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COOLER TEMPERATURES will continue to build in for the interior with most areas only reaching the mid 90s. A deep marine layer will promote cool, stable weather along the coast. The risk of isolated thunderstorms will persist over high terrain through at least Monday afternoon. (NWS)
LITTLE RIVER MUSEUM—GREAT SAFE WEEKEND ACTIVITY
Great series of photos and articles about Little River's settlers, descendants still living here on the coast: facebook.com/littlerivermuseum. Open weekends 11-4, 8185 Highway One, little white house at the top of the Van Damme S-curve.
Please join your community in a volunteer effort to support our local schools! Whether or not you have kids at the Junior High or High School, this is a great opportunity to connect with your community and support our local youth. Bring friends and family and make a day of it. Together we can really make a difference.
MARCO MCCLEAN [1:25 am]:
It's raining up Albion Ridge. Not hard, but medium. ...And now it's stopped, in the time it took me to dialup, connect, and type that. Ah, for a moment, there, sigh.
I went to that gas station on the corner by Walmart [Ukiah] yesterday to get gas....paid $50 in cash for gas, played a $10 quick pick lotto ticket on the $999 mega millions jackpot using my debit card because I didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay for my ticket and the gas. I’m blaming myself for what happened because I’m very trusting and wasn’t paying attention. This guy charged me $60 on my card for the $10 ticket I played and put the $50 cash in his pocket! He was a tall, heavy set man, with long curly brown hair, as I remember him. My daughter noticed what had been done to me from checking the receipt. The receipt was thrown out, so I have no proof.
I just want to show people what this person is doing so they can be on the watch for this bad person. This happened right before 6:00 PM yesterday. If anybody knows this guy, please tell him he just made my life all the harder as I won’t be able to pay all my bills this month. I was already having a bad time paying my bills, now it’s impossible! I’m on a fixed income, so I gotta be careful where my money goes.
ANDERSON VALLEY UNIFIED NEWS
Junior/Senior High Parent and Student Materials Pick Up
Dear Anderson Valley Junior/Senior High School Community,
Please mark your calendar for the required pick-up days for materials and to sign release forms. This is an important step for a smooth return to school!
- Grades 7 and 8: August 9 from 11-3 in front of the school
- Grades 9 and 10: August 10 from 11-3 in front of the school
- Grades 11 and 12: August 11 from 11-3 in front of the school
We have new tech and cell phone policies in the Junior High and release forms for technology that must be signed by the parent.
Looking forward to seeing you soon! First day of school is August 15 FULL DAY.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
(A real cutie this week...SOMEONE in the Anderson Valley needs this dog!)
Sweet Nellie is a 9 year old, spayed, Chihuahua, who weighs 11 pounds. Nellie is as sweet as can be. She’s a mellow little girl who lived with other small dogs. We’re looking for a quiet, peaceful home for her, where she can nap and chill with her new family. The first thing Nellie did when we brought her to the Meet & Greet Room to spend time with us, was jump right up on the couch. She will want to be on the couch in her new home — and who could possibly say no to this adorable dog?
If you can’t adopt, consider fostering. Visit mendoanimalshelter.com for information about our Foster Program, the on-going SUMMER DOG ADOPTION EVENT, and our other programs, services and updates. Visit us on Facebook at: facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter. For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.
STOP THE PRESSES!
From the recently released Grand Jury Report on the County’s Cannabis “Equity Grant” program, “Building the Airplane While It’s Flying”:
“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 Grand Jury is always the last to know…
More interesting, however, is what the Grand Jury didn’t report directly, but implied: that five-year old but newly discovered “disarray” turns out to be very lucrative for Mendocino County and its cannabis bureaucracy.
Selected Excerpts from the Grand Jury Report:
“…the complete funding for the Cannabis Equity Grant [program] stands at just over $6 million. Approximately 80% of these funds are designated for direct grants, with the remaining amounts to be used: 10% for administration, and 10% for technical training.”
…“Despite the delays in processing applications and getting checks in the hands of recipients, lately public communication between the MCD [Mendocino Cannabis Department] and community members was generally respectful and devoid of unfair criticism. The GJ believes that this will be critical as this $6 million is distributed along with the additional $10 million from the LJAG (Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant).”
…“As of the date of this report five grant payment checks have been issued to applicants, with approximately 36 applications in the county’s Cobblestone pipeline.
…“In March 2022, the MCD announced that the total direct grant award was raised from $50,000 to $80,000 and the Fee Waiver Grant was raised from $7,500 to $15,000.”
…“The LEEP [Local Equity Entrepreneur Program, part of the Equity Grant Program] applications are delayed until a qualified planner can review the application. Qualified planners hesitate to work in the cannabis industry.”
* * *
In the last four years Mendo has received over $16 million in cannabis taxes, $6 million in Equity Grants, $10 million in Local Jurisdiction Assistance grants, and several million more from the PG&E settlement money has been dumped into the Cannabis Permit program. And there’s more to come as the state tries to throw even money at the failed program as the local cannabis market tanks and Mendo’s cannabis tax revenues tank.
On the other end, the Grand Jury reports that five grant payment checks have been issued and 36 are “in the pipeline.”
So assuming that the maximum grant was or will eventually be awarded to all 41 of the current applicants, that would be — at most — 41 x $80k, or about $3.3 million.
Mendo rakes in at least $32 million in cannabis cash and pays out, at most, $3.3 million — more than a 90% profit for the County.
Nice work, if you can get it.
PATRICK HICKEY: In response to Mark Scaramella’s query about where the money is going from all of the budgeted vacant positions, I suspect what is going on is something that is common in government. Department Heads make sure they spend their entire budgets so they don’ get trimmed in the following fiscal year. They’ll stock up on supplies or use other budget tricks to make it appear that they need every penny. Departments should be rewarded for running efficient operations, but instead they are punished with budget cuts, so they have learned to spend every dime they are given.
MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES: Very possible. It’s also possible that money is spent on “extra help” which is typically not union members, and with few benefits, but which show up on employment rolls as vacancies. Either way, the Board should be demanding explanations where the vacancy money is being spent and why. I’m not holding my breath.
JUDY VALADAO WRITES: Fort Bragg’s Crisis Response Team
Great job by all who brought this Team together to help those who otherwise would be lost in the maze of waiting lists, head counts and free meals then back out onto the street.
In the past years many people (who happen to have homes and the luxuries of life) were the first ones to show up at meetings to yell and declare that programs such as this are only to get rid of those living houseless on the streets and having to search for meals each day. I can’t count the number of times I have heard “their families don’t want them” from the same group who usually know absolutely nothing about the person in need.
How do you know what the individual’s situation is unless you reach out to them and their family? I’m sure there are many cases that families feel they have done all they can and have separated themselves from the situation. On the other hand there are families who desperately want their family member home so they can help care for them and hopefully get them on track to being a healthy and a productive individual. For those who don’t wish to reconnect with family the Team is there to help guide them through services available but most of all being a familiar face and getting to know and listen to the individual. I think this is a huge win for all involved.
