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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality
Art for Fresh Hell.
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A Shot in the Dark

The vaunted, cash-bloated ranks of the New York Police Department, sworn to protect and serve and etc., sauntered onto the national stage this week when they allowed an out-of-shape, neon-clad boomer to escape after shooting ten people on a subway car. Only some twenty-four hours later, after he’d called in a tip divulging his location and an everyday New Yorker spotted him on the street, were the police able to bring the shooter into custody. You see, the police responsible for countering terrorism or whatever were busy a few blocks over harassing the homeless. As it turns out, spending just north of $10 billion on the NYPD every year is a piss-poor investment in “public safety.” Were more evidence of this assertion necessary, a new report indicates that the city’s recently relaunched anti-crime unit, expressly designed to “proactively suppress violent major crimes and illegal gun possession through precision policing,” has done anything but. The most common charge in the hundreds of arrests the anti-gun unit has been for possession of a “forged instrument” like a fake ID or stolen credit card. This doddering display of costly imbecility will, nevertheless, be mangled by Mayor Eric Adams into a self-apparent justification for shoveling even more cash into the open maw of the NYPD.

 

Drive My Car

In San Francisco, the police remain likewise committed to jockeying between inflicting lethal violence on civilians and utter, bumbling incompetence. Despite the fact that the city recently chucked more than half of the $312 million it received from the American Rescue Plan into the coffers of its police and sheriff’s departments, we’re nevertheless stuck watching a whole crew of them attempt to pull over a driverless car.

 

Torture—It’s Chill!

Yes, police, they’re great. They’re about to get even more fun in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, where the Fifth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals has decided that, yeah, sure, it’s probably OK for police to inflict violence on and maybe even torture detainees—anything to coerce that sweet, sweet, not improbably false confession.

 

Crazy, Stupid Rich

On Wednesday, ProPublica published an utterly shocking report containing a vast smorgasbord of grim trivia, including the fact that, between 2014 and 2018, the twenty-five richest Americans collectively earned just over $400 billion—but paid only 3.4 percent of that in taxes, substantially less than the double-digit total tax rates faced by the average worker. Click here to scroll through their delightfully colorful animation of how irreparably fucked the tax system is! Certainly this report, unlike the countless other bombshell reports preceding it, will be the one that generates front-page headlines across the country, inspiring a groundswell of opposition to the byzantine system of taxation expressly designed to force the rest of us to foot the bill for Congress’s addiction to, among other worthwhile pursuits, modernizing our farrago of nuclear weapons ($634 billion) while the rest of our infrastructure disintegrates. Certainly!

 

Uncommon Valor

Meanwhile, in the torrid pages of the Wall Street Journal, thought leaders find themselves preoccupied with other concerns: if the Biden Administration were to cancel even a little bit of student debt, would enough members of the working poor, willing to sacrifice their life in an imperial misadventure for the sake of a free education, still volunteer for the military? God knows we simply must keep this in mind as the defense establishment and its parasitic coterie of think tankers gin up support for direct military engagement with China. 

 

Apocalypse Soon

To the United Kingdom now, where the British Museum, looking to make a quick buck on NFTs before the craze flames out, has minted and listed over two thousand NFTs—a process so carbon-intensive that it could power an average U.S. home for fifty-seven years. Comparisons of this sort are becoming increasingly quaint, based as they are in the assumption that U.S. homes—any of them—will still exist fifty-seven years hence. 2079? Things don’t look good. As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicated this week, we may already have—accidentally, of course!—entered a “methane feedback loop” beyond human control, methane being twenty-five times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide, which in turn releases more methane into the atmosphere and on and on until we’re all charred toaster waffles. But anyone who thinks this means we have no fucking choice but to stop drilling for oil right this very goddamn minute, well then, you’ll need to kindly moderate your tone, miss. This whole alienating “stop oil” ballyhoo is “a very complicated discussion to be had, it’s a very complicated thing.”

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