Interior Showers | Clouds | La Nina | Stars | Winter Outlook | Theo Sieg | Foggy Gomes | Skyhawk Talk | Coast View | Deficit Surprise | Dunsing Brothers | Dentist Denied | Bridge Construction | No Quiz | Skunk Music | Ed Notes | Little Airport | Dumpster Gang | Arena Blues | Bragg Unicorn | Squaw Not | Favorite Books | Mother Pearl's | Fully Conscious | Yesterday's Catch | Amish Way | Bikers | Power Limit | QBs | Royal Farce | Toxic Warning | Polio Specter | Happy Monroe | Corporate Tentacles | Blanche Monnier | Teen Dream | Grass Greener | Class War | Hot Outlet | Satchmo Clipping | Ukraine | Gluten Confusion | Poverty Draft | Wandering Rabbit
SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS are forecast for the interior again today. Dry and warmer weather conditions are forecast for the latter half of the week into the weekend. (NWS)
DRAMATIC CLOUDS over Anderson Valley tonight! (Monday) We didn't get the rain we were promised today, but we did get some awesome sky sculpture! This is looking across the valley from my front porch. (Jerry Karp)
WHAT THIS WINTER COULD MEAN FOR CALIFORNIA WEATHER
California’s upcoming winter is forecast to be mild and drier than normal, according to experts, as climate patterns steer the state. We’re in for another year of La Nina. A La Nina occurs when the temperature of the sea is cooler than average in the Eastern Pacific, resulting in less evaporation, weaker storms and less moisture in the atmosphere. Its counterpart, El Nino, is when warm water moves toward the West Coast. Paul Ullrich, professor of regional and global climate modeling at the University of California, Davis, said we’ve been in a La Nina weather pattern for two years now. This upcoming La Nina winter will be the third consecutive year. The effects of the weather pattern will vary by region, with California seeing less rainfall. But it appears to be weakening, Ullrich said. According to the National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions, the La Nina will continue through the Northern Hemisphere to winter 2022 to 2023.
MORE WINTER BLUES? A brief note about the winter to come…
Alas, despite the good news in the short term, I have no such good news to share regarding the winter outlook. There is quite strong ensemble agreement, at the moment, regarding elevated odds of a drier than usual winter across most of California and the southern Colorado Basin—two places that could really, really use a wet winter about now. The usual caveats apply: this is a probabilistic, vs deterministic, prediction; seasonal outlooks are only modestly skillful; and there are some factors (including random good/bad luck) that the seasonal models can’t capture. That said, we’re going to be in the third consecutive year of a “Triple Dip” La Nina event, and the reliability of ENSO teleconnections does seem to increase in successive years (so predictions for persistent North Pacific ridging are not surprising). This is especially true in light of continued very warm ocean conditions in the far tropical western Pacific, which also favor northeastern Pacific ridges in winter (on top of the La Nina influence). So, I’ll continue to follow this in the coming weeks and months—but right now I’m not seeing much indication of medium term drought relief (if anything, the opposite).
— Daniel Swain
THEO CHRISTIANA KLASEEN SIEG
May 17, 1951 - September 18, 2022
With quilt fat quarters on the ironing board and beef broth bubbling on the stove, Theo Sieg left us suddenly, on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in San Rafael, CA.
Born on “Tuolumne Cooperative Farm” in Modesto, she attended North Davis Elementary, Buckeye Elementary, Central Valley High, Shasta High, and Humboldt State College.
Theo lived in Davis, Redding, Arcata, Paris, Bangkok, San Francisco, Mendocino, and San Rafael. In addition, for two years, she lived and traveled in a converted school bus, driving throughout America, where she homeschooled her two spunky children and gave advice and support to her creative photographer husband, Ron. Theo worked as a lifeguard, camp counselor, Busvan clerk, Thai restaurant hostess, daffodil picker, ESL teacher, VRBO host, cab driver, and finally as dispatcher for DeSoto and then Flywheel Cab Company. If you got a ride in the last 10 years, you probably talked to Theo.
She loved “working the phones,” helping people in need get critical transportation while being sure that her diverse group of cab drivers were able to take as many calls as possible. She loved and was adept at picking up new words from the languages of her drivers and customers. Her cab passengers recognized her by the colorful silk flowers in her hair and the interest she showed in each of them. She was a gold mine of service to her customers.
Her joys included: finding beautiful fabrics to sew yet more pillow cases, raising epiphyllums, reading fantasy science fiction, (Robin McKinley and Patricia Briggs), and cooking a good pot of beans or pork roast. She treasured time with her adventuresome children and daughter-in-law. She was an avid newspaper reader and puzzle page solver. Her intellect was vast.
Theo is preceded in death by her mother and father, Vi and Ted Klaseen, her mother-in-law Katie Sieg, and her nephew Anders Prokop. Leaving to mourn her are husband, Ron Sieg; son, Toby Sieg and her new joy, her daughter-in-law, Nadia Mendez; all of San Rafael, California; as well as her daughter, Stina Sieg, Western Slope Colorado Public Radio reporter, Grand Junction, Colorado.
She is also survived by brothers, Sven Klaseen, and Nels Klaseen, and sister Elin Klaseen (Bob) all of of Redding; and sister, Joanna K. Pace (Clay,) of El Cerrito; as well as her niblings, Ruth Pace of Pittsburgh, PA; Ingmar (Andrea) Prokop of Bellingham, WA; and Sofia Prokop (Bobby) of Hood River, OR, and cousins in California, Colorado, and Sweden.
Theo’s outdoor Celebration of Life is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24. Contact a family member or (510) 860-3696 for details. No one leaves without an epi!
Remember Theo when you buy a book at Dark Carnival Bookstore, or a hank of fabric at Bay Quilts, or send a memorial gift to San Francisco Epiphyllum Society, 2520 Crestmoor Drive, San Bruno, CA, 94066.
THE HAWK SOARS!
Surviving and thriving our rebirthing: talk with Chris Skyhawk Sept. 23, 7pm. At the Mendocino Center for Spiritual Living Company store, Fort Bragg, $5-$20. While running for County Supervisor in 2018 Chris suffered a nearly fatal stroke during which he had a Near Death Experience. The stroke has left him with significant challenges nonetheless he is committed to surviving AND thriving. In this talk through poetry anecdotes and shared mutual presence we will explore how we might co evolve with earth in these turbulent times.
HEADED TO MENDOCINO this evening to photograph the board of SOR and drove home north on Lansing. What did I behold! (Larry Wagner)
MENDO’S HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN BANKRUPT
by Mark Scaramella
What started as a dry discussion of the County’s audit of the 2020-2021 fiscal year on Tuesday, snowballed into summary of a perfect storm of factors leading to a surprisingly large $5.7 million deficit in the County’s “self-insured” health plan. (And that’s after several million American Rescue Plan dollars were added in.)
The discussion started with an attempt to understand why the Board wasn’t informed of the health care deficit until only recently and what kind of reports may or may not be available and how up to date they are. But it soon became clear that the number is much larger than anybody expected factoring in the existing deficit with this year’s (July 2022-June 2023) additional deficit.
