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DRY WEATHER is forecast to prevail through Sunday. Another cool and crisp morning is expected on Thursday. Warmer temperatures are forecast for this weekend and early next week. (NWS)
THIS MORNING'S LOWS: Boonville 34°, Yorkville 36°
15 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
BETH SWEHLA WRITES:
By now most of you have heard of the mountain lion attack on goats at the high school. Our AVUSD Superintendent Louise Simson has been in contact with the Fish & Game and with the County Board of Supervisors.
Today Michelle Hutchins, Mendocino County of Education Superintendent, posted this comment to the Mendocino Fever article, "I did speak with California Fish and Game today. If there have been other incidences that have occurred recently, near the farm, please report it to them. They only are aware of the incident on the school property."
I personally know of another attack as I helped care for their wounds.
If you have or know of anyone that has had a recent lion attack please contact Fish & Game.
ANDERSON VALLEY TRANSFER STATION will be CLOSED, Wednesday November 24 and Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.
ANDERSON VALLEY MUSHROOMS
Welcome to AV Mushroom Forum. Post your pictures of all the wonderful fungi. Just FYI this NOT an Identification Page! You can have an opinion but please do not advise people to EAT them or not. Just pictures and discussion. When you do post pictures please include Top, side, underneath, what types of trees, soil type, and size. There is so much to learn and sharing your experiences is a good way to learn more about the fascinating mushroom world. Happy Hunting!
JUST ANOTHER FOOL
In her article on Redbeard, in the Nov. 11th edition, Marilyn Davin seems to imply that Redbeard stole to keep from starving. With all the demand in construction right now for muscle, there is no reason an able bodied 40 year old should have to steal to eat. As far as the attempted murder charges go: If the deputies testify he shot at them, He's going down big time. Ms. Davin seems to want to portray Redbeard as some kind of romantic figure. To me he's just another, garden variety, charming fool.
MENDOCINO COUNTY FOOD RESOURCES
CHP DETAILS INCIDENT IN COVELO That Resulted in a ‘Minor Use of Force’ and Over a Dozen Subjects Surrounding and Threatening Arresting Officers
On Sunday, November 20, 2021, according to a California Highway Patrol spokesperson, a simple traffic stop in Covelo being conducted by CHP officers escalated when the driver failed to yield to lights and sirens and used dangerous evasive maneuvers in an attempt to flee. When the suspect finally stopped the vehicle in a residential area, the driver resisted arrest. Tensions escalated when, according to the CHP, 15-20 subjects surrounded the arresting officers expressing opposition to the arrest.
ANNUAL MONTE RIO CREEKSIDE SKATEBOARD PARK FUNDRAISER UPDATE!
by Millie Munson
Over 250 children and teenagers and many more young adults! That is just at the skateboard park, there were a bunch more people at the amphitheater listening to music!
1. Millie, Milo, and Atsuko Munson (work time)
2. Kenny, Kelly, and Kazimir Reed (organizing everything)
3. Minna Stess (judge extraordinaire)
4. Brian Grant and Stephanie Felch (dealing with the government)
5. Leslie and Oudom (you know you rock)
6. Bill, Danny, Vandan, Ronan, Jason, and all the other people at the skateboard park
7. Sonoma Surf and Skate (donor)
8. Brotherhood Board Shop (donor)
9. Zumiez (continuous support)
10. Aime Windsor/ Sonoma Gazette (publicity)
11. Bruce Anderson/ The mighty Anderson Valley Advertiser (publicity)
12. Amanda Knoodle (donor)
13. Dean Gotham and the Vietnam Veterans Chapter 951 Lake County (donors)
14. Jerry Knight 95.1 River Radio (PSA’s)
15. Jordan Williams and David Williams *not related* (donors)
16. Linda Hopkins
17. Andrew Smith/ AG commissioner (introductions)
18. Max/ skater dude (donated libations)
19. Elaine Holtz KBBF FM radio (encouragement and advice)
20. Brain and Kevin 95.1 and Rio Nido PO and copy center in Rio Nido (Flyers and Radio)
21. Stuart Wilkinson (Youth Outreach Guerneville Library)
22. All the businesses that happily put up our flyers include: Out of the past, Express Mart gas station, Community bank, Two ladies from Guerneville NAPA, and Saucy Momma all put our fliers up on the front door of their businesses before my son could get back in the car. Forest Hill/Chesters Express mart, Zumiez, and Custom T’s.
I could thank people until I turn blue in the face so I just wanted to say Thank YOU. Tony Manfre ran the DJ booth and played cool tunes all day. Our MC was none other than Eric Kirkwood, and his hair was perfect! Everyone had a great time and there was only 1 minor injury, he is ok! Lots of kids walked away winners, with prizes in hand, smiles on their faces, and wonderful memories in their heads!
We in our grassroots efforts have raised thousands of dollars for the kid’s skateboard park improvement, and were able to bring together a whole lot of people in an upbeat, positive, beneficial venue! My whole family has learned and grown from this endeavor! Wyatt- is something else, exactly what I’m not sure? Maybe someone should give him a big hug and tell him they love him! Wyatt says “Let me entertain you, let me make you smile!”
We are not where we want to be yet! We did great and we have to raise more money by December 31st, 2021. We have what is called a grant match. The government puts up some money for a project, but they want a show of interest and effort and progress before the grant goes through. This is where we are right now, we raised a bunch of money with the fundraiser, but not enough to secure the $65,000 grant. We are still $10,000 short. If you want to help us make this happen please contact the Monte Rio Parks and Recreation District. Please don’t let this money slip away we are so close. The deadline for this grant is December 31st, 2021. Joe Munson, Proud dad.
PS. We still do not know who the one legged man is, he won a raffle at the music festival at the ampitheater earlier this summer. He told Milo, “Hey Milo you are doing great work here and I am going to help you out!” Who is this guy? Continued… mystery and intrigue and the Monte Rio Creekside Skateboard Park!!
