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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021

Autumn Day | 39 New Cases | John Darcy | Help Raquel | Cherry's Birthday | Ukiah Church | Bypass Accident | Dealers Only | Sheriff's Budget | Now Hiring | Redbeard Mystique | Trent #3 | Lit Stock | Forks Team | Mill Machinations | Authoritarian Capitalists | Ed Notes | Chinese Rebels | Hip Camps | Desal Ceremony | Populous State | PA Parking/Testing | Yesterday's Catch | Frisco Day | Video Magazine | Get Assange | Big Fellah | Domestic Terrorism | Changeable Days | Merck Pill | Defending Rowling | Zodiac ID | Heroes/Patriots

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COOL AND MAINLY DRY WEATHER will occur across the region through Friday. A warming trend will then take place this weekend, followed by the passage of a strong cold front Sunday night, which will yield cool and breezy weather early next week. (NWS)

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39 NEW COVID CASES (since Monday) reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.

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John A. Darcy, a long time resident of the Mendocino coast, passed away at the age of 71. John is survived by his mother Marilyn McKae, his sister Elizabeth (Liz) Darcy Cross, a niece, 3 nephews, his domestic partner Naomi Campbell, and his first wife love of his life Penny Darcy. He was born April 24th, 1950 in San Mateo California. He attended Stanford University and graduated with a Bachelors degree from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. John was an accomplished artist, professional painter, and avid surfer...We will be revealing a Large collection of his Larger than life artwork, to match his Larger than Life personality. A posthumous art retrospective to honor our dear friend, including a silent auction of some of his signed originals as well as some from his personal collection. All proceeds to help pay for the heavy costs of all of his end of life services. Please join us. Opening Reception – Friday, September 24th 5 – 8pm.

Silent Auction runs through Saturday 25th. Upstairs in The Company Store downtown Fort Bragg – 400 South Main Street, corner of Redwood Ave and Main.

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This weekend there will be a fundraiser for the family of Genaro Gomez and Raquel Flores. Unfortunately Raquel was diagnosed with breast cancer and has already begun treatment. There will be a variety of delicious Mexican foods to eat there or take to go as well a wine and beer for sale. All of the proceeds will benefit their family. Please show your support and join us at the house of Chema and Estela Espinoza. Thank you!

Time: Saturday starting at 11am and Sunday starting at 9am

Location: 13460 Estate Drive, Boonville CA

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UPDATE ON CHERRY GREEN (Anderson Valley Village)

I wanted to update you on one our beloved Village members - Cherry Green. Her daughter Taunia said that Cherry is currently in a care facility called “A Nice Care Home” in Nice, Lake County and doing well. Her little dog Molly is by her side. Cherry is allowed to have visitors who are vaccinated and would love to hear from her many friends in the Valley - especially since it is her birthday Thursday, 10/7. 

Give her a text or a call: (607) 348-4394

Take care and thank you,

Anica Williams

Anderson Valley Village Coordinator

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Catholic Church, Ukiah

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On October 5, 2021, at approximately 0550 hours, John Camanile was driving a 2016 Volvo Tractor with trailer southbound on US-101, south of Main Street, on the elevated portion of the Willits Bypass at approximately 55 MPH. Eric Acosta was driving a 2019 Peterbilt tractor with a tank trailer loaded with approximately 7,800 gallons of gasoline on northbound US-101 at approximately 55 MPH. Julia Nash was driving a 2021 Toyota Corolla on northbound US-101, approximately three cars lengths behind the Peterbilt.

For reasons still under investigation, Campanile allowed his Volvo tractor to cross over the solid double yellow lines and the left side of Volvo struck the left side of the Peterbilt and tank trailer. The force of the impact caused the Peterbilt’s rear trailer axle to be crushed and several metal pieces went into the air which struck the front of the Toyota.

As a result of the crash, the Volvo’s saddle diesel tank ruptured and approximately 50 gallons of diesel spilled onto the roadway. The diesel was contained to the bridge deck and with the assistance of Cal-Trans, the diesel fuel was absorbed and cleaned from the roadway. As a result of the crash, the tank trailer carrying gasoline was damaged however no fuel was leaked from the tank trailer. The tank trailer was ultimately moved off of US-101 to the North Main Street exit where its trailer’s contents were off loaded into a separate tank trailer.

US-101 at the Willits Bypass was closed for approximately four hours while the scene was investigated, and the involved vehicles were removed from the roadway. Cal-Trans, Long Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Cal Fire, and Mendocino County Environmental Health responded to assist with this investigation.

This collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol – Garberville Area.

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SUPERVISOR GLENN MCGOURTY opened up Tuesday’s Sheriff’s budget discussion by asking the Sheriff and his colleagues to be “courteous and professional.” CEO Angelo wasn’t on hand, nor were any of her lieutenants/deputies. Apparently, they weren’t interested in hearing the Sheriff discuss his budget. If that was intentional, it’s very rude and not the kind of professional response McGourty had called for.

We don’t have any idea what made McGourty think that the discussion would be anything but civil. If anything, it was too civil, too cordial, as if everybody was carefully whistling past the Sheriff’s pending lawsuit against the County, and the problems underlying the Sheriff’s budget were minor and academic. But the Sheriff’s budget was main reason the Sheriff sued the Supervisors, a case which is still pending in Judge Ann Moorman’s courtroom.

Supervisor Maureen Mulheren summarized the discussion this way: “Presentation by Juanita Dreiling about the MCSO budget, one topic that comes up often is the amount being used by the Sheriff’s office for overtime, this year they used vacant position funds to balance a potential overtime gap. The Sheriff and his fiscal team will bring back a future agenda item that will show what funds will be needed to provide a realistic number for a fully staffed MCSO that meets the expectations of the public.”

Most of the presentation was narrated by Sheriff Matt Kendall’s budget pointperson Ms. Juanita Dreiling who walked the Board through the Sheriff’s budget line by line. The core of her presentation was a chart showing the budget for the Sheriff’s “1000 series” — the personnel side of the Sheriff’s patrol budget which makes up the bulk of the Sheriff’s costs.

Several things stood out in that chart:

This year’s (July 2021-June 2022) total budget is more than $2 million greater than last year’s budget which the Sheriff overran by over $1.4 million. (We still don’t know where CEO Angelo found that extra $1.4 million for fiscal last year.)

• Overtime this year is budgeted higher than it ever has been, although it is still expected to overrun.

• Patrol Division Salaries are up by over $800k even though the Sheriff’s patrol division is running at just over half staff. 

• Extra help is budgeted much higher than last year.

• The County’s retirement contribution for the Sheriff’s patrol division has gone way up by almost $1 million.

According to one chart in the Sheriff’s presentation the personnel costs have gone up because of:

Cost of Living Allowances (COLAs) provided for in labor agreements, Market study parity implementation, Premium pay and incentives, Changes to employer portion of state and federal contributions, Increases or decreases in employer paid portion of health benefits, Worker’s compensation rates, Personnel transactions (such as new hires, promotions, reclassifications, retirements, and terminations), Ability to recruit, hire and retain qualified staff, Vacant positions, Emergencies, trainings, and other events requiring staff to work overtime/backfill, Court mandates, and Changes to retirement plan contributions.

Unfortunately, these rather generic explanations were not quantified and don’t offer much basis for discussion.

But as glaring as our observations are, and as generic as the Sheriff’s explanation was, none of them arose during Tuesday’s workshop. Therefore, we’re forced to make educated guesses about what’s going on.

This year’s patrol budget, which the Sheriff had previously said was structurally imbalanced and unsustainable, is suddenly much closer to the Sheriff’s requested patrol budget than what was presented during budget hearings. That budget which was so much below what the Sheriff requested was accompanied by the citation of an obscure government code provision that said Department heads, including the Sheriff, could be personally responsible for overruns. That threat, plus a threat to take over his department’s computer operations, lead to the Sheriff suing the Supervisors, saying he didn’t trust the CEO to deal with his department honestly. 

Since then however, the County has quietly dumped an additional $1.3 million of PG&E one-time settlement money into the Sheriff’s patrol budget. While pleasing the Sheriff and substantially reducing the size of the Sheriff’s budget gap, this is a one-time band-aid, leaving the original problem unsolved in the years to come.

The overtime budget was apparently where most of that $1.3 million ended up, but the huge increase in pension costs — retired cops make much more than their non-uniformed fellow employees, especially the top officers — wasn’t mentioned at all. This number will only go further up unless a significant number of retired cops and their even higher paid retired supervisors die. (Retired Sheriff Tony Craver, for example, gets a pension of about $140k a year.)

The cost savings which one might expect from such a high number of patrol vacancies was not realized because most of them are on the injured list, some for extended periods, but are still drawing their salaries and not leaving a vacancy that the County could recruit a replacement for. (The Sheriff’s overall official “vacancy rate” was last cited as about 15%.) This also puts extra strain on the approximately two dozen deputies remaining on duty who must somehow cover the huge expanse of Mendocino County 24/7. It’s made even worse by whatever time-consuming serious crimes arise. Burn out is a serious concern if this stretches out for very long.

Again, however, the Board didn’t get into any of these issues. In the end they simply asked the Sheriff to come back later in the year with his own longer-term budget proposal. 