It appears that a perfect storm of factors have landed on Mendocino County’s health plan: Skyrocketing medical costs (with providers charging full dollar rates, as opposed to the lower rates insurance companies and the government negotiate); inflation, covid, an increase in high-cost employee medical claims, staff turnover, and a plan that has been more or less neglected in the past because claims were within predictable parameters.
As a result, the County and the employees face potentially significant increases in their contributions to the health plan which will put a hole the the County’s budget and offset whatever payments, raises, or cost of living increases may be under consideration.
The only thing we didn’t hear discussed — which has been mentioned in previous health plan presentations — is the so-called “stop-loss” re-insurance that we thought the County paid for which was supposed to cover health care cost spikes stemming from high-cost individual claims.
If that no longer applies, it’s not hard to imagine that during covid the County probably incurred abnormally costly health care claims which at this point nobody knows how absorb.
In an ideal world, management would stay on top of such a large and volatile budget item by staying on top of claims, underlying employee health factors, sick leave, disability, etc. But we don’t see any evidence of that.
Then, because of management turnover and confusion about who is supposed to manage the “self-insured” health plan, nobody in the current crop of Mendo officials has been paying much attention.
Supervisor Dan Gjerde thought the County should transfer to some kind of “pooled” plan instead of Mendo’s self-insured plan as soon as possible, plus explore any remaining ARPA funding.
To add insult to fiscal injury, CEO Antle later confirmed that the County has not incorporated health care costs into their billing for state grants, meaning that the County has to absorb employee health care costs that could have been reimbursed if health insurance costs had been factored into the grant salary rates.
In an upcoming meeting, the Board expects to invite somebody from the previous financial cadre, perhaps retired Auditor Lloyd Weer, to explain how this deficit ballooned so quickly without being noticed.
A READER WRITES: A local appeal of a Building permit for a single family residence at 1401 N. Hwy 1 was denied at Tuesday's BOS meeting. Welcome to the neighborhood Dr. and Mrs. Jason Kirkman, says Kathy Wylie, who seems to think it's a bad thing that the battered Mendocino Coast, theoretically guarded from development by the Coastal Commission, has denied this particular dentist's ocean view complex. Best thing the Supervisors have done recently. Ditto for the County's Planning Commission. Deny them all!
NO QUIZ THIS WEEK
It’s the 4th Thursday of the month this week so there will not be a Quiz.
As you will no doubt be tired of being reminded, we present these Brain Exercises on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month.
Hope to see you on October 6th.
Steve - The Quiz Master
SAN FRANCISCO has periodically announced can't-miss schemes for reducing homelessness, the catch-all term for a variety of people who live outside because there are rules inside. Many millions of public dollars have been spent in pursuit of the noble goal of getting the unhoused indoors, most of the money going to the people who run homeless programs in SF and in the outback in places like Ukiah.
THE NUT of the prob, besides the cash and carry compassion of the people who run homeless programs, is that the drug and alcohol sectors of the homeless comprise the largest segment of the unhoused, and the only way to get them indoors is by compelling them via arrest and court order into locked-door rehab facilities. Which do not exist in the quantity needed. If a lightly populated vastness like Mendocino County can't get its suicidal drunks and hard drug cripples off the streets and out of the bushes despite literal millions vaguely aimed to that end, Frisco and the greater Bay Area is even less likely to accomplish that great feat for much larger numbers of the incapacitated. (At any one time, Mendo is home to no more than 300 walking wounded, people so screwed up they're unable or unwilling to care for themselves. There are roughly five hundred Mendo people tending to them.)
THE SOLUTION is much more genuinely low cost housing for working people, reinstitution of a national hospital system for all those millions rendered permanently incapacitated by this, that or the other thing.
DR. JENINE MILLER'S title seems to change with the seasons, but she's vaguely responsible for the County's mental health. Dr. Miller said recently that over the past 8 years, 184 of our fellow citizens have permanently, voluntarily, checked out. The 6th annual suicide awareness walk will take place in Ukiah on September 24th beginning at Alex Thomas Plaza at 9:00am.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, SEC-GEN OF THE UNITED NATIONS: “Let’s have no illusions. We are in rough seas. A winter of global discontent is on the horizon. A cost-of-living crisis is raging. Trust is crumbling. Our planet is burning. People are hurting – with the most vulnerable suffering the most. The United Nations Charter and the ideals it represents are in jeopardy. We are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction. The international community is not ready or willing to tackle the big dramatic challenges of our age. These crises threaten the very future of humanity and the fate of our planet.”
AND HERE I AM wondering how the 49ers will do against Denver on Sunday. I get zero sense of urgency from the leadership, such as it is, but if that international symbol of elder abuse magically occupying the White House tottered out to his teleprompter tonight and said, “Listen up, you degenerate, insensate bastards, from this day forward it is illegal to drive your cars. You heard me. Park 'em. Permanently. Violators will get one warning. There will be no second,” I'd say, “You got my vote, Joe.”
THE DUMPSTER GANG
On Sunday, September 18, 2022 at 10:01 P.M. Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a report of subjects walking northbound on South Dora Street checking car doors in the 1600 block of South Dora Street in Ukiah.
The Deputies checked the area and were unable to locate the subjects. A short time later the Deputies heard Ukiah Police Officers being dispatched to the area of Beacon Lane and Rose Avenue in regard to shots being fired and subjects looking into cars.
The Deputies responded to the area and met with Ukiah Police Officers, who had detained a 16-year-old male.
The Deputies contacted two victims (32-year-old male and 33-year-old female) at the location.
Deputies learned the pair were at their residence when another adult female (37-year-old) at the residence advised her car had been broken into. The adult male reviewed his security cameras and observed two to three subjects entering his car, as well at the 37-year-old female's car.
The adult male left the residence to attempt to locate the subjects. The adult male located two of the subjects in the area of Beacon Lane and Rose Avenue.
At that point, the adult male observed bright flashes and loud noises coming from where one of the subjects was standing. The adult male was unsure if the flashes were from fireworks or gunfire.
The adult male was able to catch a 16-year-old male and detain him until Ukiah Police Officers arrived. The Deputies arrived a short time later and began collecting evidence.
Deputies located an expended 9mm casing in the near the area of Beacon Lane and Rose Avenue .
The 16-year-old male was in possession of stolen property from the burglarized vehicles.
As the Deputies were continuing their investigation, they were advised of workers at the Hillside Health Clinic reporting a suspicious subject on the west side of the building.
Deputies responded to the area and located Gabriel Hailey-Ruiz, 18, of Ukiah, hiding in a dumpster. The Deputies located a polymer 80, 9mm handgun in Hailey-Ruiz's possession. The Deputies observed the high capacity magazine was loaded and inserted into the magazine well. The handgun was not registered and was illegal to possess.
Hailey-Ruiz was removed from the dumpster and placed under arrest for Felony - Conspiracy to Commit Crime, Felony - Carry Loaded Handgun not Registered Owner, Felony - Carry Concealed Weapon Prohibited Class/Unlawful Possession,
Felony - Discharge of Firearm Grossly Negligent Manner and Felony - Possess Large Capacity Magazine.
The 16-year-old male was arrested for Misdemeanor - Receiving Posses Stolen Property and Felony - Conspiracy to Commit Crime.
