Moist Cool | Pups Aplenty | Pomo Art | Weed Nightmare | Starbucks Saga | Twin Tragedies | JDSF Rally | Yes P | Ross Bros | Women Artists | Gas Gougers | Log Refuse | Rain Show | Yesterday's Catch | Hard Time | Industrial Trombone | Flag Football | Making Godzilla | Niner Loss | Big Hand | Mr Pianalto | Mosey Competition | My Daughter | Lost Chihuahua | Art Protest | Microplastics | Ukraine | Sun Worship | Western Hypocrisy | Postage Stamp
A DEEP MARINE LAYER will bring cool and moist conditions to the interior through Monday. Gradual warming is expected through Wednesday with cooling later in the week. (NWS)
UKIAH SHELTER PETS OF THE WEEK
Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! The Shelter is filled with the cutest, sweetest puppies in Northern California! And there are more in the puppy pipe line--every size, shape, and breed.
If you’ve been thinking about adding a dog to your home and have the time and TLC for a pup, visit our website at mendoanimalshelter.com and click on the Pups And Young Dogs link. If a puppy woofs to you, you can begin the adoption process ASAP, on-line. Then call the Ukiah Shelter at 467-6453 and speak to our Adoption Coordinator.
If you can’t adopt, consider fostering. Our website has information about our Foster Program, on-going Dog And Cat Adoption Events, and other programs, services and updates.
Visit us on Facebook at: facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/
For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.
POMO ART WORKSHOP, Oct. 20 at Grace Hudson
On Thursday, Oct. 20, from 7 to 8 p.m., Eric Wilder (Kashia Pomo, Stewarts Point Rancheria) leads a workshop based on Pomo art at the Grace Hudson Museum. Participants will create a painting of a Pomo-style basket using traditional design elements and their own imagination. During the workshop, Wilder will also share traditional Pomo stories. All art supplies are provided. Enrollment is limited to 25. The workshop is free, but reservations are required. Call the Museum at (707) 467-2836 during open hours (Wed. through Sat. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday noon to 4:30 p.m.) to reserve.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. For more information go to gracehudsonmuseum.org.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Dear Sheriff Kendall: the Emerald Triangle weed nightmare started long before you became sheriff. All of the blame can’t be placed on Sacramento. They’re just trying to get their cut like everyone else, right? Millions of more dollars funding eradication efforts can only be viewed as price supports for those who don’t get raided. Erratic enforcement in Mendocino County for the past 25 years has been a big part of the problem. I watched my neighborhood get overrun by carpet-baggers and dimwitted weed players in 2016. The only reason they aren’t still plaguing my neighborhood is because of the wholesale price of bud. That’s the only real force that will change our communities. So, I say, let’s keep promoting what all the hippies have been screaming for decades: “it’s just a plant man.” $100 per pound seems like a good price point for a safe community. Find the bad actors, fine the crap out of them, but don’t cut down their sacred medicine cuz they need to buy some fancy rims….Let all the plants grow and this chaotic weed shitshow will turn to a moldy memory.
THE BLUE SEDAN
by Nona Smith
MaryBeth had been sitting in her car for three full minutes, the motor purring, her hands tight around the steering wheel. She wasn’t going any place. She couldn’t. Once again, she glanced in her rearview mirror and saw the blue sedan idling inches from her back bumper. The driver wanted her space. Parking was at a premium in this Starbuck’s lot: she’d circled it twice herself before she’d found a spot. “This is stupid,” she said. “One minute more and I’m going out there.”
She began to count. When she reached thirty, she checked the mirror again. Four cars––now five––idled behind the sedan. One of them honked a long, impatient blast, but the sedan stayed stubbornly put. Was the driver unbalanced? Crazy as a loon? Or just plain pigheaded? By the time MaryBeth counted to sixty, she’d worked out a plan. Two plans, in fact.
Briefly, she worried about executing Plan A. There were lots of stories lately about road rage and shootings. Still, what was the likelihood of being shot over a parking spot at Starbucks? She turned off the ignition, unfastened her seatbelt, and slipped out of the car.
As she approached the blue sedan, the driver’s window slid down, and MaryBeth saw a young-ish woman with hair gathered into a messy ponytail. She felt a modicum of relief no guns were in sight.
“You’re waiting for this parking spot?” she said to the messy-haired woman, who pinched her lips together and nodded curtly.
“I’m afraid you’re not going to get it,” MaryBeth said in a voice usually used to calm a young child having a tantrum. “I can’t leave because you’re blocking my car, and there are four cars behind you who won’t all back up so you can claim this space.”
“Well, I’m not moving,” the woman said, and eased her window up.
For a moment, MaryBeth stood in stunned silence. The situation was insane. Then she remembered: she had a Plan B. She walked back to her car in measured steps, grabbed her purse, and locked the car door. She nodded as she walked past the blue sedan, gave a hands-out shrug to the drivers in line behind it, and headed back to Starbucks. This situation would sort itself out while she was drinking her low fat, decaf, shade-grown latte.
ALL WOMEN become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.
— Oscar Wilde
YES ON MEASURE P
We recommend a Yes vote on Measure P on this November’s ballot. Measure P provides a unique opportunity to take some of the heat off of our (mostly volunteer) local fire departments without raising total current taxes. It would do this by redirecting ¼ cent from an expiring portion of county sales tax to support fire prevention and protection.
Keeping our communities safe is difficult, dangerous and increasingly expensive work, and our firefighters desperately need additional support. They cannot function without appropriate, well-maintained equipment, and those costs are continually increasing. Each firefighter needs specialized gear and personal protective equipment, and it needs to fit well and be in good working order to ensure their safety. Many other supplies and items used on fire or medical calls are not reusable, and must be constantly re-stocked and ready for the next emergency.
Other expenses, such as workers’ compensation insurance rates, have also been skyrocketing, and fire departments are required to pay them. And since most of their volunteers have other jobs and can’t always be available when needed, some departments are finding they need paid staff to ensure that someone is always available to respond to emergency calls.
As these and other costs rise, we are also demanding ever more of these volunteers. Countywide fire calls have gone up every year—a 52 percent increase just in the last five years. Measure P will allow them to purchase the equipment required to respond to that need, and keep both firefighters and the public safe. You can find more information about the challenges they are facing, and reasons to support Measure P, at www.yesonpmendo.com.
Measure P is a general tax. This means that the funds it raises will become part of the County’s general fund. To ensure that these funds are used as intended, the County Board of Supervisors and Fire Chiefs Association have taken pains to document exactly how the funds are intended to be spent. The Supervisors unanimously passed Resolution 22-159, stating in part that “The Board intends that the 90 percent used for direct aid to agencies providing direct fire protection services be allocated in the same manner as the Board has allocated Proposition 172 funds.” County fire chiefs have agreed on the specific percentage of the funds that each department would get. Resolution 22-159 also directs that allocation of the funds will be publicly reported every year, as a means of assuring that the funds are used as intended.