FORT BRAGG MAN FACES CHARGES of Gross Vehicular Manslaughter After Late Night Collision Proves Fatal
35-year-old Fort Bragg man Kyle Stephen Pinckney will face charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated as a result of a November 6, 2021 vehicle collision that led to the death of his passenger who is an unidentified 35-year-old Fort Bragg man.
MEMO OF THE WEEK
I'm Asking for Your Help
by Nicole Glentzer for Superintendent <Nicole@ElectNicoleGlentzer.com>
I’m writing today with a personal and important message about the future of Mendocino County schools, and to ask you for your help.
For our local schools, the last four years have been marked by unprecedented challenges. We’ve faced a technology gap, teacher shortage, fires, floods, and a global pandemic. Providing a quality education and a caring environment to the children of our community has never been more difficult, or more important.
In conversations with teachers, staff, administrators, and parents from across the county, it has become clear that Mendocino County Office of Education needs new leadership to overcome the challenges we face today.
That's why I'm running for County Superintendent of Schools.
The incumbent has already announced a fundraising goal of $50,000. That number is daunting, but I believe this campaign is an opportunity for us to come together to make an investment in the lives of the 13,000 children who attend Mendocino County schools.
Can I count on you to make a contribution today?
For Our Schools,
Elect Nicole Glentzer Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools 2022
6295 Walnut Ln.
Redwood Valley, CA 95470
ERNIE BRANSCOMB on what once was:
The Cedar Creek fish hatchery is at the confluence of Cedar Creek and the South Fork of the Eel. When you go past Leggett heading south, the long straight stretch of freeway known as “the 90 mile an hour dip” it is the first creek that you cross on the earth fill. To the east you can see a beautiful concrete arch bridge over the Cedar Creek. The other creek at the bottom of the dip is Big Dan Creek.
The hatchery was damaged in the 1955 flood and rebuilt. The 1964 flood wiped out the buildings and it was not rebuilt. The last time that I was there the concrete ponds were still there. The water was perfect, it comes off the Red Mountain Wilderness area. Someone is probably using the water now… Don’t know.
THIS & THAT
THIS: The County road crew deserves a chorus of attaboys for the repairs they've accomplished on Orr Springs Road, the scenic route to the Mendocino Coast from inland Ukiah or Mendo to Ukiah. Made the trip the other day for the first time in years and not a rut or one-lane wash-out. Paused to stretch my arthritic wheels at Montgomery Woods. Wheels. Jocks of my vintage called their legs “wheels,” as in “That guy's got some wheels,” i.e., he can run. My wheels are down to their rims, and my run is more like serial lunges, but I never fail to stop and enjoy this carefully preserved thousand acres or so when I'm driving Orr Springs, best known, I suppose, among libertines for the spa closer to Ukiah where libertines share big bathtubs with strangers for a hefty price of admission.
MONTGOMERY WOODS isn't remote exactly, but it is far enough from the Big Macs to remain lightly visited. It's a beautiful stash of forest, one of those semi-secret Mendo special places that gives its visitors more than a hint of primeval, especially in the human-free months of what used to be the rainy season when its nicely maintained trail can be yours alone. Especially recommended for families as instructive for children, as is the Angelo Coast Range Reserve, another semi-secret Mendo jewel near Branscomb through whose truly pristine woods runs a branch of the Eel so unpolluted it's used by the weather service to gage air quality. The Angelo Reserve is also an awe-inspiring venue for the young ones while they're still young enough to be awed by anything beyond their telephones and bad music.
MONTGOMERY WOODS, incidentally, is worth a footnote in local history as the place Robert Mathews and his commando crew of six premature fascists holed up for the night after robbing a Brinks truck of $3.6 million on Highway 20 near Redwood Valley. This Brinks job occurred in July of 1984 [below left], and was the work of neo-nazis led by Robert Mathews [below right], a spectacularly lapsed Mormon who'd begun his career in rightwing extremism at age 11 when he joined the John Birch Society. The money was split among this bold crew and, with the exception of uber-fanatic Mathews, the gang went on careless spending sprees that alerted law enforcement that a bunch of neighborhood yobbos who'd had no money suddenly had lots and lots. Mathews, who'd dropped a gun during the robbery that was traced back to him, soon shot it out with the FBI on Whidby Island, Washington, dying in the burning house he'd barricaded himself in, bullet-ridden and on fire.
Mathews Bio: historylink.org/File/7921
THAT: The AVHS Panther basketball teams, boys and girls, both lost their first games of the season to Tomales last weekend in the Tomales gym.
GEORGE DORNER WRITES:
Did O’Neill mention the double murder of Clyda Dulaney and Nancy Warren? They were murdered the month after Nancy Brunner reclaimed her infant.
I might add, that by all accounts I have read, Nancy Brunner’s child was taken from her when she was arrested. I have never before read that Brunner gave birth in jail. There has been a rumor that Clyda Dulaney was murdered because she was married to the CHP sergeant that led the team that arrested Brunner and Co.
Previous AVA Coverage/Comments:
Mendoland’s Oldest Mystery (Oct. 2018)
Old Murders Never Die (Oct. 2008)
Cold Case Still Cold (Nov. 2017)
PROJECT CENSORED interviews the Bosco Scam Reporters
Should a political lobbyist and real estate investor also be the owner of a major regional newspaper that happens to have bought up the most of the competition? Northern California’s Sonoma County provides a case study: lobbyist/investor Darius Anderson is also a principal owner of the county’s largest and primary daily newspaper for all of Northern California (and most of its other print media too).
GAVIN NEWSOM’S KEEPING IT ALL IN THE FAMILY
by Dan Walters
Gavin Newsom is the first Democrat in more than a century to succeed another Democrat as governor and the succession also marks a big generational transition in California politics.