The 16-year-old male was transported to Juvenile Hall, while Hailey-Ruiz was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $15,000 bail.
BLUES ON THE COAST
Award-winning San Francisco Bay-area blues band Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, two-time winners of the prestigious Blues Music Award for Band Of The Year, will perform as part of the Blues on the Coast Concert Series at the Arena Theater in Point Arena on Saturday, October 22, 2022. Their latest Alligator Records release is 2019’s Contemporary. The limitless combined talents of blues harmonica virtuoso and sly, soulful singer Estrin, guitar mastermind Kid Andersen, keyboard wizard Lorenzo Farrell and endlessly creative drummer Derrick "D'Mar" Martin take Estrin's inventive, original songs to new and unexpected places. With these musically fearless players kicking everything up a notch, Contemporary explores some different sounds, instrumentation and grooves from their previous releases, as they continue to reinvent traditional blues styles. UK tastemaker music magazine MOJO named Contemporary the #4 Best Blues Album Of 2019. Ticket price: $25. Website: www.arenatheater.org
NORTH COAST PUBLIC LAND NAMES CHANGED, replacing slur for Native women
by Alana Minkler
The names of almost 650 geographic features in the nation, including a creek in Sonoma County, are now changed following the U.S. Department of Interior's decision to replace the word “squaw,” a derogatory and racist slur for Indigenous women, where they referred to lands or waters in the public domain.
In Sonoma County, a stream east of Cloverdale that feeds into the Russian River was changed to “Mayacmas Creek,” according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The name was chosen based off the nearby Mayacamas Mountains because no public or tribal recommendations were received, said Tyler Cherry, a spokesperson for the Department of the Interior. The name, spelled Mayacmas by the federal government, is believed to derive from the name of a band of Wappo people.
The slur also was removed from seven geographic features in Humboldt County, five in Mendocino County and six in Lake County. In total, of the place names that were changed, 80 were in California and 68 of those were in Northern California
The Board on Geographic Names voted earlier this month to finalize the name replacements, which were chosen based on consultation with tribal governments and recommendations, according to the department in a news release.
In Humboldt County, the Yurok Tribe asked the federal government to rename the former “Squaw Tit,” a summit in the coastal mountains, to Pkwo'-o-lo' 'ue-merkw, which means Maple Peak in the Yurok language.
“On behalf of the Yurok Tribe, I would like to thank Secretary Deb Haaland for establishing a path to remove hateful place names from the landscape and correct these longstanding injustices,” said Joseph L. James, the chairman of the Yurok Tribe in a news release.
A map of the sites' locations, old names and new names can be found at geonarrative.usgs.gov/names_taskforce/.
The word “squaw” has historically been used as a degrading ethnic, racial and sexist slur for Indigenous women.
The move comes at a time when more communities across the U.S. have been eliminating historically offensive words from businesses and place names. A prominent California example came about a year ago when Palisades Tahoe, the Truckee-area ski resort, adopted its new name.
In 2011, the State Office of Historic Preservation removed the slur and changed the name of a highly visible rock formation which juts out above the Russian River and Highway 101 about 6 miles north of the Sonoma-Mendocino County line.
The name was changed to Frog Woman Rock to honor a Pomo lore about a spirit with an attractive woman's face and the body of a frog who eats unsuspecting men and is married to the trickster coyote.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
None of my favorite books weren't on anyone's lists last week, but these have impacted my life.
The Fearless Spectator - Charles McCabe;
For One More Day, the Five People You Meet In Heaven; and The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto - Mitch Albom;
Any of Jeffrey Deaver's books featuring Lincoln Rymes;
The Hundred-Year Marathon- Michael Pillsbury;
China Road - Rob Gifford;
Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys;
Bossy Pants -Tina Fey (the only book that I've ever read three times).
I have read about 250 books the last three years since retirement and thanks for suggesting so many more that I can explore.
An avid AVA reader.
FULLY CONSCIOUS AT 3:52
Pointless, Ridiculous, Absurd, Lost, Postmodern American Comedy Show
Warmest spiritual greetings, Awoke this morning identifying with the Dao, or “that which is prior to consciousness”. Watched the mind recite a few chants and prayers from various traditions; Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, and Neo-Pagan. Headed to the showers at Building Bridges homeless shelter in Ukiah, California, and then following morning ablutions, spent the next two hours bottom lining the trash & recycling voluntary chore. Left the homeless shelter and proceeded to the Ukiah Co-op for a black bean breakfast burrito and a cup o' coffee. Pushed on to the Ukiah Public Library and am presently on a public computer. Fully conscious at 3:52 PM PDT on a cloudy September 20th, 2022 Anno Domini.
In the midst of this samsaric wheel of a civilization, please mark your calendar that September 28th, 2022 is the birthday of Craig Louis Stehr. Damn right I am accepting money, to get the heck out of Mendocino County where I have nothing that I need to do, and go forth to destroy the demonic and return this world to righteousness, and you are invited to join with me.
You can be enlightened! You can be an Immortal! Right now!
Craig Louis Stehr, email@example.com
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 20, 2022
LELAND BEAN JR., Willits. Probation revocation.
JASON BIENVENU, Covelo. DUI-alcohol&drugs, paraphernalia.
FRED DANFORTH, Willits. DUI with priors.
GABRIEL HAILEY-RUIZ, Willits. Concealed handgun not registered owner-unlawful possession, grossly negligent discharge of firearm, large capacity magazine, conspiracy.
RITA LAVENDUSKEY, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent Flyer)
DAVID MONTHEI, Ukiah. Parole violation.
THERESA QUASCHNICK, Fort Bragg. Disoderly conduct-alcohol.
TREVOR RAYMOND, Willits. Evasion opposite to traffic direction, failure to appear.
JAMES RODDY, Gualala. Disobeying court order.
GREGORY THOMPKINS, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
SCOTTY WILLIS, Ukiah. Trespassing. (Frequent flyer.)
REYMUNDO ZUNIGA, Ukiah. Cultivation of over six pot plants, unlawful water diversion, armed in commission of felony, conspiracy.
EDUARDO ZUNIGA-PANTALEON, Ukiah. Cultivation of over six pot plants, unlawful water diversion, conspiracy.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The Amish are worth considering. I have Amish/Mennonite/Anabaptist ancestors and their influence is still felt. They’re best situated to survive what’s coming – strong families and social ties, faith, non-dependence on the state. If the electricity gets turned off, they’ll be just fine. I’m always interested by the fact that they let their kids freely partake of the supposedly wider culture in their teens, and they can leave the Amish way of life behind if they wish – yet, not many do. The pull of close families and communities where you are truly safe among like-minded friends of your own culture is a powerful thing.
PG&E’S ELECTRICITY TRANSMISSION LIMITS Threaten to Throttle Development Throughout Southern Humboldt, Blindsiding Local Officials
by Ryan Burns
State and local officials are demanding answers after learning in recent weeks that Pacific Gas & Electric has all but reached the limits of its capacity to transmit electricity to new projects across southern Humboldt County, including the cities of Fortuna, Rio Dell and Garberville.
In meetings with local leaders, PG&E has said it could cost more than $900 million and take up to a decade to make the upgrades necessary to increase capacity for the utility’s substations and its two main transmission lines for the region — one coming in from Cottonwood to the east and the other from Laytonville to the south. (A third transmission line, coming from the Redding, does not have the same capacity issues.)
