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DRY WEATHER with warmer interior daytime temperatures are forecast through the weekend. Some coastal low clouds and fog are expected this weekend. Otherwise, expect abundant sunshine. (NWS)
ALBACORE DOCK SALE
This Friday 9-23-22 - F Dock, F/V Defiance - 10am - 6pm. Fresh as it gets and Never Frozen Albacore Tuna, Local and Line-Caught right here off our Mendocino Coast - Big Grade of Fish, $4.50lb - These hardworking fishermen will See You at the boat
Want to learn how to grow shiitake and lion’s mane mushrooms? Want to learn how to find local mushrooms? Small classes (beginner & advanced) and forays are being formed for Fall-Spring 2022-2023.
Natural Products of Boonville, email@example.com
Trevor Lewis Gunby, age 32, passed away unexpectedly on September 18, 2022, in Ukiah. Trevor was born on April 2, 1990 in Santa Rosa to James Gunby and Cathy Wyant. When Trevor was an infant, the family relocated to the Ukiah area where he attended Oak Manor and Frank Zeek Elementary Schools. At the age of 3, Trevor’s father passed away so his uncle and aunt, Richard and Schevilla Wyant, stepped in to help his mother in his father’s absence; thus creating a very special bond.
Traditional school was challenging for Trevor as he had a unique set of learning abilities that a traditional school setting could not tailor to. Additionally, Trevor battled multiple behavioral health issues, which our small community did not have the resources to properly assist him with. As a result, by middle school he was transferred to alternative schooling and various group homes until the age of 18. As a young adult, Trevor’s struggles continued as he attempted to navigate through life. He finally found his niche in Anderson Valley with much needed acceptance and guidance with dear friend and mentor, Burt Cohen of Boonville. Burt kindly took Trevor under his wing, gave him a job in his store (Boont Berry), a room in his home, encouraged his independence, and taught him many valuable life skills. Most importantly, Burt showed Trevor patience, kindness, and compassion when much of the world failed to do so. Bless you, Burt.
Trevor enjoyed cooking, spicy food, screaming loud music (Marilyn Manson), big bonfires, astrology, video games, horror movies, camping, spending time with friends and family, pranks, and the color black. He became quite competent at playing the keyboard/piano and performed at the Anderson Valley Grange’s Variety Show, despite never taking formal lessons. Although he appeared to be a little rough around the edges, he was a kind, loving, and gentle soul. He will be missed by all who knew him. Rest in peace, dear Trev.
Trevor is survived by his mother, Cathy Keech of Ukiah; stepfather Frank Keech also of Ukiah; aunts and uncles, Bryan and Elizabeth Wyant, Kevin and Renée Lee of Boonville, Dave and Lynne Drews of Livermore, Schevilla Wyant of Willits; numerous cousins, and friend/mentor, Burt Cohen of Boonville. He was preceded in death by his father James L. Gunby; brother James N. Gunby; step-brother Max Keech; uncle Richard Wyant; and maternal grandparents Frank and Jo Ann Wyant, and paternal grandparents Hank and Marianne Gunby.
A memorial service will be held in honor of Trevor on October 1, 2022 at 1 pm, located at Calvary Chapel Church, 140 N. Spring Street, Ukiah. A reception will follow.
FAIR IS IN THE AIR
by Debra Keipp
On my way back from Ukiah earlier today, three road-cleaning trucks with the big rotating 8' brushes were cleaning the landslide rocks off 253, making the road safe for Fair goers driving to the Mendocino County Fair in Boonville this weekend. There was a noticeable increase in the number of livestock trailers out on the road today, too. I stopped in at Tractor Supply where mothers with their student teens were buying last-minute supplies for their Fair projects (animals). And, when I drove by Anderson Valley High School, Beth Swehla had her truck full of plants and exhibit paraphernalia on the way to the fairgrounds.
Fair is in the air.
I enjoy best, the Thursday night prior to Friday morning's public opening of the Mendocino County Fair here in Boonville. Formerly, the premature lure for locals was free beer served Thursday night. But sadly this year, it doesn't look like the Chamber of Commerce beer booth survived COVID.
Locals packed the picnic table area outside the Wool Building, which sits in the midst of the food vendor court: pizza, hot dogs on a stick, and I think the cinnamon roll booth was also open down by the bungie jump whatchamacallit. I'm a sucker for cotton candy, but the mondo bags were each filled with four basketball-sized pastel colored cotton candies - much too much for one person. I already ate dinner, and made it outa there without eating anything. Later in the weekend for fair food! Remember "fair fish"? So many of us still have our huge goldfish from the fair. (Throw a ping pong ball into a fish bowl and take home a fish!) Last time the fair carnival was in town, they no longer kept fair fish as part of their gallery. "Health concerns." Do you still have any fair fish? How old and how big, are they?
I ran into Karen Ottobani, who was pooped after assembling the Elder Home booth with the help of her cousin. She confessed that after taking the two year COVID break from Fair, she forgot how to re-assemble the booth structure, so it took a bit more work this year, remembering how it all fit together. It's the same comfy sun-free enclosure with adequate seating. Wine will be served!
The local fund-raising booths are also accepting donations…the high school's baked potato booth, for one.
On the corporate level, the Soft Tub booth is all set up and jammed in among the other sales booths. But, buttoned up for the night.
I saw Johnny Ray step into what looked like a brand new bright orange four wheel all terrain vehicle. May be new fair equipment, I'm guessing. I wondered if the new ATVs are electric, but didn't hear them in operation. Seems like, in a perfect world, with all the fuel emissions change-over currently, the Fair board might have invested in new electric vehicles.
My favorite spot at the Fair, is the Wool Building. Many of the textile booths are ready to go, but just as many will arrive in the morning to set up. A couple from Sacramento are operating their wool outer garment booth while car camping for the weekend. She kept herself constructively busy during COVID, knitting; and she has the yarn to show for it! I didn't see the usual knitted mittens, hats or purses. She had gone epic on her COVID era projects, having made only outer garments. The magnitude of how much she produced is impressive. From beautiful above the knee wool car coats, to appliqued sweaters, dresses, and jackets with creative necklines. You can invest in a durable heirloom hand-made wool garment lasting you years, for around $200.
Sprinkled around the periphery of the Wool Building, are exhibits of production equipment: mechanical wool carders, weavers, looms, spinning wheels, and the like. One large old wooden loom is an exhibit piece behind the stage seating, by the food court entrance. You can't miss it. It's big enough to weave blankets. With so many crucial intricate small moving parts, it's a bit damaged, looking like it may have made a few rugs in its day, too.
Three young sisters have their own wool business, and were just beginning to set up when I left around 8:30 p.m. Their mother held a red-faced crying baby in her arms…after bedtime. While the baby could have used a bottle and bed, the three teen girls were raring to go, snapping shelving together presto change-o.
One of my favorite things about the Fair is that it's one of the most functional, authentic organizations for children and teen adults (who are mostly in 4-H and FFA). The kids are working as hard as their parents or club leaders, constructing their exhibits and situating their show animals this year. I shared with one parent how much I enjoy the participation of the kids, and remember how fun it was in 4-H: the exciting week prepping for Fair every Fall, anticipating monthly meetings throughout the year, and producing something that often won; then going on to the State Fair competition.
I shared that being a member of 4-H changed the maturation of my life, giving me direction and focus to work on creative projects that I made by hand. I had great club leaders who were alot of fun. She agreed whole heartedly, saying 4-H/FFA saved her son's life. She described how he became depressed during COVID, and needed something to look forward to, so they bought a family pig: a project pig. They are proud as punch of "Pearl", who is being shown this year, weighing in at around 400 lbs. Instead of taking their prize pig to the dreaded Fair Livestock Auction (for butchering) at Fair's end, they plan on taking her home after fair, and artificially inseminating her, to raise hogs.
Looking back, I remember looking forward(!) to shampooing my cousin's baby beef in the washing stalls during Fair. Her cattle were polled Herefords. We really had to work up the suds to get the white parts clean as a whistle for showing them in the ring. Judges wanted to see the pink of their skin under white fur. My cousin swore by "Wisk" liquid laundry detergent. Cattle are really very docile cooperative animals and very trainable. The steers rarely fought being hosed free of laundry detergent with ice cold water. Odd really, taming a coupla thousand pound baby beef on hoof: learning to manage the haltered beast (mostly steers for butcher) with just a lead rope.
Before going home, I walked through the sheep barn and could hear the cattle next door. Folks were coming and going, registering their show animals by the dark of night. Excited kids and helpful parents moving swiftly with a look of accomplishment on their faces. Trucks dropping off tack boxes, feed and gear. Rural folks taking their fare to the Fair with a sense of satisfaction.
GRASSROOTS INSTITUTE MEETING THIS SUNDAY AT CASPAR COMMUNITY CENTER
As you may have seen, we will be having our September GRI General Meeting in person at the Caspar Community Center on Sunday September 25th starting at noon. We expect things will run for the usual two hours - unless of course we all get carried away by inspiration. Fort Bragg Vice Mayor Jessica Morsell-Hayes will start us off with an overview of some relevant city projects. We will then have some general discussion and brainstorming before breaking off into our working groups - so come with ideas! After the working group break off sessions we will all come back together to share what we discussed and to close off the meeting.
We won’t be the only ones at the Community Center on Sunday - the Caspar Breakfast goes from 9am to 11am so come early and support the community if you can.
Please share this invitation with your lists, and bring your friends!
See you soon,
Michelle McMillan, Communications and Media Coordinator Grassroots Institute, 707-734-0588
AV UNITY CLUB NEWS by Miriam Martinez
The wait is over. The A.V. Unity Club will hold its first meeting of the 2022-23 year, on October 5th at 1:30 in the Home Arts building at the Fairgrounds. We are gearing up for the Annual Holiday Bazaar and putting some finishing touches on the plans for our Centennial Celebrations. Come on into town and join us for socialising and working together. Now that the dust has settled over a successful Apple Fair, our Lending Library is back in business. The Library is open Tuesdays from 1:00 to 4:00 and Saturdays from 12:30 to 2:30. Adopt a few books; only $1 for hardbound and $0.50 for paperbacks.