A long-dominant geriatric quartet from the San Francisco Bay Area – Gov. Jerry Brown, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – has been slowly ceding power to younger political strivers.
Moreover, Newsom is succeeding someone who could be considered his quasi-uncle, since his inauguration continues the decades-long saga of four San Francisco families intertwined by blood, by marriage, by money, by culture and, of course, by politics – the Browns, the Newsoms, the Pelosis and the Gettys.
The connections date back at least 80 years, to when Jerry Brown’s father, Pat Brown, ran for San Francisco district attorney, losing in 1939 but winning in 1943, with the help of his close friend and Gavin Newsom’s grandfather, businessman William Newsom.
Newsom has become a multimillionaire businessman, with an upscale chain of wine stores, wineries, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels and retail shops stretching from the Bay Area and Napa Valley to Lake Tahoe and Palm Springs. He built some of those businesses with the Gettys, heirs to an oil fortune who have deep connections to Newsom’s family.
While Newsom has focused his campaign for governor on his progressive politics, he also has touted his success as an entrepreneur and jobs creator, citing the 23 businesses and 800 employees under the umbrella of his PlumpJack Group.
Wineries have been the biggest source of Newsom’s income for at least the last seven years, according to his income tax returns for 2010 to 2016. The returns, which Newsom allowed reporters to examine but not photocopy, show that he and his wife have averaged more than $1.4 million in adjusted gross income for each of those years.
The couple’s income from PlumpJack partnerships and other business in which they have ownership stakes totaled some $6 million during that time, including an average of about $557,000 a year from Airelle Wines Inc., which runs the Napa wineries.
Airelle accounted for $787,751 of the nearly $1.3 million adjusted gross income reported on the couple’s 2016 return. It also reflected wages and salaries totaling $428,661, including his pay as lieutenant governor and hers from a nonprofit organization and an entertainment company she owns.
More on Newsom’s family businesses: latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-gavin-newsom-business-20181028-story.html
THE HORRIBLE HISTORY OF ROUND VALLEY, PART II
MendoHistory returns to the San Francisco Call’s correspondent’s story of Round Valley during the reign of George E. White. Last week’s graphic history of the dark and bloody tragedies of Round Valley continues with a history of White’s marriages and the extent to which he was willing to go to rid himself of Frankie, his third wife during their 1887 divorce proceedings (she was incorrectly identified as wife number two last week).
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 23, 2021
JOHN BRUNK, Fort Bragg. Bicycle riding under influence of drugs or alcohol, trespassing-refusing to leave, criminal threats, probation violation.
MICHAEL CONFER, Crescent City/Ukiah. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
CALEB DIVINE-GOMES, Philo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, paraphernalia, battery on peace officer, resisting.
ALAY DUENAS, Pittsburg (CA)/Ukiah. DUI, no license.
LUIS GANDARILLA-TORRES, Willits. DUI, no license.
RANDY GIBNEY, Fort Bragg. Corporal injury to spouse with prior.
NATHAN MARRUFO, Stewarts Point/Ukiah. Battery with serious injury, offenses while on bail, failure to appear.
ANTONIO SANCHEZ, Boonville. Domestic battery.
JAMES SMITH, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
THERE CAN BE NOTHING ELSE in life quite like the unnerving realization that rumor and scandal are afoot about one. Abruptly one's confidence in the solidity of the universe disappears. One walks silenced through a world that one feels to be full of inaudible accusations. One cannot challenge the assault, get it out into the open, separate truth and falsehood. It slinks from you, turns aside its face. Old acquaintances suddenly eyed me, made extraordinary excuses; men who had presumed on the verge of my world and pestered me with an intrusive enterprise, now took the bold step of flat repudiation. I became doubtful about the return of a nod, retracted all those tentacles of easy civility that I had hitherto spread to the world.
— H.G. Wells
YO, AIRBNB! THE PITCHFORKS ARE COMING
by Jared Brock
Dear founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, board members Angela Ahrendts, Ken Chenault, Belinda Johnson, Jeff Jordan, Alfred Lin, and Ann Mather, and all investors, hosts, and guests;
I write to you today in the hope that you will radically re-structure your company before it starts a class war in which you will almost certainly lose the lion's share of your wealth, your moral conscience, your place in history as innovators instead of oppressors, and you and your family’s physical safety. To be clear, this isn’t a threat—I am a pacifist who never condones violence including war — but it’s a warning and a plea to do the right thing before more people, yourselves included, inevitably get hurt by the raging masses who you are making homeless.
Brian, Joe, Nathan; you started Airbnb with the best of intentions. You couldn’t afford to make rent on your San Francisco apartment, so you bought some air mattresses and served breakfast to your guests. Brilliant.
But things have changed since then. Now you control an $80 billion company that has devoured millions of housing units, evicted countless families, and turned their homes into full-time clerkless hotels, with a promise in your IPO documents to fight democracies in court for as long as you can afford to do so.
To be clear, renting out spare rooms, attics, basements, and backyards in owner-occupied properties isn’t the problem. It’s when an investor outbids a family for a second property and turns it into a full-time Airbnb. Or worse, when a holiday rental company does so. Or worse, when a highly-leveraged hedge fund buys a swath of holiday rental companies. Or worse, when a sovereign wealth fund buys a portfolio of hedge funds. It’s why the average house will cost $10+ million within 50 years.
Picture the future and do the math. Your company’s mandate is to grow exponentially forever. If new housing construction doesn’t keep up — and it hasn’t for more than a decade — it’s mathematically impossible that your company won’t take hundreds of millions of houses away from real families in the decades ahead. Do you think this will end well for you?
