- Cooler Today
- Many Fires
- Evacuating Healdsburg
- Smoky State
- Windsor Ready
- 579 Cases
- More Arson
- Creek Fire
- Tupper Torch
- Drive-thru Tree
- FB Update
- Philo Substation
- Smoke Cloud
- Hay Sale
- Massive Redwood
- Happy Manure
- Ed Notes
- Tree Train
- AV Village
- Muppet Movie
- Yesterday's Catch
- Roll Cloud
- Sports Habit
- Amusing Americans
- Sleazy Joe
- Seabiscuit Statue
- Social Indicators
- Tree Choppers
- Another Hiroshima
- Repeal AB5
- Vichy Springs
- Stream Flows
- Good/Bad Gnus
- Getting Loomered
- Spurning AOC
- Found Object
TEMPERATURES WILL COOL SLIGHTLY across the interior through Friday. Another warmup is then in store for the region this weekend into early next week. Otherwise, dry weather is expected during the next seven days, with the minor exception of a light shower possibly occurring in Del Norte county during Friday morning. (NWS)
CALFIRE INCIDENT MAP (6am, August 20)
FIRES GROW, EVACUATION ORDERS EXPAND IN SONOMA COUNTY AS CREWS STRUGGLE IN SWELTERING HEAT
by Mary Callahan & Tyler Silvy
Wildfires that turned the skies dark and raged out of control for a third day Wednesday sent thousands more people fleeing their homes across the North Bay, as structures went up in flames and firefighters struggled to gain any ground in sweltering conditions.
The Walbridge fire burning in the hills west of Healdsburg prompted city officials to issue an evacuation warning for all Healdsburg residents late Wednesday, following orders and warnings Tuesday that covered a wide swath of the lower Russian River and mountains stretching out to the coast.
Onshore winds turned the eastern flank of the Walbridge fire in a more easterly direction, raising the possibility that flames burning for two days in the Mill Creek drainage could eventually make their way toward town.
Fire crews, their ranks stretched thin by scores of lightning-sparked fires burning around Northern California since Monday, have been outmatched, as wind and dense fuels contributed to explosive growth on fires around the area throughout the day.
Fires in Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties had torched a combined 124,100 acres by late Wednesday, including 16,500 acres in the forested hills of west Sonoma County, where flames 100 feet high burned above the town of Guerneville, creeping into the northern reaches of the 805-acre Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.
The Walbridge fire, centered north of the adjoining Austin Creek State Recreation Area and burning mostly south and southeast, had grown to 14,000 acres on its own by 6:30 p.m., a more than nine-fold increase in the previous 24 hours.
The Meyers fire, burning north of the town of Jenner on the Sonoma Coast, had grown from 25 acres to 2,500, Cal Fire said.
“That fire exploded last night, and this fire blew up this morning,” Cal Fire incident spokesman Paul Lowenthal, Santa Rosa’s assistant fire marshal, said Wednesday from the edge of the Walbridge fire on Sweetwater Springs Road near Guerneville. “Overnight, we’re getting significant fire behavior because we’re not getting that (moisture) recovery that we’re used to. Our humidity, in some cases, actually lowered at night.”
A third, small fire off Skaggs Springs Road closer to Lake Sonoma also broke out Wednesday, fire officials said. Scarce air resources were reportedly hitting it during the day Wednesday in an effort dampen its growth before it could merge with the Walbridge fire.
In Lake County, another fire erupted, prompting large-scale evacuations, including the entirety of the Hidden Valley Lake subdivision north of Middletown, on Highway 29.
And in Napa County, a complex of at least five major fires stretched from the northern end of Lake Berryessa to Interstate 80 near Vacaville, where flames consumed homes overnight Tuesday and jumped the interstate Wednesday afternoon. Angwin and St. Helena Hospital were both ordered to evacuate late Wednesday.
In contrast to the wind-driven fires that have brought repeated disaster to the region in recent years, this week’s incidents are grinding, ground wars in remote, often inaccessible areas of dense timber that haven’t burned in decades, in most cases, and thus create intense heat, torching trees and running up canyons so that fires spread in many directions at once, Lowenthal said.
“We’re seeing erratic fire behavior in Napa County, here locally in Sonoma County, especially, as the weather conditions deteriorate in the afternoon, and we’re seeing new starts,” Lowenthal said during an afternoon press briefing.
Cal Fire and Sonoma County emergency officials for a second day issued successive evacuation orders and warnings for the Walbridge and Meyers fires, covering more residents to the south and east, and north along the coast, taking in more than 15,000 people by Wednesday afternoon.
Then Wednesday evening, the warning was issued for the city of Healdsburg, which still lies well east of the Walbridge fire but was put on notice given lessons learned during California’s new era of catastrophic wildfires, many of which have occurred in Sonoma County and neighboring counties.
State Sen. Mike McGuire said even without the hurricane-force winds that have visited the county during past wildfires, the potential for damage and loss remains real, as evidenced by a major run made by the Hennessy fire late Tuesday in Napa County. That blaze broke toward Vacaville during an explosive late night run and on Wednesday reached Interstate 80, shutting down the highway.
“This is an incredibly challenging time for so many in Sonoma County,” McGuire said. “We have seen disaster after disaster, year after year, and it brings back so many challenging memories.”
Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins similarly acknowledged the painful situation so many of her west county constituents faced, speaking “person to person” during the Wednesday press briefing.
“You are potentially displaced from your home, not knowing if you’re ever going to be able to return to it, stalking the online fire cameras, trying to comb social media and press and, you know, radio for any kind of a clue as to what the fire is going to do, and unfortunately, we’re in a very volatile phase of this fire, as you heard from Paul Lowenthal, and unfortunately there’s a lot of unknown in the next 12 to 24 hours,” said Hopkins, whose own Forestville home was right outside the mandatory evacuation line and in the warning area.
