Persistent Weather | Highway Fatality | Beer Park | Hooded Orioles | AVHS Beautification | Dungan Suspected | Gardens Music | Burroughs Painting | Little River | MCBG Celebration | Found Butt | Arson Trial | Planning Agenda | Boontfling | Forgotten Coast | Ed Notes | Hobo Habitats | 1891 Highway | Zella Park | Milliman Again | Credit Zack | Yesterday's Catch | Judgement Festival | Free Speech | Big River | Ukraine | Prisoner Swap | Baseball Origin | Leonard Beals | Black Misleadership | Cook Bacon | Absolutely Dire | Now Hiring | Microchip Bill | Cut Not | Naked Lady | Pomo Pair
MOSTLY CLEAR AND HOT conditions will persist across the interior through the end of the work week. Persistent marine clouds and fog will keep coastal areas seasonably mild, with at least some afternoon sunshine. There may be a few thunderstorms over northern Trinity County each afternoon through the weekend. Slightly milder temperatures will return over the weekend and early next week. (NWS)
HIGHWAY 101 PEDESTRIAN STRUCK AND KILLED
DJ NASTY NATE, Friday, July 29th | 4:30-6:30pm | FREE, All ages welcome
An eclectic/eccentric mix of electronic music and blasts photons simultaneously for a unique light show experience.
ANDERSON VALLEY SENIOR CENTER GRILL OUT, Friday, July 29th | 12pm-6pm
The Anderson Valley Senior Center will be offering hoagies & grilled veggie sandwiches for purchase at Beer Park.
A FORT BRAGG RESIDENT reported seeing what he thought was a pair of black and yellow “hooded orioles” in his backyard on Tuesday. He said he’d never seen them before and that they were new to the area. Perhaps nesting in a “dead cactus” nearby.
AVHS BEAUTIFICATION COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER DAY
John Toohey: We are organizing a community volunteer work day to help our local high school campus with some much needed groundskeeping and campus beautification efforts. There is weed wacking to be done, blackberry vines to be chopped, and an assortment of other smaller tasks to be done. Breakfast and lunch will be served! This is a great opportunity to take some pride in and contribute to your community and help create a better learning environment for our local youth!
BRUTAL ZIP TIE KILLING OF BAY AREA MAN LEADS BACK TO COVELO WOMAN, According to Law Enforcement
JULY 31 at the MENDOCINO COAST BOTANICAL GARDENS
At noon, Roy Zajac, clarinet virtuoso, will perform a Mozart and a Gershwin clarinet quintet and additional pieces with a local string quartet. At 3 PM, we welcome you to enjoy vocalist Christianna Valentina and her tango ensemble.
Refreshments will be available. Both concerts are FREE with Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens season subscription or admission ticket: reserve a ticket
LITTLE RIVER MUSEUM PHOTO OF VAN DAMME BEACH, 1860
Check out this Little River Museum link--great photo of Little River Beach and bridge in the 1860s. (Ronnie James)
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WHEN FIRST BUILT, the Little River sawmill had a capacity of producing twenty thousand board feet daily, supported by a double circular saw and other smaller saws and machinery. The sawmill employed about one hundred men “to keep every department in motion” [1880 History of Mendocino County]. In the image circa 1863-1870 below, the sawmill is off the picture on the right, with a few logs floating in the impounded water below the road and bridge crossing the river. The sawmill had been operating for ten years when a fire destroyed the facility in March of 1874. The sawmill company owned over 1,000 acres of redwood forest, much still unharvested, so the company owners began to build a replacement sawmill a few months after the fire on the opposite side of Little River from where the old sawmill building had stood. The new sawmill had an increased capacity over the original, producing thirty thousand board feet daily.
* * *
We're open summer weekends from 11-4. Check out the Cemetery map, go for a hike on an old Pomo trail—free maps.
(Courtesy, the Little River Museum)
29th ANNIVERSARY OF ART IN THE GARDENS
A celebration of creative expression and blooms
Celebrate art and community amongst the summer blooms at the 29th annual Art in the Gardens. Festivities will take place at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens on Saturday, August 6 and Sunday, August 7. There will be live music, more than 50 art vendors, food, and drinks on the Event Lawn. Musical acts include The Real Sarahs with Alex de Grassi, Mama Grows Funk, New Nashville West, and Moon Rabbit.
Not to mention, the Perennial Garden will be at its peak and the dahlias are spectacular this time of year!
There will also be a variety of opportunities on August 5, 6, and 7 for you to get creative and nurture your inner artist including Paper Collage, Pine Needle Basketry, Paint & Sip, and Kids Acrylic Painting. For a more exclusive experience, tickets are available for the “Summer Soiree on August 5 with hors d’oeuvres, craft cocktails, wine, and beer amongst the evening glory of the perennials.
Advanced tickets are strongly recommended (required for workshops and Soiree) and parking is limited so please plan to carpool. Event tickets are available online. Adult tickets are $25, juniors age 6 - 14 are $15, kids age 5 and under are free. Members of the Gardens can purchase discounted event tickets at $15 each. Proceeds from this spectacular event will directly benefit the non-profit botanical garden. Check www.gardenbythesea.org/aig for ticket information and to see the full schedule of Art in the Gardens activities.
Don’t miss this classic summer festival. Join us the first weekend of August for a celebration of creative expression at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.
DAVID SEVERN WRITES: Proof that people do still throw their cigs unsnuffed. I just found this this morning. Someone tossed this live butt into dry matter, Philo:
HOPKINS FIRE ARSON CASE TO RESUME IN MENDOCINO COUNTY AFTER DEFENDANT GETS PSYCHIATRIC CARE
by Colin Atagi
A defendant awaiting trial in a 2021 Mendocino County arson case has been declared mentally competent and court proceedings have been ordered to resume after stalling earlier this year, a court document shows.
