Bike Sale |
Hendy Volunteer |
Root Cluster |
AVUSD Update |
Creekside Quagmire |
New Hydrant |
Missing Person |
Adventist Rumor |
Arson Trial |
Help Wanted |
Mendo Atlas |
Hospice Services |
Ukiah Projects |
Forest Closures |
Music Festival |
Yesterday’s Catch |
Malady Cure |
Marco Radio |
Social Networking |
Tyre Nichols |
Lunatic Ideology |
Firework Dancers |
Latino Civility |
Kittle Loose |
3rd Graders |
Pelosi Video |
Miner’s Son |
Gangsta Rap |
Mountain Dew |
Our Revolution |
Union Hotel |
Media Fraud |
Healthcare Cost |
Wealth Tax |
Incline Riders |
Class 1894 |
Criticizing Warmongers |
A COOLING TREND will continue through the weekend. Slight chances for light rainfall or drizzles and mountain snow will begin this evening, with chances lingering into Sunday morning. An Arctic airmass will begin advecting in on Sunday, setting up a very cold night with potentially record low temperatures reached Monday morning. (NWS)
INVASIVE PLANT REMOVAL – VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
Join us at Hendy Woods State Park on the following Saturday Mornings from 10 am to noon:
- Feb 11th
- March 18th
- April 22nd – Earth Day!
Please join us in restoring natural habitats by removing invasive plant species (mainly poison hemlock, Broom and Dock). Take local action and be rewarded with FREE entry to the park. ~ rain cancels ~
Meet at the Day Use Area of Hendy Woods State Park. Dress in layers, bring gardening gloves with rubber palms, shovel & a picnic lunch. Some gloves and tools will be provided.
Ask us about other volunteer opportunities in the park, like leading forest walks or volunteering in the Park Visitor Center.
Thank you! email@example.com
AV UNIFIED UPDATE
Dear Anderson Valley Unified,
I hope you are doing well. I have been out of the district a few days this week attending the ACSA Superintendent’s conference. This was an important opportunity for me to lobby with school district advocates and legislative analysts to try to push for additional funding for our schools. I am grateful that Senator MacGuire’s office has reached out about the septic issues, and I will be visiting with his staff on Monday to explain our unique and completely unacceptable situation.
The septic contractor was on the junior/senior high site yesterday and started to dig some of the trenching areas. While the water table remains too high, he is confident we will be back in business in a few weeks. We will hope that Mother Nature supports that effort.
I left the conference in Monterey today at 5:30 a.m. to drive to Walnut Creek to meet with the CIF North Coast Section about the disproportionately unfair playoff ticket fees and the credit card process. Something that is so desperately unfair to poor, rural systems shouldn’t take this much energy and effort to fix. But it is IMPORTANT. I had an article appear in EdCal about the inequity of CIF fee, and received letters from school systems across the state thanking us for raising this equity issue. The room was full and supportive, but CIF leadership was reluctant to commit, claiming more discussions to come. I am tired of discussions.My kids have four years in high school, and I want this disproportionately unfair and potentially illegal policy to be corrected within two months, so their parents/guardians can enjoy their Spring playoff games free from financial hardship.
In other news, Summer School planning is well underway. Thank you to Charlotte Triplett and Stefani Ewing for taking the lead on this. The programs will have an academic focus, but also some art/sport activities.
Now: Mark your calendar because we are inviting you to two dinner and need you to come! Call your school office to be added to the RSVP list: Terri Rhoades is catering!
Anderson Valley Elementary: 707- 895-3010
Anderson Valley Junior/Senior High: 707-895-3153
ELAC Dinner at the High School Cafeteria Thursday, February 16 AT 5:30: Primarily a brainstorming session for adults, but if you need to bring your children, please do.
College And Career Dinner at the High School: Tuesday, February 28 Grades 6-12 At 5:00
This is important to know the credit requirements to graduate high school, the alternate requirements for University, and to learn more about all of the different vendors that will be here to discuss college and career opportunities including. This is strongly encouraged for at least one parent and your student to attend. Start early so your student has a goal to achieve in career or college.
I hope you know how much we appreciate and value your time, care, and partnership. Some of the perspective that you receive when you go to conferences is how much tension and politics wrap up and strangle other school systems. I am grateful that while we don’t always agree, we always hold dear that our most important goal is to do the best we can for our kids.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
Every Student • Every Possibility • No Matter What
CREEKSIDE CABINS QUAGMIRE FLARES UP IN PROTEST
* * *
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS ON CREEKSIDE:
All suggested options have been explored. It’s a sad situation, but a detailed analysis highlighted the scope of realistic options for county government involvement. The county was able to place a temporary bridge for evacuation purposes, but due to ground conditions at the site, this bridge extended to impede the state highway, necessitating costly traffic control. It was an elective action by the County to facilitate evacuation, but not a solution CalTrans would allow long term. The bridge was safe but not a permanent solution to withstand ongoing, unattended, regular use. Salmon spawning starts next week, limiting the ability to construct a permanent solution (California Department of Fish and Wildlife) or even maintain the temporary bridge for a longer period. The county’s focus has been on enabling evacuation and Social Services support for relocation and related services to those who qualify. The dispute over road access and infrastructure responsibility is between the private property owner and CalTrans; the County is not a party. The facility is regulated by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The county has not ordered evictions, but has provided the same evacuation support we’d expect to see flow from fires, floods and other disasters. The County cannot compel the private, for-profit, land owner and park operator to continue operations. I don’t see the County placing roadblocks.
ED NOTE: The Supervisor might actually be majorly 5150. All the cruelty in the world happens because of expediters who think like this.
* * *
LAZ OF WILLITS:
Creekside. I know of an individual who reached out to two TV stations in the Bay Area. They were KTVU and KRON. Only one responded. The response was, “We’re looking into it.”
If this happened on the Westside of Ukiah, Regina Heights, or Haehl Creek out by the new Adventist Heath Hospital near Willits, the County would be pissing itself to get this inhumanly resolved, quietly and quickly. Because likely the major media would be all over it. But this is a message to all who are on the fringe.
This Creekside deal is economic discrimination, straight up! And apparently, the County does not care who knows it.
Yeah, where is this local Supervisor? He did mention at the BOS on Tuesday that this is “an unfortunate situation.”
He is the same guy who once threw tantrums at Willits School Board meetings over teacher salaries.
Where is his passion for this? This is his District.
But as the previous Sheriff has said publicaly, “Government isn’t here to save you. It provides basic services.”
And very basic at that…
* * *
RE THE CREEKSIDE FIASCO, an on-line comment: Albion, el Californio
How about some bureaucratic overkill to save the day?
If Cal-Trans can install a bridge they can leave it there for the Winter and then they can fix their sink hole. In the mean time rent some portable toilets and bring in water for the community there, certainly doable.
Why not wake up, Supervisors and other “Civil Servants” and provide leadership and solutions instead of obstacles and road blocks?
Let’s get real and adopt a “Can Do” attitude and not put even more families on the street and earn your pay checks and medical benefits, dental insurance and retirement plans and pensions.
Is that really too much to ask? Thank you,
* * *
DANILLA SANDS: “Local Heroes” Hired Haulers By UDRNC/NCO, Manager And Now Former Tenant & A Good Samaritan Helped Tow Out At Least 15 Trailers Combined In Less Than 17 Hours
Tyler & Reuben showed up to Creekside as soon as the temporary bridge was open, worked both days and came back on the last hour on day three to help as many people as they could. Even when injured, Tyler, was determined to pull the last possible trailer out while the clock was ticking. There wouldn’t have been as many trailers saved without their compassion, commitment and hard work.
On his birthday Thursday, Aaron Rusty Deeson (sp?) showed up late in the evening and was able to retrieve one or two trailers. Then Friday morning during the one hour block before the bridge was taken out, he was able to save one more trailer, which belonged to older man that patiently waited his turn and had recently had $500 in saved coins stolen from him in “we hope a mixup”.
Jerry W. manager of Creekside and now former tenant and father of a young boy was able to get his trailer out and help others. Early Friday morning, he was able to hurry in and save a tenant’s trailer that had been stuck inside the park after she and her husband had spent the week helping others get food, pack and get towed out.
If you would like to show your support for Ojeda Transport, be sure to “like” their page.
If you would like to support the efforts of UDRNC and support Creekside folks and people impacted by disasters, check out their website to see ways you can help: www.UDRNC.org
REMEMBER SUMMER WILDFIRES?
After the deluge of atmospheric rivers drenched Anderson Valley, this is definitely not the time to brag about a new fire hydrant. But the hot dry days of summer will be back again and then… We residents along Signal Ridge Road will be prepared for wildfire storms!
After three years of effort, funds were raised through the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council and the AV Fire Department. Local residents and landowners generously pitched in, too. A contractor was found who was willing and able to put in a pump and piping system to tap into a nearby private lake. Greg Krouse was the guy who took on the project, securing materials at a generous discount from Wyatt Irrigation Supply in Ukiah. Special thanks to Kyle, the manager, for helping facilitate the project.
Of course, there were some hiccups that dragged out the trenching, like numerous roots to dig through in the forested slope, secret underground electricity lines and unmapped water pipes to navigate, downhill and uphill slopes to calculate and – the heat. August was the hottest month and ice cubes were in big demand.
But with a standpipe installed in front of the Gundling residence one mile up Signal Ridge Road, the job got done. It was tested and tested again by Fire Chief Andres Avila and his crew. It worked every time. A sigh of relief went through the neighborhood. This supply cuts out a 45 minute turn-around trip to Hendy Woods to refill water tenders, the grounds have enough turning space for fire trucks to pull off the road, and the standpipe is connected to millions of gallons of cool fresh water. Not impressive right now, but it will be. “This is huge for Signal Ridge,” says one happy fire chief.
THE ADVENTISTS in Ukiah recently got a large donation of land across the street from Mendo Mill on North State Street in Ukiah. The Adventists are not known for their “transparency.” But word on the street is that they plan to develop it into first a cardiac facility to compete with other north bay cardiac specialty facilities (as the local population ages there are more and more heart patients), and then maybe expand that into a regional hospital to compete with other larger regional hospitals. If the Adventists dedicate that kind of financing to construction of a new Ukiah facility, the chances of a new or major remodel of the old Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg will decline and Fort Bragg would be reduced to a stripped down feeder facility that the Advenists probably wanted when they first offered to operate the Coast Hospital. If history is any guide, we won’t know much more about this new development in Ukiah until the Adventists are ready to tell us. Remember: the Adventists are a religious institution and pay no taxes on their facilities or revenues, making their financing options more attractive than those a conventional medical project.
