Unsettled Weather | Alden Adams | Covid Medication | Logging Camp | Law Food | Wash Day | Politics Outside | Basket Night | Fatal Collision | Palace Hotel | Deputy Pinoli | Ed Notes | The Lottery | Skatepark Peacemaker | Chile Flakes | Art Opening | Well Auger | Williams Endorsement | Stacked Rifles | Mississippi Son | Chair Congregation | Ukraine | Video Magazine | PG&E Settlement | Friar Blanderfield | Arson Suspect | Yesterday's Catch | Car Artist | Space Whores | Star Bucks | Corporate Greed | Inflation
FROST ADVISORY remains in effect until 10 am PDT this morning.
AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF UNSETTLED WEATHER is forecast to occur across northwest California during the remainder of this week, and possibly into next week. Beneficial rainfall will occur as a result across much of the region, along with periods of high elevation mountain snow. (NWS)
ALDEN L. ADAMS (Jan. 8, 1928 - Mar. 8, 2022)
Our Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather has gone Home to Rest.
He has enjoyed four years of love and care in the Wagner Family Home in Anderson Valley.
He has enjoyed 94 years of life.
He is a Korean War Veteran, a Retired Truck Driver, Teamster of 40 years and a very important part of our lives.
Thank you to our AV Friends for your Prayers and Support during our time with our Dad.
Anyone wanting to donate please donate to: Ukiah Hospice on behalf of Alden Adams.
Thank you to his Caregiving team at AV Fire Department and Ambulance, CalFire-Boonville, Hospice volunteer Judy Nelson and the AV Health Center.
Increasing the awareness and access of COVID-19 oral treatments for individuals at elevated risk is a priority for the County now that the Omicron surge has subsided. These free medications can help prevent serious illness, hospitalization, or death, and are important for residents at elevated risk of severe COVID.
Paxlovid (available for anyone 12 and older weighing more than 88 lbs) is an oral treatment that must be taken within 5 days of the first COVID symptoms and requires a prescription from a healthcare provider. These treatments are for people at higher risk for severe COVID (not fully vaccinated, immunocompromised, underlying health conditions such as diabetes and obesity). Public Health is working with local partners and providers to inform patients about Paxlovid.
“It’s important to get tested as soon as you feel any COVID-like symptoms,” explained Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren. “If you test positive, get in touch with your provider and get a prescription as early as possible. These treatments are very effective at preventing severe COVID for those at higher risk.”
Residents who would like to access these medicines or have questions on which treatment is right for them should contact their doctor or call the COVID-19 information line at 707-472- 2759, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm on weekdays.
A wide range of information and data dashboards on COVID-19 from Mendocino County Public Health are available at: www.mendocinocounty.org/covid-19
REDWOOD EMPIRE FOOD BANK LAUNCHES INAUGURAL FOOD FROM THE BAR CAMPAIGN
The Redwood Empire Food Bank is excited to announce their first-ever Food From The Bar (FFTB) campaign in partnership with the Sonoma County Bar Association.
FFTB is a month-long competition between law firms, law schools, and legal services organizations to acquire donated food, volunteer hours, and collect monetary donations for the benefit of the hungry in the counties we serve (Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte).
FFTB runs from April 15th through May 31st.
POLITICS REARS ITS UGLY HEAD AT FARMERS MARKET; Fort Bragg Manager Had 'Confrontation'
The following missive was written by Julie E Apostolu and posted to the MCNlistserv @ 9:49 pm Wednesday last
I am the manager of the Fort Bragg Certified Farmers Market. I am starting my sixth year as the manager and my third term as president of the Mendocino County Farmers Market Association. We run seven farmers markets around the county. We provide a low overhead venue for local farmers (mostly Mendocino and adjoining counties) and food producers to vend their products in a well run supported community event. We provide insurance, locations, oversight, and leadership to our vendors.
I am passionate about the market and its success. I really care about each vendor and appreciate every customer who walks through our market.
It is a tremendous amount of work to manage a farmers market such as the Fort Bragg Market. Closing the street, posting signs, sorting out where vendors will be each week, dealing with problems, fielding questions from potential vendors, organizing music and community groups (like the library, mental health, master gardeners, the bike kitchen, to name a few regulars).
We accept food stamps and can double food stamps, this is a big project that included applying for a grant, and now lots of tracking and paperwork. We are subject to inspections by the Ag department and Environmental health. It is a year round job that takes time on a daily basis, and not just on the very busy market day.
The past three weeks, since we moved outdoors, we have had political groups wanting to canvas the market, walk through, introduce candidates, post and carry signs etc. I have asked them to please stay on the outside of the market and I have been aggressively accused of violating first amendment rights. (Some people have agreed and set up tables for voter registration etc on the sidewalk just outside the market, and I thank you!)
I want to explain my reasons and ask people to respect them.
In Fort Bragg we pay a lot of money for the encroachment permit to have our market on the street. Our farmers and other vendors work very hard to prepare and come to market.
