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TYPICAL SUMMER WEATHER is expected this week across northwestern California, with the coast seeing periods of low clouds during the nights and mornings and partial sun each afternoon, while inland areas remain relatively cloudless. (NWS)
GOOD PRINCIPAL FIRED UNREASONABLY
The students deserve better.
The dismissal of the Point Arena high school principal was a witch hunt by board members with their own personal agendas and a superintendent with zero oversight. The administrative leave was issued without board approval; hopefully the Independent Coast Observer will correct last week's article.
Marty Wilkes was the biggest asset this school district has seen in ages. The proof is in the transition of the high school over the past four years. He inherited a mess and brought the school out of the gutter. Test scores are up, attendance is up, kids are graduating with goals for their future. He also led the effort to get the school out of the probationary status and re-accredited.
The students respected him and the rules and discipline he put into place. They all learned from it. The shortsightedness of the Superintendent took none of this into consideration.
Anyone thinking of sending a child to this high school should really take the time to understand what just went on here. The superintendent let an employee go who worked with honesty and integrity and the good of the students at the forefront of his management.
The excuse that the principal referenced an author in his graduation speech that was known to be a racist is not grounds for dismissal or administrative leave. Other teachers in Point Arena referenced authors with the same controversy in their graduations speeches and were not reprimanded. As far as I'm aware this is still America where freedom of speech is allowed!
We need a board that shares the common goal of the students first and holds the superintendent accountable for their actions. It is time for change at the top. There are five school board positions up for election this November. Please consider helping make a change.
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Ranger was found at Lake Mendocino and avoided capture for over a week, until a Park Ranger was finally able to get him. He’s been in a wonderful dog-loving foster home and doing great. Ranger’s smart and quickly picks up training. He’s slow to warm up to people, but give him a few minutes and you will be his best friend. Ranger knows back up, sit, down, and roll over. He’s completely house-trained and doesn't bark much.
Ranger does not like to be confined but does well indoors, and his foster folks are working on crate training. Ranger’s learning to be non-reactive to other dogs, but right now he needs to be the only dog. Ranger’s new home must be CAT-FREE, and we recommend older children, due to his size. This handsome boy is ready to find his forever home! Ranger is 3 years old and 72 pounds.
If you can’t adopt, consider fostering. Visit http://www.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: https://www.facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/. For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.
AV SCHOOLS UPDATE
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
What a great week! First of all let's just be right up front–I got to hold Ruby Suarez's new beautiful baby. It's been a long time since I got to hold a little person. Pretty magical.
Many wonderful things happened this week. John Toohey and his family organized a clean up at the high school sport’s sites. It's been a long time since we have asked the community to join us. It is an ask that I will be making up with our parents. A little Junior/Senior High School with 12 teachers cannot foster a sports culture that is equivalent to Ukiah High or a Fort Bragg without parent support. We need help. We need drivers. Your kids get these amazing opportunities, but we need some partnership to make sure we can get them there to the game. I will not be pulling teachers out of academic courses to drive students to games. My job is to educate students and I will do that. My job is also to provide extracurricular opportunities, but all school districts have parent partnerships to make that happen. I am looking forward to rekindling that partnership as we move forward.
I saw that partnership today at the Ukiah fair. I joined parents/grandparents and Beth Swhela and the students, as the students presented their projects in the meat market auction. What a bittersweet thing to raise your animal from infancy and sell it on to the market. A hard lesson to swallow. But our students did an amazing job. Some of these kids walked away with $700 to almost $1,500 in the purchase price. That’s a beautiful thing. I sat in the campsite where Beth had been camping for 4 days with the kids. I'm not sure I could camp for four days with kids. She dug down and did it. I need our community to dig down in the same way. I need some game drivers and some people to work our game gates. Coach Tooey needs the help.
In other news, I want to let you know we did apply for a $350,000 grant for an electric bus. This has been a pet project of David Ballentine's. I'm not sure at all, if we will win the funding lottery, but I did want to let you know that is on my mind. We will see what comes of it.
The elementary site has an amazing orientation plan at 3:30 on Friday August 12th. If you have a student at the elementary site, please make sure that you come and experience this event.
