- More Smoke
- One Resurrection
- Oak Fire
- August Complex
- Albion Sky
- Microgrid Machinations
- Squaw Rock
- ATV Evacuation
- Brooktrails Repopulating
- Courthouse Gents
- Apple Press
- Willits Decisions
- Anton Stadium
- CVS Experience
- Freighter Cruising
- La Nina
- Bogner Moving
- Yesterday's Catch
- Keller's Band
- Women Known
- Downtown Ukiah
- Fascism Transition
- Hutchison & Roeder
- Remote Schooling
- Who Better
- Q Who
- Album House
- Herd Immunity
- 2020 to Life
- Orange Menace
- Found Object
ABUNDANT SMOKE LINGERS across northwest California as numerous large fires continue to burn around the region. Daytime high temperatures will continue to be moderated by the smoke while coastal low clouds will persist through the weekend. A chance of rain is possible generally north of Highway 36 next week. (NWS)
NO NEW COVID CASES were reported in Mendocino County on Thursday, but if you compare today's chart (above) with yesterday's (below) you'll see some interesting and unexplained changes. Most encouraging is one undeath.
OAK FIRE STATUS UPDATE: The Oak Fire in the Brooktrails area expanded to about 1100 acres on Thursday despite cooler weather and light winds. Nevertheless containment increased to 35%. Calfire reported that 25 structures had been destroyed and 20 were damaged, although that a full assessment is pending and the numbers are expected to increase. No injuries or deaths. Evacuation orders were lifted and residents were authorized to return to much of the area.
THE AUGUST COMPLEX FIRE initially began as 37 different fires on the Mendocino National Forest on August 17, 2020 after a storm that produced thousands of lightning strikes across the region. As numerous fires (Glade, Tatham, and Hull fires) merged with the Doe fire, (currently 471,185 acres at 24 percent contained), the August Complex formed. The August Complex is currently burning in five counties: Glenn County, Mendocino County, Lake County, Tehama County and Trinity County. This storymap provides a recap of the origination of the August Complex, and the history of the fire during the time it was managed by the Southern Area Blue Incident Management Team from August 24 to September 11, 2020. Created by Public Information Officer Katy Hooper and GIS Specialist Paige Gebhardt.
ALBION TUESDAY AFTERNOON
FORT BRAGG’S MICROGRID
by Malcolm Macdonald
On August 13, 2020, the Fort Bragg City Council met in a special session. The obvious item of interest on that evening's agenda was the appointment of Mayor Will Lee and Vice Mayor Bernie Norvell to serve second full four year terms on the council. Both originally won their seats in the November, 2016 election. In 2020, Norvell and Lee filed the necessary paperwork to be on this year's November ballot. No other candidates filed. Therefore, the early appointment to remove the council seats from the forthcoming ballot.
Tucked into that August 13 agenda was another item in the Consent Calendar. The item was a letter addressed to John Redding and Barbara Barkovich. The heading of the letter: “Fort Bragg Microgrid Project Status.”
John Redding is a member of the board of directors of the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District (MCHD). Barbara Barkovich is a partner in Barkovich & Yap. Inc. According to that company's website, Barkovich has been a consultant and expert witness for thirty-five years on energy and regulatory matters, with an emphasis on the electric industry…”
Barkovich and Redding appear to be a married couple.
The origins of all this go back quite a time, but came to stark awareness during the extended Public Safety Power Shutoff in late October, 2019. Grant possibilities through PG&E appear to have spurred Redding to charge full speed ahead into what came to be called the “Fort Bragg Microgrid Project,” involving his wife and others from a company of which they are part. Meetings took place with local and county officials looking for a way to provide permanent backup energy for Fort Bragg's most important institutions such as the hospital, police and fire departments in the event of future lengthy power outages.
Redding garnered letters of support from MCHD's interim chief executive officer (CEO) as well as from the city. The proposal he was going to present to PG&E as part of a grant application indicated that approximately five vacant acres of hospital district owned land would be used for the actual construction site of the microgrid. The letter of support Redding got from the interim CEO may have helped gain approval from Fort Bragg's City Council. The only problem: the hospital land is owned by the residents of the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District. Those citizens are represented by the entire board of directors of MCHD through public election. Redding is only one member of that board. Other than possibly mentioning the microgrid concept during affiliation meetings with Adventist Health, Redding did not take the microgrid project to the hospital district's board of directors. He also may have represented the full approval of Adventist Health officials for the project in order to gain acceptance from city officials.
In June or early July, word on the street has it that Redding was asked to cease and desist from the project by at least one of the parties he had involved in the process. Yet, he appeared to be back at something of a verbal shell game in early August, apparently telling the different parties, the City, Adventist Health, the hospital district, and by then Sonoma Clean Power slightly variant stories on the microgrid theme.
Hence, the letter from the City Council, approved and signed by all five members:
“The Fort Bragg City Council continues its support of and commitment to sustainability, self-sufficiency and healthy ecosystems. This is particularly important as it applies to infrastructure and utilities in our City and in the larger coastal community. The City Council unanimously supported the local community proposal to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for distributed generation enabled microgrid services in January 2020. While the City Council’s commitment to a microgrid, particularly one that increases the reliability of electrical services, does not waver, the Council is also committed and has a duty of transparency to all of its citizens and stakeholders. Thus, at this time, the Fort Bragg City Council must take a neutral position on ongoing or revised proposals for a local microgrid project. The City of Fort Bragg does not support or oppose any current or future community microgrid project. However,the Council does look forward to future collaborations in which the Council may fully support and even champion a sustainable project that will strengthen the reliability of the City’s utility infrastructure. Thank you and the Fort Bragg Microgrid Committee for your expertise and dedication to these projects.”
In political terminology, the Fort Bragg City Council was declaring itself neutral on microgrid projects. However, the letter was addressed to only two people, John Redding and Barbara Barkovich.
Mr. Redding did not take this letter as something expressing neutrality, firing off half-baked verbal and written accusations every which way. Nevertheless, after a month passed, Redding gave a succinct and rather calm presentation to the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District board at their monthly meeting in late August. He noted that PG&E still has grant possibilities out there. Board President Jessica Grinberg asked if the PG&E grants were confined to microgrid systems only. Redding replied, no they weren't. The implication of the question and answer being that a backup energy project for the hospital might not need the use of as much as five acres of land.