Fire crews were working desperately to keep the Walbridge fire from spreading south into the communities on the north bank of the Russian River, in part by holding Sweetwater Springs Road north of Guerneville.
The fire had burned up to the road Tuesday night, creating a fire line along the road, which carries traffic straight into Guerneville, and firefighters sought to keep that buffer intact Wednesday.
But at least nine structures had been lost along the north side of the road between Tuesday and Wednesday, as flames tore across ridge lines, including two engulfed shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday.
A Cal Fire crew stood sentinel on overlooking one ridge, before late afternoon winds picked up, pushing the fire and smoke east toward Westside Road.
Gold Ridge Fire Chief Shepley Schroth-Cary said the main goal was to protect structures and keep the fire north of Sweetwater Springs Road and west of Westside Road. Among those structures was Bryce Austin’s home, which stood unscathed, though his 300-acre property was scorched.
The property has been in the family for 150 years, Austin’s friend Joe Messina said before turning to thank Cal Fire firefighters and heading down the mountain.
On the east side of the fire, near West Dry Creek Road, yellow police tape hung on mailboxes and clung to address signs outside of wineries and vineyard-adjacent neighborhoods.
The markers, meant to signal confirmed evacuations, swayed in a gentle breeze early Wednesday afternoon, giving little hint at the fires burning in various directions.
One homeowner had rigged a lawn sprinkler to the top of an outbuilding, soaking the asphalt shingles as an extra measure of precaution.
Three miles up Mill Creek Road, crews with full engines from Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Rincon Valley, Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa were staged at Wallace Creek Road, before departing at 5:45 p.m. on a mission to protect homes.
Others, from Graton Rancheria and Schell Vista, would join them.
A neon orange sun shone through the smoke and falling ash, and on emerald redwoods that lined Mill Creek Road. Firefighters watched and waited, their engines on.
Further up the road, they would line a makeshift shoulder under a darkening sky.
By 6:30 p.m., somewhere beyond the wall of redwoods flanking Mill Creek Road, an occasional crackle and pop signaled the fire’s approach.
Fire crews retreated back toward Westside Road.
A couple of firefighters from Santa Rosa brought up the rear, warning of danger lurking ahead.
“It’s a death trap,” one said.
(courtesy The Press Democrat)
SATELLITE PHOTOS & AIR QUALITY MAPS (yesterday & today)
A READER WRITES: "The forest fire is 5-10 miles west of Windsor at 930pm Wed as the crow flies. I think it’s called the Wallbach fire. More importantly, it’s ACROSS the prevailing wind from us. I think the wind direction will be changing back and forth. As important is the wind speed. Gusting to 18mph in late afternoons isn’t too bad. Daytime temps cooler starting tomorrow. Low 90’s. we had 6 days in a row ending yesterday, Tuesday, of 100 to 105. And no wind. And no AC inside. So the fire is going to fester in place until the fire bombers get a perimeter around it. The authorities have issued “get ready” warnings. Next command would be “get out”. I have packed the chocolate, the guns, and the pills. And the clothes. Thursday, tomorrow, or Friday evening should be the get out or unpack announcement."
FOUR ADDITIONAL CASES cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Mendocino County, bringing the total to 579. One additional death related to Sherwood Oaks in the north coast region has been reported.
MORE ARSON FIRES IN UKIAH
On Tuesday, August 18, at approximately 9:43 pm, UPD officers were dispatched to the area of 1200 Airport Park Boulevard for a report of a vegetation fire. UPD Officers arrived on the scene and located three separate vegetation fires in the area. Ukiah Valley Fire Department and Cal Fire firefighters arrived on scene and began extinguishing the fires.
As the fires were being extinguished, UPD officers were notified of another fire along the railroad tracks in the vicinity of 900 Waugh Lane. A UPD Officer arrived on the scene and worked to extinguish the blaze with a fire extinguisher from the patrol vehicle.
As the officer was awaiting the fire department, another fire was reported in the area of East Gobbi Street and Village Circle along the railroad tracks. UPD officers located another fire that had been set in the vegetation.
UPD officers as well as the Ukiah Valley Fire Department determined that the fires had been intentionally set and began investigating the fires as acts of arson.
On Wednesday, August 19, at approximately 1:48 am, a UPD officer on patrol located a fire on the railroad tracks between Clara Street and Ford Street. The UVFD and CalFire again responded and extinguished the blaze. As the Officer was investigating this fire, the UPD was notified of another vegetation fire in the 400 block of Oak Manor Drive. Both of these fires are being investigated as arson as well.
At approximately 4:45 am, UPD officers were again dispatched to a vegetation fire, this time in the 700 block of East Gobbi Street. The fire was extinguished and UPD began another arson investigation.
UPD and the Ukiah Valley Fire Department in all are currently investigating eight separate arsons that occurred in the city limits overnight between Tuesday August 18 and Wednesday August 19, 2020.
Anyone who may have witnessed any of these fires or any individuals who may be responsible for setting them is urged to contact the UPD at 707-463-6262.
The Ukiah Police Department would like to remind the great citizens of Ukiah that during the current COVID-19 pandemic we are still out in the city enforcing the law and keeping the public safe.
As always, our mission at the Ukiah Police Department is to make Ukiah as safe as possible. Additionally, the UPD would like to thank the Ukiah Valley Fire Department, Cal Fire and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office for their quick response and assistance with these fires."
Ukiah Police Presser
TUPPER THE TORCH
"On Sunday, August 16, at approximately 6:21 am, UPD officers were dispatched to 814 North State Street regarding a report of a fire behind the business. UPD officers arrived on the scene and located a debris pile behind the business that was on fire and threatening the structure.
UPD officers retrieved fire extinguishers from their patrol vehicles and used them to stop the progress of the fire enough until UVFD firefighters arrived on scene and extinguished it completely. The fire burned the debris pile and scorched the backside of the building causing minor damage.
