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MCT: Saturday, September 26, 2020

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RESIDUAL MOISTURE with a weak front will scour out today as breezy northwesterly winds develop. Warming and drying along with robust northeast and east winds will result in elevated fire weather conditions late tonight through Monday. Dry weather with above normal temperatures are expected all next week. (NWS)

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PSPS WATCH (Mendocino County "Zone 3" Sunday & Monday)


PG&E says it's planning to shut off power starting Sunday morning to prevent electrical equipment from sparking a wildfire as strong winds and high temperatures are expected. Power may not return until Monday.

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It was just a week ago when I heard sirens outside my home north of Fort Bragg. One, two, three, more and more sirens. Could it be a fire? Yikes! I thought of the best way I knew to find out: check Mendocinosportsplus. Sure enough, while the first responders were still howling north, Paul McCarthy was already reporting a head on crash in the Westport area. Tragic the crash was, but Mendocinosportsplus on Facebook (or Mendocino Sports Plus on the spiffy new website) often provided this kind of valuable information quickly. Then came the jaw dropping news, the 66-year old reporter gone seemingly while still reporting. McCarthy, a one man news operation with more than 25,000 followers, died Friday of still unknown or undisclosed causes.

In my years with conventional newspapers, we always refused to print scanner information until verified-- and with good reasons. Yet Paul tackled and wrestled these important news dabs out in a way no print newspaper I’ve ever seen. He sometimes stopped by my old warehouse in Fort Bragg in years past and we usually talked and laughed both news and Gloucester, MA, where I lived as a kid. We knew some of the same people from there! Paul had a gift for what seemed like omnipresence, humor and a talent for getting people to tell him their stories. Much of what he did I would not or could not think of doing like that. Yet, he made us all think a lot about what the news was, is and should be. Truly colorful characters like Paul are priceless for confronting conformity, robotically selected and written news and all of our beloved news conventions. Paul did all that with style.

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THE COMPANY KITCHEN is located in Philo, CA and our hours are Monday-Saturday 4pm-8pm and our phone number is 707-895-3698

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As Told to Jonah Raskin

I was raised on junk food, though I didn’t realize it when I was growing up and at home with my dad and my mom. We lived all over the U.S.: from Seattle to Fort Wayne and Blacksburg, Virgina. My dad was in the military and we shopped for meat and potatoes at the commissary. I finally got it that I was eating mostly carbs after I met Atsuko and we started to live together and then especially after we got married. But old habits die hard. Even when veggies were on the table I reached for the steak. I was almost 30 when I first heard about tofu. I took a tour of a tofu factory in Arcata and tried the free sample. I liked it. We were living in the Mendocino National Forest and we’d go all the way to the Coop in Ukiah to buy Tofu and Japanese vegetables. Atsuko would make stir fry with mazuna and serve daikon which actually tastes pretty good. Americans usually mess it up cause they don’t know how to do it right.

I’ve noticed that young people in our society are starting to learn the value of eating properly. My 16-year-old daughter, Millie, eats pretty good. Her brother Milo, 12, is a junk food junkie. He rides his skateboard and eats Doritos the whole time. Both of my kids inherited the Munson fat gene. I really got into Japanese food and so did Millie when we went to Japan and had to eat what the Japanese eat. Of course there was some American food. At the McDonalds, I had a tofu burger. When I ate with my relatives on Hakodate, the north island, I learned to love fish. Japan is all islands; almost every place has a sea port and the fishermen are super friendly.

For the longest time, I thought fish was horrible. You have to know how to cook it properly. I like temura a lot, and I love shrimp, crab and lobster, but I stay away from sushi. Once, I went out to a restaurant with my father-in-law, Shungi, now 91, and shared an $82 crab. He ate the brains, I had the rest. Another time, we took a ferry to Hokkaido, the north island. When we arrived I asked a cabby to take us to the best restaurant, which he did. It was only five or so blocks away from where we landed, and in a plain wrapper building.

This was winter and it was cold as fuck. Inside, we took off our shoes, put on house slippers, admired the aquarium with every kind of fish imaginable swimming around, sat on the floor and covered our legs with a heated blanket. The Japanese think of everything, except they didn’t with the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. That’s a story for another occasion. On Hokkaido, that’s where I saw the $82 crab, which was 3-feet across, and asked Shungi, “You wanna help me destroy it?” We did and we shared a pizza, too. Curiously, the same place made good pizzas. Probably the best meal I had in Japan was a ramen prepared by a 300-pound chef who had his hair in a net and wore a white apron. Dessert was corn flakes with strawberries, whipped cream and maple syrup served in a measuring cup. At a remote restaurant that catered to motorcyclists, the chef made a ramen with egg, onion, daycon and pork, sliced extra thin. I couldn’t think I could eat the whole thing, but I did and the next day we didn’t travel at all. I couldn’t move.

The whole time we were there, I was curious about the Japanese and their culture and the Japanese were curious about us, especially my daughter, Millie, who tells me she thinks she’s 70% sure she’s asexual, doesn't like guys and says that even though girls are pretty they’re still difficult. “Imagine being a girl and in a relationship with another girl!” she said.

“No thanks.” In Japan, Millie spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her grandmother who’s a pretty good cook. Like many Japanese, she likes to keep busy, makes her own noodles and serves a great fried chicken.

If and when we got hungry we would go to a little shop on the side of the road — like a taco truck — and order these delicious potato patties that are dipped in egg and in panko and deep fried and served with Okonomi sauce on top and wrapped in paper. They’re firm enough to hold in your hand and soft enough to pull apart easily. The last meal I can remember was at the restaurant of a guy named Miata Koichi who owns a bunch of hemp clothing stores and also has a restaurant. We splurged; $300 for beef cooked on a hibachi. I’d go back to Japan in a heartbeat, but with the pandemic I’m staying close to home and eating my wife’s wonderful cooking.

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NINE MORE COVID CASES in Mendocino County on Friday. Total now over 900 to 908. 

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Anderson Valley Community Services District

To be held via teleconference

Phone # 669 900 6833 Meeting ID 845 5084 3330 Password 048078

Public comments must be submitted by 10:00am on October 1, 2020 electronically to

Thursday October 1, 2020 at 10:30am

Call To Order And Roll Call:

Recognition Of Guests And Hearing Of Public:

Approval Of September 3rd, 2020 Regular Meeting Minutes

Changes Or Modification To This Agenda:

Report On Drinking Water Project

Report On Wastewater Project

Public Outreach

Concerns Of Members:


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by James Marmon (aka Jim Woolley)


Judy Busch was my dad’s cousin, she and my Aunt Shirley took singing lessons together. The Busch’s were one of the Potter Valley pioneer families. We used to own a pear orchard on Busch Lane, near Busch Creek. My dad said that he and his grandfather, John Busch, planted those trees when he was just a kid. The Busch’s bought their ranch from the Hopper’s.

My dad’s great grandfather John G. Busch was born near Hamburg, Germany, June 16, 1826. When seven years of age he, with his family, immigrated to the United States and settled in St. Charles county, Missouri, where the father engaged in farming. The subject of this sketch remained with his parents until about eighteen years of age, when he went to St. Louis, where he engaged with Peck & Barnett to learn the carpenter’s business. He served his term of apprenticeship three years and then engaged in contracting and building on his own hook, which he followed until about the first of May, 1850, when he, in company with two other men, started across the plains for California. When they arrived at Humboldt river they overtook four men who were hiding from the Indians. They united their trains and traveled together the rest of the way. The Indians would not let them cross the river, so they had to travel on the south side, and this was the first train to come through on the southern side of the Humboldt river that year. They arrived at Salt Lake July 2, 1850, where they camped one week and worked for the mormon women, their husbands being in California. Their labor for these women was mowing hay, and in pay for the same they received corn meal and beans. After one week’s sojourn here they proceeded on their way, traveling part of the time by night for fear of the Indians. They arrived at the Cosumnes river August 10th of that year. Mr. Busch began operations in the mines at once, which he continued till the fall of 1851, when he was taken sick and confined to his bed for about one month, and for twenty one days of this time nothing but medicine and water passed his lips. On his recovery he engaged at once in merchandising, which he followed until the fall of 1853, when he sold out and took passage on the steamer Uncle Sam for the East, and on the Atlantic side he took the steamer Yankee Blade. He went with the intention of bringing his mother, one sister, and two younger brothers back with him, but they would not come. After remaining for a period of nine months he returned alone, via Panama, and arrived at San Francisco about October 20th. He engaged at once in merchandising in El Dorado county, which he continued till the fall of 1857, when he sold out and moved to Sonoma county, settling west of Cloverdale. Here he engaged in stock raising for one year, and then, in 1858, moved into Mendocino county and settled about three miles north of Ukiah. He here followed farming and stock raising until the fall of 1863, when he moved to Potter valley, where he has, since resided. He now owns about one thousand one hundred acres of land and is engaged in farming and stock raising He married, August 21, 1856, Miss Ann Sweeney, and by this union they have ten children: Charles A., John J., Mary A., George H., Stephen H., Owen W., Minnie E., Catherine, Frances, and Hattie W.