TRIAL OF HOPKINS ARSON DEFENDANT TO BE MOVED OUT OF MENDOCINO COUNTY
by Justine Frederiksen
The trial of a man charged with setting a fire that destroyed nearly 50 structures in Calpella two years ago is being moved out of Mendocino County, Assistant District Attorney Dale Trigg confirmed this week.
Trigg said jury selection began Monday in the trial of Devin Lamar Johnson, 22, who was charged by District Attorney David Eyster with aggravated arson for allegedly “maliciously and deliberately… with intent to cause injury to one or more persons,” setting a fire that burned more than two dozen homes and evacuated hundreds of residents from an area just north of Ukiah in September of 2021.
A trial was not scheduled for nearly a year after the fire due to concerns surrounding Johnson’s mental status, but the defendant was declared “restored to competency” in July of 2022, and a trial was then scheduled for the following month.
After more delays, the trial was finally underway this week, but soon after jury selection began Jan. 23, Trigg said that Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder approved a change of venue for Johnson’s trial.
Trigg said that Johnson had previously filed a motion for a change of venue, but at the time the judge wanted to wait until jury selection began before ruling. One potential juror who had been called and excused this week reported that by Tuesday morning, a change of venue had been granted after it became apparent that an impartial jury would be extremely difficult to seat locally.
Trigg confirmed Wednesday that Judge Faulder approved the defendant’s request to move the trial, a decision the District Attorney’s Office did not support. When asked why, Trigg explained that, “We prefer that cases are tried in this community, where they were committed, and where the victims reside. In this case, there are several people who were significantly impacted by (this fire), and attending a trial near their home” will be far less disruptive for them, and other witnesses.
When asked where the trial would be moved to, Trigg said that had yet to be determined, as the process of requesting and scheduling a new venue through the state’s Judicial Council of California had only just been initiated.
Johnson was arrested two days after allegedly starting the Hopkins Fire on Sept. 19, 2021, after investigators from multiple agencies, including the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Cal Fire and the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority, had obtained surveillance footage from a nearby business that showed an adult man starting the fire on Hopkins Street near the Moore Street Bridge.
According to the MCSO, Johnson was on “active, felony probation for an attempted robbery charge” at the time of his arson arrest, and was booked into Mendocino County Jail on suspicion of “three separate charges of arson: aggravated arson (multiple structures), arson of an inhabited structure, and arson during a state of emergency.”
Local photographer Peter Armstrong, who was on the Moore Street Bridge taking pictures shortly after the Hopkins Fire began, likely captured Johnson standing on the bridge, watching the fire.
HELP WANTED at Digging Dog Nursery
Busy National mail-order Nursery in Albion is seeking a part-time person for general office duties, data entry, and customer communications. Proficient telephone, typing & computer skills a must. Part time, pay based on experience. Send resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org
A GREAT MAP DISCOVERY!
Historian Katy Tahja over in Comptche wants map lovers to know she just made a new discovery. It’s the Mendocino National Forest Atlas, 7.5 inch quad (one inch to the mile) topographic maps of the forest, spiral bound on slick paper, 48 of them. What a great invention! No more gigantic maps spread over half your front seat as you bounce down a road trying to find the trailhead for Thomes Gorge west of Newville. The atlas is a neat magazine format easy to use. It came out in 2016. I found mine at Book Juggler in Willits and they are not cheap. I paid $29.95 for mine. I would hope they are for sale at all MNF offices and stations, and a local independent book store could order one for you.
WONDERFUL & UNIQUE HOSPICE SERVICES
To the Editor:
Recently I wrote a letter encouraging the community to seek Hospice care well before the final days of life. We can do so much more if we are involved sooner.
However, the Board of Directors of Hospice of Ukiah received a letter complaining that I didn’t refer people to Adventist Hospice as an alternative. I apologize that I didn’t mention the fact that I did exactly that. The response I received was that Adventist Hospice wasn’t taking patients at that time. Whether they were oversubscribed or, like us, had lost staff and had others out with illness, we do not know. Our waiting list is a result of a great community need coupled with these problems.
We work in tandem with the Medicare and Insurance Hospice and Palliative providers in our county. We take referrals from them and refer people to them when appropriate. We have maintained a friendly cooperation over the years. I apologize that this was not clear in my letter.
My single minded aim was to encourage people to seek Hospice care before the final days of life.
We can accept people with serious, ongoing, debilitating illness when a Medicare or other insurance funded Hospice may not be able to.
Since the letter writer did not provide a name or address, I hope this will help them to understand our wonderful and unique Hospice services.
Janet M. Denninger, Administrator
Hospice of Ukiah
UKIAH ON THE MOVE, SAGE SAYS
On behalf of the City of Ukiah, I am pleased to wish you a happy New Year. As we reflect on the past year, there is a lot to be proud of in the City of Ukiah. The City is busy at work building, reinforcing, and expanding on the foundations that make our community a great place to live, work, invest, and visit.
We are investing wisely in community priorities in a way that benefits Ukiah today AND positions us well for the future. I am proud to be part of a team of dedicated, talented staff, and to work closely with the City Council that shares common goals and passion for our community. Here are a few of our achievements from the past year, and our priorities for moving forward into 2023.
We are Responding Responsibly to water challenges, keeping our community resilient against drought.
Our City’s work to put into place “Structural Conservation” methods, such as our investment in the recycled water facility, allowed us to scale up and down water efficiency tools as needed. This greatly reduced the need for individual families to enact harsh cutbacks like those of our surrounding communities.
As other cities around the state faced serious shortages, not only did Ukiah avoid State-mandated water cutbacks, but we also utilized our expertise to lead the way in developing a Water Sharing Agreement with the State Water Board. This ground-breaking agreement was touted as a model for regional cooperation, and made the Ukiah Valley better prepared to work together in addressing supply shortages.
In 2023, we will build upon this work. We will continue to demonstrate leadership and position our community to handle whatever hydrological challenges the year presents.
We are making progress on environmental initiatives.
We recognize the significance of the global climate emergency and are taking concrete steps to do our part. In June 2022, the Ukiah City Council unanimously voted to approve a resolution endorsing the declaration of a climate emergency and issuing a call to action to restore a safe climate — joining the County of Mendocino and 2,104 jurisdictions that have passed similar declarations. We are grateful for the work of Climate Action Mendocino for being the tip of the spear on this effort.
We have successfully delivered significant street improvements.
Across the city, we have been implementing major street improvements, making it safer to travel by foot, car, or bike. Our approach has been to invest in holistic improvements that will stand the test of time, rather than implement a patchwork of short-term fixes. Streets that were reconstructed include Dora from Luce to Grove and from Beacon to Washington, State Street from Beacon to Cherry, Grove Avenue from Dora to Bush, Bush from Walnut to Grove, and a large number of streets that were slurry sealed.
Included in this effort was a complete rebuilding of Dora Street from Mill Street to Grove Avenue with new water and sewer infrastructure underground that will last generations.
These improvements were made possible because the City was in a strong financial position and able to secure bond funding. For example, through Measure Y, the City is able to leverage bond funds with matching grants from Caltrans to do major projects.
In 2023, our philosophy of prudent fiscal management and leveraging of responsible financial mechanisms such as Measure Y will continue to allow us to plan ahead, make improvements, and make our City a better place to traverse.
We are prioritizing and promoting strategies that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We understand that we have a unique responsibility as a city to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. As such, in January, we published our Equity Action Plan, which identifies and establishes equity objectives and goals, specific steps, and measurable indicators for each goal.
The City invested in a new website that is more accessible to those with disabilities. The website also includes a feature that seamlessly translates all of our content for non-English-speaking visitors.
The City negotiated new contracts with our seven labor union partners that includes giving financial incentives for employees who are bilingual in Spanish and American Sign Language.
In 2023, we will continue these efforts through the leadership of our Diversity and Equity Committee which serves as a steadfast champion for DEI-related initiatives, ensuring our diverse groups are represented, engaged, and heard.
We have updated the General Plan, setting Ukiah on a path of prosperity.
The City of Ukiah is pleased to announce the adoption of the 2040 General Plan, a long-range plan that guides decision-making and establishes rules and standards for new development and city improvements. It reflects the community’s vision for the future and is intended to provide direction through the year 2040. The 2040 General Plan process, which began in Spring 2019, included several community engagement events where community input was solicited to help guide the future of the City.
We are expanding child care and community recreation options:
The City has greatly expanded access to sports, classes and activities run by the Parks & Recreation Department. Check out our for information on all the upcoming fun!
The City has partnered with Ukiah Unified School District to increase capacity and improve the activities offered for their After School Education and Safety (ASES) Programs at five Elementary School sites (Oak Manor, Yokayo, Nokomis, Frank Zeek and Calpella). The City employees about 150 young adults in this program.
We have implemented fire mitigation measures that will protect our community against increasingly threatening fire seasons.
Along with the beauty provided by our valley’s rolling hills and abundance of trees comes the annual threat of wildfires. As a result of proactive actions, wise allocation of resources, and a strong network of collaboration, the Ukiah Valley is more prepared than ever to protect our region from the increasing threat of wildfires.
The City acquired open space in the western hills through a combination of purchases, trades, transfers, and donations. The land is important for fire mitigation and water supply planning.
Ukiah also secured grant funding from FEMA to do utility undergrounding and fire mitigation work in high risk areas.
Protecting public safety remains a top priority.
We are using technology to fight crime. License plate scanning cameras have been installed at entryways to the city. The cameras integrate into a network of crime-fighting software and databases that help resolve Amber Alerts, recover stolen or vehicles otherwise flagged by law enforcement.
We are rebuilding leadership at the Ukiah Police Department. Ukiah has engaged a professional recruitment firm to help fill the role of Police Chief. This has included a process to conduct stakeholder interviews and gather input from the community to help inform the candidate profile. The recruitment process is underway, and we expect the position to be filled in the first quarter of 2023.
We have also improved emergency response. The Ukiah Valley Fire Authority has increased staffing and resources to improve emergency medical response within city limits which has resulted in lower response times for residents.
We have implemented a user-friendly interface to connect residents with their utility provider.
The City rolled out a new system for billing and has been working with customers to answer questions about the new format. The utility payment website has been updated to provide more information and interactive explanations about what labels and charges are reflected on customer bills. The new system replaces outdated technology, offers an easier way for customers to make payments, and provides more transparency.
We are extending the Rail Trail, creating more outdoor space for Ukiah residents to recreate.
Through 2023, the City worked through extensive state review processes and secured grant funding. By virtue of this secured funding, we are now in a position to begin constructing one more mile of Class 1 bike trail parallel to the existing abandoned railroad.