In his own clumsy manner, John Redding may have put the hospital district and other emergency services in Fort Bragg onto something. This is definitely a “we shall see what we shall see” topic.
THE WOMAN WHO REFUSED TO LEAVE?
by Mark Scaramella
A little after noon on Monday, residents of the Third Gate Road area heard a loud boom near the junction of Third Gate and Sherwood Road north of Willits.
A few minutes later neighbors were calling neighbors as a plume of black smoke arose from the vicinity of the explosion.
Soon, Sheriff Matt Kendall, fearing a fast-moving wildfire on the hundred degree day, issued a warning for residents to evacuate the area.
Most of the sprawling neighborhood, later estimated at about 4,300 people, heeded the warning in what the Sheriff would later describe as one of the most orderly evacuations he’d ever seen was underway as the fire spread rapidly north from its origin.
Fortuitously, residents of the area had practiced an evacuation just a few weeks earlier, aware that large emergency vehicles would be arriving at about the same time that residents were trying to leave in the event of a fire.
Subsequent reports, including a passing reference in our on-line edition, had it that a 47 year old woman had stubbornly refused to leave the area in defiance of the Sheriff’s evacuation order.
On Wednesday we got a call from Angela ‘Angie’ Saunders who had seen our on-line report (and others) and was certain that she was the 47-year old woman referred to.
And she had evacuated.
“It was very scary when the whole thing started,” Saunders explained. “I got a call from a neighbor and posted some information on my facebook page. I first heard about it through phone calls and text messages from local friends.
“Our house is on a high point in the area and you can see quite a ways in all directions. We saw the black smoke to the southeast. So I started calling other neighbors and they were already evacuating. One neighbor told me they heard a big boom and thought maybe a tree fell, or an earthquake or something. And then she saw a plume of smoke. So she evacuated right away, around 12:30 PM Monday.
“I first chose not to leave right away because I have 13 dogs and my SUV would not start. The battery was completely dead. The Sheriff’s department and the fire department used two different jumpers to try to restart my vehicle and it would not start — at all.
“That was the only way I could have reasonably evacuated with my dogs.”
Most of Mrs. Saunders’ dogs are chihuahuas, and imagine the cacaphony!
“All 13 of these dogs are my pets, my babies. They are the best! They even survived the 2017 fire that happened up here. They have already been through this.
“I asked the officers if I could take my ATV which has an attachment which holds dog crates. The officer told me I could do that if that's all I had. I rushed around gathering up my dogs and released my chickens.
“Also I had to recover my mother-in-law's cats at the parcel next door. She wasn’t home. But when I got there all her cats fled because they are her cats, not mine. She could have put them in cages, but I could not.
“I departed on the ATV with my load of dogs. It was little after 3pm. I was going down the road with the ATV and the dogs and a friend came up. I loaded up as many dogs as possible into his vehicle and got back on my ATV.
“I had two remaining dogs with me on the ATV. I couldn’t give all 13 dogs to my friend because one of my dogs doesn't get along with the others and I had to keep them separated. There I was, stuck in the situation, trying to avoid a dogfight.
“I rode the ATV to the bottom of Third Gate at Sherwood Road. A CHP officer was directing traffic there and saw me and said, ‘Where do you think you're going?’ I said I was evacuating. And he said, ‘Not on that. Get off and walk.’ Just like that. He would not allow an ATV on the roadway. He was being very strict.
“I had to park my ATV and get off. He wouldn't even allow me to ride it back up and drop it off at my house. I probably used some language that I shouldn't have used. But I did as he said and walked down the road with my two remaining dogs.”
Eventually Ms. Saunders’ friend came back and picked her up with her two remaining dogs.
“I am now staying with friends in southern Willits and hopefully the house is ok and the ATV has not been stolen and I will be able to retrieve it when we are allowed back in.
“I saw in your online edition and a couple of other places that people were saying that a 47-year-old woman had refused to leave. Maybe somebody could say that I refused, at first. But that’s not what happened. I would have evacuated without any problem except I couldn't leave without my dogs, my babies. I think anybody in that situation would do the same thing.
“If my car had started none of this would have been a problem, I would have loaded up my dogs and evacuated like everyone else. I even notified my neighbors who do not have an actual building but they live in the woods — you can probably guess what they do [laughs]. They didn't take it seriously and I told them, No, it's bad, you have to get out NOW. But they wouldn't listen to me and I heard that they stayed up there.
“There’s a rumor that the fire was caused by a propane tank associated with a meth lab exploding. But that could be just a Willits rumor.
“Sunday and Monday were very hot. The night before I was outside putting gas in our generator and the winds were blowing from east to west and it was hot even at night. After midnight my temperature gauge said it was 80 degrees. The next morning I got up early and it was already up into the mid-80s.
“There are only three parcels on Big John Road in the area of the explosion. Big John Road goes off to the right as you head up Third Gate Road. My husband and I drive that area regularly and it's got a great view. God only knows what it will look like when we get back.”
By Wednesday night Highway 101 was re-opened. Thursday as conditions improved reports had it that 25 structures were destroyed and 20 were damaged; repopulation of the area began, but the Third Gate area was still closed.
Ms. Saunders said she’d let us know what it looks like when she returns.
RETURN TO BROOKTRAILS
Joint Press Release between the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and Cal-Fire Incident Management Team 5
Oak Fire in Willits, and Brooktrails, CA
The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and Cal-Fire Incident Management Team 5 is pleased to announce that re-population of the majority of Brooktrails is currently underway.
The majority of evacuated residents from Brooktrails have been approved to return to their residences as of 3 PM on Thursday, September 10, 2020. Refer to the Mendocino County evacuation map for additional information relating to the evacuation zones referenced in this press release. The Mendocino County evacuation map can be accessed at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/MendoEvac.
There is still one area where the Oak Fire actively burned that is still under evacuation order and not able to re-populate at this time. This area is identified as Zone 1 and includes the areas Third Gate Road, Skyview Road, Big John Road, Live Oak Drive, and Ryan Creek Road west of Highway 101.