Thank you Mayor Norvell for bringing this to our attention.
COMING UP In The Anderson Valley
The Anderson Valley Village Calendar of Events: https://andersonvalley.helpfulvillage.com/events
Note: Zoom links for the AV Village Events are listed under each event on our calendar and will be emailed to our mailing list beforehand. And we try to maintain this calendar as events change, especially AV Village events. Other events listed here are subject to change without notice so contact the particular organization/ venue for the latest information.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us:
A NEW WRINKLE IN NON-EVENTS — drive to a remote corner of Mendocino County and then up a ridge to a dusty, scraggly “park” featuring a slimed over toxic pond where you stand in line for a slice of watermelon and a chemically-loaded hotdog as ear-splitting ”music” convinces the elderly throng that they're still with it until the three amigos arrive from Sea Ranch to deliver a few interchangeable platitudes so lame even the assembled Biden voters look bored. The party is over in two of the longest hours you will spend at any Mendocino County event except a meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
A RECENT SEGMENT ON KQED (Television) featured Kamau Bell, a black comedian, and a fashionably accoutred white woman named Kate Schatz, the latter commenting that she's married to another woman with whom she is raising three children. Bell and Schatz have co-authored a “workbook” on how not to be a racist. Together, they reminded me of a comment I once overheard wherein a guy referred un-ironically to friends of his as “highly fuckin' evolved.”
THE TWO OF THEM struck me as insufferably smug, as I wondered what exactly made them assume that they're in a position to lecture anyone about anything, the same question I ask anybody who's passing out how-to-think advice of the personal variety. Are the lecturers really, really, really good and un-oppressive themselves?
THEIR BOOK includes a list of questions that you, white oppressor, can ask yourself to determine how much rehab you need to beat back your racism. If you flunk the self-exam you can continue reading their twenty-five dollar book to self-correct.
ONE OF THE QUESTIONS was to the effect, “Are you uncritical of law enforcement?” As in do you look favorably on the cops? The sensible answer, it seems to me, would be, “Depends on the cop.” The correct answer, though, according to Bell and Schatz, is if you're inclined to approve of the police generally you've got some 'splain'n to do because the cops generally treat black people unfairly. Which I don't think is generally true anymore, but it's obvious there are police departments and individual police people who are biased against black people. And I've known cops who assume everyone, without regard to race, color or creed, is either an active scumbag or a scumbag in training. Police work, I would think, would confirm the blanket scumbag opinion in the, ah, unsophisticated, inexperienced individual cop who, in these fraught times, is trained not to think that way even if it's his predisposition.
TWO EPISODES in the past coupla days may or may not illustrate my point that cops, in these times, deserve the benefit of the doubt.
EAST of Healdsburg, Sonoma County deputies shot and killed a man, not yet identified, who had “thrown a rock into the window of a home in the 5200 block of Tre Monte Lane,” stole a truck, drove through several cattle gates and “fled after being confronted by residents,” one of whom he asked to shoot him.
AN HOUR LATER, deputies found the man and ordered him to drop his weapon. He refused and, at one point, appeared to charge the deputies and was shot to death in what appears to be suicide by cop, and a helluva terrible thing to do to the cop or cops who had to shoot him.
THE SECOND EPISODE occurred east of Willits on Sunday, the 26th of July. A drunk named Trevor Williams, who looks to be pushing 60, was “discharging a firearm in a negligent manner” on a ranch he is said to own in the 10000 block of Hearst Willits Road. It's a big ranch at 7,700 acres, and already this is an odd incident in that, typically, Mendo property owners of that magnitude don't get drunk before noon and start firing random gunshots, although they may indeed be drunk before noon.
ARRIVING DEPUTIES were informed that Williams was prohibited from owning guns and there was a worried, menaced under age person in the Williams home when he went off, so to speak. Williams met the deputies at his gate, told them to go away, and drove on his ATV back up to his house where deputies saw him arm up with several handguns, a scoped rifle, and a bottle of whiskey, all of which he packed onto his ATV.
WILLIAMS, 56, then took off on his ATV into the vastness of his thousands of acres, but was soon “spotted low crawling through a creek bed in an attempt to flank the Sheriff’s Office personnel on scene.” Deputies saw that he had three handguns and “a scoped high powered rifle,” which, hiding behind “a piece of heavy machinery,” Williams then pointed in the direction of the deputies, but soon put the rifle down and put his hands up, at first walking towards deputies as if to surrender, then turning around and walking away.
AND THEN AGAIN Williams turned to the deputies with his hands raised in surrender and walked, three handguns still in his belt, to the deputies where, incredibly, the drunken fool was soon wrestling with an as yet unidentified sergeant for the sergeant's gun, simultaneously trying to pull one of his own handguns still in his belt. Williams was soon subdued and, unharmed, booked into the County Jail on half a mil bond.
THE Mendo Sheriff's Department deserves high marks for the courage and restraint it took to corral this guy without anybody getting hurt.
TREVOR WILLIAMS, CHAPTERS FROM THE BACK STORY
On June 9, 2020, a woman named Michelle Cotton was featured in Paul McCarthy’s Mendocino Sports Plus facebook page. McCarthy posted her booking photo and commented that he wondered how the woman got the black eye in the booking photo.
The internet being the internet, Ms. Cotton quickly replied, “No, my ex, Trevor Williams of WIllits caused my injuries. That was the last time he beat me with a rake. Being buddies with the Willits PD gets you off of domestic violence.”
Ms. Cotton even posted a picture of her bruise from that rake injury-incident.
Looking further we found the SO Presser on the incident that got Ms. Cotton booked:
On 06-07-2020 at about 7:05 PM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to an unwanted subject causing a disturbance in the 10000 block of Hearst Willits Road in Willits.
While responding, Deputies were advised the reporting party [a 54 year old man [presumably Trevor Williams, now 56] and the unwanted subject were in a physical altercation. Deputies were familiar with the location and the persons involved due to prior incidents [!].
When Deputies arrived they contacted a 54 year-old adult male standing outside the residence. Deputies learned approximately 30 minutes prior to the call to the Sheriff's Office, the adult male's ex-girlfriend and mother of his 2 year-old son (Michelle Cotton) had arrived at the location intoxicated.
The adult male confronted Cotton and requested she leave the location numerous times. During the incident Cotton came at the adult male causing both subject's heads to collide causing visible injuries to both persons.
Cotton then walked into the residence and began causing more of a disturbance.
A telephone call was made to the Sheriff's Office to request assistance in getting Cotton to leave the residence. During this time, Cotton began hitting and striking the adult male causing him to ask her to stop hitting him numerous times.
When Deputies arrived they found Cotton inside the bathroom sitting down holding her and the adult male's two year-old son.
Cotton was not cooperative with Deputies verbal commands and appeared highly intoxicated.
She attempted to stand up with the child but was so intoxicated she lost her balance and a Deputy intervened to insure Cotton and the child would not sustain any injury.