We have completed a Municipal Service Review (MSR).
Although this is a government administrative task, it is hugely important for planning how the City serves the community most effectively. Updating the MSR is mandated by the Mendocino Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) and is an essential part of good governance so that we can show where the City provides services and how, and positions us for growth in the future.
Generally, we are prioritizing initiatives that improve our residents’ quality of life.
The 2022 Pumpkinfest was a clear demonstration of why it’s so great to be here. In 2023, we will continue to support community events that bring our community closer together.
We are fortunate to be home to the Grace Hudson Museum, which this year acquired 16 Grace Hudson paintings. The Grace Hudson Museum continues to be valuable institution which promotes the culture of the Ukiah Valley.
This community is special. It has been incredible to see us bounce back from pandemic challenges and make meaningful progress on key city priorities.
We are working well with regional partners, like the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority, Sanitation District, and regional water agencies. That allows the entire region to improve efficiencies, ensure the reliable and affordable delivery of municipal services, and continue to strengthen the foundations that support work and play.
We are keeping the lights on with an increasing reliance on sustainable energy sources; we are keeping the water flowing while doing our part with structural conservation measures; we are taking steps in advance to reduce the risk of fire or service disruption; we are rebuilding infrastructure with a focus on long term efficiency, all while providing affordable, reliable, high quality local services.
At the same time, our quality of life locally is something to be protected, celebrated, and continuously prioritized.
The City of Ukiah is here to serve YOU. We invite your engagement, and welcome your feedback at any time.
Sage Sangiacomo, Ukiah City Manager
OHV TRAIL SYSTEM CLOSED DUE TO STORM DAMAGE
WILLOWS, Calif., Jan. 27, 2023 — Mendocino National Forest officials are closing all National Forest System trails designated for off-highway vehicle (OHV) use as well as the Deer Valley campground. On the Grindstone District, the trail closure is in effect from Jan. 27 through Mar. 1, 2023, per Forest Order 08-23-01. On the Upper Lake Ranger District, the trail and campground closure is in effect from Jan. 27 through June 30, 2023, per Forest Order 08-23-02. This measure is taken to ensure the health and safety of the public, protect the trails and campgrounds, and prevent further resource damage. “Right now the OHV trails are unsafe to use.
The winter storms in December and January caused extensive damage to our roads and trails,” said Forest Supervisor Wade McMaster. “If an accident happened on one of the trails, we would not be able to get emergency vehicles into the area for a search and rescue due to landslides and downed trees.”
A series of strong storms occurred across California starting late last year (nine major atmospheric rivers occurred between December 26 and January 16, 2023), resulting in damage to Forest Service infrastructure. Wind and rainfall caused landslides on two forest roads, and forest staff could identify additional road damage as storm assessment continues. On the Upper Lake Ranger District, rain gauges recorded over 27 inches of precipitation in less than four weeks.
At the High Glade Lookout, the weather station recorded sustained winds of 50 mph and gusts of 89 mph. These high winds brought down large numbers of both dead and living trees across trails. In the Deer Valley Campground, uprooted trees have created hazardous stump holes and damaged infrastructure (i.e., picnic tables, grills and bathrooms).
Downed trees and stump holes present hazards to user safety and make travel impossible without venturing outside of the trail bed. One of the indirect effects of riding around obstacles across trails is increased damage to soil resources. Fire-damaged trees are expected to fall in the immediate future since saturated soils may no longer be able to support the weight of the trees. Future storms and snowmelt may cause additional damage to roads and trails.
“My first priority is employee and visitor safety, especially given the hazards we face in a postfire landscape,” said McMaster. “The district rangers and recreation program managers have been actively working to restore safe, sustainable access to campgrounds and trails. I also want to commend our committed volunteers who have stepped up to help with storm damage assessments.”
Forest orders and updates can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/mendocino/alerts-notices
The Mendocino National Forest consists of 913,306 acres along northern California’s coastal range. The forest includes the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, four designated wilderness areas, two designated wild and scenic rivers, Red Bluff Recreation Area, and the Chico Seed Orchard. Headquartered in Willows, the forest maintains district offices in the communities of Covelo and Upper Lake. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.
Mendocino National Forest | 825 N. Humboldt Ave, Willows, CA 95988
MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2023 SEASON
by Francisco Salazar
California’s Mendocino Music Festival has announced its 2023 season.
For the purposes of this article, our focus will be solely on vocal performances.
The Ravel Chamber Music Series Program 1 will showcase musicians Susan Waterfall, Daniel Lockert, Carolyn Steinbuck, Keisuke Nakagoshi, Jenny Matteuci, Sam Weiser, and Evan Kahn. The program will include “Pavane pour une infante défunte,” “Oiseaux tristes,” “Une barque sur le océan,” “Cinq mélodies populaires grecques,” “Ma mère l’Oye,” “Mother Goose Suite,” and the Piano Trio in A minor. (Performance Date: July 17 & 18, 2023)
Mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur will perform Ravel Histoires Naturelles. (Performance Date: July 19, 2023)
Mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur will perform “Ravel Histoires Naturelles.” (Performance Date: July 20, 2023)
Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” will be presented in concert version with Ryan Murray conducting. (Performance Date: July 21, 2023)
The Ravel Chamber Music Series Program 2 will star Susan Waterfall, Daniel Lockert, Carlolyn Stinebuck, Sylvie Jensen, Mindy Rosenfeld, Eric Kritz, Tammie Dyer, Marcia Lotter, Susan Freier, Janet Witharm, Anna Marie Mendietta, Stephen Harrison, and Jeremy Preston. The program will include Sonatine, Deux melodies Hebraique, Introduction et Allegro , Chansons Madécasses, and Violin Sonata No. 2 in G Major. (Performance Date: July 24 & 25, 2023)
Alicia Olatuja performs a program of music by Ravel. (Performance Date: July 27, 2023)
The Festival Orchestra and Chorus will be conducted by Allan Pollack with soloists Sylvie Jensen and Angela Moser, and baritone Anders Froehlich. The concert will include Maurice Ravel’s Shéhérazade song cycle and Daphnis and Chloe Suite #2 as well as Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem. (Performance Date: July 29, 2023)
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, January 27, 2023
BRYCE CARLILE JR., Willits. Tear gas, suspended license, probation revocation.
JEREMY ELENNISS, Willits. DUI with blood-alcohol over 0.15%, probation revocation.
SADI GRAVLEE, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ARON HERNANDEZ, Fort Bragg. Resisting, probation revocation.
LAWRENCE LAWSON, Covelo. County parole violation.
BUCK LEGGETT, Willits. County parole violation.
CODY MARTIN, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
BRIAN WANHALA, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
Warm spiritual greetings on a sunny January 27th in Ukiah, California. Yesterday’s miserable fever and lack of energy, plus a sore throat with dry hacking, subsided, and after hours and hours of lying in the Building Bridges homeless shelter’s assigned bed, managed to get to a hot shower this morning, and walk to the Plowshares Peace & Justice Center for a free sumptuous full meal. Then rode a bus to the Ukiah Public Library, conserving energy for the eventual walk back to the shelter.
In the midst of the ongoing global total blowout of this earthly civilization, it is of extreme importance to identify with that which is the source of everything. Indeed, we are not these bodies and we are not these minds. What we are, is something else, variously called “the eternal witness”, “the Immortal Self”, this or that consciousness, etcetera. As the earthly global situation worsens, particularly 1.ecological, 2.economic, and 3.war, it is vital to know that the real you is not affected by anything at all. Ever!
Please note that much of yesterday was spent in the recitation of Catholic prayers, in order to ameliorate the pain and discomfort of the visiting malady. Nota Bene: Religion needs to be applied, as it is the ultimate spiritual medicine. And after silently reciting Catholic prayers, plus having a casual conversation with Jesus Christ (a prayer method advocated by the late Cardinal Hickey of Washington, D.C.) the corner was turned on the miserable physical situation. This is a very practical way to have Bliss Divine in the midst of the earthly total blowout. Again, religions are medicine. Apply appropriately. Thank you for listening. OM Shanthi
Craig Louis Stehr
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio show all night tonight! Another odd one.
Deadline to email your writing for tonight’s (Friday night’s) MOTA show is about 7pm. If you can’t make that, send it whenever it’s done and I’ll read it on the radio next week. Next week is fine. Do as you please, it’s a free country, or so they say.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is normally every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via KNYO.org. Also the schedule is there for KNYO’s many other even more terrific shows.
But tonight, like a month ago and last week, MOTA will phantom-start around 8:35 with Heart of a Dog, an hour-long story told by Laurie Anderson, because I have to go get Juanita from work, tonight they have her on until a little after 9pm and it’s a 50 minute round trip, plus or minus. So the regular beginning of MOTA with the theme song and everything will be at 9:40 when we get back, and will run till the usual 5am. I happen to think everything by Laurie Anderson is equally good with just the sound, but you can watch Heart of a Dog on YouTube for free anytime. It’s about Laurie Anderson’s life, key elements of her childhood, her relationship with her mother, a little about her husband Lou Reed’s harrowing but philosophical last months of dying of liver disease, and all of it revolves around her little dog Lolabelle, who ties the whole story together.
Any day or night you can go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week’s MOTA show. By Saturday night I’ll put the recording of tonight’s show there. And besides all that, there you’ll find a hatful of educational porridge to stir for yourself until showtime, or any time, such as:
The corset x-rays of Dr Ludovic O’Followell. This should scare smart kids off of corsets for awhile, if just telling them they’ll permanently painfully louse up their ribs doesn’t do the trick. https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/the-corset-x-rays-of-dr-ludovic-o-followell-1908
Riding on a giant radio telescope, which shares some apparently elements of its construction with a corset, I see now. A corset for radio waves from outer space. https://theawesomer.com/riding-on-a-radio-telescope/695215/
And clearly nobody involved in this story has read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, because there is a fourth-dimensional solution to the very problem. And no, it’s not to go back in time to when there was no house there and drop the couch from a crane at the same moment as bringing the crane and couch back to the present day, one outside the house and one inside, upstairs, with a /thump/. It’s rather a simple four-dimensional topography problem. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-64353190
Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
MITCH CLOGG: Who was Tyre Nichols?
Mr. Nichols worked the second shift at a FedEx facility, the shipping company that is a major employer and corporate presence in Memphis. Every evening, around 7 p.m., he would return to his mother’s house for his “lunch” break, according to his family. He had worked there for roughly nine months.
