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MAINLY DRY CONDITIONS and below normal temperatures are expected through Friday. Rain showers will then become probable across much of the region this weekend into early next week. (NWS)
DEAD WHALE WASHES ASHORE IN FORT BRAGG
On Monday, September 12, 2022, Noyo Center for Marine Science responded to a report of a deceased whale on a beach near downtown Fort Bragg. When we arrived, representatives from State Parks and the Noyo Harbor District were already at the scene, and we observed what appeared to be a juvenile male humpback, which we later determined to be 26.5’ in length. The whale was partially submerged in the water and the tide had not receded to a level that would have been safe for our staff to gather data, so we took photographs and observed what we could from the cliff overlooking the beach.
Two members of our staff returned at low tide and took what is referred to as Level A data, which is basic information such as measurements of the whale, and other basic questions about the stranding event, which we then report to NOAA, California Academy of Science, the Marine Mammal Center, and others.
There are currently no plans to remove the whale from the beach, although we are evaluating the situation, and may take additional samples for research purposes.
One of the biggest concerns when responding to these incidents is safety, and in this case the location was below a steep cliff, which in itself could be dangerous. A bigger concern is approaching an animal of this size partially submerged in the surf, which could shift in direction and pose a serious risk to an individual near the animal or attempting to collect data from the whale. We urge the public never to approach a dead marine mammal, but especially one of this size. Not only is it dangerous, but it is illegal under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to remove any parts of a whale unless previously authorized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin. (NOAA).
Noyo Center for Marine Science conducts all marine mammal stranding activities under authorization by the National Marine Fisheries Service through a Stranding Agreement with the California Academy of Sciences, and under NOAA Fisheries MMHSRP permit no. 18786-06.
MURRAY’S SPEEDING TICKET
Recently, former Ukiah police sergeant, meth addict, and serial rapist, Kevin Murray, was sentenced to probation by Judge Ann Moorman who stated that “this is not to be interpreted as a slap on the wrist.”
She’s actually correct. It’s more like a handshake by law enforcment, the DA, and the Justice Department (we take care of our own). Any homeless black guy accused of similar offenses would have been given the death sentence.
Acccording to this level of punishment, I should be owed an apology and some form of compensation for being delayed if I’m ever stopped for speeding.
THIS WEEK AT BLUE MEADOW FARM
Tomatoes are back. Many were lost to the heat last week (Tues 116, Wed 105, Th 110 degrees) but new Heirlooms are ripening and the Early Girls held up!
- Early Girl, Roma and Heirloom Tomatoes
- Corno di Toro, Gypsy and Bell Sweet Peppers
- Jalapenos, Padrons, Anaheim Chilis
- Italian & Asian Eggplant, Cucumbers, Basil
- Walla Walla Onions, Garlic, Zucchini & Patty Pan Squash
- Zinnias and last Sunflowers
- Bulk Prices on our sweet Walla Walla Onions
Blue Meadow Farm, 3301 Holmes Ranch Rd, Philo, 707 895-2071
by Mark Scaramella
Supervisor John Haschak was relegated to public expression treatment at the end of Tuesday afternoon’s board meeting. During his Supervisors report Haschak said he agreed with the members of the public who have complained recently about the new online agenda/comment system known as “Granicus.”
“I can understand people's frustration with Granicus because they can't see what all the comments are. When I look through all the agenda items, for the ones I've seen there were only two items that got any kind of response to them. People are not seeing what other people are thinking because for some reason people are not able to input their public comments. I think we really need to look at what we are doing here because it's not being transparent to everyone who can see all comments that we receive.”
For a few pregnant seconds the supervisors and the board clerk looked around at each other to see if anybody had anything to say in response to Haschak’s observation. Instead, however, Supervisor Gjerde just went on to the next unrelated subject and Haschak was ignored.
* * *
The board also discussed their responses to the mildly critical recent Grand Jury report about Measure B which among other things suggested that the county had not spent enough Measure B money for the substance abuse as called for by Measure B. The Grand Jury recommended: “The Board of Supervisors fund substance abuse programs as required by Measure B ordnance number 4387.”
The board approved the following response:
“This recommendation requires further analysis. Measure B funds have been provided indirectly for [substance abuse] through Respite Care, the Crisis Residential Treatment Center and other programs. The Board and Committee will consider additional funding for SUDT programs in their future meetings.”
This kind of disingenous response has become typical for this board of supervisors which seems to think that business as usual, whatever it may be, constitutes a response to what ever complaints or suggestions are made. There has been no Measure B spending for substance abuse treatment. Whatever Camille Schraeder and her staff may have done by accident or coincidence is not responsive to the Grand Jury or Measure B at all. The Board took the same attitude in response to the pot tax advisory measure which called for “increased fire protection” spending by pretending that their business as usual spending on Coastal Valley EMS and Calfire dispatch constitutes “increased fire protection.” Not one penny of the over $20 million of pot tax revenues have gone to the County’s 20 or so fire districts.
They get away with these kinds of disingenuous response because very few people pay attention to their claims without looking at the details.
* * *
In labor negotiations news, it seems that the Deputy Sheriffs Association (DSA) has accepted a $3,000 one-time payment (out of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money) per employee (124 members of DSA) in lieu of negotiating a new contract with increased salary and benefits. According to the DSA representative at Tuesday’s Board meeting, the vote for this one-time payment was “contentious,” and far from unanimous. It’s likely that the supervisors will take a similar position with the other bargaining units in an attempt to browbeat them into postponing any new contract with cost-of-living adjustments, salary increases or benefit improvements. The County probably told the DSA that it was the $3,000 per employee deal or nothing — take it or leave it. A majority of the DSA apparently decided to take it. Since there are about 700 members of the service employees international Union, at $3,000 per that would translate to about $2 million of ARPA money assuming it's available. So far the union reps have taken the position that the County's finances are not as bad as the county claims and that their members should get cost of living and competitive raises.
UKIAH POLICE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATING REPORT OF ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING
by Justine Frederiksen
The Ukiah Police Department is investigating a report of a possible kidnapping attempt during the Chili Cook-off event held downtown last Friday.
