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MOSTLY CLEAR AND HOT conditions will persist across the interior through the week ahead. Persistent marine layer clouds and fog will keep coastal areas seasonably cooler with only some limited afternoon sunshine. There is a slight chance for thunderstorms across portions of the interior later Tuesday into Wednesday. (NWS)
PHILO BOX BREAK-INS MUST STOP
TO: Philo Postmaster Eric Barker
Dear Postmaster Barker,
We were appalled to see that mailboxes in the Philo Post Office were recently broken into, one immediately adjacent to one of ours.
We have two boxes accommodating both personal and business mail. It is imperative that these boxes be protected. We are certain that other patrons must feel the same.
This is, obviously, a very serious situation. We hope that you are doing everything possible to put measures into place that will eliminate this threat. Would cameras help?
Philo is a small rural area 40 minutes of winding road to the nearest larger town, in a huge County. Being rural, most boxholders live miles from the Post Office. It is a burden to pick up mail every day, especially with the current gas prices. We have very limited telephone and web services which makes the postal service crucial to many.
We hope you can expedite solutions. Thanking you in advance for your attention to this most important matter.
Beverly and Marvin Dutra
PO Boxes 577 & 570
Philo CA 95466
FOOD BANK NEEDS HELP
Please contact me if you are able and available to volunteer for bag packing (AM) or distribution (2:30-5:30 PM), 2nd & 4th Wednesday every month at the Solar Grange in Philo. Volunteers much needed for distribution this coming Wed 7/27. Food donations, especially garden produce, appreciated too. It's best if it can be dropped off in the morning when 125 food bags are packed to serve approx 500 people. And, of course, if you need food, please come pick some up for free. We are dedicated to helping everyone have enough healthy food to thrive.
Benna Kolinsky, 707/895-3883
HEALTH CARE MEETING
The Mendocino Coast Health Care District Board of Directors is holding an Open Meeting on July 28 at 6:00 PM. Please join us. You can find us on Zoom at: us06web.zoom.us/j/3453214116 or read the agenda at: mchcd.org
If you have questions please call Board Secretary Norman de Vall at 707.357.5555
SCHOOLS LOOKING GOOD
We are looking super fresh in the high school and junior high wing with the updated painting. It’s a nice clean look. The roof work is well underway for the new HVAC systems. This HVAC job is huge and will be a process, probably through the early part of November but much of the pre-work is being done as we await delivery of the units.
Two of the three new heaters are up in the gym. The floor wax should be delivered in the next week. I want to thank Vero for shepherding these projects through while I was gone and for Dennis, Guy, and Wynne for their hard physical work getting all of this busted out. We also have significant progress in room one.
I have said over and over that appearance, aesthetic, and image matters to me. The way a classroom looks speaks pride and expectation. The way we look and operate builds pride within a student body and staff. I want us to look just as good as Ukiah, Fort Bragg, and Laytonville. We will. We will.
I am looking forward to creating some field trips for our staff, so we can go over and look at other campuses as well. Sometimes, just seeing what another place looks like and is creating inspires us inside.
Things are going to be different at AVHS Junior Senior High. We’re going to try some new things. Some will be incredibly successful, and some might be a bust, but that’s OK. I received out SBAC scores, and we have some mighty hard work to do post-pandemic. We can do it. It’s time to really think outside of the box. I am lucky to fly with you all. I am looking forward to an amazing year.
Anderson Valley Unified School District
GRAND JURY: POT PERMIT PROGRAM IN DISARRAY
The Mendocino County Grand Jury has released a report entitled "The Mendocino County Cannabis Equity Grant Program, 'Building the Airplane While It's Flying'”
In 2020 the State of California created the Cannabis Equity Grant (CEG) program to assist those harmed by the war on drugs in transitioning to becoming licensed and legal growers. Mendocino County was chosen in 2020 to receive up to $6 million and distribute 80 percent of the funds to eligible applicants. The funds were to be used for direct cash grants, cannabis fee waivers, paying county fees with state grant funds, or providing technical business assistance such as how to create a budget, meet insurance and health and safety/environmental requirements.
In the beginning, the Mendocino County Cannabis Department (MCD) had no process in place for implementing a grant program and had limited staff with a permit program in ongoing turmoil. The MCD developed an application and made it available in February 2021. Yet as of May 25, 2022, only five applicants had received a check to implement projects. Issues arose almost immediately with income limits that took several months to resolve. Most grant applications were for capital improvement projects, which required budgets and project estimates. The MCD also undertook assessment of application project details to compare them with permit information, which required adjustments to applications. An entire contract review process within county departments was unknown to the MCD until late in the grant approval process, and a last-minute decision by County Counsel to implement even more requirements into approvals continues to delay payments. These challenges and others point to the lack of experience with distributing grant money to individuals, the effects of county/state disconnect on permitting, the ongoing effects of insufficient experienced planners and perhaps holdover mistrust of cannabis operators.
The applicants for these grants are those who were in the medical or illegal market, suffered for it, and are now attempting to grow their businesses for the future in a legal environment. This grant money will not stop the decline of cannabis revenue, guarantee success for recipients, or fix complicated permitting issues. But it will help those who are trying to stay in the industry until market forces stabilize. The MCD priority should be given to completing the first and second round applications along with meeting the state”s deadlines for distribution of funds.
Finally, in the attempts to be stringent with grant project reviews, the MCD highlighted an inherent conflict between holding cultivators to tight environmental requirements including power and building standards and getting cash in their hands to try to make farms both compliant and profitable. With the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant (LJAG) also awarded in 2021, the county will receive an additional $10 million of direct grant funds to distribute in the next several years. A fair and efficient grant review process will benefit not only CEG recipients but others in the cannabis industry in the county.