From: History of Mendocino County, California, Alley, Bowen & Co., Publishers, San Francisco, California 1880

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MENDO GRAND JURY: Parlin Fork Conservation camp is 'well-managed'

Mendocino County 2019-2020 Civil Grand Jury (GJ) conducted a site visit to Parlin Fork Conservation Camp on February 19, 2020. The camp is a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) facility and is overseen by correctional officers and operated in conjunction with CAL FIRE.

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AN ADJOURNED MEETING of the Fort Bragg city council was held Monday evening in the city hall. Present were Mulson, Shafsky, and Fuller. Absent were Mero and Brown. An ordinance was introduced by trustees Shafsky and Fuller to prohibit wiggle dances in the city of Fort Bragg. Ragging, the Grizzly, Tango, Turkey Trot, Bunny Hug and a number of the other late dances are included on the list. The ordinance is to take effect 30 days after its passage — if it passes. The Star Athletic Club was granted a license for three months to put on boxing contests.

— Fort Bragg Advocate, Sept. 17, 1913

CONFIRMATION was received yesterday that three Hollywood movie stars, presently on location in Fort Bragg, will take part in the big Sunday parade at the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show in Boonville. They are Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint and Jonathan Winters. The three are starring in the movie “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!” being filmed on the coast between Mendocino and Westport.

— Fort Bragg Advocate, Sept. 23, 1965

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How will you vote? I don’t mean who will you vote for, or which measures will you support. I mean how will you decide on your votes, complete the ballot, and get it safely to the elections department to be counted? You have a lot of options this year, both as to how you go about voting and when you do each step, so it’s important to have a plan.

First, are you registered? Check your info at Do it now!

Next, check out what’s on your ballot. Get the facts from LWV by entering your address at this nonpartisan website:

Plan a time to complete your sample ballot. Talk the issues over with your friends/family but remember your ballot is your own and is completely private. Join LWV for a discussion of ballot measure Pros/Cons. See info at:

If you’re going to a polling place, bring your completed sample ballot with you. Decide what time of day works best for you, and allow enough time in case of a wait. Bring your face covering.

If you decide to return your ballot by mail, fill it out and take it to the Post Office as soon as possible after it arrives. No stamp required.

You can also return your completed ballot at one of the secure drop boxes available throughout Mendocino County and at each polling location. These locations will be included with your sample ballot.

Celebrate your participation in America’s democracy!

Dorine Real, Board of Directors, 

League of Women Voters of Mendocino County

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To the Editor:

Well Folks, here we are at the proverbial “Catch 22.”. At last count, 15 businesses in Mendocino have closed due to Covid and there are another 10 on the brink of collapse. Yet the County bureaucracy has not proactively responded to the pandemic emergency and the economic ramifications that this has on our special little historic village. I was in San Francisco the other day and virtually every restaurant has been given permission to open curb side dining with structural infrastructure with a simple online application. All I want it is a tent canopy to cover 7 tables in the garden and 5 tables in my driveway for the winter. Please have the political will to streamline this bureaucratic process to allow for the Director of Planning the authority to issue emergency temporary Covid permits. Afterall, the California Alcohol Beverage Control did it with a simple online application so i can still be a classic Irish Pub in Mendocino with one click of my mouse. I have 20 employees and a 25 year old successful tax paying business at risk.

Tony Graham


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So...where are we, in the big scheme of this project? We’re about a third of the way through it. The underground utility crews are in the final stretch of their work and are expecting to wrap up the water and sewer replacements in about two months. 

The streetscape work will happen in stages, and we see that beginning on the north end of the downtown. Starting in mid-October, new sidewalks will be poured. That work will continue throughout the project area—demolition, curb and gutter formation, and new sidewalks. The next stage, which won’t begin until early next year, will be the installation of new trees and landscaping, street furniture, new street lights, etc. The final stage, currently scheduled for next summer, will be new pavement and striping. 

Good news—we are currently in the most disruptive stage of the project, with both sets of contractors onsite and work happening along the entire stretch of the project, but we’re getting through it. Hang in there—just a few more weeks of this and then we’ll be able to open up more traffic lanes and more parking! 

Side note: In the next couple of weeks, you're going to see a LOT of street repair happening all over the City. Slurry seal work will be occurring throughout Ukiah. The press release with details and streets is attached for your information.

Construction Update - Week of September 28

North Side: Perkins to Henry Street 

Ghilotti Construction will continue the forming and pouring of concrete curbs and gutters, begin the installation of irrigation, and start sidewalk demolition adjacent to the courthouse. 

Monday-Friday: Sidewalk demolition will occur between State and School Streets on the north side on Perkins, south side of Standley, and on the west side of State Street between Perkins and Standley. 

Curbs and gutters will be formed and poured on both sides of State Street, and irrigation work will occur on the east side of State Street. 

During the week, Smith Street and East Standley Street may be intermittently closed for short periods of time. 

Work hours are from 6am to 5pm in this area this week; no night work is planned. 

South Side: Church to Mill Street 

Wahlund Construction continues to install new sewer lines this week. 

Monday-Friday: General excavation and sewer lateral work will occur between Seminary Avenue and Clay Street. 

Through traffic will be maintained on State Street, but Mill Street between Main and School Streets will remain closed with the exception of right-turns only from West Mill to State Street through mid-week. Once Mill re-opens, Seminary and Clay will be closed between State and School Streets. 

Driveways on the west side of State Street will remain open with ramps. 

Construction work will begin at 7 am in this area this week, and no night work is planned. 

As always, if you have any specific questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me directly. More information about the project can be found at

Have a great weekend!

Shannon Riley
Deputy City Manager
City of Ukiah
300 Seminary Avenue
Ukiah, California 95482
w: (707) 467-5793

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To the Editor:

The Sonoma County and Mendocino Lake County Medical Associations oppose AB 890. While we agree that nurse practitioners (NPs) play a key role in California's health care system, giving them autonomy without additional training or oversight poses threats, rather than a solution, for health care system access. Assembly Bill 890, introduced by Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, would allow NPs to run independent practices, yet fails to ensure basic medical competency are met, reported and maintained.

Physicians undergo an average of 7-11 years of post-graduate education (almost 20,000 clinical hours for family physicians) with a minimum of three years of residency, under close supervision of licensed physicians before we can practice independently. AB 890 would allow NPs to act like physicians, with a fraction of training (only 500-1,500 clinical hours, up to 5,000 hours under AB 890).

Proponents of AB 890 claim the expansion of NPs scope will increase access to care and lower the costs of health care for Californians across the state. Data does not support this claim. AB 890 will not solve workforce shortages in medically underserved communities. In states where physician supervision has been eliminated, we find no evidence to support claims that NPs move into underserved communities. Quite the opposite. Federal and census data from 2013-2018 show that NPs want to practice in the same communities as physicians. AB 890 will not provide care to the populations with the greatest need in our state, as intended.

A 2018 survey found that AB 890 may, in fact, make it harder for states to retain physicians. Seven of the 10 states with the lowest retention rates of physicians are states that have expanded NP scope of practice. Conversely, seven of the 10 top states for physician retention are states that require physician supervision. Physician retention ensures access to high quality, patient-centric care and reinforces protections against the consolidation and corporatization of health care. AB 890 may inadvertently make it harder to keep physicians in California, making an already escalating physician shortage even worse.

Another myth around AB 890 is that it will help control health care costs. To the contrary, AB 890 could actually drive up health care costs with the emergence of large corporate hospital chains and retail pharmacies merging with insurance companies.

Hospital companies support AB 890 because they see it as an end-run around California law, which prohibits doctors from being directly employed by hospitals protecting patients and the integrity and autonomy of decision making by the medical professional. This separation protects patients knowing that medical decisions are made on their behalf in the exam room, not a corporate board room. AB 890 will weaken these protection, giving health care corporations more control over patient care decisions.

States that have removed physician supervision of NPs found that NPs are more likely to order costly tests and prescribe pharmaceuticals at greater rates than physicians, driving up costs and putting patients at risk for inappropriate procedures and treatments. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners, in its strategic plan, calls for "parity with physicians and other providers in reimbursement, payment," further negating any so-called 'lower cost' benefits.