In interviews with the Outpost, local officials say PG&E’s failure to adequately plan for the area’s growing electricity demands could have devastating impacts on future development, jeopardizing a major hospital project, scaring off potential investors, torpedoing new housing developments and stymying local governments’ efforts to adapt to climate change.
In a phone interview this morning, Second District Humboldt County Supervisor Michelle Bushnell said that after weeks of requesting a meeting to get more information, she and fellow supervisor Rex Bohn finally met with PG&E officials two weeks ago.
“What they told us was that from basically Fortuna to the Mendocino County-Humboldt County line [and] east to west from Dinsmore to Shelter Cove … there’s no room to add any kind of infrastructure,” she said, noting that Shelter Cove generates its own power. “So Fortuna has a little bit of power to give, a little tiny bit, and Rio Dell has about three hookups that can be accommodated in the next year to two years, is what they told us. [But] from there south there is no availability.”
PG&E, an investor-owned utility whose history of legal troubles includes pleading guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for causing the 2018 Camp Fire, has issued numerous “will serve” letters to local business applicants in recent months, only to inform some of them later that they cannot accommodate the hookup requests.
Reached by phone on Friday, Fortuna City Manager Merritt Perry said he and other city staffers met with PG&E personnel last Tuesday and were surprised to learn about the projected $900 million price tag and 10 year timeline to address the problem.
“It puts the city in a situation where it basically shuts off a lot of our economic development efforts and puts projects in question,” including housing developments, Perry said. A key component of the city’s Climate Action Plan calls for transitioning the city’s fleet of vehicles to electric models. “If PG&E is already limited in its ability to provide service, how are we going to accomplish that?” Perry asked.
Asked whether county officials felt blindsided by this revelation from PG&E, Humboldt County Planning and Building Director John Ford laughed for a few moments before responding.
“Yeah,” he said finally. “Yeah.”
He and other county personnel had been hearing “whispers” about transmission capacity problems for months, Ford said, but it took them a long time to set up a meeting with PG&E officials. They finally did meet this past Thursday, and at the meeting the utility’s representatives agreed to make a presentation before the Board of Supervisors. But that, too, is proving difficult to pin down.
The presentation was originally scheduled for October 4, then got moved to the meeting of October 18, and Ford said PG&E is now looking to move the presentation back even further.
Ford said PG&E electricity transmission limits will impact countless cannabis applicants who’ve been planning to convert to new electric hookups.
“There is a site I’m aware of [in Redway] that has been built, and they can’t occupy their buildings because they don’t have power,” Ford said. “And that’s right on Redwood Avenue, too.”
The other big implication from this news concerns the county’s Climate Action Plan, which outlines the county’s attempts to meet the challenges posed by climate change.
“And a core strategy of that is to move away from carbon-based fuels, which would include generators, natural gas, propane — and if there’s not the power supply to be able to convert to renewable, non-carbon-produced electricity, [then] there is no ability to implement those measures,” Ford said. “So it has a huge implication on our ability to effectively address climate change.”
Bushnell said the potential impacts to Southern Humboldt County would be hard to overstate.
“It’s dire,” she said. “It’s dire. Like, there can be no new housing.” The electricity transmission limits could also threaten a long-planned new community hospital facility in SoHum, she said. In order to meet the state’s seismic safety requirements, Jerold Phelps Community Hospital must relocate its emergency and acute care departments into a new hospital building, which is slated to be built on the former College of the Redwoods site on Sprowel Creek Road in Garberville.
“The hospital purchased the property, they’ve raised funds, they’ve gotten grants — they’re well on their way to getting that building going [along with] apartments to house their staff,” Bushnell said. But PG&E has yet to say whether it will be able to provide electricity to these facilities.
Fortuna officials first became concerned about PG&E’s service limits back in January. The city had finished installing a Tesla battery backup system at its Kenmar lift station, a project completed with hefty state grant funding, only to be informed by PG&E that its nearby substations are incapable of providing service to the system. The batteries can’t be connected to the grid until improvements are made.
In July, Fortuna staff learned that a business owner’s request for increased capacity service at an existing building at the former Pacific Lumber Company mill site had also been denied by PG&E. Staff, at the time, was in the process of reviewing a proposed distribution facility at the mill site that had requested 3,000-amp service.
PG&E had issued a “will serve” letter to the applicant, indicating its intent to provide the requested electricity, but Fortuna officials have since been unable to confirm that commitment with PG&E. Instead, the utility asked for additional time to analyze the situation, according to a Fortuna staff report.
Perry wrote an informal complaint letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and the city council will consider whether to make a formal complaint at its meeting tonight. Perry said CPUC officials seem to be viewing the local situation as part of the normal processes — identify needed improvements, review potentially affected projects, set a timeline, etc.
“But there’s a real disconnect,” Perry said. “The timeline for PG&E to supply this service essentially slams the brakes on all new power demand projects” for the next decade. City staff has been working closely with a developer who’s interested in buying the former PALCO mill site. “It concerns us that somebody could walk away because power can’t be supplied for 10 years,” Perry said.
Rio Dell City Manager Kyle Knopp shares his frustration. In a meeting last Thursday, PG&E officials encouraged city staff to forward details about specific development opportunities to help PG&E justify the cost of infrastructure upgrades. Knopp described this as akin to a “chicken and the egg scenario.”
“Our obligation to people looking to do business in this community is to tell them the whole truth — so, the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said. “So when people come to the city looking initially at investments, we’re going to have to disclose that the power supply is questionable at best.”
In other words, PG&E wants to know that there’s sufficient demand to justify investments in infrastructure upgrades, but any potential developers interested in setting up shop in Rio Dell are unlikely to even submit plans once they find out they may not get power for up to a decade.
Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission back in May expressing “extreme concerns” over PG&E’s “inaction” when it comes to upgrading its “substandard electrical distribution and substation facilities.”
She cited a $4.5 million development project that promised to generate $44,000 in annual tax revenues for the city, plus much-needed jobs. But PG&E had recently informed the developer that there was no power available for the project, and it couldn’t give a timeline for when the power would be available.
“This lack of clarity from PG&E risks the developer pulling the project and potentially locating out of this region,” Garnes wrote in her letter.
A CPUC commissioner responded the following month, saying PG&E had submitted its latest utility grid capital improvements application in June 2021, proposing projects and investments for the 2023-2026 timeframe. The letter did not identify any details about these proposed projects and investments, which are scheduled to be approved or denied by the middle of next year, though it said Rio Dell’s capacity issues “may be considered” during that proceeding.
The letter also said PG&E should be “as transparent as possible about the timeline and next steps with local governments.”
Like Fortuna, the City of Rio Dell recently commissioned a large Tesla battery facility. This one has enough capacity to run the city’s corporation yard, including its wastewater treatment plant and water plant, for up to 19 hours. Knopp asked whether its fair to ask cities to bear the cost of such electricity storage facilities or whether PG&E should be on the hook due to its lack of planning.