So the Sheriff probably won’t overrun his County-allocated budget by much this year thanks to the added $1.3 million PG&E settlement money.

But unless something significantly changes in either the Sheriff’s revenues or expenses, next year’s Sheriff’s budget will present the same sort of impasse that has been only temporarily been partially fixed this year.

The Sheriff’s budget picture could also change significantly depending on whatever Judge Moorman’s ruling contains.

(Mark Scaramella)

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by Colin Atagi

Barely a mile from where the Pacific Ocean meets Mendocino County lies a vast forest of redwoods, Douglas fir and tan oak.

The trees are so thick they block sunlight and mask the presence of any living thing, interrupted only by unpaved driveways leading to homes so hidden they are not even visible from Google Earth.

Normally a haven for bears, mountain lions and retirees, the woodland hills and ridges offer plenty of privacy and spotty phone reception.

They are home to the tiny, unincorporated communities of Albion and Elk, where people were fine leaving their doors unlocked at night.

Until earlier this year, at least.

These days, the forest is also home to a fugitive who has become known as the “Red-Bearded Burglar.”

He has been breaking into homes and shattering the tranquility along the Mendocino County coast for nearly a year.

Usually he takes only essentials, but on at least one occasion he has taken a gun, and on another fired shots at a Mendocino County deputy who was closing in on him while responding to a burglary call in Elk back in May.

His nickname comes from his shaggy facial hair, which is prominent in surveillance photos authorities are circulating.

They say his spree began late last year outside Ukiah, the Mendocino County seat, which is separated from the California coast by a winding 50-mile drive through mountains.

Investigators think Evers somehow made his way west toward the mountain community of Philo in February. There, he allegedly committed more burglaries before winding up in Elk, population 250, 10 miles south of Albion.

Map showing reported burglaries along the Mendocino coast and Sheriff activity to find the ‘Red Bearded Burglar’. (Dennis Bolt)

His escapades have consumed many of the 2,200 people who live in this region, and have evoked reactions of fear, intrigue and even sympathy.

“We live in a very rural place with a lot of trees and this has been a thing going on, I don’t know how many months now,” said a 72-year-old Albion resident who identified herself only as Camille. “Too long, and it seems kind of crazy that this person keeps showing up in these neighborhoods and successfully taking stuff.”

Burglary, according to investigators, appears to be a means of survival for Evers. He apparently targets vacant homes looking for a place to stay or to stock up on essentials — items he can eat, wear and use to stay warm in the forest, where investigators have found three of his suspected campsites.

Those kinds of items were taken in a Sept. 8 break-in that deputies say fits Evers pattern but hasn’t been definitively linked to him. That burglary occurred at an Albion home on the western end of Middle Ridge Road, a bumpy, residential street extending west from Albion Ridge Road.

Homeowner Rod Lorimer, discovered someone had broken a rear-patio window, which will cost an estimated $850 to repair.

Gone were a $25 bottle of champagne, several bottles of wine, cans of sardines, fur-lined slippers, travel bags, a pillow case and a roll of toilet paper.

Left behind were a dirty pair of sneakers and a roll of Crest dental floss. And not far away, on the hill directly beneath Lorimer’s patio, were the empty wine bottles.

Evers immediately came to mind.

Lorimer doubts the burglar was around longer than necessary, and he could only wonder how Evers survives in the mountain environment that even residents may consider dangerous and approach with caution.

“Go into the woods out here and there are three things you want to look out for: The bears, the lions and illegal (marijuana) grows,” said Lorimer, 85. “So I would not go down anyone’s road unless I’ve been invited. If you go down the roads, you better know where and why.”

A man and his past…

For as much as Evers is discussed, little is known about him. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records show he was in and out of custody from 2007 to 2019 in Humboldt and Shasta counties — both north of Mendocino County — for burglary, vehicle theft and making threats.

He was an inmate firefighter from June 2012 to June 2014 when he was released from custody in Shasta County. In December 2019, Evers moved to Arizona to live with family under law enforcement supervision, but he disappeared in December 2020 and became a parolee at large.

Justin Schmollinger, Cal Fire’s camps program manager, doubts that whatever skills Evers learned in fire training are much use in the wilderness. He said inmates are taught how to battle fires and “at no time in the curriculum is there any survival skills taught on how to live in the woods.”

Why Evers would even return to Mendocino County is a mystery. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Capt. Gregory Van Patten said Evers may have relatives in Shasta County, but Department of Corrections staff said it’s against their policy to identify family members of inmates.

Press Democrat attempts to reach family members were not successful.

The public got its first look at Evers in February when the Sheriff’s Office released surveillance photos of him outside Phillo, near Pine Ridge and Low Gap roads. His hair and beard had begun to grow out, and he barely resembled the clean-cut Evers who appeared in early inmate photos.

The inmate photos were released May 25 when officials publicly identified Evers after their burglary investigations escalated to an attempted murder case.

On May 12, deputies say Evers exchanged gunfire with a Mendocino County sheriff’s deputy responding to a theft on Cameron Road, a narrow Elk street where homes are even more scattered and less visible among trees than they are in nearby Albion.

Investigators are still trying to determine how Evers got the gun, although they said firearms had been taken in earlier burglaries. The young deputy who was fired upon escaped injury and is believed to be one of only about five people to actually see Evers since he’s been on the run.

Wm Evers

Physically, he’s described as a 6-foot-1, 180-pound man with brown eyes, brown hair and reddish facial hair. He has a skull or skulls tattoo on his right upper arm, a demon face tattoo on his upper left arm and an unknown tattoo on his chest.

He appeared to grow more disheveled as time passed and footage was released. Investigators caution he may have shaved his head and have access to the internet — all the more reason to keep details of their investigation close to the vest.

They’ve conducted search activities on a daily basis, said Van Patten, the sheriff’s spokesperson. He wouldn’t disclose their protocol, but said they can only cover so much ground with only 22 deputies — down from a fully staffed agency of 40 men and women.

Investigators are focusing their attention on a forested area that, for all intents and purposes, has been Evers’ home for months and may even be his comfort zone.

Around 4:30 a.m. Sept. 6, they came within a foot of arresting Evers near Navarro Ridge Road in Albion. He fled, undaunted by the darkness and rough, vertical terrain.

The same terrain that foiled his pursuers and resulted in a sheriff’s SWAT Team member twisting a knee and a K-9 handler falling and being bit by his dog.

“He definitely has the advantage. That’s his backyard. It has been for how many months,” Van Patten said. “He’s an accomplished survivalist in some respect.”

The talk of the town…

Mendocino County Supervisor Ted Williams said the terrain is the perfect place for a fugitive to hide.

“If you look at Google Earth, you’re probably not seeing most of the homes because they’re in the forest.”

“You go up the ridges and you can’t see 100 feet. It’s a wall of brush,” he said.

An exception is a cluster of homes in a gated community near the edge of the ocean just south of Albion. Two burglaries were reported there on May 18.

Evers has only been spotted on sporadic occasions fleeing property in the shroud of darkness or in grainy surveillance images that have drawn comparisons to the search for Bigfoot. Perhaps the best-documented sighting occurred Aug. 30 when a woman who was tending to a horse found Evers taking vegetables from a garden on Middle Ridge Road in Albion.

That woman described him as hungry and embarrassed.

She was not available for comment when a Press Democrat reporter visited.

As Evers’ notoriety spread, theories and rumors have too.

Several months ago, Sheriff’s officials tried to debunk one of them on Facebook, saying that they contacted the family of UC Santa Cruz student Dane Elkins, who disappeared in December, and confirmed he and the burglar are not one and the same.

Elkins is still listed as missing in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database.

Aaron Bassler

Residents and investigators, however, agree the Evers case is reminiscent of the 2011 hunt for Aaron Bassler, who gunned down two people and spent days hiding in remote woods before snipers killed him after a 36-day manhunt near Fort Bragg — 17 miles north of Albion.

At the time, his family said the Fort Bragg native suffered from mental illness and his behavior became increasingly threatening before he spent months living in the forest.

Bassler killed land steward Matthew Coleman, 45, on Aug. 11, 2011 while the Albion man worked on a coastal ranch near Rockport. The second victim was Fort Bragg City Councilman Jere Melo, 69, who was fatally shot Aug. 27 in an opium poppy garden he was investigating while patrolling private timberland east of town.

Evers may not have reached Bassler’s level of violence, but coastal residents and investigators are hardly downplaying the recent thefts, which weigh heavily on their minds and, by many accounts, are the talk of the town.

A wanted poster with older photos of Evers hangs in the United States post office that’s part of Albion’s downtown area with a hardware store, convenience store and two-pump gas station at Highway 1 and Albion Ridge Road.

It’s the busiest intersection in town, and it’s not hard to find residents well-versed in the manhunt, which they discuss on social media, face-to-face in driveways or in passing outside the few businesses dotting the Highway 1 landscape.

Albion resident Chris Sansi had just come out of the hardware store with a new pack of door hinges when she explained she and her friends refer to Evers as “Billy” in homage to the western outlaw, Billy the Kid. A fellow neighbor approached to do her own shopping at the hardware store and agreed most people know about the case.