While this GJ did not review the permitting process, it is apparent from reviewing the ordinance, listening to multiple community discussions, and reviewing statistics, that the permitting program is in disarray.
The entire report is posted at: mendocinocounty.org/government/county-organization/grand-jury/2021-2022-reports
— Katharine (Kathy) Wylie, M.S. Ed., Foreman, 2021-22 Mendocino County Grand Jury
MENDO'S POT PROGRAM, an on-line comment: “There are other counties that have received the same grant funding.”
Many of these counties already distributed the funds.
Mendocino County’s Grant program is a total mess, why is the Mendocino County Cannabis Dept in charge of distributing grant funds? They have a backlog of 800 cannabis permits, why? Because they lost most of the Permit applications. Maybe that’s what happened to the grant applications…
DEEMED MENTALLY COMPETENT, UKIAH MAN ACCUSED OF IGNITING THE HOPKINS FIRE DUE BACK IN COURT
Devin Lamar Johnson, the 21-year-old Ukiah man accused of igniting the Hopkins Fire that burned thirty-six homes and scorched one hundred acres last September, has been deemed mentally competent to stand trial after receiving psychiatric care in the Mendocino County Jail. He will return to the courtroom tomorrow.…
ED NOTES: THE LOW DOWN-DEST ELECTION IN MENDO HISTORY
Hutchins: 8,514 (47%)
Glentzer: 10,575 (53%)
THE GRAND JURY, and maybe even the DA, ought to look into the election for County Superintendent of Schools. Yeah, yeah, I was for incumbent Michelle Hutchins, and she lost by 2,061 votes while about 2800 voters chose not to select either Hutchins or Ms. Glentzer. If Hutchins had prevailed in the creepiest, nastiest manner that Glentzer prevailed, I’d complain about her.
HOWEVER, Hutchins ran an honest, transparent race, her opponent didn’t. Ms. G didn’t take a leave of absence to campaign, campaigned while she was on her vague job with Ukiah Unified, as did several of her supporters who also have school or school-related public jobs. Which is illegal.
IT WAS THE ODDEST election in this county that I can remember, and by far the meanest, the crummiest, most of it via secret slander by Glentzer supporters. There were no issues, not a single letter or comment that said, specifically, I’m voting for Glentzer because….. One would think at least one of the more than ten thousand people who voted for Glentzer would be able to explain why she should be elected and Hutchins defeated.
THE COUNTY’S EDU-BLOC — the county’s collective faculty and support staff — went heavily for Glentzer because, apparently, they were afraid not to, given that the superintendents of the Fort Bragg and Ukiah school districts made it known that staffers had better vote for Glentzer or else. The Ukiah-Fort Bragg Axis was backed up by pockets of low down loons in Anderson Valley who’ve devoted their lives to destroying Hutchins, even after she left her Boonville boss job for the County position.
AND THEN you had retired “educators” like Paul Tichinin, a former county superintendent of schools who went all the way back to when the agency saw a pair of his fellow administrators packed off to jail, and the entire operation was, as they say, ethically challenged. No prob for Tichinin. Another sleazy character who lent his flabby support to Glentzer is Damon Dickinson who, incidentally, was recently hired by Potter Valley to find the tiny school district a superintendent and came up with, ta-da, himself. This is how these characters roll, and they get over in a county whose largest district, and several of its smaller ones, are so failed they’re either in a kind of state conservatorship or on the margin of a state takeover.
A DEPRESSING exchange I had with a Coast woman was typical of the contest. “Well, I’m voting for Glentzer because I respect Becky Walker (then-Fort Bragg superintendent) and Becky Walker is supporting Glentzer.” Translation: I have no idea what the County Office of Education does and could care less, and I’m too lazy to find out for myself what the issues are.”
ISSUES? There were none that anyone would dare talk about in public, but there was one, and it was a big one: Hutchins was the first superintendent in years, probably ever, who made sure that the small outback school districts got their fair share of attention, help and funding which, historically, went first to Ukiah, then Fort Bragg, Willits, and on down to Anderson Valley and maybe Whale Gulch. Ukiah superintendent, Deb Kubin, the fiscal wizard who brought a multi-million dollar, all-weather soccer field to Ukiah devoted to one sport, was hostile to Hutchins for this reason, among other fiscally inspired beefs she had with Hutchins.
MY STALWART COLLEAGUE, Mark Scaramella, laid out the story behind Glentzer’s sleazy victory last December:
Why would Nicole Glentzer, an hitherto invisible Ukiah Unified School District administrator, suddenly decide to run against incumbent Michelle Hutchins for Mendocino County School Superintendent, especially since Ms. Hutchins has established the agency as effectively helpful to the far flung independent school districts of vast Mendocino County and there have been zero complaints about her administration? (The prior admin of Paul Tichinin was a regular Laff Riot, and Warren Galetti seemed downright overwhelmed by the job and resigned to return to the Point Arena Fog Belt where the usual irresponsible school board made him boss at more money than he made presiding over all of Mendocino County’s school districts.)
Ms. Glentzer’s facebook page doesn’t offer much in the way of specific reasons for her campaign, boldly declaring with see-through vacuity, “With the right leadership, our schools can rise to any challenge and go above and beyond meeting student needs.”
And, “When teachers, parents, and administrators from across the county began approaching me to run for this position [Names! And why did they “approach” me?], it became clear that we needed change in the office, and that I could make a difference. The Superintendent of Schools should provide better support to our schools. The 13,000 children in our schools deserve dedication, experience, and common sense.” (How about intelligent leadership and smart teachers?)