The day of market is a whirlwind of Harvesting, Preparing, Packing, Travel, Set Up, Selling, etc. The Fort Bragg Farmers market is one of the best in the county, our wonderful community comes out week after week in all weathers to support their hard work. People meet each other, eat, people watch, learn about new things, and shop. This market has grown every year that I have been the manager. I work very hard to maintain an inclusive, positive atmosphere that is wholly focused on Food and Community and is welcoming to all the people of our area and our visitors.
For this reason, I have tried to keep all politics out of the market. It has nothing to do with what I personally believe in. I find politics (and religion) polarizing, very personal, and can be alienating in the setting at an event like the Farmers Market. The market does not endorse any political side, measure, or candidate.
After today's 'confrontation,' I talked to a cross section of our vendors to see what they felt about it. They unanimously agreed that they don't want to be approached in their booths and they do not want the customers being distracted by being approached by people with political signs, flyers or an agenda.
If people can think of the farmers market like a big outdoor grocery store/restaurant. It is not a free-for-all, everyone is a member of the association, we have various permits and a business license. And please feel free to set up a tasteful table outside the parameters of the market. I also appreciate being notified of same.
It is never my intention to interfere with anyones rights. But please respect ours also. We are here to celebrate local food, to meet outdoors, to expand healthy local food access to lower income people in our community.
It may be a public street and a public event but I ask for cooperation to maintain our vision for our vendors and customers. Thank You for your consideration of my request.
SHERRIE SMITH-FERRI is the former director of the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah. She was the driving force behind the state-funded development of the museum's Wild Gardens, a showcase of plants used in the art of basket weaving.
Last night Sherrie Smith-Ferri and I hosted members of the Pomo Weavers Society at the Healdsburg Museum after hours. I wanted to have a private Night at the Museum just for the weaver group to come "bask in the baskets." It was everything I hoped it would be. We unlocked display cases and brought out some baskets from the Museum collection that weren't on display. Sherrie, a tribal historian and basketry scholar from Dry Creek Rancheria, highlighted important details that characterize Pomo and Wappo baskets from this region. It made my heart so happy to see these contemporary weaver friends studying and cherishing the beautiful complexity of their basketmaking traditions.
I was honored to be presented with the gift of a handmade basket and pair of earrings with magnesite(!), made by Meyo Marrufo. A special night indeed.
FATAL FIERY COLLISION
On 04/11/2022, at approximately 1435 hours, a brown Nissan pickup truck with one occupant was traveling northbound on US-101 south of Spy Rock Road. A white Peterbilt truck tractor with a flatbed trailer hauling pallets of soil with a solo occupant was traveling southbound on US-101 south of Spy Rock Road just north of the Nissan. For reasons still under investigation, the Nissan crossed from the northbound lane over the solid double yellow lines into the southbound lane into the direct path of the Peterbilt. The Nissan struck the Peterbilt head on and both vehicles and the Peterbilt’s load came to rest blocking the entire portion of US-101. As a result of the crash the Nissan became fully engulfed in flames and the driver died at the scene. The driver of the Peterbilt sustained major injuries and was transported to Howard Memorial Hospital from the scene for medical care. US-101 was closed in both directions for approximately six hours for the investigation, clean-up and vehicle recovery. It is unknown at this time if drugs or alcohol were a factor in this crash .
There were two dogs in the Nissan at the time of the crash. One of the dogs died as a result of the crash and the other was taken to the Mendocino County Animal Control Shelter.
The California Highway Patrol, Cal-Trans, Laytonville Fire Department, Cal Fire, Mendocino County Sheriffs Department, and Mendocino County Animal Control all responded to the scene. This collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol-Garberville Area.
A READER WRITES:
Life sure does creep along in circles....and I am referring here to the fate of the Palace Hotel. When I arrived in Ukiah in the early 70s, the Palace was a semi seedy-looking transient hotel, with long term residents. One of the hotel’s residents had been sent to the area by his spiritual teacher in the bay area to scout a new location for their temple. What he found, eventually, is now the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmage.
The Black Bart Room, entrance on Smith Street, was open back then, a watering hole for Ukiah’s masters of the universe. In the mid to late 70s, restauranteur Pat Kuleto headed a building and restaurant refurbishment, and the talented Kathy Shearn painted murals and artsy ceiling decorations around the ground floor. At the same time, the hotel was also upgraded and the place was new/classy.
There was the Back Door restaurant, a small lunch joint and nightclub, entrance on School Street. Ann Kilkenny after she bought Mendocino Book Company located on the ground floor of the building. The larger bar, entrance on State Street, was a favorite amongst Ukiah’s lawyers, with people scurrying through the maze of the ground floor to the bathrooms for a toot or three.
Then the place closed, opened again, briefly, then closed and remained closed till, perhaps now, with new owners. And the cycle re-starts.