As Dr. Ted Mazer, Past President of the California Medical Association stated: "In discussing the future of health care access in California, we must make sure we neither inadvertently drive up costs nor lower practice standards. We must do everything to ensure patient confidence in the competency and training of the medical professionals trusted with their care." Improving access to care requires building on the team approach with physician leadership, expanding telemedicine, and incentivizing physician-led teams of physician assistants and NPs, working at the limits of their training, to work in underserved areas and to focus on righting the chronic underfunding of MediCal, the program at the heart of rural access shortages."

Rajesh Ranadive, MD, President, 

Jay Joseph, MD, President 

Sonoma County Medical 

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 25, 2020

Britton, Camporgno, Ford

NEIL BRITTON, Covelo. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, vandalism/graffiti. 

RICK CAPORGNO, Hopland. Protective order violation, probation revocation.

DANIEL FORD, Lakeport/Ukiah. Controlled substance, false personation of another, parole violation.

Garcia, Gonzalez, Hammond

JENNIFER GARCIA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.

JAIME GONZALEZ JR., Ukiah. Probation revocation.

MICHAEL HAMMOND, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

Meders, Mejia, Starnes

WILLIAM MEDERS, Willits. County parole violation.

BARTOLO MEJIA-CAVERO, Santa Rosa/Laytonville. DUI, controlled substance for sale. 

KEVIN STARNES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

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Billy the Kid Martin takes Fort Bragg by storm!

Some Fort Bragg old-timers might remember years ago when the CVS Pharmacy and Redwood Liquors area was where the old Fort Bragg Loggers baseball stadiums stood. Many a heated spring training game was posted there by the Loggers versus all comers including teams from the Pacific Coast league: San Francisco Seals and Oakland Oaks. The seals had the DiMaggio brothers, Lefty Gomez, Frank Crosetti, Ernie Lombardi. I guess Sicilians ate good if they could make the Seals. Dominic DiMaggio was in Australia during World War II with my dad, Master Sergeant Giusti and General MacArthur, even opened a big restaurant on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. The Loggers countered with coach Bob Pop Marshall, former Detroit Tiger Charles Balassi, the Pavioni brothers, and uncle John ‘Brick’ Cernac. Brick said the Loggers even traveled to Nevada, Utah and the Rockies playing minor league teams mostly in the Pioneer league where Balassi stayed and caught for the Pocatello Yankees.

Fort Bragg's own Derek Hawk once led the Pioneer league in strikeouts, pitching for the Billings Mustangs. When I'm in Billings I do a little groundskeeping for the manager and get free admission, beer, food, once even they put me up in a motel across the street. I met up with Derek once and he sprang for about a case of beer. He was supposed to pitch the next year for Nashville but I lost track of him.

Crow nomads like us get geography blackouts. I came to once and was hitchhiking in Pasadena waiting for the little old lady to pick me up. Mioght have got there from Mohave Desert. My hobo brain kinda checked out that time!

Back to Logger ball. The poor old Oakland Oaks didn't have much except Brooks Holder in Casey Stengal as manager. One spring probably in 1947 Casey brought a young Roman kid to town named Billy Martin. If you cruise the CVS parking lot in Fort Bragg you’ll notice a telephone pole on the south end. That's where this Billy Ball story begins. 

When the Logger field was built the outfield fence was constructed around that same old pole making it sit against the home run wall. The umpires always had to state these ground rules: if a batted ball hit off that telephone pole and continued over the fence it was a homer. If the ball hit the pole above the fence and came back on the field it was a ground rule double, and the batter was awarded second base where he must stop. If it hit the pole below the top of the fence it was every runner for themselves. So you didn't want a blind umpire! Those who remember Billy Martin probably as the skinny umpire-baiting Yankee manager that George Steinbrenner hired and fired five times (sounds like Jerry Philbrick!) probably don't remember much about Billy the Kid's playing days. He was no slouch. He was a golden glove second baseman and could actually play every position, like me. He played in five straight Yankee World Series championship games. He is one of only eight on that Yankee roster from 1949-1953. The others included Allie Reynolds who had the most World Series appearances ever by a Native American Crow, Ed Lopat who later managed the A's when they were in Kansas City, Vick Raschi, Siciliano, Phil Rizutto and third-base coach Frank Crosetti (both Romans), manager Casey Stengal (author of Stengelese) who was mentor to Billy and Yogi Berra, two mixed breed dagoes, rounded out that fabulous team. Probably they ate a lot of pizza and played bocce ball in the clubhouse!

It should be noted that Casey as a player and while at bat doffed hat as a bird flew out! He also pulled a quasi-hat trick! In 1945 he managed the last place Boston Braves. In 1946 he was a land baron in Hollywood and managed Oakland from 1947-1948 where he pulled Billy off the mean streets of Oakland and then in 1949 lead the Yankees to victory over the Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider led Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series.

Billy probably wouldn't admit this but Casey left him in Oakland at the beginning of the 1949 season until Billy pinched his pennies and made a long call to New York to cry and beg Casey to bring him to the big show. They were both etched in stone in Yankee folklore ever after! Casey went on to win 10 American League pennants and pilot the Yankees to seven World Series rings. Billy was on eight Yankee pennant winners, three more later as manager, and received six world championship rings as a player. Not bad for a "loser" from Oakland with a perennial chip on his shoulder. Billy missed part of two seasons in Korea as an Army reservist. I guess he'd fight anybody. He returned in 1953 in time to win the World Series MVP against those same Dodgers.

Here's a Billy mismatch from the spring of 1952. Billy had taken rookie Mickey Mantle under his wing (and beer can) in 1951. Billy’s mother was single and allegedly Oakland's hottest woman. I guess Billy bragged about mama so much that womanizer Mantle wanted to meet her. So they arranged to meet in Oakland when Billy went on extended leave from Korea to make part of the 1952 season. That was the one year Casey and Giants manager Leo Durochur arranged to switch spring training sites. The Giants were to train at Yankee camp in Florida while the Yankees went to Arizona which was called the cactus league, and Florida was the grapefruit league. So Billy and Mantle got to “painting the town” of Oakland then hopped a train to Florida. When they got there they couldn't find Casey nor any of the Yankees. Then it dawned on them that they were supposed to go to Arizona that spring instead! So Billy continued on with the Yankees and partied with his roommate of 54-55, Yogi Berra, who was American League MVP both those years. Then in Mantle’s 1956 MVP year Billy Martin was his roommate.

Along came 1957 in the boys with Hank Bauer, Yogi's World War II companion at the Battle of the Bulge, and Whitey Ford were at the Copacabana nightclub in downtown New York. A barroom brawl erupted and Billy landed in jail. It made all the papers — blah blah blah. So a few days later the Yankee owners delivered the ax. Billy had been traded. Tearfully Billy asked why. The owner replied, "You are a bad influence on every roommate you've ever had." "What?!" Billy exploded. "My roommate said just won the league MVP three consecutive years and I had to hypnotize him to do it!" Billy didn't put on a uniform again for nearly 20 years when Steinbrenner named him manager in August of 1975.

Back in 1947 Billy played what was later dubbed "Billy Ball" — a lot of bunts, stolen bases, hit-and-run, good defense, hit to the opposite field, all the little things that win a lot of ballgames. 

Billy didn't hit many homers, maybe about 50 in his 14 year career, so he must have cherished the big dingers he did get. That 1947 game really strolled to bat when home plate was probably right behind Lucy's laundry against the Fort Bragg Loggers. He connected a long, high drive to deep left center like a torpedo shot to the top of the old telephone pole! A little to his right and it would have knocked the light out. The ball bounced back onto the field as Billy started his homerun trot. The umpire, probably famous Fort Bragg coach Andy Anderson said, "Hold your horses kid, that's a ground rule double. Stop at second base." Billy came unglued. He wanted to fight Andy, the Loggers, and, as the fans booed, I guess he gave the high middle middle finger to half of Fort Bragg!

There's no room to throw this in the story but that area around that telephone pole has pulled at least three spokies on me in the past while shopping at CVS. Let's just call it the Curse of Billy Martin. I can't remember how many years Billy managed the Yankees but he led them to victory in the 1977 World Series against his old patsies, this time in LA, the Dodgers. My pal and former teammate from Fort Bragg high school T. Huber once went to see the Oakland A's play while Billy was managing the A’s. Huber said he met Billy in a bar after the game and Billy bought him a drink. Billy said, "Where are you all from?" Huber told him Fort Bragg. Billy reportedly exploded again yelling and telling Humber that Fort Bragg had cheated him out of a home run 40 years ago!