The Junior Senior High School has material pick up on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This is mandatory. Days are designed by grade level:
- Monday, is 7th/8th grade
- Tuesday, 9th/10th, and
- Wednesday, 11/th/12th
Your student will receive textbooks, materials, and most importantly you need to sign some forms so that your kids can access the Chromebooks. I have to be honest with you, we've had a lot of abused technology over the past couple of years. I simply don't understand that. We will not permit that in the future. The student that abuses Tech, will lose the right to receive the device. Pencil works fine.
I am also super excited to welcome Kim Campbell back to the Junior Senior High School site as the weekly writing prompt coordinator. She will be having all students in all grades craft a writing prompt that is turned in and read by me weekly and reviewed by her in a random sample. I am a firm believer that if you can write an effective essay, you will be successful in college and business. Let’s say the “R” word–RIGOR. It will not be produced on a laptop, but in handwritten form, so we can truly understand the capabilities of our students' writing content, mechanics, and spelling skills.
Don't miss that parent dinner at the high school on Thursday, August 18th from 5 to 7. This is a required dinner if your student is involved in athletics at any time during the year. It will be a wonderful social occasion to reconnect, and all teachers will be present for the dinner. It is also an important opportunity for you to understand the new governance rules. The governing board of the district has removed the ability for a sport student to have an F in a class. I completely applaud this. If your student is involved in extracurricular athletics, they need to have decent grades. Grades will be monitored weekly. If the student is underperforming in their grades, they will not play. If a student is underperforming in their citizenship and respect and have not cleared a detention, they will not play.
I am excited at the elementary site to announce the amazing library that has been created by the staff. So much work to create a fantastic space for kids! The elementary staff has also been working on the vertical report card alignment and essential standards. HUGE WORK! WELL DONE!
At the elementary, we have also spent the summer and have excavated the septic site and understand this severe depth of our needs in this area. I am in contact with the Office of Public School Construction and this will be a priority retrofit that the State needs to help pay for, as we move forward with the bond project. The system is no different than it has been for the past 30 years, so we are safe to return to school but this is an eminent priority for repair. We are grateful to the voters for their support of the bond to support this collapsed system.
We have a board meeting this coming Tuesday at 5:15 in the high school. Please join us.
As a reminder for any students at the high school that are signed up for the auto mechanics class, it is very important that they understand it begins on Wednesday, August 17. Attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to ask for help if they have any concerns about their performance so that we can support them during the in class learning. It is important for you to discuss with your student that the grades on their transcript for college will remain so we need to work together to make sure that they are successful. You would not believe the facilities at this site, and it is a great opportunity for our students to participate at Mendo College. I am so proud of them all. The district is funding the cost of the bus and Mr. Johnson’s driver salary to get them over the hill.
Regarding the bond issuance, I wanted to let you know that at the board meeting on Tuesday we will be certifying all the resolutions and the issuance of the first $7 million of bonds that we should have in hand by September 15th. I also want to know what the bond oversight committee's potential candidates meant with me on Tuesday, and may be appointed by the Board of Trustees in September. I am most grateful for their time. We are always seeking new members in that capacity. I also want to stress that complete audits by an outside auditing firm of the expenses related to the bonds will be available UPON REQUEST in the district office.
I do want to reiterate, as I did in an earlier email, there was a county systems tax billing error for the original Measure A that was brought to my attention during the campaign. I reached out to the assessor and also published letters in Parent Square and the Anderson Valley Advertiser about that error. The district has nothing to do with that tax bill generation. When you receive your tax bill, and this is not confirmed, but I am anticipating you will see the under billed amount for the original Measure A, current Measure A billing, as well as the new amount for measure M series A. The issuance of Measure M on this tax cycle will save taxpayers a significant amount of money over the life of the bond, so it is important to initiate the billing cycle. Again, this billing error is out of the district's control. I want to be completely transparent, so there is no upheaval when people open their envelopes. We are super grateful for the voter support. I know these times are difficult. I don't want any surprises.
We need to give a shout out to Deleh Pasewalk, who is planning a bunch of Teen Center events. This is a club that is not associated with the school, but she is working hard to make sure that students have opportunities. The schedule for an open gym is also in the works. This is good stuff..
On a final note, I just want to mention a wish list item. I know there are many people in the Valley that struggle financially daily. I honor that. My dad was a plasterer and my mom was a teacher’s aide. I got a new pair of shoes before school and for Easter and that was it.