I hope to see your smiling eyes October the 5th at 1:30 in the Home Arts building (Library). Great weather last week, wouldn't you agree?
HOW A DIRTY COP GOT OFF
by Mike Geniella
In a surprising twist to the Kevin Murray case, a newly released report discloses that Sonoma County probation was hampered from considering a stronger recommended jail term for the disgraced Ukiah cop because key background criminal reports were not turned over.
The jail recommendation might have been longer if the probation officers had Murray’s complete file in front of them, which included investigative reports of a second alleged rape that was charged but later dropped by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office. In total, four felony charges, three sex related, were dismissed against Murray in return for his no contest pleas to two lesser charges.
The former police sergeant is out on probation instead of serving at least a year behind bars as advocated by the Sonoma Probation Office on just a single felony-intimidating a witness charge. Sonoma Probation’s jail recommendation was ignored at his sentencing three weeks ago in Mendocino County Superior Court. Typically, probation office reports are followed in criminal case sentencings, but there are no mandates.
Originally Murray faced several years in prison had he been convicted of three felony sexual assault charges that were among the charges dropped in July as part of a “sweetheart” plea deal Murray’s high powered defense attorneys struck with District Attorney David Eyster and his deputy Heidi Larson.
Even with the reduced charges, Murray could have been sentenced to multiple years in prison had all the information about the dismissed criminal charges been turned over to Sonoma Probation for review.
That possibility came to light after a Sonoma probation officer noted on the cover page of his report that he was only able to consider the single remaining felony charge in making the 12-month jail term recommendation. The report written in mid-August before Murray’s sentencing was only released last week by the Superior Court.
“Probation was not provided any crime reports or other pertinent documents” related to the dismissed charges, “although they typically are,” wrote Sonoma Probation Officer Spencer Misetech.
Wardell Adams, Sonoma’s deputy chief of adult probation who reviewed Misetech’s conclusions before they were turned over to the court, said, “Our recommendation was based on the limited information we had.”
Adams said Misetech’s written advisement provided the court “the opportunity for the sentencing to be put off until all material was evaluated.”
Adams agreed there is no mandate for the judge to follow a probation recommendation.
“But it is curious that in this case the sentence ended up being less harsh than the recommendation,” he said.
Mendocino Chief Probation Officer Izen Locatelli said his office was unaware there were missing documents in the prosecution files that were turned over to Sonoma for review.
“There may have been some kind of mishap, but why didn’t they contact us and request the additional information?” he asked. Sonoma County would not have been privy to what online reports existed in the Mendocino system and were only requested to review what was formally transmitted to them, said Adams.
“We did our job,” he said.
The Sonoma report raises new questions about the outcome of the high-profile police misconduct case that has stirred controversy, rocked local law enforcement, and prompted outrage from victims and their supporters.
One alleged Murray rape victim known as “Jane Doe” in court documents labeled the disputed plea agreement a “sweetheart deal” in an emotional written statement addressed to Judge Moorman and included in the Sonoma probation report.
Jane Doe told Moorman, “I have been irreparably harmed because of what rapist Kevin Murray has done to me.”
She described her ordeal as an “emotional hurricane that is never ending.”
The woman, currently a Washington state resident, urged Moorman to give Murphy whatever jail term possible even in the face of the DA dropping all sex charges because of the plea deal.
“He did the crime, and he should be punished accordingly and forced to do the time,” she wrote.
Eyster has offered no public explanation why three sexual assault felonies and a misdemeanor drug charge — methamphetamine was found in Murray’s police locker — were reduced against the 38-year-old cop in return for no contest pleas to a single felony witness intimidation charge and a misdemeanor false imprisonment.
Eyster is also refusing to answer any questions about another pending police misconduct case involving the Ukiah Police Department. The DA has had the results of a Sonoma County investigation into unspecified abuse allegations against ousted Police Chief Noble Waidelich for three weeks. A former police department supervisor of Murray, Waidelich was fired in June after less than eight months in his job.
The Murray plea deal was struck after multiple trial delays earlier this year, some caused by a shortage of available jurors. Since the Covid pandemic, the local courts have been hampered by a low number of county residents responding to jury summonses.
In criminal cases involving sexual assaults, experienced investigators say trial delays always work in favor of the defense because key witnesses often weaken in their resolve to face scrutiny on the witness stand and be prepared for hard personal questions that are sure to come.
That happened in the Murray case, when a key witness unhappily shut down after repeated delays. Both victims were willing at the time of the originally scheduled trial but balked after two delays and the threat of a third.
Even with the procedural issues, the plea deal and no jail term for Murray was a surprising outcome to a controversial case.
Murray, the father of three, could have been sent to prison for several years had he been convicted of the original five felony charges.
One of Murray’s alleged rape victims called the controversial plea agreement a “sweetheart” deal and voiced her strong objection to a no jail sentence in a written statement provided to Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman.
Despite that victim’s plea, and the Sonoma probation’s office making note of the missing background information, Moorman placed Murray on two years’ probation instead of imposing any jail time. The judge at the sentencing said her decision should not be seen as a “slap on the wrist” and warned Murray that if he violates terms of his probation “You are going to the joint.”
Murray’s defense team a week before the sentencing immediately objected to the possibility of a jail term after learning of the Sonoma report’s recommendation. Defense attorney Stephen Gallenson of Santa Rosa filed a letter with the court reminding the judge she apparently had agreed to no jail time as part of the negotiated deal on Murray’s behalf.
In a last-minute attempt to nullify a public outcry over the no jail possibility, deputy DA Larson hastily filed a motion urging some jail time for Murray. She did not press the issue with the judge during Murray’s sentencing hearing, however.
Murray cost the city of Ukiah $1 million to settle a federal lawsuit after a Ukiah man was savagely beaten by Murray during an October 2018 confrontation at the man's home. The city paid out another $250,000 to a Sacramento woman involved in the criminal case to avoid the possibility of another civil lawsuit.
Murray’s personnel files at the police department are still off limits to public scrutiny, but law enforcement sources say he has a history of internal discipline issues stemming from misbehavior on and off duty.
The new questions were raised after Sonoma County Probation Officer Spencer Misetich took the unusual step of specifically noting missing crime reports involving the prior charge felonies on the cover page of his 12-page report.
Misetich wrote that he was not provided any crime reports relating to the “criminal conduct inflicted upon victim Jane Doe in 2014 for the preparation of this report. As such, we have not included the circumstances of those (now dismissed) counts in this report,” wrote Misetich.
The missing report distinction is critical because under state law criminal investigative documents are typically provided to probation offices even if felony charges are eventually dropped in a criminal case because of a plea deal. The so-called ‘Harvey Waiver’ provision allows judges to consider established investigative facts.
In Murray’s case, felony sexual charges were dismissed stemming from a 2020 case involving a Sacramento woman in a motel room in Ukiah, and an accusation by a Murray family friend that he twice forced her to engage in oral sex in 2014. A third woman, a former police trainee, alleges in a still pending civil lawsuit that Murray sexually assaulted her in 2012 while they attended a training session out of town. She reported the incident to her police superiors, but nothing was done. The woman eventually left the department, took a job with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, and filed her lawsuit for damages against Murray and the city police department.
DA Eyster’s public silence is deafening in a case that has rattled the Ukiah Police Department, and mimics police misconduct accusations statewide.
While Eyster and other prosecutors and police agencies stall in providing full details of cases like Murray’s, the California Reporting Project, founded by KQED and NPR, in 2021 analyzed 103 sexual misconduct cases from different police departments across the state. The conclusion was that in many cases the victims were vulnerable to an officer’s authority: sex workers, confidential informants, and already incarcerated people.
In his report Sonoma probation officer Misetich said the former police sergeant used his position of authority to gain access to the motel room victim, and “attempt to intimidate and manipulate her into engaging in sexual acts with him.”
Misetich found that “the manner in which the crime was carried out demonstrated criminal sophistication” on the part of Murray.
Misetich also said, “We do feel that the defendant’s abhorrent actions in this matter deserves further jail time.”
He also cautioned that Murray’s ability to comply with reasonable terms of probation “may be hindered by his history of alcohol abuse, his lack of current employment, and his reported mental health issues.”
In Murray’s favor for probation, Misetich said the former cop has no prior record of criminal conduct and might be able to meet probation terms because of positive factors in his background, “including a high school diploma, his ongoing involvement in mental health treatment and medication compliance, his supportive familial ties, his stable housing, and his honorable military service history.” Murray served six years from 2002-2008 as an Army military police officer in Middle East combat zones. He reportedly was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2017 and bipolar disorder in 2021 according to the probation report
Specific details about the primary case that led to Murray’s arrest in 2020 are outlined in the probation report because the remaining felony relates to his encounter with a Sacramento woman named “Stephanie.”
Murray and his partner stopped a vehicle with two women over the Thanksgiving holiday week in 2020. The driver was arrested on a DUI. Stephanie was the passenger. Murray suspected she was a sex worker cruising Ukiah.
Instead of having the vehicle towed as is usual in DUI cases, Murray drove the car to a parking area behind the hotel after deactivating his body-worn camera, the woman told investigators. He parked the car, and demanded she kiss him on the neck, Stephanie told investigators. She said she agreed to do so because she thought Murray might release her friend. He refused to release the friend, and then asked her what room she was staying in, according to the report. The woman told investigators she lied about her room number, but within five minutes she heard a knock on her room door, and there was Murray in uniform when she opened it, according to the probation report. The officer entered the room, closed the door, and then grabbed the woman’s key card. “He told her he ‘would be back’ after his shift ended,” according to the report.