Devin Lamar Johnson, who is accused of starting the Sept. 12 Hopkins Fire in the town of Calpella, had been undergoing treatment after being declared incompetent in February. As a result, the case against him was put on hold while he underwent psychiatric care.
Competency restoration is designed to help defendants regain their mental capabilities so they will understand court proceedings and be able to work with their attorneys to present a viable defense against the accusations against them.
A commitment order in Johnson's case showed that his process involved taking antipsychotic medication as prescribed by a psychiatrist.
The Department of State Hospitals recently notified Mendocino County Superior Court officials his competency has been restored.
An “order to return (a) defendant to court after certification of mental competency” was filed Friday and Johnson is to return to court at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“The defendant shall remain in the custody of the Sheriff of Mendocino County, or his duly authorized agent, until proceedings therein are final, or until further order of this court,” according to the document.
Johnson is charged with one count of arson and could be sentenced to 10 years to life in prison, if convicted.
The fire consumed 257 acres between a hillside bordered by the Russian River and Lake Mendocino. It also destroyed at least 30 homes.
Flames spread quickly up a 1,000-foot ridge and down to the western shore of Lake Mendocino before burning sections of the reservoir that had been left dry as a result of California's drought.
The fire destroyed homes along Eastside Calpella Road, a north and south street parallel to the Russian River. About 200 people were evacuated in triple-digit temperatures and gusty winds and no injuries were reported.
Investigators were led to Johnson after he appeared in a photo by a local photographer taken the day of the blaze. He appeared to be watching the fire as he stood on the Moore Street Bridge, which crosses a dried-up section of the Russian River.
Johnson was arrested two days later.
During a preliminary hearing in November, prosecutors presented surveillance footage of someone, believed to be Johnson, coming and going from a wooded area where the fire began.
His competency was questioned after he exhibited odd behavior throughout proceedings.
He required two Mendocino County sheriff's deputies by his side and, at one point, interrupted Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder and blurted out “I'm trying to go to Disneyland.”
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
PLANNING? OF COURSE WE HAVE PLANNING. WHY DO YOU ASK?
Staff Report(s) and Agenda for August 4, 2022, is posted on the department website at: mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/meeting-agendas/planning-commission
Please contact staff with any questions.
Brooke Larsen, Planning Commission Services Supervisor, Mendocino County Planning and Building
THE FORGOTTEN COAST
Being the lost or forgotten coast is nothing new to longtime residents of Gualala and Anchor Bay. Parking, traffic, speed limits and local schools were the concerns of the day back in 1984. Today it is parks, town center, support for our business community, funding for our safety services and maintenance of county roads.
County Supervisor Norman de Vall in 1984 created a small group of residents to gather information and opinions about the community. The group was to serve as an advisory board for Supervisor de Vall. Sound familiar?
The Mendocino Grapevine [now defunct] did a story on May 3, 1984, about the “Forgotten Coast” and how our community received little or no support from the County Board of Supervisors. Same story only the names have changed.
A local committee was formed to address the community's problems. Unfortunately, 38 years later, we find ourselves on the outside looking in again. Our infrastructure continues to age, parks deteriorate, and safety services are stretched and roads crumbling.
The County is proposing a tax measure to increase our sales tax. The original premise for the tax increase was to provide funding support for water and fire safety. The amended version eliminated support for water and provided funding only for fire safety and prevention.
Now the final version is to provide revenue for the county's general fund that the Supervisors will determine the best use of the money.
The Board of Supervisors can earmark some funds toward fire prevention but no guarantees. The preponderance of the new revenue can be used at the Board's discretion. So anyone who purchases products or services in Gualala will be contributing to the increase County sales tax revenue. I wonder if any of these new revenues will be directed to help restore Bower Park and support our safety services in Gualala or will history repeat itself?
FOR YOUR “DUH” FILE from the Press Democrat's Dan Taylor: “Is Dave Chappelle, the overwhelmingly popular and continuously controversial comedian, a comic genius or a cultural loose cannon?”
CHAPPELLE is very funny, certainly, but like all the great comics all the way back to W.C. Fields — the only old time comedian who makes me laugh — the cultural commissars will be offended and, as always, we've got plenty of cultural commissars these days, especially among “liberals.” It's never enough for the commissars to simply ignore opinion they don't like, they want to stop everyone else from hearing it.
SEVERAL of the NorCal neo-gender-bender groups tried to get Chappelle's sold out recent show in Santa Rosa shut down, which had the feebs at the PD quite nervous, hence Taylor's equivocating, “Gosh, a bunch of people have signed a petition against this guy, but a lot more people have bought up all the tickets to see him. How do we ‘on the one hand, but on the other’ this one?”
EVER HEAR of Quentin Crisp? He was way ahead of the trans curve, going about his daily rounds in pre-War London in women's get-up, which took some raw courage, certainly, but as an excellent and very witty writer, Crisp became a popular figure and best-selling author, beating back his critics like he was swatting flies.
GAWD. I rubbed my eyes, slapped myself, groaned, read it again. “Sonoma County Administrator Appoints Communications Manager Paul Gullixson, award-winning local journalist, to lead County communications team and serve as public information officer.
“Santa Rosa,CA | May 21, 2020… As Communications Manager, Mr. Gullixson will oversee a centralized communications team engaged in public information and communication activities within the County Administrator’s Office. Mr. Gullixson will serve as the official channel of communication between the County and the public. A primary area of responsibility will be ensuring information about the County's initiatives and programs reach Sonoma County's diverse communities. Mr. Gullixson’s starting annual salary will be $157,536.”
AWARD WINNING WHAT? $157,536? This guy? (SoCo taxpayers please note.) Gullixson weaseled-wrote his way from the Press Democrat's dull-normal editorial office into this bogus sinecure. At the PD, he wrote thundering statements of the obvious in a cringing, narcoleptic prose that could sub for chloroform in a primitive operating room. I had a couple of encounters with him, a big softy with an anxious “Don't beat me, daddy” face.