We’re pretty sure Ms. Hutchins would say pretty much the same thing. Edu-speak is heavy on uplift, but uniformly vague, rhetorically the same here in the NorCal outback as in San Francisco, and always without so much as a hint of the grim fact that California schools, even as measured by the loose metrics of American educational standards, annually churn out millions of functional illiterates totally unprepared to cope in an imploding society.
Ms. Glentzer offers no specific reasons to unseat incumbent Hutchins; simply implying that Ms. Hutchins is not dedicated, experienced and lacks common sense. Pure wind, thrown out there with zero evidence of the charges, but hard evidence that Ms. G has no issues, or no issues she cares to share because, as we shall see, that issue is so transparently without merit it would make her look grasping, not for students but for herself and her “upper-level management” colleagues.
We suspected there was some kind of insider bureaucratic dispute behind Ms. Glentzer’s run for County Superintendent. We asked Superintendent Hutchins if she had any idea why Ms. Glentzer decided to run. Hutchins speculated that it may have begun when Ms. Hutchins denied some money for Ukiah Unified for a program called “differentiated assistance,” i.e., state edu-money for underperforming school districts — which Ukiah Unified certainly is by most ordinary indicators. Ukiah Unified features an abnormally high suspension rate and lagging academic test scores, a fact that the Ukiah district, with its over-large admin apparatus, probably prefers to hide from most of its consumers.
Back in May of 2020 Ukiah Unified Superintendent Debra Kubin asked Hutchins for “differentiated assistance funds” which Kubin wanted to spend on her own consultants which, Kubin explained, “could be extremely valuable in this area with our upper level managers,” and “a retreat we would like to hold.”
Hold it right there. Consultants? Upper level managers? Retreat? We've had years of these ripoffs out of Tichinin's seemingly endless reign at County Schools, and before him, the agency was operated as a criminal conspiracy that saw two “upper level managers” packed off to jail for stealing and what you might call “moral turpitude.” (An upper level manager named Hal Titen was making pornographic films with underage girls in the back room of his bar using educational equipment he'd “borrowed” from MCOE. His “upper level manager” colleagues said they were “surprised and shocked.”
Ms. Hutchins replied to Kubin's attempt to grab off a nice hunk of cash for her Ukiah-based upper level managers by citing the Education Code (Sec. 52071) which clearly requires that the differentiated assistance money go to County offices from which the assistance is provided to all county school districts. It's not supposed to be passed along to individual districts. Ms. Hutchins added that she and her County staff would be more than happy to work with Ukiah Unified to figure out ways to improve Ukiah Unified’s performance challenges but would not simply hand over the money for consultants and retreats for upper level managers. (Although Ms. Hutchins phrased it a bit more tactfully.)
Ukiah Unified was very unhappy. Prior MCOE administrations always played ball. And then some.
When Hutchins ran four years ago she ran against another Ukiah Unified administrator named Bryan Barrett. Barrett, AVA readers may recall, was the ring leader behind trying to nail Ukiah teachers union rep Dennis Boaz as a racist for writing that Ukiah Unified’s administration was being “niggardly” in their salary negotiations. The Superintendent at Ukiah at the time was a black woman who commuted to the job from LA. There was certainly nothing niggardly about her salary and perks.
It's entirely possible that the common adjective found offensive by the Ukiah boobouisie was truly not recognized by Barrett and MCOE's Tichinin, educational standards being what they too often are among school administrators, but the wider public wondered out loud, “These dummies are running our schools?”
Ukiah Unified is the largest school district in the County by far and they don’t like it when their funding requests are denied, especially when those requests are for Ukiah Unified’s “upper level managers” and their preferred consultants — one of whom is that wacky Ukiah guy Steve Zuieback who bases his “consulting” on this preposterous “enneagram.”
(A former Ukiah City Councilperson also thought Zuieback's lunacy was “clarifying.” Mr. Zuieback has since died.)
Unless Ms. Glentzer can do better than vague claims of “leadership” and “making a difference,” we prefer the incumbent who is not a captive of any one County school district. In fact, if Ms. Glentzer and her fellow “upper level manager” are such effective administrators, how did Ukiah Unified’s edu-rating fall to the level of needing “differentiated assistance” in the first place?
In the July 25 on-line edition there is a comment from “Robbie Wyre, Covelo” regarding some very large issues related to the current push in Mendocino County for groundwater regulation, specifically of well-operators selling (or intending to sell) their water “commercially,” and the County’s very unclear-to-me efforts to create local regulation of that enterprise model.
Mr. or Ms. Wyre seems to have a firm grasp on the recent history of state mandates about which I would like a bit more information (yes, I’ll google all that, but…) about lawsuits and potential subordination of county authority to state authority if — if something, whatever that is, and about which I have considerable doubt as to the capacity of the county to develop the necessary local management capacity, given the explanations of Mr. Shields and my peripheral view of local bickering via the AVA.
In particular, there are references to (1) a lawsuit “the Coast Keepers Alliance brought against Sonoma County this time last year”; “…the next obvious step [being] a lawsuit in Mendo County if we don’t get our act together and pass groundwater protection and controls based on science and not sidestep the equal requirements for hydrologic study for all commercial wells pre-existing and/or new”; and “what happend in Siskiyou county” viz. “the same kind of law case they did in 2018 that has set the precedent for the case in Sonoma County.”
Lake County elected officials have discussed the possible need to rework or update the local “Groundwater Management” ordinance (part of our “Municipal Codes”) which, shockingly, does almost nothing to protect the groundwater basins from over-drafting hazards, very common in the recent years of (official) drought and expanding “commercial” cannabis operations — among the many possible causes of neighboring wells “drying up.”