Beginning about an hour later, Stephanie told investigators she started receiving a series of text messages from Murray asking her if they could “hook up tonight,” and he wanted her to send him some “good pics” so he might know if the “goods are worth coming back for,” the report states.
Investigators later discovered that Murray had deliberately falsified the information he transmitted to the woman via caller ID to disguise his identity. She told investigators she never provided him her number, and did not know how he acquired it, according to the probation report. By then, she felt so scared that she placed a table in front of her hotel room’s door so she could hear if Murray returned and attempted to enter her room while she was asleep. Her story was later corroborated by a relative in Sacramento whom Stephanie had called in panic.
Murray did return to her hotel early the next morning dressed in plain clothes, and he used the stolen key car to forcibly enter the woman’s room, according to the report. He found her in bed, unzipped his pants, exposed his penis, and demanded she “grab it,” the report states. The woman said Murray told her he knew she was “staying in the hotel to earn money from prostituting herself, and that he would ‘turn his head and allow her to continue to make money’ as long as she had sex with him.” He eventually left after she refused to submit to the sex act he sought, according to the report. The woman waited several hours to report his assault because she feared retaliation, but eventually, she called the Ukiah Police Department and told them about the incident. The call led to an investigation and Murray’s arrest in January 2021.
A second victim in Murray’s criminal case was a family friend whom he assaulted twice in her then Ukiah home. She reported her 2014 assault after reading about the cop’s hotel encounter and subsequent arrest.
A third woman, a former police trainee under Murray’s supervision who is now a Mendocicno Sheriff’s Department deputy, accuses him in a civil lawsuit of sexually assaulting her in a motel while both were out of town on a 2013 training session. Her case was deemed beyond the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution but a claim for damages is still pending in civil court.
In interviews with the Sonoma probation office, Murray admitted his encounter in the Ukiah hotel room but insisted the Sacramento woman had been “very flirty” with him and had tried to kiss him. He claimed the woman provided him with her room key and asked him to return after his shift ended.
The probation report states that Murray told the woman he wanted to have sex, and she replied, “What is in it for me?”
Murray insisted to the probation officer that he declared, “I don’t know what you are talking about. If you think I’m paying you for anything you’re out of your fucking mind. I’m not paying for shit.”
Murray denied unzipping his pants, exposing himself and forcing the woman to touch him, according to the report.
The Sacramento woman earlier this year was paid $250,000 by the City of Ukiah to not move ahead with a civil rights lawsuit.
Probation officer Misetich said although he had no crime reports about a second alleged sexual assault turned over for review, he was able to make telephone contact with “Jane Doe,” Murray’s alleged second victim, a few days before preparing his report. She agreed to submit a victim’s statement, he said.
Jane Doe, a friend of one of Murray’s former wives, wrote to Judge Moorman that she fell to her kitchen floor and cried when she learned he would not be tried on any felony sex-related charges. When the District Attorney’s Office also informed her that Murray would not be required to register as a sex offender under terms of the plea deal, she described it as a “gut punch!”
“He did the crime, and should be punished accordingly, and should be forced to do the time,” wrote Jane Doe.
In her letter to the judge, the woman described in graphic detail Murray’s assaults on her. She at one point in the statement spoke directly to Murray:
“I thought you were my friend. Friends do not rape. You are a convicted felon now, a rapist, a thief, a kidnapper, and a liar. You took an oath to protect and serve the community of Ukiah. Instead, you abused your position in the most sickening and volatile ways.”
She said she was in fact prepared to testify against Murray, and she praised retired DA chief investigator Kevin Bailey for helping her get past her reservations about doing so publicly. “I could not have come forward without you,” she told Bailey. She also publicly thanked Victim Witness Advocate Patty Torres “for advocating for me in such a time of need.”
Murray, on the advice of his legal team, refused to talk with probation about any details of the pending civil lawsuit involving the former police trainee.
Murray said about his victims, “I wish them nothing but the best in life. I hope everything works out well for them, and I wish them well.”
Eyster, a pugnacious prosecutor who writes his own press releases, typically posts sentencing results on the office’s Facebook site, including trial results of misdemeanor drunk driving cases.
But there have been no posts about the Murray case despite its high profile and public clamor for the reasoning behind the controversial plea deal.
The only comments directed at public criticism have been in footnotes in legal briefings submitted to the court.
In one, the DA’s Office declares:
“Some might find it easy to pander to howling voices and the protests of a few that, in part, demand uninformed and crude revenge on this defendant versus constitutional and reasoned justice.”
In another, the DA’s Office claims it attempted to discuss possible resolution of the case with both charged victims.
“While one of the victims was available for this discussion, and was agreeable at that time, to resolving the case so she would not have to make the trip and openly testify, the other victim, also living out of the area, could not be found nor be reached by telephone to engage in trial preparation and/or to discuss the possible resolution.”
The DA’s Office further claimed that while it had contact with the Sacramento woman’s Bay Area attorney, she personally never followed through on requests to discuss pre-trial issues.
Oakland-based Panos Lagos, the Sacramento victim’s attorney, disputes the DA’s claims.
“The last thing my client and I were told was to be ready for the trial date in July. We were. Then we heard what we now know, much to our surprise,” said Lagos.
“I never failed to return a call from anyone associated with the DA’s Office,” he said.
SORRY TO see Dave Foreman go. Only met the famous, or infamous, founder of Earth First! once. I've always thought Foreman saw clearly the damage that had been done, and is being done, to the natural world and tried to do something about it. I liked him. He was smart and articulate, and quite reasonable. I thought he prevailed in his argument with Judi Bari who'd opportunistically denounced him as a sexist — defined as any man who argued with her — and then waylaid Foreman with her usual posse of dwarf bully girls at an event in Sebastopol. Foreman simply pointed out that he wasn't a social justice warrior, that his war was confined to the fight against the people gnawing away at the planet, many of them headquartered in the U.S.
FOREMAN also had to fight off the FBI who tried to frame him as an industrial saboteur. The feds, via an agent named Michael Fain, did successfully set up people close to Foreman by persuading them to take down a major power link out in the Arizona desert. Fain promised he would bring the dynamite. Surprise! (Note to all you kids out there; at any do-good meeting the people advocating violent felonies are the FBI agents. Or their snitches, of whom there are, or were, several in Mendocino County. One lives on Greenwood Road, another is a prominent Ukiahan, a third got a free pass to blow up his ex wife and took off for New Zealand.)
THESE DAYS, the FBI, founded, and still functioning as a national political police force, is infiltrating retarded Trumpers like those idiots in Michigan and arresting them for felonious beer talk. And going all out to get Trump. The federal police apparatus, these days an extension of the Democratic Party, has been after Trump ever since the big orange wahoo became politically viable.
MIKE GENIELLA does an excellent job deconstructing Kevin Murray's miraculous escape from the consequences of his felonious rampage as a Ukiah cop. The logistics of Murray's escape were clumsily orchestrated by the DA, who lied about the availability of witnesses, and Judge Moorman, who lied about the genesis of her contradictory decision to, in her words, not let Murray think he was getting “a slap on the wrist” as she slapped him on the wrist for crimes that would get anybody else serious prison time.
IT'S THIS KIND OF THING that causes the mass cynicism Americans generally feel about the justice system and, locally, doesn't do much to inspire Mendo people to drive all day back and forth to Ukiah for jury duty, not to mention the judges' silence about their judges-only new County Courthouse no one but them want.
SPEAKING of the new County Courthouse no one wants, the Supervisors' obliviousness to the magnitude of this looming boondoggle, the biggest boondoggle in Mendocino since the Potter Valley Diversion of 1910, was on full display this week, as they seriously talked about moving the DA across State Street to the old Rexall Drug Store, presently occupied by the Deadbeat Dad's offices. (Where incompetent lawyers and connected cops go to die.)
A WHOLE LOT of County offices besides the DA's crew will have to find new quarters when the new County Courthouse goes up, the lucrative contract work being done by a Sacramento outfit as local labor, as usual, gets stiffed. And the new County Courthouse is a cinch major eyesore among other reasons to oppose it. Simply moving the DA across the street from his present office behind those Chilean Secret Police one-way windows hardly addresses getting him and his legal crew up and down Perkins Street in a timely, efficient manner. The proposed County Courthouse at the foot of West Perkins is not defensible, even less defensible than Mendocino County maintaining nine judges, the most judges per capita of any population in the state. The County did fine with two judges for a hundred years.
County of Mendocino receives $2.2 Million from the State to address improvements for Bower Park
The County of Mendocino has been allocated $2.2 million from the State to address the critical needs of Mendocino County’s Bower Park located in Gualala. With this funding allocation, the County can move forward with improvements to the park in keeping with the Board of Supervisor’s adopted Parks Needs Assessment findings, with a focus on the safety issues in the first phase. Priority safety projects such as hazardous tree removal, fire and fuel mitigation, ADA improvements, and installing electricity through the park will be included in the first phase. As the project commences, the County will conduct community outreach to seek input on other types of improvements that may be of community interest for the park beyond those issues identified in the Needs Assessment.
The County would like to formally express its appreciation to Assemblymember Jim Wood, who facilitated the formal request to the State during a time when the County’s General Fund could not afford the improvements, and for his dedication to county needs. The County worked with his office on providing information about the needs and importance of the park for south coast residents.
“When I learned from a local resident that Bower Park had been closed because of safety issues and local residents would need to drive nearly an hour in any direction to the next closest park, I was pleased to work with the County to request this state budget allocation,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg). “This park is an important place for the local community to come together and these funds will ensure that the community has an accessible and safe place for youth baseball and soccer, an environment that can continue to foster community involvement by providing social, meeting and recreational opportunities and a place to continue to hold traditional holiday events.”