Once at some silly panel on, of all things, journalism, in Santa Rosa where Gullixson was ringmaster. As soon as he spotted me striding confidently into the hall, Gullixson hustled over to caution me, “Now, Bruce, let's keep it positive, ok?” I don't remember the other pudding faces on the panel, but they seemed offended at my remarks on the ”profession,” which were few because Gullixson deftly steered the conversation around me whenever he could. But I got a few shots in, and drove back to Boonville happy.
A FEW YEARS LATER, noting that the Press Democrat was looking for civic-minded persons to sit on their volunteer editorial board, I shot off my bona fides to Gullixson to see if I could get a rise out of him.
“DEAR MR. GULLIXSON: Please consider me for the vacant position on the Press Democrat's editorial oversight board. As a 50-year resident of the Northcoast, veteran, journalist, married father of three, senior citizen, Giants-Niners-Warriors fan, former Little League coach, garage saler, huge admirer of former congressman and owner of your fine publication, Doug Bosco, lunch buddy of Mike Geniella, dazzled devotee of Pete Golis's Sunday think pieces, and long-time confidant of Gaye LeBaron, I feel I am uniquely qualified for the position. Whatever consideration, etc… Very best, Bruce Anderson, Boonville.”
GULLIXSON promptly replied: “Thank you for your information and your interest in this position. I'll pass your nomination on to the other Editorial Board members. We expect to make a decision shortly. Hope all is well with you, Best, Paul.”
A NATIONWIDE BANKRATE POLL of 1,025 adults found 51% of Americans said they had little to no savings or emergency funds. And while less than half have savings lined up, a LendingTree survey of 1,008 consumers in July found that 43% of Americans will take on additional debt in the next six months in order to make ends meet, with more than half of that number represented by parents with young children. It comes as the country saw inflation hit its highest mark in 41 years last month with prices for goods and services soaring.
FROM A PD REPORT on a SoCo Judge’s ruling that Sonoma County can’t clear a homeless camp on their version of the Great Redwood Trail, the Joe Rodota Trail, in Santa Rosa:
“…Around 1 p.m. Monday, just 55 minutes before Judge Gilliam granted the order, employees from the county and one of its homeless service contractors, DEMA, were offering campus residents temporary housing. A month's stay at the DEMA-managed trailers by the Sonoma County Fairgrounds or at the Hampton Inn in Rohnert Park were one option. Sam Jones, the congregate living shelter unpopular with many unhoused residents, was another. Others in the encampment have said they feared their belongings would be damaged, lost or discarded if they went into a shelter. Some had concerns about the noise and security in congregant housing, while others complained that the rules in congregant housing were too restrictive.”
THE JOE RODOTA TRAIL in Sonoma County is a forerunner of what’s likely to happen on the “Great Redwood Trail” (aka Great Hobo Trail) in Ukiah. The PD article was preceded by a couple of letters to the Editor on the subject:
* * *
LET CYCLISTS DECIDE
I'm confused. The Joe Rodota Trail is supposedly closed, but there are people camping on it 24/7. Why can they be there but the rest of the public can't? People camping on the trail presumably come and go to get food and supplies, some using bikes. But the rest of us can't use it? When encampments popped up on Ninth Street and Sixth Street in Santa Rosa, those streets weren't closed to the public.
Bert Whitaker, the county's park director, said cyclists can use Sebastopol Road because it has bike lanes. There are fewer roads in Sonoma County that I would choose to ride on than busy Sebastopol Road with its many business and school driveways. Plus, to get to Sebastopol Road cyclists have to use Dutton Avenue, with no bike lanes, or Stony Point Road, which is notoriously dangerous for bikes.
Let cyclists and pedestrians decide if they want to use the trail, rather than maintaining it for the exclusive use of a few people. If an encampment popped up in Spring Lake Regional Park, would the park be closed to the public for the exclusive use of a few?
* * *
The recent closure of the Joe Rodota Trail is one more nail in the coffin for local cyclists. Those looking to leave Santa Rosa to explore eastern Sonoma County were cut off in 2020 by the closure of a small easement connecting Channel Drive to Oakmont, forcing cyclists to hike a dirt walking path constructed by Oakmont residents or risk fate by traveling Highway 12.
Now, and similarly, with closure of Joe Rodota Trail those looking to enjoy west county must place their love of cycling over their own safety by taking major highways with minimal to no shoulder.
Shame on the local government officials elected in the hopes they make some decisions that enhance our lives (i.e., not put them at risk).
ZELLA PARK & UKIAH’S HOBO TRAIL
Judges have a very rough job.
I have been reading a lot of criticism of judges lately. Mostly concerning the new courthouse. I'm not privy to nor care about this new courthouse. The only way it would affect me would be if I was on the streets affected by the noise and human activity.
The mini-park across from Walgreen's across from Gibson Creek from the proposed new courthouse is one of my main “hobo hangouts.” I have spent many a peaceful afternoon/early evening there in my past Ukiah days. I would usually have a drink and smoke and often stretch out on one of the benches and take a “micro-nap.” Sometimes I listened to music and said hi to passersby and once in a blue moon visit with a hobo. My current jail neighbor Garrie Hoaglen would meet us there at times. Some people would camp in the immediate area but we also got an unwanted visit from the Ukiah Police Department's Peter Hoyle, their party crasher.
In a way this mini-park brings sadness as we named it after the late great Zella Potter. Her and her brother Zimi, both from Ukiah, were good friends for years and distant relatives. So we named it Zella Park in her memory. The last time she and I visited was right at that park. I really miss the peace and quiet times spent there. Often walking from downtown or on the nearby Great Redwood Bike Trail I would relax at this peaceful park. Sometimes I crossed the street to buy cheap bottles of wine at Walgreen's. I usually continued to my camps close by CVS drugs where I was rudely interrupted by two sneak thieves and Ukiah police on March 17, 2020. I was just going home to crash and it cost me an 18 year to life sentence.