As UPD officers were investigating the above fire, they observed black smoke rising from behind 955 North State Street. UPD officers responded to the area and located a dumpster behind the building which was engulfed in flames. UVFD arrived on the scene and extinguished the blaze.
UPD officers continued their investigation into the above fires and were able to obtain video surveillance from a nearby business showing a female adult setting the dumpster ablaze.
On Tuesday, August 18, at approximately 6:00 pm, UPD officers came into contact with a female adult who matched the description of the arsonist.
UPD officers identified her as Kristine Lynn Tupper, a 46-year-old transient from Ukiah.
UPD officers interviewed Tupper regarding the arsons and she admitted to starting them. Tupper was arrested for Arson of structure or forest land, Arson of property) and Violation of probation.
Due to the circumstances surrounding Tupper’s arrest, UPD Officers contacted the on-call Judge and requested a bail enhancement for the offenses. A bail enhancement was granted in the amount of $100,000.
Tupper was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for the above offenses.
The Ukiah Police Department would like to remind the great citizens of Ukiah that during the current COVID-19 pandemic we are still out in the city enforcing the law and keeping the public safe. As always, our mission at the Ukiah Police Department is to make Ukiah as safe as possible."
CHANDELIER DRIVE-THRU TREE, LEGGETT
FORT BRAGG CITY UPDATE
by Tabatha Miller, Fort Bragg City Manager
First, good news on the Danco Project, which now has a real name, The Plateau. Having secured necessary funding, which includes federal and state tax credits, a $3 million HEAP Grant awarded to the City, project-based housing vouchers, a $3.1 million HCD Infill Infrastructure Grant and a $250k 55-year loan from the City’s Housing Trust Funds, The Plateau will be constructed between Kemppe Way and South Street near the Adventist Health Mendocino Coast Hospital. The project will consist of 20 permanent supportive residential cottages, 25 single-story affordable senior cottages and 23 two-story affordable workforce/family residential duplex units. The building permit application is in process and construction is expected to begin in November 2020 and be completed in 18 months or less.
A reminder for residents and businesses in the City, the City Council is encouraging the implementation of water conservation measures. The hotter than normal weather, particularly inland, continues to impact the flow of water into the City’s three water sources: The Noyo River, Waterfall Gulch, and Newman Gulch. The King Tides that we experience this time of year may also impact the quality of the water in the Noyo River. If salinity from the tides reaches certain levels, the City cannot pump from the Noyo. Please help us conserve water.
Two development ordinances that were started pre-COVID are scheduled to move forward. The Planning Commission will review a draft Formula Business Ordinance on September 23, 2020. The City Council initially considered regulating Formula Businesses on October 24, 2019, and January 29, 2020. Formula Businesses sometimes referred to as Chain Stores are businesses that are required to maintain a standardized array of services, merchandise, signage, décor, or menu; and are identical to other businesses in the United States. Staff is also drafting a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a consultant to complete an ordinance providing for the cultivation and distribution of cannabis within city limits in certain zoning districts. The Community Development Council Committee will tentatively schedule this review and recommendation in September.
Council will likely take action to approve the RFP at its September 28, 2020 meeting.
In the last week or two, some of you may have noticed a manure smell in town and more specifically around the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) near the mid-section of the Coastal Trail. The smell likely comes from drying biosolids produced at the WWTP. Biosolids are a treated organic product, which meets established criteria for beneficial use (fertilizer). The new WWTP is more effective at pulling biosolids from the waste stream. This means the treated effluent water is cleaner when released into the ocean. It also means that more biosolids need to be disposed of. Keep in mind the biosolids contain about 80% water and therefore need to be dried before transporting for agricultural disposal. It is the drying process and the increased volume that is causing the smell. This is particularly true on days that the biosolids are turned or rotated, when the weather is warmer and when the wind is blowing.
There is also an interesting relationship between the volume of biosolids and the number of people in town. In the last 8 weeks, our operators have incrementally increased the biosolids pulled for drying from about 80,000 gallons a week to 180,000 gallons. This week the City will likely pull 200,000 gallons. Based on that data, we estimate that there are more than twice as many people in town as compared to before the hotels reopened for tourism. I realize this isn’t news to any of us but it does provide us a way to measure visitors.
Finally, the City received its third COVID-19 test results from the sewer composite sample pulled on August 4, 2020. The bad news, the strength has increased to 24.8 copies per milliliter (ml) and a second, less common strain, of COVID-19, was present in this sample. The July 28, 2020 sample was only 5.78 copies per ml, which was down from July 22, 2020, results of 16.5 copies per ml a second. While the strength and presence of COVID-19 in the sewer are helpful to gather information in the long term, it provides no information to help identify who is COVID- 19 positive. With the influx of visitors, as measured by the increase in biosolids, it also does not let us know if the virus is local or from someone just visiting.
FALLING A GIANT
PG&E LISTS the Philo Substation as a possible “temporary microgrid that can utilize backup generation sources to keep portions of communities energized.” Apparently, they have some mobile trailer-mounted generators that they can deploy to areas that are targeted for trunk line shut-downs and the Philo substation might get one depending on the particulars of the shut-off event.
PG&E ALSO PLANS to provide detailed info two days in advance of any shut-off “including restoration times and links to customer resources,” and follow-up reports daily until power is restored. For further info they now have an email address for the public to inquire to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call 1-866-743-6589.
SOME BOONVILLE residents were alarmed at the appearance of a gargantuan smoke cloud appearing in the skies south of us this afternoon until the alarmed learned that it was the accumulated smoke from the big fires burning to the south, the closest one west of Healdsburg.
PRIMO ANDERSON VALLEY HAY
Boonville Airport has approximately 500 bales of grass hay for sale! Help support the Boonville Airport. Asking $7.10 per bale but quantity discounts are available. Please contact the Airport Manager, Kirk Wilder, at (707) 895-2949.