“Bower Park is a critical facility for our south coast,” added Chair Ted Williams. “Without this timely allocation, it was unclear how we’d find the resources to address the long overdue maintenance. Our state partners came through for us in a big way.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 22, 2022
CHARLES ANDERSON, Fort Bragg. Camping in floodway, paraphernalia, polluting state waters, storing camping paraphernalia, probation revocation.
JESSE BLANTON, Fort Bragg. More than an ounce of pot, evidence tampering, probation revocation.
THOMAS BROGAN, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
ERIK BURGESS, Ukiah. Failure to register as transient.
JERRY DEGURSE, Willits. County parole violation.
SUMALEE FOLGER, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
MATTHEW HILL, Ukiah. Appropriation of lost property.
ROBERT HUANG, Covelo. Failure to appear.
JOHN LOPEZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
VICTOR LUCAS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
SARA LYNCH, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance, paraphernalia, suspended license.
SOLANGE MARCHANT, Willits. DUI with priors, blood-alcohol over 0.15%.
JULIE MARRS, Ukiah. Controlled substance, probation revocation.
DANNY ORESCO, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ESPERANZA SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
LANCE TREPPA, Ukiah. County parole violation.
NORMA VERDUZCO, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
IRV SUTLEY WRITES:
Eda and Hal Oberg were my “godparents” sometime in the summer of 1945 at the Presbyterian church in San Rafael, California while my father was stationed at Hamilton Air Force base between Novato and San Rafael in Marin County, still with the B-25 twin-engine medium bombers before being deployed to the Phillippines to drive out the last of the Japanese troops.
I loved Eda and Hal, they were the sweetest people. After the Cuban revolution, Hal by that time a Chief Warrant Officer in the USAF had served as a military attached at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Hal told me that Fidel Castro was the best thing that ever happened to the Cuban people that Fidel had driven out the mobsters, eliminated prostitution, and was working to achieve universal literacy for the People of Cuba. My father also retired as a Chief Warrant Officer.
The Oberg Color Film Footage of Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1941
PS, PAMELA LOTUS DAVIS was appointed by Efren Carrillo as his supervisorial district's County Planning Commissioner. Carrillo his self was the Sonoma County supervisor who was caught in his underpants and with a cell-phone harassing women in their apartments.
Talbot's film “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” is now up on my channel with Voice Stress Analysis overlay. More to come about the LIARS CLUB you, Davis, and Bari set up.
Ta Ta, shortie
HOW TO TELL
I’ve received a deluge of emails from readers during the last week in response to an article I wrote about Roundup, the controversial herbicide, and its use in California vineyards.
Many of you wrote to me with the same question: When I’m buying wine, how can I tell whether its grapes were farmed with Roundup?
Basically, if the wine was made from organically, biodynamically or regeneratively farmed grapes, then it wasn’t farmed with Roundup. Unfortunately, however, it can sometimes be more difficult than it ought to be to find that information.
Some wine bottles make it easy for you, by carrying a little seal from one of the certification programs. Look for the following logos: USDA Organic, CCOF Organic, Demeter (a.k.a. biodynamic), Regenerative Organic Certified, Agriculture Biologique or Biodyvin (the latter two for European wines).
But, confusingly, not all organically farmed grapes will end up in a bottle with an organic logo. That might be because a farmer farms organically but has chosen not to obtain a formal certification, for one reason or another. Since these certifications take several years to obtain, a farmer might have to wait a few years after starting to farm organically before their wines can reflect it.
It’s also possible for a wine’s grapesto be organic but the wine itselfto not be organic. For example, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture stipulates that its organic-certified wine must not have more than 100 parts per million sulfur dioxide — a preservative — added to it. So some perfectly organic grapes might end up in a wine that doesn’t meet this particular qualification. Such a wine could still say “made with organic grapes” on its back label without carrying an organic-wine logo. Still, in this case, the grapes will not have been farmed with Roundup.
This all makes for a lot of squinting while perusing bottles in the wine shop, I know. Like I said, it ought to be easier.
If there’s an easy online search tool for finding wines that meet these specifications, I’m not aware of it. The USDA’s Organic Integrity Database, which allows you to search for all U.S. agricultural producers that carry a variety of organic certifications, is kind of a nightmare from a user-experience perspective. Demeter, the biodynamic certifier, has an online directory (not specific to wine) that is a little better.
The best resource I can recommend is the Slow Wine Guide, an annual publication that vets wineries for a range of ecological criteria. The guide recommends wineries that do not use chemically synthesized fertilizers (like Roundup), and also checks for things like water use, sustainably constructed buildings and intervention during the winemaking process. (The guide, for instance, does not include wineries that use oak chips, a shortcut that is sometimes used instead of aging a wine in an expensive oak barrel.) It’s a physical, printed publication, and costs $25.
I was heartened to see that so many of you are interested in becoming more conscientious wine buyers. But I also want to emphasize that Roundup is not the only thing that matters — far from it. As many industry players told me during my recent reporting, it’s the thing that everyone asks about, the farming chemical everyone in America has heard of. That’s frustrating to many farmers, vintners and environmental advocates, who hope that wine drinkers will start asking other questions too. How does the business treat its workers? Is it thinking about how it might be able to help mitigate some effects of climate change?
Ultimately, the only foolproof way to buy products you feel good about is the hardest way: to have an old-fashioned conversation with the people who made it. The good news is that this is easier at wineries, which tend to operate tasting rooms, than at many other types of businesses. So the next time you’re visiting one, take advantage. Have a conversation.
— Esther Mobley, SF Chronicle
RED TIDE: TOXIC ALGAE BLOOM TRIGGERED LARGE FISH KILL IN THE BAY, LAKE MERRITT
by Dan Bacher
Beginning in late August, the San Francisco Baykeeper and state, regional and federal agencies began receiving increasingly frequent reports of unprecedented numbers of dead fish in the path of a massive “red tide” algae bloom on San Francisco Bay.
The fish included large sturgeon, sharks, bat rays and striped bass, as well as big quantities of smaller fish, such as gobies and anchovies, in the water and along the shoreline of the bay.
As an investigative reporter who has focused on fish, water, environmental justice and regulatory capture for 40 years, the images of the dead fish and marine organisms were particularly devastating. Like many Californians, I’ve spent thousands of hours fishing on the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.
The path of the fish killed included Point Molate, Keller Beach, Alameda, and Hayward in the East Bay, along with the Marin and San Mateo coastlines on the west side of the Bay.
Reports of dead sturgeon on the shoreline also began to emerge on the shoreline of San Pablo Bay, as the fish kill spread through large parts of the waterways. The fish kill on Lake Merritt, a saltwater body of water in Oakland, was particularly catastrophic, with an estimate of 10,000 fish killed. That tally came from citizen scientist, Damon Tighe.
“The algae bloom that appeared in July and grew to affect wide stretches of the Bay receded, likely because the bloom temporarily exhausted its nutrient supply,” the Baykeeper reported on September 7. “As the bloom died off, other microorganisms feasting on the dead algae rapidly proliferated, drawing down dissolved oxygen in areas of the Bay to levels that are lethal to most fish and shellfish, as well as other invertebrates. We don’t know yet how extensive these “dead zones” are or how long they will last.”
Baykeeper Senior Scientist Jon Rosenfield noted: “Fish kills of this size are unheard of in San Francisco Bay. But they’re not unexpected following on the heels of a red tide algal bloom that is unprecedented in its extent and duration. Based on decades of agency and academic research, Baykeeper has long warned that the Bay was susceptible to a bloom like this because of high loads of nitrogen and phosphorous that are dumped into the Bay every day by the 40 wastewater treatment plants that surround it.”
The California Department of Public Health and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first identified the dominant algal species forming the bloom as Heterosigma akashiwo. That’s aspecies that, when it forms a bloom, has concretely been associated with fish kills in other places, according to the Baykeeper. The US Geological Service and SFEI confirmed high densities of H. akashiwo, from around south and central San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay.
Reports of dead fish, and particularly newly killed fish, tapered off significantly by September 2. Oxygen levels are returning to normal after plummeting to lethal levels in certain areas in the first days of September, according to Rosenfield.
Regarding how long it will take the bay ecosystem to recover from the fish kill, Rosenfeld explained, “Smaller and more mobile organisms are likely to recolonize the Bay more quickly; but for long-lived creatures like sturgeon, recovery will take decades — and that’s only if we begin to take care of the Central Valley rivers where these ancient creatures reproduce.”
Over 10,000 fish of different species perished in Lake Merritt in Oakland the result of a big (harmful algae bloom (HAB). Photo courtesy of Damon Tighe.
The Interagency Ecological Program reported some good news on September 15, when it announced on Twitter that “the Sturgeon Trammel Net study is seeing live sturgeon in San Pablo Bay again. Not as many as they would hope, but it seems at least some fish avoided the #SFbayHAB2022.”
Throughout the emergence of the algae bloom and fish kill, Rosenfield quickly responded to a plethora of media outlets that were asking for interviews. To update readers here, on the fish kill and current actions the public can engage to stop future fish kills, SN&R asked the following questions of Dr. Rosenfield:
SN&R: Since the fish kill on San Francisco Bay started, has anybody come up with any estimate of how many fish of which species have perished?
Rosenfield: No. No estimate of total mortality will be possible because there is no scientific sampling program in place that can produce such an estimate. Baykeeper, SFEI, CDFW, and citizen scientists are working to estimate the number of fish observed on the shoreline, but that number is just scratching the surface — most of the dead fish are likely out of sight, under the water.
Have you seen any parallel die off in the invertebrates on the bay?
Rosenfield: Yes. We have received mortality reports of various molluscs and other invertebrates in several locations.
What is the role that effluents and pollution play in this fish kill?
Rosenfield: On average, 63% of the nitrogen and phosphorus loads in San Francisco Bay are from treated wastewater effluent that is disposed of in the Bay every day by 40 wastewater treatment plants.
Who are the worst polluters on the bay?
