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Mendocino County Today: Friday, April 15, 2022

Wet Week | Hopland Fundraiser | Chicks | Undetermined Death | Philo | Diversion Curtailments | Easter Eggs | Supes Reports | Price Changed | Ed Notes | Strange Idols | Ukraine | Mt. Rainier | Litterville | Vernacular Architecture | Boonville Market | Miller Guilty | Labor & Capital | Glen Pinoli | Johanna Beckmann | Dams Expired | Yesterday's Catch | Charles McCabe | Breakfast | Big Lies | Why Care | Euro Refugees | Mindful | Profit Motive | Figure Drawing | No Communication | Savior Delusion | McRay Ranch | Clean Wine | Shipwreck | Feinstein Decline

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FROST ADVISORY remains in effect until 9 am PDT this morning.

AN UNSETTLED WEATHER PATTERN will occur across the region through much of next week. This pattern will yield periods of beneficial rain for many locations, as well as gusty coastal winds and interior mountain snow. (NWS)

YESTERDAY'S RAINFALL: Yorkville 1.28", Boonville 1.02"

Rained All Day

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HOPLAND FIRE DEPARTMENT - ANNUAL BBQ AND DANCE SET FOR APRIL 30

The Hopland Fire Department will be hosting its Annual BBQ and Dance on April 30. This year’s entertainment will be provided by the Blues Defenders from Sonoma County.

The barbecue will start at 5 p.m., and the music and dancing will be from 6 to 10 p.m.

This will take place at the Hopland Firehouse, located at 21 Feliz Creek Road. Tickets are $25 for food and music. Beer and wine will be available. All ages are welcome.

The fundraiser is presented by Beckstoffer Vineyards of Mendocino County.

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Easter linocut by Edward Bawden, 1958

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THE DEATH OF AMBER DILLON of Willits ruled ‘undetermined’; Contributing factors: Hypothermia, head injury, meth abuse

by Justine Frederiksen

The cause of death for a Willits woman found near Highway 101 in Cloverdale earlier this year was declared “undetermined,” the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office reported.

According to a report filed by the Sonoma County coroner, the body of Amber Cheri Dillon, 33, a Willits resident, was found “in a remote grassy field on the east side of Hwy. 101 near the northern county line north of Cloverdale” on Jan. 7, 2022.

Amber Dillon, recent-on-line; Nov 2019 booking

The report describes Dillon as having a 1.5-inch cut on her scalp, as well as “two capped hypodermics located in her jacket pockets.” Following a “postmortem examination with a forensic pathologist,” the manner of death was officially declared “undetermined,” with significant contributing factors being: “hypothermia, blunt force injuries of the head and methamphetamine abuse.”

Dillon was found after someone flagged down a California Highway Patrol officer around 4 p.m. on Jan. 7 to report a possible body off Hwy. 101 near Geysers Road, north of Cloverdale. Since Dillion was found just south of the Mendocino County line, her death was officially investigated by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, but Mendocino County Sheriff Kendall said earlier this year that “we absolutely believe that was a homicide.”

Four days after Dillon was found, the body of 22-year-old Ukiah resident Alyssa Mae Sawdey was found near Parducci Road and Christy Lane, just off Hwy. 101 north of Ukiah.

A forensic autopsy was performed on Sawdey Jan.12 by the MCSO, which reported soon after that an official death determination was awaiting toxicology reports.

According to the MCSO, the autopsy report on Sawdey was finalized recently and determined that her cause of death was “Acute Methamphetamine Toxicity, with no other significant contributory factors.”

In a press release announcing the results, the MCSO notes that its investigators “interviewed multiple people who had information related to Sawdey’s activities prior to her death. Based on those interviews, scene investigations and the finalized autopsy report, her death has been classified as being an accidental death.”

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Philo!

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STATE WATER BOARD GEARING UP FOR CURTAILMENTS ON RUSSIAN RIVER WATER DIVERSIONS

by Mary Callahan

State water regulators are gearing up for another summer of reduced supplies in the Russian River watershed and may adopt a framework for water diversion curtailments as early as May 10.

But unlike last year, stakeholders are working on an alternative that would allow senior water rights holders to share access with junior claimants, and they say the proposal appears to have potential for success.

The state must still approve the plan, and enough participants with senior water rights would have to join in for the scheme to work, proponents said.

But the result could reduce the economic impact on agricultural users and others who would have little or no access to water if curtailments are ordered.

John Nagle, board chairman for the Sonoma Resource Conservation District, said the proposal would mean greater resilience for the community as a whole.

Nagle’s comments came during a presentation of the proposal at a workshop Thursday hosted by the water board.

“And it’s a more equitable solution,” Mendocino County Farm Bureau Executive Director Devon Jones said.

Thursday’s discussion occurred as light rain fell around the region after what’s generally been a record dry year that has ushered in a third year of drought.

Under the 100-plus-year-old system of water rights in California, landowners with property that touches a water source have rights to that water.

Others may have “appropriative” rights that permit them to divert water if there’s enough. Those with the oldest, or most senior claims, get first dibs.

Last year, conditions were so dry the state in August imposed curtailment orders on all 1,600 or so water right holders in the upper Russian River. It was extended to another 300 users in the lower reaches of the river later in the month, though the curtailments were lifted in October, when an atmospheric river brought substantial rain.

While those who were curtailed included ranchers and grapegrowers, farms and industrial users, they also included whole cities like Cloverdale and Healdsburg.

This year, early warning letters went out March 21 to roughly 2,400 water right holders alerting them to likely curtailments and urging them to reduce water use. They were also asked to plan ahead by irrigating less acreage and using innovative irrigation techniques, managing herd size and diversifying their water portfolio.

Both Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, which release water to the Russian River to maintain flood control capacity and ensure sufficient flows for diverters and federally protected fish, are more than 40% below target storage levels for this time of year.

Water storage is more than 40% below target levels in both Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, as the region approaches the driest months of the year and uncertainty grows over diversions from Lake Pillsbury via the Eel River through Potter Valley. (Sonoma Water)

Though Lake Mendocino holds slightly more water than it did a year ago at this time, the Eel River flows that have helped feed the reservoir for a century have been thrown into question by uncertainty around the future of PG&E’s Potter Valley Project, through which those diversions run.

PG&E’s license to operate the century-old hydroelectric plant expired Thursday. A coalition of regional interests, including Sonoma Water and the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, had for several years hoped to acquire it, in part to ensure continued Eel River flows, but announced earlier this year it could not meet the timeline.

In the meantime, federal fisheries regulators last month alerted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees licensing of the plant, that current operations have increased the threat to Eel River salmon and steelhead trout populations protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Wildlife advocates and agencies are now calling on the commission to require federal protective measures now that PG&E’s license no longer protects it from liability for illegal harm to the fish, potentially reducing the amount of summertime flow from the Eel River into the Russian River watershed.

Sam Boland-Brien, project manager for the state water board’s division of water rights, told those who attended Thursday’s workshop in person and on Zoom that the future of Eel River diversions was unclear.

But projections for the Russian River nonetheless suggest there could be little to no water beyond what’s released from reservoirs to maintain minimum requirements for protected fish. That water would be off limits for diversion except for enough to supply basic human health and safety needs, generally capped at 55 gallons per capita per day.