ED NOTE: Our information is that Mr. and Mrs. Ishwar of Ukiah have title to the Palace but are in a 9-month escrow with an unnamed buyer who may do good things with the ancient structure. It will cost that person a cool mil to buy the property from Ishwars, lots more to get it even partially up and running.
INFLATION is inherent in monopoly capitalism and, like every other economic thing, works to the advantage of the wealthy. It's not Biden's fault and he, as a Democrat captive of the wealthy, would dare enact, say, price controls and, say, nationalize America's gasoline system, supply to distribution to sales. Prices for US consumers are rising at the fastest rate in nearly 41 years, according to the Labor Department said on Tuesday that the consumer price index increased 1.2 percent in March from the month before, for a 8.5 percent gain from a year ago. It is the largest annual gain since December 1981. Excluding volatile food and energy, prices rose 6.5 percent from a year ago.
BIDEN'S FIGUREHEAD administration tried to get ahead of the dire inflation news by blaming Putin's invasion of Ukraine, which is partly true, but what is wholly true is that the invasion of Ukraine, one of the primary world bread baskets, has disrupted global food and energy markets. The escalation of energy prices has led to higher transportation costs for the shipment of goods across the economy, which, in turn, has contributed to higher prices for consumers.
THE ARMCHAIR WARRIORS are calling for NATO and US to militarily confront Putin, which would be a global gamble not experienced since the Cuban missile crisis. Would Putin go to his nukes? Would his command structure obey him, die for him? Remember the Russian sub commander who refused to launch during the Cuban showdown? Assuming there's at least residual humanity among Putin's inner circle, could Putin put the entire globe in play without a revolt, which may be brewing anyway given the damage his invasion has also caused Russia. Boonville's International Affairs Desk thinks the only feasible strategy is a negotiated settlement, which also seems impossible given the toll Putin's invasion has taken on Ukranians. Destroy millions of lives, the survivors aren't going to be in much of a mood for negotiation.
WE'VE ALL CERTAINLY seen what seems to be a Sonoma County building boom, all manner of new construction from Cloverdale south through Santa Rosa and Petaluma.
THE CONTRADICTION? Ordinary homeowners and small business people are being asked to radically cut back on water usage while new hotels and suburban add-ons are going up the length of the 101 corridor. Experts estimate that each household consumes up to 50,000 gallons of water annually. In 2019, there were some 190,600 households in Sonoma County. If each used 0.15 acre-feet of water (less under strict conservation measures), that’s 30,000 acre-feet per year, or nearly 10 billion gallons. Per Sonoma Water, there are 145,413 acre-feet of water in Lake Sonoma — about 47 billion gallons.
BUT residential water use is only about 10% of total water use when one adds agricultural and industrial usage. So in a nomal year SoCo might use upwards of 100 billion gallons.
Vineyards, for example use around 300-500 gallons per acre per year. SoCo has 62,000 acres of grapes, not all of them on the Russian River, but most of them. So grapes alone constitute between 15 and 30 billion gallons per year, not counting frost protection.
ER, DO THE MATH. SoCo aquifers are said to be either tapped out or dropping fast while the Russian River has been tapped out for years, even before the drought when, as I recall, Cloverdale went to a moratorium on new construction.
NOT REALLY recommended viewing but kinda interesting is the new Netflix documentary on a repulsive Brit celebrity named Jimmy Saville, and why he became so big in England is beyond me, but then the French thought Jerry Lewis was absolutely the funniest guy in America and right here in Mendocino County there's a varsity old hippie who lots of humor-challenged groupies consider an icon of the idiot sectors of the 1960s. Saville was a disk jockey who became so popular via his charitable good works he was promoted by the equivalently ghastly Margaret Thatcher all the way into a knighthood. He died before the magnitude of his years of sexual predation were fully documented, but he's another of these famous people who you come away from muttering, Why? What the hell is wrong with people?
AN AFTERNOON WITH JUDGE FAULDER
I’ve known Keith Faulder for 18 years. When the Sheriff and DA were beating my family and myself up, Keith came up to the plate for us and basically hit a home run. I told Keith that I had been giving a lot of pot to people for quite some time and he said “Can you prove it?” I told him that the agreement I had with all the people that were getting free pot from me was that they would show up in court and tell everyone what we were up to. So yes, that is what happened 3 times over 2 years.
All my sick friends had to show up in court and show everyone just how sick they were. Wheelchairs and respirators parading around the courthouse yee-f-ing-haw.
In one of the cases DA Kitty Houston was giving my wife a thorough grilling and Keith was just quiet and let DA Houston keep pecking away at my wife. Keith looked at the judge and said that he had not said anything the whole time but now he had to because “DA Houston is just out on a fishing expedition and that it is not fair to Atsuko" (my wife who was in tears at this point). Thankfully, Judge Brown made Houston stop!
Soooo… The other day my teenage daughter made a plan for us to meet with Keith at the skatepark in Ukiah and visit and show off Millie’s skateboarding skills. We met up and were having a nice visit and talking about colleges for Millie, and then some kids started having words.