The remaining 10 percent is to fund countywide wildfire safety by supporting programs such as those operated by the nonprofit Mendocino County Fire Safe Council, allowing our communities to plan, prepare and proactively get ahead of wildfire risks well before they are upon us.
Finally, Measure P has a built-in 10-year sunset, in case we are not satisfied with this approach at that time.
With these multiple layers of assurance, we believe that voters can trust the funds to be used as intended to effectively support greater safety for our communities. If we want emergency services to be there when we need them, we should take this chance to support the programs, volunteers and fire departments that keep us safe.
Measure P will not meet all of the funding needs of our fire departments, but it will get us much closer to that goal without raising any taxes.
Vote Yes on Measure P.
(Ukiah Daily Journal Editor K.C. Meadows)
AAUW PROGRAM NOVEMBER 4
The first will occur during brunch on Friday, November 4, at 11 a.m. Camille Schraeder will serve as host for the brunch at the Saturday Afternoon Club. The program will feature two aspects of the theme: “Women in the Arts and Education.”
We will honor several women who have succeeded in the arts, Laurel Near will give a history of SPACE (School of Performing Arts and Cultural Education). We’re also hoping for some surprise mini-performances that will add delight to your experience.
Also featured, will be a renowned mural artist, Lauren Sinnott. She will take us on a guided tour of her own journey as a female artist. She will describe the work on the mural depicting the history and its essence as drawn by people of Mendocino County. We urge everyone to visit the mural located next to, and across the street from, the Saturday Afternoon Club.
Reserve your seat today for the “Women in the Arts and Education”, contact: Janet Chaniot, (707) 972-6722, firstname.lastname@example.org
The event is free; however, contributions to defray the costs of the program, scholarships, or other AAUW-Ukiah Branch activities are welcome.
WINDFALL PROFIT TAX UPDATE
by Jim Shields
In last week’s column on oil companies gouging Californians on gas prices, I wrote that I supported Consumer Watchdog’s demand for Gov. Gav Newsom to call for a special legislation session to get the new law passed.
On Friday, Oct 7, Newsom said he will call state lawmakers back to Sacramento for a special session in response to escalating gas prices. The session will take place on Dec. 5.
“It’s time to get serious, I’m sick of this,” Newsom said last Friday. “This is one of the greatest fleecings for consumers in world history.”
The governor has requested the Legislature approve a measure that would require oil companies to pay back excessive profits to consumers through a new tax. The Legislature shutdown for the year on Aug. 31 and can’t begin action on lawmaking until January, unless the governor orders a special legislative session.
Newsom said last week he chose Dec. 5 because that is when the state Legislature was already scheduled to reconvene briefly to swear-in new state representatives after the November election. He said in a press release he wants time to make sure the proposal is on solid, legal ground in anticipation of lawsuits from the oil industry.
The proposal would require approval from two-thirds of the Legislature. Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, said in a press release that they looked forward to Newsom’s “detailed proposal.”
Recently, California’s Energy Commission demanded explanations from the major oil companies in response to runaway gas prices. The oil industry argues the latest increases at gas pumps is the result of “supply and demand issues.”
In a response letter to the state, PBF Energy’s Senior Vice President Paul Davis pointed to California’s mounting restrictions that have made it harder to refine oil and import gasoline.
Valero noted in their letter, “post-pandemic supply and demand” as a major contributing factor. “California is the most challenging market to serve in the United States for several reasons,” wrote Scott Folwarkow, the company’s Vice President of State Government Affairs.
The Western States Petroleum Association issued a statement on Friday arguing that a “better use” of a special legislative session would be to “take a hard look at decades of California energy policy and what they mean to consumers and our economy.”
“If this was anything other than a political stunt, the governor wouldn’t wait two months, and would call the session now,” the industry organization alleged. “This industry is ready to work on real solutions to energy costs and reliability if that is what the governor is truly interested in.”
And, of course, given that the solidly Democratic controlled state Legislature will be convened in a special session, the Republican National Committee couldn’t resist an opportunity to fire off a round or two at the opposition: “Gavin Newsom calling a special session to create a new tax on gasoline is the epitome of what’s wrong with California Democrats. Newsom and his supermajority are trying to distract voters from the fact that their policies made gas prices so high, but creating a new tax that will inevitably be handed down to taxpayers in the midst of historic inflation is a failing strategy.”
Take my word for it, the naysayers have it all wrong. Newsom was forced to act because up-against-the-economic-wall workers and the middle class demanded he do it. People are fed up with gouging and what is clearly rigging of gas prices. These are violations of existing laws. A tax on windfall profits is just a first remedial step that hopefully leads to enforcing those laws.
Public Comments On Windfall Profit Tax
My column also generated quite a few comments.. Here’s some of them:
George Hollister: “When considering a windfall profit tax, remember, if you want less of something, tax it. If you want more, subsidize it. There are unintended consequences here that make what we are doing worse in more ways than we know. Remember, also, the governor’s policy is to convert energy use away from fossil fuel to wind, and solar. This policy, in itself, has increased the price of gasoline, and everything else involving energy in California, and will continue to do so. So what’s the complaint? Isn’t the Governor getting what he wants with high gas prices? It should be noted that Chevron is moving its headquarters out of California. If California was a future profit center, would they be doing this? If we want gasoline prices to go down, then we want to see an increase in supply. Right? If we want to see gasoline prices go up, then we want to see a decrease in supply, like OPEC watchers know. California policy has been to reduce gasoline supply, and reduce long term investment in fossil fuels. Reducing supply has been done on multiple fronts. Prices have gone up. That is the intent of government policy. A significant increase in supply of gasoline in California to bring down prices is remote, with the current California policy. Does a tax on profit result in lower prices of gasoline? Does a tax on profit result in gasoline companies wanting to increase production, or make significant long term investments? I think we know the answers. It’s simple economics. Putting logical fallacies aside, if you voted for Governor Newsom, you voted for high gas prices. If you vote for him again, your vote is for higher gas prices. Don’t blame, and don’t complain. And don’t blame or complain, when California’s energy fantasy goes off the rails, which it likely will.”