Knopp noted that in a statement provided to the North Coast Journal, PG&E identified the cannabis industry as one source of growing electricity demands. Rio Dell has been hosting stakeholders meetings regarding cannabis since 2017 — meetings that PG&E officials attended. “So they’ve known for quite a while that this development was coming,” Knopp said. “And at that point in time [the utility said] it was three years down the line that they could do some of these upgrades and be able to serve everybody.”
The phrase he remembers PG&E employing at the time was, “We’re in the business of providing power.”
At the city’s meeting with PG&E last week, Rio Dell staff asked about those cannabis statements published in the Journal.
“We brought that up in our in our meeting and they [PG&E] were apologetic about it,” he said. ”They insisted that it was not an intentional [slight on the industry] and they recognize that, obviously, it’s legal and it should be treated just as any other customer on the system.”
Knopp said one benefit of cannabis legalization has been to drive many energy-intensive indoor grow operations out of business while professional facilities are highly regulated, with some located just minutes from City Hall.
“And so, to me, that is maybe a bit of a convenient whipping horse, to blame cannabis,” Knopp said. “But in reality, it obscures the general fact that there hasn’t been any planning for any kind of capacity growth in this region, and that’s highly problematic.”
A wide range of large developments have been proposed in Rio Dell, including a lumber processing facility that wants to generate its own power, Knopp said, but he worries that developers will choose to go elsewhere once they learn about these capacity issues. PG&E won’t give city officials a list of applicants in the queue they believe they can serve, he said.
“It’s terrible. It’s just terrible,” Bushnell said, though she added that in subsequent meetings PG&E employees have been “very cooperative.”
Local officials noted the added complications posed by California’s recently adopted rule stating that by 2035, all new cars and trucks sold in the state will be zero-emission vehicles, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Plus, regional climate action plans call for eliminating natural gas hookups in favor of all-electric utilities for new developments. Updated building codes going into effect next year will also require all new homes to have 225-amp hookups, a significant increase over the current 125-amp requirement.
“So these [electric infrastructure] investments have to be made, and they need to be made quickly,” Knopp said.
Bushnell said she’s been in touch with our region’s representatives in the state legislature, including Assemblymember Jim Wood and Senator Mike McGuire. The Outpost reached out to their offices for comment and received the following statements.
I was not happy to learn about the electricity transmission capacity concerns that will likely affect projects in the Humboldt area and I have conveyed to PG&E that I have an expectation that communication among all parties improves immediately.
Unfortunately, we are experiencing capacity issues in every part of the state and that’s reflected by the number of Flex Alerts that have been issued in the past several months alone.
This summer, the legislature was actively engaged in deciding whether or not to keep the Diablo Canyon plant open beyond its pending closure and in doing so, demanded that there be an emphasis on jump starting and completing green energy projects to ensure that California meets our ultimate capacity issues.
McGuire’s office sent along the following statement:
When we heard late last week about this asinine proposal from PG&E to deny new service hookups throughout huge swaths of Humboldt County, we immediately went to work and spoke with the CEO of PG&E [Patricia K. Poppe] to let her know this half-baked initiative won’t stand and they must do better.
We’ve continued to meet with utility representatives and we’ve let them know we’re expecting alternate solutions. We’ve also been in constant communication with county officials and we’ll be bringing local elected leaders and PG&E together soon to discuss potential alternatives.
The Outpost reached out to PG&E’s regional media representative Deanna Contreras with a list of questions shortly before 9 a.m. today. She replied via email, saying she’d work on getting answers by 2 p.m. Shortly after 2, however, she emailed again, saying she was unable to meet that deadline. We replied, asking when she expected to get answers to our questions but had not received a response by the time of this post.
Ford, meanwhile, said the county’s state lobbyist is in town to give a presentation to the Board of Supervisors at tomorrow’s meeting. Today, the lobbyist is meeting with county department heads and supervisors to discuss the county’s legislative platform and top priorities.
“And as you can probably imagine,” Ford said, “this [PG&E situation] will be probably the thing that goes from not even on the list to the top of the list, in terms of things that need to be addressed.”
THE QUEEN IS ROTTING IN HER GRAVE: Reflections of an Ex-Anglophile
by Jonah Raskin
While vacationing on the East Coast in September, I watched TV and couldn't help noticing that Queen Elizabeth died, her scoundrel son, Charles, was the king and that there had been a changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, sometimes know as “F***ingham” because of the antics the royals have played for centuries, going back at least as far back as the barbarous King Henry VIII who said off with their heads and his words turned axes bloody.
The whole epic was nauseating. The public relations industry for the Crown worked overtime and boasted repeatedly that political transitions in England have always been peaceful and that continuity has always been the name of the game. Someone at the front office forgot that the English had a civil war, a political revolution, that King Charles I was beheaded in 1649, and that for a time Levelers and Diggers who wanted to turn the world upside down animated the conversation.
In August 1819, at St. Peter's Field in Manchester, where I lived and attended the university, fifteen people died when the cavalry charged into a crowd of people who had gathered to demand genuine democratic representation. It was known as the “Peterloo Massacre.” The British government immediately passed legislation aimed at suppressing meetings advocating reform. I remember that on November fifth every year students, including myself, celebrated Guy Fawkes Day to honor the memory of the plot to blow up the House of Lords.
As recently as 1991, Labor Party members Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Benn proposed the abolition of the monarchy, the de-establishment of the Church of England, and an end to the constitutional status of the Crown. Then, sadly, Corbyn and Benn backpedal. Why don't I hear any commentators mention radical British history? Perhaps because they don't want to be accused of bad manners, practically a sin in bourgeois British life.
If you take a long close look at the British Empire, which was said never to see the sun set somewhere on the globe, you see many sunsets, anti-colonial wars and independence movements from Asia and Africa to the Americas. The Royals saved their own asses and assets — Charles III is one the wealthiest men in England — but couldn't stop the colonies from slipping away. Of all the major battles against the British Crown and what it represents, few have been as dramatic as the wars for national liberation, from Kenya and India to Jamaica and elsewhere.
Former colonial nations have often made a mess of things after independence, by cozying up to the imperial center, but that doesn't excuse the British policy of dividing and aiming to conquer. Do I have to remind the BBC that the Empire remained in power for as long as it did by using brute force? The brutal British ruling class still tries to maintain control over capital and labor the world over. Thank you very much Queen Elizabeth and King Charles III who has his work cut out for him in a time of global crisis and dire times for working men and women in England, Scotland and Wales. No doubt, Charles can’t distinguish between his own self-interest, on the one hand, and that of the Crown and the London bankers, on the other. The procession of Elizabeth II’s coffin through parts of England, Scotland and Ireland struck me as an attempt to reconstitute Great Britain. I lived in England and studied at the University of Manchester in the 1960s when the Beatles, the Stones and other British rock groups invaded the US and held it hostage. I survived on fish and chips, warm beer, the libraries in London and elsewhere and the tradition of working class solidarity. It was the time of Carnaby Street fashion and a movement to ban the Bomb. There were few if any teaching jobs in colleges and universities. Some of my mates had no choice but to migrate to Australia and reinvent themselves as Aussie academics. Those who remained would say they were waiting for old men to die so they could fill their shoes. An empire in decline is not a pretty thing.