Cotton was told she was going to be arrested and she physically resisted the Deputies by pulling away and twisting her body. The Deputies were subsequently able to physically control Cotton.
Cotton was arrested for domestic violence battery, Child Endangerment, Trespassing and resisting or delaying a Peace Officer.
Cotton was later found to be in violation of a court order stating she could not be at the location or within 100 yard of the adult male.
Cotton was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
MARSHALL NEWMAN WRITES:
First, from eBay, an old Gowan's Oak Tree card.
Then, a ghost (goblin) from Anderson Valley's semi-recent past resurfaces in the news. California OKs death penalty for notorious '80s serial killer Charles Ng.
NO MORE PROTESTS AT BOHO GROVE
by Phil Barber
Back in 1984, some 300 demonstrators descended upon Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, blockading the entrance to an annual summer conclave legendary for its woodsy, all-male bacchanal. They wove giant spiderwebs of yarn and string. Someone dressed as Flo the Whale. At least 50 people were arrested.
The main agitator was Mary Moore, who turned 87 this month and still lives in Camp Meeker. For Moore, the effort was rooted in the No Nukes movement. Only when a Bohemian Grove employee leaked guest lists sometime in the early 1980s had she realized how many of the men crafting global arms policy at the time were regular campers among the redwoods each July.
“We made the point that it's all connected, in the sense that someone is profiting from doing these things that are not good for humanity,” Moore said.
But the protests have become smaller and more sporadic over the years. Lately, they haven't been more than a couple guys showing up here and there to yell at arriving guests on video.
Thursday morning, with the Bohemian Club of San Francisco (which organizes the summer camp) celebrating its 150th anniversary and members trickling in for the Grove's final weekend of 2022, there was no opposition at all on Bohemian Avenue. As a steady stream of cars approached the checkpoint — from appearances, a mix of employees, trade workers and well-heeled attendees in Range Rovers — the only uninvited guests were a couple of wild turkeys crossing the road.
With the world in literal and metaphorical flames, it seems folks here have simply lost interest in Bohemian Grove.
But the Grove endures, as mysterious and exclusive as ever. Its guest list remains a guarded secret, but almost certainly includes current and former heads of states, CEOs of multinational corporations and old-money trust funders.
And there is no denying the summer camp's impact on the surrounding area. The local roads were especially clogged for a Thursday morning, and workers at a couple of Monte Rio businesses said sales pick up in July, when the Grove is occupied for three weekends.
The effect on regional air traffic is demonstrable. Over the eight-year period between 2014 and 2021, July was the busiest month at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport seven times, according to tower aircraft counts, with an average of about 8,100 planes. Pilots of small planes can generally land at any regional airport by radioing air traffic control as they approach. Over three consecutive four-day weekends in July, that option is off the table at Schulz Sonoma County.
The Federal Aviation Administration left no doubt about the reason in a notice it sent out July 19.
“The (prior permission required) program is being utilized to accommodate the increased demand for airport parking and services ahead of the 2022 Bohemian Grove event,” it read. The FAA said to expect “an increase of High Performance and Business Jet traffic” at Napa County and Schulz-Sonoma County airports.
From Hoover to George W
The Bohos, as they're called, have their supporters.
“It's collaborative. They're good neighbors to us,” said Michele McDonell, a third-generation Monte Rio native who was helping to set up for Thursday night's 111th Annual Monte Rio Variety Show at the town's outdoor amphitheater. “And the fact that they steward 2,700 acres of pristine forest.”
The variety show features big-name musical acts that wander down the hill from Bohemian Grove. The 2022 edition, the first live show since before the pandemic, included late-night TV host Conan O'Brien and rock star Jimmy Buffett. Reached Friday, McDonell said it looked like the fundraiser pulled in “north of $100,000” for its three beneficiaries — St. Catherine's Catholic Church, the Monte Rio Fire Services Foundation and the Monte Rio School Foundation.
There are unofficial winners, too. Sophie's Cellars in nearby Duncans Mills is famously reputed to have filled a $20,000 wine order from a Boho years ago.
Why would anyone protest that? Because the Grove's membership rolls and guest lists — each of the 2,600 men on the former is allowed to put one man on the latter — have included pretty much everyone a peacenik might have blamed for the state of the world over the past 100 years or more.
That would include every Republican president from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush, hawkish U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, Gulf War architects Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell, right-wing donors Charles and James Koch, Rockefellers and Bechtels.
The Manhattan Project team even used the Grove clubhouse for a meeting in 1942, a step toward development of the first atomic bombs.
The Bohemian Club, started mostly by San Francisco Examiner journalists as a cultural retreat, also has included beloved figures like Mark Twain, Jack London and Walter Cronkite. Clint Eastwood and former 49ers general manager Carmen Policy were on a guest list posted by WikiLeaks in 2008.
Still, many object to Bohemian Grove's exclusion of women, and to what they perceive as campfire collaboration on important financial and political matters the average citizen could never get a whiff of.
That perception is real, said Peter Phillips, who taught his last sociology class in June after nearly 30 years at Sonoma State University. Phillips' next book, tentatively called Titans, will focus on investment management companies like BlackRock. He estimates that around 200 people who attend the Grove festivities are on the boards of directors or are managers of these huge firms.
The idea of the camps is to leave business behind. That doesn't happen, Phillips said. He knows. He sneaked in once, in 1994, when he “just put on khakis and a Hawaiian shirt and walked on in.”
“If a guy was soliciting investments directly, he could be reprimanded, or even kicked out of the club,” said Phillips, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Bohemian Grove. “But the intimacy of these men who are seeing each other for eight or nine days in July — talking about everything from their prostates to their most recent divorce, it gets to be pretty intimate. So business is done quite openly.”
That's why Mary Moore still hangs a banner from her deck that reads: “Expose Bohemian Grove.”
Bohemian Club executives rarely grant interviews. The club's general manager did not return a phone call from The Press Democrat.
Lately, protests from the left have largely been replaced by conspiracy-prone opposition from the right. That trend began in earnest in 2000, when Alex Jones — whose paranoid “investigative” website, InfoWars, was in its infancy then — filmed the Grove's secretive Cremation of Care initiation and released the video.
Eventually, Bohemian Grove's elite clientele and faux druidic rituals would fit neatly into the emerging QAnon movement's concept of shadow rulers who prey on children and seek world dominion through vaccines and microchips.
It isn't surprising that Bohemian Grove would spawn far-out rumors. Its members cloak the gathering in secrecy, and some of the photo evidence we do have is strange. The Bohemian Club motto is “Weaving spiders come not here,” a Shakespearean plea to focus on revelry, not networking. And of course there is the Cremation of Care.
“They build a Care skeleton,” Phillips said, recalling his eyes-on experience. “They row it across the lake in a gondola. They set it afire. There are guys in monk robes, marching with torches. They used to have a horse-drawn hearse. And then there's a high priest.”
Finally, the priest sets Care ablaze, sort of a Burning Man for investment bankers. The men cheer and hoot, and fireworks explode above the scene.