Rosenfield: Wastewater treatment plants operated by EBMUD and SFPUC are the largest individual contributors to the Bay’s nutrient pollution problem.
What role do reduced inflows into the Delta because of years of exports play into this fish kill?
Rosenfield: Currents can limit harmful algal blooms by dispersing algae cells before their growth gets out of hand. River flows can be an important control on harmful algal blooms upstream, in the Bay’s Delta. But, during the summer months, even natural flows out of the Delta would not be enough to affect currents in Central Bay, where this bloom formed. In winter and spring, freshwater flows into the Bay might play a larger, indirect role in limiting algae blooms, but not during August.
Have scientists determined whether the algae bloom killed the fish due to dramatic reduction in oxygen levels or to toxicity to the fish or both?
Rosenfield: No, the specific mechanism that caused this fish kill is unknown for the time being.
Have dead birds and sea mammals been documented because of the fish kill?
Rosenfield: So far, we have no confirmed cases of bird or mammal mortality that can be linked directly to this bloom.
How do you feel about the regional board and state water board response to the spill?
Rosenfield: Going forward, the Regional Water Board must accelerate research under its Nutrient Management Strategy to identify safe levels of nutrients for San Francisco Bay; then it must use those results to set protective standards and permit requirements that limit nutrients in discharges to the Bay.
What role does climate change play in exacerbating the fish kill?
Rosenfield: At this point, there’s no known link between this fish kill and a specific climate change mechanism. And there’s no reason to invoke climate change in triggering this event — the necessary conditions for this unprecedented algal bloom (sunlight, water temperatures, and nutrients) are usually present in the Bay during the summer months. Climate change may make these blooms happen with greater regularity in the future.
Are the dead zones in the bay increasing or decreasing now as the algae bloom recedes?
Rosenfield: When algae that form the bloom die in large quantities, their decomposition leads to low dissolved oxygen conditions that cause “dead zones” in the Bay. Oxygen levels are returning to normal after plummeting to lethal levels in certain areas in the first days of September.
What can people do now to stop these blooms from happening in the future
Rosenfield: Prevention is the only cure. We’re recommending people take two actions:
1) Baykeeper has started a petition that people can use to ask the Bay Regional Water Board to accelerate the scientific research necessary to identify nutrient load limits for Wastewater Treatment Plants and prepare to set strong, science-based limits on nutrient loads in wastewater treatment effluent. It’s here ( https://baykeeper.org/action-alert/algae-blooms-new-normal)
2) People can also write to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and ask that San Francisco invest now in water recycling technology that will reduce the City’s nutrient loads while simultaneously reducing its unsustainable demand for water from the overtapped Tuolumne River. Baykeeper has an action alert here
Are there any significant things about the kill that the media has missed?
Rosenfield: The highly degraded state of the Bay’s native anadromous species prior to the fish kill —a result of unsustainable water diversions from the Central Valley breeding grounds of these fish— makes this tragedy more consequential and difficult to recover from.
DAVE FOREMAN & THE FIRST GREEN SCARE CASE
by Jeffrey St. Clair & Joshua Frank
Dave Foreman, whose vision spawned a radical wave of the US environmental movement, passed away this week at the age of 74 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was controversial, he was stubborn, but he wasn’t one to compromise the fight to save wilderness and open space. The following piece on Foreman’s foray with federal law enforcement first appeared in our book, The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. – Jeffrey St. Clair & Joshua Frank
Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!, awoke at five in the morning on May 30, 1989, to the sound of three FBI agents shouting his name in his Tucson, Arizona home. Foreman’s wife Nancy answered the door frantically and was shoved aside by brawny FBI agents as they raced toward their master bedroom where her husband was sound asleep, naked under the sheets, with plugs jammed in his ears to drown out the noise of their neighbor’s barking Doberman pincher. By the time Foreman came to, the agents were surrounding his bed in bulletproof vests wielding .357 Magnums.
He immediately thought of the murder of Fred Hampton in Chicago, expecting to be shot in cold blood. But as Foreman put it, “Being a nice, middle-class honky male, they can’t get away with that stuff quite as easily as they could with Fred, or with all the Native people on the Pine Ridge Reservation back in the early 70s.”
So instead of firing off a few rounds, they jerked a dazed Foreman from his slumber, let him pull on a pair of shorts, and hauled him outside where they threw him in the back of an unmarked vehicle. It took over six hours before Foreman even knew why he had been accosted by Federal agents.
Foreman’s arrest was the culmination of three years and two million tax dollars spent in an attempt to frame a few Earth First! activists for conspiring to damage government and private property. The FBI infiltrated Earth First! groups in several states with informants and undercover agent-provocateurs. Over 500 hours of tape recordings of meetings, events, and casual conversations had been amassed. Phones had been tapped and homes were broken into. The FBI was doing its best to intimidate radical environmentalists across the country, marking them as a potential threat to national security.
It was the FBI’s first case of Green Scare.
The day before Foreman was yanked from bed and lugged into the warm Arizona morning, two so-called co-conspirators, biologist Marc Baker and antinuclear activist Mark Davis were arrested by some 50 agents on horseback and on foot, with a helicopter hovering above as they stood at the base of a power line tower in the middle of desert country in Wenden, Arizona, 200 miles northwest of Foreman’s home. The next day Peg Millet, a self-described “redneck woman for wilderness,” was arrested at a nearby Planned Parenthood where she worked. Millet earlier evaded the FBI’s dragnet.
Driven to the site by an undercover FBI agent, the entire episode, as Foreman put it, was the agent’s conception. Foreman, described by the bureau as the guru and financier of the operation, was also pegged for having thought up the whole elaborate scheme, despite the fact that their evidence was thin.
Back in the 1970s, the FBI issued a memo to their field offices stating that when attempting to break up dissident groups, the most effective route was to forget about hard intelligence or facts. Simply make a few arrests and hold a public press conference. Charges could later be dropped. It didn’t matter; by the time the news hit the airwaves and was printed up in the local newspapers, the damage had already been done.
It was the FBI’s assertion that the action stopped by the arrests under that Arizona power line in late May 1989, was to be a test run for a much grander plot involving Davis, Baker, Millet, and the group’s leader, Dave Foreman. The FBI charged the four with the intent to damage electrical transmission lines that lead to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility in Colorado.
“The big lie that the FBI pushed at their press conference the day after the arrests were that we were a bunch of terrorists conspiring to cut the power lines into the Palo Verde and Diablo Canyon nuclear facilities in order to cause a nuclear meltdown and threaten public health and safety,” explained Foreman.
In the late 1980s, the FBI launched operation THERMCON in response to an act of sabotage of the Arizona Snowbowl ski lift near Flagstaff, Arizona that occurred in October 1987, allegedly by Davis, Millet, and Baker. Acting under the quirky name, Evan Mecham Eco-Terrorist International Conspiracy (EMETIC) — the eco-saboteurs wrecked several of the company’s ski lifts, claiming that structures were cutting into areas of significant biological importance.
This was not the first act the group claimed responsibility for. A year prior EMETIC sent a letter declaring they inflicted damage at the Fairfield Snow Bowl near Flagstaff. The group’s letter also included a jovial threat to “chain the Fairfield CEO to a tree at the 10,000-foot level and feed him shrubs and roots until he understands the suicidal folly of treating the planet primarily as a tool for making money.”
The group used an acetylene torch to cut bolts from several of the lift’s support towers, making them inoperable. Upon receiving the letter, the Arizona ski resort was forced to shut down the lift in order to do repairs, which rang up to over $50,000.
But the big allegations heaved at these eco-saboteurs weren’t for dislodging a few bolts at a quaint ski resort in the heart of the Arizona mountains, or for inconveniencing a few ski bums from their daily excursions. No, the big charges were levied at the group for allegedly plotting to disrupt the functions of the Rocky Flats nuclear facility hundreds of miles away. Ironically, at the moment of their arrests, the FBI was simultaneously looking into public health concerns due to an illegal radioactive waste leak at the nuclear power site, which led Earth First! activist Mike Roselle to quip, “ [the FBI] would have discharged its duty better by assisting in a conspiracy to cut power to Rocky Flats, instead of trying to stop one.”
Gerry Spence climbed into his private jet in Jackson, Wyoming estate almost immediately upon hearing about the FBI arrest of Dave Foreman in Arizona. Spence had made a name for himself among environmental activists in the late-1970s for his case against energy company Kerr-McGee, when he provided legal services to the family of former employee Karen Silkwood, who died suspiciously after she charged the company with environmental abuses at one of their most productive nuclear facilities. Silkwood, who made plutonium pellets for nuclear reactors, had been assigned by her union to investigate health and safety concerns at a Kerr-McGee plant near Crescent, Oklahoma. In her monitoring of the facility, Silkwood found dozens of evident regulatory violations, including faulty respiratory equipment as well as many cases of workers being exposed to radioactive material.
Silkwood went public after her employer ignored her and her union’s concerns, even going as far as to testify to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) about the issues, claiming that regulations were sidestepped in an attempt to up the speed of production. She also claimed that workers had been mishandling nuclear fuel rods, but the company has covered up the incidences by falsifying inspection reports.
On the night of November 13, 1974, Silkwood left a union meeting in Crescent with documents in hand to drive to Oklahoma City where she was to meet and discuss Kerr-McGee’s alleged violations with a union official and two New York Times reporters. She never made it. Silkwood’s body was found the next day in the driver’s seat of her car on the side of the road, stuck in a culvert. She was pronounced dead on the scene and no documents were found in her vehicle.
An independent private investigation revealed that Silkwood was in full control of her car when it was struck from behind and forced off to the side of the road. According to the private investigators, the steering wheel of her car was bent in a manner that showed conclusively that Silkwood was prepared for the blow of the accident as it occurred. She had not been asleep at the wheel as investigators initially thought. The coroner concluded she had not died as a result of the accident, but possibly from suffocation.