State regulators are working on some provisions to allow for needs outside of households, including food gardens, domestic livestock, hydropower and fire prevention, Senior Engineer Philip Dutton said during the workshop.

The new draft rules also would allow for special curtailments in the Green Valley, Mark West, Dutch Bill and Mill Creek watersheds at times when voluntary water releases are made under state or federal arrangements with landowners to supply sufficient water for imperiled fish in especially low water.

But people like Jones, Nagle and water rights attorney Philip Williams, who works with the city of Ukiah, said they were hopeful to work out a system where water right holders could choose to participate in a system that would prevent anyone from being cut off from the river.

Instead, those with senior rights would use less than their share so those with junior rights could have some, and the total withdrawals would be the same.

A large group has been working on the plan with state water board staff, multiple tribes, water districts and agricultural groups.

It was an effort attempted last year, with less time to work it out and conditions so dry there wasn’t enough for senior claims anyway, Boland-Brien said.

“We’re hoping that this year the numbers will be better so that there will be water available for sharing,” he said.

(courtesy Press Democrat)

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Schats Does Easter Eggs

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SUPERVISORS REPORTS for Next Tuesday (annotated by Mark Scaramella)

SUPERVISOR HASCHAK’s Supervisor’s Report for April 19, 2022 Board meeting.

April 10, 2022 — Ad Hoc work as of April 8, 2022 

“Alternative wildlife services ad hoc: The ad hoc met on April 8 with representatives from Benton County, Oregon who have a Wildlife Exclusionary program run thru their County. Information was provided of their grant program, website, lending library, etc. We are doing a survey in collaboration with the Farm Bureau and Project Coyote to see what the needs of people in Mendocino County are. The focus is on developing a budget and presentation to the BOS on May 17.”

Translation: nothing is in place and nothing has been in place since last August when the Board voted 3-2 to terminate the contract with the Federal Wildlife Services trapper program.

“Strategic Planning ad hoc: Met with Anne Molgaard and Interim CEO to discuss next steps, finishing out contract with consultants, and how to implement the SP.”

“Implementing the Strategic Plan”? 

“Human Resources Director: Met to consider alternative approaches to completing the work that a HR Director does.” 

We have no idea what this means.

“Drought Ad hoc – Met to create agenda for Drought Task Force meeting on April 14 at 4:00” 

We have not yet reviewed the video for this nearly pointless and ineffectual “task force” which hasn’t produced or recommended a single thing to help mitigate the affects of the historic drought other than Haschak’s mantra: “Think rain.”

“Cannabis ad hoc met with MCP staff. Ad hoc met with staff and County Counsel to address issues related to the Equity grant, fallowing, and appeals process. An update will be provided to the Board by County Counsel in April or early May.” 

We await the results of this sisyphean effort which presumes there’s anything that can be done to improve the pot permit program/situation. “…in April or early May” is typical of the ho-hum attitude the Supervisors have toward dealing with this giant problem of their own creation.

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WEIRD MEMO OF THE WEEK

Weak and watered down as Haschak’s Supervisors Report was, the below irrelevant memo is posted on the Board’s agenda under Supervisor Dan Gjerde’s “supervisor’s report” for the April 19, 2022 Board Meeting. It’s a letter from the Supervisor to the California Department of Food & Agriculture — a letter he sent back in early 2017! There is no explanation why this letter is now declared Gjerde’s “Supervisors Report.”

California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Grants Administration

1220 N Street

Sacramento, CA 95814 

February 13, 2017 

County Of Mendocino 

Board Of Supervisors

501 Low Gap Road • Room 1010 Ukiah, California 95482 

RE: Support for Mendocino WineGrowers 2017 CDFA Specialty Crop Block grant To Whom It May Concern: 

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is honored to lend our support to Mendocino WineGrowers, Inc.’s 2017 CDFA Specialty Crop Block grant. We serve more than 89,000 people in Mendocino, a significant percentage of which are specialty crop producers, by delivering services that meet: Public safety, health, social, cultural, education, transportation, economic, and environmental needs of our communities. 

Accordingly, I am pleased to learn of Mendocino WineGrowers, Inc.’s application for a 2017 CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant to boost awareness of California grown Mendocino wine by promoting its unique qualities to increase grape prices to growers. This letter serves as our formal approval and endorsement of this project’s proposed outcomes. 

We support this project, because markets developed on behalf of Mendocino’s 350 specialty crop winegrape producers will benefit growers in the entire region. As we know through independent market research and historical experience, Mendocino’s vineyards are small, averaging just 47 acres compared to the California average of 155 acres (data from 2012 Ag Census; CA Grape Crush Report), and small growers don’t have the same resources larger vineyards have for marketing; grant support is needed to leverage marketing. This project seeks to launch a marketing campaign to grow sales and awareness of California grown Mendocino winegrapes/wine, which will provide returns directly back growers [sic]. We know this project will flow over to benefit the entire winegrape industry in this area. Given our knowledge and experience in the specialty crop industry, as well as your organization’s reputation and experience executing similar projects, and your commitment to benefitting specialty crop producers, we affirm that these project outcomes are reasonable and achievable. 

We believe this project is important and timely, because most Mendocino winegrapes are now sold out of county for low prices. As mentioned, growers’ farms are small (about 1/3 the size of an average California winegrape farm), and low prices have had a profound impact, given the low acreage. Additionally, input costs will also rise soon given mandatory minimum wage and ag overtime wage hikes. This project will help grower profitability and keep winegrapes a viable crop in Mendocino. This marketing campaign will communicate the value of CA Grown winegrapes and wine and as a result will grow overall California winegrape sales. 

Our organization is not providing matching funds to this project, will not receive grant funding from this project, and is not directly involved in the project execution. Please feel free to contact me if we can be of any other assistance.

Sincerely, 

Dan Gjerde, 4th District Supervisor

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors

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ED NOTES

HELLUVA NOTE WHEN A HARDWORKING LOCAL GUY CAN'T FIND A RENTAL IN THE ANDERSON VALLEY HE WAS BORN IN. Ernie Pardini writes: "I just wanted to put this out here again. The house that I'm renting has been tentatively sold so I am looking for a rental in the Boonville area, or at least in Anderson Valley. My current landlord will give me an excellent reference. I'm always on time with my rent, take excellent care of the house and yard and never bother the landlord with problems that arise, but make any repairs that are needed from time to time myself. Will leave your house better than I found it."

THAT COP SHOOTING in Michigan this week reminds me of too many others like it. A guy gets pulled over for a traffic violation and, after some mutually unintelligible back and forth between him and the officer, the guy takes off running, the cop running after him, and soon both are in a death grapple which the cop wins by shooting the guy dead. Why not let the driver run off and impound his car? When he's forced to show up to re-claim his vehicle, arrest him there. Or let him run off again and sell his car. Of course there are millions of people out there who presume the law doesn't apply to them, and there is a minority of cops who lack common sense. Because in this shooting the cop is white, the dead man black, here we go again with the whole opportunistic array of race demagogues exploiting the sad episode to the max, the lawyer-vultures making another of their own killings. 