According to the UPD press logs, a “suspicious circumstances” call was made at 9:09 p.m. Sept. 9 “regarding an incident that occurred at the Chili Cook-off.” At the time, an officer responded and took a report of a possible attempted kidnapping.
When asked for more details, UPD Lt. Thomas Corning said “it was reported that a young child was playing and fell to the ground. After the child fell, an adult male approached the child and took her by the hand and took approximately four steps while holding the child’s hand.”
When the mother of the child saw the stranger walking with her, Corning said, she approached him and “took custody of her child, (then) the male subject walked away from the area.” He added that the man has not been identified, nor has he been contacted by the UPD.
“At this point we cannot say for sure if the unidentified male intended on helping a child (who was) in distress after falling, or (if he was) committing a crime against the child,” Corning said, explaining that the “investigation is still ongoing, and we encourage anybody that may have witnessed the incident, or who has any information about the incident, to contact the Ukiah Police Department.”
The non-emergency line for the UPD is 707-463-6262.
PERJURY? IT SEEMS LIKE THE RAILROAD IS GETTING CALLED ON ITS MISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN.
BRUCE BRODERICK: While those of us on the coast have been focused primarily on what the railroad has taken from our local community here in Fort Bragg, there has been another almost unnoticed legal battle going on for the last 2.5 years concerning Mendocino Railway trying to take a private citizens home on 23 acres just west of Willits where the tracks cross HWY 20 east of KOA. The reasons Mendocino Railway have wanted the property have been ambiguous. The property owner, John Meyer, has stood his ground, spent the time and money involved in fighting the railroads apparent fraudulent claim to Mr. Meyer's property and it seems as if his persistence might start turning the wheels of justice in the right direction.
A few days ago I posted a 2006 document from the Railroad Retirement Board stating that Mendocino Railroad does not qualify as a federal Railroad and in my opinion is not afforded the rights and privileges of a Public Utility.
Attached is a filing to the Mendocino Superior Court to reopen the John Meyer Case. It appears that the Retirement Board letter contradicts Robert Pinoli's testimony under oath in court. It is important new evidence that shows Mendocino Railway is not what it claims to be.
The document speaks for itself and was acquired under public access of court filings.
UKIAH CITY COUNCIL HIRED PLACER COUNTY OUTFIT FOR UPD CHIEF SEARCH
by Justine Frederiksen
During its last regular meeting, the Ukiah City Council approved the hiring of a Placer County firm to assist in the search for a new, permanent chief of the Ukiah Police Department.
According to the staff report for the item, which was approved as part of the Consent Calendar for the Sept. 7 meeting, three firms responded to the city’s request for proposals: Peckham-McKenney, SGR, and Mosaic Public Partners.
Staff members and the council ad-hoc committee tasked with overseeing the search, made up of council members Jim O. Brown and Mari Rodin, reviewed the proposals and “conducted an informational interview with the top-rated firm, Mosaic Public Partners,” which is located in Lincoln, Calif.
The agenda report notes that “Mosaic’s approach, confirmed by their interview, is responsive and transparent, with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The first step of the process will be to work with the ad hoc committee and identified stakeholders to develop a candidate profile that reflects the community’s and the organization’s needs. Then, a targeted search will be undertaken based on that input, followed by an interview process that will also involve the diverse group of stakeholders.”
Staff also note that while “the contract with Mosaic falls beneath the city’s reporting requirements, a budget amendment is required to cover the cost of the contract, plus additional costs that may be associated with the recruitment. Therefore, staff is recommending a budget amendment to the Human Resources Contractual Services budget in the amount of $38,000.”
The city has had three police chiefs in the past four years, and is searching for a new chief less than a year after naming Capt. Noble Waidelich to replace Justin Wyatt in the fall of 2021. Waidelich, a longtime employee who rose through the ranks to become second-in-command upon the retirement of Capt. Sean Kaeser in late 2020, was fired in June for reasons that the city has yet to disclose to the public.
When announcing that Waidelich was placed on administrative leave on June 14, the city of Ukiah described the move as “pending an ongoing criminal investigation led by (the) Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. Because this is both a pending personnel and criminal matter, no further information may be disclosed by the city at this time.”
When contacted for more information regarding the case at the time, SCSO spokesman Sgt. Juan Valencia released this statement: “On June 13, 2022, an allegation of criminal conduct involving Ukiah Police Chief Noble Waidelich was reported to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. Due to the close working relationship between the MCSO and the UPD, Mendocino County Sheriff (Matt) Kendall requested the SCSO conduct the investigation for transparency purposes.”
The statement continues: “Upon completion of the investigation, the case will be submitted to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office for review. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office cannot release additional information due to the active status of this investigation and to protect the integrity of this case.”
On Aug. 31, Valencia reported that the SCSO had completed its investigation into Waidelich and forwarded its findings to Mendocino County DA David Eyster, and that “no additional information will be released.”
At the time, DA Eyster said that his office did “receive something, but whether it is truly a completed investigation, I can’t say. Others will be evaluating first what we have received, whether more information is needed and should be sought.”
Also on Aug. 31, Eyster said it has yet to be determined if, once the investigation is complete, whether his office should handle the case, or if it should be handled by the state Attorney General’s Office.
When asked for further details regarding the nature of the case, Eyster said his “office policy doesn’t allow comment on reports pre-filing, and then even pre-conviction.”
When asked Tuesday whether his office had determined whether or not the investigation into Waidelich was complete, or whether his office would be handling it further, Eyster said he had “nothing new currently to report.”
UPD Capt. Cedric Crook has been serving as interim police chief since the departure of Waidelich. When asked last month for more details regarding the firing of Waidelich, Deputy City Manager Shannon Riley said, “there is nothing more that we’re able to share at this time, as there is still a pending criminal investigation with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.”