“They started a fire with the fireworks when I was there,” Phillips said.
Some of what we know about what happens in the Grove comes from disillusioned former employees such as Emily Chavez.
Chavez worked Bohemian Grove for one summer in 1996 or 1997, when she was a student at El Molino High School in Forestville. Pretty much all her El Mo friends worked there.
Chavez failed to make it through one summer term, quitting after 8-10 shifts. Maybe she should have known what was coming. She is Mary Moore's granddaughter.
“That place was so creepy,” reflected Chavez, who now lives in Petaluma and consults with cannabis companies on compliance issues. “It was like being a little kid, and you're exploring, going into the forest — and then suddenly, 'Oh, I'm not supposed to be here. This is really strange energy.'“
Chavez was a server at the outdoor cafeteria.
“It was literally a sea of white bald heads and a cloud of cigar smoke,” she said, recalling quarter-century-old memories. “That was pretty gross. You're this young woman, serving food, and they're blowing smoke in your face.”
To the more suspicious among us, Bohemian Grove is where diabolical men gather to hatch plans for control. In reality, most of the guests are there to drink cocktails and listen to live piano music without having to deal with traffic, ringing phones or, you know, their wives.
Even Phillips, who made a career of speaking truth to power as director of Project Censored, has some sympathy.
“There's nothing really sinister going on there,” he said. “It's men genuinely feeling connections with one another. There's an intimacy there for many men that isn't really available elsewhere else.”
BOOK REVIEW: When It Comes to Timber Theft, There Are No Clear-Cut Villains
Lyndsie Bourgon’s new book, “Tree Thieves,” casts the American environmental movement in all its complexity.
by David Enrich
Until recently, I’d thought of trees as tall, attractive sources of shade and occasional power outages. Then I read “The Overstory,” the novel by Richard Powers, and I began to see them as wondrously complex organisms that protect the planet and even communicate with one another. Trees, it turns out, are amazing!
So when I picked up “Tree Thieves: Crime and Survival in North America’s Woods,” about illegal timber poaching, I expected to be triggered by tales of greedy, chainsaw-wielding loggers denuding majestic forests.
That is not what happened.
First, though: What is timber poaching? Inside federal and state parks and forests, the removal of wood and animals is often regulated or banned. The goal is to manage scarce resources and protect vulnerable species. Poachers flout those rules, sneaking into forests and hacking up ancient trees — some living, others dead — that they can sell to be made into furniture, musical instruments, floorboards and the like. Their crimes contribute, at least on the margins, to deforestation.
This sounds simple. In the journalist Lyndsie Bourgon’s telling, however, the poachers are not quite villains. Instead, they are responding — if not justifiably then at least predictably — to a lack of economic opportunities and the perception that the rules governing forests are arbitrary and heavy-handed.
Bourgon puts herself in the poacher’s shoes, and the result is a refreshing and compassionate warning about the perils of well-intentioned but overzealous environmentalism.
Bourgon, who received financial backing from the National Geographic Society, is clearly an environmentalist. She treats us to reverential romps through the forests of the American Northwest. She writes mournfully of the damage that poaching can inflict on centuries-old redwoods and other irreplaceable trees.
But she regards the history of the American conservation movement with something approaching scorn. It was hatched, she writes, to serve the whims of wealthy urban vacationers who wanted access to lands unspoiled by their longtime inhabitants. National parks were conceived as vehicles to resist “any attempt to turn to utilitarian purposes the resources represented by the forest,” as one booster put it.
At times, the motives were even less pure. Bourgon describes how ultrarich environmentalists in the early 1900s saw conservation — and in particular the protection of California’s redwoods — “as part of a mission to enshrine a white, masculine dominance over the wilderness.” Some conservationists, she notes, were “eugenicists who saw parallels between environmental destruction and the decline of Nordic supremacy.”
As parks were established, the government compensated corporations that owned forestland for the confiscation of their acreage. Not so the workers and communities whose livelihoods were suddenly stripped away.
This was the beginning of a decades-long process in which federal and state governments sought to protect forests from the communities that surrounded them. In Orick, Calif., a focal point for Bourgon, locals are prohibited from collecting redwood branches that wash up on a nearby beach — depriving people of firewood that they have traditionally used to heat their homes (and causing piles of driftwood to obstruct groundwater drainage). Bourgon captures residents’ acute frustration with faraway bureaucrats imposing what feel like unnecessary and destructive rules.
The result was a hyped-up and counterproductive feedback loop. Loggers and their unions painted environmentalists as radicals hellbent on destroying decent jobs. The reality was that the loss of jobs in the logging industry had less to do with environmentalists than with giant companies mechanizing what had been manual jobs and outsourcing wood-processing work to Asia.
Environmental groups like the Sierra Club demonized loggers as maniacal tree-destroyers and, at times, racist in-breeders. (I didn’t notice it at the time, but Powers, in “The Overstory,” is at times guilty of similar stereotyping.) This, Bourgon reckons, was a wasted opportunity. Like environmental activists, logging communities worshiped their forests — after all, once the trees were gone, so were the jobs — and there were alliances to be forged.
This is the backdrop for Bourgon’s depiction of “tree thieves” as misunderstood outcasts. “I have begun to see the act of timber poaching as not simply a dramatic environmental crime, but something deeper — an act to reclaim one’s place in a rapidly changing world,” she writes, tracing that desire back to 16th-century England, where poachers in royal forests were celebrated as folk heroes.
Bourgon immersed herself with a small handful of these men in the Northwest, and a picture emerges of a fractious band of down-on-their-luck crooks. A number abuse drugs. The poachers acknowledge that what they’re doing is illegal, but they frame it as principled, akin to stealing a loaf of bread to feed their families. One character scans the forest for valuable pieces of wood, keeping track of the locations, and when he needs money he comes back to collect his prizes. “We have bills to pay,” another explains. “We’re just like anyone else except we live in the middle of nowhere, there’s no jobs, and they don’t want to hire us to prevent wood poaching.”
On the other side are National Park Service rangers, who deploy cutting-edge technology to pursue poachers. There are hidden cameras, stashed in trees. There’s a radarlike gizmo that allows the government to keep tabs on vulnerable trees from above. There are magnetic sensor plates — $10,000 apiece — on the forest floor to detect the sound of chain saws.
When they swoop in for the occasional arrest, rangers are sometimes armed with semiautomatic weapons. They find meth and occasionally tree parts or tree-chopping paraphernalia. The rangers are just doing their jobs, but the totality of the government crackdown feels completely disproportionate to the crime.
Bourgon paints both sides in sympathetic hues, and she takes a largely neutral stance on who’s right and who’s wrong in the cat-and-mouse game she details. She sees — and does her best to convey — the poachers and their pursuers in an evenhanded manner.
The problem is that the stakes are far from even. On the one hand, unemployed loggers and others who are suffering economically because of stringent enforcement of conservation laws are facing poverty. On the other hand, the damage that poachers are inflicting on forests appears to be, in the grand scheme of things, modest.