I also know there are many people in the Valley that have been blessed with amazing resources. One of the themes that I continue to hear in this community is the need for an all-weather track and soccer football field. I have done research for this and the cost is about $2 million dollars. I installed one of these in my past district and it was an amazing community hub. When I have a broken septic system and classrooms with no water and science rooms that look like Doc Ricketts could have conducted experiments in them, there is no way I can ever install an all-weather track and field. If you are a person who can make that happen or work in the consortium of a group of donors to make it happen, please reach out to me. My personal cell phone is 650-996-3290. This would be an amazing opportunity for Boonville. I can name the track after you or your business. Do you want to leave a legacy for your community that will be enjoyed by students, parents, seniors and all that follow us? I always, always dream big. I am a big believer in “It is okay to ask, and okay for people to say no.” If you want to say “yes”, call me at 650-996-3290. We could have it installed within 9-months.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
* * *
Auction Day was so GREAT!
The day started by working at the Buyer's Breakfast.
Then Jose went to Champion Row before the auction.
Mrs. Simson our Superintendent/Principal was at the auction while all exhibitors sold!
The auction was great to ALL of our exhibitors!
Thank you to Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Taco Bell of Ukiah, Reedy the Car Guy, and Redwood Ford for so generously supporting our FFA members!
We can't wait until next year!!!
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
RE THE EDWARD ‘TWO-FEATHERS’ STEELE CASE:
“The policies” Policy schmalicy total BS excuse.
1. Leo/FCS/CPS did not check on kids.
2. In spite of multiple arrests for violence and drugs without recovery/ long term support, kids not placed elsewhere.
3. Family and Citizens scared to help/act.
4. Hotel life is NO life.
4. Weak communication between agencies.
You see this a lot in cases of this type. There will be intervention from other family members and possibly tribal support to get the kids back. People might use it for a while even. But, after a little bit they’re back to their old ways. Anybody in the family is afraid to say anything. Especially if you’re up in the hills. Idiots, they’re packing guns around running loose. Her earlier arrest where she attacked possibly her parents or grandparents with guns and violence. Running around with a bunch of young men a good 10 years younger than her all high on meth. It’s super concerning to see this. The community is split; they will talk to your face all shiny and glossy looking cute but behind the fence everything still continues. Racial slurs at each other. Drugging, slugging, whip it huffing, drinking and beating and stealing and thieving. As long as nobody else knows, keep it behind the fence, ehhhhh it ain’t a big deal. The babies watch. People try to speak up, wind up dead. You want better for the grandbabies you’re an OG shut the f******. It’s heartbreaking to see the youth doing NOTHING. THINKING ITS FUNNY. Anybody driven out to Covelo lately? The Whip It canisters line almost every pull out. Consider that when you’re driving on that road. Standards gotta change all the way around. It’s something called Integrity, doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. Being a good human with a kind soul and productive life is okay. Damn.
RIP lil man.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE Calendar Of Events
DAVID PELAEZ CHAVEZ was killed by a SONOMA COUNTY Sheriff's deputy who has killed before. David was not carrying a gun; he was holding items that could not have been thrown very far. He could have been waited out, but deputies seem to consider their time to be more valuable than lives.
This will be a peaceful vigil attended by his family.
The right of IOLERO (Sonoma County’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Oversight) to be involved in the investigation from the beginning (as voted on in Measure P by the voters of Sonoma County) was negotiated away by the Board of Supervisors. I would like to see C.L.E.A.N. begin the organizing required to start suing the County and the Supes every time they violate the will of the people. Not that losing in court has ever deterred the Supes from continuing to do the wrong thing.
— Irv Sutley
I'M VERY OLD, AS GOD KNOWS, AND HE'S WATCHING
by Garrison Keillor
I turn 80 in a few days, as I’ve been saying for about six months now and it’s a good age. I don’t think about my health, I am living proof that bad habits don’t matter so long as you give them up soon enough. I am quite happy, a BuddhEpiscopalian who doesn’t care about material things though I do fart a lot. I don’t sit around dreaming of what I might do someday. Someday is now, and what I shall do is enjoy it fully. Nobody expects more of me; if I walk into a room and don’t trip on the doorsill, I’m admired for it. My wife starts talking about air conditioning and then she sees me and says, “But why am I talking to you about it?” I’m from the time when we cooled off by driving around with the windows open.