As it stands, you have set your company on a path that can only lead to ruin — for millions of houseless families, and eventually, your leadership team and your investors.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
1. Start with transparency
As far as we’re aware, only 8% of Airbnb hosts are renting a room in a single house, and that number is falling fast. How many million houses has Airbnb taken off the market so far, and how many more are being stolen each month?
It’s only fair that the commons knows what we're up against. If you want to build real public trust, your company needs to allow independent auditors to track how many of your hosts are actually owners who rent rooms in houses they occupy full-time, versus how many investors have taken a housing unit off the market and turned it into an unregulated clerkless hotel.
2. Ensure all your hosts are owner-occupiers only
You must revert to your original model. When an owner occupies a house, they take care of it. They know their neighbors. They keep the noise down. They shop locally. They keep the local schools open by sending their kids. They set down roots.
Landlords kill communities. They don’t have roots. They don’t care about noise or safety or cleanliness. They don’t care about schools. They don’t care about neighbors. All they care about is extracting wealth.
Worst of all, the huge proliferation of holiday investors is skyrocketing house prices beyond all affordable values. This means that the real societal contributors — productive workers — have to relocate to less desirable locations further away from their places of work. This is already robbing millions of people of billions of hours of life due to extra commuting, and the environmental toll of all that pollution is yours to bear.
All of this could be ameliorated by ensuring that every single one of your hosts is only renting out space in a housing unit that they own and live in full-time.
3. Limit the number of rental nights to 14/year
Obviously, high year-round commercial availability removes a house from the residential market. The average American gets two weeks of vacation per year. As such, it seems reasonable to limit the number of rental nights to the number of vacation days of the average owner-occupier. Many cities have already started to put such a limit in place, but if your company truly cares about the commons, you’ll pre-empt them all by ensuring your hosts are good citizens first, and hosts seconds.
In a word, there must be no more full-time Airbnbs in residential homes.
4. Stop suing democracies
I realize that part of your business plan includes building a war chest to fight 100,000+ cities in court. But is this really how you want to make your money? By fighting democracy? How will your children and grandchildren look at you when they learn the truth of your actions? Is this how you want history to remember you?
Airbnb’s fight-the-public-forever model is going to cost you a ton of money, and it’s going to cost the commons even more. But do you expect us to just roll over and die? When millions of us don’t have a place to live, what will you expect us to do instead?
5. Stop bribing Congress
Let’s face it, the rest of the world calls corporate lobbying what it actually is: bribing. Why do you have 13 lobbying firms in Congress? Why did you hire a PR firm to meet with Scottish delegates on 28 occasions? Why did you fund more than 400 fake grassroots organizations?
Instead of bribing corporate-captured puppet politicians to make laws that oppress the commons, why not build a company that doesn’t require the overthrow of democracy instead?
6. Start building clerkless hotels
Clearly, there is a huge market for your business.
People don’t love the hassle of hotel check-ins and check-outs.
They like paying online.
They like having kitchens.
They like having unique and interesting spaces.
If you build it, they will come.
Seriously — as more people start to travel regularly, there’s likely a market for more than a billion Airbnb hotel units globally. Airbnb could earn (actually earn) a real profit by revolutionizing the hotel industry.
You’ve been bleeding investor cash for nearly a decade, so why not make a profit for a change?
7. Start an Airbnbank
Now, of course, the sheer brilliance of extraction economy companies is that you take a massive cut of the profits without shouldering any of the risks and costs, shunting all those pesky expenses onto the backs of your army of hosts.
So why not continue to pass the buck by giving your hosts an opportunity to invest in full-time commercially-zoned vacation space?
Start a bank, give hosts mortgages, and allow them to buy units in Airbnb towers in properly zoned commercial areas. This would allow hosts to skim passive profits off tourists, allow you to make your hefty Airbnb fee, and earn interest like a fat cat Wall Street banker.
You could also control maintenance and cleaning and security on these buildings, extracting further fees from your hosts. You could also rent ground-level space to restaurants, fitness centers, food shops, pubs, barbershops, and spas. Heck, you could even save a few floors for office share space and destroy WeWork for good. Best of all, you’d never have to take another residential unit away from a family ever again.
Because even one house taken off the residential market to be used as a holiday house is one too many.
Like it or not, your company is now the tip of the spear in a movement that is rapidly commodifying global residential real estate. You’re leading the charge in turning a human necessity into a tradeable commodity. Access to affordable shelter is a universal human right, and you’re devastating real people.
A word of warning
Now obviously, your full-time job is simply to boost Airbnb’s stock price, so I don’t expect you’ll heed any of these suggestions; in which case, all that’s left to say is: Enjoy it while it lasts. Because they're coming for you, and when they do, there will be blood. You thought Occupy Wall Street had a big turnout? Wait until hundreds of millions of evicted renters smash your empire. Rule number one of business: Never back desperate people into a corner. Pretty soon, the listings on your website will just become a hit list.
Expect thousands of municipal lawsuits from city councils.
Expect class-action lawsuits from evicted renters and priced-out buyers.
Expect pitchforks in the streets.
Expect bricks through windows and fires in listed properties.
Expect homeless mobs climbing the walls of your gated mansions.
If you continue on your current course, you will pay reparations one way or the other — so either get a good insurance policy or get back to your original business model so the world may call you blessed.
A personal note
My wife and I are having our first baby in late September. Our house lease expires in March, and our landlord is turning our home into an Airbnb. There isn’t a single house to rent at any price within a half-hour drive. We have to leave the village we’ve come to love these past few years. We want to raise our child in a real home, but let’s be honest — our landlords will extract way more money by renting our house out nightly instead of monthly.
Our whole village is the same way. Nearly every property that comes up for sale is snapped up in days by a holiday rental company for far more money than any local family can afford to pay. If the trajectory continues — and there’s no indication that it won’t — there’s a good chance our local school will close before our child has a chance to attend.