One good thing however is that the persistent nightmares I have had before that heinous trial have stopped. For over two years I had at least three nightmares a week! Since my “conviction” (kangaroo style) on April 7 of this year I have had exactly one. That's about the norm for me because out in the free world I only have about four or five nightmares a year.
There will be much hustle and bustle about the mini Zella Park with the future construction of the courthouse. Sadly, I won't be there to observe as when I was in New York City in 1971 and observed the Twin Towers (now defunct from Arab airplane bombing) being built. That was another reason 9/11 was sad for me personally. Of course if I can find a righteous judge to grant me freedom on appeal I could make it back to Zella Park even before construction!
I have nothing derogatory to say against any Mendocino County judges. (We do seem to have extras!) Except for hobbit judge Faulder who was instrumental with the District Attorney David Oyster and my own lawyer in framing me and rigging my entire trial and jury. But I am disappointed that all judges except one appeal judge basically ignored my writs of habeas corpus, seeking freedom. This is all while rapists, women beaters, kidnappers and several drug dealers run Ukiah streets freely. The last known rapist was an ex-Ukiah police sergeant who took a deal for two years probation!
But a person can end up in prison for a homeless camp altercation?! 18 years to boot! Hopefully everyone in America and on earth will find justice. I really doubt if the U.S. Constitution was formed and written just to be thrown out in my case and also other hobos, natives, etc..
David Youngcault Crow Nation Journalist Giusti
Mendocino County Jail
PS. Judges have had have a hard job to do everywhere especially in a place like Mendocino County. We are stuck with a lame district attorney who calls himself C. David Eyster. He treats his “luxuriant lawn” better than people. Eyster isn't smart enough to begin to understand the criminal mind. He can't as his mind is the same except more cunning. Eyster only seems to prosecute his assumed enemies. There's no clue yet how I got on his enemy list. All I ever knew about him is that he is a failed attorney who never made a penny in private practice. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he went almost straight from law school to Deputy DA in his little courthouse “dungeon style” office. I don't begrudge these judges their new courthouse. Eyster Oyster Bay Boy is seething with jealousy at being left out. The only reason he is still District Attorney is nobody else is stupid enough to want the job.
Prison isn't all that bad for a person my age. There are definitely advantages. Like never outdoors freezing, having a comfortable bed every night. Never worrying about my next meal. Also never waking up gagging and whizzing from cigarettes. And no sick hangovers. I will have my own TV and access to a full library and sports on the yard even though I can only coach and pinch-hit. Some joints have swimming pools and ping-pong tables and pool tables. Tennis and horseshoes are still old folk sports and plenty of socializing card games like cribbage clubs, etc.. They'll probably build a golf course in the next California prison!
The only difference between a prison and a rest home is, in a rest home you can sneak cigarettes and beer and maybe get better drugs. Who needs all that hassle?
FROM THE CURRY COUNTY COASTAL PILOT newspaper in Oregon, Friday, July 22, 2022:
Milliman steps in as Brookings city manager, by Breeana Laughlin
Retired Brookings city manager Gary Milliman is stepping back into his former position while current city manager Janell Howard is on paid administrative leave. Howard was appointed to the city manager position when Milliman retired in 2018 according to Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog. Mayor Hedenskog said that city officials were on order not to comment on the circumstances related to Howard's leave. “Janell Howard is a high-level employee of the city who is entitled to utmost confidentiality in her personal life,” he added. Milliman said he agreed to serve in the temporary position after being contacted by Mayor Hedenskog. His term as city manager is on a to be determined basis according to city officials. The duration of the leave is uncertain which is why Milliman was asked to serve as pro tem. Milliman reports he has about 45 years of experience in city management in Oregon and California. After his retirement, Milliman became Brookings Municipal Court Judge. He is carrying out the duties of both city manager and municipal judge at this time, Hedenskog said.
Hedenskog said he was confident Milliman would do a good job for the city of Brookings during his temporary assignment. “I was a city councilor when we hired Gary to be the city manager in 2008,” Hedenskog said. After his retirement, Milliman was appointed to emeritus status. This title basically means he is an ambassador for the city of Brookings.
Ed note: Gary Milliman was the Fort Bragg city manager for 17 years during the controversial days in the 1980s and early 90s and then after that was manager of the Skunk Train before moving to greener pastures in Oregon. As we reported in our special series on the Fort Bragg Fires:
“Dominic Affinito has benefited mightily from public-private business deals orchestrated for him by former City Manager Gary Milliman and a pliant Fort Bragg City Council. Affinito's business has become Fort Bragg's business in many ways. Affinito claims to be retired, but says, ‘Where other men play golf when they retire, I work.’ He became locally infamous for sweeping condemnations of wide swathes of the Fort Bragg population, publicly dismissing an entire City Council audience as ‘parasites, professional protesters and mental cases’ on one memorable occasion.”
OAK GROVES & RESEARCH
More credit is needed for the person finding some of the great old photos and drawings in your paper. In particular, I find myself going back to a sketch of an 1893 oak grove by Ivan Shishkin, from your April 9 edition.
It stopped me in my tracks, b/c, if the drawing is accurate, oak groves were a lot more tightly knit than they are now—in the picture, they look like dense forests. Makes me wish I could walk into that drawing.
ED NOTE: Zack Anderson is the researcher. He's got a good eye, for sure.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 27, 2022
CARMEN ARENS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
EMERSON CALDERON, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
JEFFREY CARVER, Willits. Prevention, obstruction, of justice or due administration of laws, injurious to public health or morals.
JADE FRENCH, Ukiah. Assault on person, domestic battery.
JOHN MARKS, Ukiah. Probation violation.
AARON MUDRICH, Ukiah. Arson, under influence, parole violation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
OK. Upon reflection, I do have another agenda: Free Speech.