He had a 4-year-old son. He went to the same Starbucks most mornings around 8:30 a.m., his mother said. He often went to Shelby Farms, a sprawling public park just outside Memphis. He photographed sunsets and skateboarded, a passion that he had had since he was 6 — one his stepfather thought he was too old for. “You’ve got to put that skateboard down,” Mr. Wells remembered telling Mr. Nichols not long before he died. “You’ve got a full-time job now.”
His mother said that Mr. Nichols had her name tattooed on his arm. “That made me proud,” she said. “Most kids don’t put their mom’s name. My son was a beautiful soul.”
According to the family’s lawyers, Mr. Nichols told the officers during the Jan. 7 events that he just wanted to go home, and in what they believed were his final words, he called out for his mother. Her home was about 100 yards from where he was beaten, the lawyers said.
THE UGLIEST THING IN AMERICA is greed, the lust for power and domination, the lunatic ideology of perpetual Growth – with a capital G. ‘Progress’ in our nation has for too long been confused with ‘Growth’; I see the two as different, almost incompatible, since progress means, or should mean, change for the better–toward social justice, a livable and open world, equal opportunity and affirmative action for all forms of life. And I mean all forms, not merely the human. The grizzly, the wolf, the rattlesnake, the condor, the coyote, the crocodile, whatever, each and every species has as much right to be here as we do.
— Edward Abbey, Postcards from Edge
by Jonah Raskin
Chances are if you read or hear news about Mexico you’ll conclude that it’s a nation of endless, senseless violence. You probably don’t hear about Mexican civility which far out distances San Francisco civility which is practically non existent. It doesn’t take much civility to outdistance SF in that regard. I recently returned to The City after 10 days in Guanajuato, Mexico where I got tired of hearing and saying “buen dia,” “gracias,” “por favor” and “de nada.” Just leave me alone, don’t bother me and don’t talk to me, I told myself. That’s the North American way. But now that I’m back in The City I wish there was more civility than there is. I wish strangers would say “hello,” “thank you” and “it’s no biggie.”
Mind you, I have not been a big fan of civility. For ages, I thought civility was overrated and a vestige of bourgeois society that has refused to die a quiet death. Also, mind you I was in a small city in Mexico built in a box canyon with no super highways running through it. Time slows down in the city of Guanajuato, the capital of the state of Guanajuato. The citizens walk uphill and downhill all day long, and when needed take taxis that have no choice but to move slowly along streets that zig and zag and meander through subterranean passageways. The City is a prisoner of its own past and with a small island at its heart called “La Jardin,” “The Garden,” plus small plazas that punctuate the map that’s anything but a grid.
Guanajuato civility might be a relic of the past that goes back to the days of feudalism with masters and serfs. Still, the civility seems unlikely to go away, much as the churches, and the Mexican version of Catholicism are unlikely to go away. When Mexicans come to the US they usually don’t lose their Spanish and they usually don’t lose their civility, either.
This morning walking uphill on a sidewalk to catch a bus, I noticed six Latino workmen sitting on the ground and eating lunch. I wondered what would happen if I said “buen dia.” Sure enough they replied, “buen dia,” and wanted to talk to me about walking in The City. Unlike them, I had a bus to catch and didn’t stay to converse. They were in their culture. I was in mine, where a meter is always running and where buses have schedules to keep. In Guanajuato, the taxis have no meters, the buses arrive and depart when the driver is ready and it’s always time to stop and talk and say, “gracias.”
My friend Jorge, who has just returned from Spain, tells me that civility is the norm there. “When you go to a café for coffee, even if you’ve been there before just once, they recognize you and welcome you,” he said. In San Francisco, where everyone’s a stranger in a strange land, that’s too much to expect.
49ERS’ GEORGE KITTLE KEEPS THINGS LOOSE AMID RISING PLAYOFF TENSION
by Ron Kroichick
No Fun League? Not for George Kittle.
Long before the San Francisco 49ers dispatched Dallas in the divisional round — with Kittle arm-dancing to celebrate an opponent’s penalty, mugging for the camera and high-fiving fans on an impromptu victory lap — he eternally committed to maximum fun. So he won’t change just because he plays in the buttoned-up NFL, or because the 49ers find themselves in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia.
His parents, Bruce Kittle and Jan Krieger, chuckled knowingly after watching their son’s exuberance against the Cowboys. They’ve seen similar displays more than a few times over the past 29-plus years.
Once, when George was 4 or 5 and attending a University of Wisconsin game (the family lived in Madison at the time), the band started playing and he instinctively began dancing in the aisle. Other spectators loved it so much, they threw quarters to him.
“That’s the first time I thought there was something different about this kid,” Krieger said.
Or take the eighth-grade football game for Northwest Junior High outside Iowa City. Bruce Kittle coached the team, which held a comfortable lead in the closing minutes. He told his son, playing safety with mostly backups around him, not to run the ball back if he snagged an interception.
Then the pass floated through the air and young, teenage George couldn’t resist.
“They threw a deep ball and it was like Christmas,” Bruce Kittle said. “He nabs that thing, runs to the sideline and gives me this devilish smile as he runs right past on a 75-yard return.”
All these years later, George Kittle’s animated demeanor remains intact. He’s obviously a vital cog in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, a ferocious run blocker who had 60 catches this season (including a career-high 11 for touchdowns) and became rookie quarterback Brock Purdy’s favorite target.
But Kittle also adds value in other ways. As the tension and scrutiny rise deep in the playoffs, with a spot in the Super Bowl tantalizingly close, Kittle’s big personality helps keep his teammates loose.
That matters in a league known to take itself far too seriously. This is the NFL, after all, where coaching staffs take pride in 20-hour workdays and fans dissect nearly every play call and roster move with world-shaking urgency.
Kittle takes his job seriously, to hear his 49ers teammates tell it, but he also stays true to himself no matter how big the stage.
“There’s obviously a lot on the line, a lot of money involved in the work we do, but at the same time you’ve still got to have fun with it,” center Jake Brendel said. “George does a great job of keeping things light.”
Last Sunday, during the 19-12 victory over the Cowboys, Brendel noticed when Kittle memorably made goofy faces at the Sky Cam, the roving camera attached to a wire above the field. That happened during a pivotal point in the second half, with the 49ers and Cowboys locked in a taut duel.
What the cameras didn’t catch, Brendel said: Moments earlier, Kittle spoke up in the huddle and forcefully reminded his teammates to focus on their assignments. Then, during a break in the action, he momentarily acted like a 10-year-old.
Kittle heard about it in a text from one of his college coaches, who good-naturedly called him a fool. Kittle responded, “Man, you’ve seen that from me since I was 18, so you know exactly where it’s coming from.”
For what it’s worth, Kittle seemed a bit more serious than usual during his brief press conference Thursday, with the NFC title game only three days away. Not the usual wide smile or lively jokes.
He also acknowledged there’s a purpose to the free-spirited way he goes about his business, especially at this time of year.
“That’s how I find football to be at its easiest,” Kittle said. “I think when everyone is running around and you can sense anxiety and stress, that just comes with the level we’re playing at right now, being in the NFL. It comes with 45 million-plus viewers watching on TV.
“If you start thinking about it like that, yeah, it’s really big and you think, ‘What am I doing out here?’ I don’t want anyone on my team to feel like that, because they’ve been playing football their entire life. They know what they’re doing. They’re out here for a reason.”
Kittle comes from an uber-athletic family, stretching beyond his dad’s background as an offensive lineman at Iowa (also George’s alma mater). His mom was inducted into two Iowa Halls of Fame (basketball and softball) for her high school exploits, played both sports at Drake and still holds several of the school’s basketball records.
George’s sister, Emma, was a two-sport standout in high school (basketball and volleyball) who later played volleyball at Iowa and Oklahoma. George and Emma, who is three years older, always have been close. She helps him with yoga, stretching and mindfulness exercises to this day.
Emma is even more of a free spirit than her brother, according to the parents, though George’s “joker persona,” in his dad’s words, is more on public display.
“I think he’s done a great job not letting cultural expectations or the NFL set limits for him,” Bruce Kittle said. “He sees beyond that and he is who he wants to be.”
His teammates appreciate that. The 49ers’ offensive linemen hold an annual dinner, and this season they invited the tight ends as their “honorary guests,” according to Brendel.
Asked if Kittle provided entertainment at the dinner, Brendel smiled.
“I mean, he’s Kittle, right?” Brendel said. “There’s never a dull moment with George.”
PAUL PELOSI VIDEO: DRAMATIC POLICE BODY-CAM FOOTAGE OF ATTACK
by Annie Vainshtein, Rachel Swan, Dustin Gardiner & Shira Stein
Law enforcement officials on Friday released a trove of audio and video recordings capturing what happened before and after Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, was attacked with a hammer at the couple’s San Francisco home in October.
The recordings expose the brutality and senselessness of the violence, reveal details about Paul Pelosi’s efforts to summon help, and raise questions about whether San Francisco police could have done more to intervene. They also lay bare the viciousness of moves by right-wing activists and media outlets to spread false and often homophobic claims about what happened.
A video from a body camera worn by San Francisco police Officer Kolby Wilmes shows him and Officer Kyle Cagney knocking on the door of the Pelosi’s stately, three-story home in Pacific Heights. There is no indication they understood he was the husband of the then-U.S. House Speaker. However, Paul Pelosi earlier identified himself multiple times to the 911 dispatcher who received his emergency call.
The footage shows that Paul Pelosi opened the door. Just feet from the doorway, DePape and Pelosi stood side-by-side, each with hands on a hammer.
An officer responded, “What’s going on, man?”
“Everything’s good,” DePape said.
“Drop the hammer!” an officer ordered.
“Um, nope,” DePape responded.
DePape then wrestled the hammer out of Pelosi’s right hand and struck him hard on the head, knocking him out as the officers rushed in to tackle DePape.
The dramatic recordings were made public two days after San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen Murphy ordered their release.
Murphy sided with a consortium of media outlets, including The San Francisco Chronicle, that argued police body-camera footage, surveillance videos and 911 audio from the incident should be widely accessible, given the intense public interest in the case and the significance of the attack.
Depape, 42, has pleaded not guilty to six state charges brought by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, including attempted murder, and faces additional charges in a parallel proceeding in federal court. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Adam Lipson, DePape’s attorney, opposed the release of the recordings, arguing their dissemination would prejudice potential jurors and prevent his client from getting a fair trial. The District Attorney’s Office also raised concerns about making the recordings public.
Lipson told the judge he feared people would digitally manipulate the recordings. He also argued that the release of the recordings would fuel more unfounded conspiracy theories about the attack, which have proliferated on social media and conservative news outlets.
The judge said such concerns were not compelling enough to withhold the recordings.