When told that the investigation by the SCSO had reportedly been completed and that “hopefully the public can be informed soon as to the nature of the case,” Riley did not respond.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
THE WAY WE LIVE NOW, two comments:
Yesterday I was at the hospital in Fort Bragg and I asked the traveling nurse who was assisting me if she had had any problem finding housing here on the coast. She said that finding housing had been a major issue for her. Before she arrived, the hospital referred her to someone renting a small home in Fort Bragg and when she talked with the owner she learned that the house was being offered for $10,000 per month. She explained to the owner that as a registered nurse there was no way she could afford rent that high and the owner replied, “Well if you don’t take it, the next person will.”
I was shocked to hear that such exorbitant rent is being charged here on the Mendocino Coast. The traveling nurse told me that she was due to arrive in Fort Bragg in 3 days when someone “miraculously” called into the hospital and offered their rental to a traveling nurse or physician - so fortunately things worked out for this particular traveling nurse and we’re lucky to have her here on the coast.
I’m writing to appeal to those who have rental units on the Mendocino Coast to consider how important it is that we offer affordable housing to people who give so much to our community. Without a place to live, traveling workers will be forced to go elsewhere and how can our local hospital sustain itself without essential workers? Last I heard our hospital had 60+ positions to fill. It’s really up to us as a community to make living here sustainable for those in all the various service industries. Without them there will be no restaurants, hotels and local businesses - not to mention our medical offices, hospital, etc.
If you have a rental property that you would like to offer at an affordable rate, please consider calling Adventist Health and talking with Jennifer Johnston who is helping hospital nurses and physicians find housing. You can reach Jennifer at 707/961-1234 Ext. 1487 or you can email Jennifer at email@example.com
Thank you all for your care and concern for our community.
* * *
Rene Hohls: I appreciate your post very much. I would also add teachers and all types of school employees to this list of folks in need of reasonably priced rentals in our community. Many are single and on one income which for many means having to choose between healthcare coverage or extra money to pay rent and buy food. It is the difference between doing well (for yourself) and doing good (for the community).
ONCE US BOOK DINOS (as in dinosaurs) get going we can't stop. A few more of my faves: Fat City by Leonard Gardner; Killings by Calvin Trillin; anything by Robert Stone and Richard Price and, for you political historians, the brilliant ‘Lenin’ by Alan Brien. Also, the brilliant history of water in California by Mark Arax called The Dreamt Land — Chasing Water and Dust Across California.
TUESDAY'S two hour power outage in the Anderson Valley is so far unexplained. I've suspected for years that PG&E deliberately offs us simply as a reminder that they have us by the short hairs. Tuesday's outage was precisely two hours, a little too neat to be caused by a falling tree limb, especially this year as lines have been denuded of vegetation.
ENJOYED AN HOUR TODAY with Fort Bragg's mayor, Bernie Norvell, and FB's lively new police chief, Neil Cervenka, the latter a worthy successor to one of my all-time fave cops, John Naulty. Chief Cervenka comes to us from Turlock where he racked up years of successful policing and, sports fans, was a close neighbor of the Kaepernick family whose famous scion the chief remembers first as an active neighborhood kid, then as a dominant, three-sport high school athlete. Chief Cervenka is grateful to have landed in Fort Bragg, “especially after 114 degree days in Turlock.” Like Naulty, the chief practices “pro-active” policing, meaning direct visits with troubled people and people causing trouble, nipping more serious crime in the proverbial bud.
I THOUGHT BACK to a memorable headline in the Ukiah Daily Journal in the late 1970s: “Boonville Declared Lawless.” Us Boonvillians were mostly amused, some of us seriously upset with the after-dark hijinks emanating from the Boonville Lodge. The legendary and physically imposing Deputy Squires was dispatched out of the Sheriff's Office to restore order as the Anderson Valley's resident lawman, which he singlehandedly soon did via a judicious application of force.
RETIRED NURSE LOUISE MARIANA recently told me some wonderful stories drawn from her years at Coast Hospital, including this one: A middle-aged woman conked out under a hair dryer at a Fort Bragg beauty salon. “I mean she was out.” Fortunately for the patient, she was only blocks from Coast's emergency room where staff labored long and hard to bring her back, all the while fearing she was gone, gone beyond reviving. From death's door, the patient spent another thirty days on life support, again with her family and staff wondering if she would ever rejoin the living. Suddenly, one miraculous day she awoke. “How does my hair look?” she asked.
SMALL WONDER a big chunk of us Americanos have lost confidence in government. Some 100 Congresspeople bought or sold financial assets that just happened to coincide intersected with the work of the committees they sit on, this grim revelation forwarded to the punch drunk public by the New York Times.
THE MOST FLAGRANT conflict of interest violators include Delaware Sen. Tom Carpenter, D, who traded in 138 companies and had 39 potential conflicts of interest, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who traded stocks in 326 companies and had 43 conflicts and California Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna, who reported trades in 897 companies and had 149 potential conflicts.
TOO BAD about Ro Khanna, the South Bay Congressman because he's one of the better reps, much more progressive on most issues than many of his self-certified lib colleagues.
THE BEST KNOWN insider trader is Paul Pelosi, husband of you know who. Just this summer he bought $5 million of shares in a semiconductor chip manufacturer days before a vote that handed $52 billion to semiconductor manufacturers.
MIKE SEARS (Coast Chat Line):
When I lived in Mendo village, I was a friend of a mechanic, Scott, who worked for Judy at the only garage in town. He calls me in for a consultation on a diesel as he knew I knew more about diesels than he did.
The back of this VW TDI wagon was covered in all the progressive, cool and socially evolved hippy statement bumper stickers, “BIODIESEL! No war required!”, “Earth First!“, “CoExist”, “Ban oil drilling!” blah, blah to show everyone just how cool, progressive and socially evolved they were.
Evaluation showed air was in the fuel line. Cause was the caustic biodiesel had rotted the fuel lines creating the injector pump to suck air into the rotted lines. I tell Scott he will have to replace every fuel line from the tank to the injectors with biodiesel resistant Nitrile tubing.
A while later the car is back in the shop. TOTALED. There was mildew under the hood. But hippy dippys won't use a mildewcide for that would be using CHEMICALS! and hippy dippys only use all natural ingredients to save the Planet.
So rather than mildewcide, hippy dippys sprayed white vinegar under the hood to kill the mold. All natural you know!