No arrests or charges were ever made. Silkwood’s children and father filed a lawsuit against Kerr-McGee on behalf of her estate. Gerry Spence was their lead attorney. An autopsy of Silkwood’s body showed extremely high levels of plutonium contamination. Lawyers for Kerr-McGee argued first that the levels found were in the normal range. but after evidence was presented to the contrary, they were forced to argue that Silkwood had likely poisoned herself.
Spence had been victorious. Kerr-McGee’s defense was caught in a series of unavoidable contradictions. Silkwood’s body was laden with poison as a result of her work at the nuclear facility. In her death, Spence vindicated her well-documented claims. The initial jury verdict was for the company to pay $505,000 in damages and $10,000,000 in punitive damages. Kerr-McGee appealed and drastically reduced the jury’s verdict, but the initial ruling was later upheld by the Supreme Court. On the way to a retrial, the company agreed to pay $1.38 million to the Silkwood estate.
Gerry Spence was not cowed by the antics of the Kerr-McGee Corporation, and when he agreed to take on Dave Foreman’s case pro-bono, justice seemed to be on the horizon for Earth First! activists as well.
“Picture a little guy out there hacking at a dead steel pole, an inanimate object, with a blowtorch. He’s considered a criminal,” said Spence, explaining how he planned to steer the narrative of Foreman’s pending trial. “Now see the image of a beautiful, living, 400-year-old-tree, with an inanimate object hacking away at it. This non-living thing is corporate America, but the corporate executives are not considered criminals at all.”
Like so many of the FBI charges brought against radical activists throughout the years, the case against Dave Foreman was less exciting than the investigation that led up to his arrest. The bureau had done its best to make Foreman and Earth First! out to be the most threatening activists in America.
Spence was not impressed and in fact argued as much, stating the scope of the FBI’s operation THERMCON was “very similar to the procedures the FBI used during the 1960s against dissident groups.” Spence was right. Similar to the movement disruption exemplified by COINTELPRO against Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panthers, and the American Indian Movement, the FBI’s crackdown on Earth First! in the late 1980s had many alarming parallels to the agency of old.
“Essentially what we need to understand is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was formed during the Palmer Raids in 1921, was set up from the very beginning to inhibit internal political dissent. They rarely go after criminals. They’re thought police,” said Foreman of the FBI’s motives for targeting environmentalists. “Let’s face it, that’s what the whole government is. Foreman’s first law of government reads that the purpose of the state, and all its constituent elements, is the defense of an entrenched economic elite and philosophical orthodoxy. Thankfully, there’s a corollary to that law—they aren’t always very smart and competent in carrying out their plans.”
The man who was paid to infiltrate Earth First! under the guise of THERMCON was anything but competent. Special agent Michael A. Fain, stationed in the FBI’s Phoenix office, befriended Peg Millet and began attending Earth First! meetings in the area. Fain, who went by the alias, Mike Tait, posed as a Vietnam vet who dabbled in construction and gave up booze after his military service. On more than one occasion, while wearing a wire, Fain had tried to entice members of Earth First! in different acts of vandalism. They repeatedly refused.
During pre-trial evidence discovery, the defense was allowed to listen to hours of Fain’s wire-tapings, when they found that the not-so-careful agent inadvertently forgot to turn off his recorder. Fain, while having a conversation with two other agents at a Burger King after a brief meeting with Foreman, spoke about the status of his investigation, exclaiming, “I don’t really look for them to be doing a lot of hurting people… [Dave Foreman] isn’t really the guy we need to pop — I mean in terms of an actual perpetrator. This is the guy we need to pop to send a message. And that’s all we’re really doing… Uh-oh! We don’t need that on tape! Hoo boy!”
Here the FBI was publicly vilifying these Earth First!ers, while privately admitting that they posed no real threat. “[The agency is acting] as if [its] dealing with the most dangerous, violent terrorists that the country’s ever known,” explained Spence at the time. “And what we are really dealing with is ordinary, decent human beings who are trying to call the attention of America to the fact that the Earth is dying.”
The FBI’s rationale for targeting Foreman was purely political as he was one of the most prominent and well-spoken radical environmentalists of the time. Despite their claims that they were not directly targeting Earth First! or Foreman, and were instead investigating threats of sabotage of power lines that led to a nuclear power plant — their public indictment painted quite a different story.
“Mr. Foreman is the worst of the group,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Dokken announced to the court. “He sneaks around in the background … I don’t like to use the analogy of a Mafia boss, but they never do anything either. They just sent their munchkins out to do it.”
But agent Michael Fain’s on-tape gaffes were simply too much for the prosecution to manage, and the case against Foreman, having been deferred almost seven years, was finally reduced in 1996 to a single misdemeanor and a meager $250 in fines. The $2 million the FBI wasted tracking Earth First! over the latter part of the 1980s had only been nominally successful. Yet the alleged ringleader was still free. Unfortunately, the FBI may have gotten exactly what they wanted all along. Dave Foreman later stepped down as spokesman to Earth First! and inherited quite a different role in the environmental movement — one of invisibility and near silence.
Peg Millet, Mark Davis, and Marc Baker were all sentenced separately in 1991 for their involvement in their group EMETIC’s acts of ecotage against the expansion of Arizona Snowbowl. Davis got 6 years and $19,821 in restitution. Millet only 3 years, with the same fine, while Baker only received 6 months and a $5,000 fine.
Little did these activists know that their capture and subsequent arraignments were only the beginning. THERMCON’s crackdown of Earth First! would prove to be a dry-run for the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
(Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and trolled on Twitter @JSCCounterPunch. Joshua Frank is managing editor of CounterPunch. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank. CounterPunch.org)
IN 1842, AT AGE 33, ABRAHAM LINCOLN sent two letters to the local Springfield newspaper, criticizing a political opponent. Calling the man, among other things, a fool and a liar, he signed the letters “Rebecca.” Lincoln was courting young Mary Todd at the time, and she was aware of Lincoln’s letters. Thinking such a thing to be great fun, Mary began sending her own “Rebecca” letters to the paper, poking fun at the man mercilessly and ridiculing him for being unmarried. In due course the man felt things had gone too far and he stormed into the newspaper office demanding to know if Abraham Lincoln was the author of the letters. When told that the letters had indeed come from Lincoln, the man challenged Lincoln to a duel.
The man Lincoln had been prodding was not a man to be trifled with. James Shields was a fiery-tempered Irishman, who was serving as the Illinois state auditor. He would go on to serve as a general in the Mexican American War (where he was twice wounded) and is the only man in American history to have been elected to the U.S. Senate from three different states. His challenge put Lincoln in a bind. He couldn’t admit to writing the letters Mary Todd had sent, but to pass the blame to a young woman would make him appear to be a coward. So, he reluctantly accepted Shields’ challenge.
As the challenged party, Lincoln got to choose the weapons and set the rules for the duel. Duels were normally fought with pistols, but Lincoln knew that if he would likely be killed if he fought Shields with pistols. So instead, he chose broadswords as the weapons, and he set rules that assured he would win the fight. Under Lincoln’s rules, he and Shields were to stand on opposite sides of a board, ten feet from each other. If either man stepped closer than that, the penalty was death. Being seven inches taller than Shields, Lincoln’s rules assured that he would be able to reach Shields with his sword, but that Shields would be unable to touch Lincoln. While Lincoln’s conditions were unsporting, he was within his rights to set them.
Shields saw of course that Lincoln had set conditions designed to make it impossible for Lincoln to lose the fight. But Shields was no coward and on the morning of the duel he arrived ready to go forward, whatever the consequences.
As was the norm in such affairs, the men the combatants had chosen as “seconds” tried to negotiate an honorable resolution before the duel began. Exactly why Shields relented is unclear. By some accounts, while the seconds were negotiating Lincoln reached up and lopped off a large branch of a tree in a single swipe, convincing Shields that he ought to compromise. By other accounts, Lincoln’s second intimated to Shields’s man that Lincoln had been forced into the duel to protect the honor of a young lady, causing Shields to be satisfied with a toned-down apology. Whatever the reason, Lincoln agreed to admit writing the first letter, adding that he never intended to harm Shields’ character, a sort-of apology that Shields accepted. The duel was called off before Lincoln’s long arms had to go into action.
Lincoln later told a confidant that he felt confident he could have disarmed Shields, and that he no intention of killing him. He found the whole episode profoundly embarrassing and for the rest of his life refused to discuss it. When asked by an army officer years later if the rumor that he had once nearly dueled James Shields was true, Lincoln replied that he would not deny it, but that if the officer wished to remain his friend, he would never speak of it again.
Lincoln and Shields patched up their differences and had a cordial relationship afterwards. During the Civil War, Shields was a general in the Federal army and his commander in chief was the man he once nearly fought with broadswords on an island in the Mississippi.
Abraham Lincoln and James Shields met on Bloody Island, Missouri on the morning of September 22, 1842, one hundred eighty years ago today, to fight a duel, which fortunately was averted.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I remember sitting at a stoplight in the early 00’s as I watched a homeless addict pedal by on my bicycle that was ganked the weekend before during a neighborhood block-party. I gave chase down some alleys but he got the slip. The houseless would party at the beach and retire to parks and the SD river valley for Dirty Mike & the Boys antics.
Society has become TOO MUCH of a situation where WE have to pay for YOUR poor life choices.
And THEY are becoming legion.
by James Meek
‘I’d seen the zinc coffins at the army compound,’ says one of the soldiers’ mothers in Zinc Boys, Svetlana Alexeyevich’s oral history of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan:
But that was when Yura was thirteen and my other son, Gena, just a little boy. I hoped the war would be over by the time they were grown up. Could it possibly drag on that long? But, as someone said at Yura’s wake: ‘It lasted ten years, as long as his schooldays.’
Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on the assumption it would be comfortably wrapped up in a few days. Seven months, tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of hectares of blackened ruins later, he still hopes to come out, by his definition, a winner, but he made clear yesterday that he was prepared to take as much time as he needs.