Now, I’m deaf and if there is too much going on (audibly) my hearing aids start canceling out noises and just do not work. So here I am (no pun intended) at the skatepark with my 17 year old blackbelt daughter and my bad ass judge/friend and at least 30 kids watching an argument escalate. I can’t make out a word so I don’t know who is full of shit and who’s being reasonable.
Well things kept gradually heating up and it seemed like one of the young men was conciliatory and maybe bullied a little bit. Keith, Millie, and myself sat there and finally Keith said “I’m going to talk to these guys.” So Keith goes over and asks one of the guys to come talk to Keith for a minute. They talked privately, semi-surrounded by curious bystanders. After some less enthusiastic or animated talk, things kind of ceased and everyone broke off into numerous smaller groups of kids.
So I gave Keith a hug and a book about hiking and climbing and a couple of special Jade worry stones (pocket stones for calming oneself while out and about). Millie said OMG quite a few times during all of this. When I asked what she thought, after the fact, she said she was glad things didn’t go south. I asked her what she would’ve done if it turned into a big fight and she laughed and said she would have run to her car and wait and see what happened next. I think probably that is the reasonable thing to do but not what I had in mind! Keith has helped me many times and on Sunday I learned from him again, so I think he did just right!
Oaky Joe Munson
PS. When Covid started, my wife and I had to look for other extracurricular activities for our two kids. We have been into a lot of Martial Arts training and that obviously is a lot of close physical contact but we did not want our kids in the gym hugging other kids. We looked to skateboarding. Little bit dangerous, very exciting, and very challenging if you are not a poser and want to be really good! My kids have met and become friends with some of the youngsters they have met at the skatepark. I asked them why I don’t see more parents and they told me that most kids go to the skatepark to get away from their parents. I then asked if they wanted me to just leave them and pick them up later. Millie and Milo said they liked that I was there watching them improve! (Did you see that one dad?! Yes. Yes I did!) Very nice!
REYNOLDS ART OPENING AT EDGEWATER GALLERY
Event: First Friday Art Opening at Edgewater Gallery
Who: Rebecca Reynolds, mixed media artist
When: Wednesday, May 6, from 5-8, and continuing through May 31
Where: Edgewater Gallery, 356 N. Main Street, Fort Bragg
In her own words: “My inspiration comes from my love and fascination with nature. I am interested in producing art that touches the heart and invokes dialogue with the viewer...art that calls on the imagination and wither makes one think or conversely, quiets the mind. Whether hiking, biking or paddling up Big River, I can hardly resist the temptation to share my insights with all willing art lovers. Reflections, leaves, shells...bones, sticks and stones...scales, feathers and fin... there is a beautiful truth in nature and my art is pure passion expressed on canvas, at times quickly rendered. There is a calmness when creating art..a trance or dance of peace...a journey of visual poetry. I hope my art and love of our amazing Mendocino coast entices the viewer to visit the beach or redwood redwood forest. We are the caretakers of this planet.”
Join us on First Friday for a celebration of Rebecca's work. Admission is free. Masks are optional. Light refreshments served.
SHERIFF KENDALL ENDORSES WILLIAMS
My name is Matt Kendall, I am endorsing Ted Williams for Mendocino County Supervisor.
Over the past two years I have worked with Supervisor Williams on numerous topics and have found him to be extremely hardworking, honest and fair. Supervisor Williams and I are working together to bring more law enforcement to the South Coast. Supervisor Williams has supported me with hiring bonuses and resident deputy incentives which will help to fill these positions. Supervisor Williams has supported the build of the new wing of the Mendocino County Jail. Supervisor Williams understands this build out will help us to better serve those who are in my custody while creating future opportunities for those housed within the jail.
Supervisor Williams has supported the fire safe councils, fire preparedness and empowerment of our communities through education. All of these are aspects of public safety which are allowing us to better serve our communities. Many hands makes for light work and we all have to support each other.
Folks always remember the occasions where Supervisor Williams and I have locked horns, they tend to forget the positive outcomes from this. By now it should be apparent to the public, we both have a back bone. I want to be very clear, Supervisor Williams and I agree on much more than we disagree on. At times, our duties put us into opposing positions. This hasn’t caused animosity from me. To the contrary the fact he will stand up for what he believes in has earned my respect. If you look back, every time this has occurred we have been able to work together, and find solutions and compromises which serve the entire county.
I believe Supervisor Williams and I will continue to lock horns on subjects from time to time. The public should expect this of us. These issues aren’t personal, however they show we both are willing to stand for what we believe in. I am confident we will continue to work together to find solutions that serve all and you should expect this from a leader.
Mendocino County Sheriff
CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE is no less than a legend on harmonica, but he’s no slouch on guitar either, and he’s putting that instrument front and center on his new album, Mississippi Son.