The engine got hot, the acetic acid turned to steam and promptly took out every electrical connection under the hood. The labor cost of replacing all the electrical connectors exceeded the worth of the vehicle so the insurance company wrote it off.
So down to the scrapyard in went, proudly displaying all those progressive, cool and socially evolved bumper stickers to tell everyone just how cool they were. They had saved the Planet by sparing us the few ounces of mildewcide in the environment and they were burning food for fuel which takes water to grow.
But they saved the Planet.
* * *
ON-LINE COMMENTER'S ASSESSMENT: Sounds like another Bull S#*t totally made up story.
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 14, 2022
ARTURO ARMAS, Redwood Valley. DUI, controlled substance, over an ounce of pot.
WAYNE BROWN, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
CESAR DELCAMPO, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
ALEJANDRO DIAZ, Ukiah. Narcotics for sale.
JONATHAN HENDERSON, Ukiah. Battery, resisting.
SANTIAGO MARTIN, Oakland. DUI, suspended license for DUI, no license.
MARK PALLEY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ERNESTO PETERS-PICKETT, Covelo. Failure to appear.
MATTHEW RUSSELL, Fort Bragg. Vandalism, public nuisance, probation revocation.
LILLIAN SAYAD, Willits. Controlled substance, false personation of another, probation revocation.
ROBERT SCOTT, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Parole violation.
THOMAS STRICKLIN, Willits. Controlled substance for sale, marijuana for sale.
REUNION ON THE PLAYA-2022
by Katy Tahja
Gathering together again the first thing Burners heard on the Black Rock playa was the laughter of old friends reuniting after three years. It was a love fest for those of us who go for the art and music, but most of all for the friendships. My Burner buddies are my extended family and it was reunion time in a world we all helped to create, then we vanished it a week later leaving no trace as much as possible.
Burning Man reborn offered its usual array of mindless amusements. I could have learned to melt playa dust into black glass beads, perfected my knot-tying skills with an Eagle Scout, or gone and found the Happy Hookers camp where they teach crocheting, and don’t forget the lock picking workshop. At Burning Sky camp I could talk to sky divers, who don’t like their playa nickname of “Flying Meatballs.” There are enough art cars shaped like furniture I could have observed the Furniture Car Rally and Cruise.
Food, and the discovery of it at odd times and places, is always a challenge. One camp had a one-time offer of 1,000 slices of lobster pizza. Any alcoholic drink in any form was offered, along with a camp having a Potato Party. Eat mashed potatoes and drink potato vodka. One camp offered a beer swap, bring in your warm can or bottle of beer and they would offer you an ice cold one. I didn’t stop to see what food stuff Vomiting Sparrow camp was offering however.
How about a “Hills Are Alive” sing-along event to the “Sound of Music” movie tunes? ALL music got recognition, from drum circles to jazz, salsa, bluegrass, hip-hop, swing, Celtic, you-name-it. You could hear one of two symphony/pops orchestras, then watch a Battle of the Marching Bands. Music throbs in the background day and night, the heartbeat of the playa.
I watched an ax-throwing contest (carefully supervised), a fire croquet game with flaming mallets and wickets, and smelled the wafting aroma of a white sage smudging ceremony at dawn. I was passed by a one wheel ride parade…those new urban transportation one wheel thingies you balance on. There was a huge explosion of electric bikes for transportation on the playa.
Again, as a woman of advancing years I choose not to participate in things like a Genital Printmaking class, or lap dancing lessons, and an offer to taste honey off of various male and female body parts, but I did choose to do something totally out of character…after all it IS Burning Man.
A camp member introduced me to an older man, camera around his neck, and she says…”He’s honest, he only photographs women over 60, and he wants to photograph you nude.” WHAT? But really folks, he only gives the prints to his models, and his 80 year old girlfriend chaperones the photo shoot. Fifty five years ago I did some modeling, still have the photos, and thought “Wouldn’t put the fun not have before and after photos?” Plus, the guy liked my braided gray and white pigtails. In a quiet semi-private corner of camp in front of iridescent fabric I shed my clothing and smiled and he took photos. I look forward to him sending me the images, wrinkles and all. And NO, NO, NO, I won’t be sharing the photos.
The Burn ended with a monumental traffic jam as thousands of us chose to leave Black Rock City at the same time. It took over eight hours from my camp on the playa three miles to the pavement and the road to Reno. I also came home testing positive for covid, so my week with 70,000 was followed by a week of no one as I isolated myself. Recovering quickly I can’t wait for next year and a return to the playa.
I hate to pop everybody’s green bubble, but there is no such thing as “clean” energy. Lithium mining, which is used to make electric car batteries, is just as harmful to the environment as fossil fuels — perhaps even more so. While we are driving around in our electric vehicles congratulating ourselves on how we are caring for the environment, we are doing exactly the opposite.
I am not suggesting that we continue on our path of environmental self-destruction. I’m pointing out that we can’t purchase an electric vehicle and believe we are doing the planet a favor. All we are doing is trading one environmental evil for another. In fact, most of our modern conveniences are bad for the environment. We have not figured out that we can’t have our cake and eat it, too.
JEFF BLANKFORT: Jean-Luc Godard, one of my favorite filmmakers, died yesterday at the age of 91.
I had the good fortune of meeting and connecting him to the Black Panthers when he came to the Bay Area in 1968 and tried to attend the trial of Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton but was turned away because the Oakland police did not recognize his Swiss press pass. Shortly afterward I arranged for him to meet with Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver which eventually led to him making a film about the Panthers. In 1969 I interviewed him in Paris, the text of which was later published in Student, a magazine then edited by the young Richard Branson.
IN A LONDON PUB
Excuse me, may I ask you a question? Quite right, sir. Well, you’ve been busy with all this driving, eh? Quite, Sir. Well, I don’t wish to give offense, but it has occurred, the question that is, would you say the old bird is becoming rather gamy? Not sure what you mean, Sir.
Well, you know, like sometimes things are left out too long, you know, that they should have been returned to the reefer a bit sooner...Oh, I wouldn’t quite put it like that, Sir. I see. I mean, are you sure?