A few said endings: Allie Reynolds had to retire when his kneecap broke in a Yankee bus accident. Phil Rizzuto was fired by the same owner who traded Billy but did hire Phil as an announcer. He became famous for his home run report: "Holy Cow!" Frank Crosetti's house fell down in a San Francisco earthquake. Mantle died when his new liver rejected alcohol quicker than his original. And what really grieved me was Billy the Kid was killed in a car wreck. Yogi Berra made it to old age after a Hall of Fame career and inventing all those Yogi-isms and had quasi-great career as Yankee manager and New York Met chief taking both teams to the World Series. Yogi passed on at his New Jersey mansion at age 98. Uncle Brick Cernac, Fort Bragg Logger and Army team legend outlived them all except maybe Whitey Ford. Another grief to me was Brick died at a fairly healthy 101. According to J. Wayne, T. Huber went on to buy my orchard. And me, well on the day dodger legend Duke Snider died I got a new dog. So of course I named that ornery critter the Duke of Fort Bragg.

Love to all my North Greenwood people and Detective Youngcault Crow Roman empire!

PS. Like I stated in previous letters one my daughter is a registered psychologist. Here's a little psychology since it's in my jeans especially for some of these Ukiahans who seem to need what most of us can’t provide from a book by Marlyn Mantle.

Mickey had her promise not to spill the beans on what went wrong on his way to the majors. Evidently his dad who played in the minors and named Mickey ater the Detroit Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane was a quasi womanizer too being married a few times. Mantle had an older half-sister who would bring her girlfriend around and after playing pin the tail on the donkey they would commence playing five fingers on the little Mickey! That produced the greatest switchhitting centerfielder of all time. 

Funny how this author’s Alzheimer’s has in baseball history block! After half growing up a strong Giants fan at Candlestick Park I have a biased hypothetical fantasy. Hank Aaron played 24 years and hit 750 home runs. Willie Mays played 21 years, 660 dingers. Babe Ruth 714, Mantle 536. I forget how many steroid champ Barry Bonds hit. I want to prove under reconstructed hypothetical situations who was actually the greatest home run slammer of all time: Mays or Aaron? If Mays had played in 24 seasons (he missed two seasons in his prime due to service with Billy Martin in Korea) and had played in a hitter friendly ballparks like Aaron: Milwaukee and bandbox Atlanta where Mays once hit four homers in a game and the Atlanta Braves “launching pad” instead had played all his home games in deep dimension Polo grounds and windblown Candlestick he wouldn't have had to put up with pitcher friendly triples alley Polo grounds and windblown Candlestick type fields. Under different conditions we have to project Mays hitting around 900 home runs and if Babe Ruth hadn’t spent his last five years primarily pitching (playing usually only once every four or five days) he would been predicted with around 850. Of course if the Babe had curbed the booze, the hotdogs, the hookers and the suspensions (one for one third of the season) he'd be right there with Mays. But Mays also shook hands with a quasi-famous journalist: Yours truly.


David Giusti

Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah

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Letter to the Editor,

Justice Ginsburg, RIP.

Let it be known by all that the following is a treatise of question with no intent of bias and/or racism.

I tell you I do not know the true answers and with no intent of steering one's thoughts one way or the other.

Friends, boonters and wobblies, it is a fact that the passing of Justice Ginsburg is/was a sad, sad day for all. She was one of the first as a lady judge and has made several landmark decisions that will stand forever and beyond. Hear, hear!

Prior to her seating as Supreme Court Justice she served in a high court position for several years and was well thought of by all who served with her including the president of the United States, Slick Willie.

During her graduations within the justice system she performed the marriage service for two male homoerotics with the use of our Holy Bible, the missal of our Lord eternal.

Well now! Let's look into just how or why this questionable activity is found acceptable. Starting out, let's look up: using the King James version of the Holy Bible, the third book of Moses, Leviticus, stanza 20, block 10, line 13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”

It is known that Justice Ginsberg was of Jewish descent -- no problem with that. Not knowing of which religious persuasion she associated herself with, i.e. Judaism or Catholicism, she in any event used a Holy Bible, perhaps a King James version, for swearing in and/or accepting an oath or promise for responsibility she was to preside over. So after digesting all of the above question rears its ugly head: how can a justice in clear conscience use the Christian Bible, the King James version, in a marriage consummation of two gay guys in holy matrimony and beyond --!

This action in itself could be considered a co-conspiracy and aiding and abetting an abomination!

It you choose to disregard God and/or the holy Bible as nonessential or nonbinding why put your hand on the Holy Bible and swear to uphold its sanctification?

She, the justice, knows or should know that the Bible clearly states our Lord eternal demands, "Man shall not lay with men." They be obliged to constrain by physical, legal, or moral force.

Perhaps the two gay guys would then go through life just holding hands.

I told Gran that the clinic called this morning; they wanted Gran to come back over to the clinic. They forgot a urine and stool sample last visit. Gran said, My my! I'll give them an old pair of undershorts. She ain't going! You know how he don't like them fooling around down there!

Love you Gran.

God bless America, the Donald, Jerry Philbrick

Getting older and angrier.


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AROUND 5,000 SO-CALLED EARTHQUAKE COTTAGES were built as part of aid to SF following the disaster. A few are reported to still be standing in various (& unnamed) neighborhoods— ca.1906.

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by James Kunstler

History-the-trickster has paradoxically anointed the Great Disrupter, Mr. Trump, as the agent of order while the Democrats seek to bring chaos into every quarter of American life, a party of shrieking “Karens” and men acting like women. Such as: Tom Friedman of The New York Times mewling like a little girl to Anderson Cooper on CNN Thursday night that he was “living in terror,” that “everybody should be terrified,” because Mr. Trump “refuses to commit to accepting the election results.”

Is that so? I think it was Hillary Clinton who declared just a few weeks ago that “Joe Biden should not concede the election under any circumstances” — for instance, the circumstance that he loses the election. Of course, Mr. Trump, troll supremo, is simply punking his adversaries by proposing to play fair, that is, to play by the same rules they play by. And this only causes the Democrats to retreat into the chaos that is their comfort zone, where they hop up and down like fourteen-year-old girls in a tantrum.

They are provoked, you understand, because Mr. Trump actually represents the thing they hate most: Daddy! Daddy’s in da house, the White House, as a matter of fact, and this baleful symbolic circumstance has driven the Democrats out of their gourds for four years, turning them into a party of hysterical women and men acting like hysterical women. Would you want to get on an airplane in bad weather piloted by a crew of hysterical women? That’s kind of the Big Question going into this national election 2020.

Tantrums, tantrums everywhere! The hysterical women (including men) of the Democratic Party have enlisted Black Lives Matter as their official agents of chaos. It must be so, because every time chaos erupts in an American city, and buildings catch on fire, and businesses are looted and burnt down, and police are bushwhacked, the local Democrats in charge where these things happen do not offer a peep of objection. And neither Kamala Harris nor her sidekick Joe Biden send any message aimed at quelling the violent hysteria. One must conclude that they’re on-board with rioting, arson, looting, and bushwhacking. Like I said: chaos = their comfort zone.

The Democrats like chaos because it works as an effective smokescreen to conceal the dirty secrets of their private behavior, namely 1) the fantastic international web of grift among the Biden family that was just this week detailed in a report issued jointly by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Finance Committee (none of which was reported by The New York Times, CNN, or MSNBC); 2) the widening gyre of John Durham’s investigation into the origins of RussiaGate and now, surprise surprise, also into the suspicious doings of the Clinton Foundation; and 3) the financing and orchestration of BLM /Antifa riot mobs by Democratic Party-affiliated non-profit orgs.

So then, there is the key matter at hand: The Democratic Party’s open promise to bring their trademark chaos to the November 3 election, based on the tactical plan drawn up in “war gaming” by the shady Transition Integrity Project this past summer. The idea is to swamp the country with harvested mail-in ballots in order to confound a resolution of the vote and sow chaos in the electoral college — to which they will bring an army of Lawfare attorneys who will engineer the desired outcome in the swing statehouses with Democratic governors, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If Mr. Trump objects to these shenanigans, he’ll be labeled a “tyrant.”

It’s just the kind of election strategy that a gang of middle-school girls would dream up. Because they are hysterical fourteen-year-olds with undeveloped brains, it would never occur to them that Daddy might have a notion what they are up to, and a counter-plan to frustrate their scheme. They are in such a fugue of rage that they can’t think one play ahead on the gameboard. Well, as the wily Bonaparte once remarked, “never interrupt the enemy while he is making a mistake.”