I can’t describe to you the sinking feeling I get in my stomach every time a sixty-year-old suburban woman stops in front of our place and says to her husband, “oh, that one would be cute,” or worse, when a holiday rental company van pulls up and snaps a photo of our home.
There’s a ticking clock that hangs over our heads, counting down the days until we’ll inevitably have to move to a less desirable location, into likely a much smaller place, and still pay way more money, thanks to the commodification of real estate in the hands of Airbnb land-lorders.
Calls to action
There is much to be done in this world, and much of it is an undoing.
Airbnb investors and board members:
For the sake of long-term societal safety and short-term societal affordability, I call on you to divest of Airbnb stock in the same way you would of fossil fuels and weapons of war, or at the very least, become activist members that force the board to abandon its non-owner-occupiedposition.
I encourage you to only rent out rooms or units on your primary residential property, and sell any properties that you have stolen from the commons.
I encourage you to stay in hotels, resorts, regulated bed and breakfasts, and in real commercially-zoned vacation rental properties, not in residential neighborhoods. If you want to use Airbnb in an ethical manner, do your due diligence to ensure that the property you’re renting is a bona fide owner-occupied unit and not a unit that has been taken away from a family. It’s deeply troubling to enjoy family vacation time in a space when you know another family has lost theirs — it’s time to make the Golden Rule popular again.
Lobby your city councilors, county clerks, state representatives, and Congresspeople to ban all commercial activity and investment in residential real estate. Whether they include a 500% second house premium, a cost-prohibitive landlording license, or an outright ban on non-owner-occupied clerkless hotel rentals, we simply must drive investors out of the residential real estate market.
Please sign this petition to save my village.
Please spread the word and raise awareness about Airbnb.
If you’d like to write to any of Airbnb’s board members or executive management, their email is [first name].[last name]@ airbnb.com
Brian, Joe, Nathan:
You started Airbnb with the best of intentions. You couldn’t afford to make rent on your San Francisco apartment. Today, your company has made it nearly impossible for people like your former selves to live in San Francisco, Paris, New York, London, or nearly any other desirable place on earth, including my little village.
Houses are supposed to be homes. You’ve extended the capitalist script by turning houses into abusive investments, extractive commodities to be sold to the highest bidder. Please go back to your roots before society burns your whole empire to the ground.
A HITCH IN TIME
by Sam Kinchin-Smith
“The real problem,” the London Review of Books’ lawyer told the paper in 1990, comes with Christopher Hitchens’s opinions about [Conrad] Black – that he is a mad, tyrannical egoist, a sinister eccentric, a megalomaniac … a defense of “fair comment” can be set aside if Mr. Black can show that Mr. Hitchens was motivated by “malice” when making his attack. All Mr. Black would have to do would be to show that Christopher Hitchens had an ulterior motive for his attack. It is transparently obvious that Mr. Hitchens does have such a motive and I believe a defense of “fair comment” may well fail for this reason.
At a public event many years later, Hitchens said that one of his main reasons for leaving London for Washington DC in the early 1980s had been British libel law, which “makes journalism almost impossible … The person bringing a lawsuit in Britain (many of them tried it on me when I was there) has only to prove their reputation has been damaged or that their feelings have been hurt. They don’t have to prove what I say is not true … it’s a secular form of a blasphemy law.”
Not that moving to the US helped much. In 1999, Hitchens and his publisher, Verso, were sued by the Democratic Party consultant Michael Copperthite for an unfounded assertion in Hitchens’s takedown of Bill Clinton, No One Left to Lie To. By 2001, the shoe was on the other foot: after Henry Kissinger responded to Hitchens’s denunciation of him (“So studiedly defamatory that if Kissinger values his reputation, he really must sue,” in the words of the Literary Review) by claiming Hitchens was a Holocaust denier, Hitchens told the New York Post this was “false, malicious and defamatory, and if he says it again, we will proceed against him in court.”
A Hitch in Time, a new collection of Hitchens’s previously unanthologized pieces for the LRB, will be published by Atlantic Books on Thursday (you can order it from the London Review Bookshop now). In his writing for the paper he kept an eye on his most ghoulish compatriots — Diana Mosley was the “worst and not the least bright of the ‘Bright Young Things’: with a vile mind and a gorgeous carapace, and with a maddening class confidence allied to a tiny, repetitive tic of fanaticism” – but the sharpest spikes in the index come after four American names: Clinton, William ‘Bill’; Kissinger, Henry; Nixon, Richard; and, out in front if you count Joe, Bobby and Jackie O. too, Kennedy.
Some of the pieces in A Hitch in Time are followed by the letters to the editor they provoked. In a review of several books on “donkey business in the White House,” starring the full gang of four from the index, Hitchens described Arthur Schlesinger Jr. as the author of “the founding breviary of the cult of JFK.” (In an earlier piece on Kissinger, Hitchens had referred to Schlesinger’s “wet smackeroos to the buttocks of the powerful.”)
“Hitchens goes on about ‘the sick Kennedy obsession with Cuba’,” Schlesinger replied. “Let us rather mourn a really sick obsession – Christopher Hitchens’s obsession with John F. Kennedy.” Hitchens, in response, wrote of “the mania of the JFK cult, and the imperviousness of its remaining devotees.” A fortnight later, the novelist and journalist Mervyn Jones wrote in to say that Schlesinger had claimed, at a conference hosted by Kissinger where he was also in attendance, that the US “was in no way involved” in the Bay of Pigs invasion. “The next time Mervyn Jones goes around attributing statements allegedly made nearly forty years ago, he should try to make them credible,” Schlesinger retorted in the following issue. A month later, Hitchens steamed in with the last word:
Arthur Schlesinger insists that neither he nor Henry Kissinger has “any recollection” of that evening at the Harvard International Seminar. How I wish I could have overheard the ponderous discussion during which these two men, both congested by a lifetime of apologetics, agreed on this now classic line of defense. “Statements allegedly made nearly forty years ago” cannot be expected to be remembered by such busy fellows, who are not too busy to recall with crystalline clarity that they would certainly have denied making them. So it goes. I sympathize with Schlesinger almost as much as with Mervyn Jones in this instance, because the task of keeping pace with his own protean story is indeed a daunting one.