Harvey Reading: “Funny about gasoline prices. California gasoline has sold for somewhat more than the cost in most of the rest of the country because it (supposedly) costs the robber barons more to refine the crude oil to California specs. I would suggest this little exercise: find out how much a dollar was worth in 1973, and then apply the result appropriately to the average cost of the various grades of gasoline sold today. It seems to me that in states outside California, the real cost of gasoline is about the same as it was during the ’73 “shortage”… Quit whining. During that “shortage,” I lived in Sonoma and bought my commute gasoline in Vallejo at a cut-rate station, or at the (cut rate) Beacon station in Sonoma. The longest I ever waited in line, was behind two cars. That wait happened exactly ONCE during the hyped-up “crisis.” The whole thing was blown up by the press into something it really wasn’t—just like what’s happening now, only this time around, we’re s’posed to blame the Russians. Then, it was those “horrid” Arabs. Grow up folks, and face reality rather than listen to drivel from politicians and the robber-baron-owned nooze media (and petroleum industry).”
Cotdbigun: “According to AAA, average price per gallon, California $6.30, US 3.90 ($3.65 if California is excluded). State with highest fuel related taxes, California. Solution? More taxes, because we know that the evil oil companies would never pass that extra cost on to the consumers. The improvement of our lives since Joe Biden took charge (wink wink) is something we should all be thankful for. Biden Newsom = good. Anything conservative = fascist.”
Bob Abeles: “Quick fact check, CA gasoline tax is $0.53/gallon which just doesn’t add up as the reason for CA gasoline to be so far above the national average. I’m gonna go for price gouging on the part of the refiners as the #1 reason for CA’s high prices, so clawing some of it back in the form of windfall taxes (taxes on profits) makes sense to me.”
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com., the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
ROLLING THUNDER, HORIZONTAL RAIN
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Clear skies and a sunny summer sun can coexist for only so long here in North Carolina.
Temperatures rise. Pressures escalate. Opposing fronts assemble, square off, collide. Things quickly become precipitatious, as they recently did in my neighborhood when graying skies grew cluttered with hostile forces converging from all directions, then lingered and rumbled abuse at one another.
Brawl-inducing squabbles grew bigger and noisier and burbles of thunder began shoving clouds around, unleashing a tempest worthy of Jupiter himself, or maybe something assembled in the Pixar studios.
Growling and grumbling escalated, lightning bolts flashed, crackled and popped. As thunder bombs threatened more violence and rain began a harsh, thick downpour wife Trophy and I knew just what to do: Grab a pair of plastic lawn chairs and set ‘em up in the yard.
Now fetch a beer (and a wine for the wife) take off your shirt (blouse optional) and set on down for the evening show. It’s pouring hard, horizontal rain while lightning explodes behind gray mountains of the cumulonimbus species, turning our panoramic stage into a festival of savage sight and sound.
Rainwater rolls off your hair and chest and drips from the end of your nose.
My friends, there are things you can enjoy down south you can’t in California without risking neighbors calling Adult Protective Services. Sitting out in the middle of a heavy rainstorm, at night, semi-naked, drinking, laughing, pointing at lightning bolts, might not be OK in Ukiah. Agents might turn up at the door.
The main difference here is the weather, especially in the summer, especially at night. At 8 p.m. it’s 81 degrees and raining hard, and I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock it’s 81 degrees and still pouring.
Just balmy I tell ya. Thunder is shaking leaves from the trees and making my beer foam up. Trophy is three feet away laughing and pointing like she’s never seen anything like it, because she hasn’t.
California gal, y’understand.
All Hail Crown Vics!
One of the more startling realizations in relocating to this part of the country, or maybe just this particular town, is the love and affection people have for 30 and 40-year old Ford Crown Victoria automobiles.
In California a Crown Vic is the last car you’d want to inherit and the first car you’d send to the crusher. Crown Vics have always been the plow horses of the automotive world, the dull, anonymous hardworking beasts assigned to every taxicab and every police cruiser all through the 1980s and early 2000s before at last sinking into the La Brea tar pits with all the other dinosaurs.
And being dinosaurs they never evolved much beyond airbags and radios. But Crown Victorias (and a twin brother, the Mercury Gran Marquis) carved out legendary status among a small sect for being “The Cars You Can’t Wear Out.” Some were driven 500,000 miles without so much as a new spark plug, let alone an engine rebuild or a transmission overhaul or any of that other dainty stuff troubling Hemis, Humvees and Mack Trucks, never mind the wienie machines spit out by Hyundai and Honda.
To see these elderly Motor City behemoths treated with such apparent affection here, lovingly restored to showroom condition is quite cool. It’s like Californians restoring ’40 Fords and ’57 Chevys and, in the future, Volvos and Subarus.
But here nothing’s close to Crown Vics as favorites in the local restoration world, all dolled up as if tomorrow they’ll lead a parade. A neighbor around the corner has a side business detailing cars and for advertising he’s got big signs on both sides of an old Crown Victoria. (Labelling a Crown Vic “old” is redundant by the way, as no such beasts have been built since 2011.)
In Ukiah if you spot a teenager driving a Crown Victoria you know his grandfather just died and the kid had the misfortune to inherit the most low-status set of wheels imaginable.
Put a 25-year old behind the wheel of a Crown Vic and people will immediately assume she’s at least 65.
(Tom Hine is the author of all these Assignment: Ukiah columns, written under the byline of his imaginary playmate, Tommy Wayne Kramer. They recently returned from a trip to the British Isles where they learned there’s no such word as “precipitatious.”)
CATCH OF THE DAY, October 16, 2022
KENNETH BERRY, Cloverdale/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
DAKOTA BLUNT, Willits. Pot possession for sale, transportation, conspiracy.
ERIC COOPER, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
VINCENT GALVAN, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-under influence, parole violation.
WADE HAYES, Westport. Violation of restraining order by purchasing or receiving a firearm, protective order violation, ammo possession by prohibited person, criminal threats.
TARA HILL, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
BRIAN LENHART, Ukiah. Controlled substance, county parole violation.
NATHEN MARTIN, Ukiah. Contempt of court.
ADORAI MEJIA-VICENTE, San Rafael/Ukiah. DUI, controlled substance.
JONATHAN OSEGUERA-VAZQUEZ, Santa Rosa/Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
MICHAEL OVERHOLT JR., Ukiah. Pot possession for sale, transportation, conspiracy.
GAYELENA PALLEY, Covelo. Loaded firearm in public.
WYATT ROGERS. Willits. Vandalism.
TONY SMITH JR., Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Felon-addict with firearm, loaded firearm not registered owner, ammo possession by prohibited person, county parole violation, failure to appear.
WHO'S FAKING ME?
It has come to my attention that someone may be writing letters and signing my name to them. I don't have proof of this, yet someone made a comment that made me suspicious of them and some other shady people they hanging with.
The only people I write to regularly are my aunt, my sister and a friend I have down south.
All I ask is to beware of people writing letters and signing my name to them.
On a different note, I am working hard and going to a lot of self-help groups working at bettering myself. I put God first in my life and I put all the drug use and dumb stuff behind me.
