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AREAS OF SMOKE AND HAZE along with hot interior temperatures will continue today, then temperatures are expected to return to near seasonal normals during the first half of this work week. Increased afternoon westerly winds may reduce smoke in many areas this afternoon and Monday. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S HIGHS: Ukiah 104°, Yorkville 102°, Boonville 97°, Fort Bragg 64°
BELL SPRINGS FIRE. An evacuation order was issued for residents living in the path of a fire that broke out early this afternoon in the area of Foster Creek and Bell Springs roads, north of Laytonville. The evacuation was subsequently lifted and the fire was contained to less than 50 acres. It is still unknown if any structures burned. The Sheriff’s Office alerted media to the fire in a 12:43 p.m. tweet.
SMALL TOWNS GROW DESPERATE FOR WATER IN CALIFORNIA
MENDOCINO, Calif. — As a measure of both the nation’s creaking infrastructure and the severity of the drought gripping California there is the $5 shower. That’s how much Ian Roth, the owner of the Seagull Inn, a bed-and-breakfast in this tourist town three hours north of San Francisco, spends on water every time a guest washes for five minutes under the shower nozzle.
FIRE THREATENED UKIAH’S EASTERN HILLS DECLARED ARSON.
Fire jumped Russian River, got 50 feet from Redemeyer Road
by Justine Frederiksen
A vegetation fire that jumped the Russian River and headed straight for homes in the hills east of Ukiah Wednesday was intentionally set, Ukiah Valley Fire Authority Battalion Chief Eric Singleton said.
“All other causes have been ruled out, which leaves only human cause,” said Singleton Thursday morning after spending all night with two engines at the scene of the Highway Fire, which started around 3:15 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 11 near the intersection of Highway 101 and River Street in Ukiah just north of the city of Ukiah’s water treatment plant.
“But it didn’t start along the highway, it started in the creek bed,” said Singleton, adding that there are signs of encampments “all over the area” and UVFA investigators were contacting people who may have seen the fire being started or witnessed other suspicious activity.
The fire was first described as about two acres in size and burning two structures with the potential to grow to about 50 acres with multiple spot fires reported in the surrounding area. Singleton said two outbuildings did burn, but crews kept the fire from burning any homes.
Firefighters also kept the flames from reaching the city’s water treatment plant, which Singleton said became a particular priority after crews learned that highly flammable chlorine gas was being stored at the facility.
He said they were able to stop the fire from burning the water plant and nearby homes, but it did cross the river and headed east toward Redemeyer Road around 3:50 p.m., prompting a mix of evacuation orders and warnings for many neighborhoods in the eastern hills, including El Dorado, Vichy Springs, Knob Hill and Deerwood.
At 4:05 p.m., the MCSO issued “an evacuation order for the area of Redemeyer Road, Vichy Springs, and the El Dorado area. There is a evacuation warning for the Deerwood area and Knob Hill area.”
“The fire was stopped 50 feet from crossing Redemeyer Road,” said Singleton, adding that “forward progress” of the fire was stopped by 4:50 p.m., but the work of firefighters continued all night as crews created and maintained containment lines all around the flames.
Around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the MCSO reported that “due to wind conditions, we are going to hold evacuation orders and warnings for a few more hours.”
Personnel from Cal Fire, Hopland Fire and other agencies assisted UVFA on the ground, and multiple Cal Fire aircraft were deployed, including tankers and at least one helicopter.
Singleton said crews from several agencies on the Mendocino Coast, including Fort Bragg, South Coast, Redwood Coast, as well as Hopland Fire, were responding Thursday morning to maintain containment lines so the crews who worked all night could rest, including himself. He said the fire was holding at 30 acres.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Sadie is VERY social with people and other dogs. She’s clever, playful, and outgoing. As part of the Herding Breed family, she is no couch potato! Sadie will need an active guardian to keep her busy physically and mentally. At 4 months old, Sadie is a great age to begin basic training, along with fun activities like canine sports and agility. Herding dogs are very smart, and love to interact with their guardians. Sadie weighs a delightful 23 pounds.