In addition to that ineffective level of local “management,” Lake County also grants authority for owners of land zoned “agriculture” to develop groundwater supplies without any method of calculating whether that development will harm the preexisting domestic or other agriculture wells in the same basin, in its largely unknown process of approving “grading permits” — despite the maintenance of a notional CEQA Initial Study review process whereby the County’s Department of Water Resources’ Engineer would consider the impact of a newly permitted, water-extraction-dependent land use project on an established quantification of the particular ground water basin’s “safe yield.”
The County Department of Water Resources claims to have the authority to act as the sole groundwater sustainability agency, in its role as coordinator of the state’s required groundwater basin management planning process for the state’s declared “moderately impaired” basin in Big Valley (Kelseyville). A major dispute over the “ownership” and management authority for extracting critical water supplies for the City of Lakeport from the as-yet-unquantified Scotts Valley groundwater basin creates the necessity for local management (and development of a groundwater sustainability agency) oversight of that basin — not yet determined by the state as contiguous with the Big Valley groundwater basin, but potentially so.
In all the palaver I’ve read about the disputes over ownership and sales of Mendocino groundwater, I’ve yet to learn what legal structure at the county level would serve to both protect fragile groundwater supplies and prevent the endless pissing contests about agriculture’s pre-eminent powers to do what they want with shared natural resources that are critical for all organic life.
There are several other references in Mr./Ms. Wyre’s comments that I will also attempt to access and grasp, especially the 2018 “Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board” case. But if you or Mr. Shields or anyone else can elucidate the gist of this issue, I would be most appreciative. The results of your skirmishes and socio-political outcomes could be of vast importance to us (non-competing homeowners) — not that we will be adequately informed by the county government, of course.
Time for more satire. The best-known song about Mendocino was written by Kate McGarrigle, who had never been here. Talk to Me of Mendocino includes the line, “The trees grow high in New York State.” No they don't. They only have piddly little trees.
Squawk to Me of Mendocino
Bid farewell to the state of Arizona
To get away from home
In the LA traffic you begin to age
When first your hair starts graying.
And the trees grow high in Mendocino
This is your last chance to see
Those that Calfire hasn't taken,
Cut down by PG and E.
Squawk to me of Mendocino
Open your eyes, you'll see RVs
Drive up from San Bernardino
Passing log trucks full of trees.
Cloverdale, turn left to Boonville
Getting carsick on the turns
Guys can pee upon the redwoods
Gals can squat down in the ferns.
What's become of Mendocino?
Now it's normal and mundane
Where are all those old-time hippies?
Only tourist traps remain.
And the t-shirts all say “Mendocino”
Now you wonder why you bought ‘em
Never had the crabs from whence you came
But in Fort Bragg you caught ‘em.
As the sun sets on the ocean
You are staring at your phone
No, I will not take your picture
Let me brood here on my own.
Squawk to me of Mendocino
Open your eyes, you'll see RVs
Drive up from San Bernardino
Past the last remaining trees.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 25, 2022
CONFER ACEVEDO, Ukiah. DUI.
FERMIN CARMONA-CANDIA, Redwood Valley. DUI.
JAMES KRUG, Pacifica/Ukiah. DUI.
RITA LAVENDUSKEY, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
RICHARD LORMER, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, protective order violation, arson of property, parole violation.
JUAN NUNEZ-DAVILA, Covelo. Evasion.
MICHAEL PARKER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
NICOLE SANDIEGO-WRIGHT, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
MONICA SAVIDAN, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
AARON SCHLEICH, Healdsburg/Fort Bragg. Vandalism.
FRANK SORBERA JR., Willits. Controlled substance/narcotics sale-possession, conspiracy.
How to provide economical shelter for homeless people and provide the county with the legal ability to clear encampments (an ongoing problem; think the Joe Rodota Trail)? Here’s an architect’s perspective: Build an approximately 50,000-square-foot pre-engineered metal canopy with a concrete slab and radiant heating. Provide dividers to create 100 square-foot areas with a cot, and you have 500-bed facility. Provide mini storage, mobile restrooms and change areas, shower trailers and trailers for social services.
The hard cost might be $75 per square foot, $3.75 million. Call it a $6 million project at $12,000 per bed — far less than a tiny house project or other solutions to date.
Many in the homeless community prefer to be outdoors. Winter shelter space is lacking. This would address both problems.
Where to locate it? The county campus. With the county deciding against relocation to downtown Santa Rosa, structures could be consolidated creating an adequate site close to county services and bus routes, with limited residential opposition.
I expect local architectural firms would join forces on a pro-bono basis for the design and entitlement phase. Are there aspects of this concept that are problematic? Of course, but that is true of any approach.
Alan B. Cohen
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The Middle Class was doomed to oblivion once the great American industrial base was leveled and destroyed. It was not foreign bombers who came in under the dark of night and bombed and obliterated the thousands of grand factories that provided steady income and decent pay and a way for men and women to build families and lives. No, the devastation was done in corporate offices by men in fancy suits and inflated titles and oversize authority who chose sickening self-interest and personal benefit over Country and the lives of millions of Americans and millions more yet unborn. And with every factory that they shuttered and off-shored, this was like a dagger to the heart of real flesh-and-blood human beings. In a way, the first shots of the Grand Culling strategy that is in full swing right now.
HOW MANY OF US?
Letter to Editor:
Democracy v. Autocracy?
How many of us regardless of political party are committed to saving our democracy “our individual freedoms” versus how many of us support an autocracy with loss of individual freedom except for the autocrat.
If someone supports a change from democracy to autocracy then with respect ask if he/she will wear a mask in public at all times if so ordered, get all covid vaccinations if demanded by the government, be relieved to not have to get informed to vote as there wouldn’t be an election requiring making a choice, and practicing a dictated religion or forbidden to practice a religion. Life would be simpler because decisions would be made by the autocrat and his/her administrators.