I sure do miss Albion and all of the wonderful people there right now. I have five more long years ago. This place is hard on my soul. I vow to change and never go back. Sometimes I feel like I don't have a friend in the whole world. This place will do that to you.
Thank you so much.
With the utmost love and respect,
James Harriot Jr.
Salinas Valley State Prison, Soledad
IS GIRLS FLAG FOOTBALL California’s Next Breakout High School Sport?
by Marisa Ingemi
Tina Hu was an athlete without a sport.
As a sophomore at Lowell High School, she found herself in a place all too familiar for students who have the desire to play, but haven’t had the means to access the specialized training and opportunities that come with private club teams. Select spots on volleyball and basketball seemed out of reach.
Then, Hu found her opening. Lowell launched a girls club flag football program, and almost everyone who signed up was entirely green.
“I had the skills to play football, but even if I did something like basketball, most girls had started when they were four years old,” said Hu, who now attends Skyline College in San Bruno where she took a short-lived flag football elective as a freshman. “Most of the girls were new to flag football, it felt like we were on the same grounds.”
Now those grounds are on the verge of expanding to thousands of girls like her across California. The CIF’s Federated Council took up a proposal at its Los Angeles meeting on Oct. 7 to make girls flag football an official varsity sport for the 2023-24 school year, with a vote set for February. The South Section codified it a week earlier, but the CIF’s decision would impact all 10 sections, and it appears to have overwhelming support.
“The CIF Oakland Section is in full support of girls flag football as an official CIF sanctioned sport,” said Oakland section commissioner Frank Navarro. “We are excited about establishing more opportunities for our girls.”
It’s been over two decades since the CIF sanctioned a new sport, most recently adding lacrosse in 2001. The federation’s interest in girls flag football comes as the sport has seen a surge in growth while overall participation in girls high school athletics, already stagnant before the pandemic, decreased by 8.2% from 2020 to 2022, according to its most recent census.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the number of girls playing flag football at high schools in the U.S doubled to 11,000 between 2008 and ’19. From 2019 to ’22, that number jumped 40% to 15,716, while girls on boys tackle football teams increased 39% to 3,633 during that time period.
Flag football has been sanctioned at the high school level in Florida, Alabama and Nevada, and is a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics sport at 15 schools, where each team received a $15,000 stipend to award flag football college scholarships to student athletes. The bulk of the NAIA programs are in the southeast; La Sierra University in Riverside is the lone California institution to offer it as a varsity sport.
“A lot of girls want to play football,” Hu said. “Tackle can be scarier, but flag feels like it’s for all.”
The surge in girls flag football across the United States has come at a time when tackle football has been under scrutiny for excessive head injuries and other safety concerns, and during a strengthening conversation around class inequity prevening opportunity for all athletes.
“We are excited about this,” North section commissioner Pat Cruickshank added. “Looking forward to it making its way through the CIF process.”
The South section voted in late September 61-26 in favor with two abstentions.
When a sport becomes sanctioned, i t opens the door for inter-sectional play and state championships, which is the CIF’s biggest source of income. It also lessens red tape for sections hoping to introduce a sport, which have to get council approval if it isn’t already sanctioned at the CIF level.
Girls flag football wouldn’t be required to be picked up by all schools or sections, but would have the CIF structure behind any sectional leagues.
The San Francisco S ection, which began sponsoring the sport in 2012, will have 10 club teams participating this season, with the first games scheduled for March 1 and the postseason in April. If it becomes sanctioned, it is expected to become a fall sport, but it remains unclear when that move would take effect. The Southern Section ratified it as a fall sport because of potential conflicts with players in girls lacrosse, which is a spring sport.
Lincoln defeated Galileo for the title last season, breaking Galileo’s two-season reign; the 2020 and 2021 seasons had been canceled due to COVID, so it was the first championship since 2019.
“I wish they had provided it when I was in high school,” said Lincoln head coach Camille Bustos, who is entering her sixth season at the helm. “I always loved football. … It would be exciting for more high schools to provide it for the girls.”
Joelle Wang joined the Lincoln flag football team as a freshman when she was looking for another sport to play along with basketball. Like many of her teammates, she didn’t know anything about it.
She saw a “cute little flier” advertising the team, and joining a no-cut sport to find community was appealing to her.
“There is a lot less pressure,” said Wang, now a senior, who was on the all-San Francisco first-team. “People join from all athletic backgrounds. I didn’t even know how football works, which was really stressful, but now I love it.”
Wang practiced before school to master throwing a football and is now the team’s quarterback, also slotting in at wide receiver and linebacker as needed. She said the school funds most of the gear and travel, but the players also fund-raised for the rest of it last season.
The NFL took notice of the nationwide surge; in 2021 the league teamed with Nike to launch a $5 million grant for girls and women’s flag football. The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers started high school leagues last season, and have been major drivers in the movement for the Southern Section.
The 49ers also have started to get involved, hosting a girls football jamboree in August. They hope to hold another in spring with higher numbers; 12 players showed up to the inaugural event.
“We’ve had monthly calls with (the Chargers and Rams) to make sure we’re doing it all in the same format,” said Tucker Baksa, senior manager of 49ers PREP. “We want to make sure California is on the same page, to get (girls) high school football kind of more established in the Bay Area and hoping for a positive vote at the state level with the momentum of the Southern section.”
Earlier this year, the NFL and the International Federation of American Football introduced Vision28, an effort leading flag football’s push toward inclusion in the Olympics, beginning with Los Angeles in 2028.
Girls are allowed on tackle football rosters in California and 593 played last season, a number that has steadily increased since 2013.
Still, girls have gravitated towards a sport with their own community in flag.
“Some of my girls shied away from (tackle football) because of head injuries,” said Balboa flag football coach Alec Williams, who is entering his sixth season. “If they wanted to do it, I support it, but a lot of girls have thought about if they want to.”
The IFAF estimates 2.4 million kids younger than 17 are playing organized flag football in the United States. Only a fraction of them have the opportunity to compete for their high school.
The next growth spurt for the sport might come through California.
“It would be awesome if we could have a state champion,” Wang said. “I would have loved to have continued my season after we won the section. If (the CIF) makes it an actual sport, we could be a state champion.”
SWAMPED BY INJURIES, 49ERS BULLIED AND BEATEN BY FALCONS 28-14
by Eric Branch
The San Francisco 49ers’ top-ranked defense allowed a first-half touchdown Sunday for the first time this season.
Wait, hold on: Hearing that really wasn’t the NFL’s No. 1 defense.