MASSIVE REDWOOD, BUCKED & PEELED
DECONSTRUCTING MR. HAPPY
Mr. Happy's vivid imagination and lapse in truthier telling
Most of what you read from Mr. Happy seems to come from a sack of cowpies.
The earlier letter from the naked lady said that they were visiting at the time of the raid. This recent letter says that he was a visiting consultant. He and his “lady” and two little kids were living in a remote home off Elkhorn Road for some time until the raid there. More like he was hiding from the law and he knew it, she knew it, the landlord knew it, and the feds knew it. Sounds like another felony.
Nice try with the cheap champagne and K story. Since he's a lab expert, it sounds like he was cooking something and she took it and lost a few brain cells. She ran off. He got caught. I guess he'll need to convince the judges in Ukiah and Wyoming about which lies upon lies are best. Oh, he's curing Covid now? Sounds like manure, deceit, fraud and crime.
Stanley O' Sand
SONOMA COUNTY SUPERVISOR, Lynda Hopkins, made the ominous comment Wednesday, “We are seeing an extreme scarcity of resources,” as evacuation orders were issued for the thousands of people whose homes lie from the mouth of the Russian River to the west near Jenner all the way east through Guerneville. Chris Godley, SoCo's emergency services director sounded this dire state of fire affairs: “One of our major concerns at this point is the ability to bring additional firefighting resources to bear given the nature and number and scope of the fires that are burning elsewhere in this state especially Northern California,” Godley said. One major fire continues to burn a little east and north of Covelo but at noon it was fifty percent contained. But as winds kicked up in the afternoon exhausted front line firefighters, in their third day of fighting these fires, worked on without respite.
THE SUPERVISORS have blithely shoveled another $25,000 to outside lawyers who are allegedly beating back a complaint by Harinder Grewal that he was fired without cause. A second similarly arbitrary dismissal complaint by Barbara Howe is also wending its way through the courts.
BLITHELY? Is that the word we want here? Yes, because the County pays 9 (count em) lawyers none of whom among these 9 are apparently capable of arguing the County's end of complaints against it. (I remember when the County employed one lawyer as County Counsel — Tim Stoen.)
THE RIPPED OFF taxpayers of Mendocino County are already in for $200,000 in the Harinder case, and the goddess only knows how much for Howe, the latter's firing another totally arbitrary dismissal by CEO Angelo, who clearly has anger management issues. Mendo will lose a big hunk of public dough to Ms. Howe, and whatever the merits of the Harinder case, County taxpayers will be on the hook for nearly a quarter mil, much more if Harinder wins. Given the number of Friday massacres by Angelo, going back to Alan 'The Kid' Flora, who didn't sue, several other suddenly disappeared County staffers, like Flora, also didn't sue. But at will County employees are either at Angelo's feet or she's at their throats, and even the wuss-heavy Board of Supervisors walk on eggs around her.
COMPUTER WIZARDS from Kansas State University analyzed two million congressional speeches from Republican and Democrat politicians from 1873 to the end of 2010 - a total of 138 years of speeches, discovering that Congressional speeches made by US politicians have become simpler since the 1970s and only require the reading age of a 13-year-old to decode.
THE WAY MRS. BIDEN holds on to hubby, reminds me of the Reagans when Ron had begun to lose his marbles, and Nancy was whispering directions in his ear which he duly relayed to the press. "We're doing all we can," was a standard line from Ronnie's ventriloquist. Last night, Biden twice mispronounced his own name as 'Bliden.'
AOC packed a lot into her 60 seconds Tuesday night, much of it the kind of rhetoric that got Trump elected. It's as if everyone in the land is hopelessly vicious, but what else can one think when a leading Democrat says "we" need to talk about a movement to erase “racial injustice, colonization, misogyny and homophobia.” Ragging on Americans for their alleged thought crimes is the kind of hectoring that drives people into the orange monster's lair.
HALF A TREE LOAD
AV RESTAURANTS AND DELIS with their basic information and the “contactless services” they provide (online menu, order and pay by phone or online, curbside pick-up, delivery options, etc.). The purpose is to help members of our community who need prepared meals for any reason (E.g. illness, pandemic, post hospitalization recovery etc.).
In addition, for Anderson Valley Village members we have a team of volunteers who are willing to be contacted for short notice requests for local meal pick-up and delivery. To arrange help from these volunteers, AVV members should call The Village Coordinator before ordering food and with as much advance notice as possible. We may not always find a volunteer for this service but we will certainly try. Note: the information below is subject to change without notice. Please check with the restaurant or deli for the most up-to-date information.
DRIVE IN MOVIES AT AV GRANGE:
COMING UP Sat. Aug. 29th at dark
The lot opens for parking at 7:30 or thereabouts: THE MUPPET MOVIE
Not just for kids, and by all accounts it's the best of the Muppet films. So come prepared with your masks and help us all stay safe. Bring a donation and a thank you to the Grange for finding a way to share safely.
We've tested the big screen, the sound system and snacks. Everything is working wonderfully. We are registered with the county and are following all Covid protocols. We plan to show movies every other Saturday evening starting at dark until the rain chases us away.
Contact person: Cap Rainbow 895-3807
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 19, 2020
KYL AYERS, Willits. Probation revocation.
ANGEL CORDOVA, Oakland/Redwood Valley. Domestic abuse, criminal threats.
RAYMOND DERBIGNY JR., Ukiah. Controlled substance for sale.
WILLIAM GREEN, Calpella. Probation revocation.
NOLAN LAWSON, Ukiah. Controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.
VALEN LOPEZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery, false imprisonment, camping in Ukiah, failure to appear.
CHERYL MATTSON, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER SWIFT, Ukiah. Burglary, controlled substance, paraphernalia.