To envision how our lives could be ultimately controlled, see how the people of China have lost their freedoms over the years: 2017-2021.state.gov/chinas-disregard-for-human-rights/index.html
Let us respectfully dialogue with each other in the forthcoming months so each of us is clear what we want from our government “democracy or autocracy” and express our views at the ballot box come November.
LET'S ACKNOWLEDGE WHY THE MIDTERMS LOOK SO BLEAK FOR DEMOCRATS: JOE BIDEN
The regular pundits who dominate liberal corporate media (I include PBS and NPR) know full well that Biden is a weak president, that he's a "gaffe-machine," that he's proven to be incapable of using the presidential bully pulpit to get legislation through even his own party. They worry about his age. But they've been tied to him and have protected him since early 2016, when he emerged as the only candidate capable of stopping Bernie Sanders' rise. These pundits approve of Biden ideologically: he's a go-slow, “moderate” incrementalist like they are. If sanity is to come to the political process before a disaster occurs in November, it won't come from Democratic leaders or pundits. It will have to be progressives and activist Democrats urging Joe Biden to announce he won't run again.…
UKRAINE, MONDAY, JULY 25TH
Erdogan Urges Support for Grain Deal
During an interview on state-run TRT television, Turkey’s president called on all sides to respect a plan to allow Ukrainian grain exports reached last week to proceed, after Russia’s missile strike on Odesa raised doubts about the accord.
The first ships exporting Ukrainian grain may move within a few days, a spokesperson for the United Nations secretary-general said. All parties have reconfirmed their commitment to the effort, according to the UN.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged all parties to support a plan to export grain from Ukraine reached last week. A Russian missile strike on the port city of Odesa the day after the deal was reached raised doubts about Moscow’s commitment to the accord. Ukraine is continuing to prepare for those exports.
Russia’s Gazprom PJSC said it will slash gas flows via a key pipeline further as it waits for the delivery of a key turbine from Canada that has been delayed amid concern over the impact of sanctions.
Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia wasn’t interested in cutting gas supplies to Europe and would reinstall a repaired Nord Stream turbine once it arrives after Canada granted a waiver from sanctions to allow it to be returned. Ukraine said it had received the first three Gepard anti-aircraft systems from Germany.
Long-Range Guns Given to Ukraine Open Door to New Phase of War
Kremlin Says Gas Flows Depend on Nord Stream Turbine Turnover
Wheat Jumps as Port Attack Sparks Worry Over Ukraine Export Deal
Ukraine Grain Challenge: Clear Mines, Find Ships and Trust Putin
Cyprus Gas Discoveries Boosted by EU Move From Russia Supplies
On the Ground
Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its sixth month with Ukraine’s forces bolstered by high-precision artillery systems provided by the US. Ukrainian troops repelled assaults on the Kramatorsk and Bakhmut axes in the eastern region of Donetsk, Ukraine’s General Staff said in a statement. Moscow is seeking to solidify its hold on the region and eventually hold referendums there and other parts of the southeast as a prelude to annexation. Russian forces struck the Dnipropetrovsk area overnight, damaging houses and agricultural hangars, local governor Valentyn Reznichenko said on Telegram. Russian forces also hit the Kharkiv and Sumy regions in the northeast of Ukraine.
GARY, INDIANA, 1968
by Samuel Hanafin
Since last September I’ve been studying Russian at the Institute of Oriental Languages in Paris. After the invasion of Ukraine in February our polyglot grammar teacher strayed from the curriculum to explain the differences between Ukrainian and Russian. They are not mutually intelligible, he said; Ukrainian is a language not a dialect. The war has widened the political fault line between them. Other teachers read us responses to the war by newly exiled poets.
When the course supervisor, Valentina, returned from the mid-term break she was dressed in black. It was obvious she hadn’t slept or eaten properly for days. She apologized for the new mood in the Russian department. She told us we should be sensitive to the Ukrainian staff who were teaching us Russian; we should also presume nothing about the opinions of the Russian staff. Our youngest teacher, who never referred to the war in class, and reposted an article on social media defending Russian culture, looked increasingly tired and defeated as the war dragged on.
Valentina’s translation exercises had always been full of references to Russian writers, poets and media channels. By April she was adding commentary on the texts: ‘By the way, that TV channel has been shut down’; ‘A remarkable young man ... he’s been branded a foreign agent.’ Holding back tears, she eventually gave up on the exercises and addressed us in increasingly speedy Russian:
When you were raised being told that you had to live a rich enough life for two, so that those who died in the war didn’t sacrifice themselves in vain, when you were raised being told that four o’clock in the morning, 21 June 1941, was the worst moment in our history, then waking up to Novaya Gazeta’s ‘Russia bombs Ukraine’ ... it’s your entire world that comes crashing down.
She was also upset by the indifference or outright support for the war she was encountering in email threads with colleagues in Russia. Academics who stood up against the invasion were being shamed by their colleagues; some had been fired.
When Ukrainians began arriving in Paris in large numbers, we were encouraged to help the Red Cross make travel and sleeping arrangements for refugees. At the Gare Montparnasse one of the volunteer translators explained that most of her colleagues – nearly all women; one worked for Gazprom – were Russian, and that strained relations with the Ukrainian Embassy were giving way to a working relationship. Some of the Ukrainians I tried to help couldn’t – or wouldn’t – speak Russian, but didn’t have English or French. We mostly got by with the help of gestures, writing and city names.
Official generosity was creaking forty days into the war. The SNCF went from offering limitless free tickets to one single free ticket per person. Valéry Pécresse, the head of the region of Île de France, was stingy about metro tickets for refugees. Public transport officials handed out notices of fines to ticketless passengers with Ukrainian passports unless they could give an address in Donbas.