After remaining dominant despite an assortment of attrition in the season’s first five games, the 49ers’ suffocating unit made a dramatic dip — from unrelenting to unrecognizable — in 28-14 upset loss to the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The 49ers allowed season highs in points allowed and rushing yards (168), and the NFL’s 25th-ranked offense bullied them. The Falcons (3-3) converted on 9 of 14 third downs and had grind-it-out touchdown drives of 74 (11 plays), 75 (11) and 65 yards (9). Quarterback Marcus Mariota, who arrived ranked 30th in the NFL completion percentage (57.7), completed his first 13 passes, firing his only incompletion with less than 11 minutes remaining.
What happened? The 49ers (3-3) appeared to have finally suffered a few injuries too many. They began without six defensive starters, a group that included their most dominating starter, Pro Bowl pass rusher Nick Bosa, who missed his first game with a groin injury. And they ended without their lockdown cornerback, Charvarius Ward, who exited in the second quarter with a groin injury.
As a result, they were left with a spare-parts defense.
Consider: Their nickel cornerback, Dontae Johnson, was playing his first snaps of the season after he was activated from the practice squad Saturday. Defensive end Charles Omenihu and outside cornerback Deommodore Lenoir were making their first starts at their positions since Week 2 of the 2021 season. Linebacker Oren Burks made his fourth start since 2018. And rookie Samuel Womack replaced Ward on the outside after playing exclusively nickel since he was drafted.
Grading the Play; Shortcomings on offense leave tired defense exposed
Offense: Awful. They needed to step up with the defense beat up. Didn’t happen, instead making matters worse: Their first two drives consisted of six plays and resulted in a punt and RB Jeff Wilson’s fumble, which was returned for a TD. They didn’t score in the final 37 minutes, committed three turnovers, got just 50 rushing yards and missed out on multiple big-play opportunities. Ray-Ray McCloud and Charlie Woerner dropped deep passes that helped foil their second-half comeback attempt, and Jake Brendel’s holding penalty negated a 39-yard catch by Brandon Aiyuk.
Defense: Ok. We won’t grade on a curve, but Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Charvarius Ward, et al, wouldn’t have been shoved around by an offense headlined by forever-embattled QB Marcus Mariota. Unsually inaccurate and ineffective, he completed 13 of 14 passes and had a 144.6 rating. The Falcons’ most damaging work came on the ground against a depth-starved front four. The 49ers allowed a season-high 168 rushing yards and were worn down by an offense that had TD drives of 74, 65 and 65 yards and just one 3-and-out possession. Another issue was the lack of big plays, nabbing zero turnovers and getting just two sacks.
Special Teams: Ok. A week after they allowed two long kickoff returns, they surrendered punt returns of 29 and 19 yards to Avery Williams, whose longest runback set the stage for a 65-yard TD march. Williams’ lone kickoff runback, of 28 yards, also didn’t suggest the 49ers had shored up that area. At least McCloud’s season-long 35-yard return was impressive.
Coaching: Poor. Where was the urgency from Kyle Shanahan? Trailing 28-14 with 10:42 left, the 49ers began a drive from their 1-yard line that was so deliberate it seemed like the 49ers were marching for a game-winning TD. That eight-minute drive ended on downs at the Falcons’ 19-yard line, and the game was effectively over. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans summoned his players for a fiery message in the third quarter and the Falcons didn’t score after that huddle; perhaps he should have tried that sooner?
Overall: Poor. It’s hard to win games that end with 11 starters sidelined with injuries. Staying on the East Coast between road games meant the 10 a.m. West Coast start wasn’t a factor, and they had a raucous crowd cheering them against a meh opponent. The desperately shorthanded defense nevertheless allowed just 21 points. A strong offensive performance could have resulted in a win.
Jessa Crispin is the author of the recent book "My Three Dads: Patriarchy on the Great Plains."
The Pianaltos moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, when Jessa Crispin was five. Joseph Pianalto taught art in the elementary and middle schools. She remembers him as funny but edgy and his daughters as counterparts to herself and her siblings: "The older daughter, Anne, was a little younger than me, the younger, Jennifer, a class or two below my little sister." Joseph loved pranks and elaborate Halloween tricks:
"One year the scarecrow with the bowl of candy on his lap turned out not to be made of hay but to be Mr. Pianalto himself. As we tentatively reached our hands into the bowl he snatched at them, a soft inanimate mass came to life and we screamed and we giggled and we thrilled."
She basked in his attention without, she adds, feeling violated. He read plays she wrote and drew her a poster in case she wanted to put on a performance.
Crispin was 11 and in the sixth grade when, on a Monday morning as she was looking forward to art class, Mr. Pianalto did not show up. In his honor she had chosen to wear a dress with "spring green ruffles on the skirt, and one spring green ruffle along the neck. He had not seen this dress before. I put it on and wondered if he would like it." Class was inexplicably delayed until the principal showed up with a man in uniform — a police officer or a priest — to deliver incomprehensible news:
"I remember all of these things, and yet what I remember most are the blank spots. I remember being at my desk and then I remember being in the back of the room pulling tissues out of the box, and I remember noticing the gap in time and being confused. Had I raised my hand for permission? There was another blank spot, and then I was back at my desk and tears were running down my face and I was surprised at this. Why was I crying?"
She could see that the principal himself was having trouble breathing, sighing heavily, tilting his head back and "opening up his mouth like a fish sucking at food on the surface of the water."
The students learned some version of the facts: In the middle of the night (it was March 12, 1990), Joseph Pianalto had taken a hunting rifle and shot his sleeping wife in the head and then shot his daughters, eight and six years old. Then he killed himself. There was never an explanation. An account of the memorial service in the Salina Journal captured the grotesque incongruity of the local responses. A priest called the dead "the ideal family," as if they'd been taken up in the rapture. Joseph Pianalto's sister taught the classmates of the children he murdered to sing "If I were a butterfly."
After the service the death of the Pianaltos in true Midwestern fashion were never directly discussed again.
— Caroline Fraser, New York review of books
I LOVE THE SAYING “Nobody likes a dirty old man or a clean little boy.” I was unfortunately overly clean as a child - the fruit of a fastidious household. I shall try and make up for those years by doing my best to avoid becoming the former. Like I said, my timing — even without the daddyhood thing — was good.
It's all about the little girl. Because I am acutely aware of both her littleness (how could I be otherwise?) And the fact that she's a blank page, her brain a soft surface waiting for the irreversible impressions of every raised voice, every gaffe and unguarded moment. The fact that she's a girl requires, I believe, extra effort. Dada may have, at various times in his life, been a pig, but Dada does not want to ever look like a pig again. This can't possibly be overstated. As the first of two boys I can't even imagine what it must be like for a little girl to see her dad leering at another of her sex. This creature will soon grow up to be a young woman — something I consider every day.