You haven’t noticed anything, ah, a bit peculiar? No, Sir. Nothing, uh, rather tingly, shall we say, to the nostrils? No, Sir. I mean, ah, you have been at this quite a while, eh? Quite, Sir. So, if there were, ah, some sort of, ah, olfactory disturbance, shall we say, you would take notice? I suppose I might, Sir, if that were the case. And so, then, ah, would you say that might be the case, in present time, that is? No, Sir. Really. Quite. And you have been about this business for nearly a week, isn’t that so? Yes, Sir. Well, ah, if you will forgive the imputation of an unpleasant suggestion, you will be about this business for another week, before you finally, ah, part company with the, ah, consignment? Not quite sure what you mean, Sir. Well, ah, you know, the nature of the disturbance might become more pronounced as time passes, if it exists, that is, and you will be, ah, in accompaniment with it, whatever it might be, shall we say... Sir, are you trying to imply that the old bird is becoming rather gamy? Well, ah, yes, that has been the general drift, may I say, of my question. Well why didn’t you just say so, Sir? She smells like a bloody butcher shop. Really? Wonderful. May I quote you? If you buy the next round, Sir.
by Marilyn Davin
An Englishman I met on a kibbutz in Israel during the many international travel years of my youth asked me a question I’ve pondered ever since. Genuinely curious, he asked me in his measured, lilting accent why Americans were so obsessed with the goings-on of the royal family. I recognized the enduring truth of this as I sat in front of the telly myself, avidly soaking up the medieval pageantry following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Would Harry and Meghan bury the hatchet and cross the pond? Would Prince Andrew, disgraced consumer of under-aged female flesh, dare show his face? Even the humble and bookish new king was ripe for gossip as he sat beside his life-long love Camilla, destroyer of the saintly Princess Di. The Diana dust-up was just one of many royal scandals in the year 1992, which the Queen dubbed annus horribilis in remarks to a luncheon group in November of that year.
Ah, the Queen, faithful wife married young and just once, matriarch of children and grandchildren who divorced, cheated on their spouses, marketed their royal bona-fides to the highest bidders, and, in general, succumbed to the usual modern temptations, but in this era on the very public and unforgiving world stage. In our own celebrity-obsessed former uppity colony we gobble it up and hunger for more. And yet…the question persists. Why is the Queen still apparently so beloved, not only here but in Commonwealth countries once under the Monarchy’s yoke?
I figure it was her dignity. She never divorced, had an affair, lost her temper, railed against her enemies, was caught with her hand in the till, or criticized her wayward children or grandchildren. She lived a dutiful, unsullied life during a time when social constraints were crashing all around her and good manners became something that doddering old folks went on about. And with the exception of that annus horribilis comment back in 1992, she never complained.
If these attributes seem pedestrian in our dynamic times, I challenge you to review the ethics and personal deportment of our own leaders, public and private, with an eye to measuring their behaviors against the high bar set by the Queen. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison since we don’t have a royal family, per se, of course, though many have acted as if they belonged to one: JFK with his serial mistresses, many apparently bedded in the White House itself, Nixon with his burglars and lies, the Clintons with their shady real estate and financial dealings, Pelosi with her husband’s probably legal but almost certainly unethical financial activities and stock-market shenanigans. Even some of the ultimate protectors of our constitutional rights are ethically tarnished: consider U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s refusal to recuse himself from cases concerning his über conservative wife Jennie, a 2020 election denier and Trump fanatic, who on her very public platform has routinely kicked aside that nettlesome rule of law that her husband once swore to uphold back on October 18, 1991, in a televised ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.
The Queen would never have dreamed of betraying a promise to her country like that, and undoubtedly tsk-tsked in disapproval at that bit of dirty American laundry within the privacy of her castle walls; she would have been too polite to comment outside of them. And even though she never ran for office and didn’t directly participate in the bare-knuckled business of governance, her stoicism and unflappable devotion to duty were reassuring to Brits who still love their country’s historic royal pageantry despite the fact that these days it’s pretty much anachronistic theatre.
Then there’s the century-old bond between our country and the Queen’s, reinforced throughout the bloody twentieth century. Several years ago I visited the Eagle pub in Cambridge, England, where Allied airmen used wax candles, petrol lighters, and lipstick to write their names and squadron numbers on the ceiling of the rear bar while the Second World War raged. As I ate my banger and mash I imagined boisterous Yanks standing on their tippy toes on chairs and tables to scribble their names on that English ceiling nearly 80 years ago. The ceiling’s unofficial and spontaneous existence is incredibly moving; it’s a sort of everyman’s monument, created by soldiers far from home, many of whom doubtless slaughtered during the D-Day invasion of France.
Whatever the source of public admiration for the Queen, it endured throughout her 70-year reign. So…musing here…maybe her unassuming qualities could become a kind of litmus test for the characters of our own leaders. Dignified, ethical, and dutiful sound like fine if uninspired personal attributes: nothing flashy, just steady, honest, clear-eyed folks who care about their fellow citizens and always act in their interest. It would certainly be a refreshing change in media-world.
I, too, admired the Queen’s personal dignity and public character over the years as she loyally supported her subjects through the tricky shoals of the social upheaval of her reign and calmly reassured them that everything will be all right in the end. But whether those subjects will continue to support their monarchy, with all the expensive perks that go along with it, remains to be seen.
One thing I know for sure: If I were a British subject and given the opportunity to vote up or down on the future of the monarchy, I’d check the box next to the bloodless modern version of “Off with Their Heads” with nary a twinge or a backward glance.
PROP 27'S OVERKILL
When is enough, enough? For two months now every time I turn on the TV, I’m hit with at least 10 commercials per hour for Proposition 27, and a couple about Proposition 26. The money the supporters of Proposition 27 spend on these commercials could probably handle the homeless problem all by itself. And we have to endure this barrage for two more months? Enough already. Oh, BTW, I’m voting no on Proposition 27.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Generally, I’m in MT, ID and WY – roaming. There are any number of places in MT that are now charging fees for use of credit cards – bars, restaurants, smaller gas stations, propane fill-ups, coffeeshops, novelty stores (even near Yellowstone), even hotels and RV parks. The places I’ve seen that don’t are the larger big box stores which are few and far between. In ID and WY, there are fewer places “charging fees” but in small towns, a number will give “discounts” for paying with cash.