Law enforcement personnel will remain in the area of Zone 1 and new road closures have been established to protect the community from entering the active fire area. These new road closures are in the following areas / intersections: both access roads to Ryan Creek Road from Highway 101 (north and south) and Third Gate road near the Metzler Ridge Road intersection.
Residents who live on Metzler Ridge Road, accessed by Third Gate Road, are now being allowed to return to their residences. Residents who live on Schow Road are also being allowed to return to their homes. Metzler Ridge Road and Schow Road were previously included in the Zone 1 evacuation order, and are now being reduced to an evacuation warning.
No persons will be allowed to pass the road closures listed above or enter into the areas of Zone 1 due to fire damage. This is in an effort to protect citizens from damage from the fire as efforts are still underway to make this area safe to re-populate residents.
The areas previously identified as Zones 2, 6, and 7 on the evacuation map have now been changed to an Evacuation Warning and residents who live in those areas are allowed to return home at this time.
For additional information, please call the Emergency Operations Call Center at 707-234-6052 or visit the Mendocino County evacuation map (updated regularly) at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/MendoEvac. Please remember to regularly refresh the web page when viewing the map for the most updated information.
The Mendocino Sheriff's Office would like to thank all citizens and residents impacted by these evacuations for their patience and understanding during these re-population efforts. Please continue to respect the fire crews and emergency personnel in the area by driving slowly and maintaining proper situational awareness. Additional updates to this re-population effort will be released as they become available.
COURTHOUSE YARD, UKIAH, 1930s
COMMUNITY APPLE PRESS
The AV Foodshed apple press will continue to be available through the end of October at the Foodshed shed site in Boonville. Please email Cindy at email@example.com to make an appointment to use it. If you have never used our press, we can pair you with someone who is experienced with it. Unfortunately, the press will not be available for use at the Farmers’ Market this year. Due to smoke, the Boonville Farmers' Market is canceled this Friday, September 11.
Hopefully the air will clear before next week and we'll see you then.
THE DECISIONS of the Willits City Council for 9/09/2020:
5. Consent Calendar
(a.) Resolution Approving a First Amendment to the Lease Agreement Between the Willits Center for the Arts, and the City of Willits to Extend the Lease for the Willits Arts Center, Located at 71. E. Commercial St., for a Period of Ten Years, Beginning October 1, 2020 and Ending September 30, 2030
The Consent Calendar was passed on a Motion by Councilmember Strong and seconded by Councilmember Rodriguez.
. . .
9. Department Recommendations
(Administration, Public Safety, Community Development, Public Works & Engineering)
(a.) Discussion and Possible Approval of Tesla Agreements for Self–Generation Incentive Program Funding for a Backup Energy Storage System at the City of Willits Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants
The item was passed on a Motion by Councilmember Strong and seconded by Councilmember Rodriguez.
Have a great evening!
City Manager, City of Willits
ANTON STADIUM, UKIAH
CVS FORT BRAGG? A reader comments: “I am wondering if there is an agency that checks businesses to make sure they are maintaining sanitary conditions. I went to CVS today in Fort Bragg. What a nightmare. First I tried the drive-thru. There was a nasty phone receiver that had an old used piece of tape hanging from it. Luckily, I had on gloves because the person behind the filthy glass informed me they were doing Covid tests only, and I would have to go inside. Walking to the main entrance, I passed windows so dirty, they looked like they had not been cleaned in years. There was the usual trash on the sidewalk by the entrance that nobody bothers to clean up. While standing in line for 40 minutes, I watched the pharmacist have his mask hanging from his ear, and the other man that was working pull down his mask every time he talked to someone. They wanted me to sit down on one of two chairs that were not 6 feet apart and made out of fabric so they could not be sanitized. No sanitizer offered, nobody wiped the card machines. It was a nasty experience. Businesses should be held accountable for providing sanitary conditions."
TRAVEL TIP from Bill Kimberlin
I have been thinking how I could get the hell out of Dodge without flying on a jetliner or taking a cruise ship. Well, it turns out that you can book a room on a freighter. Very few passengers, view cabins, meals. Also, cheap compared to cruise ships.
The extreme weather that has hammered California with runaway wildfires and hit Louisiana with its most powerful hurricane in 160 years may be about to get even worse.
La Nina -- a phenomenon that occurs when the surface of the Pacific Ocean cools -- has officially formed, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said Thursday. It triggers an atmospheric chain reaction that stands to roil weather around the globe, often turning the western U.S. into a tinder box, fueling more powerful hurricanes in the Atlantic and flooding parts of Australia and South America.
“We're already in a bad position, and La Nina puts us in a situation where fire-weather conditions persist into November and possibly even December,” said Ryan Truchelut, president of Weather Tiger LLC. “It is exacerbating existing heat and drought issues.”
The effects are already evident. Rising temperatures and an extreme mega-drought across the western US are fueling fires from Washington to Arizona. California is having its worst fire season on record, torching an unprecedented 2.5 million acres. And in the Atlantic, a record number tropical storms have formed by September, including Hurricane Laura, which killed more than a dozen people across the Caribbean and the U.S. last month.
The first half of 2020 was already quite hot -- just 0.05 degrees Celsius lower than the record set in 2016, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. The odds are high 2020 will end up in the top five warmest years ever.
MENDO VAN & STORAGE
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 10, 2020
ARNOLDO ANGUIANO JR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
STEVEN BLYE, Ukiah. DUI.
TALON BRITTON, Willits. Parole violation.
ANTONIO CABRERA, Rohnert Park/Ukiah. Domestic battery.
MICHELA CAMPBELL, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.
ANTHONY CAPE, Willits. Hit&run with property damage, suspended license (for reckless driving).
AUDRIA CHRISTOPH, Ukiah. Controlled substance.
ANTONIO COMPTE-MERCADO, Covelo. DUI.
NATHAN DEGURSE, Willits. Grand theft, domestic battery.
MARCOS DURAN, Tyler, Texas/Ukiah. DUI.