ELDER ABUSE, prose division. From the Press Democrat this week: “A Silver Alert was issued around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday. Alerts are issued when 'an elderly, developmentally, or cognitively-impaired person has gone missing and is determined to be at-risk,' according to the California Highway Patrol. Orr is deaf and has cognitive disabilities, according to the Police Department. He was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and possibly a diaper.”

Orr

SLOPPY writing by the paper's Colin Atagi, suggesting the old boy was wearing a black t-shirt and a diaper, but since diapers are hardly crucial to identification, why mention the possibility? Old age is difficult enough without gratuitous, careless insult.

UPDATE: 04/14/22 at 3:30pm: Mr. Orr has been located. He received immediate medical attention and will be ok!

SPEAKING OF INSULT, how cruelly low can the Republicans go? The cretinous governor Abbott of Texas using immigrants to show how tough he is on illegals is just about the lowest. Abbott has sent two busloads of desperate people to Washington DC, brandishing them to make a crummy, unfounded political point. The migrants, who looked like perfectly respectable people who will likely make better citizens than a lot of native born Americans, had come from the Del Rio sector in Texas and had traveled to the U.S. border from Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

BRANDON BELT. Yeah, what about him? After all these years of called third strikes on pitches a gnat's eyelash outside the strike zone, and just as many years blasting line drive outs at the opposing team's Brandon Belt Shift with their shortstop clear over in right field, Belt astounded me and the rest of baseball world the other day when he dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line. When my colleague, The Major, told me about it I refused to believe him until he brought up the replay. I really like Gabe Kapler, the newish manager. Previous skippers, namely Bruce Bochy, simply allowed Belt to keep on belting into the shift.

HEALDSBURG TRIBUNE CLOSING DOWN. Mike Geniella writes: This is the worst possible news. Communities everywhere are suffering from the dearth of credible coverage of events and issues that are meaningful to their lives. There are some online news services that are reliable but they are struggling to finance their efforts. I am retired but trying in any way I can to help support them. Please help too. This is serious stuff about the fate of our communities.

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Scene from "Strange Idols"; filmed in Glen Blair, 1922

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UKRAINE, DAY 50

The Russian navy’s Black Sea flagship is “seriously damaged” by an ammunition explosion. A Ukrainian government official claims the vessel was hit by missiles.

Russian television broadcast clips of what it said was the surrender in the besieged port of Mariupol showing unarmed men in military fatigues walking with their hands up towards masked soldiers.

Russia beefs up forces for a new assault in the eastern Donbas region.

The mayor of the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest, said bombings have increased significantly.

Russia says it will view United States and NATO vehicles transporting weapons on Ukrainian territory as legitimate military targets.

“Ukraine is a crime scene,” the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said on a visit to Bucha, one of several towns where Russia is accused of massacring civilians.

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Mt. Rainier

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THE SLOBBIFICATION OF EVERYWHERE: Soooooo, the numbers are in for trash removed from the Russian River in 2021 from Cloverdale north to Lake Mendocino: 39 tons. 

Russian Riverkeeper (Casey Carr) 24 tons

South Ukiah Rotary with various organizations and John McCowen 15 tons

Note: this DOES NOT count several tons that John McCowen removed by himself. 

Rough estimate: 65% illegal dumping

35% Homeless trash 

Mendocino can do better.

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JOHN MCCOWEN: ALL of the garbage that was removed by South Ukiah Rotary and myself from the riparian corridor of the Russian River was homeless trash. Most of the trash was immediately adjacent to the river, in some cases piled three feet deep and in some cases dumped in the river. Homeless encampments are very damaging for the environment. That should be obvious. They are also damaging to community quality of life, which should also be obvious. What is less obvious to the casual observer is that encampments are also very damaging to the people who live in them. If we're serious about helping people graduate from homelessness, we will follow the Marbut Report recommendations on improved service delivery coupled with enforcement. Marbut makes a compelling case that providing services only or enforcement only will fail. The most important recommendation for enforcement is to have a zero tolerance approach to encampments. This doesn't mean you will have no encampments and it certainly doesn't mean you won't have campers. But it should mean that known encampments are not allowed to fester and grow, but that the people living in them are engaged, services provided where possible and the trash cleaned up. Allowing known encampments to remain in place enables homelessness and defeats the efforts of those attempting to provide services. And is very damaging to the environment, the community and the campers themselves.

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BILL KIMBERLIN:

These are some classic old buildings on the Mendocino Coast about 40 minutes from my place in Anderson Valley. I go over to the Coast a lot when the weather is nice. These buildings are what are sometimes referred to as, vernacular architecture, meaning a style based on local traditions. Sea Ranch, the famously designed community of mostly weekend houses on the Coast was done in a style that mimicked the local building style. 

My Boonville house is in the Sea Ranch style. When a lady friend visited recently she said, "It looks like a barn." Exactly.

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NO MARKET THIS YEAR?

Hi I have been vending at Boonville farmers market for a few years now. Inland Ranch Organics. Unfortunately we have not been able to find a Market manager so there will be no Market this year. I have had some very wonderful loyal customers from the Boonville area. I am willing to get a roadside permit or permission from a local business to set up after I leave the Mendocino Market every other Friday. If there is enough interest I would be happy to do this, it could benefit all of us. Looking forward to having an early year with lots of good produce, organic pork, beef, lamb and eggs. I would like to know your thoughts…thank you!

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CORT MILLER GUILTY OF GUN CHARGES

A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned to court Wednesday morning from its deliberations to announce it had found the trial defendant guilty as charged.

Defendant Cort Patterson Miller, Sr., age 27, of Covelo, was found guilty by the jury of three criminal charges: criminal threats, a felony; felon in unlawful possession of a shotgun, a felony; and violating the terms of a domestic violence restraining order, a misdemeanor.

MIller

The normal post-verdict referral to the Adult Probation Department for a background study and sentencing recommendation has been delayed while additional evidence is heard by the trial judge on whether aggravating circumstances exist in the context of the new convictions.

Effective January 1, 2022, the California Legislature changed the long-standing California sentencing practice of allowing local judges to decide whether a particular case is aggravated or mitigated. Such determinations were made at the sentencing hearing and most often based on the investigation by the probation department and information provided in the probation report.

Now, any fact the prosecutor believes justifies the imposition of an aggravated sentence must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt to the trier of fact (meaning a jury unless, as in this case, the defendant waives his or her right to a jury determination of aggravators or the parties enter into a stipulation). (See, Penal Code section 1170, sub. (b)(2).)

So that next phase of the bifurcated trial – a court trial on aggravating circumstances – is calendared to take place on April 25th at 1:30 p.m. in Department H of the Superior Court.

After the findings on aggravating circumstances have been resolved, a referral will be made to the Adult Probation Department and a date and time for a formal sentencing hearing will be announced.

The law enforcement agency that developed the evidence supporting the verdicts returned today by the jury was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

The attorney who presented the People’s evidence to this week’s jury was Deputy District Attorney Jamie Pearl.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Carly Dolan presided over the three-day trial. Judge Dolan will also preside over the court trial on aggravating circumstances, if any, and she will eventually be the sentencing judge.