It was a good time, my time. Back in the country I grew up in, namely this one, men didn’t go into schools and shoot little kids, we never imagined such a thing, and what’s the reason? Fewer psychiatric medications? Fewer therapists? No. If drugstores sold licorice-flavored cyanide in drinking glasses, we’d see more of that. I plan to expire before the Supremes decide the Second Amendment guarantees the right to carry knapsacks of dynamite aboard airliners. Why should we give up our rights on the Jetway?
On the other hand, I do admit there have been improvements: I was in the Detroit airport, Concourse A, the other day and a man sat at a real piano on a low platform and played music, a very graceful jazzer, nothing about man’s downfall, very danceable, and I put a ten in his jar. It was worth it. It made me feel all cheery in the midst of a merch carnival to hear genuine individual talent. It reminded me of that country I grew up in, when more musicians worked the streets.
I wish hitchhiking would make a comeback. In my youth, I was picked up by various men, some of them drunk, and in return for the ride, I listened to whatever they wanted to tell me, which sometimes was a lot. A fair trade. It was an exercise in mutual trust. Then the Seventies came along when young men affected the derelict look and when you look like an outlaw there are no free rides to be had, even if you’re very nice down deep.
With age comes a degree of wisdom. You learn to choose your battles carefully and not expend anger on hopeless causes such as fairness and equality and getting your home nice and neat. My battle is against the words “monetize” and “monetization.” What tiresome phony weirdo words they are. Just say “sell” or “cash in” or “earn a truckload of bucks from”! Even “exploit” is better. “Monetize” is an attempt to dignify with pseudo-techno-lingo the common ordinary money grubbing that we all do. Stick “monetize” up your Levis. I am going to the mat on this. I refuse to be friends with or share a cab with or sit on a plane next to a monetizer. “Flight Attendant, take me back to Tourist, a middle seat next to weeping children would be preferable to listening to this idiot vocalize.”
And now that I have demonetized you, dear hearts, let me move on to the next battle, which is to establish kindness and amiability among friends and strangers alike. I admit I’m still happy about that cashier at Trader Joe’s who said, “How are you today, my dear?” It reminded me of a bygone time. She was, I believe, a woman and I am, to my way of thinking at least, a man though of course there is fluidity involved, and as we all know, the rules of social exchange between W and M have tightened, so I didn’t ogle, I looked at my shoes and said simply, “Never better.” Which is inoffensive, though untrue.
I wanted to hug her and did not. My people weren’t huggers. We were Bible-believing Christians who avoided physical contact lest we contract the religious doubts of the embracee and who knows but what it could be true? My brother was a Bible believer who married a girl who then catholicized him. I could say more but I don’t want to cause trouble. I’m a harmless old man, nattering in the corner. I’ll stop now.
NOT SURE if Bill Maher is a comedian or a pundit, a comic pundit, I guess to satisfy the classification need I seem to have. The other day, a comment of his got big media play: ”The real epidemic is obesity, and that we don't talk about. We are at a different place with [obesity] than we were even five years ago. Five years ago, it at least was thought to be a good thing to try to lose weight, right? Now, that's what they shame… when you're the bad person because you lost weight, and it's just seen as a different way of living. There's no judgment to it.”
MAHER SAID 78 percent of all covid hospitalizations and deaths were of fat people, which is news to me if true, but the numbers of the obese aren't news because you can hardly miss them. They're everywhere. At CostCo last week I estimated about half the people I saw were obese, a bunch of them morbidly obese.
I TEND to portly myself, so I'm not about to castigate the millions who succumb to lives of gluttony and sloth in a society that makes surrender so easy. I pity them, though, because with a minimum of self-discipline they could live longer and live much less painfully than they do.
DR. ANDERSON'S REGIMEN is pegged to at least one hour a day of vigorous exercise, in his case walking and push-ups. An hour of sustained movement of any kind will keep you reasonably fit while eating anything in reasonable amounts and excluding the purely negative food value items that comprise most of the food stuffs on sale at Safeway.
I KICK OFF the day with granola and fruit, and not the granola sold in boxes by Kellogg Inc — the bulk granola you can get at Boont Berry in Boonville or the Co-op in Ukiah. Lunch is whatever the little woman has packed for me, dinner the same, all of it generously supplemented by blueberry muffins from Mosswood in Boonville and scones from the General Store, also in Boonville. And the classic donuts at the Redwood Drive-In. Temptation everywhere! The key, though, is movement. I've known a lot of fat people who were reasonably cardio-fit simply because they moved everyday, moved religiously, with a view to staying alive and out of the hospital.