For more about Sadie, visit mendoanimalshelter.com. While you’re there, check out all of our canine and feline guests, our services, programs, events, and updates. Visit us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/. For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.
TWO WOMEN WALK 36 HOURS After Their Motorhome Wrecks Deep In The Mendocino National Forest
by Matt LeFever, Redheaded Blackbelt
In the deep dark of the early morning of August 7, 2021, three Lewiston residents were traversing the sketchy roads of the Mendocino National Forest. Forty miles east of Covelo, nearing the Tehema County line, California Highway Patrol’s Officer Rick Fowler said the adventure took an unexpected turn when the motorhome went off the roadway, down an embankment, colliding with …
ACCORDING TO THE CENSUS BUREAU, Mendocino County grew by almost 4,000 people since the last decennial count. Its best estimate is that we now have 91,601 residents, up from 87,841 in 2010. Not counting the uncounted, of course. These new numbers are supposed to be used by the newly appointed citizens advisory committee to determine if any supervisorial districts should be revised.
BEN TOOHEY ASKS: Anybody have a best guess or strong suggestion of how you would say PANTHER in Boontling? Best I can come up with is “Huge Tomker” which would literally translate to “Big Tomcat.” Any other ideas?
JEFF BLANKFORT: And that's the way the story ends… At least this chapter, with the Americans and the journalists who follow them, like those who clean up after elephants in the old circuses, coming up with blank stares and clueless:
“A third official said on Thursday that the Taliban would forfeit any legitimacy — and, in turn, foreign aid — if it attacks Kabul or takes over Afghanistan’s government by force.
“Five current and former officials described the mood inside the embassy as increasingly tense and worried, and diplomats at the State Department’s headquarters in Washington noted a sense of tangible depression at the specter of closing it, nearly 20 years after Marines reclaimed the burned-out building in December 2001.
“Several people gloomily revived a comparison that all wanted to avoid: the fall of Saigon in 1975, when Americans stationed at the U.S. Embassy were evacuated from a rooftop by helicopter.”
THE TALIBAN obviously operate out of a medieval playbook, but I think we need independent verification of the alleged fresh Taliban atrocities. There's a vague image circulating purportedly showing tarred but not feathered men being dragged through the streets with nooses around their necks by armed gunmen. This isn't quite an atrocity since the men are alive but, really, there won't be some score settling in this situation after the Taliban themselves suffered many more losses and untold atrocities over the past twenty years? And now, can 5,000 American and Brit troops prevent the Taliban from, as one of their spokesmen said, “entering Kabul like a lion,” or are they there merely “to ensure an orderly exit of embassy staff” and their dependent Afghans? 5000 Marines plus air support ought to be able to bring off an “orderly exit.”
FOR ONCE I agree with Biden — you can't endlessly prop up people, especially a gang of crooks like the Afghan government, endlessly incapable of defending themselves. Had to laugh when that clownish Pentagon spokesman said the situation was “deeply concerning.” Give both sides the same weapons and the Taliban would take the Pentagon in a few hours.
A READER asked who used to run the Boonville Dump before order was restored in the form of the transfer station there now? Nobody ran it. You just threw whatever over the side, and it was always burning, not flaming but smoking with an occasional flame visible. Attracted bears, too. An elderly woman tumbled over the side into the smoldering pit one afternoon, and when her elderly companion tried to rescue her both wound up in the hospital. That macabre event was it for the Boonville Dump. Then came the transfer station with a series of attendants, including the late Donna Ronne, former Playboy centerfold, always with a fresh joke in both senses. There was also a free for all dump at Navarro. Same deal. Just heave stuff over the side. Those were the days.