IN SAN FRANCISCO
by August Kleinzahler
I’ve never seen the sky this color in the years I’ve lived here, somewhere between Methyl Violet and Lobelia Blue. It has an unreal feel to it, like the old Stereoscope cards from the 1950s. And it comes on the heels of two nights of unprecedented lightning strikes that went on for hours, like slow-motion, erratically staggered strobe lights, along with the distant rumble of thunder. There is, very rarely, every few years, a bit of thunder and lightning during the summer in San Francisco, but I can recall nothing remotely like this. A high wind has suddenly kicked up, ominously bending the large palm in the backyard, freighted with decades of unpruned dead fronds and bedizened with thick ropes of trumpet vine with its orange flowers.
If the tree were going to snap and come down I suppose it would already have done so, but I have been regarding it with trepidation when the wind is up for a good many years, or at least for the 35 years or so since the late poet Lee Harwood, in one of his many incarnations, this time as a tree surgeon for hire, scaled it and gave the palm a proper haircut, the result of which was the poet appearing at the back door blancoed from head to toe in guano.
The nominal cause of this weather is a tropical disturbance, Fausto, off the west coast of Baja. But I cannot help regarding is a harbinger of what lies ahead this autumn. Covid-19 will almost certainly surge dramatically and dovetail with the seasonal flu, resulting in incalculable deaths. Much of the economic devastation looks to be permanent and likely to worsen. Tens of thousands of people are being thrown into the streets and unable to feed themselves, much less their children. The Nasdaq is hitting new record highs every day.
The American political convention season is upon us, with the Democrats up first tonight, and entirely virtual, for the first time, perhaps not the last, if there ever is another “free” election. The one due on November 3 is promising not to be terribly “free.” Be that as it may, after election night, whoever wins, there will almost certainly be blood in the streets.
I REMEMBER, back at the start of lockdown, trying to draw up a rough mental ledger of things I would miss. The idea was to try and anticipate difficulties so as not to be blindsided by them. My list was heartfelt but unoriginal and consisted mainly, now I look back at it, of various blessings of city life that I had come to take almost entirely for granted. Seeing friends. Going for a walk round the block or across the common or through the middle of town whenever I felt like it. Buying any foodstuff known to man at more or less any time of the day or night. Shops selling everything in the world, visitable at one’s convenience. Going to the movies whenever. Eating out whenever/wherever. Espresso machine coffee. Bookshops. What it all boiled down to: close to complete freedom of movement and choice.
I missed all those people, activities and things more or less exactly as much as I thought I was going to. And perhaps the underlying thing I missed most was the sheer lightness of pre-Covid choice: the airiness, the impermanence, the lack of consequence of opting for a coffee at this café rather than that, lamb for dinner because we had chicken yesterday, getting the new Ian Rankin because I saw it in the window of the local bookshop as I walked past. Life as a permanent breakfast buffet, where you can have whatever you want at any time, and the only risks are those of excessive indulgence or missing out.
What I didn’t see coming, and feel slightly embarrassed to admit, is that one of the things I missed most was live sport. I was horrified by the realization that the absence of sport created a hole in my life, a gap in time, especially at weekends, which had, I now saw, been structured around sport. Not every weekend, because a game you care about doesn’t come around every weekend; it would be too regular, too boring, if it did. They come around often enough, though: enough to be a structuring habit, part of life’s rhythm of anticipation and expectation. Watching people running around a field doing things to a ball (all my sports are ball sports, it turns out) has a significant place in my life. It’s mortifying.
John Lanchester (London Review of Books)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
If the Democrats were in Canada they would be considered to be a right-wing party. Calling them “extreme left” or “Marxist” is pretty funny to anyone looking at the US from elsewhere. Canada’s publicly-funded healthcare for every Canadian is considered to be “socialism” or “communism” by Americans, but two-thirds of Americans who file for bankruptcy say it was because of medical bills. In a civilized country all citizens should have healthcare, but for millions of Americans that’s just a dream. And Americans consider their country to be “exceptional”. That’s pretty funny too.
THE TRIUMPH OF MAGICAL THINKING
Ah. AH! The heroes of democracy! They’re on TV tonight! Ogod—AOC, Jill Biden, Colin G.O.P. Powell, founder of the storied press conferences of the Vietnam War dubbed by the press "the five o'clock follies" and other monuments of double-dealing too many to name! Wotta show! “Rilly big shoe!” Ed Sullivan woulda said. Don’t miss it! Step right up.
These are people you can believe in, goddammit, the best and brightest of the incandescent National Democratic Party, waiting devoutly in the wings all these awful years, these Republican years in the House, these Repugnant years in the White House, the people we’ve all (or ALMOST all) been waiting for. Here they come, like the tigers and lions in the circus. BILL CLINTON! GOD, it’ll be good to hear that honeyed tongue again.
These are the people who will keep their integrity in their pocket tonight in favor of Never-Trumpism, people like Bernie and AOC who should damn well know better. Tonight they mark themselves indelibly to show they know what "loyalty" means, loyalty to a disfigured party and a time of Oval-Office ordained chaos. Hear them!
[Note: AOC broke very clean. She nominated Sanders for the job but "acknowledged" Biden and wished him success.]
They will tell us, in case you need convincing, why Joe Biden will make the sun shine again on western democracy, how he’ll fix everything, how he’s waited his whole life for this moment (that much is true), how eagerly Stacey Abrams supports him and even good Republicans do. Look there! See the good Republican! And BERNIE! Can’t wait! He’ll remind us of what “Democrat” once meant, like free education and an end to war (which Joe has and has not supported) and censure of a renegade Supreme Court (Joe, to his everlasting discredit, sought to "find common ground" with the Republicans by joining in the character assassination of Anita Hill in the interest of putting Clarence Thomas, that tower of loyalty to the rich white man (as found at Monsanto Chemical Company, whom he represented as their in-house counsel), that avatar of tokenism, servant to the white & wealthy, trusted assistant to Senator John Danforth, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, and Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission--of putting THAT Clarence Thomas on the highest court. You betcha! And how equal the opportunities have become since Biden and others on the Repug side crammed Thomas onto the supreme bench over the screams of the “woke” citizens everywhere! They won’t talk about that tonight. They won’t talk about Biden’s enthusiasm for the Iraq War (both of them) nor about his wish for war to neutralize the global threat of Iran. They won't talk about his attraction to the use of force, to militarism, to Pentagon budgets.