I still have fond feelings for aspects of English life, including local pubs, the folk music scene, the English language as spoken and written by working class Brits and people from former colonies who brought their culture with them. The New Statesman and the Manchester Guardian were often a good source of news, and Marxist historians like Eric Hobsbawm taught at universities and were respected.
In movie theaters in the Sixties when God Save the Queen was played and the whole audience stood, I remained seated as a symbolic protest against monarchy. The Brits were too polite to castigate or scold me. Years later, at Shea Stadium where the Mets were playing the Cubs, my friends and I refused to stand for the national anthem and were called “Commies.” On one occasion in England, I complained to my mentor, Arnold Kettle, who taught at Leeds and who belonged to the central committee of the British Communist Party, that Brits were too polite. He disagreed. I might say the same thing now about the Brits. They've been too civil for too long, except when they're torturing the Irish, firing on Gandhi and his supporters in India or helping to perpetuate apartheid South Africa.
When I left England after three years in exile, I was no longer an Anglophile. I had seen smoke and soot, took bad air into my lungs, looked at housing for workers that was unfit for human habitation. I also experienced egregious class privileges, especially in the industrial North and in coal mining towns. Most of my friends were Irish, Welsh and Scots, the kind of people that the imperial English tried to conquer and control. In more recent times, as an empire in decline, the Crown has supported American military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shame on the Labor Party's reactionary Prime Minister, Tony Blair, shame on union busting Margaret Thatcher and shame on the clown, Boris Johnson, who remained at 10 Downing Street far too long.
Troubling is brewing in places that never were never truly paradises, though tourist industries promoted them as such. In Jamaica earlier this year, protesters met Prince William and his wife with demands for an apology and reparations. In August, Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo urged European nations to pay reparations to Africa for the slave trade that he said stifled the continent’s “economic, cultural and psychological progress.” England kept its colonies underdeveloped.
In The Nation magazine, under the rubric “colonialism, imperialism,” anti-imperialist, Tariq Ali, wonders why the monarchy, which he calls “a farce,” has lasted so long. His answer is that it reminds the Brits of the glory days of empire and also as a way to co-opt the English working classes and strengthen the ties to what's left of the Commonwealth. Bread and circuses have worked since the days of the Roman Empire. The queen’s funeral process was meant to distract Brits from inflation and unemployment. Also, the monarchy as I see it has appealed to the ingrown sentimentality of the Brits, and a kind of Dickensian appeal to family, tradition and continuity, though Dickens himself loved the London working classes, not the Crown and Queen Victoria.
Yes, Queen Elizabeth II is finally dead after a long reign. In 1952, at the age of ten my schoolmates and I were placed in front of a TV and made to watch her coronation as though she was our queen. Before long, Charles III will be a dead king. I am not holding my breath and waiting for the Brits to wake up, dismantle their monarchy and replace it with a genuine democracy of the people by the people and for the people. That would be revolutionary and of late the Brits have turned their backs on revolutions and evolutions and have aimed to devolve. In the Victorian era they opted for Darwin, not Marx, though the Brits did launch the first industrial revolution in places like Manchester, where the working classes lived in abject poverty and didn't enjoy the spoils of empire. Engels describes that sad state of affairs in The Condition of the Working Class in England(1845), still a classic. When I lived in Manchester in the 1960s, working class families were among the wretched of the earth.
American citizens, who think the Royals are cute and harmless, and who buy items like coffee cups and place mats with images of them, might take a close look, see that they're an outmoded institution and the product of smoke, mirrors, lies and movies that glorify the Crown. Can't we please join former colonies like Ghana and Jamaica and fire up our own War of Independence that began in 1776 and that didn't go far enough?
THE SPECTER OF POLIO
by Patrick Cockburn
“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” said Dr Mary T Bassett, the New York health commissioner a week ago. In July the first polio case in nearly a decade was identified in an unvaccinated man in Rockland County in upstate New York. Governor Kathy Hochul has now declared a state of emergency to control the growing outbreak of a disease that used to be called “the Crippler” and which mainly struck at young children.
It is a measure of the fear caused by the recurrence of polio that there has so far been only one case, but the virus has been detected in 57 samples of sewage. A full-scale epidemic is unlikely because of the vaccine that was developed in the 1950s. I have a personal interest in this because I caught polio in one of the last epidemics in western Europe in Cork in 1956 and was disabled by it. In 2005 I published a book about the epidemic in Cork and more generally about the spread of the disease in all countries.
It is sometimes compared to the Covid-19 epidemic, but it carried a greater charge of fear because the victims were mostly young children and not the elderly. In an epidemic in New York City in 1916, cats were suspected of spreading it and 72,000 were hunted down and killed. Towns in Long Island and New Jersey sent out deputy sheriffs armed with shotguns to set up checkpoints on the roads to turn back cars carrying children under the age of 16. Memory of this terror evaporated swiftly after mass vaccination, but it would not take much to bring it back.
Below the Radar
Almost everything published in Britain this week has some reference to royalty, so as my contribution I have been trying to think of jokes by or about the Royal Family. The only mildly funny one I have ever heard about the late Queen is that she would refer to a Lady Ross, whom she considered vulgar, as “Lady Roscommon”, after the Irish county of that name.
More amusing is a story told about her grandfather, George V. At the height of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, it was suggested to him that, in keeping with his government’s austerity policy, he should make some economies by cutting the number of his domestic staff. “Perhaps,” proposed a royal advisor, “his Majesty might consider getting rid of his second pastry cook.” “Good God,” replied the King, horrified by the suggestion, “a man can’t do without his bun!”
Here is an interesting study suggesting that Liz Truss cannot recreate the populist alliance which enabled Boris Johnson to win the 2019 general election. Some 79 per cent of Leave supporters voted Conservative at that time, but today the polls show that this figure is down to 45 per cent. Increasing friction with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol would not work as a tactic to reunite the Leavers because few voters in Britain care about what happens in Ireland, north or south. Truss may instead rely on the traditional Conservative vote, but the problem for her here is that a large majority of Conservatives favour increased government spending over tax cuts.
“SHE TOLD ME once that she just wanted her own bedroom, her own bed, and a door she could close. And grass. Grass to run in. Trees to hug and flowers to pick. This was a girl who had nothing but the great gem that she was, and everyone got to hold and fondle that gem, and then put it back when they were done with it. She was happiest – for a time – when she married Arthur [Miller], and there was a country house and trees and fruit and flowers – and silence and doors.” (Maureen Stapleton on Marilyn Monroe)
WHO IS RAISING OUR CHILDREN? LIBERATING TWEENS FROM CORPORATE TENTACLES
by Ralph Nader
Consider the harmful, grasping tentacles by corporations around the bodies and minds of youngsters through relentless direct marketing that bypasses parental authority. Now comes my sister Claire Nader’s new book You Are Your Own Best Teacher! Sparking the Curiosity, Imagination and Intellect of Tweens.
The corporate creep started out in the movies and early kids’ television, such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons. Then these cartoons expanded to include ads for sweets and soft drinks. Then the marketeers promoted diets exploding with sugar, salt and fat, documented in detail by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (See: NutritionAction – https://www.cspinet.org/page/nutrition-action). This resulted in obesity, diabetes and predispositions to other diseases. The TV stations would not air counter ads to defend vulnerable children.