(DA Presser)

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JERRY BURNS WRITES: 

In yesterday’s AVA Today, you posted a picture of Deputy Glen Pinoli. My family lived across the street from Glen’s family on Rose Ave in Ukiah. That would have been in the early 60’s. His father, Norris, worked for the CDF. His mother Grace was very nice, but stern. I believe she lived in the Anderson Valley in later years. I was a little guy then but was friends with Glen’s younger brother Burton and my brother was a friend of Glen’s. I did remember that he had served in Vietnam.

We, my brother and I, were curious as to the date of the photo you posted and if Glen is still living. Can you help?

Thanks,

PS. I did further investigation by searching Glen’s name in Facebook. Here is what I found, a pic of Glen and his dad Norris, with a short blurb from a Jan Moeller.

“Norris Pinoli passed away on Dec 7. He worked for CDF from 1956 to 1972 first in Mendocino then in Sonoma. His son, Glen, was the Ft Bragg BC and died in 1998 while still on active status. Norris was an active supporter of CDF for over 56 years until his death at the age of 91. He will be missed by many.”

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Johanna Beckmann (R) and friend, Fort Bragg, 1911

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TODAY: LICENSE EXPIRATION. TOMORROW: DAM REMOVAL! 

PG&E's license for the Eel River dams expired Thursday, April 14.

PG&E’s license to operate the Potter Valley Project (PVP) expired. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — the agency tasked with regulating hydropower projects — will now ask PG&E to surrender their license to operate the project and propose a plan to decommission it.

Located about fifteen miles northeast of Ukiah, the Potter Valley Project consists of two dams, a diversion tunnel and powerhouse on the mainstem Eel River. Project owner PG&E indicated they did not plan to re-license the dams in 2019. Shortly after that announcement, a coalition of local stakeholders dubbed the Two-Basin Partnership formed with the goal of developing a plan to acquire the project. Due to a lack of funding, the group recently stated it will not pursue such a plan. With no party willing to take over the aging, seismically vulnerable dams, the only remaining course of action is for PG&E to surrender the operating license for the project.

“For over 100 years, Eel River salmon and steelhead have been excluded from the river’s headwaters, which is some of the highest quality, most climate resilient habitat in the watershed,” said Alicia Hamann, Executive Director for Friends of the Eel River. “If PG&E and FERC move swiftly, we will have time to secure a future for the Eel River’s still-wild salmon and steelhead.”

Removing Scott and Cape Horn Dams would provide salmon, lamprey, and steelhead, including endangered summer steelhead, access to more than 280 miles of prime spawning and nursery habitat. Recent research by the National Marine Fisheries Service describes the area blocked by Scott Dam as containing significant amounts of habitat suitable for salmon and steelhead and a higher proportion of suitable habitat compared to most other areas in the Eel watershed — even in warm years.

The Eel is one of California’s largest and most remote watersheds. Much of the river offers high quality fishing and recreational opportunities and has been designated by both the state and federal governments as a wild and scenic river. Dam removal would make it the longest free flowing river in the state and would reconnect its headwaters in the Snow Mountain Wilderness to the coastal redwoods in Humboldt County.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, April 14, 2022

Brown, Hopper, Neese, Peterson

DAVID BROWN, Ukiah. Burglary, conspiracy.

LEATRICE HOPPER, Covelo. Reckless driving, vandalism.

JOSHUA NEESE, Ukiah. Burglary, conspiracy.

JACOB PETERSON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

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HIMSELF

by Marilyn Davin

I never met him, never even saw him, though my formative years in the Bay Area were inextricably entwined with Charles McCabe. McCabe didn’t occupy the celestial firmament claimed by fellow San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, whose gossipy columns tracked the city’s movers and shakers as they pursued their gilded activities and interests; Caen’s columns never spoke to me like those of the gritty McCabe, lover of San Francisco born in NYC’s Hells Kitchen. When the Chron arrived early each morning with a mighty thump against the front door, my parents and I (politely but sneakily) maneuvered to be first to read McCabe’s latest column on what makes us, and by extension the world, tick. He wrote of our commonalities, both personal and communal, and we loved him for it. Since he was a newspaper rock star back then we were also hungry for details of his daily life. He arrived at the Chron’s 5th and Mission offices at the “ungodly hour” of 8 a.m., where he banged out his column by 9 before retiring to Gino and Carlo’s North Beach bar in Little Italy to begin his informal research for the next column between bottles of Rainier Ale (nicknamed “The Green Death” for its green bottle). Gino and Carlo, like its urban contemporaries, may look like an upscale sports bar today, but to me it will always look like the Petri dish of McCabe’s columns.

McCabe’s musings concerned the ups, downs, and sideways realities of simply living, and he turned his journalist’s eye to seldom-acknowledged topics like parents don’t really love their children equally, or that marriages suffer from too much togetherness. We saw ourselves in him, surely the greatest accomplishment of any columnist, and through that rare fusion felt that we knew him. In this way insightful and talented writers worm their ways into even the most well-defended hearts.

When my parents died 20 years ago and all the exhausting details of their passing mercifully ended, I was left with a wall of moldering cardboard boxes that I just couldn’t throw out. Though no one really wanted the detritus of my parents’ colorful and well-lived lives, as an historian by education I just couldn’t toss them. It was a recent foray into one of those boxes that brought me back to McCabe, long dead since 1983. Folded between old report cards and letters was a fragile copy of a McCabe column, carefully cut from page 41 of the paper’s June 30, 1976, edition. Titled “Poor Jimmy,” it was about Jimmy Carter, written just five months before his election as president. 

Vintage McCabe, his column wasn’t about the future president’s qualifications or stated policies, pro or con. It was instead about how wall-to-wall TV news coverage, then in its infancy, would tarnish Carter through overexposure and inevitably turn the public against him. Maybe my father was the one who clipped and saved that McCabe column written almost 50 years ago; he hated television and never watched it. But it could also have been my mother, who would have seen it as a save-worthy meditation on the perils of superficial, image-based broadcast journalism. Or perhaps they saved it together for later reference on some future rainy day when they would revisit it to see if McCabe’s predictions about “poor Jimmy” had come true.

Today’s dogmatic feminist sensibilities would undoubtedly tsk-tsk at McCabe’s views on women. The title of his 1973 book, “Tall Girls Are Grateful,” is a clue; San Francisco may have been home to famous topless dancer Carol Doda but McCabe wrote that women should be “small and proportional,” which presumably would have precluded silicon-enlarged breasts. 

Ditto for his views on ever-elusive marital harmony. In a column titled “You Can’t Win, Pal” in my well-thumbed collection of McCabe’s columns, McCabe wrote that his [several] wives handled the money. “That way I always have a grudge;” he wrote, “and grudges, I need hardly tell any of you ace husbands, are the cement of marriage.” 

He was, after all, a man of his era, and wrote that his influential Catholic mother taught him that “there were two kinds of women in the world ─ saints and whores.” He further theorized that the inherent contradiction of pursuing saints for earthly pleasure landed him too often in the arms of the other kind of woman. The late sixties hadn’t sunk in, yet.

One of my favorite columns in the same collection, entitled “Old Nick and the Law,” hypothesized that the police foolishly waste their time and our money by fruitlessly trying to enforce laws that run counter to “human nature” and can never therefore be eliminated: drug use, prostitution, drunkenness and homosexuality [gender equality hadn’t happened, yet]. He quoted an unnamed source as saying “Society was created because of man’s needs; government, because of his wickedness.”