On the weekend of the first round of the presidential elections – in which Pécresse, the candidate of the center right, tanked – there were no free train tickets, and a single adult ticket to a provincial city cost more than a hundred euros. Exhausted Ukrainian teenagers and grandparents, confronted with a four-day wait in the capital in cramped conditions, burst into tears. One woman shouted that she ‘was Mariupol’. Many refugees wanted to head back to Germany, where things were apparently better organized. Since June, non-Ukrainians who’d fled to France, including many students from across Africa and the Indian subcontinent, are now being ordered to return to their home countries.
Valentina said it would be up to us to rebuild bridges with Russia when the war comes to an end. The possibility that they wouldn’t be rebuilt in her professional lifetime seemed to trouble her deeply.
(London Review of Books)
by Mark Arax
All great mountains deserve their own bard and Mount Shasta has a beauty, a fabulous gadabout named Joaquin Miller who arrived like the rest of them in 1850 and ended up a killer of Indians and a savior of Indians, a plunderer of earth and a planter of tens of thousands of trees, a liar and a poet, which may be another way of saying he was no better or worse at heart then any other Californian, caught in a time and place that was one thing one minute and something near its opposite the next, giving a man no choice but to change with it. “Their loomed Mount Shasta, with which my name, if remembered at all, will be remembered,” Miller wrote. “As lone as God and white as a winter moon.” On another occasion he remarked, “A great pyramid and shining shaft of snow with a crown of clouds, pierced heaven.
Born Cincinnatus Hiner Miller, he was raised on his father's farm in Oregon and arrived in California at the age of 16, drawn by the legend of bandit Joaquin Marietta. He changed his name to Joaquin Miller, grew his curly hair long and dressed like a vaquero, with a sombrero, a red silken sash and high top boots. A devout Quaker, he joined a posse of white men who cornered a party of Wintu Indians below Mount Shasta. As a matter of veneration, the Wintu would not ascend the mountain past its timberline. This was where the Good Spirit dwelled inside a great wigwam with his people, the smoke and steam of their civilization venting from the crater's top. In the massacre that ensued, Miller took an arrow to the side of his face that knocked out two of his teeth and left him with a scar that he covered up with a thick beard, or so went the tale he told. In his novels, short stories and poems, he recounted natives killed and natives sent to rot on a Rancheria on the hot plane of the Sacramento Valley. “It is impossible,” he confided, “to write with composure or evenness on this subject. One wants to rise up and crush things. … Ages may roll by. We may build a city over every dead tribe's bones. We may bury the last Indian deep as the eternal gulf. But these records will remain and will rise up in testimony against us to the last day of our race.”
The first white man who climbed solo to the summit of Mount Shasta had heard his share of confessions no less cleansing. Reverend Israel Diehl came to California in 1853 on order of his Methodist superiors. Once here, he traveled more than 3,000 miles by stagecoach, horseback and on foot to deliver what was said to be 1,000 public lectures to the new sinners a California. His single topic was temperance. All his walking and preaching made him the perfect candidate to not only attempt to climb the 14,180 foot summit on the beautiful and bright morning of October 9, 1855, but to write an account for 'Hutching's Illustrated California Magazine' that was filled with grizzly bears and falling lava rocks, red clay bluffs colored by the sweat of iron and snow-hidden gorges 100 feet deep and 300 feet wide. More than once he believed he had scaled the summit only to find that it lay beyond: “I was both disappointed and pleased to see the table land of snow and from one fourth to one half mile in diameter where it lay from 100 to probably 1,000 and more feet deep. … From this field, a few hundred feet from the summit, the Sacramento River takes its rise; running through the deep gorges, sometimes on top, then hidden, then appearing at the summit of hills, then concealed for miles, it breaks forth in magnificent springs and major rivers with sulfur and soda springs intermixed.”
Let's be perfectly clear... Ted Cruz is the most hated man in the Senate for a reason... He'd burn his own party to the ground, for an extra serving of honey barbeque sauce at Applebee's. His face is literally the one that appears next to the definition of the phrase "Gravy Sucking Pig". So, it's no surprise he's the first one, to claim the lead in burning down human rights like they're going out of style (and if Ted has any say, they'll indeed be going out of style.) Because he wants foremost to be "The Man" in the hearts and minds of American Christian Jihadists, bent on making America into just one more Nightmarish Theocratic Backwater.
With hypocritical political douche-canoe season now officially open, we can expect more of these mouth-breathing PCHUD (Political Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers), to begin raising the bar for how many human rights we can burn down, and how many of our Brothers and Sisters we can reduce to concentration camp fodder in a single political cycle. It's going to be amazing watching this race to bottom, with absolutely no bottom in sight. Political Limbo, how low can you go!
On the flip side. There are folks however craven, and despicable, who still see the need of preserving a country and basic structures of governance, if there is to be any power left with which to govern... Anarchy is such a messy business. So Members of the Republican Party who still put party ahead of personal gain (and there are fewer every day), are working on bipartisan bills to preserve the Nation's Rights surrounding both Contraception and LGBT Civil Rights (starting with Gay Marriage), knowing that if it becomes clear the Republicans are the Party of destroying most of the Civil Rights gains of the last half century, they're going to get slaughtered in the upcoming election. The polls already show Republicans are going to die on the civil rights alter that Roe v Wade created if they don't staunch the bleeding now. And Ted's promise to make it so much worse just gave his party a swift kick in the groin, on his 243rd run at the White House.
This is absolutely must see TV!