THE MOST FRIGHTENING story today was the Forest Service announcement that said firefighters in the Western U.S. are being stretched to the limit by the numerous blazes ravaging the state. The FS said that it is “operating in crisis mode.” The roughly 21,000 federal firefighters working on the ground is more than double the number of firefighters sent to contain forest fires at this time a year ago. Anthony Scardina, a deputy forester for the agency's Pacific Southwest region, said the agency is facing “critical resources limitations.” An estimated 6,170 firefighters are battling the Dixie Fire in Northern California, the largest of 100 mega-fires burning in 14 states, with dozens more burning in western Canada. Federal firefighters are deployed in addition to state forces. According to Cal Fire, 9,831 firefighters were battling 11 major wildfires and many smaller blazes throughout the state. Federal firefighters are paid significantly less than their state colleagues - leading to a significant shortage, according to Senator Feinstein in an op ed for the LA Times. The starting salary for many federal US Forest Service firefighters in California is $28,078, versus the $66,336 entry-level salary Cal Fire pays. Inmates in California have, since 1946, been used to fight fires and were deployed on Friday. Service is voluntary and any inmate can apply to the program - but not every inmate qualifies, as those with more than five years left of their sentence are barred, as are those serving time for violent crimes.
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 14, 2021
JOSHUA BONNET, Leggett. DUI.
NATHANIEL CHIM, Fort Bragg. Under influence, controlled substance, resisting.
CRISTOBAL CUESTA, Branscomb. Narcotic/controlled substance for sale, pot for sale.
ASHTYN DAVIS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SALVADOR MARIN-ORTEGA, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
LINDSAY MOLINERO, Ukiah. Harboring wanted felon.
ARTEMIO ORTEGA-REYES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
MICAH PILGRAM, Point Arena. Probation revocation.
JAVIER PINEDA, Ukiah. DUI.
BRANDON SMITH, Ukiah. Grand theft auto, controlled substance, paraphernalia, contempt of court.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I am not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say that the older you get the more life becomes all about illness and death, either friends, relatives, or your own.
I got a very unusual and disturbing phone call the other day. It came from Richard A. (goes by Dick) who was my best bud from grammar school through high school. That is where our paths diverged, me to college, he into the Navy. He’s the guy that got me involved in shooting pool at 13 years old. He had a table in his basement. Eventually I was best man at his wedding after which we totally lost touch for decades until I called to tell him about my brother dying (Sept 2014).
Other than that there has been zero contact until he called me out of the blue two days ago. It would be hard for me to describe how bizarre this conversation was. I said “Dick, I am flabbergasted to get this call from you, what’s up, what’s happening?” He says, “Wait a minute, I didn’t call YOU, You called me.” From there on for half an hour it was one thing after another where I realized he was demented. He’s my age, actually 4 months older. I told him I had thought about him on July 11th when he turned 81. There was a delay in his response. The conversation seemed to be happening in slow motion. He said “I thought I was more like 83.”
I changed the subject and asked if he had gotten “the vaccine.” He had no idea what I was referring to…Covid, none of it. I asked if he spent any time on the computer…a blank. “What about Facebook?” He says “what’s Facebook?” I said “you know who Mark Zuckerberg is, right?” Long hesitation…then he says “yeah, I think I’ve heard that name.”
To the best of my knowledge Dick is living alone in Wildwood Crest, NJ. I am now in a search for his sister Leslie because Dick should not be left alone in his mental condition.
KANDAHAR, one of the major Afghan cities that fell to the Taliban this week, is named after a man who once reportedly said that Afghanistan was “easy to march into, hard to march out of.” His name was Alexander the Great. Another city that fell, Herat, was briefly a capital within the empire of Timur, known to many in the west as Tamerlane, who also, for a time, was known as “the Great.” Herat was seen as a jewel of the empire, one of the great crossroads and cultural capitals of the world.
A painting depicting a lone British army surgeon on horseback approaching Jalalabad, a city that has not yet fallen to the Taliban but may well do so soon, became a symbol of the high cost and futility of Britain’s Afghan interventions. Called “Remnants of an Army,” it depicted the sole survivor of an army of 16,000, William Brydon, approaching the city during a retreat from Kabul during the First Anglo-Afghan War in January, 1842. It was painted by Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler, in 1879 in the midst of the Second Anglo-Afghan War. There was, briefly, a third such war in 1919.