Next month it will be 39 years since more than 400 colleagues and admirers gathered together for a final farewell to McCabe at North Beach’s National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi church. The Mass of Resurrection was delivered by McCabe’s friend, the San Francisco native Reverand John K. Ring, himself dead since 2017, who praised the columnist’s “restless heart and mind,” along with a remark that would survive in the memories of his many fans in the decades since his sudden death from a concussion in his San Francisco apartment. “Charles couldn’t stand anything phony,” Ring declared, as reported in his beloved Chron, “whether it be presidents, governors, oil-tongued clergymen or razor blades.” 

Maybe one or both of my parents saved the McCabe column about Jimmy Carter because, as political junkies of the much-ballyhooed Greatest Generation, they had caught a whiff of the future intersection of politics and television, where appearance would ultimately trump substance, making mockeries of us all. Maybe they saw Carter as a kind of innocent incapable of standing up to the broadcast steamroller poised to run him over. As FDR Democrats, they were perhaps also wistful of a past time where, despite dire circumstances, they felt hopeful about their country. Too young to have experienced the deprivations of the Great Depression as adults, too old to willingly embrace what was coming, they found in McCabe a kindred spirit.

* * *

* * *

PUTIN’S BIG LIE

Editor: 

Just how gullible are the Russian people, one may wonder. Vladimir Putin tells them that Ukraine, which has been democratic since 1991, is being run by Nazis who are planning a campaign to rid the country of the pro-Russian populace in eastern Ukraine. A Nazi government headed by a Jew that must be replaced. That’s his reasoning anyway.

Consider this analogy. The U.S. president tells us that Canada, a neighbor with whom we share a historical and democratic past, has suddenly been taken over by a Nazi faction led by Justin Trudeau, who’s intent on exterminating the country’s Indigenous people. The U.S. president decides to invade Canada. Our missiles destroy Montreal, Quebec and Vancouver. Millions of Canadians are displaced, pouring into — where exactly? The territories to the north? Greenland?

Isn’t Putin’s “big lie” just as ridiculous? Is the reason he gives for invading Ukraine so convincing that 125 million Russians believe that little Ukraine with its “citizen army” poses a serious threat to mighty Russia? Once, the people of Germany believed a big lie that left Europe in ruins. A few months back, 60% of Republicans believed another big lie based on misinformation. I guess it can happen anywhere.

Michael O’Looney

Santa Rosa

* * *

* * *

‘YOU LIKE IRON MAIDEN?’

by Matthew Porges

Parviz (not his real name) is an Iranian man in his early thirties, born in Tehran and now living in Ljubljana. He fled Iran after taking part in anti-government protests, which made him a target for the secret police. Like many Middle Eastern migrants bound for Europe, he spent time in temporary camps in Bosnia, waiting for an opportunity to cross into Croatia and then Slovenia. The first six times he tried to cross along the ‘Western Balkan route’, he was illegally pushed back by Croatian police, denied the right to apply for asylum, and dumped in a freezing Bosnian forest. The seventh time, he made it across the border, and was taken to a Slovenian police station along with around twenty other migrants.

The officer who initially interviewed him seemed bored and dismissive, but at the end looked up from his notes and examined Parviz – who has shoulder-length black hair and often wears T-shirts branded with the logos of bands – more closely. ‘Are you a metalhead?’ he asked. Parviz, who speaks English, said he was.

‘You like Iron Maiden?’ the policeman asked. ‘What’s your favorite song?’

‘Bring me a guitar,’ Parviz said. ‘I’ll play any Iron Maiden song you like.’

He was allowed to stay in Slovenia to have his asylum case adjudicated. The others, he says, were not.

For a migrant moving north along what is known as the Western Balkan Route, parallel to the Adriatic, getting into Slovenia means getting into the Schengen Area, which makes it a key border to cross for migrants trying to reach Western Europe. (Greece is in Schengen, but has no land borders with other states in the zone; Croatia is set to join in 2024.) According to Frontex, the European Union’s border control agency, there were 60,541 ‘irregular’ border crossings along the Western Balkan route in 2021, the highest since 2016 and more than double the number in 2020.

I first met Parviz at a migrant collective in Ljubljana, in a smoke-filled basement where the group’s kitten, Comrade Nina, swiped at a sandwich held by one of the migrants as he lectured her in Arabic about table manners. Parviz went there almost every day – to play chess, drink coffee, get free legal advice, listen to music. In a sense, everyone in the room – there are maybe a couple of dozen people there on a typical evening – was among the lucky ones, despite the challenges they face in Slovenia. Many migrants are pushed back more than a dozen times, some in ‘chain pushbacks’ that can see them deported from Italy to Slovenia to Croatia to Bosnia, undoing potentially months of difficult, dangerous progress. They face violence along the route, mainly from local police but also from cold, from gangs, and even from bears.

There were as yet no Ukrainians in the collective and, given the bureaucratic expediency with which they were being received by the EU, there was not much sense they would need recourse to such a grassroots integration program. At a tense meeting in the collective, several people spoke angrily about the different way Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion were being treated. It was, one man said, ‘completely racism’ as well as ‘really fucking rude’. Of the Slovenian government’s handling of the situation, he said: ‘Nobody gives a shit about how [non-Ukrainian migrants] sleep, how they live ... Your social worker, always head down because they cannot do anything, and now you see everything is possible ... If it’s possible for Ukrainians, it’s possible also for Iranians.’

There was a sense, though, that this could be a moment to push for change, that the pro-refugee sentiment in Europe, however temporary and conditional, might offer opportunities for broader reforms. In just one week, someone said, the asylum home at Logatec had been overhauled, with new mattresses and repainted walls. The money was there; for once, all that was required was political will. Last week, an open letter from residents at the Kotnikova and Vič asylum homes drew attention to poor living conditions and limited access to work. Expressing solidarity with Ukrainian refugees, the letter asked that the support being offered to Ukrainians should be extended to all migrants in Slovenia.

To point out that Europe is more welcoming to some refugees than others is not to question or to undermine the necessary solidarity being shown to people fleeing their homes in a time of war. A more interesting question is why this is happening. At the migrant collective, I listened to an Iranian and a Palestinian debate whether ethnicity or religion was the main reason Ukrainian refugees are being welcomed. Both are factors, of course, but there are others, too. Most men aged between eighteen and sixty are barred from leaving Ukraine, so the majority of Ukrainian refugees are women and children. Welcoming them is framed in Europe as a key component of an ideological struggle with Putin’s Russia, an integral part of the war effort. And, assuming the war ends on somewhat favorable terms, the refugees are expected eventually to return to Ukraine.

The Middle Eastern refugees in the Ljubljana collective, by contrast, are all men. The wars they are fleeing are not framed as civilizational struggles in which Europe’s balance of power is at stake. They are not expected to return to Iran, Palestine, or Syria. For some of them, it is more likely that their families will eventually join them in Slovenia. And in any case, the sympathy being shown to the people fleeing Putin’s invasion does not apply uniformly to all Ukrainians. A Ukrainian friend of mine, who has worked in British academia for several years, told me he has fewer rights in the UK than people currently arriving from Ukraine. For many years before the war, reaching Western Europe from Ukraine often meant resorting to illegality. My friend described relatives and neighbors who had bought fake passports to enter the EU, and his cousin’s husband arrived in Italy hidden inside a cardboard refrigerator box.