As Bourgon notes, the logging industry does far more damage to America’s forests than all the poachers put together (though it is often poachers who target precious old-growth redwoods). And from the perspective of climate change, poaching — or deforestation for that matter — in the United States is minor compared with what’s happening in other parts of the world. In Peru, for example, where Bourgon spends time with poachers and law enforcement, organized crime has gotten into illegal tree-harvesting, secreting forbidden timber out of the country in shipping containers.
Even in the Amazon, though, poachers aren’t the primary problem. Companies are hacking down something like a soccer field’s worth of trees every minute. It would take even the most industrious poachers a very long time to do that kind of damage. Yet militarized ranger forces are deployed to hunt down even small-time poaching operations.
I came away from “The Overstory” with a new appreciation for trees and for those who are trying to protect them. I came away from “Tree Thieves” recognizing that those efforts sometimes exact too high a price.
(New York Times)
The Sutherland Sisters, 1920 & 1924
LATE 2013, a little over a year after our dear Alexander Cockburn had left us, the business office was in the early stages of saving CounterPunch and moving into a new era for our tiny ship. I was working early on a weekend morning when the phone rang and on the other end was a raspy, almost incomprehensible voice blaring at me as soon as I put the receiver to my ear. I nearly hung up, because I first thought that the person wasn’t speaking English and after 15 years at CounterPunch, I no longer put up with screaming callers. My SOP was to hang up unflustered, because it happened all the time in those days. Alex always told me to tell them to fuck off before hanging up. Luckily, I was feeling patient that morning and realized that I could understand a few words and the more carefully I listened the more I could make out, soon comprehending that the engraged person speaking in the thickest Irish accent I’d ever heard was telling me I was speaking with Sinead O’connor. I didn’t believe it for a minute, but it was intriguing, so I heard them out. After a call from Jeff Bridges office, another with Ben Affleck, and also Mark Ruffallo, my most enjoyable being with Margot Kidder on several occasions, so I was prepared to speak to random celebrity callers. I understood that an article posted on CounterPunch had flamed the fire under Sinead. I opened the homepage of CounterPunch and saw the new article in the lineup about Miley Cyrus, in which the author was throwing daggers at Sinead. I could see why she was pissed off. After about twenty minutes, the voice calmed significantly and I told her she could speak directly to the editor, so I gave her Jeffrey’s number and while I was only beginning to believe it was Sinead on the line, I contacted Jeffrey to let him know she’d be in touch. Jeffrey confirmed after a long conversation with her, indeed, it was Sinead and she’d be sending her rebuttal forthwith.
— Becky Grant, CounterPunch.org
A BIT OF BASEBALL HUMOR: During Saturday evening’s #22 Jersey Retirement Ceremony for Giants great Will ‘The Thrill’ Clark, former Giants Manager Dusty Baker said he knew Clark was a “cool guy” early on when he called Clark at home. There was no answer. Instead, Clark’s answering machine picked up and played B.B. King’s blues classic “The Thrill Is Gone.” (Mark Scaramella)
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 30, 2022
JOSE ACOSTA-MURO, Covelo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
LINCOLN CHALMERS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
SETH COSTA, Redwood Valley. Probation revocation.
EDGAR CUEVAS-FARIAS, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Loaded firearm in public.
MIGUEL PANIAGUA-HERNANDEZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
DYAN RILEY, Mendocino. Protective order violation, failure to appear.
LUIS SANCHEZ-ORTEGA, Willits. DUI.
JOSE SANTIAGO, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Burglary, paraphernalia, offenses while on bail.
AUSTIN SHEALOR, Ukiah. Suspended license, tear gas, county parole violation.
KIERA SHED, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER UMSTED, Ukiah. Resisting/threatening.
FINDING HISTORY DAY
Next Saturday, August 6, everyone who shares an interest in Sonoma County’s colorful past is invited to the second Finding History Day. It will be held at the Finley Community Center, 2060 W. College Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 from about 10 AM to about 2 PM. Speaking presentations will be 9:30-2:30. Presented by the Sonoma County Historical Society. Five years ago this event was presented by the Sonoma County Regional Library. Numerous local historians and experts on northern California’s past will be speaking. Thirty-three historical organizations and others will have tables with items on display. Free admission. All are welcome.
David Long's Close to Home column hit very close to home as the “hotel” next to me was occupied with what the management company considers “guests” (“Full-time bother of vacation rentals,” July 17). Short-term rentals are a neighborhood nuisance. The city of Santa Rosa's emergency ordinance does not go far enough to eliminate them in residential areas.
Permits for short-term rentals should only be granted if the house is in a commercial zone. Our city leaders need to greatly reduce or eliminate them from residential neighborhoods. The current ordinance is not being enforced. This leaves residents around these commercial enterprises to wonder how to deal with party houses that disrupt the safety and peace of their neighborhoods.
The burden of regulating these hotels should not fall on the neighbors. Quite simply Santa Rosa needs to eliminate them and have these boutique hotels be homes for full-time residents of Santa Rosa.
NEWS SO OLD IT CREAKS
USA Today discovers Mexican cartels in Mendo’s pot growing outback:
DISRESPECT FOR RANGERS
In a court filing, seven homeless individuals complained that “a squadron of Sonoma County Park rangers flooded our modest encampment … threatening to arrest (us) on July 26th if we did not move,” as if it was some sort of military action or overly aggressive cops at a peaceful protest (“Homeless camp sweep blocked by federal judge,” Tuesday).
Sonoma County park rangers aren't the military; they aren't police officers. They are dedicated public servants who would much rather direct a lost hiker, protect threatened wildlife and help visitors explore our 62 uniquely beautiful county parks than have to evict and clean up after people living on a park trail that was designed for Sunday family walks and east/west bike commutes.
These men and women have been thrust repeatedly into difficult, confrontational situations, and portraying them as the bad guys is both wrong and unfair. Instead, we should be appreciative and thankful for the rangers and all the other county parks staff who are working so hard to keep the Joe Rodota Trail secure, clean and open to the public in the face of a complex, multifaceted community issue with no simple solution.
Chairman, Sonoma County Parks Foundation
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Try saying any of these sentences out loud with a straight face:
“There is no recession and the economy is booming.”
“The USA is the greatest country in the world.”
“The 2020 election was the most fair and honest election ever run.”
“Hunter Biden’s laptop files are nothing more than Russian psy-ops.”
“Any evidence of inflation is a direct result of Putin.”
ROB YOU WITH A FOUNTAIN PEN
Pretty Boy Floyd, Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
If you'll gather 'round me, children,
A story I will tell
'Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw,
Oklahoma knew him well.
It was in the town of Shawnee,
A Saturday afternoon,
His wife beside him in his wagon
As into town they rode.
There a deputy sheriff approached him
In a manner rather rude,
Vulgar words of anger,
An' his wife she overheard.
Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain,
And the deputy grabbed his gun;
In the fight that followed
He laid that deputy down.
Then he took to the trees and timber
Along the river shore,
Hiding on the river bottom
And he never come back no more.