The death of Justice RBG has amplified the hysteria. The Democrats are not just having a tantrum, now they’re chewing up the furniture, ululating, beating their flanks, discharging gobs of snot, peeing their panties, and foaming at the mouth. If he was anyone else but Daddy, Mr. Trump might have to take them out and have them shot.

Instead, the President is going to nominate a sane and reasonable Mommy to the Supreme Court, and Uncle Cocaine Mitch is going to see that she is confirmed, and there is an excellent chance that together they will bring order back to this deranged household — and then perhaps we can turn our attention to the real existential problems of financial crisis and economic collapse.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)

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by Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,

'Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,

Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,

Nor Oregon's white cones—nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi's stream:

—This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name—the still small voice vibrating—America's choosing day,

(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,)

The stretch of North and South arous'd—sea-board and inland—Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia, California,

The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,

The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,

Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all,

Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:

—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the heart pants, life glows:

These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,

Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.

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"MARTIN SCHMIDT is part of a growing number of QAnon sympathizers, one of tens of thousands in Germany. Followers of this right-wing conspiracy theory are convinced that an influential group of Satanist pedophiles is kidnapping boys and girls and using their blood to produce a drug.

"They believe that the coronavirus was developed in a Chinese lab – possibly with the help of Barack Obama – in order to hurt Donald Trump and prevent his reelection, a claim that is as absurd as it is false. And they believe Donald Trump is a hero fighting against the "deep state,” and that he wants to “protect the world from the demonic group."

It's all over, folks. The species is being consumed by the very technology that enabled me to send this and for you to read it.

The Most Dangerous Cult of Our Times: QAnon's Inexorable Spread Beyond the U.S.

The bizarre, pro-Trump cult known as QAnon has been gaining followers in the United States for months. Now, the conspiracy theory has begun spreading to Germany. It's followers believe that the coronavirus is a weapon of the elite in their quest to enslave the world.

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To the Editor:

United States Forest Service Mismanagement:

I am a retired career firefighter and it is my opinion that the United States Forest Service (USFS) is grossly mismanaging our National Forests by using midsummer forest fires as a “management tool.” I have several points that I feel are relevant to this opinion. Please take the time to consider the following:

The USFS does not attack wildfires on a timely basis that would allow them to suppress new fires at their inception as other fire agencies do. This allows the wildfire to grow to dangerous size before any action is taken. When the USFS receives report of a fire, they often do not take action on the fire for many days. Instead they plan for a major incident from the beginning by setting up their Incident Bases first and then calling for out of state resources. It is important to know that the USFS manages public lands…they are the primary “managers” of the land they protect on our behalf. State and local fire agencies protect private lands…when you call with an emergency, they will respond immediately.

The USFS does not utilize the California Mutual Aid System effectively. They draw resources from out of state and often do not communicate with State and Local fire agencies. Have you ever heard of “black ops”? CalFire regularly dispatches their resources to protect state responsibility lands and local jurisdictions within the National Forest boundaries because the USFS does not ask for help. Regrettably, the bottom line is that the USFS does not play well with others. The USFS does not give adequate consideration and action toward structure protection. I have had personal experience with the USFS ignoring structure protection and after evacuating a fire area will simply let structures burn without attempting to protect them. I have also been subject to the USFS holding separate briefings from the “all resources” general daily shift briefings that resulted in my structure protection resources being given only the barest fire behavior information and no incident map. I have also commonly experienced attitudes of superiority and discrimination from USFS employees towards state resources assigned to USFS fires.

The USFS policy of 16-hour day shifts, with no fire suppression efforts during the night, leads to ineffective wildland fire management. When is the best time to put a wildland fire out? Nighttime, of course. This is common sense. Cooler temperatures, higher humidity, and less wind. In the “old days” both CalFire and the USFS worked two 12-hour shifts, a day shift and a night shift on wildland fires. Presently CalFire works a 24-hour shift to take advantage of this environmental fire suppression opportunity. Now the USFS employs a single 16-hour shift and does not fight fire at night, thus missing the best opportunity to contain the fire.

The Federal financial management system allows the USFS to receive additional annual funding called “black acre” funds for budget supplementation dedicated for rehab and repair of the National Forest infrastructure and to repair environmental damage due to the fire. National Forests that do not have a major fire in their jurisdiction do not receive this additional funding and have financial incentive to allow their fires to grow as large as possible. I have personally heard a USFS Incident Commander boast that he was going to ensure that his fire “will have the lowest cost per acre” of any USFS incident. How is this done: the greatest acreage possible with the lowest resource commitment possible. CalFire resorted to the above-described “black ops” to ensure structure protection was carried out.

USFS safety employees go on “hazard pay” overtime from the inception of the fire until the fire is out. I believe this removes incentive for the employees to fight fire aggressively. Working 16-hour shifts during a 24-hour day ensures eight hours of overtime every day. All employees should be compensated for hours worked according to their collective bargaining agreements. I feel the USFS can do better by their employees and provide for better operational effectiveness.

Although it is commonly agreed upon that the wildland fuels are badly overgrown and in need of effective management to reduce the fuel hazard caused by wildfire, the USFS uses this fact to justify their management choices. Allowing fires to burn for months at a time, covering the state in smoke and making life miserable for most of our population, while simultaneously destroying millions of acres of National Forest land is not what we, the people, want. The history of wildfire in California is well documented. It is written in the giant sequoias in their annual rings. But I feel that “people come first.” Management tools used in the past, such as “let burn policies,” need to be revisited and changed to account for California residents’ expansion into the Wildland areas of the state for both residential and recreational purposes. What benefit is a wilderness area or roadless area if it has been destroyed by wildfire that the USFS refuses to contain?

When was the last time the USFS planted a tree to replace timber destroyed during a wildfire? When was a prescribed burn planned and executed to reduce wildland fuel loads? What do we, the people, expect from the USFS as a land management agency? Do we really want our National Forests to look like the Mendocino NF or the Plumas NF or the Klamath NF or the Sequoia NF or the Los Padre NF or the Stanislaus NF : charred beyond recognition and eroding into our rivers?

How does climate change play into this discussion? I am not a climate change expert, but hotter, drier conditions resulting from climate change can make a significant impact on fire weather and fuels. There is no question that if a wildfire is left unattended long enough it will explode into a life-threatening scenario for our firefighters. Our firefighters are facing extreme fire behavior without question. Why is it that CalFire assisted by local government resources can extinguish fires burning through subdivisions and up against our towns and cities in ten days to two weeks, but the USFS cannot extinguish any wildland fire until the winter rains come? Why is it that when these disastrous fires burn from National Forest jurisdiction to state jurisdiction the fire is immediately put out? How much smoke and erosion and property damage and loss of life and environmental damage can we endure?

Historically the USFS has set the standards for wildland firefighting. But the standards have changed and the USFS must meet the standards or let competent firefighters do the job.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am sending this opinion to as many media providers as I can in hopes that I can interest our legislators to take action and investigate these claims. I feel this is a political problem to be dealt with at the Federal level. If you agree I ask you to do the same. Am I an expert in these issues? Yes, in some respects. I am a retired firefighter with 42 years’ experience with both state and local government fire departments, and I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Management.

Finally, if a National Forest Supervisor allows his or her forest to be totally burned in one fire season, I feel that the National Forest Supervisor in question should be dismissed for failure to be responsible to the wishes of we, the people. I also believe that if the Regional Forester for the California Region 5 does not take appropriate action to remedy this situation he or she should be dismissed.

Please use this opportunity to let me know your opinion.

Jim Robertson, Willits

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How much longer are we going to allow its platform to foment hatred and undermine democracy?

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FRIDA KAHLO’S VENOMOUS LOVE LETTER to Diego Rivera: “I’m Amputating You. Be Happy and Never Seek Me Again”

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Attractions from Big Sur to Disneyland reel in the face of the pandemic and historic wildfires

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The "Fincen Files" Story Reveals: Getting Caught Doesn't Stop Banks From Taking Dirty Money. It May Even Encourage Them

by Matt Taibbi

On December 11, 2012, U.S. Justice Department officials called a press conference in Brooklyn. The key players were once and future bank lawyer Lanny Breuer (disguised at the time as Barack Obama's Assistant Attorney General in charge of the DOJ's Criminal Division), and Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and future Attorney General. The duo revealed that HSBC, the largest bank in Europe, had agreed to a $1.9 billion settlement for years of money-laundering offenses.

An alphabet soup of regulatory agencies was represented that day, from the Justice Department, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Treasury, the New York County District Attorney, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, among others. 

The regulators outlined a slew of admissions, with HSBC's headline offense being the laundering of $881 million for Central and South American drug outfits, including the infamous Sinaloa cartel.