It is a cliché now, to the extent useful historical context can be characterized as such, to note that the interventions of foreign powers in Afghanistan are typically difficult and more often than not end badly for the invaders. The litany of those who came and went, who grappled with the reality of a largely poor, fragmented tribal society, difficult physical terrain and an ebbing will to pay the price Afghanistan demands of its visitors, is strikingly long. It includes the Persians, the Greeks, Arabs, Mongols, Mughals, Sikhs, the British, the Soviets and to what will be the enduring discredit of America’s leaders, us.
— David Rothkopf
WHEN YOUR YARD CAN KILL YOU
My mom wanted to be prepared for wildfire season. But I knew she was concerned about the cost.
by Morgan Ome
“I’m worried I’m going to fail,” my mom told me over the phone the night before her fire inspection. It was April, and she had been preparing for months, cutting branches, pruning hedges, and removing dead weeds in her backyard. She had learned how to use an array of garden tools—three saws, including a chain saw, and four different kinds of clippers—and even considered buying a wood chipper before deciding that machine was too dangerous for an amateur like herself.
In California, state and local laws have long required that people who live in areas at high risk of wildfires create buffers of “defensible space”—land cleared of vegetation and other flammable material—around their homes. Local fire departments and Cal Fire, the state’s fire agency, are tasked with going door-to-door to inspect the properties of the estimated 2.7 million Californians who live in these zones. And as the state’s fires have gotten worse, local communities have begun enforcing the law more aggressively. Only in the past year or so has Hillsborough, the small Bay Area town where my mom lives, started to inspect every high-risk property for compliance. My mom wanted to be ready. I told her not to worry about passing the inspection, and that she could hire tree trimmers to work on the branches that were out of reach, but I knew she was concerned about the cost.
Even though my mom had tried her best to cut back the lush backyard, her weekend landscaping was not nearly enough to create the defensible space required. During the inspection, my mom learned that much of her yard would have to go. The oak branches were hanging too low over the roof; the thicket of acacia trees was too dense; the smaller redwood limbs needed to be at least six feet off the ground. The biggest problem was her brambly oak hedge, which lined the driveway and stood at least seven feet tall. It provided privacy, but the inspector explained that if it caught fire, my mom would have no pathway to escape.
That was all it took to persuade my mom to make substantial changes. She still remembers the morning last September when she thought she’d woken up on Mars. The sky was a hazy, burnt tangerine; the sun was nowhere to be seen. Thinking about the orange, smoke-filled sky made pushing away vanity easier. Who cares about having an ugly hedge if it means saving your life?
After the inspector left, my mom called several tree-trimming businesses to figure out how much the clearing would cost. The lowest estimate was $4,500; the highest was upwards of $10,000. She had 30 days to make the modifications before the inspector returned, so she hired a company that spent three days cutting down trees and feeding the branches into a wood chipper. My mom texted me live updates throughout the process, expressing horror at how unruly the yard looked. By the end of the third day, whole sections of the yard were cleared; the hedge was three feet shorter and knobby-looking, and the fence surrounding the property was actually visible. My mom was lucky that, with help from family, she was able to afford the tree trimmers. She passed the second inspection.
Personal, direct effects of climate change—having to conserve water during drought season, install air-conditioning to combat rising temperatures, and clear vegetation from yards and gardens to protect against wildfires—are the new normal in California. But individuals and policy makers are still figuring out how to share those burdens equitably. Although studies indicate that homes surrounded by defensible space are less likely to be damaged by fires, making sure that homeowners follow the law is not always easy. Local fire departments and Cal Fire units have fallen behind on completing annual inspections because of staffing shortages. And homeowners like my mom have to cover the high costs of fireproofing their backyard.