I figure I'm going to spoil the shit out of this kid for a while, then pack her off to tae kwon do as soon as she's four years old. Her first day of second grade and little Timmy at the desk behind her tries to pull her hair? He's getting an elbow to the thorax. My little girl may grow up with lots of problems: spoiled, with unrealistic expectations of the world, cultural identification confusion, perhaps (a product of much traveling in her early years), considering the food she's exposed to she will surely have a jaded palate, and an aged and possibly infirm dad by the time she's 16. But she ain't gonna have any problems with self-esteem.
Whatever else, she's never going to look for validation from some predatory asshole. She can — and surely will — hang out with tons of assholes. Dads, I'm assured, can never hope to control that. All I can hope for is that she hangs out with assholes for her own reasons — that she is genuinely amused by assholes rather than needing them to make her feel better about herself.
John F. Kennedy said something truly terrifying — guaranteed to make every parent's blood run cold: "To have a child is to give fate a hostage."
Something I wish I'd never read. I can only hope she's happy — even weird and happy will suit me just fine. She will feel loved. She will have food. And shelter. A large Italian and Sardinian family — and a smaller American one. She will have seen by the time she's six years old much of the world and she'll have seen as well that not everybody at on this planet lives - or can live - anything like the way she lives. She will hopefully have spent time playing and running barefoot with the children of fishermen and farmers in rural Vietnam. She will have swum in every ocean. She will know how to use chopsticks — and what real cheese is. She already speaks more Italian than I do.
Beyond this, I don't know what else I can do.
— Anthony Bourdain, 'Medium Raw'
ON THE LOONY VAN GOGH PROTESTS
We were warned about this in Fahrenheit 451
by Matt Taibbi
I happened to be rereading Fahrenheit 451 when news arrived that a pair of protesters from a climate action group called “Just Stop Oil” hurled tomato soup at Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London. A spokesperson for the group, Mel Carrington, was quoted in the New York Times saying the choice of art was irrelevant, since the only thing important about “Sunflowers” was that it was famous, “an iconic painting, by an iconic painter.” On the other had, the choice of Heinz Cream of Tomato was more “symbolic,” because some can’t afford to heat up a tin of soup.
These protests are crazy and at least little bit scary. Maybe, more than a little!
The Van Gogh stunt is part of a wider campaign involving activists gluing themselves to works like Massacre of the Innocents by Rubens, Botticelli’s Primavera, and the Vatican sculpture Laocoön and His Sons. The actions are backed by California’s Climate Emergency Fund, whose founding donor is Aileen Getty, granddaughter of J. Paul. Insofar as these actions have a point, it’s to ask: why are people “more concerned about the protection of a painting” than “the protection of our planet and people?” “Sunflowers” was covered by a glaze designed to protect paintings from cracks, wrinkles, and sunlight, the group claimed it knew this. Much has been made, including in the oddly approving Times piece, of “Sunflowers” being “unharmed” except for “minor damage to the frame.”
Fahrenheit 451, much like 1984, We, and Brave New World, was a warning about a future in which basic human instincts for love, kindness, and decency are obliterated by utopian politics. Written variously in response to mass movements like Nazism, Stalinism, and the Red Scare, the dystopian novels all contain the same themes, one of which is a future where people aren’t merely indifferent to art but hate and fear it, to the point of taking pride in destroying it (and liquidating its admirers). Another theme is indoctrinating the very young and still another is the ritualized assault on familial or sexual love, with the craving for connection replaced by substitute “families” supplied by the state.
In Fahrenheit 451 this comes in the form of the “Parlor Wall,” a giant, endlessly yammering television found in all homes. The main character, a “fireman” named Montag (in the future buildings are made with fireproof material, “firemen” exist only to burn things like books and the houses full of people containing them, and few remember there ever were firemen who put out fires), begins to have attacks of conscience about book-burning. He is opposed by his anxious wife Mildred, who worries her husband’s unorthodoxy might lose her the good favor of her “parlor aunts and uncles.” It’s a bullseye prediction of Twitter or TikTok, even more accurate than the telescreens of 1984, although the latter book nailed another part of the story in Orwell’s descriptions of youth “activist” groups like the Spies and the Junior Anti-Sex League, that forever garnered mainstream press plaudits for “defiant” acts.
“Hardly a week passed in which the Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some… ‘child hero’… denounced his parents to the Thought Police,” is how Orwell put it.
Another phenomenon Bradbury predicted was that the future would be a place where attention spans would be systematically dismantled, in favor of ever-shorter synopses and condensed versions of things, where “everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending.” Even Hamlet is reduced to a “one-page digest.” The dissidents are people who work to preserve the human capacity for recall and learning, committing books to memory as a way to retain civilization in case the chance ever arrives to rebuild humanity. Montag memorizes Ecclesiastes, which in a way is another great prediction since the poetry of religious literature has been among the first genres to more or less completely disappear in recent times, as post-Nietzsche generations tossed it along with belief.
Defenders of the Just Stop Oil stunt point out it got people discussing climate change more effectively than any action in memory, stimulating conversation when even the self-immolation of 50-year old climate activist Wynn Bruce hadn’t.
It’s nuts to think there are really people who believe throwing soup at great art will win converts to any cause, but what’s worse is, they might be right, in the current environment.
However, even arguing the point assumes there’s really an idealistic impulse in these protests, a dubious proposition at best.
I don’t buy the idea that thought was put into what to throw at a Van Gogh, and not where to throw it. It’s just too much of a coincidence that campaigns of kids dumping on Botticelli and Van Gogh are taking place in the middle of a years-long war on art, literature, music, humor, and even math and science, when there are movements to obliterate entire fields like classics, and professors are fired for everything from reading passages from great books to teaching subjects students deem too difficult.
Young people seem more and more to come out of college convinced ancient thinkers have nothing important to teach them, and may even actively symbolize the politics of exclusion, à la Beethoven. Whoever is teaching these kids is robbing them of all the joy of learning, and using them as political pawns. Another theme of dystopian literature that’s proved depressingly on-target is that the youthful urge for idealism would be appropriated for society’s ugliest work, especially destruction. “I’m afraid of children my own age,” says young Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451. “They kill each other. Did it always used to be that way?”
Van Gogh was penniless and lonely and mentally ill and spent his most productive years living in a space smaller than a jail cell, yet he converted his private pain into works of indescribable beauty that touched millions long after he died. The power of art usually has little connection to politics and everything to do with enhancing the individual’s ability to appreciate life and be sensitive to its possibilities. Any person moved by a painting or a book or poem should feel an enhanced connection to the world and a horror of destroying life of any kind. Art is the defense against reaction, not the accomplice of it, and destroying or demeaning art isn’t progressive, it’s just madness. If more oil executives saw and understood “The Sunflower” there would be less pollution, but even corporate greed is less frightening than zealotry. You can buy off an executive, but people who’ll not only wreck things for free but do so with excitement and a sense of pride make for a much harder problem to solve.
