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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Nov. 18, 2022

Mostly Sunny | Lakeport | Wheelchair Struck | Dem Radio | Bartlett Visitors | Skunk Message | Highland Bridge | Violin Lessons | Still Missing | Local Farm | Ed Notes | Bartlett Springs | Food Forest | Six Wheeler | Slow Down | Roccas | Boon Box | Yesterday's Catch | Huffmandered | Sanitarium | Mantram | Bridges Help | Meschery Mystery | Bartletteers | Roaches | Abuelo | Toxic Positivity | Math Nightmare | Bankman-Fried | Cereus | SF + U2 | Crisis Clinic | MbS Immunity | Missile Man | Ukraine | Frog X-ray

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MOSTLY SUNNY weather will persist through the weekend. Gusty, inland offshore flow will aid in some chilly morning low temperatures Saturday and Sunday. There are low chances for light rain early next week. (NWS)

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Downtown Lakeport

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Yesterday evening, Ukiah rang out with the sounds of sirens after emergency personnel responded to what was initially reported as a possible fatal traffic collision on South State Street. The collision would leave a wheelchair-bound man with major injuries requiring an air ambulance and hospitalization.…

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Midterm Election Roundtable with Coast Democratic Club Chair Karen Bowers and Republican Party Central Committee Secretary, Mark Cerri

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1890s Barlett Springs, Lake County

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Last month the Advocate published an opinion article by Mendocino Railway’s President begging Fort Bragg voters to send a message with their ballots rejecting the City Council’s actions to require the Skunk Train to comply with State and local environmental and land use rules.

Tuesday’s election results point to a clear and loud rejection of that plea. The fact is, while we are still waiting for final results, the overwhelming sentiment reflected in the vote is that Mendocino Railway needs to comply with the same environmental and land use rules that every other business in the city complies with every day.

Fort Bragg isn’t a company town anymore. This is the 21st century, and we’ve outgrown the days when a railroad or any big corporation could demand local government serve their interest first and ignore the public good.

Let’s hope the owners of the Skunk train get the message and start complying with the same rules every other business abides by in Fort Bragg.

Peter McNamee

Fort Bragg

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Symphony of the Redwoods violinist Southey Kulkarni is now offering lessons for beginner and intermediate violinists at her private studio located near Russian Gulch. Please call or email her at 707-813-4429 / for more information.

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Detectives had no further information regarding Gregory Peterson, 62, who was last seen at 4 a.m. July 16 leaving his home near the 3000 block of Highway 128 in Cloverdale, Sgt. Juan Valencia, with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday.

by Madison Smalstig

A Cloverdale man, whose car was found abandoned and in flames in July, has now been missing for four months.

Gregory Peterson, 62, was last seen 4 a.m. July 16 leaving his home near the 3000 block of Highway 128 in Cloverdale. (Courtesy of Sonoma County Sheriff's Office)

Detectives are still investigating the disappearance of Gregory Peterson, 62, who was last seen at 4 a.m. July 16 leaving his home near the 3000 block of Highway 128 in Cloverdale, said Sgt. Juan Valencia, with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

No updated information was available, Valencia said Thursday.

Police told The Press Democrat in August they suspected an acquaintance had asked Peterson for vehicle assistance.

His vehicle was found abandoned and on fire around 11:30 a.m. July 17 on Highway 101 north of Cloverdale, but Peterson was not found.

Peterson is white, 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Sonoma County Alliance Community Engagement and Safety Rewards Fund is offering up to $2,500 for information regarding Peterson’s disappearance.

(The Press Democrat)

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PETIT TETON FARM, south of Boonville on Highway 128, has a wonderful selection of unique, farm-grown and farm-made local gifts which we are happy to ship for you. We would love to see you come by to select them or we can email you a complete list of our offerings and we'll ship whatever you want to wherever you would like. The selections range from almost all imaginable jams (and a few you've not yet dreamed of), to soups, a range of hot sauces from hot to hotter, and a wide selection of pickles and sauces. Give us a call 707.684.4146, email us at, or stop by 8:30-4:30 any day but Sunday when we're open 12-4:30.