Baseless conspiracy theories spread almost immediately after the attack. Right-wing media figures and politicians claimed DePape was attempting to break out of the Pelosi home and that Pelosi was drunk and in a fight with a male prostitute, among others.
Those theories were spread by former President Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin made a comment about sending Nancy Pelosi “back to be with him in California,” which he later apologized for.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins dismissed the conspiracy theories just days after the attack. The attack on Paul Pelosi led to additional protections for House speakers after they leave office. Both state and local lawmakers have faced increased threats and violence in recent years.
DePape stands accused of breaking into the Pelosi’s home just after 2 a.m. on Oct. 28 with the intention to kidnap and interrogate Nancy Pelosi.
Nancy Pelosi’s office declined to comment on the release of the recordings Friday morning.
A native of Canada, DePape had struggled with mental illness, people who knew him have told The Chronicle. In recent years, he had become consumed with far-right politics and conspiracy theories, and he posted bigoted rants on personal websites that appeared to have no audience.
Capitol Police surveillance camera footage also shows the moments just before DePape breaks into the Pelosi home. DePape is seen walking around the Pelosi residence and peering into the window. In the final moments of the surveillance footage, DePape is seen tucking what appears to be a hammer into his armpit, and then putting on what appear to be gloves. Then, he vigorously beats the glass with the apparent hammer at least a dozen times. Finally, he kicks the door in and climbs in.
He then found Paul Pelosi asleep in his bedroom, city prosecutors said in a court filing. DePape allegedly gripped the hammer in his right hand, and white plastic zip ties in his left, as he asked, “Where’s Nancy?”
Paul Pelosi soon made a surreptitious 911 call from his bathroom.
The full-length recording of the 911 call, also released Friday, captures a harrowing exchange between Pelosi and a dispatcher, in which he made several attempts to convey his fear about the intruder in his home.
It also makes clear that Pelosi identified himself as the husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi within seconds of calling 911.
The nearly 3-minute call began with Pelosi alerting the dispatcher that there was a “gentleman here waiting for my wife to come back, Nancy Pelosi.” The dispatcher asked him if he needed police, fire or medical assistance, to which Pelosi demurred. But he asked if U.S. Capitol Police officers were around.
“Is the Capitol Police around? They’re usually here at the house protecting my wife,” Pelosi said.
“No, this is San Francisco Police,” the dispatcher said.
After a brief, mostly inaudible exchange with DePape, Pelosi told the dispatcher that the man in his home “thinks everything’s good.”
“I got a problem, but he thinks everything’s good. This gentleman just came into the house and he wants to wait here for my wife to come home,” Pelosi said.
The dispatcher then asked Pelosi if he knew who the man was. Pelosi responded that he did not, and that the man was telling him “not to do anything.”
The 911 dispatcher followed by asking Pelosi for his address, and then his name.
“Anyway, this guy says that he thinks … he’s telling me to put the phone down and just do what he says,” Pelosi said.
The dispatcher then asked Pelosi what the intruder’s name was, and the intruder himself responded.
“My name’s David,” said DePape, adding later that he was a “friend of theirs.”
The call ended with the dispatcher asking again if Pelosi knew who DePape was, to which he said he did not.
“He’s telling me I’m being very lazy, so I got to stop talking with you. No, he wants me to get the hell off the phone.”
Officers Wilmes and Cagney were dispatched to the home after the call. The body-camera video released Friday shows what happened after the officers pulled up.
During the first 19 seconds of the footage, the officers walked up the brick pathway to the house. “I definitely don’t want all of you,” Wilmes said, twice, before knocking on the front door. It’s not clear what he was referring to.
He turned around and surveyed the dark block, where a street lamp gleamed through tree branches, while a voice asked, “Are you sure this is the one?”
“Yeah,” Wilmes said.
Thirty-nine seconds into the video, the door opened, and the officers found themselves a few feet from two men standing in a carpeted hallway. Paul Pelosi was barefoot and wore a pajama top over boxers, while DePape wore shorts, sneakers, a sweatshirt and a ponytail.
Roughly 15 seconds passed between the opening of the door buy Pelosi and the overhead hammer blow by DePape.
Just before the attack, as the officers looked on and shined flashlights on the men, DePape wrested the hammer from Pelosi’s right hand. As Pelosi lost his grip, an officer asked, “What is going on right now?” Then DePape raised the weapon over his head and struck Pelosi.
“Whoa, s—!” one of the officers said.
The officers ran into the home and tackled DePape 54 seconds into the video. At that point, Pelosi lay unconscious on the floor. Snoring sounds can be heard.
One minute and 9 seconds into the video, an officer radioed for backup, classifying the incident as a “Code 3” emergency. Seven seconds later, an officer pulled out handcuffs.
“Give me your f— hands!” he yelled, twice.
Following the attack, Pelosi underwent emergency surgery to repair a fractured skull and wounds to his hands and right arm. He spent six days in the hospital before being released home to continue his recovery.
DePape was hospitalized for his own injuries, which he sustained from allegedly slamming his entire body into a glass door to break into the Pelosi home, prosecutors said during the preliminary hearing.
While in custody, he allegedly told a police investigator about breaking into the home, his plans to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage, and his eventual decision to hurt Paul Pelosi. Investigators said they found two hammers, a pair of rubber gloves and a sword at the couple’s home after the attack.
Also released Friday was an audio recording of an 18-minute interview with DePape conducted by a San Francisco police sergeant after his arrest.
DePape spouted a host of unfounded conspiracy theories. He said he targeted the Pelosis because the speaker had unfairly smeared former President Donald Trump with falsehoods. DePape likened the situation to the Watergate scandal, suggesting the Democratic National Committee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi had conspired to spy on his campaign.
“It originates with Hillary, but like Pelosi ran with the lie as much as or more than anyone. Honestly, like, day in, day out, the person who was on the TV lying everyday was Pelosi,” DePape said. “They are criminals. Not only were they spying on a rival campaign. They were submitting fake evidence to spy on a rival campaign, covering it up, persecuting the rival campaign. It’s just like an endless f— crime spree.”
LET’S USE LOS ANGELES since we’re sitting out here. The black population that rioted in Watts in 1965 worked at jobs. There were factories out in South Central, construction work, manual labor. A lot of people moved to California after the war becuase of all these jobs. That sustained places like South Central, Watts, aud Compton for years. As white people moved out, black people moved into some of these areas. Since the seventies, the jobs went away, overseas and to Mexico. So the kinds of jobs that their grandfathers and fathers had disappeared. The crime industry and gangs filled that vacuum. Crack was particularly nefarious because there is such a quick turnover of a dollar. The gang problem in LA and eventually around the country was exacerbated by crack. Gangs were territorial, they controlled certain areas, they became much more aggressive and the size of gun they could afford got bigger. They got more guns, more weapons, the amount of money they could make increased. The stakes got higher and the violence increased because of that.
Gangsta rap, as we know it, comes out of that context. If you go back to ‘Criminal Minded’ by BDP — which was really the first crack album — the crack economy and the mentality fostered by it, was articulated and taken to the next level on record. You can make a good argument that the first few N.W.A. albums are what they call “ghetto reporting.” Other artists came out and did the same thing because there was a lot to say that hadn’t been said. Rappers say the 1992 riots validated them and I agree. It validated everything they said about the conditions, and the fear and interplay between the LAPD and the black community. There are tangible economic conditions that created the world we live in today. The three strikes thing made incarceration easier. It put a lot of people in jail quickly, but when they got out it created a deeper criminal class. Housing juveniles in jail with adults happened frequently. The music is all about these things. For people to act like the music exists in a vacuum is bullshit. Now it’s 15 years later. Hip hop continued to evolve up until the nineties. There were always counter movements — the political stuff, the bohemian De La Soul thing — and all those threads are still around. But the gangster thing became the easily marketable formula. Especially after Tupac and Biggie died.
There are nuances in what Jay-Z does and what 50 Cent does that are different from Tupac and Biggie, but it’s a formula these guys profit from that is easily understandable by the corporations that now run the music. Somebody told me the other day that 70% of the rap market is controlled by one entity, Universal Records. Between Interscope, Atlantic and their divisions, 70% of all hip hop now comes out of that institution.
— Nelson George
OUR REVOLUTION will go down in the annals as the most peaceful ever. Anything less spectacular it would be difficult to imagine. I have to confess, in a funny way, it makes me feel almost a fool. I was right on several counts, on almost all. I was right to insist that we should mount an armed insurrection, that it should be now because delay was fatal, that we should act alone without seeking allies to left or right, that our slogans should be land, bread, but above all, peace. And yet I was wrong in thinking that we would not succeed unless we worked to a detailed plan, using dominating force, at the precise, vulnerable joints of the government. In other words, I have to say I was politically correct but militarily confused.
Imagine a communist uprising seizing control of the capital city of a vast empire in the middle of a war on the 25th of the month. Then finding next morning, the 26th, that the right- wing papers, that is virtually all of them, appear on the breakfast tables of that city without even a paragraph describing the event! It almost defies belief. No wonder many of our opponents, particularly those leftists who regard themselves as extra-orthodox Marxists, put our “revolution” in quotes. It was, they say, a back-stairs putsch, a coup d’état in the inner circle, a matter of a handful of hands swapping over on the levers.
One of the tests is usually blood. Take the Easter Uprising of 1916 in Ireland. It tended to be not just the poets, the mystics, the romantics, but also the proletarian leaders of England’s Poland, even Connolly and Larkin, who crooned on about the terrible beauty of death and martyrdom, the sacred intoxication of slaughter. Indeed, I have often speculated that the present “Great War”—though the fancy is difficult to reconcile with Marxism— was partly precipitated by an appetite for the lanced vein among the feverish, high-pressured, overrich young, a whole generation of the officer class across Europe, without occupation or ambition, for whom death seemed an awfully big adventure.
I have never thirsted after blood, but then, I have never allowed the thought of shedding it to make me flinch. One of the Menshevik objections to a revolution in wartime had been that it must result in “rivers of blood” being spilled. And I replied more than once that no victory is ever won without cost. Our overthrow of the government might spill rivers. This was nothing to the tidal waves of blood daily thrown up by the imperialist war. At least our dead would die to end the butchery, not to prolong and intensify it. I do not withdraw the argument, but it comes as a bit of an anticlimax when I cite October 25 and we all see that the blood is little more than a smear as if the Revolution had cut itself shaving. The “storming of the Winter Palace” has a grandiose and thrilling sound but it was only a minor skirmish—one dead, four wounded, all on our side! In the two days of Revolution, the death toll on both sides was certainly not more than fifteen.