Those costs are the most significant challenge to achieving compliance with California’s fire-protection laws, Jennee Kuang, an environment program fellow at the Hewlett Foundation, found in a 2019 study of 49 defensible-space programs in California. “It’s an expensive thing to incorporate into your budget as a new annual line item,” she told me. The difficulties of complying with fire ordinances can vary based on a person’s wealth and age too. People with disabilities and elderly homeowners on limited incomes, for example, face greater obstacles to making modifications to their properties, and to paying for them. The Los Angeles Times interviewed a 94-year-old in San Diego who could neither clear the yard on his own nor foot the $14,000 bill for removing trees on his property. His neighbors eventually helped him apply for aid, but financial assistance isn’t always widely available.
Although some counties, such as Humboldt, on the far north coast, reimburse homeowners on a per-acre basis, many residents rely on grassroots organizations that may have access to the state and federal grants that individuals can’t apply for. Some local fire-safety groups have dedicated funds to help those in need, or organize days on which people can use a community wood chipper for free. Within areas that Cal Fire inspects, the average rate of compliance in 2021 has been 85 percent, according to John Morgan, the defensible-space division chief at the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Kuang found that districts with strict enforcement penalties—such as fees or property liens—had the highest compliance rates.
But expecting residents to absorb the costs, time, and labor of protecting their homes can make people resistant to creating fire-resilient communities, says Annie Schmidt, a program specialist at the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, a fire-safety education organization. Vegetation modifications and home-hardening improvements, such as replacing roofs with fireproof material, are crucial to protecting neighborhoods but “may not be perceived as beneficial enough to warrant investment,” she told me over email.
With 95 percent of California experiencing severe drought and the typical fire season growing hotter and longer each year because of climate change, the question may no longer be if fire will reach a community, but when. Fires can’t be eradicated—at least not completely—and the state’s longtime strategy of suppressing fire has created ever more dangerous conditions. Wildfires are inevitable. But the destruction of Californians’ homes and lives doesn’t have to be. What’s needed, then, is not only assistance for residents in fireproofing their homes but also recognition among residents of the real and imminent dangers that wildfires pose.
Californians may be starting to better understand that threat. Last year’s fires were a “wake-up call” for many people in Hillsborough, Christine Reed, the fire marshal at the Central County Fire Department, which oversees Hillsborough, told me. Most homeowners have been on board with scheduling inspections and making the necessary modifications, and the department aims to finish inspections by the end of the year. “When you’re driving on the highway and you’re seeing a big column of smoke in the distance, it hits home. It’s a reminder that it can happen here,” Reed said. “I see so many more people working on their lots when I traverse areas of the state,” Scott Stephens, a UC Berkeley professor specializing in fire management, told me.
I also felt a shift when I arrived home in June. I could hear chain saws and wood chippers throughout the day. When I drove into Palo Alto, I saw a herd of goats on the side of the road, diligently chewing through a field of dead grass. On July 4, I heard my neighbors lighting fireworks and panicked over whether calling the police would make me a responsible citizen or a Karen. (To my relief, they hosed down the fireworks before I had to make a decision.) On a walk around the neighborhood, my mom pointed out patches of overgrown grass, piles of dry brush, and mounds of mulch. In just a few months, her mind had been primed to look at the world in terms of what could burn. At first, I found her new outlook alarming. But I realized this was just a consequence of learning to live with the threat of fire.
I asked my mom whether she had ever considered leaving California and living somewhere else. Wouldn’t she like to go to sleep without worrying about needing to escape in the middle of the night? Wouldn’t she like to avoid waking up to another hazy, orange sky? Her answer was an immediate no. “I was born and raised here,” she said. “And our family is here.” Besides, where else would she go? Natural disasters and extreme weather conditions caused by climate change are affecting people everywhere, not just in California. And the personal costs of climate change are becoming more apparent: higher insurance premiums, higher electricity bills for air-conditioning, higher prices for food and gas. You may not have to worry about clearing vegetation from your yard. But climate change’s bills will come due for you too.
(Morgan Ome is an assistant editor at The Atlantic.)
BEHOLD BARACK ANTOINETTE
by Maureen Dowd
Jay Gatsby gave big, lavish, new-money parties at his sprawling mansion on the water because he wanted to seem cool. He wanted Daisy to notice him.