“The first job I got was a driver for an exterminator. I drove this truck all over Chicago. I learned the whole city, and then I was seeing posters and signs in the windows of bars, and I still remember driving past Pepper’s Lounge on 43td St., and the windows with Muddy Waters and I just thought, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this.’ This was so exciting. I can’t tell ya. So, at night I would go back to these places and hang out, and since I was from Memphis, I already knew how to drink, so I just fit right in. And I was only 19, but they let me in. I was big for my age. They just figured I was ok. They didn’t card me or nothing.”
In Charlie’s world, music wasn’t separated into blues, rock and other genres. Before he ever left Memphis, he would buy 78 rpm records of every imaginable genre.
“They were only a nickel or a dime usually. So, it as easy to buy these things. Nobody wanted them, and I did. It was interesting. There was like Flamenco music and modern jazz. There was music from around the world that had feeling in it like blues did just singing about the same thing: “My Baby left me.” (Chuckles) It’s just about life. The ups and down of life just like in blues. My baby left me seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. So, I discovered a lot of music I wouldn’t have ordinarily ever even heard by finding these old 78s I was curious about. I took ’em home and listened to ’em and went, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’”
(Blues Blast Magazine interview)
Satellite images show Russian troops moving towards the Ukraine border as Kyiv braces for eastern offensive.
US President Joe Biden accuses Moscow of committing “genocide”.
Russia claims 1,026 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol.
Leaders of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Russia claims holdout troops in Mariupol have surrendered.
EUREKA PRODUCTIONS LATEST NEWSMAGAZINE:
PACIFIC GAS & ELECTRIC AGREES TO PAY $55 MILLION TO AVERT CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE PROSECUTION
Pacific Gas & Electric, the nation’s largest utility provider, has agreed to pay more than $55m to avoid criminal prosecution for two large wildfires started by its ageing power lines in northern California.
PG&E does not admit wrongdoing in the two settlements reached with prosecutors for last year’s Dixie fire, one of the biggest wildfires in California’s history, and the 2019 Kincade fire in Sonoma county. The deals expedite damage payments to the hundreds of people whose homes were destroyed.…
FIRE IN GARBERVILLE
On April 11, 2022, at about 9:58 a.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a motel on the 800 block of Redwood Drive in Garberville for the report of a vandalism.
According to the reporting party, an unknown man had reportedly lit a small fire inside a storage shed on the property, which had been contained to a plastic tote. The man left the property prior to the notification to law enforcement. Sheriff’s deputies patrolled the Garberville area for an individual matching the man’s description, however, were unable to locate him at the time.
Later that afternoon, at approximately 12:56 p.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Emergency Communications Center received multiple 911 calls reporting a large fire at the motel. Numerous fire agencies were dispatched to assist in knocking down the fire, including Cal Fire, Garberville Fire Protection District, Briceland Volunteer Fire Department and Redway Fire Protection District. The fire is estimated to have caused up to $750,000 in damages.
Based upon evidence and witness statements collected on scene, the fire was determined to be arson. Investigators from the Humboldt Bay Fire Arson Task Force were dispatched to assist deputies with an arson investigation. Through their investigation, deputies were able to identify the suspect of this and the earlier vandalism as 30-year-old Spencer Reuben Jordan. Jordan had fled the hotel prior to the arrival of emergency personnel.
On April 12, at approximately 6:18 a.m., Jordan was located by California Highway Patrol Officers at a motel on the 700 block of Redwood Drive. During a search of Jordan incident to arrest, deputies located evidence consistent with arson.
Jordan was arrested and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on charges of arson (PC 451(b)) and vandalism (PC 594(b)(1)).
This case is still under investigation. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank all participating agencies for their assistance and coordination with this investigation.
Anyone with information about this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.
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ON-LINE COMMENT re Garberville fire:
Wow, $750,000 worth of damage. What one person can do!
People complain how bad Garberville is. Unless you live in a gated community with armed guards, Gaberville is an example of how things are getting worse everywhere. There are thousands of Gabervilles out there across America with their own problems with climate change, drugs, homelessness and poverty. In reality, there is no real alternative place to move to. Every town has its own version of a deteriorating situation.
I don’t know if the owners after this motel will continue to restore it. Lots of jobs lost and lost tourist money from this fire.
But the point is, despite all these negative situations happening, people have a choice, Curse Gaberville and leave to try to find a better place to live, or realize there is no actual better place to live, unless you have lots of $$$ and stay and fight for your community.
The homeless situation is a problem that isn’t easy to solve.
Some suggested Gaberville incorporate and have their own police. Some suggested we have one official campsite where we can keep tabs on them and their activities. One suggestion was for the town to hire a private patrol company to have someone patrol Gaberville, especially at night. More sensor lighting, more HD video cameras, those could help. But again, who can afford these? Perhaps, someone could secure a grant or funding for businesses to be able to afford these security items and to collectively hire private patrols at night.
Whatever the community comes up with, the important thing is for people to not get discouraged curse the town and leave, but instead, use this fire to really get involved and together come up with plans to make Garberville safer, nicer and more attractive to tourists that we want here.