If Ukraine’s remarkable recent military success east of Kharkiv raised hopes on its side, and in the West, of a Russian collapse, Putin, in his televised address, wanted it to be understood not only that Russia would fight for ever, with whatever means it had, but that Russia’s appetite for Ukrainian territory was not slaked. He supported ‘referendums’ due to be held by Russian occupying forces in four Ukrainian regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhiya and Kherson – none of which Russia fully holds. It’s fighting just to keep control of the areas it does have. To pursue his stated task of defending Russia at any price, in other words, Putin intends to declare as sacred Russian soil parts of another country that his troops have yet to set foot in.
Not for the first time, Putin made vague threats to use Russia’s enormous store of nuclear weapons – couched, characteristically, in the form of accusing his enemies of his own sin, nuclear blackmail. Even the slightest possibility of nuclear weapons being used must be taken seriously. But even assuming Putin were able to get through the multiple layers of bureaucracy, planning and technical control that stand between him and the airily imagined ‘pressing the button’, what would it get him? The bloodthirsty pundits of Russian talk TV – think of an entire national network of mainstream news channels run by a council of Alex Jones, Tommy Robinson and Eric Zemmour – may urge the nuclear incineration of Britain as a smart move, but Putin and his counsellors have to think things through a little further.
The phrase ‘tactical nuclear weapon’ is misleading: there is no such thing as a small atomic warhead. Use one or two against Ukraine, and Russia would fail to do much damage to Ukraine’s military capability, but would murder thousands – or a hundred thousand, if the target were a city – and quite possibly induce direct military intervention by the rest of the world. Use more, and the northern hemisphere, including Russia, would be at risk of anthropogenic erasure. Putin has shown himself to be reckless, an egoist, a gambler and indifferent to the deaths of others, but not to be either mad or stupid.
The most significant part of Putin’s speech, followed up by a decree and a mumbled interview with the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, was that Russia doesn’t have enough men in uniform to win against Ukraine, and to get more, it needs to start pressing people into service against their wishes. It has run out of professional soldiers. Putin and Shoigu didn’t say so, but too many have been killed and wounded, and the ones Russia started with – who were too few for the task anyway – have been fighting non-stop for more than two hundred days. Intercepted calls and pro-Russian Telegram channels suggest they are mad with exhaustion and psychic trauma. Not long ago, a standard Russian army company would have about a hundred men. ‘Can you hear yourself?’ asked one 200,000-subscriber Telegram patriot this week of another who’d urged Russian forces to attack, attack. ‘I’m asking you again – press forward with what? A company of twelve people?’
Russia has tried to plug the gaps with ill-trained volunteers, with men press-ganged from the streets of Russian-held Ukrainian towns, with mercenaries, with convicts. Designating areas of occupied Ukraine as ‘Russia’ will allow existing conscripts, legally, to be thrown into the fight. But it is not enough – hence the vaguely defined ‘partial mobilisation’. Shoigu suggested only Russian men with military experience would be called up, and students and various others would be exempt. He talked of 300,000 new troops. The decree, however, was much more broadly drawn, saying only that men would be called up ‘in the numbers and at the times determined by the ministry of defence’.
It is the act of a desperate leader, who until now has tried to maintain the fiction that the invasion needn’t affect the lives of most Russians; that it was a tough job being carried out far away, by well-equipped professionals. Mobilisation is a signal to the apolitical majority of the Russian population that something is going badly wrong in Putin’s Ukraine project.
He’s used up his old trump cards, without success; his old power over Europe, which came from dread, has faded as his ominous threats have been carried out, and turned out not to be so terrible. In the mid-2010s, he boasted that his tank armies could take Warsaw and Bucharest in two days. In seven months they have barely moved from Donetsk to Donetsk airport. For years, Europe trembled in the face of a cut-off of Russian gas. Now it has been almost cut off, and Europe is not yet begging for mercy. Few see the nuclear threats as credible. Mobilisation – dipping into the great pool of Russian manpower – was one of the few threats Putin has left.
And yet the pool is not as great as it was. Russia is not the Soviet Union. When the USSR fell apart, Russia was only half its population, and that population is falling precipitously, now smaller than that of Germany and the UK combined. It’s unclear how the new recruits will be trained, or what equipment they will get, when so much of the country’s best gear has been destroyed or captured. Mobilisation has the potential to divide Russian society, driving a wedge between the metropolitan elite and those in the provinces, between the recruiters and the mothers and wives, between the army and the civilian politocracy, and to throw into despair the tens of thousands of contract soldiers who have been fighting in Ukraine since the beginning and now see no prospect of going home or finishing their contracts as signed.
Mobilisation is, nonetheless, a war-prolonging measure. It will probably make it easier for Russia to hold onto what it has by stopping the gaps in its ranks with cannon fodder and rear-echelon gophers. Ukraine triumphed east of Kharkiv, but is still struggling to win back land in the south. It’s possible that winter could see a lapse back into a war of attrition, with few big gains or losses of territory, and a war of missiles, with Ukraine using new Western air-defence weapons to try to shoot down Russian rockets aimed at destroying the power plants that keep the country warm. After the dread of Russian tank armies, after the dread of a gas cut-off, after the dread of mobilisation, Putin’s next threat is winter.
NATO PROLONGS THE UKRAINE PROXY WAR, AND GLOBAL HAVOC
With diplomacy thwarted, the US and its allies plan for “open-ended” military and economic warfare against Russia -- despite acknowledging that "the most dangerous moments are yet to come."
by Aaron Mate
Russia has announced plans to mobilize an additional 300,000 troops for the war in Ukraine. In his speech unveiling the expanded war effort, Vladimir Putin vowed to achieve his main goal of the “liberation of Donbas,” and issued a thinly veiled nuclear threat in the process. The move comes days ahead of planned referendums in breakaway Ukrainian areas to formalize Russian annexation.
Russia’s escalation ensures that the fighting is entering an even more dangerous phase. While Russia bears legal and moral responsibility for its invasion, recent developments underscore that NATO leaders have shunned opportunities to prevent further catastrophe and chosen instead to fuel it.
Putin’s announcement comes just after the Ukrainian military’s routing of Russian forces from Kharkiv, which relied extensively on US planning, weaponry and intelligence, sparked triumphant declarations that the tide has turned.
According to The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum, “Americans and Europeans need to prepare for a Ukrainian victory,” one so overwhelming that it may well bring “about the end of Putin’s regime.”
Beyond the chorus of emboldened neoconservatives, Western officials are less sanguine.
“Certainly it’s a military setback” for Russia, a US official said of the Kharkiv retreat to the Washington Post. “I don’t know if I could call it a major strategic loss at this point.” Germany’s defense chief, General Eberhard Zorn, said that while Ukraine “can win back places or individual areas of the frontlines,” overall, its forces can “not push Russia back over a broad front.”
Whether or not it marked a major strategic loss for Russia, the battle in Kharkiv is already a major victory for NATO leaders seeking to prolong their proxy war in Ukraine and economic warfare next door.
Ukraine’s expulsion of Russian forces in the northeast, the New York Times reports, has “amplified voices in the West demanding that more weapons be sent to Ukraine so that it could win.”
“Despite Ukrainian forces’ startling gains in the war against Russia,” the Washington Post adds, “the Biden administration anticipates months of intense fighting with wins and losses for each side, spurring U.S. plans for an open-ended campaign with no prospect for a negotiated end in sight.”
As has been apparent since the Ukraine crisis erupted, US planning for open-ended proxy warfare against Russia has led it to sabotage any prospect of a negotiated end.
The US rejection of diplomacy around Ukraine has been newly substantiated by former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill. Citing “multiple former senior U.S. officials,” Hill reports that in April of this year “Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement.” Under this framework, Russia would withdraw to its pre-invasion position, while Ukraine would pledge not to join NATO “and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.”
In confirming that US officials were aware of this tentative agreement, Hill bolsters previous news that Washington’s junior partner in London was enlisted to thwart it. As Ukrainian media reported, citing sources close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Kiev in April and relayed the message that Russia "should be pressured, not negotiated with." Johnson also informed Zelensky that “even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on [security] guarantees with Putin,” his Western patrons “are not.” The talks promptly collapsed.
In his speech announcing the expanded war effort, Putin invoked this episode. After the invasion began, he said, Ukrainian officials "reacted very positively to our proposals... After certain compromises were reached, Kyiv was actually given a direct order to disrupt all agreements."
Having undermined the prospect of a negotiated peace in the war’s early weeks, proxy warriors in Washington are openly celebrating their success.
“I like the structural path we’re on here," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham recently declared. "As long as we help Ukraine with the weapons they need and the economic support, they will fight to the last person."
Graham’s avowed willingness to expend every “last person” in Ukraine to fight Russia is in line with a broader US strategy that views the entire world as subordinate to its war aims. As the Washington Post reported in June, the White House is willing to “countenance even a global recession and mounting hunger” in order to hand Russia a costly defeat. In Ukraine, this now means also countenancing the threat of nuclear disaster, as the crisis surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has laid bare.
The prevailing willingness to sacrifice civilian well-being extends to the US public, as National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has newly made clear. Appearing at the Aspen Security Conference, Sullivan was asked if he is worried about the “American people’s staying power” on the Ukraine proxy war, amid "criticism that we're spending billions and billions to support Ukraine, and not spending it here."
“Fundamentally not,” Sullivan responded. “It's very important for Putin to understand what exactly he's up against from the point of view of the United States’ staying power.” That staying power, Sullivan explained, was cemented in the $40 billion war funding measure overwhelmingly approved by Congress (including every self-identified progressive Democrat) in May.
"That can go on, just on the basis of what we have already had allocated to us and resources for a considerable period of time,” Sullivan vowed. “And then, I strongly believe that there will be bipartisan support in the Congress to re-up those resources should it become necessary.”