ANDREW GITCHEL, Santa Cruz/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
TIMOTHY GOGGANS, Point Arena. DUI.
RICHARD HAMBLET, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
MATTHEW HILL, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, burglary tools, vandalism.
FOX HOAGLIN, Covelo. Probation violation.
MARK LEDBETTER, Ukish. Disorderly conduct-drugs&alcohol.
EMANUEL MACIAS-FERNANDEZ, Clearlake Oaks/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
NATHEN MARTIN, Ukiah. Controlled substance, unlawful display of registration, probation revocation.
ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
SHAWN MURRAY, Shingletown/Ukiah. DUI-drugs&alcohol.
JOSHUA RINO, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
GONZALO SANTIBANEZ-REGALADO, Sebastopol/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
CHEY SMART, Lucerne/Ukiah. Controlled substance while armed, appropriation of lost property without trying to return it, paraphernalia, burglary tools, killing-maiming-abusing animals, evasion, felon with firearm, resisting.
DAVID ZAKEDIS, Willits. Recklessly causing a fire to structure or forestland, burglary, probation revocation.
KELLER'S BAND, UKIAH
HAVE YOU KNOWN A WOMAN? — An online comment:
Petition: Free Julian Assange
Has any woman ever actually met one single real woman, a female human that you actually know well enough to say (let alone two women!), “They threw away their own precious names into a tawdry mess in order to ‘turn public opinion’?”
Never met one single woman who would do so. Not one. Not for love. Not for money. Not for spite or revenge. Not for publicity. Not for anything. Not even in a state of mental illness or abject fear.
Met plenty of women whose names have been casually thrown under the bus by men for ambition, money, defense, notoriety, spite, “honor,” etc.
Maybe in my entire life...maybe three women, maybe, have I personally known who publicly shamed/blamed a man to get child support, alimony, freedom.
Call Project Sanctuary, Safe Passage, etc. to corroborate. Call Hillary Clinton. Call Nicole Brown Simpson. Call all the great young rising female stars in Hollywood who suddenly disappeared. Hell, call Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew—quite a long list.
Check your own Direct experience before casually accusing women of throwing their own reputations away for some political boy’s game. Especially when saying, “Happens all the time!”
AMERICA’S FAST-EVOLVING CREDIT SYSTEM SHOWS THE TRANSITION TO FASCISM IS ALREADY UNDER WAY
by Richard Wolff
Viewing the GOP convention seemed a little like binge-watching the last several years’ parade of none-too-subtle signs of incipient fascism. We saw extreme nationalism, scapegoating immigrants and foreigners in general, white supremacy, “strong (narcissistic)-man” government, aggressive foreign policies, and hysterical red-baiting. Those signs reflect how capitalism’s deepening crisis undermines both the center-left (Democrat) and center-right (GOP) and shifts politics further right and further left. Trump represents the anti-center right, Bernie Sanders the anti-center left. Most capitalists want neither; the center worked very well for them over the last 75 years. As that political center implodes, U.S. capitalists favor the right over the left. They see the difference between fascism and socialism very clearly. They are not fooled by the crumbling old center’s self-serving efforts to equate socialism and fascism.
Fascism can indeed “happen here,” but in unique fashion. Fascism, like all other systems, has varying forms. As 20th-century fascisms took shape in Italy, Germany, Japan, and Spain—to take some major examples—the same basic system interacted differently with each country’s particular history and conditions. The fascism where U.S. capitalism is now headed will display unique features as well.
The fascism taking shape here is not primarily the crude political theater that today’s wannabe fascists offer. The Trump regime’s courting of white supremacists and other extreme nationalists, its virulent scapegoating of immigrants, Latinx, and African Americans, and its encouragement of police repression are too often counterproductive. Those symbols are similar enough to many of 20th-century fascism’s horrors that they are too easily recognized as dangerous. Today, the United States moves more quietly and more effectively toward fascism via its fast-evolving credit system. It’s time to expose borrowing as a path to fascism.
Today’s crisis-ridden capitalist economy is more dependent on credit than at any time in the system’s history. More than ever, credit sustains the purchasing power of consumers and of government programs. Capitalists depend on that purchasing power. Corporations now routinely carry more direct debt than at any time in the nation’s history. Zombie corporations—those whose profits no longer suffice to service their direct debts—now figure sizably in U.S. capitalism.
Once it was mostly private entities—rich families, banks, insurance companies, and pension funds—that were the chief lenders to corporations. They bought and held the corporate bonds and IOUs. Now those private lenders increasingly sell their corporate bonds to the Federal Reserve. That happens when the corporate loans get packaged into asset-backed securities sold to the Federal Reserve. More recently, the Fed has undertaken the market purchase of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) composed of corporate bonds and of corporate bonds direct from their private issuers. It has also made “credit facilities” directly available to corporations, tax-exempt entities, and municipalities. As the lender of last (and fast-growing) resort, the state becomes ever more the social basis of credit. The Federal Reserve is thus gathering the means to directly control the allocation of credit in a credit-dependent capitalism deeply threatened by its inherent cyclical instability, a major viral pandemic, accumulated domestic social problems, and growing international competition and isolation.
Key deals and intimate relationships between major non-financial corporations and their banks once drew the special attention of careerist politicians, students of capitalism, and also capitalism’s critics. “Finance capitalism” became an important new concept. As credit proliferated into all aspects of capitalism and grew ever more central to its functioning, another new term emerged, “financialization.” Once mostly private, that is no longer the case.
Perhaps we should call this latest phase: “state financialization.” The state’s central bank has become ever more important in controlling the conditions and pathways of credit in capitalism. That has been increasingly evident as capitalism lurched from the 2000 dot-com crisis to the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis and since. Credit provision by the Federal Reserve is now crucial to U.S. capitalism’s passage through the COVID-19 megacrisis and beyond. It is crucial to capitalism’s very survival.