Slovenia’s far-right prime minister, Janez Janša, is up for re-election later this month. His administration is unpopular, and has been so repeatedly rocked by scandals that it is difficult to imagine its having any other mode of operation. He has also taken the country down a quasi-authoritarian path, explicitly mimicking the Orban playbook. Janša, until now extremely hostile to immigrants, has gone out of his way to showcase his solidarity with Ukraine, even visiting Kyiv last month with the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic. He portrays himself abroad as a consummate Atlanticist, while domestically he pursues a familiar agenda of reactionary nationalism, illiberal populism and aggressive privatization.

In the migrant collective, this was viewed sardonically. One of the activists rolled his eyes and told me to expect a nuclear-armed Slovenia in the near future. Nevertheless, there was also a sense of precarity, a feeling that the sympathy for Ukrainian refugees would run out. With so many things in flux, the window for positive change seemed to be open, but it wouldn’t stay open for ever.

(London Review of Books)

* * *

Mr. Doing The Best I Can Man

* * *

CAPITALISM’S ROLE IN THE UKRAINE WAR

by Richard D. Wolfe

To the motives for war in human history, capitalism added another: profit. That motive drove technological advancement and created a genuine world economy. It also built new capitalist empires such as the Spanish, Dutch, British, French, Belgian, Russian, German, Japanese, and American empires. Each of these countries built its empire by various means including wars against prior systems operating on their own territories, in their colonies, and in foreign “spheres of influence.” Wars likewise characterized interactions among empires. Global warfare (“world wars”) accompanied the globalization of capitalism and its profit motive. The war in Ukraine is the latest chapter in the history of capitalism, empire, and war.

Capitalism means enterprises run by small groups of people—employers—who preside over large groups—hired employees. Employers are driven to maximize profits: the excess of the value added by hired workers over the wages paid to them. Employers are likewise driven to sell outputs at the highest price the market will bear and buy inputs (including workers’ time) at the lowest possible market price. Competition among capitalist enterprises pressures all employers to plow profits as much as possible back into the business to help it grow and to gain market share as means to maximize profits. They each must do this in order to survive because competition’s winners tend to destroy and then absorb the losers. The social result of this competition among enterprises is that capitalism as a system is inherently driven to expand quickly.

That expansion, inside every capitalist nation, inevitably overflows its boundaries. Capitalist enterprises seek, find, and develop foreign sources of food, raw materials, workers, and markets. As competition becomes global, competing capitalist enterprises seek help from their nations’ governments to expand. Politicians quickly learn that companies in their nations that lose in global competition will blame those politicians for insufficient support. Meanwhile, companies that win in the global competition will reward such politicians for their help. The social result of this is that capitalism entails national competition alongside enterprise competition. Wars often punctuate capitalism’s national competition. The winners in those competitions thereby often tended to build empires, historically.

For example, in the 17th and 18th centuries, wars helped British capitalism to build a global empire. In the 19th century, more wars punctuated the completion and consolidation of that empire. Empire growth had itself stimulated all manner of challenges and competition, eventuating in more wars. For example, as capitalism took root and grew in Britain’s American colony, colonial enterprises eventually encountered obstacles (limited markets, taxes, and limited access to inputs). These obstacles eventually grew into a conflict between them and their colony’s leaders, on one side, and Britain’s capitalists and King George III, on the other. The war of independence resulted. Later, British leaders went to war against the United States in 1812 and also considered siding with the enslavers in the South against the capitalist North in the American Civil War.

The 19th century saw countless efforts by other nations to compete with, challenge, undermine, or reduce Britain’s empire. Competitive capitalist enterprises engendered competitive colonialism and many wars. The United States and Germany grew into the major national competitors for Britain. Wars punctuated the growth of capitalism across the 19th century, within the United States and Germany, as well as elsewhere across the globe. As capitalist enterprises combined, centralized, and grew—resulting from the competition among them—so too did many nations consolidate into fewer numbers of nations. Wars became larger too, culminating in the devastating first of the two world wars.

The British Empire fought the German Empire in World War I. That destroyed them both as contenders for global dominance. Having been far less damaged by World War I, U.S. capitalism grew fast in replacing the global capitalist positions that Britain and Germany had lost because of the war. World War I also established capitalism’s responsibility for the tens of millions who died, were injured, and were made refugees in what was then considered the worst war ever. Germany tried to regain its global dominance a few years later, allied with the newest capitalist empire, Japan, to undo the results of World War I. It failed, as the United States defeated Germany and Japan to demonstrate its economic and military (nuclear) superiority. A consolidated U.S. global empire prevailed from 1945 until recent years.

The United States then learned what the British had discovered earlier. Building and consolidating a capitalist empire provokes an endless succession of challengers. Among capitalist enterprises, competition’s losers’ employees move to work for the winners; the winners’ enterprises grow, and the loser’s decline. Winners’ growth often entails still greater profits and more competitive victories. That growth invites and promotes new competitors. Fended off for a while, eventually one or more new competitors discover how seriously to challenge the older dominant firm and displace it. Capitalist empires and their challengers exhibit parallel histories. As the competitive new enterprise destroys the old, the same happens with empires. That has been capitalism’s history, and that is what is now being seen in Ukraine.

Britain, after the end of the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte, won a century of global dominance. The United States after World War I did so too. Both empires provoked endless challenges. Nations large and small developed enterprises, industries, and political leaders who wanted to make changes or move in directions that differed from/challenged the U.S. global capitalist hegemony after World War I. For example, across Latin America, references to “manifest destiny” resulted in small wars to remove competing challenges in the region. Likewise, when Iran’s prime minister in the early 1950s, Mohammad Mosaddegh, or Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, showed signs of breaking away from the U.S. empire’s control, both were removed. The one repression attempt by the U.S. that failed was in Cuba. The United States then isolated and economically hobbled Cuba via sanctions and embargoes. Warfare could be economic as well as military. Ukraine is another example, but with a peculiarity: U.S. support for Ukraine is an effort to repress another country that challenges U.S. hegemony, namely Russia. And repressing Russia too is a peculiar indirect way to get at the greatest threat to the U.S. capitalist empire, namely China.

The USSR’s survival after 1917, its World War II victories, and its development of nuclear weapons after 1945 created a potential challenger for the U.S. capitalist empire that had to be confronted. Former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill had accommodated the USSR’s control in Eastern Europe after 1945, but that represented a “loss” for U.S. global dominance. Thus, Eastern Europe quickly became the site of an ideological or “cold” war that pitted freedom and democracy against communism and totalitarianism in the USSR and its “satellite states.” It had to be a “cold” war because the consequences of a nuclear war would have been extreme. Before World War II, U.S. wars against other communist challengers of its empire had not demonized them as “evil communists.” During World War II, the United States even allied with the USSR to jointly defeat the immediate challengers (Germany and Japan). But after 1945, that was the preferred ideological terminology used for the USSR to justify protecting the U.S. empire. Then, when the USSR and its hold on Eastern Europe collapsed in 1989/1990, the old terminology faded in favor of a new terminology, used to begin a new war on a new challenger: Islamic terrorism.