To policymakers like Sullivan, there is not only an endless pool of money to “re-up” the war, but a “fundamentally” indifferent posture toward the taxpayers footing the bill.
Despite Biden’s reported scolding of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for admitting that the US goal in Ukraine is to leave Russia “weakened,” Sullivan – speaking before a friendly Beltway crowd -- also forgot to stick to the script.
The US “strategic objective” in Ukraine, Sullivan explained, is to “ensure that Russia's invasion of Ukraine… is a strategic failure for Putin,” and that “Russia pay a longer-term price in terms of the elements of its national power.” This would teach a “lesson,” he added, “to would-be aggressors elsewhere.”
By “would-be aggressors elsewhere”, Sullivan naturally precludes the US and its allies, whose aggression is not only permitted but promoted under the US-led “rules-based international order.”
President Biden has made that clear by abandoning his pledge to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state, notwithstanding its murderous (US-backed) aggression in Yemen. The regular aggression by US ally Israel against Gaza and Syria also continues unabated. The United Nations just reported that an Israeli strike on the Damascus international airport in June – one of hundreds of Israeli bombings on Syria that go largely ignored -- "led to considerable damage to infrastructure" and "meant the suspension of U.N. deliveries of humanitarian assistance" to Syrians in need for nearly two weeks. As of this writing, the latest Israeli strike killed five Syrian soldiers, eliciting no Western media and political protest. It is more accurate to describe Israeli aggression on Syria as a joint Israeli-US effort, given that the US reviews and approves the strikes.
Allied NATO leaders are also vocally countenancing the Ukraine proxy war’s costs on their domestic populations. In response to the European sanctions, Russia has now halted gas deliveries to the EU via the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Having previously relied on Russia for close to 40 percent of its gas needs, European industries are facing layoffs, factory closures, and higher energy bills that “are pushing consumers to near poverty,” the Financial Times reports.
“People want to end the war because they cannot bear the consequences, the costs,” the EU’s Josep Borell observed this month. While ending the war might appeal to some, it does not interest the EU’s top diplomat. “This mentality must be overcome,” Borell declared. “The offensive on the northeastern front helps with that.”
Europe, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg recently wrote, may even face “civil unrest,” as economies contract and temperatures drop, but “for Ukraine’s future and for ours, we must prepare for the winter war and stay the course.”
“No matter what my German voters think, I want to deliver to the people of Ukraine,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told a conference in Prague last month. During the upcoming winter, Baerbock acknowledged, “we will be challenged as democratic politicians. People will go in the street and say ‘We cannot pay our energy prices’.” While pledging to help people “with social measures,” Baerbock insisted that the European Union’s sanctions on Russia will remain. “The sanctions will stay also in wintertime, even if it gets really tough for politicians,” she said.
Whereas Western leaders appear confident they can manage civil unrest at home, they face additional resistance abroad. In Africa, a leaked report from the European Union's envoy to the continent warns that African nations are blaming the EU’s Russia sanctions for food shortages. The report also cautions that “the EU is seen as fueling the conflict,” in Ukraine, “not as a peace facilitator."
Rather than address these African concerns, the envoy’s office proposes a “more transactional… approach” in which the EU makes “clear” that its “willingness” to “maintain higher levels” of foreign aid “will depend on working based on common values and a joint vision,” – in short, on Africa falling in line.
That is undoubtedly the US policy, as UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield made clear last month. After promising a “listening tour,” Thomas-Greenfield instead came to Africa with a dictate and an outright threat. “Countries can buy Russian agricultural products, including fertilizer and wheat,” she decreed. But “if a country decides to engage with Russia” and break US sanctions, “they stand the chance of having actions taken against them.” That Africa faces a food security crisis, with hundreds of millions going hungry, is apparently of lower importance.
While Western sanctions on Russia wreak havoc worldwide, the architects in Washington seem only perturbed by their failure, so far, to inflict the intended levels of suffering on Russian civilians. “We were expecting” that US sanctions “would totally crater the Russian economy” by now, a disappointed senior US official told CNN.
Other US officials are leaving room for hope. “There's going to be long-term damage done to the Russian economy and to generations of Russians as a result of this,” CIA Director William Burns told a cybersecurity conference this month. Burns’ long-term forecast of harming “generations of Russians” is based on extensive planning. As one US official explained it to CNN, when the sanctions were designed, Biden officials not only “wanted to keep pressure on Russia over the long term as it waged war on Ukraine,” but also “wanted to degrade Russia's economic and industrial capabilities.” Accordingly, “we've always seen this as a long-term game.”
The “long-term game” of trying to destroy Russia’s economy and immiserate “generations” of its citizens is accompanied by increasing plans for a long-term fight. The Biden administration plans to formally name the US military mission in Ukraine – such as in prior campaigns like Operation Desert Storm -- while also appointing a general to oversee the effort. The naming, the Wall Street Journal observes, is “significant bureaucratically, as it typically entails long-term, dedicated funding.”
The US plan for a long-term military and economic campaign against Russia is being implemented despite the awareness that Ukraine could face far worse.
“Some American officials express concern that the most dangerous moments are yet to come,” the New York Times reports. To date, “Putin has avoided escalating the war in ways that have, at times, baffled Western officials.” Unlike US military campaigns in Iraq, Russia “has made only limited attempts to destroy critical infrastructure or to target Ukrainian government buildings.”
“The current moment draws attention to a tension that underlies America’s strategy for the war,” the Washington Post observes, “as officials channel massive military support to Ukraine, fueling a war with global consequences, while attempting to remain agnostic about when and how Kyiv might strike a deal to end it.”
These rare admissions not only contradict the typical portrayal of a genocidal Russia that is used to justify the proxy war, but capture the underlying policy driving it. More than six months in, US officials are aware that Russia has “avoided escalating the war” and targeting “critical infrastructure,” – to the point where these same officials are “baffled” by Russian restraint. Despite this, their policy centers on “fueling” this same war, while remaining “agnostic” about ending it.
War being fluid – and US-led military support for Ukraine ever-expanding – it is of course possible that Ukraine will continue to defy expectations and drive out the invading Russian forces.
What the latest developments on and off the battlefield make undoubtedly clear is that NATO states are willing to use Ukraine for as long as it takes to achieve the stated aim of leaving Russia “weakened” or even achieving regime change, no matter the damage knowingly inflicted on Ukrainians, Russians, the Global South, and their own citizens.
POLLS: AMERICANS OPPOSE INCREASING UKRAINE AID, DEFENDING GLOBAL DEMOCRACY
Two new polls from Morning Consult and Concerned Veterans for America show at least a plurality of Americans are tired of interventionism. The results show twice as many Americans want to send less aid to Ukraine than those who would support sending more. Meanwhile, only 17% of Americans are concerned about defending democracy around the globe.
THE NARRATIVE MATRIX HIDES THE TRUTH ABOUT THE WORLD, AND ABOUT OURSELVES
by Caitlin Johnstone
I talk about narrative all the time partly because narrative control is the source and foundation of the power of the US-centralized empire. The ability to control the way people think, act and vote with mass-scale psychological manipulation allows our rulers to dominate us more pervasively than we could ever be dominated by brute totalitarian force, which is why so much energy goes into keeping the people from controlling their own narratives. That’s all the current mainstream panic about “disinformation” is, for example. If narrative control were fully decentralized, our rulers couldn’t rule.
But I also focus on narrative because its consequences are so much more far-reaching than that.
The fascinating thing about paying attention to the way narrative differs from reality is that it doesn’t just change your understanding of politics and power throughout the world: you start to notice that your whole life is dominated by narratives — not just about the world, but about you.
You start out getting curious if the narratives you’ve been fed about your country, your government, and global power dynamics are really true, and if you’re sincere you start taking that curiosity to questions about narratives you’ve come to believe about your own life. Narratives about what’s important, about what’s real, about what’s true, about what’s helpful. Narratives about how you are, narratives about who you are. Narratives that were put in your head by teachers, preachers, friends and family, and narratives you made up yourself long ago and kept believing.
You start getting curious about the way your own life has been shaped by believed narrative, and you start to discover a whole reality underneath the matrix of stories which buzzes around in your consciousness. A reality that could not possibly be more different from your stories about it.
You start to discover that your entire framework for perceiving the world is based on believed stories which are not ultimately true and are generally very unhelpful for moving through life in a harmonious way. Stories about others. Stories about life. And stories about yourself.
That last one is the real kicker. Because it turns out that underneath the narrative matrix, what you are is more different from your mental stories about what you are than you could possibly imagine. And these misperceptions of identity shape your entire experience of reality. You start to see that this finite, separate “me” character your entire mental world has revolved around your whole life has no more reality to it than a fictional character in a storybook. After that illusion becomes clarified, life is no longer dominated by narrative.
To be clear, narrative in and of itself is not the problem; narrative in and of itself is a useful tool. “I went to the store” is a narrative. “Those berries are poisonous” is a narrative. “One should look both ways before crossing the street” is a narrative. The problem isn’t narrative, the problem is that it dominates our experience instead of serving as a tool. The goal isn’t to eliminate narrative but to put it in its proper place as a useful tool rather than the writer, director and star of the entire show of life. The problem isn’t narrative but believed narrative, in the same way watching a horror movie causes no problems for you if you remain clear that it’s just a movie.
Look closer and you see through the stories about your nation, your government and your world. Look closer still and you see through your believed stories about life which lead you to think the way you think and act the way you act. Look even closer and you see through the stories about your actual fundamental nature.
The reason propaganda works is because human experience is so thoroughly dominated by mental stories that if you can control the dominant narratives, you can control humanity. The quest is not just to refute propaganda, but to cease having an experience that is dominated by narrative.
And of course all this is a narrative too. But it points to something real which can be clearly perceived in your own experience without narrative, in the same way you can see your hand in front of your face without having to tell any stories about it.