The laundering was so brazen, regulators said, the bank's Mexican subsidiary had developed "specially shaped boxes" for cartels to pack with cash and slide through teller windows. The seemingly massive fine reflected serious offenses, including violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA).

The next years would follow up with a flurry of similar settlements extracting sizable-sounding fees from other transnational banks for laundering money on behalf of terrorists, sanctioned businesses, mobsters, drug dealers, and other malefactors. Firms like JP Morgan Chase ($1.7 billion), Standard Chartered ($300 million), and Deutsche Bank ($258 million) were soon announcing settlements either for laundering, sanctions violations, or both.

Even seasoned financial reporters accustomed to seeing soft-touch settlements scratched their heads at some of the deals. In the case of HSBC, the stiffest penalty doled out to any individual for the biggest drug-money-laundering case in history -- during which time HSBC had become the "preferred financial institution " of drug traffickers, according to the Justice Department -- involved an agreement to "partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior executives." If bankers can't get time for washing money for people who put torture videos on the internet, what can they get time for?

When I did a story on the case in early 2013, I found the HSBC settlement was the latest in a dizzying, decade-plus cycle of offenses and ignored reprimands involving multiple regulatory bodies. The number of times HSBC had blown off compliance orders seemed too absurd to be real. In one stretch between 2005 and 2006, the bank received (and, apparently, ignored) 30 formal warnings just from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Prosecutors insisted the deferred prosecution settlements slapped on companies like HSBC, Standard Chartered, and JP Morgan Chase were tougher than jail terms. The deals would place banks in a permanent state of quasi-arrest, with regulators granted enormous supervisory power and serious charges pre-filed and hanging over the firm going forward.

As one federal investigator put it to me back then, "This way, we have them by the short ones."

Fast-forward eight years. On September 20th, a combination of _Buzzfeed _and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published the details of a major document leak highlighting a decade of money-laundering incidents, involving hundreds of billions of dollars and a number of the world's biggest banks. The leak centered on a cache of over two thousand "suspicious activity reports," or SARs, filed by those banks to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a regulatory arm of the U.S. Treasury.

ICIJ @ICIJorgToday we reveal that tactics by US regulators to force banks to change their ways have not worked. Instead, banks defied crackdowns moving staggering sums of cash. #FinCENFiles Global banks defy U.S. crackdowns by serving oligarchs, criminals and terrorists - ICIJThe FinCEN Files show trillions in tainted dollars flow freely through major banks, swamping a broken enforcement ]

September 20th 2020108 Retweets131 Likes

Though the ICIJ was also behind the release of the Panama Papers, investigative editor Michael Hudson told me he believes the FinCen leak is "the most important" project they've worked on. Instead of being about one group of actors, or one jurisdiction, these revelations span the banking sector as a whole.

"It shows the widest set of problems," he says.

The story has been covered around the world, but some press accounts particularly here in the States seem to have missed the punchline, i.e. that the banks figuring most prominently in the FinCen leak are exactly the same institutions paraded before the public as subjects of "message-sending" punishments back in 2012-2014.

HSBC, for instance, continued to take in questionable money through 2012 and beyond, including $30 million from Hong Kong accounts related to a Ponzi scheme called World Capital Market. WCM was suspected of bilking "investors" -- most of them ordinary people scraping together five or ten thousand dollars and throwing them at false promises of guaranteed returns -- of nearly $80 million.

The leaked records show HSBC flagged the account as suspicious as early as 2013, but continued to take the money from this and a wide variety of other dicey accounts. Although regulators saw all of this information, the Department of Justice not only didn't take action, it announced in 2017 that HSBC had "lived up to all of its commitments " and agreed to file a motion to lift the deferred prosecution deal.

A similar pattern held with JP Morgan Chase, which in 2013 was hit with a cease and desist order over "systemic deficiencies" in its money-laundering controls, yet continued to do business with rogue accounts, including some infamous and obvious ones. To give some sense of the sums involved, JPM made roughly a half-billion dollars just servicing the accounts for con artist Bernie Madoff.

As far back as 2006, JP Morgan Chase knew enough to pull its own money out of investments in hedge funds tied to Madoff, but never told customers, and continued to manage his accounts for years. The bank ultimately settled with the government over the Madoff episode in 2014, after the 2013 "cease and desist" order, while continuing to manage money for other malodorous accounts -- including, according to the ICIJ, more than $1 billion for Jho Low, the fugitive financier behind Malaysia's infamous 1MDB fund.

In a detail that should infuriate the #Resistance crowd, Jamie Dimon's bank also continued to do business in huge sums for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort even after Manafort stepped down in scandal, and even after the bank flagged Manafort's accounts. From the ICIJ report:

 JPMorgan also processed more than $50 million in payments over a decade, the records show, for Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump. The bank shuttled at least $6.9 million in Manafort transactions in the 14 months after he resigned from the campaign amid a swirl of money laundering and corruption allegations spawning from his work with a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

"If you look at the cases where they tried to punish and deter the big banks, the headline-making efforts just haven't worked," says Hudson. "In the aftermath of these supposed crackdowns, the banks continued to move money in staggering amounts, for powerful and dangerous characters."

"The big takeaway is, the system just doesn't work," adds former federal prosecutor Paul Pelletier. "I think these SARs represent about $2 trillion in suspicious transactions, and nearly all of it went through. And this is just a small fraction of the overall amount of money."

According to Hudson, the FinCen files represent about two-tenths of one percent of the suspicious activity reports filed between 2011 and 2017.

In the aftermath of the HSBC deal in 2012, money laundering cases began to attract a fair amount of press attention. HSBC's case even became one of the subjects for Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney's "Dirty Money" series: 

At the time, there was an expectation that these stories could be told in the past tense, because firms like HSBC had been busted. The FinCen leaks show the opposite. The settlements may actually have been an accelerant, allowing for the appearance of regulation, while alerting banks to broader weaknesses that encouraged more brazen behavior going forward. We may have to change the way we think about "dirty money," from being an outside contaminant, to endemic to the system at its core.

Public legend about movement of ill-gotten cash usually centers on crooks sitting under ceiling fans in tropical locales, receiving mysterious wire transfers in places outside the physical reach of American regulators, like Vanuatu, Panama, or the British Virgin Islands . The FinCen leaks make clear the real hub of money laundering is in what Hudson calls the "choke point" of New York, where the world's largest financial institutions have streamlined the process of moving shady money.

SARs don't always indicate a crime. They're the regulatory equivalent of a call to police to check something out that doesn't add up. Bank monitors who compile them might be spotting something in their account rolls like a high numbers of cash transactions, large numbers of wire transfers to a country where the customer doesn't do business, etc.

The requirement to produce these reports creates a cat-and-mouse game for banks. Every time compliance officers discover derogatory information that leads to an account being closed, it's a direct hit to a bank's revenues. On the other hand, to keep regulators off their backs, banks have to be seen to be doing all they can to sniff out illegalities. Therefore there's an incentive for banks to cycle through creative ways of looking like they're engaging in compliance, without actually doing so.

A bank might create sizable AML departments, but pad them with inexperienced, entry-level employees incapable of spotting problems (see here for the HSBC example I wrote about years ago). A firm may hire a top-of-the-line department head, but not give him or her real resources. Required hiring boxes may be checked, but the company may non-report or under-report problems. Companies may even generate huge numbers of suspicious activity reports while leaving key data like names or addresses missing.

In a different scenario, reports are filed too late for action to be taken. SARs are supposed to be filed within 30 days, for instance, but the FinCen documents were filed to the government an average of 166 days after the initial detection of a potential problem.

In another stalling method, banks informally agree not to close suspicious accounts until a certain number of SARs have accrued. When the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations looked at HSBC in 2012, for instance, they found internal emails from bank executives suggesting that HSBC's Mexico operations had settled on a policy of not closing accounts until four SARs had been filed.

When the company's chief compliance officer found out about its subsidiary HMEX's standard, he wrote, in a bemused tone, "4 SARs seems awfully indulgent, even by local standards." HMEX later cut the standard to two SARs, which seems to be the exception rather than the rule. In the FinCen leaks, companies are seen repeatedly filing reports about the same actor, each time implying they've dug just enough to write a report, but never quite enough to actually close the account.

Of course, in banking, size matters. "Maybe the bank looks at a wire transfer and says, 'This smells.' Do that in a $12,000 transaction, and they'll kick you out of the bank," says Pelletier. "Do it at $12 million, and they'll let it go."

What's unique about this leak it shows bad behavior the banks actually reported. As one former investigator put it this week, "This is the stuff they actually have a suspicious activity report for!" That banks keep taking the money is bad, but the fact that regulators keep receiving the reports and letting shady transactions slide makes the dirty-money problem a bizarre symbiosis of private rapaciousness and (at best) governmental apathy.