— Lenin, as channeled by Alan Brien
MOVE OVER, JAYSON BLAIR: Meet Hamilton 68, the New King of Media Fraud
The Twitter Files reveal that one of the most common news sources of the Trump era was a scam, making ordinary American political conversations look like Russian spywork.
by Matt Taibbi
Ambitious media frauds Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair crippled the reputations of the New Republicand New York Times, respectively, by slipping years of invented news stories into their pages. Thanks to the Twitter Files, we can welcome a new member to their infamous club: Hamilton 68.
If one goes by volume alone, this oft-cited neoliberal think-tank that spawned hundreds of fraudulent headlines and TV news segments may go down as the single greatest case of media fabulism in American history. Virtually every major news organization in America is implicated, including NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Timesand the Washington Post. Mother Jonesalone did at least 14 stories pegged to the group’s “research.” Even fact-checking sites like Politifactand Snopescited Hamilton 68 as sources.
Hamilton 68 was and is a computerized “dashboard” designed to be used by reporters and academics to measure “Russian disinformation.” It was the brainchild of former FBI agent (and current MSNBC “disinformation expert”) Clint Watts, and backed by the German Marshall Fund and the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan think-tank. The latter’s advisory panel includes former acting CIA chief Michael Morell, former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, former Hillary for America chair John Podesta, and onetime Weekly Standardeditor Bill Kristol.
The Twitter Files expose Hamilton 68 as a sham:
The secret ingredient in Hamilton 68’s analytic method was a list of 644 accounts supposedly linked “to Russian influence activities online.” It was hidden from the public, but Twitter was in a unique position to recreate Hamilton’s sample by analyzing its Application Program Interface (API) requests, which is how they first “reverse-engineered” Hamilton’s list in late 2017.
The company was concerned enough about the proliferation of news stories linked to Hamilton 68 that it also ordered a forensic analysis. Note the second page below lists many of the different types of shadow-banning techniques that existed at Twitter even in 2017, buttressing the “Twitter’s Secret Blacklist” thread by Bari Weiss last month. Here you see categories ranging from “Trends Blacklist” to “Search Blacklist” to “NSFW High Precision.” Twitter was checking to see how many of Hamilton’s accounts were spammy, phony, or bot-like. Note that out of 644 accounts, just 36 were registered in Russia, and many of those were associated with RT.
Examining further, Twitter execs were shocked. The accounts Hamilton 68 claimed were linked to “Russian influence activities online” were not only overwhelmingly English-language (86%), but mostly “legitimate people,” largely in the U.S., Canada, and Britain. Grasping right away that Twitter might be implicated in a moral outrage, they wrote that these account-holders “need to know they’ve been unilaterally labeled Russian stooges without evidence or recourse.”
Other comments in internal company emails:
“These accounts are neither strongly Russian nor strongly bots.”
“No evidence to support the statement that the dashboard is a finger on the pulse of Russian information ops.”
“Hardly evidence of a massive influence campaign.”
Declared Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth: “I think we need to just call this out on the bullshit it is.”
The two founders of Hamilton 68, the blue-and-red team of former counselor to Marco Rubio Jamie Fly and Hillary for America Foreign Policy Advisor Laura Rosenberger, told Politicothey couldn’t reveal the names of the accounts because “the Russians will simply shut them down.” Tchya, right. One look at the list reveals the real reason they couldn’t make it public.
This was not faulty science. It was a scam. Instead of tracking how “Russia” influenced American attitudes, Hamilton 68 simply collected a handful of mostly real, mostly American accounts, and described their organic conversations as Russian scheming. As Roth put it, “Virtually any conclusion drawn from [the dashboard] will take conversations in conservative circles on Twitter and accuse them of being Russian.”
There were three major classes of account on the Hamilton list: a thin layer of obvious Russians (e.g. https://twitter.com/RT_America), then the larger pile of real people from Western countries, followed by a percentage — somewhere between a fifth and a third — of “low user state,” “near dead,” “spammy” accounts that didn’t accumulate followers and “do not have a very wide reach on the platform.” Twitter executives observed that the zombie accounts were not amplifying the real accounts. Instead of, say, a group of Russian accounts boosting Trump messaging, it was the reverse — a bunch of real Trump accounts simulating Hamilton’s assertions about Russians.
“The selection of accounts is… bizarre and seemingly quite arbitrary,” wrote Roth. “They appear to strongly preference pro-Trump accounts (which they use to assert that Russia is expressing a preference for Trump… even though there’s not good evidence any of them are Russian).”
Even Twitter execs were stunned to read who was listed. The names ranged from well-known media figures like David Horowitz to conservatives like Dennis Michael Lynch and progressives like Consortiumeditor Joe Lauria. It’s crucial to understand that the list captured not just Trump supporters but a range of political dissidents, including leftists, anarchists and humorists. Wrote policy chief Nick Pickles, upon seeing the name of British satirist @Holbornlolz:
“A wind-up merchant,” he wrote. “I follow him and wouldn’t say he’s pro-Russian… I can’t even remember him tweeting about Russia.”
These people never knew they were used for years to drive hundreds if not thousands of media headlines about supposed Russian bot infiltration of online discussions: about the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign, the #ReleaseTheMemo affair, the Parkland shooting, Donald Trump’s election, the #WalkAway and #IStandWithLaura hashtags, U.S. missile strikes in Syria, the Bernie Sanders campaign, the “Blexit” movement to peel black voters away from Democrats, calls to fire National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, “attacks” on the Mueller investigation, and countless other issues.
Last week, I began contacting people on the list. Reactions have rested between blind fury (“Motherfuckers!”) and shock (“I am a 73-year-old snowbird in Florida… how could I be a Russian bot?”), with a few noting that the news was outrageous but unsurprising.
“Sadly, I’m not surprised but I am angered that we are once again falsely accused of spreading ‘Russian disinformation,’ this time on Twitter,” said Consortium’sLauria. “Organizations like Hamilton 68 are in business to enforce an official narrative, which means excising inconvenient facts, which they call ‘misinformation.’”
“I’ve written a book about the U.S. Constitution,” says Chicago-based lawyer Dave Shestokas. “How I made a list like this is incredible to me.”
“I’m listed as a foreign bot?” says Lynch. “As a proud taxpaying citizen, charitable family man, and honest son of a US Marine w/a Purple Heart, I’m hurt. I deserve better. We all do!”
As a child, Sonia Monsour lived through civil war in Lebanon, in a town that was taken over by a Christian militia. Her father counseled her then to dispose of some leftist books that they kept at home, so that her political beliefs would not be held against her. Upon being told she was on the Hamilton 68 list, she recalled that childhood story. She moved to the West to get away from such problems.
“Supposedly in a free world, we are being watched at many levels, by what we say online,” she said.
Oregon native Jacob Levich was one of the few people on the list who knew what Hamilton 68 was. “I recall that it was some sort of spooky NGO that was involved in identifying accounts that were thought to be subversive,” he said. Informed he was on their list, he said, “I can tell you that there is absolutely no sense in which I’m subject to any kind of Russian influence.”
Levich went on:
“When I was growing up, my father told me about the McCarthyite blacklist,” he said. “As a child it would never have occurred to me that this would come back, in force and broadly, and in a way designed to undermine rights we hold dear.”
Levich’s tale is at the heart of what is so sinister about the Hamilton 68 campaign. This was digital McCarthyism, taking people with dissident or unconventional opinions and mass-accusing them of “Un-American activities.” The peculiar twist of the Hamilton 68 version of McCarthyism is that instead of targeting leftists (although there are several self-professed left-leaning accounts on the list), the bulk of the real accounts involved conservatives, with handles like ULTRA MAGA Dog Mom and @ClassyLadyForDJT.
Even at Twitter, where there were basically no open conservatives in the email record, it was recognized that Hamilton 68 (and at least two other research institutes using similar methodology) were simply taking organic Trumpish chatter and describing it as Russian scheming.
The site “falsely accuses a bunch of legitimate right-leaning accounts of being Russian bots,” as Roth put it, getting “traction around partisan trends, to assert that any right-leaning content is propagated by Russian bots.”
This was an academic scandal as well, as Harvard, Princeton, Temple, NYU, GWU, and other universities promoted Hamilton 68 as a source. Perhaps most embarrassingly, multiple elected officials promoted the site. Dianne Feinstein, James Lankford, Richard Blumenthal, Adam Schiff, and Mark Warner were among the offenders. Watts, who clearly knew how to play up the melodrama of his role, gave dire warnings to the Senate Intelligence Committee, telling them they should “follow the dead bodies” if they wanted to get to the bottom of the Russian interference problem.
Though it is easy to see how it could be infuriating to be put on such a list — one veteran I spoke with had to leave the room and take a deep breath before coming back to the phone — the broader damage was to society, which was subject to near-daily news reports using this “The Russian Bots Are Coming” format. These stories are still having a huge impact on American culture and politics and played significant roles in the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, placing downward pressure on the Sanders, Trump and Gabbard campaigns while boosting the likes of Joe Biden (frequently depicted as a “target” of Russian bots). In the wake of any online controversy, be it the Colin Kaepernick saga or gun control debates after mass shootings, reporters raced to claim “Russian bots” were trying to “sow division,” often using Hamilton or an outfit like it to bolster their claims.
Worse, the site pioneered a new form of fake news, which reporters at organizations like Mother Jones,the Washington Post,CNNand MSNBC ate up for two reasons. One, they tended to be politically simpatico with the site’s conclusions (the Daily Beastdidn’t need a push to claim Russian bots were pushing Trump flash mobs “in 17 cities”). Two, it was easy content.
“Here’s what Russian trolls are promoting today,” read a piece in Mother Jonesby Kevin Drum, all but announcing that reporters could make headlines as quickly as instant coffee in the Ham68 age.
By early 2018 — perhaps after a talk with Twitter, whose execs pondered the upside of “educating Clint” — Watts was publicly questioning his own methodology, saying, “I’m not convinced on this bot thing.” Not long after, another key figure associated with Hamilton 68, Jonathon Morgan of the “cyber security firm” New Knowledge, was outed for faking a Russian influence operation in the Alabama Senate Race. He used Hamilton-like tactics to create online chatter about Republican Roy Moore having Russian bot support, got caught, and suffered the indignity of having what he called a “small experiment” described as a “false flag” operation in the New York Times.
Even after his “experiment” was outed, and even after Watts expressed doubts about the “bot thing,” the flood of “Here come the bots” news stories continued. News organizations had fallen in love with a new trick: research institute makes invented bot claims, reporters toss said claims at hated targets like Devin Nunes or Tulsi Gabbard, headlines flow. The scam needed just three elements: credentials of someone like “former FBI agent” Watts, the absence of any semblance of fact-checking, and the silence of companies like Twitter.