Talking points for Biden go to how nice he is, how tested by tragedy, how big his tent is, how perfect for this moment he is, how broad his experience, NOT how his years of service to the corporations that nestle in his adopted state of Delaware—to corporations everywhere—have fattened his campaign chest throughout his lackluster career.
Here’s a snippet from a lady writer, lawyer and law professor by the actual name of Zephyr Teachout (her Seattle parents hung that on her) who’s followed Joe forever:
“It looks like 'Middle Class' Joe has perfected the art of taking big contributions, then representing his corporate donors at the cost of middle- and working-class Americans. Converting campaign contributions into legislative favors and policy positions isn’t being 'moderate'. It is the kind of [tit for tat] politics Americans have come to loathe.
“There are three clear examples.
“First, Biden’s support for finance over working-class Americans. His career was bankrolled by the credit-card industry. He delivered for it by spearheading a bankruptcy bill that made it harder for Americans to reduce their debts and helped cause the financial crisis. He not only authored and voted for that bill, he split with Barack Obama and led the battle to vote down Democratic amendments.
“His explanations for carrying water for the credit-card industry have changed over time. They have never rung true. The simplest explanation is the most likely: he did it for his donors. At a fundraiser last year, Biden promised his Wall Street donors that 'nothing would fundamentally change' for them if he became president. Now the financial world is raising huge money for his campaign. It clearly thinks he’s going to be its friend if elected.
"Most Americans, who get ripped off by the financial sector on a daily basis, aren’t looking for a candidate who has made their life harder.
“Second, healthcare. On 25 April 2019, the day he announced his campaign, Biden went straight to a fundraiser co-hosted by the chief executive of a major health-insurance corporation. He refuses to sign a pledge to reject money from insurance and pharma execs and continues to raise money from healthcare industry donors. His campaign is being bankrolled by a super Pac run by healthcare lobbyists.
“What did all these donors get? A healthcare proposal that preserves the power of the insurance industry and leaves 10 million Americans uninsured [called "ObamaCare," a half-measure that left the health question raw, bleeding and unresolved].
“Third, climate change. Biden signed a pledge not to take money from the fossil fuel industry, then broke his promise. Right after a CNN town hall on climate change, he held a fundraiser hosted by the founder of a fossil fuel conglomerate. He is pushing climate policy that has gotten dismal reviews from several leading environmental groups.”
PAY ATTENTION to all these achievements as you cleave unto your teevees tonight, click a bad emoji for this column and BELIEVE EVERY HOLY WORD YOU HEAR!
SEABISCUIT STATUE, RIDGEWOOD RANCH, Willits
NEEDED: INDICATORS FOR MEASURING INJUSTICE & SOCIETAL DECAY
by Ralph Nader
Economic indicators – data points, trends, and micro-categories – are the widgets of the big information industry. By contrast, indicators for our society’s democratic health are not similarly compiled, aggregated, and reported. Its up and down trends are presented piecemeal and lack quantitative precision.
We can get the process started and lay the basis for qualitative and quantitative refinement. Years ago, when we started “re-defining progress” and questioning the very superficial GDP and its empirical limitations, professional economists took notice. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, economists cling to the yardsticks that benefit and suit the plutocrats and CEOs of large corporations.
Here are my offerings in the expectation that readers will add their own measures:
1. A society is decaying when liars receive mass media attention while truth-tellers are largely ignored. Those who are chronically wrong with outrageous and baseless predictions are featured on news broadcasts, op-ed pages, and as convention and conference speakers. On the other hand, those who forewarn and are proven to be accurate are not regaled, but instead, they are excluded from the media spotlight and significant gatherings. Consider the treatment of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz post-Iraq invasion, compared to people like Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn who factually warned Washington not to attack illegally a country that didn’t threaten us.
2. A society is decaying when rampant corruption is tolerated, and its perpetrators are rewarded with money, votes, and praise. When President Eisenhower’s chief of staff, former New Hampshire Governor Sherman Adams, accepted a vicuña coat from a textile manufacturer, he was forced to resign. The daily corruption of Trump and the Trumpsters towers beyond measure over Adams’ indiscretion. Yet calls for Trump and his cronies to resign are rare and anemic. Tragically, the law and the norms of decency have done little to curb the corrupt, criminogenic, and criminal excesses of Trump & company. Even government prosecutors and inspectors generals have been fired, chilled, and sidelined by Trump and his toady, Attorney General Barr.
3. A society is decaying when a growing number of people believe in fantasies instead of realities. Social media makes this an ever more serious estrangement from what is actually happening in the country and in the world. Believing in myths and falsehoods leads to political servitude, economic disruption, and social dysfunction. The corrupt concentration of power ensues.
4. An expanding economy focusing increasingly on ‘wants and whims’ while ignoring the meeting of basic ‘needs and necessities’ shatters societal cohesiveness and deepens miseries of many people. Adequate housing, healthcare, food, public services, education, mass transit, health & safety standards, and environmental protections are the prerequisites for a humane democracy. The economy is in shambles for tens of millions of Americans, including hungry children. Minimal economic security is beyond the reach of tens of millions of people in our country.
5. With few exceptions, the richer the wealthy become, the more selfish they behave, from severely diminished contributions to charities to the failure to exert leadership to reverse the breakdown of society. Take all the failures of the election machinery from obstructing voters to simply counting the votes honestly with paper records. The U.S. Senate won’t vote to give the states the $4 billion needed for administering the coming elections despite the Covid-19-driven need for expanded voting by mail. The Silicon Valley, undertaxed, mega-billionaires could make a $4 billion patriotic donation to safeguard the voting process in November and not even feel it.