So it goes. Hitchens’s unwaveringly energetic focus on the prevarications and hypocrisies of supposedly great men (not to mention Mother Teresa), and supposedly progressive great men in particular, remains one of the best reasons to read him, ten years on from his death: at the heart of A Hitch in Time is a 13,000-word demolition of Isaiah Berlin.
But when it comes to Kennedy, Schlesinger may have been onto something. The surprisingly solitary reference to JFK in the index of Hitchens’s memoir Hitch-22 takes us to a revealing episode from his schooldays, the origin of – let’s call it his lifelong preoccupation, rather than a sick obsession. “In my very first term, in October 1962,” he writes,
“President Kennedy went to the brink, as the saying invariably goes, over Cuba. I shall never forget where I was standing and what I was doing on the day he nearly killed me. (It was on the touchline, being forced to watch a rugby game, that I overheard some older boys discussing the likelihood of our annihilation.) … We were left to wonder how the adult world could be ready to gamble itself, and the life of all the subsequent and for that matter preceding generations, on a sordid squabble over a banana republic … I have changed my mind on a number of things since, including almost everything to do with Cuba, but the idea that we should be grateful for having been spared, and should shower our gratitude upon the supposed Galahad of Camelot for his gracious lenience in opting not to commit genocide and suicide, seemed a bit creepy. When Kennedy was shot the following year, I knew myself somewhat apart from this supposedly generational trauma in that I felt no particular sense of loss at the passing of such a high-risk narcissist. If I registered any distinct emotion, it was that of mild relief.”
Reading that today, on the 58th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, I wonder how I’ll feel about the compromises on climate policy of the last two decades, and the politicians most responsible for them, for the rest of my life; and I think I start to understand Hitchens better than I did before.
(London Review of Books)
THE CORPORATE DEMOLITION OF OUR PILLARS OF FREEDOM
by Ralph Nader
The disposition of the Boeing maslaughtering of 346 trusting passengers and crew in the 737 MAX crashes (Indonesia – 2018 and Ethiopia – 2019) further weakens the system of tort law and individual pursuits of justice after wrongful deaths.
Federal District Court Judge in Chicago, Jorge L. Alonso, couldn’t even wait for the scheduled hearing by Boeing’s law firms and the cooperating plaintiffs’ lawyers. He approved the stipulation a day earlier, without comment, that, among other surrenders, took away the right to argue punitive damages for Boeing’s admitted criminal conduct, stopped the discovery and depositions of the most culpable top executives, and set the stage for mediation to reduce the number of trials for compensatory damage to a very few of the 156 wronged families. These mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers lost their loved ones when a stealth software, unknown to the pilots, seized control of the 737 MAX planes and drove them down at 550 mph into smithereens.
“Consolidated cases” like those of the 737 MAX disasters are not class actions. They are individual lawsuits from around the country brought together in one court for convenience and alleged efficiencies. Before plaintiffs are informed fully, they find themselves swept into one global deal after closed-door negotiations that unite both the corporate defendants and lawyers for the plaintiffs into one settlement framework.
As these cases of corporate violence increase (think the opiates of the Perdue Pharmaceutical Company/Sackler Family and the transvaginal mesh cases), the company executives escape fines, admissions and often are promoted or let go with huge multi-million-dollar severance payments. Meanwhile, the company pays insurable and deductible monetary damages. The great majority of such cases are not tried in court before a jury. All are under a secrecy order covering up all discovered materials, testimonies, ad infinitum. Deterrence and public disclosure – two important purposes of tort law – are lost. While the compensation, according to leading plaintiff lawyer, Shanin Specter, is far less in a global deal than what could be achieved by the pursuit of individual lawsuits. (See article: Plaintiffs lawyer rips colleagues over multidistrict litigation fees, pressure tactics by Daniel Fisher, December 11, 2020).
Year after year, these deteriorating practices, choreographed by law firms such as Perkins Coie and Winston & Strawn, get more dictatorial and more secret. Corporate perpetrators are exonerated and their interests preserved. The plaintiffs’ interests in punishment and public disclosures of the crimes for all the world to see are undermined or destroyed.
Until the nineteen seventies, according to trial lawyer James C. Sturdevant, depositions were publicly filed on completion, and plaintiff attorneys did not enter into overreaching “protective orders” shrouded in extreme secrecy, that often exclude review by the wrongfully injured or next of kin plaintiffs themselves.
This is only one example of the inside shredding of the tort law system that evolved over the centuries from medieval England to serve the just interests of the aggrieved. Our U.S. Constitution’s seventh amendment guarantees a right to trial by jury. In recent decades, notwithstanding millions of wrongfully injured people, there has been a very sharp decline in civil jury trials, leading to articles titled “the vanishing jury trial.” This is just what the scheming corporate attorneys have been promoting with the tempted plaintiff attorneys growing accustomed to “sue and settle,” in the pejorative phrase of the remaining courageous trial lawyers.
The direct assaults on the Tort system since about 1980 have come from state legislators – indentured to corporate campaign cash – passing bills severely restricting plaintiffs’ rights. These include caps on damages for the most severe wrongful injuries (e.g., California’s notorious MICRA [Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act] Law limiting damages for serious medical malpractice to $250,000 for a lifetime of pain and suffering). (See more on MICRA at ConsumerWatchdog.org).