Yes, he took to the trees and timber
To live a life of shame;
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name.
But a many a starvin' farmer
The same old story told
How the outlaw paid their mortgage
And saved their little homes.
Others tell you 'bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand-dollar bill.
It was in Oklahoma City,
It was on a Christmas Day,
There was a whole car load of groceries
Come with a note to say:
"Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,
You say that I'm a thief.
Here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief."
Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.
And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.
SUMMARY OF THE DAY
Review: On her new album, Beyoncé sounds like she’s experiencing unmitigated ecstasy, Wesley Morris writes.
[The New York Times]
Gavin Newsom is eyeing the White House? Is he the best Democrats have for the presidency — a hypocritical, do-nothing governor?
Remember the Employment Development Department debacle, with $22 billion being sent to prisoners? Remember how he closed the schools (except for private schools so his children could continue), businesses, restaurants, beaches, parks, hairdressers, and barbershops during COVID? Ahem, that was while he hobnobbed with friends at the French Laundry in Yountville.
He has done zero about forest management or water storage. We have the highest sales taxes, the greatest number of homeless people, huge crime issues with progressive district attorneys letting criminals out of jail. Fewer than half our children read at grade level, and only one-third can do math.
Newsom brags about California’s economy being the fifth largest worldwide, but the state is falling apart. We have clogged freeways and 1,000 miles of potholes. Gasoline prices are highest in the country. “Nearly 300 corporations have moved their headquarters out since the beginning of 2018,” according to Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. California lost one congressional seat because hundreds of thousands of residents fled the state.
It’s all on Newsom.
AMERICA THIS WEEK: JULY 24-31, 2022
UAW Intrigue, Biden's Debt Nightmare, Trump's Grand Jury Trouble, China's Fed Infiltration, and QAnon Returneth, plus Cannibal Chic, Three Finance Tales, and more
by Matt Taibbi and Eric Salzman
You’re reading “America This Week,” a recap of U.S. news that launched in English, Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, and German last Friday. Today we say Hola to readers in Spanish as well, while taking the first steps into what’s historically the slowest month in American politics.
The emptying of Washington in late summer has a long and weirdly deadly backstory. The capital is notorious for stifling heat, and officials spent the 1800s trying and failing to improve ventilation in the Capitol through various harebrained schemes. The Senate, whose stained glass ceiling produced a hothouse effect that all but roasted the stout cigar-smoking men who packed the chamber, soon earned a rep as a “death trap,” with 34 Senators going to their graves between 1916 and 1928 alone. When a doctor named Royal Copeland took office in 1923, he chided colleagues for working too hard, blamed Capitol air for deaths, and drew up reforms leading to the introduction of “manufactured weather,” a.k.a. air conditioning. Copeland went on in 1938 to collapse and die from overwork just after leaving a session, prompting the Associated Pressto run the following cold-blooded headline:
Instead of dying en masse, legislators now go away every August, which annoys some but gives journalists a chance to catch up on divorce hearings and work on failed novels. Still, news never stops:
Landmark Auto Worker Convention Begins. Seven years ago, the Department of Justice (DOJ) began a probe of the powerful United Auto Workers (UAW). Centered on sham billing and millions in embezzlement, it involved 17 UAW officials, including two presidents, all later convicted of swiping funds “to purchase expensive liquor and cigars and to pay for golfing outings and related equipment.” This wasn’t a break-up-the-mob type investigation, but more about garden variety, dumb, avoidable corruption, fueled by a Brewster’s Millions approach to stewardship of member dues that continues. Just this year, for instance, the union spent $95,000 on backpacks emblazoned with the name of Secretary-Treasurer Frank Stuglin for handing out a conference, and another $300,000 on a “dinner reception for the approximately 1,000 conference attendees. The DOJ action led to the 2021 appointment of an independent monitor, who turned out to be legendary corruption-buster and former TARP bailout inspector Neil Barofsky of firm Jenner & Block. One Barofsky recommendation led to a court-ordered change in February, to replace the union’s delegate-based election system (which insiders could manipulate) with a new, “one member, one vote” plan forcing true open votes for the first time in 70 years. That process began this week, with five new nominees, including incumbent Ray Curry, as well as Shawn Fain, a 53 year-old backed by a group called Unite All Workers For Democracy, and Will Lehman, the first openly socialist candidate for president of a major union since the Red Scare era. American unions have been notorious for Scorcese-caliber wiseguy corruption, over-closeness with management, and unwillingness to strike, and it will be fascinating to see if the cleanup effort sticks
QAnon Returneth.In 2017 a person claiming to be a high government official began posting on the message board 4Chan under the name “Q Clearance Patriot,” later “Q.” Via messages called “drops,” Q posited that a global cabal of deep state goons, Satanists, and child traffickers sought to undermine Donald Trump, a theory soon known as QAnon. When a reporter pressed the then-president about the idea he was “secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals,” Trump sent even jaded critics into pucker mode by answering, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing or good thing?” Trump regularly added winking comments like, “I do know they are very strongly against pedophilia” that appeared to horrify aides, who were soon giving orders to weed out Q merch at Trump rallies. Deemed a threat to national security, Q by 2020 was banned from most Internet platforms. In December of 2020, Q vanished. Now, after 18 months, he’s back, or seems to be, posting “Shall we play a game once more?” Press freakouts were instant, from Bloombergto CNNto the New York Times, but in new American style not one linked to the actual source material, discouraging readers from looking even out of curiosity. Instead, the news was draped in contextualization by Q “experts” like Associate Professor Joseph Uscinski and Associate Professor Daniela Peterka-Benton (who told Timesreaders Q’s goal was to “see the world burn”). The rise of conspiracy theory is undoubtedly a serious problem in America, but so is the increasingly common practice of only allowing audiences to see controversial news after it’s been filtered through multiple layers of condemnation by a shrinking pool of academics trusted to read raw material.
Biden’s Student Debt Nightmare Continues. The 2020 passage of America’s monster pandemic package, the CARES Act, created an automatic dilemma for whoever might succeed then-signatory Donald Trump. With bipartisan support and a central bank ready to spend trillions, Trump could hit pause on whole ranges of ordinary living expenses, including a reprieve on student debt payments. His 2020 loss meant a Democratic administration would have to take the political hit from asking 35 million Americans to start sending in student loan checks again. This was particularly bad for Joe Biden, who’d campaigned on lines like, “I’m going to make sure everyone gets $10,000 knocked off” student obligations. Post-election, Hill Democrats began to get sour stomachs over the expensive campaign promise, whispering that Biden was reconsidering, and critics suspected total betrayal when Biden announced last August he was extending the pause for the third and “final” time. This inspired so much blowback from within his party that Biden canceled his cancelation, leading to a seemingly endless cycle of “temporary” extensions. Biden extending the loan pause and proposing the $10,000 number yet again adds to the remarkably tortured history of this pledge: dating to April, 2020 he’s dangled wiping $10,000 of student debt at least a half-dozen times (see graphic). One Democratic congressional source explains the paralysis: “Even contemplating taking away a huge handout Donald Trumpgave to millions of voters just before midterm elections is… the ultimate shit sandwich.”