6. Rampant commercialism knowing no boundaries or restraints even to protect young children is running roughshod over civic values. Every major religion has warned about giving too much power to the merchant class going back over 2000 years. In our country, justice arrived after commercial greed was subordinated to humane priorities such as abolishing child labor and requiring crashworthy cars, cleaner air, water, and safer workplaces. Mercantile values produce predictable results, from excluding civic groups from congressional hearings and the mass media to letting corporations control what the people own such as the vast public lands and public airwaves.
7. Then there is the American Empire astride the globe, enabled by an AWOL Congress and propelled by the avaricious military-industrial complex. In his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower presciently forewarned that “[W]e must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” All Empires devour themselves until they collapse on the countries of their origins. Over 55% of the federal government’s operating spending goes to the Pentagon and its associated budgets. The military-industrial complex increasingly leads to quagmires and creates adversaries abroad, as it starves the social safety net budgets in our country. Our country’s military spending with all its waste is surging and unaudited. The U.S. spent more than $732 billion on direct defense spending in 2019; this is more than the next ten countries with the largest military expenditures.
8. A society that requires its people to incur crushing debt to survive, while relying on casinos and other forms of gambling to produce jobs, is going backward into the future.
9. Public officials who repeatedly obstruct voters from having their votes received and counted accurately and in a timely fashion continue with impunity to try to steal elections. Then Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (now governor of Georgia) “stole” the election in 2018 from gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Abrams said Kemp was an “architect of voter suppression.” And that because Kemp was the Georgia Secretary of State during the race, he was “the referee, the contestant and the scorekeeper” for the 2018 gubernatorial election. He escaped accountability. Democracy decays.
10. Access to justice is diminishing. Tort law – the law of wrongful injuries – has been weakened in many states with arbitrary caps on damages for the most serious injuries. It also is harder than ever for citizens to get through to real people in government agencies.
Time to conclude and look forward to your indicators of societal decay. Send them to email@example.com or CSRL, P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036. The more Americans know where their country is heading, the more they may just want a better future and participating in or supporting the movements dedicated to turning our democracy around.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! Nader.org.)
STARTING THE UNDERCUT
ANOTHER HIROSHIMA IS COMING—Unless We Stop It Now
by John Pilger
I have reported from five nuclear “ground zeros” throughout the world — in Japan, the Marshall Islands, Nevada, Polynesia and Maralinga in Australia. Even more than my experience as a war correspondent, this has taught me about the ruthlessness and immorality of great power: that is, imperial power, whose cynicism is the true enemy of humanity.
This struck me forcibly when I filmed at Taranaki Ground Zero at Maralinga in the Australian desert. In a dish-like crater was an obelisk on which was inscribed: “A British atomic weapon was test exploded here on 9 October 1957”. On the rim of the crater was this sign:
WARNING: RADIATION HAZARD
Radiation levels for a few hundred metres
around this point may be above those considered
safe for permanent occupation.
For as far as the eye could see, and beyond, the ground was irradiated. Raw plutonium lay about, scattered like talcum powder: plutonium is so dangerous to humans that a third of a milligram gives a 50 per cent chance of cancer.
The only people who might have seen the sign were Indigenous Australians, for whom there was no warning. According to an official account, if they were lucky “they were shooed off like rabbits”.
Today, an unprecedented campaign of propaganda is shooing us all off like rabbits. We are not meant to question the daily torrent of anti-Chinese rhetoric, which is rapidly overtaking the torrent of anti-Russia rhetoric. Anything Chinese is bad, anathema, a threat: Wuhan…. Huawei. How confusing it is when “our” most reviled leader says so.
The current phase of this campaign began not with Trump but with Barack Obama, who in 2011 flew to Australia to declare the greatest build-up of US naval forces in the Asia-Pacific region since World War Two. Suddenly, China was a “threat”. This was nonsense, of course. What was threatened was America’s unchallenged psychopathic view of itself as the richest, the most successful, the most “indispensable” nation.
What was never in dispute was its prowess as a bully — with more than 30 members of the United Nations suffering American sanctions of some kind and a trail of the blood running through defenceless countries bombed, their governments overthrown, their elections interfered with, their resources plundered.
Obama’s declaration became known as the “pivot to Asia”. One of its principal advocates was his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who, as WikiLeaks revealed, wanted to rename the Pacific Ocean “the American Sea”.
Whereas Clinton never concealed her warmongering, Obama was a maestro of marketing.”I state clearly and with conviction,” said the new president in 2009, “that America’s commitment is to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
Obama increased spending on nuclear warheads faster than any president since the end of the Cold War. A “usable” nuclear weapon was developed. Known as the B61 Model 12, it means, according to General James Cartwright, former vice-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that “going smaller [makes its use] more thinkable”.
The target is China. Today, more than 400 American military bases almost encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to South-East Asia, Japan and Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, as one US strategist told me, “the perfect noose”.
A study by the RAND Corporation — which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars — is entitled War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable. Commissioned by the US Army, the authors evoke the infamous catch cry of its chief Cold War strategist, Herman Kahn — “thinking the unthinkable”. Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a “winnable” nuclear war.
Kahn’s apocalyptic view is shared by Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an evangelical fanatic who believes in the “rapture of the End”. He is perhaps the most dangerous man alive. “I was CIA director,” he boasted, “We lied, we cheated, we stole. It was like we had entire training courses.” Pompeo’s obsession is China.
To the Editor:
AB5 became California Law the first of this year. What it did was eliminate the ability of citizens to offer services as an Independent Contractor, aka ‘Gig Worker’. The Gig Worker is able to earn income on a part time basis on a very flexible schedule that meets their personal needs. Persons who have child care or senior care responsibilities often have difficulties working a set schedule of hours required for part time or full time employment. There are others such as students or those who hold lower scale income jobs, who desire to supplement their income by utilizing their available time be it early mornings, evenings, or weekends. For all of these, the extra income helps them make ends meet or can give them important job experience that could lead to future career opportunities. AB5 has deprived thousands of citizens of their inalienable rights of Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness. As long as a citizen and a business reach an agreement for the service to be provided along with the compensation, what concern is it of the government, as long as everything is above board and taxes are paid? We should all urge our representatives in Sacramento to repeal AB5.
