Well that was a bit of a one-two punch in terms of good news and bad news yesterday wasn’t it? Although in truth both the Bill Cosby and Donald Rumsfeld news are the same story which is that if you’re rich and powerful enough you will never be made to suffer any appropriate consequences. (I am just learning this today.)
That’s especially true if you’re someone like Rumsfeld whose only wee crime was setting into motion the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our name for nothing and lying about it forever. In that case you still get Jake Tapper and the serious newspaper men standing at attention in their shorts and saluting your coffin like JFK Jr. (who’s still alive by the way) as it rolls by.
This one you’ve read before I’m sure but always good to remember it when one of these fucking ghouls dies peacefully of old age at home with their loved ones.
I got a subscription to Getty Images just yesterday so the timing feels pretty good to use it today.
I'm sure I'm just forgetting but who was an American war criminal politician that died that actually got called evil in the newspapers and wasn’t given the fawning hagiography treatment like this from the AP and this from the Washington Post? Honest question.
All this torture looks fine by me I suppose but are you absolutely sure we couldn’t increase torture levels 100-120% more? - D.R.
I am learning in real time that I don’t really know how to search Getty for good photos yet.
I like this one though. U.S. military medics cleaning up a pool of Iraqi blood with rolls of toilet paper. I feel like that is an evocative photo.
This newsletter today was supposed to just go to free subscribers to catch them up on what they’ve missed this past week but I didn’t want to let Rumsfeld’s death go unmentioned. You paying subscribers are dismissed for today. In fact it is illegal for you to read any further.
Ok now that those nerds are gone a couple things:
I’m gonna do another promotion where if you purchase a subscription at the full price of $68.99 I will send you a copy of one of my books. If you want to avail yourself of this make sure you email me to let me know you’re doing it.
The last few paid-only pieces in Hell World have been great contributions from guest correspondents. Unlike an uhh real magazine or newspaper I don’t have what you might call a budget I just pay people out of my own pocket which I love to be able to do but if you can chip in to help keep highlighting other voices in here it would be greatly appreciated.
In this one Paul Bowers who writes the newsletter Brutal South reported on the situation with the death penalty in South Carolina and caught up with Fred Leuchter who you may remember as “Mr. Death” from the Errol Morris documentary. The dude is still delusional and weird as hell you’ll be happy (?) to hear.
If you were a U.S. prison warden trying to figure out how to kill people with an electric chair in the ‘80s, there was basically one guy to call. His name was Fred A. Leuchter Jr.
He ran a business out of his house in the Boston suburbs, providing consulting or execution equipment to at least 27 states between 1979 and 1990. Some of Fred Leuchter’s equipment is still in use today, which is why I wanted to talk to him.
In South Carolina, where I live, the Department of Corrections is on the verge of either killing an inmate with a firing squad or electrocuting someone for the first time since 2008. They nearly electrocuted a man named Brad Sigmon on June 18, but the state Supreme Court stopped them at the last minute because technically they hadn’t assembled a firing squad yet and they needed to give Sigmon a choice of how he died.
If South Carolina electrocutes someone again, there’s a good chance they’ll use equipment that Leuchter sold them. He went on the record with the Greenville News in 1991 saying he had sold an electrocution helmet to the state for $800 in 1983.
Leuchter — pronounced “LOO-cher,” with a silent T — has been outspoken about the risks of improper maintenance of his machines. He gave some ominous warnings about the one he built in Tennessee before they fired it up again in 2018 (“I don’t think it’s going to be humane,” he told the AP).
I wanted to hear his thoughts on South Carolina’s chair, so I called him this week at his home in Malden, Massachusetts. He wasn’t hard to find. He listened to my introduction and briefly launched into the finer technical points of electrocution before cutting himself off.
“Are you familiar with my background?” he asked.
Read the rest here.
Today is Canada Day apparently so why not read this piece by certified Canadian Karen Geier who wrote about the mass graves of indigenous children found in Canada’s residential school system as well as the country’s continued allegiance to Nazi monuments for some reason. Previously she wrote in along with others for this piece What the hell is going on in Canada right now? regarding their spotty vaccine rollout.
“It’s time for the world to realize that Canada is just as corrupt and bloodthirsty as what Canada’s idea is of America,” she wrote.
You may have recently read a passionate defence of Sir John A MacDonald (one of Canada's worst prime ministers) in the Atlantic. It came on the heels of a series of defacings and removals of monuments to Canadian historical figures with ties to our residential school system, a re-education camp/concentration camp hybrid designed primarily for the systematic genocide of First Nations children. The inciting incident for those protests was the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children on the grounds of a former school in Kamloops BC. That school is one of 150 such dotted across the country. It is believed that the grisly discovery there is not an isolated incident. More recently Cowesses First Nation made a similar finding on the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan. For many Canadians, like the Atlantic’s David Frum, the larger social ill here is destroying a hunk of metal, not the centuries of horror the men represented in them have inflicted on Canada’s First Nations people throughout history and up to the present day. (The last residential school closed as recently as 1996, the same year the last episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aired.) Many First Nations people will tell you Canada’s Foster Care system is the new way that Canada inflicts pain on these communities.
Read the rest here.
Also in that issue Lizzy a “cripple punk comrade” from Ohio wrote about the state’s recent efforts to enact stringent and punitive means testing measures for people who receive SNAP assistance and what such policies would mean for people like her and others who need them to survive.
This type of means testing is extremely dangerous for anyone who is trying to be a productive member of society in this late capitalist hellscape, but especially for someone like me. My accommodated van is currently valued at $30,000 due to the extensive modifications that make it wheelchair-accessible. As a quadriplegic who uses a powered wheelchair for mobility, my van is my lifeline for access to the world. However, if these stringent new policies, or others like them surely to come later, were to go into effect I would be left with an unthinkable choice: Do I sell my vehicle so I can keep the SNAP benefits that allow me to eat, or keep my accessible vehicle so that I can get to the specialist doctor’s appointments that my healthcare requires. Either option is close to a death sentence for me. I'd be left between a rock and a hard place, forced to choose between mobility and nutrition.
Read the rest here.
Aaaaaand allsssoooo just in case you missed these other posts last week in this piece I used this lovely thread as a jumping off point to talk about digital remains and loss and visiting my parents for the first time in over a year since we’re all vaccinated now.
My dad asked me if I remembered so and so and it’s never a good sign when your parents ask you if you remember so and so because that dude is fucked one way or another whoever it is.
I also collected stories from a couple dozen readers about how their drinking and other drug use has gone throughout the pandemic. Some did fine. Others did not. There’s a few great poems on drinking inside from Larkin and Bukowski and Symons.
“I remember this MASH episode, one of the ones where they do a mock-documentary, where B.J. Hunnicutt says, and I paraphrase, ‘Do we drink a lot? Not for Korea.’ Obviously, I'm not living through a war, but that's how I feel about my increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic. Do I drink a lot? Not if you made it through the pandemic.”
Ok well all that stuff fucking sucked. Here’s one good thing. “The three-minute track is a great mix of melodic hardcore and emo; it sounds like a song off Title Fight’s Shed…,” Stereogum wrote. That’s an instant listen right there from me every time buddy.