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 12, 2022
NICOLE BRITTON, Covelo. Protective order violation.
LUIS GONSALEZ, Covelo. Felond-addict with firearm.
BENJAMIN HOFF, Ukiah. Stolen vehicle.
DAVIN JONES, Kelseyville/Ukiah. DUI.
AARON KOSKI, Fort Bragg. Mayhem, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, conspiracy.
WANDA KOSKI, Fort Bragg. Mayhem, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, conspiracy.
BRIAN NOLL, Nice/Ukiah. DUI.
JAKE PHILLIPS, Santa Barbara/Willits. Domestic battery.
YANNIK PITCAN, Berkeley/Ukiah. DUI.
SALVADOR RIVAS, Cloverdale/Ukiah. Attempt to possess stolen property, controlled substance.
ERIC SEALE, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
ELISABETH SHOEMAKER, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
THOMAS WHITE, Fayette, Alabama/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
THE GREAT BILLIONAIRE SPACE CAPER
Let's fly the first black woman to the moon, but send the checks to Jeff Bezos! On the congressional hustle that perfectly captures 2022 America.
by Matt Taibbi
In a story that shows how hard it is to deter a billionaire ravenous for public money, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and The Washington Post fame appears to have prevailed upon buddies in the Senate to keep alive a childhood dream of not only going to the moon, but getting the public to pay for it. A Bezos company officially lost this moon contract three times in less than a year, but the fourth time’s a charm: thanks to congress, his Jason Voorhees-like determination may be rewarded with a contract worth $6 billion or more.
On March 28th, Joe Biden released his fiscal year 2023 budget, which despite eyebrow-raising changes — in particular, a 10% increase in defense spending — generated few headlines. One of the few items the press did cover was this passage:
The Budget provides $7.5 billion, $1.1 billion above the 2021 enacted level, for Artemis lunar exploration. Artemis would return American astronauts to the Moon as early as 2025, land the first woman and person of color on the Moon…
It was unclear if the budget language was describing one person, or two, or more (headline writers seemed confused on that front as well). Still, the FY 2023 budget merely put into writing what NASA announced last year, and what’s been the buzz on the Hill for a while: that the space agency’s next big goal is to put a black woman on the moon. “The Apollo generation,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in March, “has passed the torch.”
A lofty enough goal, but then there was the fine print. Much as the military once replaced cheap army cafeteria food with Cinnabon franchises and high-cost meals prepared by firms like KBR, and the NIH basically exists to provide free R&D to pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, NASA no longer builds much for itself. Instead, it’s lately become little more than a vehicle for funding the phallic moon race between Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos-owned Blue Origin.
The feud between the two billionaires began years ago, when congress funded the solicitation of three private commercial proposals for the next moon landing, including one from SpaceX, one from Blue Origin, and a third from a company called Dynetics located in Senator Richard Shelby’s home state of Alabama. Last April, Musk and SpaceX appeared to come out on top after NASA declared SpaceX the winner of a $2.9 billion contract to build the spacecraft that would deliver the next NASA astronauts to the lunar surface. Bezos’s Blue Origin had submitted a bid roughly twice that size.
When NASA rejected his $5.9 billion bid, Bezos went ape. He fought back in multiple ways. Among the first moves was he and Blue Origin filing a 175-page complaint with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), asserting that NASA had “moved the goalposts at the last minute” by picking just one company’s lunar landing plan. It was expected that NASA would pick two firms, but decided on SpaceX only because of “short funding.” Essentially, Bezos was complaining that he’d submitted a higher bid than he needed to because he expected that NASA would be spending more money. Now that he knew he actually needed to watch costs, he sought a chance to submit a more taxpayer-friendly proposal.
Lest anyone think I’m joking about the phallic aspect of this competition, check out the Twitter response from Musk to Bezos’s GAO complaint:
Elon Musk: “Can’t get it up (to orbit) lol”
For years now, Musk and Bezos have provided ample material for America’s fading late-night TV comedy scene with their private space-dong race. When glimpses of Musk’s “Big Fucking Rocket” (BFR) space-tourism vehicle reached the public, Twitter exploded with cheering comments from Musk fans like “It looks like a dick with fins!” and “Chief, that looks like a $500 dildo.”
When Bezos soon after went to the heavens in a private vessel, he did so in a rocket that was 18 meters tall, but somehow looked exactly five and one quarter inches high and appeared to have a metal glans. This prompted an onslaught of abusive tweets, Dr. Evil jokes, and chuckling headlines. (Click on Mashable’s“A small replica of Jeff Bezos’ penis-shaped rocket can be yours for $69” for a very amusing photo.) It was difficult to find TV coverage of the Bezos space jaunt that didn’t involve uncontrolled laughter.
All this was funny, so long as the premise was “Rich guys spending their own money shooting themselves into space in huge overcompensating cylinders.” However, the Artemis project turned the SpaceX-Blue Origin battle on its head. This was not just a war to see who could build the bigger jockstrap, but to see who could get U the Taxpayer to pay for it.
