Rough seas over here
Featuring no hot takes on you know what
Watch anything good on TV last night?
I promise I am not going to be delivering a take of any kind on the slap here today. You will of course by now have already seen more unhinged reactions to it than is remotely healthy for the human brain to be experience at once.
Aside from this one real quick: Why the hell did that whole thing get me so riled up? I couldn’t get to sleep for a couple hours after. I wasn’t involved in anything! I guess that’s just the power of cinema baby.
So what I did when I finally realized I couldn’t sleep was to go downstairs and pour myself a large glass of wine I didn’t want or need or even like and try to put myself down with a different kind of knock out. I get up way too early these days to be staying up until 2:30 in the morning. For better or worse it worked.
That grim little episode leads into the subject of yesterday’s Hell World. Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism came out with a study last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association about the effects of the first year of Covid on alcohol-related deaths. You can read more of the specifics here but in short the number of deaths in which alcohol was a factor spiked pretty sharply (25.5%) in 2020 when compared to the year before. Typically you might see an increase of around 2% year by year.
Why that happened seems evident — increased isolation, lack of access to medical and mental health systems that were suddenly over-burdened (and kind of shitty in the first place) and not to be overlooked, the constant onslaught of mass death and sickness everywhere around us. You would have to think that wouldn’t exactly boost anyone’s spirits.
Since I had asked Hell World readers very early on in the pandemic in March of 2020 how they were holding up with their substance use I thought it might be worth revisiting the question two years later. A dozen or so of them wrote in with stories about how their own alcohol use had improved or gone down the drain since then. There were a few encouraging anecdotes but for the most part it was some grim shit.
“I really can't believe I got to this point where it actually feels like I don't have 100% control of myself,” one person told me. “I don't think I would be here if not for the last two years.”
“Rough seas over here, but still plugging along five and a half years sober,” another said. “Four people in my life have drank themselves to death since the start of the pandemic. A friend of my ex wife’s, a female co-worker, my own maternal uncle and the brother of one of my best college friends.”
As a reminder if you subscribe for a year of Hell World you’ll also get a six months paid subscription to Foreign Exchanges by Derek Davidson and Forever Wars by Spencer Ackerman included or vice versa. Please reply to one of us and let is know if you want to take advantage of that so we can set it up.
Elsewhere Paul Bowers returned to write for Hell World on the state of the death penalty in South Carolina.
The last person to be killed by a firing squad in the United States was Ronnie Lee Gardner in the state of Utah in 2010. Hundreds of cops volunteered for the job of shooting him in the chest. Five were chosen.
I met Ronnie’s brother Ralast year at an event in Columbia, South Carolina, organized by the death penalty abolitionist group Death Penalty Action. This was late May 2021, and the state of South Carolina was making preparations to electrocute two of the inmates living on its Death Row. At the time, the South Carolina legislature had also opened up the possibility of a firing squad, but the Department of Corrections hadn’t assembled a team yet.
Last week the SCDC announced it was all set to start shooting prisoners, clearing a legal roadblock after a court ruled last year that they must give the condemned an option between the electric chair and the death squad. They say they have rigged up the death chamber in Columbia with bulletproof glass, a firing squad chair with restraints, and a portal that will keep witnesses from seeing the three shooters. Unlike in traditional firing squads, all three rifles will be loaded with live ammunition; no one gets to shoot a blank “conscience round.”
Read the rest here.
Ok here’s the rest of the gang.
You don’t gotta hand it to Hitler, but people are still—still!—trying to.
Lloyd Blankfein, the former senior chairman of Goldman Sachs, was the latest to deploy the “Hitler not as bad as Vladimir Putin” line. In response to reports the Russian military may be preparing to use biological and chemical weapons, Blankfein declared on Twitter Thursday that “even Hitler didn’t permit his military to use chemical weapons, though he had them.”
A school in upstate New York suspended Covid testing last week because of federal funding cuts.
“This impacts unvaccinated teachers who are required to test, plus those of us who opt to test weekly,” Jane, a teacher at the school, told me. “I don't know what it's going to look like next week.”
CAIR WA’s Imraan Siddiqi joined the podcast to talk about Islamophobia, and I talked to returning guest Carol Schaeffer about her reporting in Ukraine and Poland.
Thanks for reading and listening!
Bleak week last week. First we looked at the strategic danger Yemen is in now that the hydrocarbon aftershocks of the U.S. reaction to Russia's aggression against Ukraine benefit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Then Sam wrote an absolute heater about the moral depravity at work in the persecution of trans children. At the end of that one, I took a brief look at the legacy of Madeleine Albright. Then, after Ginni Thomas' texts to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on pursuing a coup leaked, I pleaded for people to take seriously the role Guantanamo Bay plays in the rhetoric of America's anti-democratic forces. Today we're publishing a Take of mine, something I promise you I won't do often, about the conflation between two very distinct strategies in response to the Ukraine invasion: Save Ukraine and Defeat Russia.
As a reminder if you subscribe for a year of FOREVER WARS you’ll also get a six months paid subscription to Foreign Exchanges by Derek Davidson and Welcome To Hell World by Luke O’Neil included or vice versa. Please reply to one of us and let is know if you want to take advantage of that so we can set it up.
Felipe De La Hoz & Gaby Del Valle
Biden made headlines recently for a pledge to welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees into the United States, a number that exceeds the total number of refugee resettlements for fiscal year 2021 by a factor of about nine. The commitment was an easy political win, a way to confront Vladimir Putin and repudiate his invasion without having to get directly involved in the conflict, but it as just that: a commitment, with no real detail and pretty nebulous prospects.
The White House quickly noted that this wasn’t a pledge to bring in this number of refugees through the formal refugee resettlement pipeline, a task that would be practically impossible anyway given the collapse of the resettlement infrastructure as a result of both the Trump administration’s extreme animosity and the impact of the pandemic. That leaves humanitarian parole as the likeliest option, and a pretty flimsy one at that, with no clear path to permanent residency. It’s not obvious that Ukrainians fleeing the war would categorically qualify for asylum, either, given that program’s very narrow standards.
At the same time, the administration suffered a court defeat, in which a Trump-appointed federal judge sided with Arizona, Montana, and Ohio in a lawsuit challenging new ICE enforcement prioritization guidelines. In denying a motion to dismiss and issuing an injunction against Biden’s government, District Judge Michael J. Newman essentially threw out decades of precedent on agency discretion and decided that the law itself essentially forces the government to detain categories of immigrants, such as those convicted of certain crimes. We broke down both developments in last week’s BORDER/LINES.