Other destructions of access to justice are limiting tort liabilities for corporations such as those operating atomic power plants and outright immunities for companies favored by Congress (such as the manufacturers of vaccines). The list of obstructions to a wronged plaintiff’s right to his or her day in court is long and cruel. (Visit the Center for Justice and Democracy for more details).
Another assault on the right of people to use tort law affects everybody who signs those fine print contracts that sometimes extend into dozens of pages. Airbnb ties up homeowners with a fine print contract peonage totaling over 160 pages.
This contract servitude keeps getting more brazen by these dictatorial corporations – almost none of whose contract terms and conditions competitively differ from one to another. People are forced to give up charging defendants with liability for wrongdoing and to accept prohibitions on the right to a jury trial. These and other handcuffs herd citizens into private compulsory arbitration, favoring the company, in cases of any dispute.
In short, these “mice print” unilateral contracts (as Senator Elizabeth Warren calls them) are destroying tort law.
Because we don’t study at all in high school and college these two great pillars of freedom – the citizen laws of torts and contracts, most Americans have little idea of what they are being stripped of by autocratic companies and their law firms. Ideally, you should have the right to freely negotiate contracts you enter into with vendors. Ideally, should you be wrongfully injured, you should be free to retain a contingent fee attorney (paying only if there is a recovery) and have your full day in court without all kinds of corporate-bred rules to bend the contest in their favor.
Alas, year after year, these freedoms are taken away piece by piece with little media coverage and no marches or demonstrations. The autocratic corporatization of the law would have shocked our founding fathers and the patriots who defied King George III in 1776.
Can we not rise to the challenge of protecting and advancing these two pillars of tort and contract freedoms being subjected to systematic destruction by corporate predators and their toady politicians? Last heard, “We the People” are constitutionally sovereign, and we far outnumber these insatiable, profit-maximizing corporatists.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Australia today is a fringe nation and started falling apart not this year but years ago before COVID.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but for the vast majority, Australia is prosperous, fair, relaxed, friendly, and most definitely free. It is also one of the most diverse and successful multicultural nations ever to exist.
There are strict gun laws, saving thousands of lives; there is a strong social safety net, assisting thousands of people, there is a national (single-desk) health insurance scheme, also saving thousands of lives. Health, education, and government services are world-class.
The COvid-19 rates in Australia have been tiny compared to virtually all comparable OECD nations.
It is tolerant, liberal (in the true sense), fairly centrist politically, but above all fun. To be born in Australia is to win the lottery, as one famous prime minister said. It remains one of the richest countries in the world.
There is still a moral compass and a strong sense of being responsible for your actions – especially if you’re a racist or misogynist fuckwit.
I suggest you might like to visit the place, prior to making a rush to judgement.
Our roadways, creeks and streams are overwhelmed with garbage. The sources are many, but illegal dumping of garbage, appliances and tires makes up the bulk of what I drive by and see every day.
It makes me angry that a few careless people can have such a negative impact on the environment and the aesthetics of our beautiful county. Seeing the beauty of our surroundings mistreated and having no recourse is painful.
I am extremely disappointed with the lack of concern for the problem and dearth of innovative solutions from county supervisors and city council members. It is embarrassing to live in a place where politicalspeak is more important than action.
These people drive by and see the same garbage I do. They work for us. We pay their salaries. Action speaks. It’s time that they do their jobs.
Here are some ideas. Initiate $1,000 fines for dumping and enforce them with the city police, the Sonoma County sheriff and California Highway Patrol. Open the landfill and transfer stations for 365 days, minus holidays. Allow tires, concrete, appliances and all garbage without a fee. Devise a method to fund it.
ASKED IF PRESIDENT BIDEN would apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse for suggesting he was a white supremacist, press secretary Jen Psaki deflected to President Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacy. “Would the president ever apologize to the acquitted Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse for suggesting online and on TV that he is a white supremacist?” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Psaki in a daily briefing. “President Trump … didn't just refuse to condemn militia groups on the debate stage he actively encouraged them throughout his presidency,” Psaki replied. “So what we've seen are the tragic consequences of that — when people think it's okay to take the law into their own hands instead of allowing law enforcement to do its job.” Psaki continued: “The president spoke to the verdict last week. He has obviously condemned the hatred and division and violence from groups like the Proud Boys, and obviously that individual has posed in photos with, but beyond that I'll leave it to his comments around the verdict.”
— Daily Mail
PART OF THE REASON folks are unhappy with President Joe is precisely that he's pushing mandates, but not pushing hard enough to force anti-vaxxers to submit.
So you have a minority of people who now feel horribly disenfranchised and personally set against, (and Conservative Politicians and FOX News making political hay of "Presidential Overreach") while not really fixing the underlying cause of the problem, which is leaving everyone else equally frustrated.
Our nation has centuries of well established public health law, and if you think those laws can't grow some truly impressive teeth, you're not aware of them. You absolutely can arrest and isolate people carrying a life threatening pandemic, with almost complete legal immunity, and hold them almost as long as you like. Because, plagues are considered critical emergencies to be stopped at virtually any cost. Period. Barking about one's right to spread plague, is at best legally specious. No such right exists in any modern culture on the planet (or pretty much ever has, for that matter.)
Israel has demonstrated beyond a hint of any doubt that giving the entire nation the third booster has virtually eliminated COVID (all variants) from it's borders. We need to make clear we will be doing the same, as we export free vaccines to the rest of the planet like they're going out of style. Only by stopping COVID everywhere, can we hope to get anywhere.