“Everyone does, because we’ve all been on pins and needles,” said Sansi, who lives on Middle Ridge Road where at least three burglaries have been reported. “It had quieted down. But next thing you know, he’s on my road.”

A hope for a safe resolution

Sheriff’s investigators have frequently posted Facebook updates alerting residents to sightings and search efforts, Van Patten said.

Given all the attention on Evers, coupled with overall awareness among residents, investigators say it isn’t surprising that he hasn’t surfaced as much as he did just a few weeks ago.

Still, locals are wary of his presence in the area, and most are eager to see him captured so they may once again have peace of mind.

For six years, an Albion resident who only identified herself as Elizabeth has lived in an area where at least three burglaries were recently reported. Despite everything that’s happened, she expressed concerned for Evers’ mental wellness and said a good percentage of residents want the case resolved peacefully.

“We don’t want to say he shouldn’t be apprehended, but we would like to see him be brought in and appropriately handled,” said Elizabeth, 72, who emphasized her reluctance to refer to Evers by the sobriquet that’s been bestowed upon him.

“It kind of dehumanizes him and makes him into this larger-than-life outlaw kind-of thing. Then it’s easy to be judgmental or even more afraid,” she said.

The Sheriff’s Office counters that the public should consider Evers armed and dangerous and that anyone who spots him should contact authorities right away.

“He’s definitely a public safety risk in our opinion,” Van Patten said. “Our one situation, he immediately responded with not only flight, but with lethal resistance.”

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“I realized I had enough,” says donor Peter Lit. “That our culture constantly encourages us to have more. But I don’t need to have more, and if I’m in a place where I have enough why shouldn’t I give back to the community?”

Peter Lit

Lit has been giving to the community for over 20 years, but after his wife Darcie recommended the Community Foundation, he was inspired to reach out to ask about donating stock. “I’ve given stock to a lot of different organizations, but there are always so many steps involved. After I spoke with Megan I discovered I could just donate to the Foundation and they would distribute it to the organizations that are important to me, cutting out a lot of extra work, and fees,” says Lit. This streamlined pathway to giving was a good match for Lit, and it allowed him to be flexible in the way he supports local organizations.

Lit moved to the Mendocino Coast in 1969, ready to leave behind the congestion and lights of San Francisco and enjoy the beauty of Mendocino County. “It never gets dark in San Francisco,” says Lit. “I just wanted to be somewhere that the water tastes good and the nights get dark, so we moved to Mendocino.” After purchasing a plot of land and building his home, Lit found he had a knack for buying properties, fixing them up, and selling them. So he did just that, joining forces with a friend to renovate early 20th-century homes and selling them.

One day, the Caspar Inn came up for sale. It was rundown and in need of attention, and Lit decided he and his partner should fix it up and run it. Following a rapid remodel of the building, Lit built the business into a thriving nightclub that featured well-known artists from across the country. He went on to run the Caspar Inn for 17 years.

While running the Inn, Lit began subscribing to Science magazine to broaden his horizons. While reading through the scientific concepts he became inspired by groundbreaking new biotechnologies and decided to buy a few shares of stock, making a commitment to himself that when a stock doubled he would cash out half. Years later Lit continues this trend, watching for emerging science and getting in during its nascent period until he has doubled his investment. But the realization that he has enough for himself, and the awareness that tendered stocks could do more good as donations, inspired him to look to local organizations that could receive stock gifts.

“I would rather give my money to organizations I believe in, rather than to taxes where I have less control over how it is used,” says Lit. “And I really appreciate how responsive the Community Foundation has been; I don’t have to fill out 30 pages of paperwork every time I make a donation, and it goes to organizations I support.”

One organization is the Community Foundation’s unrestricted fund, which supports the work we do and allows us to make grants to pressing issues in our community, such as the COVID-19 Relief Program. By donating appreciated stock, donors receive the current value on the full amount of their charitable contribution, being able to take an income tax deduction while avoiding capital gain taxes that would be incurred if the stocks were sold directly and then the money donated, thus giving more to the community at a lower cost to the donor.

Every organization that Lit has selected to support, from Mendocino Coast Clinics to the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County, has a place in his heart for the work they are doing in the community. “I have friends that have been helped by so many of these organizations, I know the work they are doing is important in our county which is why I chose to give back to them,” says Lit. When he realized he had enough, it became a joy to give to organizations in which he believes.

To learn more about making a stock donation to the Community Foundation, please contact us at (707) 468-9882 or visit

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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On October 12th at 6pm the Fort Bragg City Council is looking to mortgage the police station and city hall to take on more than they can handle with nothing more than a Zoom call. In closed sessions, the city has developed a plan to mortgage key city properties to raise enough money to outbid the Skunk Train’s efforts to purchase and develop Mill Site South. Something the city has had no interest in doing until now. 

Facing a crisis with nearly $10M in unfunded CalPers debt (retirement benefits for city employees) which is accruing interest at 7%, the city seeks to pile on an extra $3,500,000 for the purpose of purchasing the Mill Site South and then indemnifying Georgia Pacific from their own environmental remediation! The mayor’s plan buys Mill Site South with massive environmental issues and unlimited liability for the city to clean-up simply to interfere with Mendocino Railway’s plan to redevelop the property… Recall that the railroad and the mill site have historically been owned and operated by a single company since its creation. Mendocino simply looks to restore that historic relationship.

When Mendocino Railway purchased the historic Skunk Train out of bankruptcy in 2004 it immediately engaged in discussions with Georgia Pacific about the closed mill site property. In 2019, after many years of city “process” Mendocino Railway was able to close escrow on Mill Site North, 77-acres spanning from the northern edge of Redwood Avenue out to the Coastal Trail, and all the way north to the Glass Beach Parking Lot. Once this transaction was completed, Mendocino Railway provided plans that met with strong support from the city council. 

In February 2021 Mendocino acquired a 15-acre purchase from Harvest Market at the corner of Cypress and Main Streets on the former mill site. Mendocino only proceeded with this purchase because the city had encouraged Mendocino Railway to use this for its expansion plans.

Mendocino then worked with GP for a purchase of balance of the mill site, known as Mill Site South. Mendocino Railway recognized the need for a master plan to develop the whole site to ensure consistent planning; (the city abandoned the process in 2020) utilities, water supply and infrastructure planning. Mendocino kept the city manager and mayor informed of the progress of their purchase.

The city then decided to take the purchase from the railroad. With no director of planning, discussion of the city manager going part-time, massive debts, countless other priorities, and failing infrastructure, the city still feels that mortgaging its future and to provide Georgia Pacific with unlimited protection against its own clean-up costs is the right path.

Since 1885, the railroad and city have long had an amicable relationship. The Skunk has been the largest source of tourist revenue for the city and a significant employer. Annually, 75% of the Skunk Train’s 65,000 plus passengers travel from Fort Bragg, 80% stay an average of 2.53 nights and have most recently spent $803 per party during their trip. In the previous 5 years, passengers on the Skunk Train have generated 150,000 room night stays and over $50,000,000 in spending.

We urge the citizens of Fort Bragg to stand up and say no to the officials who look to mortgage our towns future simply to fuel a war against the Skunk Train.

Robert Jason Pinoli

President – Mendocino Railway

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PREDICTION: This time next year waterless, unimproved properties all over Mendocino County will be up for sale, such is the influx of delusional get-rich-quick marijuana buccaneers. There are insta-farms here in the Anderson Valley whose proprietors have bought water since the day they erected their doomed hoop houses. The Green Rush done rushed, so many planters presently harvesting so much product they've destroyed their markets with over-supply.

CONSTANT TRAFFIC in water trucks through the Anderson Valley, most of them headed to the Mendocino Coast to keep the village of Mendocino and the town of Fort Bragg in the very stuff of life. One more year of drought like this year and… more property for sale, with full disclosure required — depending on annual rains, this property may or may not come with water.

I DON'T understand the Skunk Train's priorities. Rather than complain about the City of Fort Bragg's looming (perhaps) attempt to buy up acreage on the old mill site, The Skunk, it seems from here, ought to focus on running an honest train ride out of Fort Bragg by rehabbing Tunnel One (for starters) to give tourists a real ride for their expensive tickets.

COULDN'T HELP but notice Tuesday a noisy claque of anti-vaxxers on the southwest corner of Perkins and State, Ukiah. I was tempted to park to argue with them. But parking would mean climbing out of the Nanny Wagon my sister gave me, a 2014 Ford bipolar hybrid that comes with constant dashboard messages either congratulating me for wearing my seatbelt, thanking me for driving a hybrid or shrieking at me that I'm about to back into the Grand Canyon as represented by a curb. But what's the point of arguing with internet-informed people who lack all regard for the welfare of their fellow citizens, not to mention their own families? A big prob with anti-vaxxers, not to mention the Building 7 nuts, the grassy knoll legions and the millions of conspiracy-oriented Americans generally is that they're educated beyond their intellectual abilities, that they can read but aren't able to properly evaluate what they read, can't discern the difference between true fact and false fact, between possibilities and probabilities. And a show of hands would reveal that few, if any, of the anti-vaxxers took a science class in high school where the basics of immunology were taught. Anti-vaxxers standing on a street corner in Ukiah demonstrating their ignorance and hysteria is one more sign of the great fracturing.