The 30-plus years since 1989/1990 have changed both the U.S. empire and its challenges. Russia proved too weak to hold on to most of Eastern Europe. The United States reintegrated much of that region into Western capitalism via EU and NATO memberships, trade agreements, and Western investments. Slowly, over the last 20 years, Russia overcame some of its post-1989 weaknesses. The meteoric rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) brought new challenges for the U.S. empire, including a Russia-China alliance. Russia is now a capitalist economic system allied with the PRC (whose economy has a larger private capitalist sector than at any time since the Chinese Revolution of 1949). These two powerful capitalist economies are the largest globally by geography (Russia) and by population (China). They present a major problem for the U.S. global empire.

Russia evidently felt finally strong enough and allied with a much larger economic entity so it could hope to challenge and stop further “losses” in Eastern Europe. Thus, it invaded Crimea, Georgia, and now Ukraine.

In stark contrast, the U.S. empire’s ability to suppress challenges to its global dominance shrank. It lost wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as its intervention in Syria’s civil war. Its global economic footprint decreased in relation to that of the PRC. It proved unable to bring nations like Venezuela and Iran to heel despite trying hard for many years.

In Ukraine, on one side is an effort led by nationalists who would bring another nation further back into the U.S.-led global capitalist empire. On the other side is Russia and its allies determined to challenge the U.S. empire’s growth project in Ukraine and pursue their own competitive agenda for part or all of Ukraine. China stays with Russia because its leaders see the world and history in much the same way: They both share a common competitor in the United States.

Ukraine, per se, is not the issue. It is tragically a war-ravaged pawn in a much larger conflict. Nor is the issue about either Russian President Vladimir Putin or U.S. President Joe Biden as leaders. The same history and confrontation would prevail upon their successors. Meanwhile, former U.S. President Donald Trump’s effort to force change on the PRC by imposing the biggest sanctions action in history (i.e., a trade war and a tariff war) utterly failed. Trump was caught up in the same history as Biden, even if each focused on attacking the Russian-Chinese alliance differently.

Eventually some compromise will end the Ukraine war. Both sides will likely declare victory and blame the war on the other among propaganda blizzards. The Russian side will stress demilitarization, denazification, and protection of Russians in eastern Ukraine. The Ukraine side will stress freedom, independence, and national self-determination. Meanwhile, the tragedy goes beyond Ukraine’s suffering. The entire world is caught up in the decline of one capitalist empire and the rise of yet another. Conflicts between the capitalist empires can occur anywhere where differences between them flare up.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy lies in not recognizing the responsibility of the capitalist system with its markets of competing enterprises run/dominated by the minorities we call employers. That system lies at the root of these historic repetitions. The minority employer class controls or is the leadership of the nations that have absorbed and reproduced the competition that capitalism entails. The majority employee class pays most of the costs on both sides (in dead, wounded, destroyed properties, refugee lives, and taxes). A different economic system not driven by a profit motive offers a deeper solution than any on offer at present. Perhaps the war in Ukraine can awaken an awareness of its capitalist roots and teach people to explore alternative systemic solutions. If so, this war and the resulting devastation from it could lead to an important turning point that eventually results in some positive outcomes in the future.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute. Richard Wolff is the author of Capitalism Hits the Fan and Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens. He is founder of Democracy at Work. (Courtesy, CounterPunch.org.)

* * *

* * *

ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #1

One of the main issues of this trimming is the use of multiple contractors and the extreme lack of communication. In less than a month we had 3 different marking crews, two different cutting crews, and all with different plans on what was to be done. It became apparent I needed to be present to watch what was being done. This time the communication problem was mine because I do not understand or speak Spanish. I finally had to request the supervisor of the crew to remain on site so he could translate. Finally after 3 days they finished, but I still had to clean up brush and debris that the crew failed to come back for. Now a complete different guy with a computer tablet shows up and marks a tree they had cut around. Seems they did not trim the branches high enough so they have to come back and trim it. They need a liason to work between PG&E, the contractors, and the public, and then make sure they are on site to make sure the agreement that was worked out with the property owners is lived up to. No communication is why they have so much confusion.

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2

If Elon succeeds in freeing Twitter, I’ll offer up all the praise that warrants, but I think people are getting into a dangerous kind of “Elon will save us” or “Here comes Daddy with a big stick” kind of mindset. Some of these very powerful people may lend a hand, or appear to do so, but anyone who is rich on that kind of scale has dirty hands and cannot be trusted. You just don’t get there without taking the ticket. We have to get over the idea that a savior is going to fix things. It’s debilitating and makes people believe they don’t need to do anything because it’s all taken care of, or will be, by someone who can do what we can’t. Elon Musk won’t save our civilization. He couldn’t even if he wanted to, and I doubt he wants to.

* * *

McRay Ranch, Abelobehiah Creek, Westport, 1950

* * *

TRUTH IN WINE ADS

This week marked a major victory for truth in wine advertising.

The days of bandying about "clean wine," a poorly defined term that has been widely exploited as of late, have come to an end. The federal government issued official guidance warning wine companies against using this term on their labels or in their ads because it constitutes a misleading health claim.

Few wine phrases have inspired so much controversy as this one. Until the feds got involved, however, it looked as if the clean-wine controversy was destined to play out in newspaper articles and blog posts. 

"We're responsible for ensuring that labels are not misleading to the public," said Tom Hogue, director of the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Just as a wine label can't promise to cure your headaches or increase your energy, it also isn't allowed to use the word "clean" to imply that it's healthy for you.

The clean-wine controversy exploded in 2020 when the actress Cameron Diaz launched a wine brand called Avaline, which traded heavily on claims of being "clean." As far as I could tell, the wine was actually industrially produced plonk, capitalizing on the connotations of that word — which might suggest to consumers that the grapes were grown organically, or that the wine was produced with minimal chemical intervention — without having anything to back them up.

Since then, the term has proliferated in wine-marketing literature. Brands like Good Clean Wine advertise "no headache" and say you'll "feel good" tonight and tomorrow morning. Usual Wines proclaims on its website that clean wine is "made from organic grapes with no added sugars, colors, or fillers" and claims its wines will strip away hangovers.

This sort of language is manipulative, promising specious health benefits and implying that there's some official definition of clean wine that's regulated in the way that a term like "organic" is. Wines labeled with words like "organic" and "biodynamic" must meet specific certification standards, but "clean wine" is essentially meaningless.

Although scientific studies have found evidence of certain health benefits from wine, Hogue said, "there are obviously going to be some folks for whom no amount of alcohol is going to be OK."

The TTB's statement doesn't constitute a new rule — it's merely a clarification of the existing rules. The bureau's goal is to make it as easy as possible for alcohol producers to do the right thing, Hogue said. If a winery is found to have violated the rules, he said the first step would be to have a discussion in order to get the business into compliance. Ultimately, however, the TTB would have the authority to suspend a wine producers' permit.

Hogue said that the TTB decided to issue the statement in response to questions it had received about the use of "clean wine," but he wouldn't elaborate on how many queries it had received. (I'm guessing a lot.)