Musk appeared to win, and when Bezos’s GAO complaint failed, he moved on to filing a federal suit to “to restore fairness, create competition, and ensure a safe return to the Moon for America,” i.e. to give Bezos the effing contract. However, federal judge Richard Hertling quickly called BS on that and ruled against Bezos last November, seemingly checkmating the diminutive money-devourer.
Bezos went on Twitter to say it wasn’t the ruling he wanted, but that Blue Origin “respects the court’s judgment” and wished “full success” for SpaceX. Of course it later turned out that Bezos had no intention at all of respecting the court’s judgment, which makes it a tad funnier that Musk decided at that point not to meet Bezos on the field of faux-graciousness.
Having struck out with the GAO and the federal courts, Bezos moved back to the Senate. Washington’s Maria Cantwell, Bezos’s home senator, had by then already introduced an amendment to the bill funding Artemis, essentially asking for a re-think of the decision to go with Musk only. The Amendment may be a museum-worthy effort in the history of woke-washing. Two key passages:
Commercial entities in the United States have made significant investment and progress toward the development of human-class lunar landers…
Maintaining multiple technically-credible providers within NASA commercial programs is a best practice that reduces programmatic risk.
Translation: Bezos has already spent a lot of money trying to get taxpayers to send him to the moon, but since he already lost, let’s fund two moon programs!
An additional subtext: “How will we ever get a black woman to the moon, if we don’t give Bezos billions?”
Saying that “in carrying out the Artemis program, the Administrator should ensure that the entire Artemis program is inclusive and representative of all people of the United States, including women and minorities,” the Amendment language would authorize not just the $5.9 billion Bezos originally bid, but as much as $10 billion in new money for a second moon plan.
Only Bernie Sanders seemed to think it odd that a man who bears a net worth of over $180 billion is working this hard to get the taxpayer to fulfill his childhood space fantasy (Bezos called watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon a “seminal” moment in his life). At the end of last week, Sanders introduced a counter-amendment to remove the “$10 billion bailout” for Bezos’s “space hobby” from the moon bill.
“Bezos has enough money to buy a $500 million yacht,” Sanders said on the Senate floor, showing pictures as he noted that neither Bezos nor Amazon pays much of any federal taxes. He then showed photos of Bezos’s $23 million, 25-bathroom mansion. “Not quite sure you need 25 bathrooms, but that’s not my business,” Sanders quipped.
Sanders is skilled at billionaire-trolling, but the problem is, he’s had too much practice. The effort to snatch back money from Bezos seems a longshot to be successful. The question of whether or not the funds ultimately get appropriated will be resolved behind closed doors, after the current recess in congress, when the bill goes to committee. Anyone want to lay odds on how much House and Senate members end up doling out in private?
Whoring out of NASA to billionaires is serious business. Back in 2015, a bill called the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, passed by unanimous consent, gave private commercial enterprises the ownership rights to celestial bodies discovered through space travel. “A U.S. citizen engaged in commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource shall be entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained,” the bill read, “including to possess, own, transport, use, and sell it according to applicable law.”
For this reason, congress appropriating NASA funds to the likes of Musk and Bezos to build long-distance rocketry and landers is not just about symbolic missions, but the space version of the NIH: giving space hobbyists free R&D to become mega-oligarchs via the limitless potential offered by space prospecting. “The first trillionaire there will ever be is the person who exploits the natural resources on asteroids,” is how Neil deGrasse Tyson put it, around the time of the passage of the 2015 act.
The bards of Washington have rarely looked at this angle. Even Bloomberg highlighted “first Moon Trips for women, people of color” and “climate change research” in its recent coverage. Most reports have buried the lede on the Musk-Bezos badger-fight for taxpayer cash under NASA’s new rallying cry, which is essentially to make sure the next glories-of-space movie like First Man doesn’t have to include another “Whitey on the Moon” scene. Whoever comes out of the Artemis capsule first, a primary winner of the mission will be a billionaire with his teeth in your wallet. Maybe two, if congress gets its way.
CORPORATE MEDIA IGNORES SENATE HEARING ON CORPORATE GREED & INFLATION
by Ralph Nader
It is exceedingly rare for a major congressional committee to hold hearings on “corporate greed” leading to corporate profiteering and surging prices on consumer goods. On April 5, 2022, Senate Budget Chairman, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) chartered uncensored territory on corporate avarice with a lead witness, former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
Although the hearing covered bread and butter issues, the mainstream corporate media ignored it. Massive coverage of the war in Ukraine does not offend advertisers, while the corporate war on consumers directly involves corporate advertisers.
Corporate greed takes hundreds of thousands of American lives every year (think the opioid disaster, the tobacco cancer business, the toxins in the air and water), not to mention injuries and illnesses stemming from corporations that put extra profit over concerns about public health and safety.