LOTS of complaints about JT Johnson's burgeoning used car lot beside 128 between Boonville and Philo. 

One the one hand, JT's got a major eyesore going, which must bum out the tourists who are paying for expensive weekends in paradise. On the other hand, and I realize this is a minority opinion, JT's post-industrial display reminds us that underpinning paradisiacal fantasies is the gritty reality of the machinery that makes those fantasies possible.

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Chinese Boxer Rebels

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Are Hip Camps the new equivalent of illegal cannabis cultivation sites? Will one of these camps be the source of a fire that devastates our County?

There has been a significant increase in the presence of “Hip Camps” in our County. Hip Camps are like an Air BNB for tourists who want to camp. Private citizens set up campsites on their property that are then advertised and accessed through the Hip C. These camps can be located in residential areas and in areas that may be heavily wooded. Visit Hip to read about sites that are in your neighborhood. Locations include reviews by visitors, which are revealing. Some hosts are responsible and support the vision of Hip Camp, which is to connect people with nature. Some are not, and by the reviewer’s description, violations are apparent.

Hip Camp Hosts are supposed to be “good neighbors” to their surrounding community. My neighbor had the sad experience of having a Hip Camp next to them that resulted in trespassing on their land, increased car parking on their road, and tourists being lost and needing help because the site had been overbooked. Additionally, the host illegally bulldozed a trail and campsites through protected streambeds. Despite numerous calls to enforcement and reporting the individual to Hip Camp, it was almost two months before action was taken to stop this site.

The larger concern affecting the entire County is that these camps can allow campfires. I was able to obtain a permit for campfires through the Cal Fire web page. I watched a two-and-a-half-minute video, took an eight-question quiz, and within 10 minutes printed out my permit. If I were a Hip Camp host, I would now have a permit. Also, the state allows small fires to be used for “heating and cooking.” This slippery slope enables these camps to offer naïve city visitors the option to build campfires in our drought dry woods. The danger is obvious.

County Code Enforcement is already overwhelmed with trying to cover the illegal cannabis grows. Who will monitor these camps and respond to complaints? I am a part-time resident of Covelo and watched the failure of a complaint-driven enforcement system to curtail what is now an overwhelming amount of illegal cannabis grows. Code Enforcement cannot keep up. What will the impact be if these camps continue to increase?

The County has an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and proactively address the fire danger these camps pose. They can consider the overall impact these camps will have on our County concerning water and land resources. Emergency ordinances, banning fires, fines for illegal cutting of trees, and enforcement of the Bed Tax the hosts are supposed to pay are some possible options. Educating Hip Camp Hosts that they would be legally responsible if a fire on their property spread to neighboring properties (Health and Safety code 13007) might also deter hosts from allowing fires at their camps. Do they want to risk losing their property because of having to pay for damages one of their campers caused? While people have a “right” to do what they want on their land they do not have the right to put their neighbors at risk or undue strain on our limited water.

Marilyn Magoffin


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The City of Fort Bragg will host an informal reception and ribbon cutting ceremony for the long-awaited Aquaclear Desalination-Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment System on Friday, October 8, 2021 at 2:00 PM at the City of Fort Bragg’s Corporation Yard, 31301 Cedar Street, Fort Bragg. 

The City of Fort Bragg ordered the Desalination-Reverse Osmosis Treatment System five months ago to provide additional water during periods of salt-water intrusion of the Noyo River. This skid-mounted unit is capable of producing 200 gallons a minute of desalinated water, or 288,000 gallons per day. Because the City’s wastewater treatment plant treats waste using bacteria and specialty microbes to clean water, the amount of brine (concentrated saltwater) it can process is limited, restricting use of the desalination system to 12 hours per day. The daily capacity tops out at 144,000 gallons per day, which is approximately 25% of the City’s daily water use. The $325,000 desalination unit was delivered on September 24th and start-up testing was completed last week. 

The City would like to thank the State Water Resources Control Board for making this project possible. The City received 100% funding assistance from the State Water Resources Control Board’s Financial Assistance Emergency Drinking Water Program. 

Questions regarding this information may be directed to or Department of Public Works at (707) 961-2823 Ext. 131. 

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The Arena Cove parking lot will be closed to vehicles from October 11 to October 22 for repair of the parking lot, which includes raising a portion of the lot and installing a valley gutter. Public parking will available along Port Road as during the Covid closure. Parking in the Rock Wall lot will be available between the hours of 7am and 4pm.

Weekly Covid Testing At City Hall

Every Thursday from 9am-11:30am, the Traveling Testing Team will be at City Hall. Hosted by OptumServe. Walk-ins welcome. You can pre-register at or by calling 888-634-1123.

For more information, call City Hall at 882-2122.

Paul Andersen, City Manager

Phone: 707-882-2122

Email: <>

Web: <>

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CATCH OF THE DAY, October 6, 2021

Donovan, Doyle, Marinos

EDWARD DONOVAN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JOHN DOYLE, Ukiah. Controlled substance, probation revocation.

NIKOLOS MARINOS, Encinitas/Ukiah. DUI.

Parrish, Pelfrey, Rohloff, Workman

DONAVAN PARRISH, Ukiah. Burglary, burglary tools, petty theft with priors, controlled substance.

ANTHONY PELFREY, Ukiah. Unlawful possession and use of tear gas as weapon.


SHANE WORKMAN, Laytonville. Robbery.

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TWO DAYS IN FRISCO: Slices of Life & Pizza in the City of Labor & Lit

by Jonah Raskin

I moved to San Francisco from Santa Rosa in Sonoma County on May 15, and for the first two weeks I sat in my one-bedroom apartment and listened to the screeching sounds from the N-Judah Streetcar which passes half a block from the building where I live. The neighborhood is called Ocean Beach. It’s part of the Outer Sunset. The inhabitants are largely older Chinese women who are widows.

A banker at Wells Fargo, a young Chinese woman named Alice Kunag, explained that older Chinese men usually remarry after their wives die because they don’t know how to take care of themselves, don’t know how to cook or do the laundry. Alice also told me that her favorite aunt “hates, hates, hates Mao Zetung,” but that the aunt’s husband says “Mao did good things for China, now nobody starves to death. Mao made China respected around the world.” I don’t know if Alice has any opinions about Mao. I asked her a couple of times what she thought of the chairman, but each time she changed the subject to the interest rate and the stock market.

After my first two weeks in San Francisco when I quarantine myself against city life itself, not the pandemic, I began to wander in ever widening circles to the north, the east and the south, though not to the West where waves from the Pacific Ocean batter the shore, where surfers surf, fisherman fish and walkers walk. On the last Thursday in September, I rode the N-Judah Streetcar past Other Avenues, the worker owned foodstore, past Arizmendis, the worker owned and operated bakery, all the way to Civic Center Plaza, where hundreds of homeless men and women gather, talk, use drugs, sleep, eye the police, and more or less keep to themselves.

From the Civic Center I walked two blocks to the Marriott on Market where the San Francisco Labor Council was holding its annual banquet, the first since the pandemic hit the city and disrupted urban life. Unlike the members of the teachers’ union, who sat at the table that I picked out for myself because it was close to the stage, I didn’t pay $500 to attend, to eat and drink, listen to a mariachi band and hear talk from union leaders and politicians. Kim Tavaglione, the executive director of The San Francisco Labor Council, was kind enough to give me a press pass.

For at least a hundred years, San Francisco has been known as a strong union town. At the start of the 20thcentury, the film industry settled in L.A. because unlike S.F., L.A. didn’t have powerful unions. Film producers could hire carpenters, electricians and plumbers and not have to pay union wages. In 1934 came the General Strike on the waterfront and throughout the city and the heyday of the longshoreman’s union and Harry Bridges, the Australian-born labor leader. Judging by the size and the enthusiasm of the crowd, and by the passion of the speakers, S.F. is still a strong union town.

Of the several hundred people who attended the banquet, I knew only two: Ken Tray, a union organizer who has a one-two punch. First, picket and march in the streets and provide a show of force and then go inside the building, sit down with management and negotiate from a position of strength. I also recognized S.F.’s D.A. Chesa Boudin, who has abolished cash bail because it has favored people with money. Boudin now wants to go after “ghost guns,” the unregistered, illegal firearms that haunt the city. Meanwhile, he’s raising money everyday to fight the cops who want to unseat him.

I shook hands and talked with an old friend who belongs to the union for the sheet metal workers. I met for the first time a person named Honey Mahogany who recently co-founded the first transgendered cultural district in the Tenderlion in San Francisco and maybe in the world. Honey Mahogany is also the co-owner of the The Stud, a queer bar which is currently shuttered but has plans to reopen. She offered me an open invitation to join her and friends for the gala celebration.

The carpenters were well represented at the banquet and so were the teamsters, the fire fighters, the nurses, the teachers and the janitors who were singled out for special recognition. The cops seemed to be the only workers, if you can call them that, who weren’t represented. Many of the union members are women who stood on the stage and called for affordable childcare and an end to harassment by men on the job. Many union members are also Latinos. In San Francisco the day of the white working class man appears to be coming rapidly to a close.