During my lifetime, I have witnessed men and women as they have been for eons as we kicked butt together to the very top of the food chain. Then the introduction of the phrase “Male chauvinist pig!” Then the social engineering whereby one could not share truth lest they be accused of being a “Male chauvinist pig!” Then the switch to calling such men with such thoughts “Misogynists.” Then the almost criminal implications of uttering a “misogynist” thought.
We still have free speech and we still do not (yet) have thought crime. I can say, “A woman’s place is in the kitchen” all that I want in America!
I loved Matt Gaetz’s recent quote when asked what if people are offended by his comments. “Be offended” he advised.
It amazes me how many people think that they are all for Free Speech when, really, they are all for social-engineering censorship and believe that they have some weird right to not be offended by someone else’s free speech.
Good women bake tasty fruit pies and I enjoy them a la mode – and I don’t care who knows it.
UKRAINE, WEDNESDAY, 27 JULY
Ukrainian officials say battles continue around Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region, as Russian forces make incremental gains in the area. At least one person was killed on Wednesday after a two-story hotel was partially destroyed in the shelling. In the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the mayor said two Russian missiles hit the city's industrial district.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are targeting the key Antonivskyi Bridge that is used to reinforce and resupply occupying Russian forces in southern Ukraine, according to officials. Moscow is deploying additional forces to its positions in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the southern part of the country, according to Ukrainian officials and videos posted on social media that were geolocated by CNN.
Here's what else to know:
Russian troops wounded or killed: United States House lawmakers who attended a classified briefing Wednesday on Ukraine said Biden administration officials informed them that more than 75,000 Russians have been killed or wounded during the war on Ukraine. Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and recently visited Ukraine, told CNN that the conversation in the briefing included "what more we can and should be doing for the Ukrainians, literally in the next three to six weeks, very urgently." Lawmakers were also told that the Russian military is fatigued, but Ukrainians are looking for additional reinforcements as they aim to launch a counteroffensive in the south before the winter.
Western assistance: The Ukraine's national security adviser said the country used some of the equipment and weapons donated by the US and other western countries to target the Antonivskyi bridge, in the Kherson region. Moscow has warned of "more than serious" consequences if Ukraine uses US-made multiple launch rocket systems or other NATO-supplied long-range weapons against Russian territory, according to Russian official Konstantin Gavrilov.
Possible release of Americans: After months of internal debate, the Biden administration has offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year US prison sentence, as part of a potential deal to secure the release of two Americans held by Russia, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, according to people briefed on the matter. These sources told CNN that the plan to trade Bout for Whelan and Griner received the backing of US President Joe Biden after being under discussion since earlier this year. Biden's support for the swap overrides opposition from the Department of Justice, which is generally against prisoner trades. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday that the US presented a "substantial proposal" to Moscow "weeks ago" for Whelan and Griner, who are classified as wrongfully detained. Speaking at a news conference at the State Department, Blinken said Biden was "directly involved" and signed off on the proposal. Blinken did not directly confirm Bout was part of the deal, saying he "can't and won't get into any of the details of what we proposed to the Russians over the course of so many weeks now." The top US diplomat said he intended to discuss the matter on an expected call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week — his first conversation with his counterpart since the war in Ukraine began.
Reduced gas supplies to Europe: The Russian energy giant Gazprom has imposed a further cut on gas flows to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of maximum capacity, German network operator Gascade said in a statement Wednesday. The Russian state-owned energy company said on Monday that gas flows would be reduced as it shuts down a turbine for repairs, but EU officials said the decision was "politically motivated."
Zelensky's TV interview: In their first joint international TV interview, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and first lady Olena Zelenska told Britain’s TalkTV host Piers Morgan that their marriage had gotten stronger thanks to the challenges presented by the war. Zelensky also said he hopes the next British prime minister is a strong ally to Ukraine in light of Boris Johnson's resignation.
THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION HAS OFFERED MOSCOW A PRISONER SWAP that would free Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. The proposal would free Griner, a WNBA star, and Whelan, a Marine veteran convicted on spying charges he and the government deny, in exchange for freeing Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout. Bout, who was the inspiration for Nicolas Cage’s character in the 2005 film Lord of War, is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. after being convicted on trafficking charges.
THE ORIGIN OF BASEBALL
by Kenneth Patchen
Someone had been walking in and out
Of the world without coming
To much decision about anything.
The sun seemed too hot most of the time.
There weren’t enough birds around
And the hills had a silly look
When he got on top of one.
The girls in heaven, however, thought
Nothing of asking to see his watch
Like you would want someone to tell
A joke—‘Time,’ they’d say, ‘what’s
That mean--time?’ laughing with the edges
Of their white mouths, like a flutter of paper
In a madhouse. And he’d stumble over
General Sherman or Elizabeth B.
Browning, muttering, ‘Can’t you keep
Your big wings out of the aisle?’ But down
Again, there’d be millions of people without
Enough to eat and men with guns just
Standing there shooting each other.
So he wanted to throw something
And he picked up a baseball.
JEFF BLANKFORT: Remembering the words of the incomparable Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report:
“The Black Misleadership Class continues its descent into utter political irrelevance, dragging 48 million African Americans ever deeper into the abyss with them. Like a soap opera whose central pathologies endure through decades of changing casts of characters, the misleaders cling to their demeaning subservience to the Democratic Party in hopes of one day becoming honored and respected partners. The Black supplicants are always betrayed, of course, but prefer a bad marriage to no relationship at all. Indeed, the Black misleaders and the Democrats have been locked in what Malcolm X would describe as a house Negro/slave master relationship for so long – certainly since the late Sixties – that the Black junior partner knows no other way to behave.”
DIG DEEP, SUCKERS
“I really wish I didn’t have to ask you for money, but my situation is absolutely dire. Three news reports just revealed that Democrats’ House Majority is in critical danger. I know I don’t normally send you emails this long -- and I know you already have so much on your plate -- but I really need you to read my entire message, then rush $15 to help me STOP Republicans from taking our Majority. I need 1,127 gifts to keep Republicans from EVER holding power in Congress again.”