A deeper issue, which the TTB's statement highlights, is that wine language is inherently confusing. The TTB acknowledged that in certain contexts, wineries use the term clean as "puffery," to refer to the taste of the wine, not to imply any health benefits. Many of us frequently refer to a wine as having clean flavors, which might refer to fresh, bright fruit flavors. A Chardonnay might be said to have a clean green-apple flavor. I've often associated certain wines like Chenin Blanc with an aroma of clean linen. 

The term, as used in this context, is evolving as we speak: Many wine tasters have taken to using "clean" as a catch-all term for wines that are free of bacterial faults, the opposite of "funky" (another term that's becoming controversial, but that's a subject for another day).

This multifaceted use of a single word — which carries an entirely different meaning outside of winespeak — is what makes wine language so particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Let's hope the TTB's action can deter some of that exploitation, at least when it comes to people's health.

— Esther Mobley

* * *

Wreck of the Alcatraz, Greenwood Coast, 1917

* * *

FEINSTEIN NO LONGER UP TO IT?

“I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea. All of that is gone,” the lawmaker said. “She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring. Because there was just no trace of that.”

Four U.S. senators, including three Democrats, as well as three former Feinstein staffers and the California Democratic member of Congress told The Chronicle in recent interviews that her memory is rapidly deteriorating. They said it appears she can no longer fulfill her job duties without her staff doing much of the work required to represent the nearly 40 million people of California...

(SF Chron)

16 Comments

  1. Cotdbigun April 15, 2022

    A couple days of Ed Notes
    Biden is not to blame for inflation or fuel prices.
    If you steal a car, just run, cops will no longer chase you.
    If you enter the country illegally, you still get your free cellphone and service, but you must remain in the border state that you entered and never ever get deported. If said border state is deprived of the pleasure of taking care of you by moving you to another state, you then qualify as a victim of deranged and cruel trumpers. This of course entitles you to compensation.

    • Marmon April 15, 2022

      “Geniella writes: This is the worst possible news. Communities everywhere are suffering from the dearth of credible coverage of events and issues that are meaningful to their lives.”

      What’s with all this “meaningful” issues crap, Dunbar wrote the same thing yesterday? What’s “meaningful” to one person may not be meaningful to another. The so called credible coverages of events over the years is why people don’t trust the press anymore and why they are loosing subscribers. News outlets shouldn’t determine what’s “meaningful” or not, that should be left to the readers to decide.

      Marmon

      • Eli April 15, 2022

        Crossing the lines of meaningful vs truthful or untruthful is when opinions become dangerous in the media IMO.
        Too much crap out there and not enough moderators = a bunch o blind mofos deciding what they want to believe
        Good luck world! Hopefully Musk is capable of freeing our speech from bots!

    • Bruce Anderson April 15, 2022

      Way to distort, Cot. Stolen cars are worth lives? The poor and desperate should be, what? gunned down at the border? Deported to Rwanda as the Brits plan to do? What would you recommend, Cot?

      • George Hollister April 15, 2022

        Hyperbolic, unusual for the old man. The poor and desperate are in most places in the world. The reality is, we can not take in those billions. We can’t fix their problems, either. Countries have borders, and protect those borders, for a reason. Smart countries do anyway. Mindless one don’t. There is a disconnection from reality in the White House, and in Congress on immigration and border security. No reason to act the same here.

        Loud mouth Trump knew better. The policy of build a wall, and wait in Mexico for an asylum hearing was better than the open border policy of whoever is currently in charge in the White House.

        • Eric Sunswheat April 15, 2022

          Fuel is ruinous at any price now. Nature bats last. Much of world grain harvest fallows. War of attrition is at hand.

        • Marmon April 15, 2022

          “Principles before personalities” George, “principles before personalities”

          Marmon

        • Marmon April 15, 2022

          It’s clear to me that Hollister is Mitt Romney “RINO” type of guy.

          Marmon

      • Cotdbigun April 16, 2022

        They came to the United States as opposed to a particular state, let all the states enjoy their share of Bidens generosity. What is so cruel about living in Oregon or Delaware? Lots of people live there.
        Gas prices started to rise dramatically the minute Bidens policies took effect, starting with the shutdown of the keystone pipeline.

    • Bruce Anderson April 15, 2022

      PS. Biden sin’t responsible for ruinously high fuel prices, or certainly less responsible than Putin because by removing Russian fuel from the global market prices shot up because the global pool is finite. Duh. Prices went outta sight when Putin invaded Ukraine.

      • George Hollister April 15, 2022

        The global pool means the Russian oil we don’t buy goes to someone else, like someone in Europe. And we buy from someone the European was buying from. The US not buying Russian oil, by itself, should not effect the price of crude, or gasoline. It we, and everyone else stopped buying Russian energy, that would be a different story. Of course that is not likely to happen. Besides, crude oil, and gas prices were already going up before we decided to stop buying Russian Crude. Before Russia invaded Ukraine, as well.

        A surge in demand from consumers with $trillions of free government Covid money is what likely set off gas prices, and inflation. Is Biden to blame? Yes, but so was Trump, and Congress. The Fed is the chump.

  2. Lazarus April 15, 2022

    “SLOPPY writing by the paper’s Colin Atagi”

    The diaper comment was demeaning and unnecessary. Just another example of careless references to an aging generation.
    As always,
    Laz

  3. John Sakowicz April 15, 2022

    For all you do, thank you, John McCowen.

  4. Jim Armstrong April 15, 2022

    From above:
    “Removing Scott and Cape Horn Dams would provide salmon, lamprey, and steelhead, including endangered summer steelhead, access to more than 280 miles of prime spawning and nursery habitat.”
    Your really should have continued the quotation marks from just above so that readers would know that the 280 mile claim is just more FOER bullshit.
    Or maybe you would just like to justify that hugely inflated figure on your own hook and/or personal knowledge.

    • George Hollister April 15, 2022

      Jim, you are right. In addition:

      The USFW requires holding back water behind Scott Dam to be released in Summer months for fish. This water is cold, is a requirement for salmonids, and is created by Scott Dam in the bottom of Lake Pillsbury. Cold water would not be available otherwise.

      Currently Lake Pillsbury is full, or nearly full. Lake Mendocino is higher than it was last year at this time, but is 35,000. acre feet short of what it should be right now. PGE has shut down it’s power plant that diverts water from the Eel indefinitely for repairs. With the power plant shut down, water from the. diversion going into Lake. Mendocino has. been greatly reduced. This is a primary reason Lake Mendocino is so low..

      This year as water is rationed in the Russian River Watershed, we need to remember that this water crisis would not be so critical if water was coming from the Eel River as it would if the power plant were operating. This water year is not nearly as critical as 2021, particularly with these late rains. Congressman Huffman, et al needs to be honest with the citizens who depend on this diverted water from the Eel River. They also need to be honest about the real impacts on fish if Scott Dam, and the diversion are removed.

      But this is a philosophical issue for Huffman, and one of faith, not science. So to our Congressman facts don’t matter.

  5. Marmon April 15, 2022

    “Is it sad that we’re all begging Elon Musk to save us and allow speech online? Yes. But who else is going to save us? No one.”

    -Tucker Carlson

    Marmon

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