Asa Kalra, the first person of East Indian heritage to serve in the California State Legislature, and the chair of the committee on labor and employment, delivered a rousing keynote speech that reminded me of Vito Marcantonio, the New York politician who always stood with labor and who was the only member of the U.S. Congress who opposed the Korean War. “We’re living in the Gilded Age 2.0,” Kalra said. “The greed that we saw during the pandemic was disgusting. The only thing that will save us is the labor movement.” He added, “This system of corrupt capitalism has no conscience. Don’t lock up brown and black people because they’re poor. The ones who are closest to the pain are closest to the solution.”

Two days later, I joined a march and an outdoor gathering of bohemians and hipsters to commemorate the life and the work of Jack Hirschman, a poet, an activist, a San Francisco poet laureate, lover of literature and self-proclaimed communist who translated Stalin’s verse from Russian to English. Jack died on August 22 at the age of 87. A few hundred people clustered outside Specs’ Bar on Columbus Avenue, across from City Lights, which published Hirschman’s work, then followed a brass band to the Trieste on Grant and from there to Washington Square Park for a formal program. A friend of Hirschman’s remembered that as a young man Jack sent a story to Ernest Hemingway and that Hemingway replied in a letter that was later made public: “You write better than I did when I was 19. But the hell of it is, you write like me. That is no sin. But you won’t get anywhere with it.”

In the bright sunshine I walked from North Beach to the Montgomery Street Muni station, rode the N-Judah to Arizmendis on 9th Avenue, bought pizza, returned home and ate the still warm slices under the fog that swept in from the Pacific.

(Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.)

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by Patrick Cockburn

Three years ago, on 2 October 2018, a team of Saudi officials murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The purpose of the killing was to silence Khashoggi and to frighten critics of the Saudi regime by showing that it would pursue and punish them as though they were agents of a foreign power.

It was revealed this week that a year before the Khashoggi killing in 2017, the CIA had plotted to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who had taken refuge five years earlier in the Ecuador embassy in London. A senior US counter-intelligence official said that plans for the forcible rendition of Assange to the US were discussed “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration. The informant was one of more than 30 US officials – eight of whom confirmed details of the abduction proposal – quoted in a 7,500-word investigation by Yahoo News into the CIA campaign against Assange.

The plan was to “break into the embassy, drag [Assange] out and bring him to where we want”, recalled a former intelligence official. Another informant said that he was briefed about a meeting in the spring of 2017 at which President Trump had asked if the CIA could assassinate Assange and provide “options” about how this could be done. Trump has denied that he did so.

The Trump-appointed head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, said publicly that he would target Assange and WikiLeaks as the equivalent of “a hostile intelligence service”. Apologists for the CIA say that freedom of the press was not under threat because Assange and the WikiLeaks activists were not real journalists. Top intelligence officials intended to decide themselves who is and who is not a journalist, and lobbied the White House to redefine other high-profile journalists as “information brokers”, who were to be targeted as if they were agents of a foreign power.

Among those against whom the CIA reportedly wanted to take action were Glenn Greenwald, a founder of the Intercept magazine and a former Guardian columnist, and Laura Poitras, a documentary film-maker. The arguments for doing so were similar to those employed by the Chinese government for suppressing dissent in Hong Kong, which has been much criticised in the West. Imprisoning journalists as spies has always been the norm in authoritarian countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, while denouncing the free press as unpatriotic is a more recent hallmark of nationalist populist governments that have taken power all over the world.

It is possible to give only a brief precis of the extraordinary story exposed by Yahoo News, but the journalists who wrote it – Zach Dorfman, Sean D Naylor and Michael Isikoff – ought to scoop every journalistic prize. Their disclosures should be of particular interest in Britain because it was in the streets of central London that the CIA was planning an extra-judicial assault on an embassy, the abduction of a foreign national, and his secret rendition to the US, with the alternative option of killing him. These were not the crackpot ideas of low-level intelligence officials, but were reportedly operations that Pompeo and the agency fully intended to carry out.

This riveting and important story based on multiple sources might be expected to attract extensive coverage and widespread editorial comment in the British media, not to mention in parliament. Many newspapers have dutifully carried summaries of the investigation, but there has been no furor. Striking gaps in the coverage include the BBC, which only reported it, so far as I can see, as part of its Somali service. Channel 4, normally so swift to defend freedom of expression, apparently did not mention the story at all.

In the event, the embassy attack never took place, despite the advanced planning. “There was a discussion with the Brits about turning the other cheek or looking the other way when a team of guys went inside and did a rendition,” said a former senior US counter-intelligence official, who added that the British had refused to allow the operation to take place.

But the British government did carry out its own less melodramatic, but more effective measure against Assange, removing him from the embassy on 11 April 2019 after a new Ecuador government had revoked his asylum. He remains in Belmarsh top security prison two-and-a-half years later while the US appeals a judicial decision not to extradite him to the US on the grounds that he would be a suicide risk.

If he were to be extradited, he would face 175 years in prison. It is important, however, to understand, that only five of these would be under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, while the other 170 potential years are under the Espionage Act of 1917, passed during the height of the patriotic war fever as the US entered the First World War.

Only a single minor charge against Assange relates to the WikiLeaks disclosure in 2010 of a trove of US diplomatic cables and army reports relating to the Iraq and Afghan wars. The other 17 charges are to do with labeling normal journalistic investigation as the equivalent of spying.

Pompeo’s determination to conflate journalistic inquiry with espionage has particular relevance in Britain, because the home secretary, Priti Patel, wants to do much the same thing. She proposes updating the Official Secrets Act so that journalists, whistle-blowers and leakers could face sentences of up to 14 years in prison. A consultative paper issued in May titled Legislation to Counter State Threats (Hostile State Activity) redefines espionage as “the covert process of obtaining sensitive confidential information that is not normally publicly available”.

The true reason the scoop about the CIA’s plot to kidnap or kill Assange has been largely ignored or downplayed is rather that he is unfairly shunned as a pariah by all political persuasions: left, right and centre.

To give but two examples, the US government has gone on claiming that the disclosures by WikiLeaks in 2010 put the lives of US agents in danger. Yet the US Army admitted in a court hearing in 2013 that a team of 120 counter-intelligence officers had failed to find a single person in Iraq and Afghanistan who had died because of the disclosures by WikiLeaks. As regards the rape allegations in Sweden, many feel that these alone should deny Assange any claim to be a martyr in the cause of press freedom. Yet the Swedish prosecutor only carried out a “preliminary investigation” and no charges were brought.

Assange is a classic victim of “cancel culture”, so demonised that he can no longer get a hearing, even when a government plots to kidnap or murder him.

In reality, Khashoggi and Assange were pursued relentlessly by the state because they fulfilled the primary duty of journalists: finding out important information that the government would like to keep secret and disclosing it to the public.

(Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso) — courtesy

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THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE has issued a directive that the FBI will now investigate parents after a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against school staff and administrators. This comes in response to a letter to President Biden last week from the National Association of School Boards (NASB) asserting that “America's public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat” due to “attacks…for approving policies for masks.” The letter likened parents' objections to “a form of domestic terrorism” and fuelled instant outrage. Asra Nomani, a mom and the vice president of investigations and strategy at Parents Defending Education (PDE), tweeted: “This is what a domestic terrorist looks like? You are criminalizing parenting, and you owe the people of America a swift apology.” There seems to have been a very different approach to the civil unrest we saw last summer in the wake of George Floyd's horrific killing, which led to appalling arson, looting and destruction of property. I don't remember the DoJ issuing directives then that such behavior was “domestic terrorism.” So, Attorney-General Merrick Garland's announcement strikes me as massive overreach by a Biden administration determined to stamp down on dissent. America is supposed to be the land of the free, the very epicenter of free speech protected by a First Amendment that is the envy of the world. 

— Piers Morgan

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“Well, it’s that time of the year when nothing I say makes any sense.”

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Former HHS officials say they tried to accelerate funding for what became Merck's new “miracle” drug last year, but were blocked. How culture-war stupidity may have cost “tens of thousands” of lives

by Matt Taibbi

It seemed like a rare instance of good news in big doses last week when pharmaceutical giant Merck announced that a new drug called molnupiravir had been shown in tests to cut hospitalizations and deaths by half. The simple, easy-to-take pill would give doctors “a whole new, easy-to-use weapon” in the fight against Covid-19, as the AP put it. 

Press observers were ecstatic. Headlines ranged from “Merck pill seen as ‘huge advance’” (Reuters) to “Momentum From Potential Covid-19 Drug Stays Intact“ (Yahoo!) to “Everything You Need to Know About Merck’s Game-Changing Covid Pill“ (Bloomberg). Nearly every story cited data from Merck’s own press release, which claimed studies had shown an experimental oral drug had tremendous promise. From the Bloomberg article:

Of 385 patients who got the drug, 28 or 7.3% were hospitalized, compared with 53 out of 377 (14.1%) who got a placebo. Through day 29, no deaths were reported in patients who received molnupiravir, but eight died in the placebo arm.