The Federal Reserve now dispenses credit in historically unprecedented dimensions. As they keep their system going, capitalists, the Federal Reserve, and the rest of the government are feeling their way to a U.S.-style fascism. Step by step, they recognize their mutual dependency and sense the possibilities of credit as the cement—and perhaps the only cement—to hold an alliance among them together. Yes, they worry about their newly created mountain of money and how it might veer away from inflating the stock market to inflating and disrupting other markets. But that concern has been eclipsed by the urgency of saving a badly stumbling capitalism today. Capitalists who once bemoaned soaring government deficits and exploding national debts are mostly silent. They know that capitalism’s survival requires massive government, corporate, and household debts and their monetization by the Federal Reserve. The system is teaching its elites about the need for transition now from capitalism to fascism. Only for many of those involved, that transition is not yet quite conscious or visible.
Fascism is what happens in capitalism when employers feel that (1) their system’s accumulated problems exceed its capacity to solve them and (2) strong (often dictatorial) state intervention is needed for the capitalist system to survive. Fascism can also be capitalism’s response when the victims of capitalism’s inequalities (economic, political, and cultural) and instabilities (business cycles) will no longer tolerate them. If and when capitalism’s critics—especially socialists—build a sufficient mass consciousness and mobilize mass organizations that threaten capitalism with major reforms or with revolution, capitalists can seek an alliance with a strong political counterforce to construct a fascism. Such a strong counterforce can be a politician or a political party that captures the imaginations of masses of capitalism’s victims but blames not capitalism but rather immigrants or ethnic or religious minorities. If such politicians or parties attack and oppose socialism and offer capitalists a mass base they need but lack, capitalists will support them. Fascism—a merger of private capitalists and a state that reinforces their system—will have arrived once a fascist party acquires state power. Where socialists advocate system change, fascists advocate nationalism understood as a merger of private capitalism and the state apparatus to exalt some national ideal.
In contrast, socialism is what happens to capitalism when employees feel that capitalism’s accumulated problems exceed the employers’ willingness or the system’s capacity to solve them. Socialists are those victims and critics of capitalism who see it as the problem and system change as the only real solution. By system change, socialists have typically meant combinations of socialized (not private) ownership of means of production, centrally planned (nonmarket) distributions of resources and products, and democratic worker-coop-type (non-hierarchical) organizations of enterprises. Socialists have long been interested in acquiring state power as a means to accomplish system change. Exactly how much and how far system change should extend has been fiercely contested among differing kinds of socialists, and those issues are still hotly debated. Socialists from Marx on to the present have likewise often associated with anarchists around a goal many shared: what Lenin called “the withering away of the state.” Socialists have usually advocated internationalism—”workers of the world unite against capitalism”—as against fascist’s nationalism. These are some key differences separating fascism from socialism.
Fascism merges private capitalism and the state. Political power then enforces capitalism’s basic rules: the economic dominance of the major shareholders and their top directors and managers. In fascism, that dominance extends from economic to also political and cultural realms of social life. It goes well beyond the norm in non-fascist societies based on capitalist economies. For example, labor unions are suppressed or converted into state agencies. All independent labor activity is proscribed. For another example, public education is restructured to serve and feed directly into employment. Monetary policies, exchange rates, and trade balances are managed to achieve nationalist objectives. Cultural institutions are reconfigured and reorganized to celebrate fascism. In the early histories of some fascist parties, socialist criticisms of capitalism were borrowed and repeated to attract working-class adherents. Once those parties made their deals and alliances with capitalists, those early socialist criticisms were silenced and their authors expelled or worse.
In fascism, major shareholders and the boards of directors they elect make all the key private enterprise decisions (what to produce, how, and with which technology and how to use net revenues or profits) as in private capitalism. However, top state officials wield major influences on directors’ decisions or may join them to take seats on the boards. The fascist state typically silences capitalism’s opponents usually on the grounds that their activities constitute treasonous disloyalty. It likewise destroys the political parties of socialists, communists, and other critics of capitalism. For their part, the employers in fascism celebrate and fund the fascist party and the state it runs.
U.S. capitalism’s passage from a private to a state system of credit creation is now viewed as necessary by both of its constituent partners. Private capitalists, on the one hand, and the top political circles in both major parties, on the other, are thus merging into a particular kind of fascism. State financialization facilitates that merger. That some of the partners disagree with Trump and his traditional manipulations of fascist symbols does not change the transition to fascism under way and accepted by the consenting partners.
(Richard D. Wolff is professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a visiting professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, in New York. Wolff’s weekly show, “Economic Update,” is syndicated by more than 100 radio stations and goes to 55 million TV receivers via Free Speech TV. His two recent books with Democracy at Work are Understanding Marxism and Understanding Socialism, both available at democracyatwork.info. This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.)
HUTCHISON & ROEDER, UKIAH
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Today is the first day of school for my 2 grandsons via virtual learning. They are 8 and 7 years old respectively. My extended family has been getting a blow by blow description and pics from my daughter-in-law of the preparations leading up to this momentous day.
Each boy’s bedroom has been outfitted with a nice desk and chair and an appropriate computer. Some kids were provided a computer while the parents of others had to buy theirs. I don’t know what criteria were used to decide who got theirs for free.
Anyway, my d-i-l reported by text “The last three hours were distasteful with capital D. I don’t even know how to juggle between two kids schedules. I had to lie down for lunch break because it is just too much! Hopefully the afternoon is not bad and tomorrow goes smoother”
And then she adds “Disastrous with a capital D”
I then asked if she thought the teachers were doing a good job. She replied “Yes they are trying so hard. I have to carry a portable charger at all times because I am communicating with their teachers and helping other parents”
I forgot to mention that my d-i-l recently won an election for president of the PTA so she’s very involved. She’s also a substitute teacher.
I then asked “Are the boys able to stay focused for a one-hour class?”
She answered “Sort of. I am taking turns and camping out in their rooms so I can listen to the lesson.”
Then came the best part that had me laughing MAO.
D-i-l reported that “People need to mute themselves. I am hearing kids screaming “I pooped!” “Where is my water?” Screaming kids my head is about to explode”
Then my son Thom chimes in with an anecdote horror story from HIS on-line class. He’s 43 years old and started Nursing School remotely a week ago Saturday.