On the third point, Twitter is not guiltless. Though people like Roth wanted to go hard at the fabulists — “My recommendation at this stage is an ultimatum: you release the list or we do,” he wrote — ultimately people like future White House and National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne advised caution. “We have to be careful in how much we push back on ASD publicly,” she wrote. Carlos Monje, future senior advisor to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, concurred.
“I also have been very frustrated in not calling out Hamilton 68 more publicly, but understand we have to play a longer game here,” Monje decided.
Even if Twitter had pushed back, it wouldn’t have mattered. As it was, when company spokespeople urged reporters off the record to stay away, they didn’t — just as Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal didn’t, when Twitter tried to warn them that “Russian bot” stories were fake. Horne wrote several times that she had no luck in steering journalists away from these hack headlines. “Reporters are chafing,” she wrote, adding, “it’s like shouting into a void.”
I asked for comment from a huge range of actors — from the Alliance for Securing Democracy to Watts and McFaul and Podesta and Kristol to editors and news directors at MSNBC, Politico, Mother Jones, the Washington Post, Politifact,and others. Not one answered. They’re all going to pretend this didn’t happen. The few reporters who got this right contemporaneously, from Glenn Greenwald to Max Blumenthal to Miriam Elder and Charlie Wurzel of Buzzfeed to sites like Moon Over Alabama,can take a victory lap. Almost every other news organization ran these stories and needs to come clean about it.
The Hamilton 68 tale has no clear analog in media history, which may give mainstream media writers an excuse not to cover it. They will be under heavy pressure to avoid addressing this scandal, since nearly all of them work for organizations guilty of spreading Hamilton’s “bullshit” stories in volume.
This is one of the more significant Twitter Files stories. Each one of these tales explains something new about how companies like Twitter came to lose independence. In the U.S., the door was opened for agencies like the FBI and DHS to press on content moderation after Congress harangued Twitter, Facebook, and Google about Russian “interference,” a phenomenon that had to be seen as an ongoing threat in order to require increased surveillance. “I do very much believe America is under attack,” is how Hamilton 68 co-founder Laura Rosenberger put it, after watching the tweets of Sonya Monsour, David Horowitz, and @holbornlolz.
The Hamilton 68 story shows how the illusion of ongoing “Russian interference” worked. The magic trick was generated via a confluence of interests, between think-tanks, media, and government. Before, we could only speculate. Now we know: the “Russian threat” was, in this case at least, just a bunch of ordinary Americans, dressed up to look like a Red Menace. Jayson Blair had a hell of an imagination, but even he couldn’t have come up with a scheme this obscene. Shame on every news outlet that hasn’t renounced these tales.
“Outfits like Hamilton 68 don’t have to agree with us,” says Lauria. “But they should just leave us the hell alone.”
THE AMERICANS DYING BECAUSE THEY CAN’T AFFORD MEDICAL CARE
Millions of Americans – as many as 25% of the population – are delaying getting medical help because of skyrocketing costs
by Michael Sainato
Susan Finley returned to her job at a Walmart retail store in Grand Junction, Colorado, after having to call in sick because she was recovering from pneumonia.
The day she returned, the 53-year-old received her ten year associate award – and was simultaneously laid off, according to her family. She had taken off one day beyond what is permitted by Walmart’s attendance policy.
After losing her job in May 2016, Finley also lost her health insurance coverage and struggled to find a new job. Three months later, Finley was found dead in her apartment after avoiding going to see a doctor for flu-like symptoms.
“My grandparents went by to check on her, and they couldn’t get into her apartment,” her son Cameron Finley told the Guardian. “They got the landlord to open it up, went in and found she had passed away. It came as a complete surprise to everybody. It just came out of nowhere.
“She was barely scraping by and trying not to get evicted. She gets what appears to her as a basic cold or flu, didn’t go to the doctor and risk spending money she didn’t have, and as a consequence she passed away.”
Asked about Finley losing her job, Walmart declined to comment, saying personnel files from 2016 had been moved offsite.
Finley is one of millions of Americans who avoid medical treatment due to the costs every year.
A December 2019 poll conducted by Gallup found 25% of Americans say they or a family member have delayed medical treatment for a serious illness due to the costs of care, and an additional 8% report delaying medical treatment for less serious illnesses. A study conducted by the American Cancer Society in May 2019 found 56% of adults in America report having at least one medical financial hardship, and researchers warned the problem is likely to worsen unless action is taken.
Dr Robin Yabroff, lead author of the American Cancer Society study, said last month’s Gallup poll finding that 25% of Americans were delaying care was “consistent with numerous other studies documenting that many in the United States have trouble paying medical bills”.
US spends the most on healthcare
Despite millions of Americans delaying medical treatment due to the costs, the US still spends the most on healthcare of any developed nation in the world, while covering fewer people and achieving worse overall health outcomes. A 2017 analysis found the United States ranks 24th globally in achieving health goals set by the United Nations. In 2018, $3.65tn was spent on healthcare in the United States, and these costs are projected to grow at an annual rate of 5.5% over the next decade.
High healthcare costs are causing Americans to get sicker from delaying, avoiding, or stopping medical treatment.
Anamaria Markle, of Port Murray, New Jersey was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer in 2017. A clerk for nearly 20 years at the same firm, her family says her employer laid her off after the diagnosis, with one year’s severance and health insurance coverage. When the insurance coverage ended, Markle struggled to pay for coverage through Cobra (a health insurance program for employees who lose their job or have a reduction in work hours), additional expenses, copays (an out-of-pocket, upfront fee for a medical service ), and medical debt not covered by insurance.
Laura Valderrama, Markle’s daughter, said: “It wasn’t financially sustainable to keep paying Cobra out of pocket. On top of the premiums you still have to pay the bills. We kept getting lots of bills for surgeries, chemotherapy, all these treatments, all these bills kept coming in.”
Markle decided to stop receiving medical treatment due to the rising costs and debt, and died in September 2018 at the age of 52.
“My mom was constantly doing the math of treatment costs while she was on the decline,” Valderrama said. “I really miss my mom. She shouldn’t have had to make the decision to stop her treatment based on financial costs.”
Families ‘should not have to make these choices’
A 2009 study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School found 45,000 Americans die every year as a direct result of not having any health insurance coverage. In 2018, 27.8 million Americans went without any health insurance for the entire year.
One of those Americans was the father of Ashley Hudson, who died in 2002 due to an untreated liver disease, an illness that went undiagnosed until a few weeks before his death. It was only discovered when he went to the emergency room because he was unable to afford to see a doctor due to lack of insurance coverage and inability to afford treatment out of pocket.
Now Hudson’s mother, Sue Olvera, who works at McDonald’s and has no insurance coverage, is facing similar cost barriers while struggling with kidney issues and type 2 diabetes.
“She’s had pain for a long time, but she doesn’t usually go to the doctor unless it gets excruciating because she can’t afford to go,” said Ashley Hudson.
The family is trying to raise money via GoFundMe to help cover the costs of Olvera’s surgery to remove kidney stones earlier this year, which Olvera was expecting to be covered under a charity program, but was denied and now is stuck with over $40,000 in medical debt.
Healthcare is one of the most contentious issues surrounding the 2020 presidential election as Democratic candidates battle over policies to expand healthcare access and lower costs, from Bernie Sanders’ medicare for all bill which would create a government funded healthcare system providing universal coverage to all Americans, while eliminating surprise medical bills, deductibles, and copays, to healthcare plans that focus on creating a public option under the Affordable Care Act. As Democrats debate solutions to America’s healthcare crisis, the Trump administration is delaying any plans for repealing the Affordable Care Act passed under Obama until after the 2020 election.
Several people the Guardian interviewed are currently avoiding medical treatment for serious illnesses or struggling to treat illnesses worsened by delaying medical care due to costs.
Substitute teacher Gretchen Hess Miller, 48, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2009 while pregnant. She has had surgery to remove the cancer, but is supposed to receive annual scans to monitor the cancer, but hasn’t received one in four to five years because her family can’t afford it.
“My doctor told me this is an aggressive form of cancer that will come back someday and I need to stay on top of it, but the deductible and the difficulty with dealing with the insurance keeps me from having it done,” said Hess-Miller.
Her insurance coverage currently requires a $5,000 deductible. She says she has previously had to fight to receive coverage because medical care is constantly denied because insurance classifies oral care as dental rather than medical care.
“I have kids. I worry about our future. I want to be here for them,” she said. “We’re very thankful to have insurance at all, but families should not have to compromise on if I’m going to pay for my kid’s college or pay for a test to see if I have cancer. People shouldn’t be put in a position to make choices like that.”
Amy Keeling, 51, a paralegal in New Hampton, Iowa, avoided seeing a doctor for over a year due to her partner’s surgery costs in 2018 for triple bypass surgery.
“I hadn’t felt good for awhile, but I just thought it was my age. In September 2019, I got the flu, and ended up in the emergency room because I couldn’t breathe,” said Keeling.
She was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder.
“If I had been going in to the doctor and checking on this a lot sooner, we may have been able to do other alternatives and get a handle on this before it got this serious. I’m at the point where medication won’t control it and my only option is surgery,” she said.
Her insurance requires a $5,000 deductible. Having met it in 2019, she scrambled to have her surgery scheduled before 2020, when it would reset. All while her partner is looking to file for bankruptcy because he currently has around $40,000 in medical debt.
PERTINENT ON-LINE COMMENT:
I think we can credit the Reagan Revolution, America’s odd politics, and the media for creating greater wealth inequality now than during the Great Depression. Four families have more wealth than the bottom 50% of all Americans, yet the 99.99% are regularly convinced that such things as wealth taxes and inheritance taxes would be bad for them.
If we taxed the wealthy on their wealth, it would enable our country to return to the “first world” set. If we were able to do that, perhaps it would be more understandable, even to Republicans, that people beyond our borders are included in the Declaration of Independence’s statement that all people (well, men) are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And if we ensured there was no hunger beyond our borders, that would go a long way to eliminating our immigration problem. If we cared less about the opinions of our very wealthiest, perhaps we could also stop trying to install right-wing dictators in other countries; every time we do that, we add to our immigration problem. And, if we cared less about the opinions of our very wealthiest, perhaps we could jail those executives who hire people here who lack papers, simply because they are more vulnerable and easily manipulated than those of us lucky to have papers.
UKRAINE, FRIDAY, 27TH JANUARY
Ukraine said Moscow fired 70 missiles — including two hypersonic missiles — aimed at energy facilities Thursday, killing at least 11 people across the country. Ukraine’s state energy operator warned Friday the strikes caused “substantial damage” to the power grid.