Even the sainted Anthony Fauci conferred holy approval in Politico’s ”Fauci Sees Hope in New Merck Drug.” Declines in stock market prices early in the week even appeared attributed to the drug’s arrival, as investors whispered fears that a pill making a return to normal life possible might lead to imminent lessening of emergency support from the Federal Reserve, which of course would be a catastrophe for Wall Street. Modern America in a nutshell: if you want to identify truly good news, check if it triggers panic-selling. 

The uniformly celebratory nature of coverage of the Merck product evoked memories of an infamous press episode in the early 2010s, when an alleged wonder drug called Tamiflu was pitched — by the CDC, among others — as being so effective in preventing hospitalizations for influenza that federal and state authorities ultimately spent over a billion dollars stockpiling what turned out to be a dubious treatment at best. In that case, too, a drugmaker called Roche claimed up to 50% reduction in deaths, sending governments and patients alike clamoring for supplies. 

Now, too, the federal government has already agreed to pay $1.2 billion for a supply of molnupiravir, another ostensibly simple oral cure for a devastating virus. Although a five-day course reportedly only costs $17.74 to make, the Biden administration will be spending $712 a pop for enough pills to treat 1.7 million Covid-19 patients. 

Though the Tamiflu episode reminds us that it’s important to remember that not every drug hailed by a drugmaker as a “huge advance” turns out to be one, it’s obviously possible that molnupiravir turns out to be the game-changer its developers claim it is. If that’s the case, there are a lot of officials and journalists who’ll have a lot of questions to answer, since this drug’s release may have been delayed by six months or more, after it became collateral damage last year to yet another idiotic Trump/anti-Trump culture war drama. 

“It could have been out six months ago,” says Dr. Robert Kadlec, former assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “It would have been a game-changer… It would have saved tens of thousands of lives.”

The story about molnupiravir’s serpentine route toward approval is a textbook example of how politicians and press in the Trump era have fallen into a pattern of treating the same exact same set of facts in different, even opposite ways, depending on whom they perceive to be the beneficiary of news. 

Last year, when Trump was president, molnupiravir was bad, dangerous science, an evil twin to hydroxychloroquine.

Now, it’s a pharmaceutical superhero, coming to the rescue — a Thor-inspired drug, coming to “hammer” COVID.

If the drug does turn out to prevent death, a not-insignificant portion of the lives that were lost waiting for its arrival will be on politicians and the press. 

Molnupiravir, or EIDD-2801, was originally developed by scientists at Emory University in conjunction with a small pharmaceutical company called Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Its original developers had diseases like Ebola in mind, but were hopeful of promising results against viruses in general. 

“I was first briefed on the drug in October [of 2019],” says Kadlec. “And I thought, ‘That’s really interesting. Then when it all hit the fan in February with Covid-19, my thought was, ‘Let’s get this done.’”

The problem was how. By early spring of 2020, Trump administration officials like Kadlec say they were anxious to spend a full $100 million funding the development of the experimental drug then known as EIDD-2801, but this feeling was not unanimous within the national health bureaucracy. 

Specifically, a fierce intramural battle had been brewing between Kadlec and HHS officials sympathetic to Kadlec, and a doctor named Rick Bright, who was the head at the time of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA. 

Kadlec was technically the boss of Bright, who first joined HHS in 2010 and became head of BARDA under Barack Obama. The former BARDA chief, who declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this article (though he followed me on Twitter after I sent him a DM query asking for comment), clashed with Trump appointees over a variety of issues. HHS officials had a spate of complaints, including that he was leaking to the news media (specifically, this Reuters article that came out on April 16, 2020), while Bright was supposedly unhappy over a variety of issues, from supply-chain preparedness to support for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, ultimately filing a whistleblower complaint and testifying before congress. 

The drug that was to become molnupiravir was central to Bright’s complaint. A crucial funding decision about EIDD-2801 was among the next items up for resolution when Kadlec, on Monday, April 20, 2020 — just days after the Reuters piece came out — arranged to have Bright reassigned to a position within the NIH, where he would ostensibly be running a new Covid testing program.

Bright had also just briefed Senator Roy Blunt the previous Friday about, among other things, diagnostics. Bright later said Kadlec and others told him his presentation to Blunt must have been great, because the Senator now wanted to give BARDA “billions of dollars of additional funding” to focus on a new Covid-19 testing program. This, Bright complained, was how he learned he’d been reassigned out of BARDA, ostensibly to join what became the NIH “shark tank” program, which used a venture-capital-like fund to develop a reliable Covid-19 test. 

There were some at HHS who had diffident feelings about Bright and wondered if the reassignment was too lucky a break for him, as he’d theoretically been put in line to replace then-NIH director Francis Collins, who just announced his retirement. Kadlec meanwhile characterizes the “shark tank“ as something far removed from bureaucratic Siberia, saying, “He would have been a hero… We’d just arranged for him to spend a billion dollars.”

Bright obviously didn’t take it that way, and on April 22, 2020 announced his objection to his “involuntary transfer to a more limited and less impactful position” at the NIH, serving notice of his intention to file a full whistleblower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel. 

The complaint he ended up filing charged Kadlec and others with corruption in trying to promote a “potentially harmful” drug for an unspecified personal gain. “Emails offer look into whistleblower charges of cronyism behind potential COVID-19 drug,” was the headline in Science last May 13th.

Bright was immediately hailed as a hero by the press. Reporters universally described him as a man of principle who’d taken a stand on behalf of “science” against the bleach-guzzling, witch-doctor profiteers at the Trump administration. 

“Ousted vaccine official alleges he was demoted for prioritizing ‘science and safety’” was the Washington Post headline after he filed his whistleblower complaint. “Federal Whistleblower Says Boss Pushed Him to Purchase Drugs That Weren’t Tested in Humans,” was the Intercept’s contribution. The New York Times wrote that Bright’s complaint “accuses Dr. Kadlec and other top administration officials of… putting politics ahead of science.” The Times noted that although Bright was at the “front edge” of an effort to create a “Manhattan Project” for vaccines, he was “viewed with suspicion in the Trump administration as an ‘Obama holdover.’” Later, the paper reported that the Office of Special Counsel originally said there were “reasonable grounds” to believe Bright had been retaliated against.

Bright even went on 60 Minutes, which introduced his story by noting he’d claimed the Trump administration’s response to Covid-19 “prioritized politics over science, and cost people their lives,” adding, “it has cost Dr. Bright his job.”

The whistleblower complaint included a vague charge that funding for molnupirvavir was somehow to the financial benefit of “cronies.” It also described how ASPR at one point apparently directed a BARDA official to “secure approximately $100 million in pre-award funding” for Ridgeback for the drug’s development. However, the funding was halted. 

Bright’s invocation of the “t-word” — toxic — quickly had members of congress and media figures alike steering clear of the drug, according to some. One former official said the press attention made molnupiravir a political non-starter, and “killed the drug for us.”

“If Merck hadn’t picked it up a few months later, I don’t know what happens,” is how Kadlec puts it. Ridgeback ended up transferring worldwide rights to molnupiravir to Merck in May of 2020. 

In any other context, a drug like molnupiravir would have been much more likely to be evaluated on the merits. But in the context of a spat between an Obama appointee and Trump officials in the run-up to a presidential election, the drug became, as an enormous number of other irrelevant things in the last five years have become, a stand-in for a larger culture war.

Thus in the year before journalists rushed to tab it a “game-changer” and a “huge advance,” the drug was described as not merely bad and lacking scientific foundation, but a symbol of all that is evil and dark in both the pharmaceutical industry and politics. 

Molnupiravir’s “danger” was a common theme. Science and other outlets quoted Bright as saying “similar experimental drugs in this class had been shown to cause reproductive toxicity in animals, and offspring from treated animals had been born without teeth and without parts of their skulls,” as if Trump officials would rush a mutation-causing agent to market without testing it. Such descriptions didn’t stop with the drug’s loss of government funding. 

On June 25, 2020, the Washington Post ran an article, “Hedge fund manager stands to profit on ‘flip’ of taxpayer-funded coronavirus drug.” This piece described Ridgeback’s hedge fund owners as pharmaceutical “house-flippers,” whose wager on EIDD-2801 paid off with “extraordinary speed” when they were able to do a deal with Merck after being rejected by the federal government. 

“The rapid turnaround of rights to a publicly financed drug,” the Postwrote, “highlights the frenzy of financial speculation that has accompanied the spread of the coronavirus around the world.” The paper added that the role of middleman firms like Ridgeback puts “pressure on companies to increase prices,” and “raises questions about who is financially benefiting by securing monopoly licensing rights to publicly financed inventions.”

All this was despite the fact that Ridgeback had only gone to Merck after it was booted off the public-development track. As for the “flip” angle, which suggested the small company washed its hands of EIDD-2801 once money was exchanged, Merck’s own press releases as late as last week continued to describe an ongoing partnership with Ridgeback:

Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics today announced that molnupiravir (MK-4482, EIDD-2801), an investigational oral antiviral medicine, significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death…

The original version of the Post “flip” piece was full of bizarrely pointed descriptions. As to the Ridgeback owners, hedge fund manager Wayne Holman and his wife Wendy (who is the firm’s CEO), the paper conceded that Wayne had a medical degree, but noted that the pair “bought two mansions for a combined $47 million in 2014 and tore one of them down.” The Post noted they had one other drug in development, a treatment for Ebola, which EIDD-2801 was also said to address. The paper quoted James Love, director of a non-profit called Knowledge Ecology International, as saying the private sector typically wasn’t interested in diseases common to such “backwater” locales.