Bradbury, Orwell, Zamyatin, Huxley and many others predicted the time would come when people would come to believe in a politics of moral perfection so absolute that it would view memory as subversive and demand constant cleansing and reconstruction.
Ask yourself if it isn’t weird that modern mass culture has been so lousy at producing art and literature, but weirdly terrific at forgetting, burning, destroying, and unperson-ing. The Van Gogh stunt was mostly just funny, but something tells me there are more people like this coming, and we won’t be laughing for long.
UKRAINE, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16TH
Russian soldiers have shot dead a Ukrainian musician in his home after he refused to take part in a concert in occupied Kherson, according to the culture ministry in Kyiv.
Conductor Yuriy Kerpatenko declined to take part in a concert “intended by the occupiers to demonstrate the so-called ‘improvement of peaceful life’ in Kherson”, the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page.
The concert on 1 October was intended to feature the Gileya chamber orchestra, of which Kerpatenko was the principal conductor, but he “categorically refused to cooperate with the occupants”, the statement said.
Kerpatenko, who was also the principal conductor of Kherson’s Mykola Kulish Music and Drama Theatre, had been posting defiant messages on his Facebook page until May.
The Kherson regional prosecutor’s office in Ukraine has launched a formal investigation “on the basis of violations of the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder”. Family members outside Kherson lost contact with the conductor in September, it said.
Condemnation by Ukrainian and international artists was swift. “The history of Russia imposing a ‘comply or die’ policy against artists is nothing new. It has a history which spans for hundred of years,” said the Finnish-Ukrainian conductor Dalia Stasevska, who was scheduled to conduct the Last Night of the Proms at London’s Albert Hall last month before it was cancelled because of the Queen’s death.
“I have seen too much silence from Russian colleagues,” she said. “Would this be the time for Russian musicians, especially those living and working abroad, to finally step up and take a stand against the Russian regime’s actions in Ukraine?”
A fortnight ago Stasevska drove a truck of humanitarian supplies into Lviv from her home in Finland, before conducting the INSO-Lviv orchestra in a concert of Ukrainian contemporary music.
“We know the Russian regime is hunting activists, journalists, artists, community leaders, and anyone ready to resist the occupation,” said the prizewinning Ukrainian novelist turned war crimes investigator Victoria Amelina.
“Yet, even knowing the current pattern and history, we cannot and, more importantly, shouldn’t get used to hearing about more brutal murders of a bright, talented, brave people whose only fault was being Ukrainian.”
She drew a parallel between Kerpatenko and Mykola Kulish, the Ukrainian playwright after whom the theatre where the conductor worked is named.
“Kulish was shot on 3 November 1937, near Sandarmokh, with 289 other Ukrainian writers, artists and intellectuals. Yuriy Kerpatenko was shot in his home in Kherson in October 2022,” she said.
The Russians’ actions were “pure genocide”, said the conductor Semyon Bychkov from Paris, where he was performing as music director of the Czech Philharmonic. The St Petersburg-born conductor left Russia as a young man in the 1970s.
“The tragic irony of this is that talk about the superiority of Russian culture, its humanism,” he said. “And here they murdered someone who is actually bringing beauty to people’s lives. It is sickening.
“The bullets don’t distinguish between people. It didn’t make me feel worse that this man was a conductor, it just confirmed the pure evil that’s been going on even before the first bombs fell on Ukraine.”
The novelist Andrey Kurkov, author of Death and the Penguin, said: ““Now the name of Yuriy Kerpatenko will be added to the list of murdered artists of Ukraine. I increasingly think that Russia is not only seeking to occupy Ukrainian territories, but also diligently destroying Ukrainian identity, an important part of which is Ukrainian culture.”
Ukrainian author Oleksandr Mykhed, who joined the military at the outbreak of the war, and whose home was destroyed by Russian shelling, said: “Russia is trying to reconstruct the Soviet Union in the occupied territories. To reconstruct something improbable.
“One of the key components of Soviet policy was the destruction of culture of the enslaved countries. Murder of cultural figures, purging of libraries, banning of national languages.
“The modern occupiers are fully following this strategy. Destroying culture, sports, education.
“And when our territories are deoccupied, we will learn about dozens and hundreds of such terrible stories. Stories of destruction and heroic resistance.”
“It is absolutely terrifying,” said chief stage director of Kyiv’s National Opera of Ukraine, Anatoliy Solovianenko. “Whether he was a doctor, or a worker, or an artist, it makes no difference. He was a human, and he refused to comply.”
WESTERNERS LIVE IN DENIAL, CONVINCED THEY’RE THE GOOD GUYS
Stark contradictions in West’s treatment of the Ukraine war and the occupation and siege of Palestine should serve as a wake-up call
by Jonathan Cook
No one took responsibility for the explosion over the weekend that ripped through a section of the Kerch Bridge that links Russia to Crimea and was built by Moscow after it annexed the peninsula back in 2014.
But it was not just Kyiv’s gleeful celebrations that indicated the main suspect. Within hours, the Ukrainian authorities had released a set of commemorative stamps depicting the destruction.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was under no illusions either. On Monday, he struck out with a torrent of missiles that hit major Ukrainian cities such as Kyiv and Lviv. It was a pale, Slavic echo of Israel’s intermittent bombardments of Gaza, which are expressly intended to send the Palestinian enclave “back to the Stone Age”.
If the scenes looked familiar – an attack by one party, followed by a massive retaliatory strike from the other – the mood and language that greeted the Ukrainian attack and the Russian counter-attack felt noticeably different from what passes for normal western commentary about Israel and Palestine.
The blast on the Kerch Bridge was welcomed with barely concealed excitement from western journalists, politicians and analysts, while Moscow’s strikes on Kyiv were uniformly denounced as Russian brutality and state terrorism. That is not the way things work when Israel and Palestinian factions engage in their own rounds of fighting.
Had the Palestinians openly celebrated blowing up a bridge in East Jerusalem, a territory illegally annexed by Israel in the 1960s, and killed Israeli civilians as collateral damage in the process, who can really imagine western media reports being similarly supportive?
Nor would western academics have lined up, as they did for Ukraine, to explain in detail why destroying a bridge was a proportionate act and fully in accordance with the rights in international law of a people under belligerent occupation to resist.
Instead, there would have been thunderous denunciations of Palestinian savagery and “terrorism”.
In reality, Palestinian resistance nowadays is far more modest – and yet still receives western censure. Palestinians need only to fire a home-made rocket, or launch an “incendiary balloon”, usually ineffectually out of their cage in Gaza – where they have been besieged for years by their Israeli persecutors – to incur the wrath of Israel and the western powers that claim to constitute the “international community”.