D-i-l replied: “I hear you Thom! This is horrible! Theo missed math and gym! The whole website crashed on everyone. Poor teachers needed a break and so did the kids. I am sitting here cursing at the laptops and sent the boys on the trampoline to burn some energy. Dear God! I need to run away to a remote island! I am so done”
MEET THE MAN BEHIND QANON, AMERICA’S FASTEST GROWING CULT
8chan founder Fredrick Brennan believes his former business partner, Jim Watkins, is behind the dangerous conspiracy theory.
by Keith Baldwin
There is a growing belief system in the US that is beginning to spread around the world.
Tied to a mystical struggle between ancient forces of good and evil that are secretly operating beneath the surface of our society, adherents believe they have been given the key to understanding the world.
They believe that their mysterious prophet has awakened them to a reality that you and I will soon be forced to face: that global elites from Washington DC to Hollywood are part of a Satanic (possibly Jewish) cabal of murderous, cannibalistic pedophiles who torture children in order to harvest their adrenaline-rich blood and oxidize it into the addictive drug adrenocrhome.
They believe that our civilization must be torn down to the foundations in order to be rebuilt—or perhaps just to bring on the apocalypse. And, as it turns out, the only politician heroically selfless enough to bring the whole system crashing down is the alleged peeping tom of Miss Teen USA and well-wisher of Ghislane Maxwell, President Donald J. Trump.
The billionaire accused of sexually predatory behavior by dozens of women—who is on tape saying he can grab women “by the pu**y,” who used to hang out with “terrific guy” Jeffrey Epstein and joke about the financier's preference for women “on the younger side,” who is refusing to provide DNA in the case of a woman accusing him of rape—that same man is secretly a crusader against elite sexual predators.
Who Believes in QAnon?
With Q believers likely in the millions—with that figure growing rapidly around the world—QAnon has a sticky capacity to pick up aspects of other belief systems in order to appeal to as broad a spectrum of credulous people as possible.
From Evangelical Christians to New-Age yogis, basically anyone liable to distrust vaccines in favor of either prayer or organic vegetables is likely susceptible to Q's message of mainstream evil and corruption.
The QAnon belief system fits neatly with the ideas about masks making people sick, 5G making people sick, or fear making people sick. Anything other than an infectious respiratory virus can be blamed for making people sick, and not nearly as many people are dying as They want you to think—They are just trying to control us for their mysterious evil purposes.
Back in April—when there was briefly a consensus on taking COVID-19 seriously—it actually seemed possible that people were going to abandon their weird conspiracy theories to focus on forming a united front to address a very real and frightening crisis. Surely people would find the reality of a deadly global pandemic much more compelling than fantasies about Hillary Clinton engaging in elaborate ritual murders. In hindsight, that was absurdly wishful thinking.
As it turned out, that April consensus would soon be undermined by Donald Trump and his ilk spouting off mixed messages, conspiracy theories, and anti-mask rhetoric. And under various states of lockdown and unemployment, increasingly disconnected, bored, and desperate people turned to weirder, darker corners of the internet for answers.
Despite (or perhaps inspired by) social media companies taking measures to purge this brand of conspiratorial misinformation, membership to QAnon groups has exploded. By some measures, it may be up to seven times what it was in March.
What makes the message particularly infectious is the way it's delivered. Originally posted on the /pol/ section of imageboard 4chan in mid-2017—amid a slew of similar anonymous posts from supposed political insiders —the cryptic “drops” delivered by a nameless informant claiming to have “Q clearance” (high-level access to classified government information) lend the whole thing a dire sense of secrecy.
As an added feature, the uncertain meaning and broken grammar of the posts allow individual followers to decode them communally—following the slogan “Where We Go One We Go All” (WWG1WGA), playing detective, and drawing conclusions that align with their personal assumptions about the world.
And if some of those conclusions—about Robert Mueller working with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton being executed in secret, or JFK Jr. faking his death to live as a man named Vincent Fusca—turn out to be wrong, that's only one refutation of a particular interpretation. No amount of evidence can touch the infallible source itself.
Unlike Pizzagate, which came before it, there is no Comet Pizza for a delusional gunman to invade—looking for kidnapped children. In that instance, when he discovered that there were no abducted children locked in the basement—because there was no basement at all—he and others were forced to acknowledge that they had some fundamental details wrong.
But when it comes to the cryptic ambiguity of QAnon, followers find evidence of the worldwide pedophile conspiracy all around them.
You might think that in a world where actual elite sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein were able to operate in the semi-open for years—using their power and influence to shield them from consequences—that there would be no need to construct elaborate fantasies.
Surely, with all their public connections to prominent cultural and political figures—some portion of whom were active participants in predatory behavior—QAnon adherents could simply extrapolate those relationships into the web of the secret pedophile network. While they certainly do that, even using phony, sloppily-made flight logs to Epstein's private island to implicate a then-teenaged Chrissy Teigen…that's not enough.
No, true devotion to Q means seeing evidence of Satanist activity everywhere. Let's say you're shopping for furniture online and stumble across an overpriced item with an odd name. Do you think, “That's weird, seems like a mistake?” No, you immediately start Googling the name to find a missing child with the same name. Boom, Wayfair child trafficking conspiracy revealed.
There's something undeniably noble about the role these people have assigned themselves in the imaginary reality they live in. They cut themselves off from friends and family, from church leaders and anyone else trying to convince them that they aren't living in a dystopian detective novel as part of the underground resistance. They give up everything to fight the deep state pedophiles.
Their altruistic convictions, coupled with their incredibly skewed worldview, can unfortunately lead to some very dark places. In addition to nearly chasing Chrissy Teigen off Twitter with a dedicated harassment campaign, nd inspiring a handful of violent incidents, QAnon has disrupted real, valuable activism.
In July, Q believers co-opted the #SaveTheChildren hashtag and organized rallies that lured in a lot of well meaning people with no idea about the conspiracy theory behind it. All that energy might have actually been useful if directed toward increasing awareness of the realities of child trafficking—and perhaps promoting some legislation to help fight it.
But the QAnon cult isn't interested in any of that. The only part of the government you can trust is the Trump administration, and anyone who tells you that child trafficking is not primarily the work of an elite Satanic cabal is probably working for the elite Satanic cabal—if Tom Hanks is one of the bad guys, anyone can be.