GARRISON KEILLOR was brought low by lechery, as I recall. Never was a fan. I thought his obvious self-regard was too much, and delivered in that Look At Me voice was way, way too much, right up there in too muchness with the absolutely intolerable, Scott Simon of NPR as the ultimate hollow man audibly fakes emotion every Saturday as he frauds his way through the mawk swamps of his NPR morning.
I DID LIKE Keillor's daily poem, liked some of his non-Woebegone writing and, as a guy of the same generational Sell By age as me, his comment cited here this morning resonated with me. “It was a good time, my time. Back in the country I grew up in, namely this one, men didn’t go into schools and shoot little kids, we never imagined such a thing, and what’s the reason? Fewer psychiatric medications? Fewer therapists? No. If drugstores sold licorice-flavored cyanide in drinking glasses, we’d see more of that. I plan to expire before the Supremes decide the Second Amendment guarantees the right to carry knapsacks of dynamite aboard airliners. Why should we give up our rights on the Jetway?…”
YES, there has certainly been some social slippage. The daily deluge of spectacular atrocities still shocks us old timers because so much of it, from the prevalent mayhem to the everyday debauchery of “entertainment” and social media, was unthinkable in days us oldies were young.
THE SEA RANCH READER’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE SEA RANCH, CA
Whether you are a homeowner at The Sea Ranch, considering a stay in one of our many vacation rentals, or just want to know the best way to get to the Mendonoma coast, the Sea Ranch Reader editors have compiled a fool-proof travel guide for you.
This travel guide assumes you’re not into any funny business. If you are one of those goofball types, don’t read any further. You’re not going to like what we have to say.…
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 6, 2022
JOSE AGUILAR-MELCHOR, Stockton/Ukiah. DUI, controlled substance.
GARY BALMAIN JR., Willits. Failure to appear.
CARLOS BETTEGA, Covelo. Falsifying evidence.
BRANDON CORNEJO, Ukiah. Battery.
JEREMY ELENNISS, Willits. Controlled substance while arrmed with loaded firearm.
GILBERTO GARCIA, Fresno/Ukiah. Pot cultivation more than six plants, pot possession for sale, conspiracy.
ANDREW HOPPER, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
GLENN JENKINS, Ukiah. County parole violation, no license.
WESLEY LEWIS, Ukiah. Ammo possession by prohibited person.
EMANUEL MACIAS-FERNANDEZ, Clearlake Oaks/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JEREMIAH MCOSKER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, county parole violation, resisting. (Frequent flyer.)
TIMOTHY OCONNELL, Clearlake/Ukiah. Arson.
RICK OXFORD, Central Point, Oregon/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
MELISSA PAIANI, Vallejo/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, battery on peace officer, probation revocation.
RACHAEL RABANO, Covelo. Falsifying evidence.
LEONEL VALENZUELA, Ukiah. Domestic battery, parole violation.
EX-TIME REPORTER: THE DAY I KNEW JOURNALISM HAD DIED IN AMERICA
by Kenneth R. Timmerman
I have covered war, espionage and intrigue for major news organizations in the United States and around the world, including the New York Times, Newsweek, Time magazine, Reader’s Digest, CBS 60 Minutes, ABC News, Le Monde, L’Express, Le Point, and many others. That was when these organizations still tried to be “mainstream” and did not pull punches, self-censor and lie to protect their political allies.
Only when I was fired by Time in 1994 for investigating a story that threatened President Bill Clinton and many senior officials in his administration did I begin to understand that the mainstream media was dead.
The first war I went to cover was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. As a Left-Bank expat living in Paris, I naturally sympathized with the Palestinians and planned to embed with a pro-Palestinian NGO in beseiged West Beirut. I wanted to write about the plight of innocent civilians whose lives had been shattered by war.
I wanted to write about the “little” people, not about politics and politicians.
What I eventually learned went far beyond my wildest nightmares. The Palestinians rejected my credentials from their own diplomats in Europe, and threw me in an underground cell as a suspected Israeli spy.
There were 15 of us packed in the cell, which couldn’t have measured more than 16 by 10 feet. There were Lebanese Christians and Palestinians seeking to flee West Beirut, Kurds, Syrians and even a Somali. All of them smoked to hide the kerosene-fringed stench of the latrine bucket and their own clothes, and I smoked with them, but it just made the air thicker and more fetid. For 24 days and nights, we got pounded incessantly by Israeli fighter-jets, naval guns, tanks and artillery. The building had eight floors when I arrived, and was reduced to one and a half floors and pancakes by the time I was released.