— Nancy Pelosi
WHY U.S. MUST ‘JOIN THE CLUB’ AND GIVE BLANK CHECKS TO MICROCHIP COMPANIES While Ignoring Other Major Issues
by Bernie Sanders
I want to say a few words about the so-called “chips” bill that we will be voting on later today and what it says about our priorities, our tax policy and whether or not Congress is capable of representing the needs of the working families of our country or whether we are totally beholden to wealthy and powerful corporate interests.
There is no doubt that there is a global shortage in microchips and semiconductors which is making it harder for manufacturers to produce the cars, cell phones, household appliances and electronic equipment that we need. This shortage is costing American workers good jobs and raising prices for families. That is why I fully support efforts to expand U.S. microchip production.
But the question we should be asking is this: Should American taxpayers provide the micro-chip industry with a blank check of over $76 billion at a time when semiconductor companies are making tens of billions of dollars in profits and paying their executives exorbitant compensation packages? I think the answer to that question should be a resounding NO.
According to a recent Associated Press article, Senator Romney, reflecting the views I think of many “said that when other countries subsidize the manufacturing of high technology chips, the U.S. must join the club.”
‘If you don’t play like they play, then you are not going to be manufacturing high technology chips, and they are essential for our national defense as well as our economy,’ Romney said.”
As someone who has stood on this floor many times urging this country to look to other countries in terms of what they do with healthcare, prescription drugs, higher education and parental leave, I find Senator Romney’s statement very curious about needing to “join the club” with other foreign countries.
Every other major country on earth guarantees healthcare to all people as a human right. Why aren’t we joining that club?
Germany and other countries around the world make public colleges and universities in America tuition free.
Every other major country on earth guarantees paid family and medical leave to its workers. Every major country. How come we’re not joining the club of virtually the entire world?
So, apparently when corporate America needs a blank check of $76 billion we do what other countries are doing. When other countries protect the needs of their workers, their children, their elderly somehow that is not a club we join.
There is a lot of talk about the micro-chip crisis facing this country, but very little talk about how we got to where we are today.
So, let’s review some recent history. Over the last 20 years, the micro-chip industry has shut down over 780 manufacturing plants and other establishments in the United States and eliminated 150,000 American jobs while moving most of its production overseas after receiving over $9.5 billion in government subsidies and loans.
Let me give you just a few examples:
Between 2010 and 2014, Intel laid off approximately 1,400 workers from the Rio Rancho, New Mexico chip facility and offshored 1,000 jobs to Israel.
According to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry, Intel laid off more than 1,000 workers in Oregon between 2015 and 2016. They specifically noted that the company was offshoring jobs to Israel and that workers were required to train their replacements in India and Costa Rica before being laid off when their jobs were shipped there.
Texas Instruments outsourced 400 jobs from their Houston, Texas manufacturing facility to the Philippines in 2013.
Micron Technology has repeatedly cut jobs in Boise, Idaho, including 1,100 in 2003, another 1,100 in 2007, and 1,500 in 2008. In 2009, the company stopped manufacturing some types of chips entirely and laid off 2,000 workers.)
In other words, in order to make more profits, these companies took government money and used it to ship good-paying jobs abroad. Now, as a reward for causing this crisis, these same companies are in line to receive a massive taxpayer handout to undo the damage that they did. That is simply unacceptable.
In total, it has been estimated that 5 major semi-conductor companies will receive the lion’s share of this taxpayer handout: Intel, Texas Instruments, Micron Technology, Global Foundries, and Samsung. These 5 companies made $70 billion in profits last year.
The company that will likely benefit the most from this taxpayer assistance is Intel.
In 2021, Intel made nearly $20 billion in profits. During the pandemic, Intel had enough money to spend $16.6 billion, not on research and development, not in building new plants in America, but on buying back its own stock to reward its executives and wealthy shareholders. So here is the absurd moment that we are at. It is estimated that Intel will receive between $20 and $30 billion in federal funding with no strings attached in order to build new plants. And yet, within the last several years, this same company spent over $16 billion on stock buybacks. And there is no guarantee in this bill that they will not continue to do stock buybacks.
Over the past 20 years, Intel spent over $100 million on lobbying and campaign contributions. That’s a heck of an investment. For $100 million in lobbying and campaign contributions you receive at least $20 billion in corporate welfare. Not a bad deal.
A little over a week ago, the CEO of Intel, Pat Gelsinger, did an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box. And I think it tells us everything we want to know about oligarchy, arrogance and the state of American politics.
And this is what Mr. Gelsinger said:
“My message to congressional leaders is ‘Hey, if I’m not done with the job, I don’t get to go home. Neither should you. Do not go home for August recess until you have passed the chips act. Because I and others in the industry will make investment decisions. And do you want those investments in the US or are we simply not competitive enough to do them here and we need to go to Europe or Asia for those? Get the job done. Do not go home for August recess without getting these bills passed.”
Let’s be clear. The CEO of Intel received a $179 million compensation package last year. And now what he is saying is that if you don’t give my industry a $76 billion blank check and my company up to $30 billion, despite our profound love for our country and our love of American workers and the needs of the military we are prepared to go to Europe or Asia where we may be able to make even more money.
As I said last week, I am, thankfully, not a lawyer, but that sure sounds like extortion to me. But Mr. Gelsinger’s words sure sound like extortion to me. What he is saying is that if you don’t give his industry $76 billion in corporate welfare, despite the needs of the military for advanced microchips, despite the needs of the medical industry for advanced microchips, despite the needs of our entire economy for advanced microchips, he is threatening to abandon America and move abroad.
Well, I have a few questions for Mr. Gelsinger and the other micro-chip CEOs:
If Intel and the others receive a corporate welfare check from the taxpayers of America are they willing to commit today that their companies will not outsource American jobs overseas?