“When it was limited to things like Ebola and SARS, you didn’t see as much as engagement by the private sectors. These were normally backwater areas in neglected disease,” Love told the Post. ”People now are rushing in and scaling up.”

The Post piece now opens online adorned by a long “clarifications” note, saying things like, “A previous version of this story gave inadequate prominence to the role of Wendy Holman, the chief executive of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics; it now introduces her by noting her professional status,” and that the new version puts “greater emphasis on the company’s prior experience developing an Ebola drug and includes mention of the experience of its employees in developing pharmaceutical products.” These aren’t corrections in the classic sense, but more a public acknowledgement that the original piece had been weirdly hostile. 

Just a year ago, EIDD-2801/molnupiravir was a potentially harmful treatment, hailing from a class of drugs that caused things to be born with parts of their skulls missing, and symbolic of the underlying corruption of pharmaceutical middleman firms, who drive up prices and “raised concerns” about who might cash in from Covid-19. 

It seems highly unlikely any of this would have been written had EIDD-2801/molnupiravir not been in the middle of a broader culture-war referendum on Donald Trump that played out through the story of Bright’s whistleblower complaint. Like hydroxychloroquine, it became an involuntary character in someone else’s interminable narrative death-struggle. 

Even after conventional wisdom changed with regard to molnupiravir in recent weeks, the propaganda about last year continued. Axios, for instance, seemed to have the basics of the story correct last week, noting that “one group of HHS officials was pushing for the federal government to fund what they saw as a promising new drug,” but that “BARDA ultimately declined to fund the manufacturing of the drug,” noting that “former BARDA director Rick Bright… led the skeptical point of view.”

But that Axios story still came out under the headline, “Before Merck backed COVID antiviral, Trump admin turned it down.”

Molnupiravir isn’t approved yet, and it’s always important to be cautious before all the results are in. But if it is approved by the FDA in the coming weeks and turns out to be an effective drug, we’ll know then the people who publicly dumped on the drug were wrong. This has become the only way for the public to judge what’s going on — waiting and seeing — because even the most pious assessments about “truth” and “science,” in the most prestigious outlets, have become permanent hostages to political narrative. Menace or wonder drug? The public is now the last to find out, only after fights over which political tribe gets to benefit are completed.

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DABABY shot and killed a man at a Walmart in North Carolina. Nothing bad happened to his career. Do you see where I'm going with this? In our country, you can shoot and kill a man, but you better not hurt a gay person's feelings. 

— Dave Chappelle en route to defending J.K. Rowling's remark that trans women are not women

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Cold Case Team Believes They Have Identified the Infamous Zodiac Killer

by Tim Binnall 

An independent group of investigators believes that they have determined the identity of the infamous Zodiac Killer. One of the more iconic cases in true crime lore, the unnerving serial killer tormented the San Francisco area during the late 1960s by way of a series of sinister slayings and cryptic letters sent to the media. The subject of numerous books, countless television programs, and even a Hollywood film, the Zodiac Killer's identity has remained a mystery for decades with all manner of suspects being put forward by armchair researchers doggedly digging into the case. And now a team of former law enforcement investigators is confident that they have finally unmasked the mad man.

According to a press release, the organization known as The Case Breakers has “recovered new physical and forensic evidence” which, they say, indicates that the Zodiac Killer was a man by the name of Gary Francis Poste, who passed away in 2018. One particular clue, which one member of the team called “irrefutable,” is that their suspect sported a unique scar on his forehead that just so happens to match what four eyewitnesses reported in their observations of the killer. Additionally, the group has also “secured decades of pictures from Poste's former darkroom” that they believe strengthens their case, including an eerie 1980 “selfie” that appears to show the shadow of a person wearing the unsettling Zodiac hood that the killer donned during one of his murders.

Beyond that evidence, the Case Breakers have connected with an individual, described as an “outlaw turned Zodiac whistleblower,” who says that he personally witnessed Poste burying the murder weapons used in the killings and has provided the group with the location of what could be that blockbuster evidence. Other sources who have helped the organization hone in on their suspect include Poste's former daughter-in-law who asserted that she was subjected to a campaign of terror organized by the suspected serial killer when the relationship unceremoniously ended as well as a woman who was babysat by Poste in the 1970s and says that his wife recently revealed to her that he had, in fact, been the Zodiac Killer.

As of yet, the FBI and associated law enforcement groups tasked with investigating the decades-old cold case have yet to respond to the findings put forward by the Case Breakers. That said, the group is hoping to compare Poste's DNA to material collected from the crime scene of a suspected Zodiac victim, Cheri Jo Bates, as they believe that it would be a definitive match. Should that be the case, they contend that circumstantial clues connecting that murder to the Zodiac's series of killings would confirm that Poste was behind the entire series of murders. While one can't help but be optimistic due to the confidence expressed by the Case Breakers, it would also be wise to temper expectations as this is not the first time that a promising Zodiac suspect has been proposed only for the case to remain maddeningly unsolved.


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"Heroes and Patriots" returns to KMUD on Thursday, October 7, at 9 am, Pacific Time. Our guest is "9/11 truth and justice" advocate, Kevin Ryan. 


Ryan is the editor of the Journal of 9/11 Studies. He has published several 9/11-related articles in mainstream scientific journals, including all of those on the finding of thermitic materials at the WTC.   

Ryan's blog:  

See also the following interview:  

Ryan has co-authored books with David R Griffin, Peter Dale Scott, Paul Zarembka, and Jesse Ventura and has authored his own (2013) book, Another Nineteen: Investigating Legitimate 9/11 Suspects. 



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  1. Marmon October 7, 2021

    RE: LIFE SAVING THERAPEUTICS (EIDD-2801/molnupiravir)

    It’s so sad how the left’s referendum against President Trump may have cost hundred’s of thousands of lives. He pushed for the development of therapeutics from the begining. The media, including the AVA, refused to allow any mention of several drugs that had shown any promise in defeating the China Virus. It was all about Vaccines, Vaccines, Vaccines and Masks, Masks, Masks.

    Just a year ago Tuesday POTUS was released from the hospital after coming down with COVID. He praised several experimental drugs for his quick recovering, most notable Monoclonal Antibody Infusion. It wasn’t even approved for experiemtal use yet, but under his “right to try” legislation he was given the treatment.

    “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

    -Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

    8 drugs Trump has been given for his COVID-19 treatment

    “Though no drug has been FDA approved to treat the virus, a handful have shown positive results in clinical trials. The president has been given drugs that are being tested in clinical trials and aren’t available to the general public.”


    • Bruce Anderson October 7, 2021

      Anybody who would look to Trump for medical advice, may not be around to vote for fascism a second time. The AVA tries not to publish errant information on covid. We look to medical science, e.g. Doc Fauci or other bona fide experts, not orange flamers or dubious internet sources.

      • Kirk Vodopals October 7, 2021

        Doc fauci is more of a politician now than an unbiased doctor. I would recommend avoiding using him as a reference. He’s too much of a lightning rod. Lots of better references out there

      • Marmon October 7, 2021

        Trump was anointed by God to lead the nation, Satan stole it from him in 2020 election. Now our World is in peril. Fauci is Satan’s little helper who financed the creation (gain of function) of the China virus in order to get rid of Trump and destroy humanity.


        • Bruce Anderson October 7, 2021

          I see your Satan and raise you the Angel Moroni.

          • Rye N Flint October 7, 2021

            “The Ascended Master is an Individual who, by Self-Conscious Effort, has generated enough Love and Power within Himself to snap the chains of all human limitation; and so He stands Ascended and Free, and Worthy to be trusted with the Use of Forces beyond those of human experience. He feels Himself the Oneness of Omnipresent God—Life. Hence, all forces and things obey His Command because He is a Self-Conscious Being of Free Will, controlling all by the manipulation of the “Light” within Himself.

            It is through the Radiation, or Outpouring of this Light which is really His own Luminous Essence of Divine Love, that an Ascended Master is able to help those who come under His Care and Direction.

            Who are the Ascended Masters?
            The Ascended Masters have been the Elder Brothers, Protectors, Guardians, and Infallible Teachers of mankind throughout the centuries. They are the only Infallible Source of Instruction to the humanity of this earth, because They are Wholly Divine, and One with the God Self of every individual. They are the Living Fulfillment of the Law They teach, and are the only Ones who have manifested Complete Victory over so-called death.

            They are the Full Manifestation of that Light and Love which rule the Universe and which maintain Divine Order throughout Infinity.

            The Great Ascended Masters have worked for centuries preparing for the expansion of Light that is now flooding the entire system to which this earth belongs”


          • Steve Heilig October 7, 2021

            My evangelist physician brother-in-law, when asked what he thinks about Trump: “Well, Satan comes in strange disguises and works in strange ways.”
            (But clearly this Mormon fellow is just trolling here as usual – nobody who actually reads the AVA is THAT delusional…. hopefully.)