One day two American reporters, guests of the PLO, took refuge in the underground shelter during an air raid. A cellmate, a French foreign legionnaire, started whistling the French national anthem and I joined him. Then we whistled the Star Spangled Banner and the two journalists, terrified, turned their backs on us and studiously ignored what they were hearing.
Later, I was taken upstairs for a “bastonnade,” a beating on the soles of the feet using three lengths of metal-shielded electric cable, twisted together and bound with tape. The pain was beyond anything I could imagine, and eventually I passed out.
I certainly learned more about the “little people” as a hostage than I ever could at a press briefing or from some senior official. Speaking directly to the bit players of world history — not the stars — became a habit I have kept to this day.
Before the first Gulf War I made many trips to Iraq, where I got to know virtually every Western arms dealer. (Hint: arms dealers love to talk). I also tracked down and interviewed the heads of Iraq’s ballistic missile, nuclear and chemical weapons programs, before anyone even knew their names.
I returned to the States after 18 years overseas to work for Congressional Democrat Tom Lantos as a specialist on weapons of mass destruction, and subsequently joined a new investigative team at Time magazine. Sources in the AFL-CIO Machinists Union tipped me off to strange doings at the B-1 bomber plant in Columbus, Ohio, midnight visits by Chinese intelligence officers, and frustrated US Customs agents. As I investigated, encouraged by Time editors, I uncovered and documented a massive effort by China to buy sensitive military production gear from US weapons plants, seemingly with the benediction — or at least, a blind eye — from Clinton administration officials.
Eventually, along with other reporters, I put together a four-page story on the scheme that was scheduled to run in mid-July 1994. After a Friday lunchtime staff meeting, the Washington, DC, editor, came into my cubicle. “You’ve pissed off people in the administration with your questions,” he said.
“I thought it was my job to ask difficult questions of the administration,” I said.
He fired me on the spot and pulled the story, which ran a year later under the title “China Shops“ in the conservative American Spectator magazine. Three years after I was fired, the exporter, McDonnell Douglas, was indicted for export violations, and Sen. Fred Thomson and Rep. Christopher Cox launched massive investigations into the Clinton sell-off of sensitive US technology to Communist China that led to the creation of the US-China Security Commission, which continues to investigate Chinese misdeeds today.
A source at the Commerce Department later showed me the complaint that his predecessor, an assistant secretary, had faxed to the editor-in-chief of Time magazine the day before I was fired. It was explicit, and called for them to pull the story.
Time’s editors showed in July 1994 that they believed their job was not to uncover the truth but to provide political cover to Democrats in Washington.
It’s only gotten worse since then, but I believe this incident formally marks the end of the “mainstream media” as we once knew it. Like many other countries in Europe and elsewhere, we now have a politicized media in the United States. But unlike other countries, in all but a few cases our media refuses to acknowledge its ideological affiliation. So added to bias, you have hypocrisy.
(New York Post)
EXPLAINING BRITTNEY GRINER
I want to address some key talking points that I’ve seen people use against Brittney Griner and her release.
“Why was she even in Russia to begin with?”
Brittney Griner was in Russia on business. She has played off-season basketball for a Russian team for five seasons. She is very well acquainted with the rules, and the likelihood of her making a mistake like this is slim. This also brings to light a disparity in women's sports because Griner makes roughly $200K a year compared to her male counterparts, who make tens of millions and don’t have to fly to Russia to remain competitive or pay their bills.
EDIT: I understand that $200K+ might sound like a lot to you or me. However, keep in mind that she has to pay her agent, lawyers, security, trainer, etc. out of that. I highly doubt that’s the actual take home.
“She shouldn’t have broken the law!”
As of right now, we don’t know if she did break the law. The Russian government is notorious for planting items on people they wish to detain. They also have a 99% conviction rate and use the prison system as a way of silencing opposition or to kidnap individuals to use as political leverage.
“She confessed to the crime.”
Russia is known for using aggressive techniques to force confessions. Additionally, she was required to admit guilt in order to be potentially be released. If she pleaded not guilty, Russia would not allow negotiations to move forward for a possible prisoner exchange. Her confession should not be looked at as an actual admission of guilt but as a statement made under duress.