I SOLD THE FRENCH LAUNDRY. Then It Became “The Best Restaurant in the World...
UKRAINE, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2022
Ukraine war: Olaf Scholz says Vladimir Putin does not see war as mistake.
by Merlyn Thomas
Russian President Vladimir Putin does not realise the invasion of Ukraine is a mistake, German chancellor Olaf Scholz has said, after the leaders spoke on the phone on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr Scholz said he urged Mr. Putin to withdraw troops and re-enter talks with Ukraine during the 90-minute call.
He called for Russia to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. The chancellor has come under pressure to increase military support for Kyiv.
Mr Scholz said the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine would be the only way for “peace to have a chance in the region”.
Although he said Mr Putin “unfortunately” had not changed his position on the invasion, Mr Scholz emphasised the importance of continuing to talk to him.
“It is right to speak with each other and to say what there is to say on this subject,” Mr Scholz said.
He also claimed the weapons Germany had supplied to Ukraine had been “decisive” and “made the difference” in eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has criticised Germany for not sending more weapons. He wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that Ukraine needed more military support “to liberate people and save them from genocide”.
“Not a single rational argument on why these weapons can not be supplied, only abstract fears and excuses. What is Berlin afraid of that Kyiv is not?” he added.
Commenting on the phone call with Mr Scholz, the Kremlin blamed Ukraine for the continued violence.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February has challenged Berlin's long-standing diplomatic approach towards Moscow - on whose oil and gas its economy has recently relied.
And earlier this year, Mr Scholz reversed a decades-long German policy of military restraint by announcing the country would seek to spend 2% of GDP on military spending, in keeping with Nato targets.
By August Germany had donated more than $1.2bn in military aid to Kyiv - a significant sum but far lower than the UK and US, and even less than Poland, which has a smaller economy.
On Wednesday Germany's Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht pledged additional weapons to Ukraine, in addition to the generators, winter clothes, and tents already promised last week as the colder months approach.
Speaking to Reuters, Ms Lambrecht described Ukraine's ongoing counter-offensive as a “remarkable” success, although stressed it was too early to anticipate how Russia would respond.
“This proves that the Ukrainian forces are very well positioned tactically, and that they are capable of repelling attacks that not many had thought them capable of,” she said.
THERE WAS MADNESS in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastical universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. And that, I think, was the handle – that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting – on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
— Hunter Thompson, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”
“I CAN LOOK AT FACES and become disgusted and terrorized and sickened. Others can find beauty in them like large fields of flowers. I guess I ain’t much of a man for that. I am narrow. I can’t see the horizons or the reasons or the excuses or the glories. The average face to me is a total nightmare.”
— Charles Bukowski, “More Notes of a Dirty Old Man”
TRUMP’S LEGAL TROUBLES BARE SECRET GOVERNMENT RUN AMOK
by Dave Lindorff
Ever since President Harry Truman, in 1947, turned the wartime Office of Strategic Services (OSS) into the Orwellian-named Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and converted the Army’s code-breaking Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) into the National Security Agency (NSA), this country has been in the process of becoming not even a pseudo-democracy, but a National Security state.
Today, our every phone call, email, tweet, Instagram post and letter is or can be monitored and without even a court warrant or order by myriad government agents, local police, and even private corporations that work hand-in-glove with the government.
We laugh when President Trump, caught trying to steal secret documents that as president he was able to rifle through at will, read in bed, tear up, flush down the toilet, or cart off to his hotel and golf club at Mar-a-Lago, is defended against an FBI raid of his Florida “home,” by right-wing political supporters who say, “If this can happen to an ex-president think what can happen to you?” (These same right-wing Trump backers have long supported such police-state actions including passing the laws and confirming the judges that allow them to happen, so the hypocrisy is stunning.)
We laugh in part because we know it is already and has for a long time been happening to ordinary Americans, and like that it is now happening to a pro-law enforcement former president. I myself found out a few years back that I had been maliciously placed on the FBI/Homeland Security Department ‘Terrorist Watch List,” a list of over one million people whose names were reported to the FBI by any federal agency wanting to punish someone (in my case likely the Pentagon as my inclusion on the list was discovered during an international flight two months after I’d published a cover story in the Nation magazine exposing decades of massive accounting fraud and budget deception by the Pentagon).
But this Trump story is no laughing matter. While it may be heartwarming to see the long-time criminal and shyster Trump squirming in fear that he might end up being jailed for obstruction of justice, theft of government property, conspiracy, abuse of power, and who knows what else, we need to also be asking why all these top-secret or “above top-secret” documents federal officials find so “scary” to have been left in an unguarded, unlocked room in a Mar-a-Lago basement, mixed in with bits of lingerie in Melania Trump’s bedroom closet, or scattered on an office floor, were kept secret from We the People in the first place.
It’s not the FBI raid that is so egregious. At least the Justice Department got a search warrant for that, which is more than most police agencies and prosecutors bother to do these days when raiding ordinary citizens’ homes. It’s the very secrecy of those thousands of documents that is the outrage.
Secrecy is incompatible with democracy. We’ve been living with this creeping miasma of ever more secrecy, and with the metastasizing draconian laws that have been passed by Congress to deter potential whistleblowers who might consider (or to punish actual whistleblowers actually engaged in) pulling back the veil, that we take it as a given that we don’t know what the hell “our” government is doing behind our backs.
Today, a vicious war is raging in Ukraine, but most of the reasons for that war — US machinations behind the 2014 coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected government and installed an anti-Russian, neo-fascist coup government in its place, secret deals with arms dealers to arm and train the Ukrainian military, secret US military advisor postings in Ukraine, and National Security Council planning to create a new cold or even hot war against Russia — have been kept from the American people.
Polls show that a majority of Americans even today, after years of anti-Russian propaganda emanating from Washington with the help of compliant so-called journalists in the mainstream corporate media, a majority of Americans do not want a war with Russia (or China), but think one may happen.