Our local paper has brought to our attention AB323, which I understand will grant newspapers a temporary exemption from AB5. Local newspapers rely on Gig Workers to deliver their papers, submit regular columns, and report on events in our town. Without a local paper, the citizenry will be left in the dark as to what the county, city, school board, and special districts are up to. Its difficult already with these meetings closed to the public due to the pandemic. While I am generally not on board with much of the editorial content of this newspaper, being able to know what is going on in Ukiah is important to me as it should be important to all of us. I urge you all to contact Assemblyman Wood and State Senator McGuire and tell them that you support AB323. It is an important step towards pushing back on all of AB5.
D. E. Johnson
VICHY SPRINGS PLUNGE
FROM THE STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD.
Coastal streams in Northern California are experiencing extreme low flows this summer with most stream flows at or below those of the 2012-2016 drought. The survival of juvenile coho salmon and steelhead this summer is dependent upon adequate stream flows to provide necessary food and maintain survivable temperature and oxygen levels in pools. Due to the extremely low flows this summer, every week is critical to the survival of these threatened and endangered fish.
Some ways you can help protect these fish include reducing water diversion activities and conserving water whenever possible with reduced use. Every small and immediate action on your part this summer is beneficial to the cumulative effort needed to protect and support the habitat of these endangered fish. Information on this effort and other ways you can help can be found in the attached flyer.
Thank you for doing your part to help protect our steelhead and coho salmon population!
LAURA LOOMER is the new face of the Republican Party
What do you call it when your political movement has surrendered to loons who previously loomed on the shadowy fringe?
DEMOCRATS SPURN AOC and uplift Bill Clinton at the party's own risk
by Ross Barkan
Democratic party elites hope to marginalize the leftists who seek radical and necessary change.
Though the traditional theater of the Democratic national convention is gone, the screaming delegates and balloon drops swapped for an endless procession of sleek videography, who speaks and for how long is still relevant to how the largest national party in America presents itself to voters. Embarrassed in 2016, the Democratic National Committee is trying once more to defeat Donald Trump and is proving, at least so far, it has learned nothing from its catastrophic failure.
On Tuesday night, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, perhaps the most famous first-term congresswoman in American history and a leader of the progressive movement, spoke for just over 90 seconds to a national audience. Former president Bill Clinton was allotted almost the same amount of time. Mike Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York City and a failed Democratic presidential candidate will speak more than Ocasio-Cortez this week.
Speaking slots are not the stuff that drive national campaigns. But the priorities of Democratic elites are clear: they wish the Democratic party will not transform into the party of Ocasio-Cortez, where unapologetic calls for universal healthcare, a real plan to combat climate change, and a federal jobs guarantee are all assumed, without question, to belong to a party platform. Consigning Ocasio-Cortez, the biggest young star the Democrats have, to a mere minute of airtime is further evidence that those who control the Democratic party hope to marginalize the leftists who seek radical and necessary change.
For now, Democrats may get away with it. Trump is so noxious and inherently destructive that all Democrats across the ideological spectrum will unite this fall to try to defeat him. Joe Biden’s tired campaign, perhaps the most forgettable Democratic effort in modern history, may well be enough to elect him the 46th president of the United States, assuming Democratic turnout surges on the day so many voters get a chance to chase Trump from public life. Hillary Clinton’s tepid 2016 campaign could not inspire enough voters in key states, but Biden will have four years of incendiary incompetence and bigotry to run against.
What’s dispiriting, but not surprising, is how Democratic elites continue to believe Bill Clinton should be exhumed every four years to address the nation. Along with George W Bush and Ronald Reagan, it’s Clinton who is to blame for the hollowing out of America over the last 30 years. As a triangulating “new” Democrat, he cemented the Reagan legacy by gutting welfare, punishing millions of the most vulnerable Americans. His belief in free trade chased well-paying, blue-collar jobs beyond the American border, crushing factory towns. And his championing of draconian criminal justice policy turbocharged the era of mass incarceration.
It is ironic Clinton was called upon to speak during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, brought about by a once-in-a-century pandemic. None of the economic dogma Clinton and his allies preached can be embraced today if the nation is to be rescued. Clinton and his ilk obsessed over cutting the deficit and shrinking government spending. The New Deal era — of massive, popular public programs to aid the workers most vulnerable to economic downturns — was utterly repudiated.
Even Biden, a disciple of the same anti-progressive movement, has acknowledged only trillions of dollars in federal spending will turn the economy around. He cannot afford to take advice from Clinton anymore, not with surging unemployment. Clinton represents a past no Democrat should want to return to.
The embrace of Bloomberg and John Kasich is particularly blinkered, in light of an alternate universe in which a 30-year-old political superstar is granted a prime-time speaking slot to outline where Democrats should actually go. Kasich was an anti-union, anti-choice governor who has reinvented himself as a doddering anti-Trump moderate, mostly complaining that Trump is too uncouth to lead a Republican party that should, when this is all done, get back to its austerity roots.
Bloomberg, a billionaire oligarch who failed in his hostile takeover of the Democratic party earlier this year, really has nothing else to say. Four years ago, speaking at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, he berated Trump as a con man, winning plaudits from vapid party elders who believed the American people would be moved by the spectacle of a rich man criticizing another rich man. Despite wasting more than a billion dollars on his presidential campaign — imagine the better ways that money could have been spent — Bloomberg managed a single primary victory. If the Democratic party continues to uplift voices like Clinton and Bloomberg while spurning Ocasio-Cortez, it will truly get what it deserves.
(Ross Barkan is a writer based in New York City. Courtesy, the Guardian of London.)