Meanwhile, outside middle-school and high schools’ premises, vendors for the carcinogenic tobacco companies were passing out free cigarettes. Hook them at age twelve and you’ve got them for life was the savage Big Tobacco strategy.
In recent decades, the open floodgates of direct marketing of anything and everything to kids has become a half-trillion-dollar annual business. Every mode of seduction, manufactured peer group pressure and minute psychological profiling is delivered by highly-paid promoters, packagers and influencers.
Then about 2007 came the iPhone and other “smart” phones that plunged pre-teens and teens into the addictive Internet Gulag. Predatory practices were planned to the nth degree by the likes of Facebook, Instagram and others right down to click-on fine-print-contract peonage. But that’s not enough for Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook who are eagerly planning a deeper Metaverse quicksand and so-called “augmented reality” (read depthless virtual reality). Already, many kids are staring at iPhones and computer screens six to seven hours a day. Violent videogames have become hyper-addictions interfering with school work and convulsing family life.
Although parenting columns and recent actions by the Federal Trade Commission and an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the California legislature to address the serious mental health consequences of the Internet on youngsters are raising alarms, the corporations are digging ever deeper into young psyches. Profits are Kings not to be dethroned. As James U. McNeal put it in his 1992 book “Kids as Customers: A Handbook of Marketing to Children” there is always “Needed: New, New Product Strategies that Really Target Kids.”
Over the years, Claire has been observing these merciless, cruel exploitations and wondering about our society’s failure to protect the young generations. As a response to these commercializations of childhood (“tearing apart the fabric of childhood,” as former Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt phrased it), she has written on 60 topics speaking directly to the 9 to 12 years olds (Tweens) and, unlike the profiteers, connecting Tweens to families, communities and nature through various elevated conversations and experiences.
Call the book an antidote, like no other, to liberate young innately curious, imaginative, practical idealists from the commercial pressures coming down on them every day.
She doesn’t talk down to Tweens. Instead, she guides them toward raising their own sense of significance (giving examples of accomplished Tweens), and realizable achievements.
“You Are Your Own Best Teacher!” recounts many motivating stories from history to the present, which make Claire’s nudges toward self-educational experiences exciting. She introduces them to young Benjamin Franklin, young Frederick Douglass and young Helen Keller to illustrate their profound self-awareness and discipline. She takes them on a tour of the print dictionary, highlighting concepts such as justice, freedom, peace, wisdom and gratitude.
By addressing Tween’s self-consciousness, the book takes youngsters on explorations about “being smart” to learn about their own bodies, and encourages them to press for more physical activity, eat smartly, control their time and avoid hours glued to hypnotic screens. Explaining the importance of “learning to unlearn” and asking questions such as “what if?” and “why?” regarding the outside world, she encourages Tweens to teach themselves to distinguish fact from fiction, thinking from just believing, respect from self-respect, all of which will prepare them for the realities they will face as they mature.
Claire has long believed that if you have low expectations for Tweens, they will oblige you, but if you have high expectations, they will surprise you. Her book offers suggestions that encourage communing with nature, enrich family discussions, appreciate the wisdom of the ancients, and to use proverbs to extend the ability of children to concentrate.
Teachers understand the benefits of self-education that enhances the vitality of their classrooms. Self-teaching to build Tween’s confidence is also heartening for parents who feel they have lost control over raising their own children to the stupefying seductions of video-driven hucksters. This book is for the whole family!
The main thrust of her effort, however, is to directly speak to Tweens, with a calming sense of humor, about their futures as active young citizens, skeptical shoppers and lifelong learners. This means anticipating how to better handle their turbulent adolescent years and later apply their talents to further the common good and protect posterity.
Of the many encomiums bestowed on this transformative book, one stood out for me from law professor and author Robert Fellmeth, who wrote: “All in all, this book is full of wisdom – more than any other I have read in my 76 years on this earth. I wish I could have read it to my two sons. None of us would fall asleep and all of us would grow wiser.”
To obtain You Are Your Own Best Teacher! go to inspiringtweens.com. It makes an important gift, for Tweens, parents and local libraries.
BLANCHE MONNIER was chained naked to a bed in a pitch-black room for over 24 years by her own mother and brother after she fell in love with a poor lawyer. She weighed only 55 pounds when she was finally rescued.
The police made a customary search of the estate and did not come across anything out of the ordinary until they noticed a putrid odor coming from one of the upstairs rooms. Upon further investigation, it was revealed that the door had been padlocked shut. Realizing that something was amiss, the police smashed the lock and broke into the room, unprepared for the horrors that lay within.
See the photos and go inside the horrifying true story of the girl who refused to give up her only true love — here: https://bit.ly/324OJEm
I HAVE EVERYTHING THAT I WANTED AS A TEENAGER, only 60 years later. I don't have to go to school or work. I get an allowance every month. I have my own pad. I don't have a curfew. I have a driver's license and my own car. The people I hang around with are not scared of getting pregnant and I don't have acne. Life is great. I changed my car horn to gunshot sounds. People get out of the way much faster now.
Gone are the days when girls used to cook like their mothers. Now they drink like their fathers.
I didn't make it to the gym today. That makes five years in a row. I decided to stop calling the bathroom “John” and renamed it the “Jim”. I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.
Old age is coming at a really bad time.
When I was a child I thought “nap time” was a punishment. Now it feels like a small vacation.
The biggest lie I tell myself is... “ I don't have to write that down, I'll remember it”.
I don't have gray hair... I have “wisdom highlights”! I'm just very wise.
If God wanted me to touch my toes, He would've put them on my knees.
Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators. We haven't met yet.
Why do I have to press one for English when you're just going to transfer me to someone I can't understand anyway?
Of course, I talk to myself. Sometimes I need expert advice.
At my age “Getting Lucky” means walking into a room and remembering what I came In there for.
I have more friends I should send this to, but right now I can't remember their names.
Now, I'm wondering... did I steal this meme from you, or did you steal it from me?
BIDEN’S BANK BUSINESS
by Michael Hudson
So what do you think about this decision by Biden to forgive a little student debt?
Of all the politicians in Congress, Biden has always been the most pro-bank and pro-financial sector, largely because he comes from Delaware, which is the corporate headquarters for most companies in the United States, including the credit card companies. Also, Biden has been the most hostile toward students. He recently characterized students who are going to college, saying, who needs a college degree? A lot of them just get in the humanities, and we really don’t need them.
So he has a kind of a visceral contempt for students. And it was Biden who made sure that in the bankruptcy law that was reformed, I think, over a decade ago, that student debt could not be wiped out from bankruptcy. So of all the politicians, Biden has been the most hostile, personally hostile, as well as just serving the banking interests in opposing the interests of students.
And this is what really sets American social policy and economic policy more against other countries than any other policy.
Basically for hundreds of years, and still in many, many countries, Germany to China, education is free, because you want the population to be educated. And in the United States, the whole structure of the United States politically was to divide it into school districts, because they all realized the importance of education.
Basically, if education should be free, students shouldn’t have to run into debt to get it. And in fact, I think in Germany, not only is education free, but if you’re going to college, you’re given a stipend for living costs, so that you don’t have to take a separate job at Starbucks or some other menial job to pay your tuition. So if education should be free, you shouldn’t run into a debt; and if you shouldn’t have run into debt in the first place, the debt should be forgiven.