While credit card companies are able to detect fraud and banks are able to detect suspicious activity thanks to technological advances, the government lacks the same capability, in part perhaps because the reporting system is not automated. Since it's a crime to leak a "SAR" -- you "literally have to steal one" to make one public, as one former investigator puts it -- they've rarely been seen by the public. The ICIJ has now put them on display:

The government receives millions of these written reports, which often appear to reflect a fair amount of person-hours of research by the bank. However, the government lacks what one investigator described to me as an "AI-type test" for passive review of this material, and lacks the personnel to go through it all individually.

At best, a federal investigator may go through the SAR database to check an individual or company already targeted in another probe. This particular batch of SARs seems to have been gathered as part of a congressional investigation into Russian interference, for instance. The rest of the reports are fated to be memory-holed by overwhelmed regulators. 

What do you get in this seeming worst-case scenario, when banks pretend to monitor, and regulators pretend to collect the monitoring? A short list of some of the messes found in the FinCen docs:

-- In one ridiculous case, Deutsche Bank's New York branch processed $2.6 billion and $700 million, respectively, for a pair of companies called Ergoinvest and Chadborg trade. Both companies declared annual incomes of $35,000, and the statements for both firms bear the signature of the same obscure dentist in Belgium, who claims he doesn't even own a car. Yet the money kept rolling through! The companies earned British registrations through "formation agencies" located in the Baltics, where investigators have found a rat's nest of problems in recent years. Deutsche Bank, the originator of 62% of the leaked SARs (perhaps reflecting the focus of the Russia investigation that produced the FinCen docs), moved at least $150 billion just from one small Tallinn-based bank, Danske Estonia, for instance.

-- Ukrainian Ihor Kolomoisky was the subject of raids by federal investigators earlier this summer, and has been profiled in colorful news reports that read like movie scripts. In one piece, he allegedly dropped crayfish meat by remote control into a tank to be devoured by sharks in the middle of a meeting, as a Dr. Evil-style intimidation tactic.

ICIJ @ICIJorgLearn about the 22 properties Kolomoisky and his associates purchased between 2006 and 2015 - with this interactive map made by @pirhoo. #FinCENFiles

Michael Sallah @MikeSallah7The Oligarch Who Ate Cleveland: Untold story of how Deutsche Bank helped Igor Kolomoisky acquire an empire in real estate in America's heartland -- the money siphoned from Ukraine's largest bank. @TanyaKozyreva and me and team from @ICIJorg.

The crux of accusations by prosecutors is that Kolomoisky employed gangland tactics at home (including using "armed goons" to take over an oil company), then funneled the money to places like the States, to be invested in legit vehicles like real estate. This is exactly the kind of person the SAR process is designed to identify and disqualify quickly. Nonetheless, the FinCen files show Deutsche Bank, which had entered into a settlement deal in 2015 for moving over $11 billion in suspicious transactions, moved at least $240 million for a Kolomoisky-connected account at exactly that time, between 2015 and 2016.

-- Even as Russian aluminum baron Oleg Deripaska garnered enormous media attention in recent years, including during the Russiagate furor, he continued to move money freely through the American banking system. The FinCen files contain a total of 58 SARs related to Deripaska, issued between 1997 and 2017, covering an amazing $12.41 billion in transactions. The Bank of New York Mellon flagged 16 transactions involving a Deripaska subsidiary company called Mallow Capital, but apparently kept doing business. To quote the ICIJ, "Mellon said Mallow Capital appeared to be a shell company operating in a high-risk area with no known legitimate business purpose. In 2012 and 2013, Mallow sent itself nearly $420 million using different British Virgin Islands addresses and different banks…"

The FinCen leaks highlight two major weaknesses of the regulatory system. One is the longstanding absence of a requirement that anyone opening a U.S. account name a "beneficial owner," i.e. who is really controlling the account. The other is correspondent banking. Banks in the U.S. are required to "know your customer" in addition to monitoring and reporting domestic accounts. Still, any foreign bank with a license may open "correspondent" accounts in those same regulated Western banks. A lot of the worst instances catalogued in the FinCen leaks involve these correspondent accounts, opened in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, etc.

In the long run, the regulatory system ends up serving as a_ de facto_ partner for banks that all but admit they're taking in money from Ponzi schemers, mobsters, drug lords, and rogue states.

This one of those "feature, not a bug" problems. Going back to the years after the crash, regulators spoke often about the need to carefully construct settlements, so that even repeat offenders might remain viable.

In late 2012, for instance, at a press conference announcing a market manipulation settlement for the Swiss Bank UBS, Breuer told reporters, "Our goal here is not to destroy a major financial institution."

"This is a bank that has broken the law before," a reporter said that day. "So why not be tougher?"

"I don't know what tougher means," Breuer answered.

Some time later, then-Attorney General Eric Holder gave a video message on the theme, "There is no such thing as Too Big to Jail." While insisting "no one is above the law," Holder pointed out that some criminal charges carried automatic regulatory penalties that "may even trigger the loss of that institution's charter," which, he implied, is not always a good thing.

This issue had come up at the HSBC press conference the previous year, when Breuer said, "had the US authorities decided to press criminal charges, HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking license in the US."

For that reason, Holder insisted, regulators often "must go the extra mile to coordinate closely with the regulators who oversee these institutions' day-to-day operations."

Translated, this meant the Justice Department was crafting punishments to make sure banks landed on their feet and remained viable as American businesses, even in the face of public reprimand.

A typical settlement involved a fine that sounded large but was really equal to months or weeks of profit, with penalties in some cases also being deductible, so that taxpayers could share in the joys of paying a bank's debt to society. In other words, settlements were designed not to hurt too much, but just the right amount.

Even a "record" harsh settlement doled out to the French bank BNP-Paribas in 2014 for sanctions violations, which included a rare plea to a real criminal charge in addition to a $9 billion penalty, only incurred a one-year exile from U.S. dollar transactions. Even when throwing the proverbial book at firms, regulators made sure to pave clear roads to redemption.

This was not necessarily a bad thing. There's no reason why anyone should want systemically-important institutions (who are often major employers) to be wiped off the face of the earth, willy-nilly. The problem is that if you completely remove the threat of a lost charter, it signals to everyone that regulators will tolerate even open repeat violations. In this light, even a "tough" public punishment becomes a license to steal.

Hudson, for instance, notes that announcements of many of the biggest money laundering settlements involving the firms in the FinCen files were accompanied by jumps in the company's share prices. HSBC's shares rose in London and Hong Kong after the 2012 settlement, and even BNP's criminal plea deal prompted a 3.6% jump in share price. Markets see the settlements as seals of approval going forward, and "send the signal that the regulators are looking to do a deal," Hudson says.

The irony of all this is that the Trump era has seen much gnashing of teeth over America's withdrawal from global bureaucracies like the Paris Agreement, the "Open Skies" arms control treaty, the Iran deal, and other conventions. Meanwhile, in the one place we want an isolationist-style wall, around the Federal Reserve-connected American banking system, barriers are wearing away. Only in crime, it seems, is America becoming more global in outlook.

Note: the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a model that should appeal to Substack subscribers interested in alternative media concepts. It operates according to a interesting collaborative arrangement, whereby reporters in countries around the world can join in any investigative project as long as they adhere to two major rules: everyone publishes on the same day, and all discoveries must be shared with the collective as investigations progress, so reporters can augment each other's work.

For this story, for instance, the ICIJ organized a team of more than 400 journalists from 110 news organizations in 88 countries. With a team this big, the ICIJ was able to manually check 60,000 addresses. The fact-checking alone "took seven months." It's an approach that offers some hope that the press will be able to tackle complex issues in an increasingly global news environment. To check out the ICIJ's reporting on the FinCen files -- they've published multiple features, bolstered by interactive graphics.

ICIJ @ICIJorgWe found the banking secrets of politicians and public figures like Paul Manafort, a former Ukrainian presidential advisor, a former DRC vice-president, and an alleged front man for Venezuela's oil minister. You can explore 20 profiles here: 


  1. George Hollister September 26, 2020

    Congress, the FBI, and the president miss the point, voter fraud in the up coming election should not be the primary concern. Chaos should be. The sudden change to mail in ballots is in all likely hood going to result in mass mistakes being made on the part of voters, and election clerks alike. The US Postal Service can handle this. In races all across the country that are close, including California, there will likely be legal challenges. The courts and lawyers will be working over time. This is going to be a mess.

    • Harvey Reading September 26, 2020

      Another conservathug wet dream, George?