Trump Criminal Investigation Intensifying? For months, two stories have emerged in tandem. It’s been said Attorney General Merrick Garland is less than enthused about the prospect of prosecuting Donald Trump over the January 6th riots, but also that Garland’s fellow Democrats are less than enthused with him as a consequence. In April, the New York TimesreportedGarland’s “deliberative approach” had “come to frustrate” Democrats, including Joe Biden, who told people “privately” — as “privately” as a message conveyed on the front page of the New York Timescan be — that he wanted Garland to “act less like a ponderous judge and more like a prosecutor.” Now, as the January 6th congressional hearings wrapped in seeming anticlimactic fashion, the Washington Postreports grand jury questioning of witnesses close to Trump has begun. Citing “people familiar with the probe,” the paper claims the Justice Department is pursuing two tracks, including a seditious conspiracy charge. This came out just as Trump said, “I ran the first time and I won, and I ran a second time and did much better… We may just have to do it again,” a seeming Apprentice-style promotional teaser for a real announcement. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee announced it would stop paying Trump’s legal bills if he ran for president again. It all speaks to the 2024 election morphing into a race against time: Democrats seem increasingly anxious to indict and convict Trump before he has a chance to take office again, while the Republican establishment seems to be picking up where it left off in 2016, flailing ineffectually to stop the inevitable.
Jets For Germans:In the latest in a series of news stories pointing to both an orgy of U.S. weapons sales since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war and an unsettlingly apparent renewed interest in nuclear deterrence, the U.S. State Department approved a potential sale of up to $8 billion in F-35 fighter aircraft to Germany, for what Defense Newscalled “nuclear defense missions.” Americans have been selling fighter jets all over Europe like hot dogs at a baseball game since Russia’s invasion, with Finland agreeing to buy $10 billion of F-35s in March, Greece sending a letter asking for 20 F-35s in July, and the Czech Republic signing up for 24 of the same fighters that same month. Switzerland already elected last summer to spend $6 billion on F-35s, and the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Denmark and Norway either already are or will be in line to buy what’s marketed as an “all-weather stealth fighter.” The Germany news is a major bragging rights win for never-lose super-contractor Lockheed Martin, which sealed the F-35 deal at the expense of increasingly second banana-ish rival Boeing. The latter firm’s years-old dreams of replacing Germany’s Tornado fleet with F-18 Super Hornets were formally crushed in March, when the country’s Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht broke the “It’s not you, it’s us” bad news.
Fed Raises Rates.After two years of the finance equivalent of a hip-hop pool party, thanks to nearly $5 trillion in pandemic-related Federal Reserve spending, America’s central bank announced it was raising rates by three quarters of a point, the first time in its history it’s had two such 75-basis point hikes in six months. The terse rate hike announcement by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) was simplistic to the point of reading like a schoolyard poem, i.e. “Roses are Red/Violets are Blue/The Economy Sucks/Because of Ukraine.” The news came as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reassured the country that even though two straight quarters of negative growth is the technical definition of recession, “This is not an economy that’s in recession.” The reason? “We’ve got a very strong labor market.” This inspired mostly partisan recession-or-not arguments so absurdly fevered that Wikipediasuspended its “recession” page (which prompted accusations of manipulation on behalf of Democrats). Meanwhile, despite unprecedented hiring slowdowns at Facebook, Tesla, Shopify, Apple, Lyft and Google, equity and bond markets jumped, producing counterintuitive headlines that were mirror images of earlier stories like “Robust Jobs Report Clouds Outlook for US Economy“ that puzzled non-financial audiences.
Republicans Claim Chinese Infiltration at Federal Reserve. In a story that got almost no press but could seriously impact Chinese-American relations, the minority office of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) — meaning the Republican committee leaders — issued a report called “China’s Threat to the Fed: Chinese Influence and Information Theft at the Federal Reserve.” The report focused mainly on five current and former Fed employees, and claims China has “used a variety of tactics to recruit U.S.-based economists to provide China with knowledge and intellectual capital in exchange for monetary gain and other benefits.” One case reportedly involved a Fed employee “forcibly detained” in Shanghai on four occasions by Chinese officials who “threatened the individual's family unless the individual provided them with economic information.” Probably the most significant detail in the report was the revelation that the Fed’s own “counterintelligence analysis” back in 2015 identified 13 “persons of interest” at the bank with “known talent recruitment ties,” a group the bank’s own investigators tabbed with the mysterious and weirdly literary moniker, the “P-Network.” Fed chief Jerome Powell blasted Committee Minority Chair Rob Portman for “unfair, unsubstantiated and unverified insinuations,” but details about the Fed’s own analyses will surely complicate diplomatic and financial ties with the Pacific rim superpower.
INTERNATIONAL NOTES: In another diplomatic embarrassment for the U.S., Saudi Arabia is reportedly making overtures to both Iran and Israel as “Biden’s Peacekeeping Flounders,” says Newsweek. Amwaj.media editor Mohammad Ali Shabani is quoted saying, “Saudi Arabia is acutely aware… the U.S… is perceived as withdrawing.”
★ Days after Secretary of State Tony Blinken met with Japanese Foreign Minister Minister Hayashi, Japan and the U.S. announced plans to build a joint semiconductor research hub. This follows the $280 billion Chips and Science Act passing in the States, and Japan’s own $6.8 billion investment last year. The partnership is ostensibly aimed at reducing both nations’ dependence on China, the latest in a series of deals to shore up supply chains between self-proclaimed members of the “rules-based international order.”
★ The Kansas City Star reported that a bowfisherman encountered a capybara, a 70-80 pound rodent (the world’s largest) native to South America, along the St. Mary’s river in Illinois. Being American, the man naturally killed it and posed on Facebook with the corpse. The animal is believed to have walked to his death from South America.
★ STATISTIC OF THE WEEK: “There are more people over the age of 50 with student loans (8.5 million) than people under the age of 25 with student loans (7.8 million), and they owe, on average, far more ($41,058 compared to $14,807).” StudentLoanJustice.Org
STORY THAT IS PROBABLY ONLY FUNNY IF YOU GREW UP IN AMERICA: Social progress, American-style: three headlines from the history of the video game, “Grand Theft Auto”:
2014: Outrage as new Grand Theft Auto game allows player to control their avatars having first person graphic sex with a prostitute, Daily Mail
2016: What Sexist Video Games Do To Boys’ Brains, Time
2018: The Game Best Known For Letting You Run Over Sex Workers is Now the Most Successful Entertainment Property In History,Goat
Now, GTA announces: male characters to be stripped of offensive behavior monopoly:
2022: Grand Theft Auto VI Will Have Female Main Character for First Time In Series History, Bloomberg.“The woman is Latina and will be one of a pair of leading characters in a story influenced by the bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde. Developers are also being cautious not to ‘punch down’ by making jokes about marginalized groups, the people said, in contrast with previous Grand Theft Auto games.”