If this legislation passes, will Intel and the others commit today that they will not spend another penny on stock buybacks to enrich wealthy shareholders but will instead spend the lion’s share of their profits to create jobs in the United States of America?
If this legislation goes into effect, will Intel and the others commit today that they will stay neutral in any union organizing campaign like the one being waged at Intel’s micro-chip plant in Hillsboro, Oregon?
If this legislation goes into effect, will Intel and the others commit today that they are prepared to issue warrants to the federal government so that the taxpayers of America get a reasonable return on their investments?
If Intel and the others were prepared to say “yes” to any of these questions they would not be lobbying against my amendment to impose these conditions to the CHIPS Act. And that, to my mind, is absolutely unacceptable.
Further, I say to my colleagues who claim that this bill is supposed to make us “more competitive” with China, guess what?
Since 2008, Intel has invested at least $700 million in tech companies in China including two Chinese semi-conductor start-ups Pro-Plus and Spectrum Materials.
Now, Mr. Gelsinger says the Senate should stay in, if necessary, through August to get the job done. Well, I agree. We should make sure we get the job done.
But what I hear from people in Vermont and around the country is that the job they want done is not a massive handout to large, profitable corporations. The job they want done is to guarantee healthcare to all Americans as a human right and to significantly lower the cost of prescription drugs.
The job they want done is to end the absurdity of the United States being the only major country on earth not to guarantee paid family and medical leave.
The job they want done is to have the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and for us to address the existential threat of climate change.
The job they want done is to raise the minimum wage to a living wage and to increase Social Security benefits for the elderly and disabled.
The job they want done is to protect a woman’s right to control her own body, pass meaningful gun safety legislation and protect the rights of the American people to vote.
That’s what I hear as to what the American people want, not more corporate welfare for profitable corporations with no strings attached.
And, by the way, let me give you another way we could expend $76 billion.
For $76 billion we could expand Medicare to provide senior citizens with the high-quality hearing aids and eyeglasses that they desperately need. And for a bit more we could provide dental care as well.
For $76 billion we could eliminate homelessness in America and create good-paying jobs from Maine to California building hundreds of thousands of affordable rental units.
For $76 billion we could make every community college in America tuition free for the next seven years.
And on and on it goes.
At a time when the working families of this country are falling further and further behind while the very rich are getting much richer, let us get our priorities right.
Let me be clear. Intel is not alone.
Another company that would receive taxpayer assistance under this legislation is Texas Instruments. Last year, Texas Instruments made $7.8 billion in profits. In 2020, this company spent $2.5 billion buying back its own stock while it has outsourced thousands of good-paying American jobs to low-wage countries.
Who else is in line to receive corporate welfare under this bill?
Well, how about the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)? It is in line to potentially receive billions of dollars in federal grants under this bill.
Guess who the largest shareholder of TSMC is? Well, if you guessed the Government of Taiwan you would be correct – which should come as no surprise to anybody who studies how other countries throughout the world conduct industrial policy.
So let’s be clear: When we provide TSMC money, we are giving that taxpayer money directly to the Government of Taiwan.
Samsung, another very large corporate entity from South Korea is also in line to receive federal funding under this bill.
In other words, not only would this bill be providing corporate welfare to profitable American corporations, but we would literally be handing over U.S. taxpayer dollars to corporations that are owned or controlled by other countries.
And on and on it goes.
Let me be clear. I believe in industrial policy. I believe that it makes sense, in certain occasions, for the government and the private sector to work together to address a pressing need in America.
Industrial policy to me means cooperation between the government and the private sector. Cooperation. It does not mean the government providing massive amounts of corporate welfare to profitable corporations without getting anything in return.
The question is will the United States government develop an industrial policy that benefits all of our society, or will we continue to have an industrial policy that benefits the wealthy and the powerful?
In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The problem is that we all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free enterprise capitalism for the poor.”
I am afraid what Dr. King said 54 years ago was accurate back then and it is even more accurate today.
We have heard a lot of talk in the halls of Congress about the need to create public-private partnerships – and that all sounds very good. But when the government adopts an industrial policy that socializes all of the risk and privatizes all of the profits that’s not a partnership. That is crony capitalism.
If private companies are going to benefit from generous taxpayer subsidies, the financial gains made by these companies must be shared with the American people, not just wealthy shareholders. In other words, if micro-chip companies make a profit as a direct result of these federal grants, the taxpayers of this country have a right to get a reasonable return on that investment.
Further, if micro-chip companies receive taxpayer assistance, they must agree that they will not buy back their own stock, outsource American jobs overseas, repeal existing collective bargaining agreements and must remain neutral in any union organizing effort.
This is not a radical idea. All of these conditions were imposed on companies that received taxpayer assistance during the pandemic and passed the Senate by a vote of 96-0.
That’s why I have filed an amendment with Senator Warren that would impose these conditions to this legislation.
Now, I understand that some of my colleagues have said: Don’t worry. We have imposed “strong guardrails” to this bill.
Well, let me respectfully disagree. These so-called guardrails would do nothing to prevent micro-chip companies from outsourcing a single job abroad. In fact, these so-called guard-rails would not even force Intel to divest all of the money they have put into semi-conductor companies in China.
These so-called guardrails would do nothing to protect taxpayers or to stop micro-chip companies from union busting.
Yes, I understand some language has been inserted into this bill that would prohibit micro-chip companies from using federal grants to buy back their own stock, but let’s be clear. This language is totally meaningless. Under this legislation, companies will still be able to use the enormous profits they are making on stock buybacks.
Bottom line: Let us rebuild the U.S. microchip industry, but let’s do it in a way that benefits all of our society, not just a handful of wealthy, profitable and powerful corporations.
(Adapted from Senator Sanders’ remarks on the floor of the Senate.)