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KEVIN TOBIE first appeared in Mendocino County in 2003 as a juvenile ward of Jack Graves' Boonville group home called LifeWorks. Tobie, 16 at the time, had amassed a lengthy criminal record in his home town of San Francisco. His juvenile record, which began at age 12, included felonies. Tobie continued to commit crimes as an indifferent student at Anderson Valley High School, including at least one sexual assault on a female student.


TOBIE'S PUSHING FORTY and still committing serious crimes, one of which — car theft — he was arrested for this week in Ukiah where he has a child with a woman he's been arrested for battering.

I REMEMBER a poignant call from a Ukiah woman who identified herself as "elderly." She said that Tobie was beating the young woman next door. "I can hear her crying. He does it all the time." The elderly woman wanted to know if the police were aware of what a bad young man Tobie was. The local police were well aware of Tobie, and have been aware of him as he pops in and out of Ukiah, committing his first local crimes in 2004.

FRESHLY graduated from the standard-free Boonville high school in July of 2004, Tobie was arrested and charged for felony assault when he struck Paullen Severn-Walsh in the head with a pipe at the Boonville Fairgrounds. Severn-Walsh required 57 stitches to close the wound and underwent follow-up reconstructive surgery. Tobie claimed Paullen and his "redneck" pals had scratched his grandmother’s rental car. 

THAT SAME YEAR, 2004, Tobie’s brother had murdered a kid in San Francisco while Kevin Tobie was arrested in Ukiah for carrying a loaded Saturday Night special in his car. Despite a probation report describing him as devious, violent and feeling no remorse for his attack on Severn-Walsh, the cretinous Superior Court judge, Ron Brown, ignoring Tobie’s prior criminal history and the murderous assault on Severn-Walsh, sentenced Tobie to 36 months probation. 

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Bartlett Springs Resort

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by Andrew Scully

A little more than two months ago, in late August, I posted a Critical Action Alert, writing that the Noyo Food Forest was at risk, and that unless immediate action taken, this critical resource, this treasure of the coastal community would likely close forever.

Today I report to you an update, and the good news that because of an extraordinary outpouring of grassroots support and the willingness of stewards of our community to step forward, we appear to have dodged the bullet, at least for the moment. A path to a bright future has opened and new leaders have stepped forward to guide the organization to a point of closer alignment with the school district.

But right now, the most critical need is to secure funding, money to carry the organization forward, money and more volunteers, until a planned alignment and incorporation with the school district can take place, perhaps next fall.

Some of you may not be familiar with the Noyo Food Forest, so let me take a moment to tell you about it, this one acre garden learning center right behind the Fort Bragg High School. The NFF was developed by three visionary women out of derelict, abandoned wasteland behind agricultural outbuildings at the high school. For more than 15 years, it has functioned as a learning Garden for agricultural and naturalist education within the Fort Bragg School District. Produce raised by students and volunteers in the garden supplies critically needed organic vegetables and fruit that goes directly into the Fort Bragg School District nutrition services for lunch at the schools.

But the Noyo Food Forest is much more than that. It is a community resource, a base for building community resiliency, strengthening Fort Bragg and the neighboring communities by educating people about agriculture and the earth, about raising food close to home, literally in our own backyards. Over the years thousands of children and volunteers have learned about nature, organic food production, bio-intensive agriculture and community security and resiliency at the NFF

Although technically on School District property, it has never been to my knowledge an actual part of the school district, but has always been at arm's length.

Detailing the events that led to the crisis are beyond the scope of this update, but suffice to say that there were, as always, a chain of events that led to the situation on site that day. It wasn't one big thing, it was many little things. Among them: the inevitable changeover and shift in personnel in volunteer organizations; the domino effect of the Covid pandemic, which essentially shut students out of the garden for more than 2 years, and eliminated the demand for produce from the gardens since the school district was no longer serving lunches to students; and personnel change including the sudden departure of the longtime executive director and the death of the President of the Board of Directors.