So how do you fight the spread of misinformation that is so resistant to refutation and authority—with a community that fiercely reinforces it? Maybe you can't.
Maybe QAnon is destined to become the full-blown cult that it is quickly trending toward—luring in confused and directionless people to trade their money and their real-world relationships for a sense of purpose and an online community of fellow believers. And maybe that cult will react very badly—violently—to a “deep state” victory in the form of Donald Trump losing reelection in November.
But if we want to avoid that outcome, perhaps the best chance we have is to expose the identity of Q.
Unlike many cults—which rely on the charismatic appeal of the leader—QAnon works because of the leader's anonymity. It allows followers to imagine Q as a perfect embodiment of their ideals, working deep inside the structures of government power.
In this framing, Q must conceal their identity and communicate through coded messages in order to continue operating in the upper echelons of the American government. If Q instead turned out to be a pig-farming smut peddler living in the Philippines…that might change things.
As it turns out, the founder of 8chan (since rebranded as 8kun)—where Q has posted those coded messages since abandoning 4chan in November of 2017—has been claiming to know the identity of Q for some time now. According to him, Q is in fact a pig farming smut peddler living in the Philippines—and also the current owner and operator of 8kun…
In 2014, 8chan's founder, Fredrick Brennan, first partnered with a man named Jim Watkins, who had recently acquired the domain for Japan's most popular message board 2channel—through questionable methods.
Brennan had founded 8chan at the age of 19 to operate as a version of the troll-haven imageboard 4chan, but without moderators to interfere with “free speech” (i.e. hate speech and worse). After partnering with Watkins—then around 50—Brennan moved to the Philippines to work with him more closely.
At the time, Brennan was a vocal proponent of the misogynist “Gamergate” movement, and while he still holds onto some of the ideas of that movement, it's clear that he has matured a great deal and abandoned notions of free speech absolutism. In tweets he has disavowed much of the toxic behavior associated with gamergate and claims to have “moved on.”
No doubt seeing the community he'd created become a haven for neo-Nazis, pedophiles, and mass shooters played a part in his growth. He resigned as the head of 8chan in 2016, selling the company to Jim Watkins. In 2018 he severed ties with Watkins and 8chan entirely and in 2019—following a string of mass-shooters posting their manifestos on 8chan—began actively calling for the site to be shut down, accusing Watkins of being “senile.”
That was enough for Watkins to have Brennan charged with cyberlibel under the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Facing possible prison time—likely a death sentence for Brennan, who suffers from a genetic condition commonly known as brittle bone disease—Fredrick Brennan fled the Philippines back to the US earlier this year.
So perhaps he has a bit of a vendetta against Jim Watkins—who has denied being or having any close connection to Q. Nonetheless, the case Brennan makes is compelling, and Watkin's biography makes him sound like exactly the kind of person who would pretend to be a secret government informant in order to manufacture a conspiracy and prop up the presidency of Donald Trump.
Who Is Jim Watkins?
Yoga and fountain pen enthusiast Jim Watkins got his start on the Internet in the 1990s by skirting censorship of adult content in Japan and fetishizing Asian women for a western market.
A helicopter mechanic and recruiter for the U.S. Army at the time, Watkins got his computer training through the military, but he left the service during the dot-com boom to fully invest himself in “Asian Bikini Bar” and the related ventures of his company, N.T. Technology.
Since then Watkins has moved to the Philippines, got married, started a pig farm, founded a conspiratorial right-wing news outlet called The Goldwater (that also fetishized Asian women), hijacked the domain of 2channel, and took over 8chan—which has since been under scrutiny by the Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation for allegedly enabling the distribution of child-abuse materials.
Why would a government informant working to expose a global pedophile ring choose to operate on a website that has itself been labeled as a pedophile ring?
Is it the only place on the Internet where a secretive Government insider can be certain that coded messages won't be traced or altered? Or is Jim Watkins—who labels any criticism of his site as “a smear by the press”—driving traffic to his platform and using it to throw some smears back at the mainstream media? After all, how can the mainstream media judge 8chan's content if they are implicated in the Satanic pedophile cabal?
Evidence of Watkins' Connections to Q
This is not to say that Watkins invented QAnon. There are other likely suspects for that. But, perhaps, around the time that QAnon announced that 4chan had been “infiltrated” and switched to posting on 8chan in late 2017, Watkins may have taken over the role—which would explain how Q developed an interest in yoga and fountain pens...
@DylanReeve He can post as Q at any time. 8chan now entirely relies on Q traffic, as I've shown, all other users h… https://t.co/iZy6JAUGg9
— Fredrick Brennan (@Fredrick Brennan)1598416563.0
At this point, QAnon is responsible for most of the traffic to the rebranded 8kun, and Watkins has not only promoted and defended the conspiracy theory and its merchandise through various venues, he even started a super PAC called Disarm the Deep State, with a stated mission to “mobilize a community of patriots in order to remove power from Deep State members.”
The PAC has bought ads for QAnon-friendly candidates—with more than one QAnon adherent likely to enter congress next year. And a number of those ads happen to be running on 8kun…
Watkins being at the helm of the movement would also explain some of QAnon's antisemitic underpinnings and obsession with propping up a fascist leader, as Watkins previously used his news site The Goldwater to spread messages such as, “The third reich of germany corrected a crashing economy, and was brilliant in transforming Germany from a broken nation to a superpower in a rapid, methodical way.”
Perhaps Watkins noticed that Donald Trump's brand of fascism (though replete with the usual trappings of nationalism, violent authoritarianism, xenophobia, aggreivement, false nostalgia, and militarism) lacked the structure of conspiratorial occultism that served the Nazi party so well. Maybe he felt he could provide that added structure from the sidelines.
But probably the most damning evidence that Watkins is, if not himself posting as Q, at least closely tied to whoever is, is the fact that 8kun and the most popular source for verifying and aggregating Q's posts both use the same IP address through an obscure Internet security service known as VanwaTech—a service which Fredrick Brennan claims was developed specifically to serve Watkins and 8kun.