“She shouldn’t get special treatment because she’s famous.”
Correct. However, that is not what makes her case so pressing. The real issue here is that she is Black and a lesbian being imprisoned in a hostile nation with notorious anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that puts her life at risk. This isn’t an issue of wanting to rescue someone because of fame but because of the genuine dangers they face because of their identity.
“We should focus on our own prison system.”
Yes, we should. People should not be incarcerated for using drugs. Period. Full stop. However, you can care about more than one thing at once. We should always be fighting to make our own country a safer and more equitable place while also not leaving someone to rot in a Russian prison as a political prisoner.
“Americans don’t deserve special treatment.”
Also true. However, this case isn’t about kids destroying things in Cancun over spring break and facing the consequences. This is about a person who has been kidnapped to be used as a political pawn. This isn’t special treatment; it’s rescuing a political prisoner.
“She has criticized her country; why should we save her?”
Criticizing our own country is fundamentally American and protected by our constitution; one could argue it’s even patriotic. You know what isn’t patriotic? Siding with Russian autocrats.
The State Department has declared Brittney Griner as being wrongfully detained. There is every reason to believe her arrest and detention are for geopolitical reasons and that she is at high risk due to her identity. We must continue to fight for her release.
— Father Nathan Monk
IN THE 1880S, EDWARD TAYLOR reached out to the editors of a weekly Black newspaper in New Orleans. Born into slavery, he had fought in the Civil War and established himself as a blacksmith when freedom came. He had a wife, six children and his own plot of land in a community near a winding stream known as the Bayou Maringouin.
But Mr. Taylor never forgot what he had lost during his decades in bondage. So he placed an advertisement in the Southwestern Christian Advocate. “I wish to inquire for my people,’’ he wrote.
Mr. Taylor was about 11 when he was sold away from his sister and three brothers in Maryland and sent to Louisiana. As a middle-aged man, he still remembered their names — Charlotte, Noble, William and Reverda — and the anguish of that forced separation. He joined thousands of Black people who placed notices in local newspapers in hopes of finding relatives after Emancipation. There is no record that he ever received a response.
More than a century later, Mr. Taylor’s descendants and two genealogists are using the information in his ad to try to reunite his family, one of the many Black families splintered by the American slave trade.…
by Tom Stevenson
Talk of Iran and nuclear weapons has long since taken on the structure of an old joke: Iran has supposedly been weeks away from terrible advances for the last thirty years. The joke gets told nonetheless. When Joe Biden visited Jerusalem in June, he spoke of his commitment to stopping Iran from getting the bomb, even though the US government’s own assessment two months earlier was that Iran ‘is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities’.
On 4 August, American, Iranian and European diplomats travelled to Vienna for another round of talks on reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme signed in 2015 which the US unilaterally withdrew from three years later. Biden pledged to resuscitate the deal, but despite endless rounds of talks that hasn’t happened.
Negotiations in Qatar in June yielded no progress. On the contrary, the lead US negotiator, Robert Malley, and the national security adviser for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, began to speak as though the chances of any return to the JCPOA were finished. European diplomats criticized Iran for making ‘maximalist’ demands, which for the most part meant asking for assurances that the US wouldn’t just tank the agreement again in a couple of years.
It was the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, who called for a return to negotiations. The effects of sanctions on Russia and reductions in Russian gas supplies are felt much more keenly in Europe than the US. The long-term prospect of Iranian gas supplies has started to look more appetising to Europeans. Restoring the nuclear deal now looks like an EU interest, to which the US is not particularly committed.
At the core of the matter is America’s financial stranglehold on Iran. The US imposed general trade sanctions on Iran in response to its nuclear programme in 1995. In 2006, it brought the full power of its financial sanctions weaponry to bear on the Iranian economy. Since 2011, Iran’s oil exports, ports, petrochemicals industry and central bank have been sanctioned and its banks cut off from SWIFT. None of this produced a change in the Iranian government. But the sanctions have had a devastating effect on the Iranian economy. The country has suffered a particularly deadly Covid pandemic. Supplies, including WHO testing kits, were delayed by US sanctions.