Why? Russia and China are certainly not going to start one. Neither country is in a good position to attack the US, as neither has missiles based near the US while the US has nuclear bombs galore and delivery systems for them, located within minutes of both Russia and China on a fleet of Trident subs, on bases across Europe, in Turkey and the Persian Gulf, and on islands in the Pacific. A Russian or Chinese attack on the US would be an at of national suicide, and both those countries know that.
We need to have the documents to show that the US is provoking conflict with both those countries. We need to know what the US really knows about Iran’s nuclear fuel processing capability and intentions, not the scare stories about what a nuclear Iran could or would do. We need to know what US policy really is towards Israel’s huge nuclear arsenal — something the US government never even talks about.
International diplomacy and US international strategy should not be developed in secrecy, which has been the norm since World War II at least. We need to have open discussions about why the US operates over 800 bases around the world, has nuclear-armed aircraft carrier battle groups spread around all the seven seas, each with an air force on board larger than all but a couple of nations (not even a handful!).
We need to put an end to the punishment of whistleblowers, which has actually gotten worse over the years, with the Obama administration worse than the Bush Administration, and with a four-administration-long pursuit of Julian Assange, whose prison torment and threatened extradition to the US on espionage charges (for his just doing the job that ordinary news organizations should have done!), is abetted by those very news organizations, which were happy to publish Wikileaks’ scoops, but now shamelessly attack the messenger who delivered them.
Sure Trump is a vile narcissist and sociopath who probably took those secret documents hoping to figure out a way to cash in on them somehow, but we shouldn’t be cheering too hard. Most of them are things that were being kept secret from us!
If Donald Trump declared them all to be declassified, as he has claimed, he should now tell us what they were saying. He should be the ultimate whistleblower about the National Security State that is now trying to come after him.
Not that I expect the man to do that. He no doubt is hoping to win in a courtroom presided over by a federal district judge that he himself nominated to that position, and to be able to keep the purloined documents to profiteer on them as he no doubt intended to do, for instance blackmailing foreign leaders with information gleaned from US intelligence services like the CIA.
What the current Trump scandal should be doing is producing a massive movement among Americans fed up with secret government. It should lead to demands for an end to secret government, an end to the punishment of whistleblowers, dropping of the extradition effort to get Julian Assange and of the indictment against him for Espionage, and the release from prison and post-prison conditions on other whistleblowers, and an end to secret wars and war-mongering.
Americans want a lot from this government, but are getting virtually none of it: real action on preventing climate catastrophe, free public college for all, a Social Security system that actually supports a decent living standard for elders in a nation where few workers get a pension from employers, public health care for all with an end to bloodsucking private insurers, a peaceful world, an end to mass incarceration and excessive punishments, police who are civil servants, not enforcers, schools that are safe for our children, a ban on automatic and semi-automatic guns and large magazines capable of mass-killings, the unobstructed right of women to control their bodies, the right to form unions and to negotiate contracts free from employer retaliation, etc.
These are all things that a majority of Americans want but they cannot get them in part or even large part because secret government is busy ignoring them and substituting a focus on national security, police intimidation, secret meetings and deal-making with private industry, and corruption and bribes of public officials, and because the public has become inured to the idea of a government on autopilot, the workings of which they no longer have any idea.
Let’s use this moment not to revel in Trump’s legal hazards, as enjoyable as those may be, but rather to demand an end to secret government.
FBI RAIDS THE PILLOW GUY
EUROPE, MORE THAN PUTIN, MUST SHOULDER THE BLAME FOR THE ENERGY CRISIS
The same arrogant, self-righteous posturing from the West that fuelled the Ukraine war is now plunging Europe into recession
by Jonathan Cook
Outraged western leaders are threatening a price cap on imports of Russian natural gas after Moscow cut supplies to Europe this month, deepening an already dire energy and cost-of-living crisis. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Europe will “freeze” this winter unless there is a change of tack.
In this back-and-forth, the West keeps stepping up the rhetoric. Putin is accused of using a mix of blackmail and economic terror against Europe. His actions supposedly prove once more that he is a monster who cannot be negotiated with, and a threat to world peace.
Denying fuel to Europe as winter approaches, in a bid to weaken the resolve of European states to support Kyiv and alienate European publics from their leaders, is Putin’s opening gambit in a plot to expand his territorial ambitions from Ukraine to the rest of Europe.
Or so runs the all-too-familiar narrative shared by western politicians and media.
In fact, Europe’s arrogant, self-righteous posturing over Russian gas supplies, divorced from any discernible geopolitical reality, reflects precisely the same foolhardy mindset that helped provoke Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in the first place.
It is also the reason why there has been no exit ramp – a path to negotiations – even as Russia has taken vast swaths of Ukraine’s eastern and southern flanks – territory that cannot be reclaimed without a further massive loss of life on both sides, as the limited Ukrainian assault around Kharkiv has highlighted.
The western media has to carry a major share of the blame for these serial failures of diplomacy. Journalists have amplified only too loudly and uncritically what US and European leaders want their publics to believe is going on. But maybe it is time that Europeans heard a little of how things might look to Russian eyes.
The media could start by dropping their indignation at “insolent” Moscow for refusing to supply Europe with gas. After all, Moscow has been only too clear about the reason for the shutdown of gas supplies: it is in retaliation for the West imposing economic sanctions – a form of collective punishment on the wider Russian population that risks violating the laws of war.
The West is well practised in waging economic war on weak states, usually in a futile attempt to topple leaders they don’t like or as a softening-up exercise before it sends in troops or proxies.
Iran has faced decades of sanctions that have inflicted a devastating toll on its economy and population but done nothing to bring down the government.
Meanwhile, Washington is waging what amounts to its own form of economic terrorism on the Afghan people to punish the ruling Taliban for driving out US occupation forces last year in humiliating fashion. The United Nations reported last month that sanctions had contributed to the risk of more than a million Afghan children dying from starvation.