Barack Obama gave a big, lavish, new-money party at his sprawling mansion on the water because he wanted to seem cool. Being cool is important to him.
One difference is that Gatsby opened his house to the uninvited. Obama closed his house to many of the invited after getting flak for hosting “a celebrity mosh pit,” as Stephen Colbert called it, while officials were telling people to mask back up.
It’s hard to stop thinking about the over-the-top fete the former president held at his Martha’s Vineyard manse for his 60th birthday. It is such a perfect taxonomy of the Obama arc.
As president, he didn’t try hard enough on things we needed. He was a diffident debutante with a distaste for politics. Post-presidency, he is trying too hard on things we don’t need. The culture is already swimming in Netflix deals, celebrity worship, ostentatious displays of wealth, not to mention podcasts. Did the world really need “Renegades,” his duet with Bruce Springsteen?
We already knew Obama gravitated to stars but it was disillusioning to see it on such a grand scale last weekend.
“I think the nouveaux riches Obamas are seriously tone-deaf,” said the authority on opulence, Andre] Leon Talley
“We all love Beyonce. But people have so many things to worry about with Covid, voting rights, climate warming. People are afraid of being evicted from their homes. And the Obamas are in Marie-Antoinette, tacky, let-them-eat-cake mode. They need to remember their humble roots.”
Obama was a cool cat as a candidate in 2008, but after he won, he grew increasingly lofty. Now he’s so far above the ground, he doesn’t know what’s cool. You can’t be cool if you diss the people who took risks for you when you were a junior senator — only a few years out from paying off your student loans — taking on the fearsome Clinton machine.
Many of those who helped Obama achieve the moonshot, becoming the first African American president and then becoming uber rich, were disinvited.
The party crystallized the caricature of the Democratic Party that Joe Biden had to fight against in order to get elected. It was as far from Flint and Scranton as you can imagine: an orgy of the 1 percent — private jets, Martha’s Vineyard, limousine liberals and Hollywood whoring — complete with a meat-free menu.
The disinvitados, as one referred to them, were in four camps: Some didn’t care; some pretended they didn’t care; some were annoyed; and some were deeply hurt, especially loyal former staffers who felt they had contributed more to the Obama legacy than the likes of George Clooney, John Legend and Don Cheadle.
There were pop-up Plan B gatherings on the island and gallows humor among the iced. One joked that he would have liked to go mostly to see the old Obama gang from campaigns, except, oops, they weren’t there.
Colbert, who was disinvited, joked that he was axed because the president had to limit the guest list to “only his closest Beyonces.”
Only one person was thrilled to be disinvited and you can guess who it was. When he got a call from the former president’s assistant, Larry David (who has a home on the island) figured he was going to be asked to perform. He went into a tailspin, trying to think of what routine he could come up with in three days.
“I was pretty glum when I finally called back his assistant,” David said in an email. “When he told me I was eighty-sixed from the party, I was so relieved I screamed, ‘Thank you! Thank you!’ He must have thought I was insane. Then I hung up the phone, poured myself a drink and finished my crossword puzzle.”
Whether the party was 500 or 300 or 30, Obama should have made sure to have the people there who made the moment possible, the ones who worked so hard to get him elected and cement his legacy.
David Axelrod, Pygmalion to Obama’s Galatea, was a disinvitado, which he handled with his usual grace. Rahm Emanuel, the former Obama chief of staff who helped him navigate the first two successful years of his presidency, was also disinvited and quipped in the Times story by Annie Karni that getting voted off the island was character-building.
Obama would not have been president if Nancy Pelosi had not subtly put her high-heeled shoe on the scale for him against Hillary Clinton and her chances to be the first woman president. And he would not have gotten health care passed without Pelosi. She wasn’t there.
It was a bombshell when Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama in 2008 along with her uncle Teddy, a turning point in the primary against Hillary. After being disinvited from the party, Kennedy had the speaker at her home on the island for dinner. “I would have disinvited me if I was him,” she joked.
David Geffen, whose endorsement of Obama and break with Hillary was instrumental, didn’t even get an invite.