That is, the basic moral ethic of most people. And it’s not in the United States. And you’re right, the amount that is so-called forgiven is only a small fraction. And Biden did not even forgive the penalty fees, the late fees that have doubled and tripled the amount of student debt for many people. So Biden is still leaving, even for the low-income people, debts that are two or three times what it costs to get education in the first place, just for the banks to get these extra fees.
So this is a slap in the face — so typical of his position, and of the Democratic Party’s position — for students. Biden is not alone in this. The Democrats were backing him, saying, we want to make it clear to our base, the campaign donors, the donor class, that we’re going to forgive the wealthy financial sector, their carried interest charge, and make that free of the income tax, but we’re not going to favor the working class.
Because the class war is back in business.
ON THIS DAY IN 1957, 65 years ago today, Louis Armstrong blew his top in his hotel room in Grand Forks, North Dakota over the Little Rock Central High School integration crisis, blasting Governor Orval Faubus for being “two-faced” and President Dwight Eisenhower for having “no guts” to let Faubus call in the National Guard in to prevent black students from integrating the high school. “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell,” he vented. “It's getting so bad a colored man hasn't got any country.”
Armstrong put his entire career on the line to speak out against injustice as his September 17 North Dakota comments made headlines around the world. However, a recently discovered private reel-to-reel tape owned by Armstrong found the trumpeter venting about Faubus and the Little Rock situation to interviewers on September 8 and September 10. He had spent over a week telling anyone who would listen about the injustice going on in Little Rock but it wasn't until reporter Larry Lubenow of North Dakota ran with Armstrong's September 17 comments that the story blew up.
Armstrong received little support at the time, instead getting more criticism from both the white and black press. Today, his stance is celebrated as a landmark moment in Civil Rights. He knew what he had done. He cut out various clipping about the incident, wrapped them in Scotch tape and stuck them in a scrapbook. This is Armstrong's copy of a Pittsburgh Courier story about his Little Rock comments, containing some of his fiercest statements on the subject. We're glad he saved it and we're glad he spoke out. Thanks, Pops.
UKRAINE, TUESDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER
With Ukrainian forces on the offensive in the east and south, the Kremlin could use the votes to try to justify absorbing occupied parts of Ukraine and a possible escalation of the war.
Russia’s moves on referendums have echoes of Putin’s actions in Crimea in 2014.
Putin kept Russia and the world waiting hours for a speech that never happened.
Amid Russia’s battlefield losses, its proxies in Ukraine push for annexation.
As fighting intensifies in Ukraine’s east, a frontline town is cut off from the world.
Russian lawmakers toughen penalties for soldiers as Moscow appears to signal a possible escalation.
In occupied Ukraine, resistance to Russian rule deepens.
Russia’s invasion casts a shadow over the U.N. General Assembly.
(New York Times)
US LAWMAKERS SAY STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS WILL HURT MILITARY RECRUITING
by Caitlin Johnstone
Nineteen members of the US House of Representatives have written a letter [PDF] to President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin cautioning that the partial cancellation of student debts can have the unintended consequence of reducing military recruitment in the United States.
The letter reads as follows:
Dear President Biden,
We write to you to share our concerns about the unintended consequences of your decision to cancel up to $20,000 of student loan debt per borrower. We are particularly concerned about the negative impact this will surely have on our nation’s military and their ability to recruit and retain top talent.
As you know, some of the most successful recruiting incentives for the military are the GI Bill and student loan forgiveness programs. The idea that the military will pay for schooling during or after completion of a service obligation is a driving factor in many individuals’ decision to join one of the services. A recent estimate showed that as many as 178,000 servicemembers were eligible for some type of forgiveness.
By forgiving such a wide swath of loans for borrowers, you are removing any leverage the Department of Defense maintained as one of the fastest and easiest ways to pay for higher education. We recognize the loan forgiveness programs have issues of their own, but this remains a top recruiting incentive.
Currently, a mere 23 percent of the population is eligible to serve in the military. Even fewer of those have a propensity to serve. At the end of last month, the Army had only reached 66 percent of its recruiting goal for the year. The Navy, only 89 percent. It is no secret that each of the services continues to battle hardships in recruiting and now these problems will be exacerbated by removing the uniqueness of this benefit.
As the services try to adopt unique approaches to tackle their recruiting challenges, including historic bonuses, it feels like their legs are being cut out from underneath them. With this in mind, we ask for you to provide us answers to the following questions:
1. Was the effect on military service considered in the development of the recent student loan forgiveness decision?
2. What is the administration’s plan to develop incentives to augment the loss of those who might join the military to help pay off student loans?
3. What improvements are being made to ensure timely payments to those currently enrolled in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs for both active duty and reserve components?
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
So they're just coming right out and admitting it. One of the reasons the US government doesn't offer the same kinds of social support systems that people have in all other wealthy nations is because otherwise there'd be no economic pressure on young Americans to sign up for service in the US war machine.
This is no secret, but it's generally considered taboo for government officials to actually say so. People have been talking about the poverty draft for many years — about the established fact that a majority of US military recruits come from neighborhoods with below median income levels and that those neighborhoods are targeted for recruitment because impoverished communities often see military service as their only chance at upward mobility.
But the term "poverty draft" can create a bit of confusion, because when most Americans hear "poverty" they think homeless people and those who can barely afford to eat or keep a roof over their heads. In reality the US is a nation where a majority of the population would be unable to pay for a $1,000 emergency expense from their savings, and the level at which economic pressure is felt to join the military is much higher than the very poorest of the poor.
Those economic pressures are why US Army officials have explicitly said that the student loan crisis is to thank for their success in meeting recruitment goals.
So the US empire has a huge incentive to maintain a very large population of Americans who are economically uncomfortable, and this plays a significant role in the domestic policymaking decisions of that nation's government. The US empire is held together by constant violence and the threat thereof, and its ability to apply that violence would be crippled without a steady supply of warm teenage bodies to feed into its war machine. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that the US empire would collapse without the economic pressures which coerce teens to sign up to kill and be killed over things like oil reserves and Raytheon profit margins.
It's one of those things that looks more ghoulish the more you think about it. In the wealthiest nation in the world, economic justice is actively suppressed in part to ensure that young Americans will feel financially squeezed into killing foreigners who are far more impoverished than they are. They are keeping people poor so that they will commit mass murder. It's actually hard to think of anything more depraved than that.
But such is the nature of the capitalist empire. You're either a useful gear-turner of the machine or you are liquidated and turned into fuel for its engine. If you're not a successful capitalist you can be used to defend the empire with pricey weaponry. If you're not helping the empire you can be used to drive up profits for the military-industrial complex as a target for war machinery whose costly munitions will need to be replaced. If you're not a good gear-turner you can be sent to become a prison slave or incarcerated in a private for-profit prison. There's a use for everyone in the empire.
The globe-spanning power structure that is centralized around the United States is the most evil, soulless and destructive force on this planet. The young people who are duped, manipulated and financially coerced into joining its war machine come back horrifically traumatized by the experiences they have in the situations they are placed in. Something better is needed. This cannot continue.