Even more perversely, when Palestinians solely target Israeli soldiers, as they are unambiguously entitled to do under international law, they are similarly reviled as criminals.
But the double standards do not end there. Western media and politicians were unreservedly appalled by Moscow’s retaliatory strikes on the Ukrainian capital. Despite the media’s emphasis on Russia’s targeting of civilian infrastructure, the number of civilians killed across Ukraine by the wave of missile hits on Monday was reported to be low.
Western media are far less horrified when it comes to Israel’s regular rampages across Gaza – even when Israel “retaliates” after much less provocation and when its strikes inflict far greater suffering and damage.
And, of course, it is not just Israel that is benefiting from this hypocrisy. The United States’ “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign that initiated the war on Iraq in 2003 – and so impressed western commentators – killed many thousands of Iraqi civilians. Russia’s strikes on Kyiv pale in comparison.
There are other glaring inconsistencies. After Russia’s missile strikes, Ukraine is gaining an even more receptive ear in western capitals to its demands for additional weaponry to help regain the eastern territories Moscow has annexed.
By contrast, no one in the West is suggesting that the Palestinians should be armed to help them fight off decades of Israeli occupation and siege. Quite the reverse. It is invariably western weapons that rain down on Gaza, supplied to the belligerent Israeli occupier by the very parties now condemning Russia.
And in stark contrast to Britain’s whole-hearted support as Ukraine battles to stop Russia’s annexation of its eastern territories, the UK’s prime minister Liz Truss stated only last month that she may reward Israel for its illegal annexation of Jerusalem by moving the British embassy there.
Whereas Palestinians are constantly inveigled to postpone their liberation struggle and wait for their occupier to agree to peace talks, even when Israel openly scorns engagement, Ukrainians are pushed by the West to do the exact opposite. They are expected to delay any negotiations with Russia and focus on the battlefield.
Similarly, those who promote talks between Israel and Palestine that are never going to take place are praised as peacemakers. Those who advocate for talks between Ukraine and Russia – when Moscow has expressed a repeated willingness to negotiate, even if its overtures are disparaged by the West – are rounded on as appeasers.
Russia, meanwhile, faces sustained and comprehensive sanctions imposed by western states to bring it to heel.
By contrast, those proposing a far weaker tool – grassroots boycotts – to pressure Israel to loosen its choke-hold on Gaza are smeared as antisemites and face legislation to outlaw their activities by the same western states sanctioning Moscow.
It is almost as if the “freedom-loving” West has an entirely inconsistent agenda when it comes to the plights of Ukraine and Palestine. Israel’s hold on Palestine is unfortunate but justified; Russia’s over Ukraine is emphatically not.
Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s “unprovoked aggression” is heroic. Palestinian resistance to Israel’s violence – invariably presented as self-defence – is terrorism.
Western news at the moment is a litany of these double standards and legal and ethical contradictions – and yet barely anyone seems to notice.
Westerners, for example, are currently cheering the protests in Iran, where women and girls have taken to the streets and created mass disturbances in schools. Their protests were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini after she was taken into custody for wearing her hijab head covering too loosely.
Western media celebrate these young women casting aside the hijab in defiance of the unaccountable clerics who rule over them. The West bewails the beatings and attacks they receive from a tyrannous, patriarchal Iranian theocracy.
And yet there is no comparable solidarity with Palestinians when they collectively defy an unaccountable Israeli occupation army that rules over them. When they turn out to protest at the fence Israel has built all around Gaza to imprison them, preventing them from leaving for work or to see family overseas, or to reach hospitals much better equipped than their own that have been under Israeli blockade for years, they are shot down by Israeli snipers.
Where is the applause for those brave Palestinian protesters standing up to their oppressors? Where are the denunciations of Israel for compelling Palestinians to endure a tyrannous, apartheid-enforcing Israeli military?
Why is it entirely unremarkable that Palestinians – young and old, men and women – are regularly beaten or killed by Israel, while the death of a single Iranian woman is enough to reduce the western media to paroxysms of outrage?
And why, just as pertinently, does the West care so much about the lives of young Iranian women and their hijab protests when it appears not to give a damn about these women’s lives, or those of their brothers, when it comes to enforcing decades of western sanctions? Those restrictions have plunged parts of Iranian society into deep and sustained poverty that puts Iranian lives at risk.
Such is the reflexive hypocrisy that Israeli women who have shown no solidarity with Palestinian women abused and killed by the Israeli army turned out last week to cut their hair in a public act of sisterhood with Iranian women.
There is nothing new about these double standards. They are entrenched in western thinking, based on a profoundly racist, colonial worldview – one that sees “the West” as the good guys and everyone else as morally compromised, or irredeemably evil, if they refuse to bow to western dictates.
That is highlighted by the current battle of an 88-year-old Palestinian businessman, Munib al-Masri, to win an apology from Britain.
At his instruction, two eminent lawyers – Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, and Ben Emmerson, a former United Nations expert on human rights – have been reviewing evidence of crimes committed by British forces in the years before 1948, when the UK ruled Palestine under a mandate.
When Britain withdrew, it effectively allowed Zionist institutions to take its place and create a self-declared Jewish state of Israel on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland.
The evidence documented by Ocampo and Emmerson – which they describe as “shocking” – includes crimes such as arbitrary killings and detentions, torture, use of human shields, and home demolitions weaponised as collective punishment.
If that all sounds familiar, it should. Israel has been terrorising Palestinians with these same exact policies over the past 74 years. That is because Israel incorporated the British mandate’s “emergency regulations” permitting such crimes into its legal and administrative codes. It simply continued what Britain had started.
Masri hopes to present the 300-page dossier to the UK government later this year. According to the media, it will be “reviewed thoroughly” by the Ministry of Defence. But do not hold your breath waiting for an apology.
The reality is that Ocampo and Emmerson did not need to conduct their research. Nothing they tell the UK government will be a revelation. British officials already know about these crimes. And there is no remorse – as demonstrated by, if nothing else, the fact that Britain continues to back Israel to the hilt even while the Israeli military continues the same reign of state terror.
Israel’s task was to rebrand as a “western-style democracy” the British mandate’s brutal colonial rule over the Palestinian population. It is the reason Israel receives billions of dollars in aid from the US every year, and why it never faces consequences for any of the crimes it commits.
The ugly truth is that westerners dwell permanently inside their own bubble of disinformation, one puffed up by their leaders and the media, that allows them to imagine themselves as the good guys – whatever the evidence actually proves.
The double standards in the West’s treatment of Ukraine compared to Palestine should be a moment when that harsh realisation finally dawns. Sadly, western publics just seem to sink ever deeper into the comforting illusion of self-righteousness.