The JCPOA was principally a US instrument designed to limit Iranian nuclear research in exchange for the removal of its torturous sanctions. The problem is rarely framed this way because its framers are usually either American foreign policy analysts or expatriate Iranians hoping for yet more ineffective cudgelling of a government they despise. Part of the problem is that the US insists on designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is in effect part of the Iranian state, as a terrorist organisation. We are no longer in the era of ‘maximum pressure’, when the US assassinated Qassem Soleimani and Iran carried out missile strikes on US military bases in Iraq. But a settlement remains very difficult.
Iran’s negotiating position is that the US withdrawal from the 2015 deal was unreasonable and unlawful. It argues that it has given the US plenty of chances to return to the deal, and is ready to do so whenever they show seriousness. It also thinks Biden’s days may be numbered and the American political system is fundamentally untrustworthy.
At first pass, US policy towards Iran looks deeply irrational. The multi-decade American campaign to isolate the Islamic Republic has little to show for it. It has been clear for decades that external pressure was not going to bring down the Iranian government. And the US could satisfy its general aim of dominating the Gulf by continuing to maintain its monarchical protectorates while accommodating Iran. The JCPOA went a short way in that direction and met with strong resistance, not only from eccentric right-wing congressmen but also from within the security establishment. Why has a change of tack proved so difficult?
There is no doubt that Iran enforces a high, sometimes spectacular, level of domestic repression. But the US doesn’t really care about that; its allies in the region are at least as bad. The support that Iran gives Shia groups in neighboring Arab states isn’t really a problem for the US either: American planners know it’s much more limited than they publicly imply. Some people may claim that US policy-making is beholden to the Israel lobby (both Israel and Saudi Arabia would like to see the deal killed), but this mistakes the power balance between imperium and client. The best argument is that the Iranian revolution represents an unacceptable symbol of defiance in a critical region. US policy has been about punishing defiance.
US intelligence agencies may not believe Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons, but the country now has larger stockpiles of enriched uranium than it did under the JCPOA. The US should end its pointless and destructive blockade on the Iranian economy and revive the Iran deal because the sanctions are illegitimate. But reviving the deal would also be wise. Biden was willing to suffer some personal embarrassment in his meeting with the Saudi crown prince, Mohamed Bin Salman, in the interests of managing the US position in the Gulf. He has shown no such flexibility towards Iran.
Instead the US has announced new sanctions on Iran’s oil and petrochemical industry. In July, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, Dana Stroul, travelled to Qatar to discuss “leveraging the US presence at al-Udeid Air Base.” The head of US Central Command went to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to inspect US air defence systems. On 2 August, the US approved a $3 billion missile deal with Saudi Arabia and a $2.2 billion deal to supply THAAD anti-ballistic missiles to the UAE. The US approach to the Middle East is still founded on militarized confrontation.
(London Review of Books)
THE CURVE OF BINDING ENERGY.
“In peacetime Fitch would be hanging around a pool table giving the cops trouble. He was perfect for war. Tibbets had chosen his men well—most of them, anyway. Moving back past Haddock, January stopped to stare at the group of men in the navigation cabin. They joked, drank coffee. They were all a bit like Fitch: young toughs, capable and thoughtless. They were having a good time, an adventure. That was January's dominant impression of his companions in the 509th; despite all the bitching and the occasional moments of overmastering fear, they were having a good time. His mind spun forward and he saw what these young men would grow up to be like as clearly as if they stood before him in businessmen's suits, prosperous and balding. They would be tough and capable and thoughtless, and as the years passed and the great war receded in time they would look back on it with ever-increasing nostalgia, for they would be the survivors and not the dead. Every year of this war would feel like ten in their memories, so that the war would always remain the central experience of their lives -- a time when history lay palpable in their hands, when each of their daily acts affected it, when moral issues were simple, and others told them what to do—so that as more years passed and the survivors aged, bodies falling apart, lives in one rut or another, they would unconsciously push harder and harder to thrust the world into war again, thinking somewhere inside themselves that if they could only return to world war then they would magically be again as they were in the last one -- young, and free, and happy. And by that time they would hold the positions of power, they would be capable of doing it.” –from The Lucky Strike, by Kim Stanley Robinson
Here's the recording of last night's (2022-08-05) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0500
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 and click on the big red heart and give like a champ, or not. It's a free country, or rather as free as you can arse yourself to make it be. 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:
Record jackets. (via TackyRaccoons)
“U is for Undine, pursuing Ulysses and Umberto, who flee her damp, death-dealing kisses.” (via NagOnTheLake)
And 15 minutes with Laurie Anderson.
— Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com