There is nothing virtuous about the current economic sanctions on Russia either, any more than there is about the blackballing of Russian sportspeople and cultural icons. The sanctions are not intended to push Putin to the negotiating table. As US President Biden made clear in March, the West is planning for a long war and he wants to see Putin removed from power.
Rather, the goal has been to weaken his authority and – in some fantasy scenario – encourage his subordinates to turn on him. The West’s game plan – if it can be dignified with that term – is to force Putin to over-extend Russian forces in Ukraine by flooding the battlefield with armaments, and then watch his government collapse under the weight of popular discontent at home.
But in practice, the reverse has been happening, just as it did through the 1990s when the West imposed sanctions on Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Putin’s position has been bolstered, as it will continue to be whether Russia is triumphing or losing on the battlefield.
The West’s economic sanctions against Russia have been doubly foolish. They have reinforced Putin’s message that the West seeks to destroy Russia, just as it previously did Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen. A strongman is all that stands between an independent Russia and servitude, Putin can plausibly argue.
And at the same time, the sanctions have demonstrated to Russians how truly artful their leader is. Economic pressure from the West has largely backfired: sanctions have barely made an impression on the value of the rouble, while Europe looks to be heading into recession as Putin turns off the gas spigot.
It will doubtless not only be Russians quietly rejoicing at seeing the West get a dose of the medicine it so regularly force-feeds others.
But there is a more troubling dimension to the West’s conceit. It was the same high-handed belief that the West would face no consequences for waging economic warfare on Russia, just as earlier assumed it would be pain-free for Nato to station missiles on Moscow’s doorstep. (Presumably, the effect on Ukrainians was not factored into the calculations.)
The decision to recruit ever-more east European states into the Nato fold over the past two decades not only broke promises made to Soviet and Russian leaders, but flew in the face of advice from the West’s most expert policy-makers.
Guided by the US, Nato countries closed the military noose around Russia year by year, all the while claiming that the noose was entirely defensive.
Nato flirted openly with Ukraine, suggesting that it too might be admitted to their anti-Russia alliance.
The US had a hand in the 2014 protests that overthrew Ukraine’s government, one elected to keep channels open with Moscow.
With a new government installed, the Ukrainian army incorporated ultra-nationalist, anti-Russia militias that engaged in a devastating civil war with Russian communities in the country’s east.
And all the while, Nato secretly cooperated with and trained that same Ukrainian army.
At no point in the eight long years of Ukraine’s civil war did Europe or the US care to imagine how all these events unfolding in Russia’s backyard might look to ordinary Russians. Might they not fear the West just as much as western publics have been encouraged by their media to fear Moscow? Putin did not need to invent their concern. The West achieved that all by itself.
The encirclement of Russia by Nato was not a one-off error. Western meddling in the coup and support for a nationalist Ukrainian army increasingly hostile to Russia were not one-offs either. Nato’s decision to flood Ukraine with weapons rather than concentrate on diplomacy is no aberration. Nor is the decision to impose economic sanctions on ordinary Russians.
These are all of a piece, a pattern of pathological behaviour by the West towards Russia – and any other resource-rich state that does not utterly submit to western control. If the West were an individual, the patient would be diagnosed as suffering from a severe personality disorder, one with a strong impulse for self-destruction.
Worse still, this impulse does not appear to be open to correction – not as things stand. The truth is that Nato and its US ringmaster have no interest in changing.
Their purpose is to have a credible bogeyman, one that justifies continuing the massive wealth redistribution from ordinary citizens to an elite of the already ultra-rich. A supposed threat to Europe’s safety justifies pouring money into the maw of an expanding war machine masquerading as the “defence industries” – the military, the arms manufacturers, and the ever-growing complex of the surveillance, intelligence and security industries. Both Nato and a US network of more than 800 military bases around the globe just keep growing.
A bogeyman also ensures western publics are unified in their fear and hatred of an external enemy, making them readier to defer to their leaders to protect them – and with it, the institutions of power those leaders uphold and the status quo they represent.
Anyone suggesting meaningful reform of that system can be rounded on as a threat to national security, a traitor or a fool, as Britain’s former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn found out.
And a bogeyman distracts western publics from thinking about deeper threats, ones that our own leaders – rather than foreigners – are responsible for, such as the climate crisis they not only ignored but still fuel through the very military posturing and global confrontations they use to distract us. It is a perfect circle of self-harm.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the demise of the Soviet Union, the West has been casting around for a useful bogeyman to replace the Soviet Union, one that supposedly presents an existential threat to western civilisation.
Iraq’s weapons of mass distraction were only 45 minutes away – until we learned they did not, in fact, exist.
Afghanistan’s Taliban was harbouring al-Qaeda – until we learned that the Taliban had offered to hand Osama bin Laden over even before the 9/11 attacks.
There was the terrifying threat from the head-choppers of the Islamic State (IS) group – until we learned that they were the West’s arm’s-length allies in Syria and being supplied with weapons from Libya after it was “liberated” by the West from its dictator, Muammar Gadaffi.
And there is always Iran and its supposed nuclear weapons to worry about, even though Tehran signed an agreement in 2015 putting in place strict international oversight to prevent it from developing a bomb – until the US casually discarded the deal under pressure from Israel and chose not to replace it with anything else.
Braced for recession
Each of these threats was so grave it required an enormous expenditure of energy and treasure, until it had served its purpose of terrifying western publics into acquiescence. Invariably, the West’s meddling spawned a backlash that created another temporary enemy.
Now, like a predictable Hollywood sequel, the Cold War is back with a vengeance. Russia’s President Putin has a starring role. And the military-industrial complex is licking its lips with delight.
Ordinary people and small businesses are being told by European leaders to brace for a recession as energy companies once again clock up “eye-watering” profits.
Just as with the financial crash nearly 15 years ago, when the public was required to tighten its belt through austerity policies, a crisis is providing ideal conditions for wealth to be redistributed upwards.
Like other officials, Nato’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has sounded the alarm about “civil unrest” this winter as prices across Europe soar, even while demanding public money be used to send yet more weapons to Ukraine.
The question is whether western publics will keep buying the narrative of an existential threat that can only be dealt with if they, rather than their leaders, dig deep into their pockets.