THE “OH BY THE WAY” HEADLINES OF THE WEEK
Florida man attempts to break into Space Force base to warn of alien-dragon space war. Task and Purpose
Facebook reports first-ever decline in revenue. Washington Post
Economy to Recover Strongly, But Wages and Jobs Will Not. Sydney Morning Herald
THE “WTF GRAF” OF THE WEEK
“The robot broke the child's finger,” Sergey Lazarev, Moscow Chess Federation President, told the Tass news agency. “This is of course bad.” From: Chess robot breaks seven-year-old boy's finger during Moscow Open, BBC
TWEET HISTORY WILL REMEMBER
The New York Times, on how “we’ve never looked so delicious — to one another”:
AND FINALLY, THREE FINANCIAL STORIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED, by Eric Salzman
It’s Never “Different This Time“ One Sunday evening last month, the Wall Street Journalreported, Lucas Holcomb woke his pregnant wife. “Honey, we just lost $100,000.” Such tales of lost life savings are becoming common. Cryptocurrency was supposed to be different. It wasn’t. Crypto lenders like now-bankrupt Celsius Network LLC and Voyager Digital LTD invited investors to deposit money into accounts at FDIC-insured partner banks like Signature and Metropolitan and buy crypto, with the promise to pay as much as 10% returns. They then borrowed that crypto and lent it to entities like now-bankrupt hedge fund Three Arrows, at rates of about 15%-20%. All fabulous, until the #CryptoCrash, when Voyager and Celsius called in money from borrowers like Three Arrows, who by then were going under trying to dump the thing they invested in, and viola, a classic Lehmanesque chain reaction unfolded, with the bewildered retail investor at the end of the chain. When customers tried to withdraw from what they thought were FDIC-insured accounts, they were reportedly told to talk to Voyager and Celsius, who in turn told them they were freezing withdrawals, a mess Congress just responded to by delaying consideration of a key crypto bill.
ETP Boom Spooks Street Observers. Bloomberg is reporting retail investors are dumping huge amounts of money into complex Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), pooled investments that function a little like mutual funds but are often complex beyond the ability of amateur investors to understand. Cash is pouring into complex derivative-powered vehicles that can include leveraged or “inverse” trades, indicating retailers may be trying to “bet on more pain or to nab outsize returns during market rebounds,” as the outlet put it. Regulators are standing with thumbs in as a staggering $24 billion has entered the “complex” market. ETFs and Exchange Traded Notes or ETNs — together referred to as ETPs — are a tremendous moneymaker for Wall Street, as management fees on the more complex ETPs are much higher, helping the sector grow to almost $6.4 trillion in size. An example of what can go wrong? In 2018, a very popular ETP called XIV went from $115 to $7 in two days. Have no fear, though, Britain’s Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has called for comments on beefing up regulation for complex ETPs. Meanwhile, the barn door is wide open, and the horse is galloping down the road.
Free is Never Free Bloomberg did an in-depth study on “Free Checking” services. Turns out it’s the opposite of “Free” for many. They cited a 62-year-old retired nurse named Letitia O’Brien, who was down to about $1.70 in March. When she didn’t have enough to cover a roughly $300 electric bill or a $100 CT scan, her account with PNC Financial Services over-drafted, triggering a chain of $36 fees. On an annualized basis, such fees can lead to people like O’Brien paying legbreaker-worthy triple-digit interest rates, which may suck for her but works out great for her bank. In 2021, PNC made a tidy $269 million in overdraft fees, while Bank of America made $1.1 billion, JP Morgan $1.3 billion, and Wells Fargo $1.4 billion. The Bloomberginvestigative report is chock full of wild details, like that when overdraft programs were first implemented, consultants told banks “to send letters thanking customers for overdrafting, even as they charged them.” This helped lead to a mother lode of profits that so impressed one banker, he “named his boat Overdraft.”
“An adult polar bear can eat twenty pounds of raw meat per minute for five minutes. Then it must rest, or suffer what we call bloat.”
Here's the recording of last night's (2022-07-29) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0499
Thanks to Hank Sims for all kinds of tech help over the years, as well as for his fine news site: https://LostCoastOutpost.com
Thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which provided almost an hour of the above 8-hour show's most locally relevant material, as usual, without asking for anything in return. Just $25 a year for full access to all articles and features (TheAVA.com). While you're feeling generous, go to KNYO.org, click on the big red heart and do real small-town local radio a nice favor, and see how the whole world brightens up for you because of a simple act of kindness.
You can always email me your work on any subject and I'll read it on the radio the upcoming Friday night.
Furthermore, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
One veteran's carousel project.
Sweet Home Alabama on piano. Usually in this Russian woman's videos she really strikes and bangs and lunges lustily at the piano, but a real piano can take that. This one, her travel piano, is made of plastic, suspended between two chairs, so she keeps a rein on her passions, because she can. That's attractive: people who are naturally wild but have no trouble controlling themselves to protect the musical equipment. A standup comedian in Crown Hall got wild with one of my microphones once and the entire audience recoiled in horror. Now everyone is inured to it. Performers deliberately throw down the microphone. I hate it when they do that; I'm never getting used to it. It's like smashing a perfectly good guitar.
A 15-minute documentary about Miss Cleo, the psychic fortuneteller and /obeah woman/ from Jamaica, who was really a Catholic girl from Los Angeles named Youree Dell Harris. She ended up making a billion dollars (yes: $1,000,000,000) for the Psychic Readers Network and had a ball doing it. “And she wasn't even a real psychic!” So? That's like saying someone isn't a real Pope. Nobody with a brain in their head believes anyone is a real psychic or can make infallible decisions because they have a direct line to God or gods. Also, and you might wanta sit down for this: there are no angels or leprechauns or selkies or pookas nor princes of Nigeria who need your bank numbers to bless you of contact with their fortune. Now, I saw a real unicorn in person once, but it wasn't a spiritual heraldic creature portending good omens for the kingdom by manifesting in a glade, it was a hippie family's pet goat with one horn, and so what, and it smelled awful. No-one ever said anything like that about Miss Cleo. She was always a lady and only the spokesperson for the real crooks, so she skated on all charges, and that's show biz.
And my prophetic dreams from Mon-Wed, July 25–27, 2022. Make of them what you will.
— Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
Destroying the Demonic & Returning this World to Righteousness
Sitting here in the air-cooled Ukiah Public Library, the temperature outside being around 100 degrees hot, and identifying with the Immortal Atman, or “that which is prior to consciousness”. Considering how idiotic the postmodern global condition is on the planet earth, identifying with one's true nature, (as opposed to incorrectly believing that one is the body-mind complex), is the one and only way to go in order to be free and not suffering in a constant hell.
I am biding my time at the Building Bridges homeless shelter, because it is the best choice at present, while urging everyone to form spiritually focused direct action groups for the purpose of intervening in history. I feel that I ought to be saying more, but what??
Craig Louis Stehr, firstname.lastname@example.org