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The Rittenhouse verdict was not "Found Innocent". It was "Found Not Guilty" which in our jurisprudence is a completely different thing. The burden of proof was on the prosecution to "Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" that Kyle committed intentional homicide. A big dumb 17 year old kid, enamored of nationalist tough guys, and feeling his oats, probably didn't have the requisite mens rea to commit this crime. It's one of the reasons we rightly think twice about trying minors for capital crimes. The bawling on the stand pretty much confirms the mental and emotional maturity we're dealing with... by the way, that in of itself is neither justification, nor excuse for what took place. Kyle had a romantic idea of what being "The Good Guy" looked like, being tough, and throwing down the law... He put himself in harm's way, armed to the teeth, thinking he was in a position to control the situation. The ignorance of a 17 years on full display. His first victim, Jeff Rosenbaum had already demonstrated extreme aggression on film earlier, and combined with another person nearby shooting a handgun, Kyle panicked and over reacted when Jeff violently tried to take his rifle. Kyle was now in fight or flight mode, and he did both, first trying to run away, when a crowd quite rightfully tried to stop him, detain him, and take his gun away after a fatal shooting where he was attempting to flee the scene. Resulting in another death, and a lost limb.
The judge made it perfectly clear the prosecution could not bring up a substantial amount of evidence that suggested that Kyle was indeed going to Kenosha to pick a fight, because the Judge deemed the material prejudicial, and would deny Kyle a fair trial of innocence until proven guilty. Which is also why the prosecution couldn't use loaded words like killer, alleged killer, shooter, or murderer in describing Kyle, though the defense was perfectly fine in using words like rioters and attackers in describing the people Kyle shot. Worse, a number of the witnesses the prosecution brought to trial, reinforced the confusion that Kyle looked like a terrified child, making self defense all the more believable.
The verdict was probably correct under the situation. The Prosecution, as limited from the start by the Judge, had an incredibly hard slog, and simply couldn't prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In exactly the same way OJ couldn't be found guilty. There was simply too much confusion for the jury to come to any certainty. Kyle almost certainly is the person punching a girl in the video, and is at least guilty of putting himself in harm's way with a weapon of mass murder, and insufficient emotional maturity to protect himself without resorting to indiscriminate violence. He also had a bizarre judge, a fair lawyer, and the prosecution dropped the ball several times. All things that helped Kyle get acquittal. This does not mean he is innocent, or absolves him from any guilt he may be dealing with. Worse, he's become a pawn in a political play... with Rupert Murdoch and Tucker Carlson, making him out to be a national hero, defender of the 2nd Amendment, and Vigilante Progressives making him out to be the spawn of hell, an abomination worthy of hate and immediate execution.
The real concern, is the fear that real Conservative and Nationalist Loons, will take this as a green light for open season on political opponents. And equally rabid Progressives, will play tit for tat.
— Marie Tobias
SUFFERING, AN EXCHANGE
Charlie Engel wrote (MCN Chat Line):
Suffering is a mental process that entails interpretation. Pain and emotion arise from the same part of the brain. Suffering is the subjective interpretation/projection of a conditioned psyche. Human beings can't possibly determine the suffering of other species. Attachment to belief leads to suffering.
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Marco McClean here.
In Robert Heinlein's stories' future history, long-term anesthetic, like for a massive full-body repair, doesn't necessarily keep you knocked out -- you feel all the pain, but these future drugs shorten the attention span so it's bearable because the duration component of suffering is gone. You can have visitors and conversations and be a person, and contribute to your own recovery.
Also, throughout our history, it's considered much less cruel and unusual to execute someone, or a cow, or a chicken, quickly. When it takes two or three or four chops of a bumbling executioner's ax, for example, everyone agrees that's a shame, where one chop all the way through seems like a piece of mercy compared to that. A botched injection execution process can take half an hour and just perturbs everyone. Inadequate electrocution, where they keep jolting and checking and the heart is still beating and they have to switch the juice on again and again until the guy is sizzling and smoking, that's the worst; even if it's only a minute, total, it's a minute too long. The people and other creatures are all killed, sure, but if you like your prison system job or your meat factory income or whatever, and you don't want a perfectly reasonably squeamish public to generate moral arguments and rise up and stop you, do it right.
I think full all-seeing eye and all-hearing ear surveillance video should be in every meat factory everywhere, and have its own channel. Then see how people feel about a nice cut of veal.
DUELING PROTESTS OUTSIDE THE RITTENHOUSE COURTROOM
Everybody in America you don't like, gathered in one place
by Matt Taibbi and Ford Fischer
The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse began as a screaming headline toward the end of a summer of historic unrest, and concluded as all public spectacles in America seem to these days, in an ugly farce. As TK partners News2Share documented, dueling groups of protesters gathered outside a courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin in expectation of a verdict, and through a series of charged-but-incoherent scenes, reminded us all that 21st-century American political culture has become an ever-widening suckhole of cringe.
As News2Share’s Ford Fischer put it, it was like Twitter in real life. Every person you never want to meet appeared to be present: the sweatshirt-clad white guy with the “Black Crime Matters” sign firing N-bombs in all directions while arguing (God knows why) that Mike Tyson and Dave Chappelle also use the dreaded word, the Eminem wannabe shouting “Bullshit!” a half-dozen times while shouting, “If he was black he woulda got executed in the fuckin’ street!”, the activists on both sides making heroes out of the combatants from last year’s melee, the traveling McCloskeys (the gun-wielding couple Mark and Patricia of St. Louis fame, with Mark now running for Senate, foreshadowing the possible future political careers of Rittenhouse trial participants), and many others.
The belle of the ball was “Maserati Mike,” a fired Ferguson, Missouri police officer. He pulled a Trump-era “white working class” version of the old Cleavon Little “Excuse me while I whip this out” gag, reaching suggestively in a Colt rifle bag in before withdrawing a giant black rubber dong and screaming, “Fuck Black Lives Matter!”, in a prank that might have interested Freud, if not so much those present.
Perhaps, this holiday week, we can at least be thankful this story is over. Thanks to Ford and the News2Share crew for their hard work in the last week.