AS FRANK LANGELLA DEFIES HIS FIRING, More Details About Inappropriate Behavior Claims On Set Of Netflix Series Emerge
by Nellie Andreeva (May 20, 2022)
By May 4, the cast and crew of Netflix’s The Fall of the House of Usher had moved on. It had been three weeks since star Frank Langella had been fired following an investigation into complaints of unacceptable behavior, and Bruce Greenwood had just been cast as his replacement. Then the incident returned to the headlines with Langella’s fiery guest column on Deadline, in which he portrayed himself as “collateral damage” and a victim of cancel culture which he called “not fair,” “not just” and “not American.”
The response to Langella’s column has not been uniform. He did receive support — some in Hollywood called his statement powerful and praised the Oscar-nominated actor for speaking up. The reaction among the cast and crew of The Fall of the House of Usher, meanwhile, has been largely that of shock, disbelief and anger, multiple sources tell Deadline, bringing back memories of Langella’s time on the show and the investigation that led to his dismissal. The column also sparked a debate about freedom of artistic expression versus appropriate workplace conduct and about generational culture clashes as social norms change and evolve.
Deadline interviewed a number of people on or close to the Netflix production who did not want to be named for this story. One word consistently used by virtually everyone when describing Langella’s behavior was “toxic” as they recalled inappropriate comments and behavior as well as “crass” jokes he allegedly made.
“There was a general sense of toxicity that followed him around,” one person working on the series said. “A lot of the cast and crew were very uncomfortable around Frank from the beginning.”
Reps for Netflix and Langella did not respond to requests for comment. In his column, Langella made it clear he did not agree with his termination. He has been meeting with attorneys and is said to be exploring legal action.
In the column, Langella, 84, describes in detail the incident he says was at the core of his dismissal. In his words, it involved a young actress who complained that he had touched her leg during a love scene in a way that had not been blocked by the intimacy coordinator.
While Netflix’s investigation was triggered by the touching complaint Langella talked about, the internal probe examined more than a dozen incidents and accusations over the course of several weeks, sources told Deadline. Other sources claim that the main part of the investigation played out over the 48 hours following the touching incident, and that complaint was one of a couple that ultimately were deemed actionable by Netflix.
In his column, Langella spoke about the investigation, describing “some of the allegations: 1. ‘He told an off-color joke.’ 2. ‘Sometimes he called me ‘baby’ or ‘honey.’” 3. ‘He’d give me a hug or touch my shoulder.’
People who worked with Langella on the Netflix series provided more detail about some of the incidents, which, according to sources, started in the first week of production.
“There were issues out of the gate with very inappropriate comments, some of which were incredibly sexual in nature, others that were graphic and misogynistic,” one person from the show said about Langella, stressing that the comments were “not jokes but shocking to pretty much anyone within earshot.”
Here are a few examples Deadline has been able to corroborate with multiple sources; the alleged incidents were part of the investigation, sources said.
Langella had the habit of “saying things randomly or loudly that were not scripted” during blocking or rehearsal, two people from the production told Deadline. (“When you are the leading actor, it requires, in my opinion, that you set an example by keeping the atmosphere light and friendly,” Langella wrote in his column.)
One scene involved a discussion about a character that had gone to the bar. “Frank added during the blocking, ‘And then she took all her clothes and f*cked the whole bar in front of the whole crew.’ No one laughed. There was no joke to set it up, it was just a thing he said,” an eyewitness told Deadline.
Langella also allegedly inquired about the body makeup applied on an actor playing a character that had been badly burnt, asking the person whether the makeup extended to his genitalia; if the fire had “burnt your d*ck?” “It was grossly inappropriate,” a source said.
Then there was a crude sex joke Langella allegedly told multiple times in front of crew members and staff about elderly people in a nursing home where a guy dumps a girlfriend because she has Parkinson’s and her hand shakes when she is holding his penis, multiple sources told Deadline.
Additionally, “he asked cast members about their sexual experiences,” a source at the production told Deadline. Added another: “He spoke graphically about his own sexual history to many people even as they were trying to get out of those conversations.”
People who have known Langella a long time are not particularly surprised, pointing to the actor’s 2012 memoir Dropped Names, which is full of tales of sexual escapades and dirty jokes. The New York Times called the book “satisfyingly scandalous” in its review, which was titled “Cheerful Debauchery.”
I hear the Fall of the House of Usher producers and Netflix got involved early on, asking Langella to change his behavior. The actor alluded to warnings from the series’ producers in his column. He wrote: “’You cannot do that, Frank,’ said our producer. ‘You can’t joke. You can’t compliment. You can’t touch. It’s a new order.”
While Langella would agree to make adjustments, he also accused those who tried to correct him of being “too uptight and woke,” a source from the show said. Langella echoed the “cancel culture” sentiment in his column, in which he questioned Netflix’s due process, insisting that he was not given a hearing prior to his termination.
In addition to sexually charged and explicit remarks, the use of racially insensitive “comments and jokes” by Langella also was the subject of Netflix’s investigation, several sources told Deadline.
As for the accusations Langella referred to in his column as “he’d give me a hug or touch my shoulder,” there were three allegations of inappropriate touching in a performance including the one that led to the investigation, multiple people from the show told Deadline. “They were not necessarily sexual scenes, but they were intimate in their own way; some were intimate familial,” one source said. Added another, “Actors would request sometimes that additional people be on set with them if they would share a scene with him, including people who requested an intimacy coordinator even if a scene did not seem too intimate; there was sense of distrust and boundaries violation.”
In his column, Langella called the standard practice of careful choreographing love scenes by intimacy coordinators “absurd!,” claiming that “it undermines instinct and spontaneity.”
In a separate incident, “in at least one case a non-sexual physical contact was made with a makeup artist where he smacked them out of the way, that was very upsetting,” an insider told Deadline. Other sources suggested that Langella had asked repeatedly for special effects work on him to be paused and ultimately gestured at the makeup artist trying to protect himself. Whoever has read Edgar Allan Poe’s short story on which the Netflix series is based knows that the character Langella was playing, Roderick Usher, has a specific appearance that requires heavy makeup.
