “Video Nasty” controversy in the early 80s in which the country was seized by a conservative-driven panic that violent films were going to convince people to become cannibals and serial killers and shit. The character Enid spends the film watching and rewatching violent horror films and recommending which pieces of violence to edit out to make them more palatable. Scenes which are deemed over the top and sort of goofy in their stylized violence are passed while those that hue too closely to what actual violence is like are declared unfit for public consumption.

The metaphor here tracks with Enid’s own tragic past and how the human mind when confronted with something too horrific to process will delete it or write over it in the same way you might record over an old VHS tape again and again until there’s nothing but static with bits of the original crackling through unrecognizable.

In any case I’m sure it’s fine for a person to stare into the abyss every single day you’re either eventually going to become inured to it and go about your business as usual or pick up an axe and get to chopping.


I wrote this for the Guardian the other day which you may or may not appreciate. A fun game for me is to see how much Luke I can smuggle into ostensibly normal news pieces.

Rupert Murdoch buys $200m Montana cattle ranch from Koch family

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a billionaire in possession of a sprawling media empire must be in want of a steady supply of bullshit. With the recent purchase of a Montana cattle ranch, home to 7,000 head, Rupert Murdoch now has access to more of the stuff than even Tucker Carlson could hope to shovel.

The ranch, located in the south-west of the state, not too far from Yellowstone national park, was bought from Matador Cattle Co, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, for about $200m, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The ranch’s sale, between the two driving forces behind the conservative movement in the United States, is the largest in Montana’s history.

“This is a profound responsibility,” Murdoch said in a statement. “We feel privileged to assume ownership of this beautiful land and look forward to continually enhancing both the commercial cattle business and the conservation assets across the ranch.”

The property is reported to cover roughly 340,000 acres, and span 50 miles from north to south, including “4,000 elk, 800 antelope and 1,500 mule deer” as well as a “28-mile-long creek stocked with trout” and 25 homes for employees, according to a representative for the Murdochs.

According to at least one neighbor and fellow rancher, John Jackson, the chairman of the Beaverhead county commission, the Koches “have been good neighbors”, as he told the Billings Gazette. He did not expect much to change with the Murdochs moving in, although it’s unclear how much time the 90-year-old media scion will be spending there (a spokesperson said the family do intend to spend time on the ranch).

Many on social media were quick to joke about the parallels between the sale of the ranch and the HBO hit Succession, about a family loosely based on the Murdochs, as well as the Kevin Costner program Yellowstone.

Another recent highly lauded work of fiction, the Jane Campion film The Power of the Dog, is set on a Montana ranch. In the film, head rancher and son of wealth Benedict Cumberbatch proves unable to connect with those around him and sets out to ruin the lives of everyone he encounters.

Koch Industries has been busy selling off similar properties around the US of late, including one in Kansas listed for around $24m and one in Texas at about $124m. The prospect of the world’s richest families hustling to trade remote properties stocked with enough livestock and water to survive on for years is probably nothing to be alarmed about for the rest of us.


That’s all today goodbye.