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
by William Grimes
After ninety minutes of winding, narrow, and tedious backcountry roads without an English-speaking voice on the car radio, we endured a period of silence, the kind perhaps that is inevitable when traveling in close quarters with another person for ten days.
Jack and I had begun this journey with three days in Rome. Lots of sightseeing. Then Naples for a couple of days. Lots of pizza. A day and a half wandering through the excavated town of Pompeii where in 79AD Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried its buildings and people under tons of ash and pumice. Lots of wonder.
From there an arduous six hour drive in our sputtering Europcar through rugged mountain terrain to the bottom of Italy’s boot where we ferried across the Messina Straight to Sicily. Two days in Palermo. Lots of traffic, pollution, and sea food.
At breakfast in our hotel we discussed the best route south to the city of Agrigento to visit the Valley of the Temples, a vast archaeological site with well-preserved Greek temples. We studied a road map and figured driving the A19 motorway would take a tad over two hours. If we took the rural back roads it might take four but we’d get a feel for the small town life of Sicily. Pointing to a dot on the map, Jack said we could make a slight detour and visit the village of Corleone, the birthplace of the fictional eponymous characters in the Godfather movies.
Jack liked to drive. He needed control and I was OK with that. I’d work the map, my contribution throughout our vehicular travel through Italy.
For over an hour we drove east on two lane roads through undulating hills hosting deciduous trees with flaxen leaves and gray fields with bales of hay in spaced rows. We passed vineyards heaving with clusters of red grapes and acres of gnarled trunk trees bearing green olives. Occasionally we confronted a farmer in his tractor.
We were pacing over an hour behind our estimated time of arrival in Agrigento by the time we arrived in Corleone. Not much to see except the Mafia Museum which featured black and white photos of one-time local mafia figures and bloody crime scenes while video highlights of Coppola’s film whirled silently on a wall screen.
Back in the car heading south now I said, “I need to pee. The next town appears to be five or six miles. Let’s get off there. Town’s called Contessa Entellina.”
At the exit we followed an off-rank for a half mile until the town’s one street appeared consisting of five or six blocks with one and two story buildings, a mix of one story houses and retail businesses.
Jack parked the car in the first space at the beginning of the street. There was not a moving vehicle in sight.
”Must be 90 degrees,” I said.
“Yea. A little exercise won’t hurt. We’ll walk the village. Find a place to get some water and take a pee.”
We passed a hardware store and pharmacy. Across the street a movie theater that looked a century old. Its marquee read “Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.” At the corner was a food market the size of a small 7-Eleven. Peaking trough the window I saw a couple of elderly women holding baskets of foodstuffs.
To our delight the next store front was a trattoria with four tables. No customers. The hefty waitress spoke no English. A small man in a large apron behind the counter looked bemused before welcoming us with a smile. Jack said. “ Coca Cola.” I added. “Acqua, per favore.” The man acknowledged our request with a nod. The restroom was a few steps away. Upon return the waitress pointed to the menu on the wall. Jack shook his head, “Let’s wait until we get to Agrimento. There’s bound be better restaurants near the temples.”
Out the door he said, “Let’s check out the rest of the town. Brave the heat. We’re only couple of hours from the temples.” I nodded OK.
We decided to walk the next few blocks to the end of the street. The buildings were now becoming residences.
It felt a bit unsettling walking in a town without seeing a pedestrian, nor even a pigeon or a wandering dog. Like in sci-fi movie of a town taken over by invisible aliens
We stopped momentarily to examine a red telephone booth, surprised to see one still standing, when I heard a faint shuffle of footsteps and hushed voices behind us.
Three nuns in black veil and tunic and darting black eyes nodded without eye contact as they past us.
A sudden cloud slipped past the sun. A puff of welcomed breeze emerged. I credited the cloud.
A half a block another sound emerged. The vibratory purr of an automobile motor. A black American four-door sedan circa the Sixties crawled by. The driver, a man wearing an olive face, aviator sunglasses, and a customary black Sicilian fedora sent us an uninviting glance.
”Looks like a guy from the Godfather.”
Jack nodded. “Lucca Brasi, all the way.”
“Wonder what the hell’s he doing here.”
“Scouting a location for a movie, maybe. No bank worthy of robbery,” Jack said.
The sedan continued its crawl past us until stopping two blocks away beside the largest villa we’d seen. The fedora leaned out the passenger side window apparently in search of, or waiting for, someone inside. Twenty-seconds passed. The car moved again disappearing out of town, out of sight.
We continued our advance upon the imposing villa at the end of the street which grew larger with every step.
I slowed to a stop and said,”Look something’s moving in that second floor window.”
“It’s a curtain. The window is open. You’d think they’d have air conditioning.”
It was a curtain, gauzy and sheer, whirling gently boosted by another improbable gust of hot air.
Jack said, “Look. There’s something behind the curtain. Moving slightly.”
I stopped. “Looks human, like a body,” I replied.
“Jesus, it’s a woman,” Jack said.
“Damn, you’re right. It is a woman. I think she’s nude.”
Our eyes locked in. A woman in the window.
He said, “You got that right. Not a stitch on. Holy shit!”
“And looking down at us. What the hell!” Unable to hide my excitement.
Face to midriff nude. The rest of her body concealed beneath the span of the window.
The curtain no longer in sight. Only the nude woman in the window looking down upon us.
Jack said, “Damn, I think she posing for us.”
“Maybe she’s a high class hooker.”
“In this town. Be serious.”
Her face shimmered in gold glow. A hand appeared. Another scorching puff. The curtain receded the revealing a silhouette.
brushing back her auburn hair.
“You’re right. She’s enjoying this. What’s next?” I said.
“Maybe we should call her out. See how she reacts.”
At that, the sound of the car creeping up behind us again.
The curtain closed taking the woman in the window with it.
The car passed us and pulled to a stop in front of the villa.
The man in the fedora climbed out, glanced our way, and walked to the door.