One disinvitado joked that he’s going to throw a surprise 61st birthday party for Obama. “As long as they had anything to do with passing health care, rescuing the auto industry and saving the economy from a Great Depression,” he said, “they’re invited.”
AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION
One of the most commonly held myths too often misapplied is: “History repeats itself.” The reality is that it almost never repeats itself. What I’m talking about is a miscommunication that since the Taliban is closing in on capturing Kabul it is the same as the 1975 fall of Saigon. This is a phony comparison because Vietnam isn’t the same as Afghanistan. The Vietnam War was foughtt to prevent the fall of all of Indochina to Communism (as well as for other reasons too many to include here), while the 20 year American-led war in Afghanistan was a moral war against Al Quaeda and international terrorism. Two very different goals, but the sacrifices by the brave American military should be eternally honored and remembered.
Let’s not see finger-pointing over the current betrayal of its agreements by the Taliban as female children are inhumanly being pulled out of their homes and forced to marry Taliban fighters. The Trump Administration made a weak agreement which the Taliban are dishonoring now by killing men and women who aided our troops. The Taliban is committing war crimes as they create a new blood-bath in this war-torn country. No one should blame then President Trump since the agreements he made in 2020 might have been OK if the Taliban had kept its word. It is a horrible tragedy which is unfolding now, but neither Trump nor Biden alone caused it.
by John Arteaga
Oh my God, doesn’t it seem like so many recent events are telling us that if man has any hope of surviving the next couple of generations, we have all got to face up to the fact that we simply cannot live with the super wealthy billionaire class and their inevitable wildly outsized effect on the politics that regulate all of our lives? Nor can we live with, fiscally, and in terms of its carbon footprint, the gargantuan US military. This colossus, with its 800 bases spread all over the world, has a carbon footprint greater than all but the largest countries.
I was disheartened to hear about polling which shows that a great percentage of Americans trust and respect the military above all other parts of our government. How can this be, given the unbroken stream of pointless and counterproductive conflicts in which it has engaged ever since my daddy served in World War II, the last war that made any kind of sense at all? Even though, looking at the genesis even of it, it clearly needn’t have ever happened, had Western governments not allowed right wing oligarchs and their corporations to coddle dictators like Franco, Mussolini and Hitler until they dragged everybody into the life and death struggle against the fascist nightmare they had in mind for us all.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the horrifying war crime that was the devastation of Hiroshima. The same military that trained their Latin American proxies to commit genocide against the Mayan population, under the aegis of fighting communism, the same military that is featured in Howard Zinn’s classic, “A People’s History of the United States”, where a commander, writing back from the campaign in the Philippines to Washington, expresses his gushing pride in the fact that he and his troops, after completely surrounding a caldera filled with fleeing villagers, from the edges of which they could shoot down into it, had slaughtered every man, woman and child, “down to the last baby crying for its dead mother.”
I wonder if those fools flying double American flags from their gas guzzling pickup trucks are aware of any of the atrocities committed by the US military? A couple of the most annoying policies of recent years/decades are our brutal embargo of Cuba, a beautiful, huge island just off our Southeast mainland. In a decades-long hissy fit over the nationalization of various American mafia casinos down there, we have deprived these righteous people of their most basic needs. Screw those Mafiosi who lost their investment there! Cuba has been the go-to country for medical help for poor countries. Despite the vicious capitalist-led attack on its fiscal viability, Cuba still manages to train an awful lot of excellent doctors, many of them going to help people in poorer countries, where the capitalist West doesn’t see the point of doing so.
Then, of course there is Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires, also known as God’s gift to insurgent fighters. I remember (so many years ago now), when we were making our first forays into this Vietnam-grade morass, the convoy of 100 big fuel semis, on their way to support the US invasion, all of them shot up and burned. And now, however many years later, we are basically leaving on the same terms that we could have gotten from the Taliban on year one. So much destruction of this desperately poor country, and for what?