  2. John Robert September 26, 2020

    Re. Jim Robertson USFS and CALFIRE

    On a local level am wondering how much longer the California citizens are going to allow the gross mismanagement of the State Taxpayers funded CalFIre. Way over two billion dollars annually now. We pay our taxes then sit back and watch as huge fires continue burning through neighborhoods destroying lives, causing ridiculous evacuations, killing, maiming, upsetting our hard working peaceful lives.

    This is because the highest levels of CALFIRE do not want to put fires out. They want to control and manage them. It is their desire to grow them into economic events. Bigger fires bring more resources. Larger spending units. The CALFIRE Aviation Mission Statement states clearly that the aviation resources are to be used in a supportive role for the management and control of wild land fires. Nothing about putting fires out!
    Just recently CALFIRE Director Thom Porter stated “All of our aircraft are geared toward slowing a fire down so we can put boots on the ground.”
    This is an archaic philosophy for this day and age. We have the ability to literally Make It Rain.
    We have the aircraft and crews to send up billions of gallons of water, flying clear above terrain in daisychain fashion, day or night, each dropping their loads of water from altitudes high enough to create different patterns of dispersal.
    This idea is not fantasy. it was studied in the 90’s at Mather, where they assembled thousands of individual cups on racks all aligned in drop zones to study dispersal from drops at different altitudes.

    The facts are its an economic money boost to have fires burn long and destructive. People get paid, Insurance companies, construction companies, all the money changing hands trickling down from the billions of tax payer dollars that get re-routed to CALFIRE.

    We have the aviation assets to put fire out quick. Anyone hear of the Berlin Airlift?
    We just need to realize it as a population and demand it.

  3. chuck dunbar September 26, 2020

    Kunstler’s Reality

    Kunstler’s mind’s gone
    Right in the abyss—
    Chaos abides there,
    Something clearly amiss!

    He seems pretty crazy—
    Really out of whack.
    But turns out the guy
    Is just using crack!

  4. James Marmon September 26, 2020


    My cousin David has been fighting fires from the air for over 30 years now. I can remember teasing him about his little cardboard cockpit cutout he used to study on. While taking classes at Mendocino College he also hung out at the Ukiah Airport until someone at Smith Air started taking him up and teaching him to fly.

    Back in 2001 David was just 50 yards back from the plane crash that killed his best friend and another pilot. The fire incident was known as the “Bus Fire” located just south of Ukiah off of McNab Ranch Rd.

    “Eight airtankers and three helicopters were working a 270-acre wildland fire south of Ukiah, California. The fire began near a suspected methampetamine lab. Airtanker Pilots Groff and Stratte were operating air tankers carrying 800 gallons of fire retardant each. The two aircraft collided above the fire as one prepared to make a drop while the second was joining the rotation orbit of ready aircraft. Both pilots were killed and both aircraft were completely destroyed. Two men were charged with arson, murder, and drug production charges in relation to the origin of the fire.”

    After that crash David testified to Congress in Washington which eventually led to more safety majors being implemented for pilots and their planes. There’s quite a few articles written about David’s heroics, here is just one written two years ago.

    Lead plane pilot honored for working despite losing his home in fire

    Mr. Spliethof continued to fly as a lead plane pilot for days after he knew he lost his home and all of his family’s belongings. The Spliefthof’s had nothing but the clothes on their backs. He said in an interview that there is no place he would rather be than flying and helping others instead of feeling sorry for himself. He had his family, so he continued to fly to minimize the loss of more homes. Several air tanker pilots stated that for a while they had no idea Mr. Spliefthof lost his home because he was professional and never missed a beat.

    There is a critical shortage of lead plane pilots and he had every reason to forgo his duties and focus on his personal situation. However, he chose to serve the agency and the public.

    James Marmon MSW

    • James Marmon September 26, 2020

      While David’s house was burning down during the Carr fire west of Redding, he was over here fighting the Ranch Fire.


  5. mendoblather September 26, 2020

    Mr. Angry in Boonville chimes in with this bon mot:

    “It you choose to disregard God and/or the holy Bible as nonessential or nonbinding why put your hand on the Holy Bible and swear to uphold its sanctification?”

    Next time one of your tattooed buddy’s comes over for a beer (and shrimp dinner?) show them this passage from the KJV:

    “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:28 (KJV)

  6. Gary Smith September 26, 2020

    David Giusti the prisoner can write, but he’s not the pro baseball payer Dave Giusti. Had me going there.

  7. Douglas Coulter September 26, 2020

    Oh show me the way to the next Sushi Bar
    Oh don’t ask oh don’t ask why

    Iwakuni Japan was my home for 18 months in 1979-80 at Marine Corps Airstation.
    I owned a nice race bicycle and century rides every week. Learned to speak Japanese well enough to have good conversations and discovered the people treated my far better when I honored them by speaking their tongue.
    Soba is the national quick food, unlike Ramman you can live on it Fat egg noodles and veggies in broth of fried.
    Sushi is only good fresh and much like Chinese gets cheaper when many friends share. A sushi chef makes it right before your eyes in a long roll. With friends everyone orders a roll or two and all share. The combinations are endless and only a few are made with raw fish. Eel is my favorite, both salt water and fresh.
    Don’t eat too much because it swells up inside. Lots of Wasabi, I mix with soy sauce and dip my sushi.
    Sea weed wrap and sticky rice along with what got caught that day in some little fishing village that looks old enough that you expect Kurosawa’s pal Mifuni to come strolling around with his sword. My bicycle leans outside without a lock. Squid drys on wooden racks along the rock wall next to the harbor.
    Too much sake and some well dressed business men in ties sing Frank Sinatra in the ginza district and Pac man is replacing Pachinko in small bars.
    I won’t touch sushi under a lamp at Safeway, almost as bad as old French Fries.
    When the powerful spice of hunger sets in, sushi from a dumpster is a gourmet discovery.

  8. Douglas Coulter September 26, 2020

    Punching is fine just don’t dare wiggle!
    Is that dem good ol days we alway be hearin bout?

    They’re selling postcards of the hanging
    The local passports are green
    The sailors work in beauty parlors
    Or dress like true drag queens
    In comes the county supervisors
    Time to talk finance
    As she sticks her hands into our pockets
    Takes the money right from our pants
    And the riot squad is waiting
    For the looting all to end
    So they beat on peaceful people
    And any journalist who offends
    And the Donald Tweets his message
    White man still rules this show
    With our Italian suits kneeling on the necks of Desolation ROE
    Douglas graffiti
    ROE = rules of engagement

  9. michael turner September 26, 2020

    It’s the most overwrought Kunsler “essay” to date! Who needs synonyms when you can screech the word “tantrum” four times, “hysteria” and “hysterical” six times, and “chaos” seven times! Either the sky is falling or the poor guy took too much adderall again.

    • George Hollister September 26, 2020

      He is likely right, neither candidate will concede the election in the middle of the up coming chaos. We will see. What he is wrong about is the assertion that there is some sort of Democratic Party strategy to promote the chaos. No, just the standard incompetence. Same can be said about Trump. Except in Trump’s ever inarticulate way, he speaks to the potential problems with the sudden implementation of mail in ballots. Trump is right.

      The integrity of the vote requires using methods long proved to work, not experimenting with new ideas because they seem like a good idea. Voting is too important, and Covid-19 is a minor issue that can be easily dealt with to accommodate long used and proven voting methods.

      • Harvey Reading September 27, 2020

        Horse sh-t, George, as usual.

  10. Douglas Coulter September 26, 2020

    Kunt slur
    Hysterical women?
    Burning cities, looting, police being murdered?
    I have an idea, martial law!
    One man, no conspiracy burned down the Reichstag.
    Nazi’s had better propaganda tools and blamed it on commies.
    Hitler took power and restored order
    Hitler put unemployed to work
    Hitler restored the shattered economy
    But at what cost?
    I could blame you for my prostrate cancer but that would not help me survive it. Many might say you are a pain in the ass and I could gain a following.
    Ever read, The Grapes of Wrath?
    At Hooverville a group of vigilantes with axe handles waits outside a dance for the fight to break out. The fight they sent a crew in to start. We saw this same effort at Standing Rock, armed men sneaking into protest camp.
    Howard Zinn writes much of this union busting tactic.

    Roman guard could quench most riots in hours and our police still use Phalynx to control crowds. But looting and riots help the cause of police by reinforcing the need for more police. You can be sure riots are not done by protesters. They are started by a provoking few and quickly suck in every angry disenfranchised young person standing by. Any modern riot crew can restore order in two hours unless they face house to house combat. That becomes urban warfare and is a different beast.
    A riot by definition has no leader, no organization. But let it burn and wait for the public to beg police for help.

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