As Netflix’s investigation went on with new incidents and witnesses surfacing, tension grew as cast and crew felt like nothing would come out it, Deadline was told. When Langella was fired, “there was a profound relief bordering on jubilation among cast and crew,” a source from the show said.
THE DAY THE RIVER WENT DRY
I’d been bracing myself for a while, anticipating this likelihood. But nothing could quite prepare me for the visceral impact of walking through the coyote willow to my favorite spot along the banks of the Rio Grande this morning, and finding a dry riverbed. Striated alluvium, ripples of silt instead of water, some mud, mostly sand.
As a friend and I silently take in the stark sight, two women who’d been walking their dogs in the riverbed approach, on their way out. At first there’s just an exchange of glances; we know we’re all witnessing something we don’t want to see, we know it’s not good.
“Hello,” I offer, unsure of what else to add. “What a sight.”
“Yeah,” one of them responds. “I’ve been here 25 years, never seen this. And, it’s odd; we didn’t see anything on the riverbed, other than some trash. No bodies of fish, no other signs of life. Expected to see more of that. The dogs found every last puddle though, and played in them.”
“Glad they found their joy, amidst it all.”
A few more words are exchanged, but we’re all clearly somewhat altered.
“Well..have a good one?” one of the dog-walkers offers—more of a question than a statement of possibility, accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders that reads to me as a pained, “sorry, I don’t know what else to say.”
Another guy arrives with his two dogs, looks, pauses.
“Where’s my river?” he asks. “I heard this was going to happen, had to come see it.” Then, hardly skipping a beat: “Do you mind if I throw the ball for the dogs?” He takes them off leash and they dash off running where yesterday they might have splashed.
My friend and I walk slowly out into the dry bed. Sure enough, there’s no trace of aquatic life we can see. Thanks to the still-rising sun and the foliage from the nearby bank, there are pockets of shade in the middle of the river. We pick one and take a seat in the middle of the river—or its memory.
Cushioned by the soft sand, I close my eyes. I don’t want to be able to sit here. It’s as if the water in my own body is itself yearning to flow over this exposed earth. Eyes still closed, I visualize water returning, a fervent prayer of the imagination.
We are still surrounded by birdsong, and I’m touched by the preciousness of it. They’re still here, thank goodness, though I wonder how much longer that will be the case. Their song is pure gift, balm to the aching heart. May the waters return, may the birds not have to leave this place.
I watch how swiftly my mind wants to craft some good, redemptive, helpful idea: we should host a prayer circle or grief circle out here. Organize a procession, a ceremony and gathering connected to an organizing campaign. Something, anything, to pay attention—together. To feel it—together. To take a stand for the life we can still defend—together.
I’m grateful that I’m here with a friend today.
Another woman walks by with a dog. She utters just one word to us: “Depressing.”
We get up and walk further south in the riverbed toward where a man sits sunken into a folding chair, wearing gray camo pants, a hat, long sleeves, shades, clearly been camped out for a while. He’s got one net stuck into the sand, and two fishing poles, their lines dropping down into a 15-foot long stretch of shallow muddy puddle. I ask him what he’s up to.
He explains that he’s checking out the fish life in the puddle, that he’s accounted for some nine pounds of carp and chub. I’m curious who he’s collecting the data for.
“Myself,” he responds.
The water will come back, he says. It should be back in a week, given the rains predicted. But, it shouldn’t be like this, he affirms. This is climate change. This is what it looks like.
He tells us that he used to live about 35 miles south, in Belen, and moved up here because the river was drying out more frequently where he was, like this. Before that, he lived in West Virginia, where a 36-foot-deep river dried up one year. But it came back. He knows that rivers can dry in cycles, but he also knows it should not be happening like this. Next summer will be worse, he predicted.
He doesn’t think the population of Albuquerque will have to relocate anytime soon, even as water grows scarcer and heat higher. There’s too much federal stake here, given the massive storehouse of nuclear warheads located nearby. Phoenix might have to be abandoned, but not here, he says. They’ll truck things in if they have to. They’ll give up DC before they give up what’s here, he says, adding that he used to be in the military, and implying he’s in on things we might not be. He says he’ll stay in that spot another 20 minutes before heading north to measure a different puddle.
I walk away pondering the perverse reality that our proximity to weapons of mass destruction may allow some people to stay here longer, as the river dries more frequently. Meanwhile, just downriver, in Valencia County, farmers are being told not to plant this season because of drought, at the very same time that a private water bottle company is lobbying for a massive increase in water rights, and a new ordinance may open the way for fracking. It’s the logic of a death cult. I’m reminded of the refrain from the Indigenous-led movement group, the Red Nation: “decolonization or extinction.”
If my friend hadn’t needed to return to his car, I would’ve wanted to stay. For a long time. To talk with whoever else was out there. To feel, to sense, when very little makes sense. To begin to imagine how we might hold space for grief and new ways of being, right here in the dry river bed. Because, it can’t just be “where’s my river?” and then tossing the ball for the dogs. It can’t just be “depressing” and then walking home, alone. There’s got to be a different way to be in this together. A way that includes camaraderie, that includes pathways toward meaningful action to protect life, that includes company in the grief, and, yes, even the possibility of joy.
Later in the day, a friend shares with me a memory of when this stretch of the river last dried, forty years ago. She was a kid then, and joyfully remembers rolling in the mud with her friends.
The birds are still singing. For now. Rather than look away, I want to stay, listen, let an authentic response arise. I lament that this day has come, and am moved to ask what’s possible when we bear witness together. How might we become more immense in our capacity to feel, and more courageous and creative in our response?
— Adam Horowitz