The Pentagon’s three quarters of a trillion or more budget constitutes a capitulation of civilian rule over the military. Let’s face it, the US military has been serving capitalism as its first principle for just as about as long as it has existed, but today, as severe and life-threatening climate change becomes more apparent by the day, simple human survival requires that we somehow find the intestinal fortitude, as a people in a country that is supposedly ruled by the democratic majority, to demand a major restructuring of our military.
Like the Maginot line, the completely useless French line of massive canon emplacements that could not even turn to the angle from which the Germans ended up invading, the US military, with its laughably overpriced F 35 ‘joint strike fighter’, is a similar monument to myopia and the institutional reflex to fight again the last great war, which is simply not ever going to happen again.
Obviously (to anyone with eyes in their heads) the real enemy today is climate change; the hundreds of millions who will be driven from their homes by merciless changes in their environment, and the wildfires and floods that will emmiserate even the wealthy in prosperous countries. The Pentagon can do nothing to address these problems, other than to make them worse.
And now we have a whole political party, with close to half of the population, devoted to denial of the reality everyone can see; that we are, as a species, crushing the Earth’s ability to sustain us and so many other species. The gray whales, whose migration along the West Coast supports so much whale watching, are dying in unprecedented numbers in their Mexican calving grounds. The deaths of the incredibly hardy Joshua trees in their eponymous national Park are dying, and the un-survivable oven that is Death Valley, where historic high temperatures are being shattered, the 118° weather in Siberia, all cry out for major changes in the way humanity is managing the only planet will ever live have.
And please, don’t even get me started on Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson, with their ridiculous, polluting joy rides for multi-millionaires; perhaps the most galling finger in the eye of the vast majority of sane people looking for the fastest route to decarbonization of the environment. Will we survive as a civilized species? Time will tell.
(John Arteaga is a Ukiah resident.)
THE PARTY’S OVER
The party's over
It's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away
It's time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up the piper must be paid
The party's over
The candles flicker and dim
You danced and dreamed through the night
It seemed to be right just being with him
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
Take off your makeup, the party's over
It's all over, my friend
The party's over
It's time to call it a day
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
Take off your makeup, the party's over
It's all over, my friend
It's all over, my friend
— Betty Comden and Adolph Green
WHY WON’T BIDEN — and Others — Admit Israel Has Nuclear Weapons? And, the World Watches as the Taliban overtakes Afghanistan.
John Sakowicz and Mary Massey will host Monday Morning's Magazine, Monday, August 16th, 7-9 a.m. on KMUD Community Radio. Two critical topics will be covered: Israel and Nuclear Weapons AND recent developments in Afghanistan as President Biden draws down US military troops.
Sam Husseini, Guest
Sam Husseini is an independent journalist now writing at Substack, Husseini has questioned numerous U.S. officials who have refused to acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal. See “The Absurd U.S. Stance on Israel’s Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial.” He notes that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had a piece shortly before Biden became president: “Joe Biden should end the U.S. pretence over Israel’s ‘secret’ nuclear weapons: The cover-up has to stop — and with it, the huge sums in aid for a country with oppressive policies towards Palestinians.” Husseini is also senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy.
“America Needs to Start Telling the Truth About Israel’s Nukes” by Peter Beinart in Wednesday’s New York Times states: “American politicians sometimes say an Iranian bomb would pose an ‘existential’ threat to Israel. That’s a dubious claim, given that Israel possesses a nuclear deterrent it can deploy on air, land and sea. But many Americans find the claim plausible because, according to recent polling conducted by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland, barely 50 percent know Israel has nuclear weapons. A higher percentage thinks Tehran has the bomb.”
Matt Hoh & Danny Sjursen, Guests
Matt Hoh and Danny Sjursen are retired military who served in the Middle East. Both men have spoken out against the Perpetual War mentality. With recent developments in Afghanistan, they will weigh in on President Biden's drawing down of US military personnel and the Taliban's torturing civilians and retaking major cities throughout the country. As of Friday, August 13, 2/3 of the country has been overtaken by the Taliban. Matt and Danny are regular guests on Heroes and Patriots, KMUD Community Radio.