However, at the Senate hearing, Sanders chose to focus on the economic exploitation of consumers. Here is his introductory remark:
“Across every major industry, prices continue to rise – this includes a 38 percent increase in the price of gasoline, a 44 percent increase in the price of heating oil, a 41 percent increase in the price of a used car, a 24 percent in the price of rental cars, and a 17 percent increase in the price of furniture. Further, Tyson Foods recently increased beef prices by 32 percent, the price of chicken by 20 percent and the price of pork by 13 percent. As prices increase, corporate profits hit a record high of nearly $3 trillion in 2021, up 25 percent in a single year.”
He might have added that the companies profiting from these price increases paid a record low amount in federal income taxes. Moreover, the net worth of their richest shareholders soared in the midst of the pandemic.
Sanders denounced $900 billion in stock buybacks last year alone (a sign of excessive pricing power). In 2020, he added, the CEOs of major U.S. companies on average “made nearly 350 times more than the median worker.”
Senator Sanders could have noted that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is making $50,000 an hour or about $850 a minute this year! (No, those are not typos).
Big corporations always have misleading, but plausible excuses. They are currently blaming the war in Ukraine, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the global supply chain pile-up in our ports for high prices. Well, who created the supply chain requiring U.S. consumers to buy all kinds of products from countries thousands of miles away that could have been produced here in the USA? It was Big Business CEOs who pushed corporate-managed “free trade” agreements through from Washington to Beijing. Their avaricious mantra was that their “free trade” pacts would lower prices for consumers. Really? Aside from clothing, look at the sky-high prices for your imported iPhones, your computers, cars, and drugs. The corporate boosters of the global trade pacts pocketed the excess profits from the backs of serf labor abroad.
Professor Robert Reich rebutted the corporate excuses for their higher prices by pointing out the detrimental impact on consumers of concentrated corporate power in such industries as gas and meat. With profits at a 70-year high and the companies flush with cash, why are they raising prices? His answer: “Because they can, and they can because they don’t face meaningful competition.”
Just the reverse is true. These industries dominated by a few corporations “have the power to raise prices because it makes it easy for them to informally coordinate price increases … without risking the possibility of losing customers, who have no other choice,” he testified.
“If markets were competitive,” he continued, “companies would keep their prices down to prevent competitors from grabbing away customers.” The reason they’re raising prices rather than absorbing increased costs is that they have pricing power in their locales,” as does Proctor & Gamble for diapers and toilet paper. In addition to their soaring profits, Reich showed how corporations even make money off of inflation beyond their rising costs. Tyson Foods CFO admitted this power (See the full, well-documented testimony by Professor Reich, which includes reforms.)
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the malicious, duplicitous ranking Republican member of the Budget Committee, had as his witness, professor Michael Faulkender who worked for Trump’s Treasury Department. Faulkender blamed the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy (funded by banks and headed by a Trump nominee) and excessive demand fueled by Washington’s stimulus programs for price increases. This is the usual GOP routine of blaming the government for everything, even a government under the thumb of the corporate lobby. He neglected to mention that given soaring profits, companies in a competitive industry would absorb rising costs to keep their customers. Instead, these companies are passing on these costs, plus adding profit, fueling ever-higher inflation.
Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the government’s abdication of antitrust enforcement – shaped by corporatist lobbying – allowed countless merger after merger in industry after industry to occur. But Faulkender did not dwell on this dimension of the corporate state or the relentless corporate urge to merge so they can buy their customers instead of earn them.
The Biden White House has proposed stronger antitrust and consumer protection measures. They want to tax billionaires and unproductive stock buybacks – the latter being a long-time desire of President Biden. But there is no energy by his Party in Congress compared to the energy by the GOP to stop these measures. Besides, both parties are dialing for the same corporate campaign cash – a daily begging that dilutes the reformists’ ardor.
The media blackout on Sanders’s hearing is partly the Senator’s fault. He knows how to hold a highly energetic public hearing. You have witnesses who have worked in the trenches against corporate profiteering, victims of these profiteers, and subpoenaing corporate executives like Tim Cook of Apple if they don’t testify voluntarily. There also needs to be proponents of strong corporate crime legislation.
If Democrats can’t organize a determined hearing, that generates massive media coverage, how do they expect to make these popular issues front and center in the coming November elections? How do they expect to rebut the twistificating Republicans from succeeding in blaming the Democrats for these corporate-bred inflationary pressures on voters? The Democrats haven’t even formulated the slogans for such an offensive.
The Democratic leadership has to decide what they want most – votes or more corporate campaign money to further enrich their consultants who themselves are often conflicted due to their own business clients.
Unfortunately for the American people, the knowledgeable civic community is not catching the ears of the Democratic Party candidates. Regular reports show incumbent Democrats feeling despair and defeatism over the prospect of the lying, corrupt, corporatist, and clever GOP taking control of Congress next year.
Wake up to the winning ways of addressing ALL THE PEOPLE with economic and moral policies that connect with where people live, work and raise their families. Learn from FDR!