A theory going around is that Vanwatech (@LimTheNick) is not an independent company, but is in fact itself owned by… https://t.co/fhGj33JIcM
— Fredrick Brennan (@Fredrick Brennan)1571306600.0
If, as this seems to indicate, Watkins operates both 8kun and QMap.pub, Brennan argues that there is nothing to stop Jim—or perhaps his son Ronald Watkins—from posting as Q and faking the “tripcode” verification system.
We may never find out if this is true, and even if we do, it's likely that many QAnon adherents would never believe it—following the mantra of “do your own research” in order to confirm their biases, rather than listening to any legitimate sources of information.
But maybe, if we can spread this information about Watkins to enough prospective targets, we can prevent more people from falling prey to QAnon's cultic conspiracy movement. Maybe we can prevent more families from losing their loved ones to paranoia and delusion. Maybe we can prevent American Fascism from reaching its full, terrifying potential.
President Donald Trump—whose every move is already interpreted by QAnon followers as being secret messages directed toward them—was asked about QAnon at a recent press conference, and stated: “I don't know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.”
When the reporter followed up, noting that the movement believes him to be “secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals,” he seemed to embrace the idea without much concern for its absurdity, saying, “Well, I haven't heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? ... If I can help save the world from problems, I'm willing to do it.”
FORCED BACK TO WORK/SCHOOL--A Deadly Anti-Science Policy of “Herd Immunity”
by Dr. Nayvin Gordon
If Covid-19 was as lethal as Ebola, the six million US infections registered on 9/1/20, would have already resulted in 3 million Covid -19 deaths. This is the reality of the murderous; let them die “herd immunity” policy the administration is intentionally following. How many deaths will they accept with this abuse and misuse of science?? https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-scott-atlas-herd-immunity/2020/08/30/925e68fe-e93b-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html
“Herd immunity” is a concept primarily used for the science of vaccinations to PROTECT THE PEOPLE from dangerous infectious diseases such as measles and smallpox. Greater percentage of vaccinations (90% plus), mean greater protection for the population, or herd immunity.
If no vaccine is available, we use the science of Public Health to PROTECT THE PEOPLE with testing, contact tracing and isolation. For a hundred years this science has been used to treat and prevent infectious disease such as sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis. The robust Public Health System in Taiwan has been able to suppress and eradicate Covid-19.
“Herd immunity” that follows as a result of deliberately allowing an infection to spread through the community does not protect the people, it allows them to sicken and die. This policy is responsible for the deaths from Covid-19 in the US now approaching a quarter of a million. Only those who survive may have herd immunity. This is the horror people faced in the 1800's before the development of the science of Public Health. This is not science but a deadly return to the Dark Ages.
Over the last 40 years the politicians have closed public hospitals and massively defunded and cut back on the people's Public Health Facilities to privatize the health system. Now that the for-profit system is clearly unable to protect the people, the government has abused and misused the science of “herd immunity” by intentionally promoting this homicidal policy as a legitimate scientific approach to the pandemic. It is simply eugenics, homicidal criminal negligence, and a crime against humanity.
The government did not spend $Trillions on the people's Public Health System
The government did not spend $Trillions on a massive national strategy to test, trace and isolate infected individuals.
The government did give $Trillions to bail out the financial elite of Wall Street.
How many preventable deaths are we willing to accept??
Time for a radical change, towards a society built on the people's health needs and an egalitarian world.
Dr. Nayvin Gordon writes on politics and health and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: “A 200-Pound Sack of Concrete” vs. “The Orange Menace”
by Norman Solomon
At a time when long-winded polemics and punditry about the upcoming presidential election are all over the place, a longtime progressive populist author and agitator has just summarized it all in less than a minute.
“Hi, Jim Hightower here,” a just-released video begins, “with a message for progressives who don't like Joe Biden's corporate-hugging politics. Neither do I! But -- and it's a very big 'but' -- Trump is a crackpot, a total plutocratic toady who's literally destroying the lives of workaday people and killing America's progressive possibilities.”
Hightower continues: “Trump has to be gone before we the people can move forward with our agenda of fairness and justice for all. So I don't care if Biden is a 200-pound sack of concrete, we have to carry him into the White House to eject the Orange Menace. I urge all of you, especially in swing states like mine, to suck it up and do this heavy lifting. Let's dump Trump, then we'll take on Biden!”
I'm excited that my colleagues on the Vote Trump Out project have teamed up with the writer of the monthly Hightower Lowdown to produce the new video, which concisely hits key points that often get lost in the haunted funhouse of election rhetoric:
• There's truly an enormous amount in Biden's record for progressives not to like. No point in pretending otherwise.
• The extreme destructiveness of the Trump presidency must not be evaded. Fighting for a progressive agenda must go hand in hand with fighting the forces of white supremacy, nativism, political repression, absolute climate denial and more. Being in denial about Trump's fascistic momentum is, to put it mildly, unwise.
• “Dump Trump, then we'll take on Biden.” With Trump in the White House and his fanatical right-wing underlings running every federal department, progressives haven't been able to block increasingly horrendous policies, much less advance our agendas. If there's a President Biden, we'll need to fight him from day one -- and we'll actually have a chance to move policy.
Franklin Roosevelt won the presidency 88 years ago running as a centrist. Militant grassroots movements propelled his administration to the left, bringing a transformative New Deal. We have a real chance to move Biden-era policy into a Green New Deal, a $15 federal minimum wage, and so much more -- if we fight like hell after getting rid of Trump.
Of course, nothing's guaranteed. The entrenched system is heavily weighted -- always has been -- against the interests of working people, women, people of color, the poor and others deprived of power by structural inequities. We always have to keep organizing and putting up a fight.
We've already hit bottom with Trump, and then some. In reality (unlike some fanciful notions that things must get even worse before they get better), the worse it gets, the worse it gets. The horrific directions that Trump has taken this country must be reversed.
Jim Hightower's new video underscores that progressives have the opportunity to get much better results fighting President Biden than fighting President Trump. Moving “a 200-pound sack of concrete” is bound to be a heavy lift, but the possibilities would be real. The votes in swing states will determine whether we get the chance.
(Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of many books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California for the 2020 Democratic National Convention.)