A White House national security spokesperson said the tranche of Abrams tanks announced by the US “will take many months” to get on the ground in Ukraine.
Germany’s defense minister told a German newspaper that sending fighter jets to Ukraine is “out of the question.”
A senior European Union official accused Russia of taking its war against Ukraine to a “different stage” by attacking civilians and non-military targets, prompting the plans to supply Kyiv with tanks.
by James Kunstler
I doubt that many Americans — even the masses sunk in vaccine smuggery and obsessive Trump-o-phobia — believe that America’s Ukraine project is working out for us. Of course, to even begin thinking about this debacle, you must at least suspect that our government is lying about virtually everything it has its hand in. Name something it is not lying about, I dare you.
So, what was the Ukraine project? To use that sad-ass country as a vector to disable and destroy Russia. You can’t over-state the stupidity of that objective. And why did we want to do that? Because… reasons. Oh? And what were they? Well, Russia was… there. Oh? And what was it doing? Trying to take over the world? Uh, no. It was actually just trying to be a normal European nation again after its traumatic 75-year-long experiment with communism, which ended in 1991.
And then, after that, coming along pretty well under Mr. Putin. Did I say that? Yes, I did, because it is a fact. Russia wrote new private property laws, made commerce legal again, and allowed its citizens to do business. Russia wasn’t threatening any other nations, most particularly its former province, Ukraine. It had even invited Ukraine to be a sovereign member of its trade association, the customs union, with a bunch of other regional states who had rational interests in good regional relations. That’s what set off the maniacs at the US State Department — under Secretary John Kerry, a.k.a. the haircut-in-search-of a-brain — who, in 2014, decided to overthrow Ukraine’s government.
The project since then was to use the US-controlled Ukraine government to antagonize Russia and, finally, to draw Russia into a military operation intended, SecDef Lloyd Austin said more than once, “to weaken Russia.” Well, everything we’ve done there, from eight years of shelling the Donbas, to kicking Russia out of the West’s banking system, to pouring billions of US dollars into Ukraine’s corrupt government, has only strengthened Russia internally, earned the approbation of many other nations who object to US interference in their regions, and steered poor Ukraine into the graveyard of failed states.
We are losing this unnecessary proxy war about as steadily as possible, and actually making Russia look good in the process. Russia could have ended the war in five minutes by turning Kiev into an ashtray, but it spent the first eight months of the operation trying to avoid busting up Ukraine’s infrastructure, so as not to turn it into a failed state (that would present new and worse problems). Mr. Putin made many overtures to negotiate an end to the conflict, all rejected by Ukraine, the US, and its NATO “partners.”
So, now Russia is grinding on-the-ground to reduce Ukraine’s ability to continue making war by systematically killing the troops Ukraine foolishly throws into the battle line, and destroying Ukraine’s heavy weapons. Ukraine is about out of its own soldiers and weapons. Russia is maneuvering to roll over what’s left there and put an end to these pointless and needless hostilities. Contrary to US propaganda, Russia has no ambition to conquer NATO territory. Rather its aim is to restore order to a corner of the world that has been its legitimate sphere of influence for centuries — and more than once been used as a doormat for European armies to invade Russia.
Apparently, we can’t allow Russia to clean up this mess we made — or we pretend that we can’t, even though it’s happening anyway, whether we like it or not. So now, the US promises to send thirty-one M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. A bold move, you think? Not exactly. By the time these tanks get anywhere in the vicinity of Ukraine, this war is likely to be over. Never mind the difficult business of training the few remaining eligible Ukrainian men between sixteen and sixty how to operate the tanks, and train maintenance crews, and deliver inventories of spare parts — you see where this is going — not to mention the certainty that the Russians will simply blow them up as fast as they appear on the premises. Anyway, a measly thirty-one tanks that can barely be operated is meaningless compared to hundreds of T-72s backed by newer T-14 tanks the Russians can muster from just over their border with Ukraine.
The tank proffer is, sad to say (for the dignity of our country), a joke, kind of a last feeble pretense before the whole thing ends in ignominy for the “Joe Biden” team — whoever that actually is. The repercussions are liable to be ugly for our country, not necessarily more military trouble in other lands (which we probably lack the capacity to engage in now), but something more personal: the collapse of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency and a vicious loss of purchasing power here at home. That would provoke a situation worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s, and that’s probably where things are going.
The Ukraine misadventure will disappear from America’s collective consciousness in a New York minute and a Fourth Turning jamboree of serious domestic political disorder will commence in short order. If you think “Joe Biden’s” term in office has been a disaster so far, just wait. You ain’t seen nuttin yet.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
“WHY DON’T YOU EVER CRITICIZE RUSSIA’S WARMONGERING?” is a question I am often asked with great indignation. People cannot comprehend why I would spend all my time criticizing the warmongering of the power structure I live under without spending any time criticizing the government they’re used to hearing criticisms of.
It’s a question born of delusion and propaganda brainwashing, and it has several good answers. Here are some of my favorites.
“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”
First of all, I actually do sometimes criticize Russia’s warmongering, to the limited extent that I believe it’s necessary in a civilization that’s being deliberately saturated in maximum-amplification criticisms of Russia’s warmongering. That criticism generally goes something like this: Putin is responsible for Putin’s decisions, and the US empire is responsible for the US empire’s decisions. Putin is responsible for deciding to invade Ukraine, and the US empire is responsible for provoking that invasion.
It’s not actually complicated. If I provoke someone into doing a bad thing, then we each have a degree of moral responsibility for the bad thing that was done. So much modern empire apologia revolves around pretending that provocation is simply not a thing; that this very simple and fundamental concept we all learned about as children was just invented last year by the Russian government. It’s bizarre and undignified and people should feel embarrassed for doing it. You know what provocation is. Stop acting like an idiot.
“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”
Why don’t I instead spend all my time criticizing the most powerful and destructive government on earth, whose crimes are always either ignored or supported by the political and media institutions of the English-speaking world?
Focusing one’s criticisms on the world’s most powerful and destructive government is actually the only normal and sane thing to do. It’s not strange and suspicious that I do it, it’s strange and suspicious that more people don’t.
The United States is the most tyrannical government on earth. It is currently circling the planet with hundreds of military bases and waging wars which have killed millions and displaced tens of millions just since the turn of this century. Its sanctions and blockades continuously target civilians with deadly force in nations like Venezuela, Yemen and Syria. It works to destroy any nation which disobeys its dictates by toppling their governments via CIA coups, proxy armies, partial and full-scale invasions, and the most egregious number of election interferences in the entire world.
None of these things are true of Russia. Focusing on the world’s worst offender is normal, especially in a western media environment where that offender receives almost no meaningful criticism from major institutions. None of this means I think Russia’s government is wonderful and perfect, only that the government most sorely in need of criticism in our society is not Russia’s.
“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”
Why don’t you show me a major western institution that gives an appropriate level of criticism to the warmongering empire I spend my time criticizing, instead of spending 100 percent of its time criticizing foreign governments?
What? You can’t? Because the entire western political/media class reliably facilitates the information interests of that empire?
Well okay then. That’s the imbalance I’m trying to fix. You don’t help restore balance in a wildly imbalanced information environment by spending half your time criticizing the governments that are always criticized in that environment and half your time criticizing the far worse offender who never gets criticized, you help restore balance by focusing your criticisms on the far worse offender who doesn’t receive anywhere near an appropriate level of criticism. Time you spend on one is time you’re not able to spend on the other.
“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”
This is going to blow your mind, but I don’t actually have a Russian audience. I have an English-speaking audience which lives predominantly under the thumb of the western empire. That’s where my voice gets heard, and that’s where my voice can make a difference.
“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”
The only reason it even occurs to you to ask that question is because you are surrounded all day by voices who spend all their time criticizing Russia’s warmongering and no time criticizing US warmongering. It’s what you’re accustomed to and what you’ve been conditioned to expect. Someone focusing their criticisms on the world’s most powerful and destructive government only looks weird to you because you’ve been conditioned by propaganda to see criticism of Russia as normal and criticism of the US empire as a freakish aberration, and because the imperial narrative managers have created a neo-McCarthyite atmosphere which frames all critics of US foreign policy as treasonous Kremlin loyalists.
Only in the most propaganda-addled of minds does focusing one’s criticisms on the world’s most powerful and destructive government look strange and suspicious. Only in the most brainwashed of brains does does focusing one’s criticisms on the most powerful empire to ever exist look like a sign of immorality, dysfunction, treason, or support for the Kremlin.
“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”
Why don’t you go watch TV? If you’ve got some desperate, aching need to hear one more westerner offer one more criticism of Russia’s warmongering, simply switch on the nearest television to any channel and wait a few minutes.
“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”
Nobody has ever once been able to provide me with a logically coherent answer for why I should spend any time whatsoever criticizing a government all western institutions criticize 24/7/365 while those institutions totally ignore US imperial criminality. I often get quasi-leftists much closer to the mainstream worldview than myself arguing that I should criticize both Russia and the US empire, but not a single one of them has ever been able to provide me with a lucid argument for that position which holds up to scrutiny. It’s always just some unexamined assumption they hold as a belief because they haven’t thought terribly hard about it.
Nobody can ever intelligibly explain to me what actual, concrete good is done for the world by one more westerner lending their voice to a message that is already being amplified as much as any message could possibly be amplified in the English-speaking world. They always wind up resorting to saying things like “Well it makes you look bad if you don’t criticize both” — like they transform into my pro bono PR agents who suddenly pretend to care very deeply about protecting my public image. Really they just want me to shut up and stop criticizing the empire.
“Why don’t you ever criticize RUSSIA’S warmongering?”
Because I don’t want to be a goddamn Pentagon propagandist. In a media environment that is being flooded with propaganda messaging designed to manufacture consent for more proxy warfare, militarism and nuclear brinkmanship, we all have to be very careful about what we put our energy behind. Throwing your weight behind “Russia bad!” messaging in such an environment is an irresponsible use of your voice, especially when you could be using your voice to call for de-escalation, diplomacy and detente and help people understand that they are being deceived.
Before they drop bombs, they drop narratives. Before they launch missiles, they launch propaganda campaigns. If you choose to lend your energy to the narrative control operations designed to pave the way to death and destruction, then you’re just as responsible for that death and destruction when it occurs as the person who hits the launch button.
You are responsible for what you put out into the world, and you are responsible for its consequences. Stop functioning as an unpaid empire propagandist just because it’s sometimes awkward not to.
— Caitlin Johnstone