            • Stephen Rosenthal October 8, 2021

              You misspelled Moron.

              • Steve Heilig October 8, 2021

                Hah, thanks.. (And I certainly didn’t mean to insult the poor Mormons by association).

        • chuck dunbar October 7, 2021

          Whoops, run out of your psych meds today, James? Best not to post in that condition….

  2. Kirk Vodopals October 7, 2021

    Re: ED notes…

    Water trucks will roll perpetually as long as weed prices stay high enough for the ding dongs to avoid working for the man… Plus, many of those grows are run as side jobs.

    As for the Skunk Train tunnel, Mr. Pinoli would have to charge a thousand times the already exorbitant ticket costs for a peddle (pedal) ride up the tracks

  3. Marmon October 7, 2021


    #1 Hah, three different firearms. Sounded like a war zone. But maybe it was just a celebratory burst to kick off the festivities now that Sheriff’s Deputy Trent James is leaving. He has had enough. Not enough real support, a job that must be just delightful af, and then he gets accused by a certain segment (I name no names) of “harassment” when he does horrible, brutal things like recover stolen goods from the perps by going to see them and saying okay, guys, c’mon – just hand the stuff over. Tsk, tsk!

    This song certainly sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
    He was smart, he was effective and he was chill. He possessed integrity and was dedicated to helping the community. For a LEO, that can get you in deep water here, it would seem. Jesus Christ. Talk about the Village of the Damned.
    Well, shit. I get it, Trent. You do what you have to do, man. And you will be missed.
    As for Round Valley – oh, hey, it’s time to par-TAY! Are you listening, Sheriff Kendall?

    #2 He’s leaving!? Dang. I liked his style. He was cool as fk. Wasn’t afraid, can’t be scared up here. That’s too bad, I heard he was thinking of leaving but I didn’t know it was for certain.

    #3 Yeah. We heard it from the horse’s mouth. Major bummer, huh


    • Lazarus October 7, 2021

      Mr. James has and is promising some real dirt on the County lawmen. This nickel and dime stuff on the Willits PD is common knowledge to the locals.
      Let’s hear about the Mendo shakedown, RICO investigations, why Mr. Allman quit midterm, and the goodie store for cops.
      Good luck and be well,

      • Marmon October 7, 2021

        Yeah, I agree, he needs to get past Willits and get to the sheriff’s office. I’m sure Hendry will come up again when he does. They both worked together, Hendry was his beat partner for a while.

        However, I think he believes the Willits situation bolsters his credibility.

        Former Willits Police Chief Alexis Blaylock Sues City for $500,000 Claiming a Hostile Work Environment, Sexism, and Racism

        “The letter specifically names Lieutenant Derek Hendry as one of those subordinates who openly resisted Blaylock. He told her “he had a problem with a female chief and that he and other officers were not accustomed to reporting to a woman.” Lieutenant Hendry is reported to have told Blaylock it is “odd” to work for a woman in the presence of City of Willits’s Human Resources Director Karen Stevenson. The letter also states that Lieutenant Hendry told an unnamed city employee that Chief Blaylock’s race was “instrumental in his opposition to her.””

        firing now would be an admission of guilt.

        Bud, Bribery & Extortion in Covelo: And the Real Crook is…

        “The cops say it’s Dennis Gage, busted a year and a half ago for possession and cultivation of marijuana, and for attempting to bribe the deputy who nabbed him. Gage tells quite a different story. He says the deputy, Derek Hendry, is an extortionist who shook him down for protection money.”


  4. Rye N Flint October 7, 2021

    RE: Facebook fanning the flames of hate

    “How has Facebook’s content ranking led to the spread of misinformation and hate speech?

    During her testimony, Haugen repeatedly came back to the idea that Facebook’s algorithm incites misinformation, hate speech, and even ethnic violence.

    The machine-learning models that maximize engagement also favor controversy, misinformation, and extremism: put simply, people just like outrageous stuff.

    Sometimes this inflames existing political tensions. The most devastating example to date is the case of Myanmar, where viral fake news and hate speech about the Rohingya Muslim minority escalated the country’s religious conflict into a full-blown genocide. Facebook admitted in 2018, after years of downplaying its role, that it had not done enough “to help prevent our platform from being used to foment division and incite offline violence.”

  5. Rye N Flint October 7, 2021

    RE: Hip-campers

    If only places like the Solar Living Center in Hopland were run by people that could apply for campground use permits, then Hip-campers would have a nice legitamate place to enjoy. If only Sanhedrin lumber didn’t buy the old campground in Willits and turn it into a lumber storage yard. But alas… this is Mendoland afterall, where landowners don’t give a crap about zoning laws, pollution, or theft of native resources. Check out this fine example of a local Hip-camp Entrepreneur “Stephen”. Right down the road from the abandoned trash piles of Tomki road.

    “The peace, quiet and beauty of nature is the theme at our property. This land is dedicated to the re-sacralization of culture. The spot was an ancient Native American camping area. People have found arrowheads, stone beads and grinding stones on the land. The amount and variety of wildlife is astonishing, with bear, deer, turkeys, fox, coyote, bobcat, Eagles, River otter, salmon and steelhead, with a wide variety of songbirds during migration.”

  6. Rye N Flint October 7, 2021

    RE: COULDN’T HELP but notice Tuesday a noisy claque of anti-vaxxers on the southwest corner of Perkins and State, Ukiah. I was tempted to park to argue with them.

    I didn’t go “agrue’ with them, but I did go over and talk to 3 of them to get their point of view. Quite the range, from “I don’t want to be forced to fire my employees” to “It’s the jewish lizard people controlling the world”.

    • Rye N Flint October 7, 2021

      and… please don’t lump me in with the anti-vaxxers and other nuts just because you believe the physically impossible official story of why WTC7 fell on 9-11-01.

      “not to mention the Building 7 nuts”

      If you want to call renowned architects and engineers, “Nuts”, you better be able to back that claim up with some good evidence.

      • Gary Smith October 7, 2021

        I agree. I was offended by that. The official story is preposterous.

      • Steve Heilig October 7, 2021

        They are not “renowned” – anybody can join, and say they are qualified. The founder is a San Francisco multi-conspiracy kook. His “theories” have been debunked by actual experts ad nauseum. You could look it all up up.

  7. Rye N Flint October 7, 2021

    RE: Don’t Carmelize Mendocino

    I realize the old reference was to Carmel by the Sea, the richy rich artsy fartsy town by Monterey, CA. But… in my 13 years of living in Mendocino county, it seems that the secret unspoken plan is to turn the entire county into a giant retirement community. All of us under 50 years old should be happy to rent in a place like Mendoland, working low wage service jobs to provide a Disney like existence for the rich and retired. It’s kind of like wine tourism, but you never have to leave!

    • Kirk Vodopals October 7, 2021

      There are jobs available around here that don’t involve tourism or wine, but most working age mendoites prefer to ride the weed train down to the bitter end. We’ll see how long that lasts

  8. Rye N Flint October 7, 2021

    RE: Sheriff budget

    Remember last week, when Acting Auditor Chamise Cubbison said:

    “There were several members of the community who reached out to you to support my appointment as Auditor and you declined to take any action based on old information based on issues the Auditor’s office had with the District Attorney. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but the legal opinion was obtained to support the District Attorney’s position on asset forfeiture funds was obtained by the CEO from a colleague of the CEO.”

    I wonder if the Budget woes from the Sheriff’s department have anything to do with civil forfeiture funds drying up, from the DA and Sheriff not being able to steal people’s property under the guise of “legality”?

  9. Rye N Flint October 7, 2021

    How civil of them:

  10. k h October 7, 2021

    Re Pinoli letter

    Has anyone asked the citizens of Fort Bragg how they feel about the Skunk Train turning their headlands into a giant commercial tourist attraction? Mr Pinoli goes on and on about the temerity of the city interrupting the Skunk’s plans for taking over a huge swath of the undeveloped downtown area. Maybe the elected leaders have other ideas for their city? They are answerable by election; Mr Pinoli is not.

  11. Jim Armstrong October 7, 2021

    Some seriously bonkers talk here today.
    I love the old photo of the 14+/- horse team about to pull the double-decker wagon up the East Fork of the Russian River to the top of Potter Valley. Take me along!
    I think the route may have gone of Hells Delight Canyon instead of up to Cold Creek in those days.
    Anyone know for sure?

  12. Craig Stehr October 7, 2021

    ~Autumn in California’s Wine Country~
    Warmest spiritual greetings, Please know that I have the mind constantly repeating the Hare Krishna mahamantram, (as opposed to random discursive thinking). Upon awakening in the early morning, the mantram is being repeated by the mind, and to some extent never stops. Obviously, this is wonderful.
    With the mind so occupied, the body-mind complex is not interfering with the Absolute working through it. At this time, I am primarily interested in a collective spiritual effort to destroy the demonic and return this world to righteousness. Let’s begin, and go global! That is the only liberation possible from this civilization’s existential dilemma. Yours for transcendental realization,

    Craig Louis Stehr
    P.O. Box 938, Redwood Valley, CA 95470-0938
    October 7th, 2021

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