Some of these developments were months or years in the making, but events took on a critical mass and began deteriorating this spring.

After a quick assessment, the one Ray of Hope that I saw in the garden that morning, aside from the beautiful Earth and the plants, was the woman that told me all this bad news: Veronica Storms, the "garden manager" and the only one at the site that day. Veronica impressed me immediately as someone who was a keeper; she could be a strong leader in the garden and is such a dynamo of energy and enthusiasm that it carries over. She's an invaluable resource and since that first visit has become the garden manager.

Even as I left the garden that morning back in August the terrible sinking feeling that I had in my stomach was being supplanted and replaced by a fierce determination and resolve to save it, to save and carry forward this beautiful resource that had been nurtured and carried forward with such amazing energy and love. To me it seemed a crime beyond measure to just squander this place, to let it slip through our hands.

And so I went home and wrote my manifesto and I posted it up on the internet.  Veronica had told me that an organization meeting was planned, it was going to happen soon and if people didn't show up for that, the garden would close.

Well it happened that I was not the only one that cared about the garden, and cared about it a lot.

The generous people of this place, our beloved North Coast home community responded. Yessir, you did! You responded in force and showed up and blew the rafters off the building where we had the meeting! 45 people showed up, enthusiastic volunteers, all of them including - very importantly - Joseph Aldridge (the new Superintendent of Schools) and his wife Hollie.

Their attendance was a crucial sign and very real physical demonstration of their commitment both as enthusiastic gardeners and as very important decision makers in the school district.

Out of this initial organizational meeting an enthusiastic and experienced group of people have been elected to form the new board of directors. Joining veterans Steve Lund, Teresa Raffo and Tracy Wolfson, new board members include: Jessica Scribner, Ericka Lutz and Anne Harvey. These are the people who have been elected to provide oversight and direction for the Food Forest as we enter the winter months. They will guide the organization in this critical time as we work with the Fort Bragg Unified School District to more closely align with their agenda and toward an eventual incorporation with the district, hopefully by next fall.

I spoke with Joe Aldridge personally yesterday and there can be no doubt about his commitment to the garden; he's working hard right now to secure grants and funding for the coming months.

But we need to back him up with additional financial support right now.

We need support now to get us to a time, hopefully fall of 2023, when a good part of NFF funding will come from the school district. We need money do most everything that needs to happen at the garden - most importantly reinstate agricultural education and internship program within the Fort Bragg School District, upgrade our propagation house so we can start offering seed starts to the community, build on our seed bank, and become a resource that our community can turn to and depend on.

We have a very solid garden manager to lead us into the future in Veronica Storms. The garden itself has entered a more dormant phase with the coming of the winter months, although still providing the high school with Salad Mix. Our need at this point is to marshal our resources and funding, and have a program in place as we come into the new year.

Because of the influx of new energy and ideas we are just over 3 weeks away from now from a fantastic fundraiser event that's going to be held at the Mendocino Grove, a unique destination resort that is being made available to our organization by Teresa Raffo, newly elected President of the Board of Directors.

"Dinner at The Grove"

Saturday December 9th

"Join us at Mendocino Grove for a fun and delicious evening to celebrate Noyo Food Forest, honor our awesome volunteers, introduce you to our new board members, and raise money to support our 2023 season.

Friday's Line-Up Includes:

4-5pm - Wreath making & hot toddies from The Farm, Albion.

5-6pm — Appetizers and special holiday cocktail

6pm — Hearty Winter Feast of Coq Au Vin, NFF greens and warm apple upside down cake....local wines and beer included

$75/adult, $20 child

Plus enjoy

Live Music... Raffle....More

I understand there are some tickets still available...

Tickets & More Info at

cell: 707.738.3514"

More details about the fundraiser will follow, but I can report to you that very definite progress has been made towards securing the future of the Noyo Food Forest. Critical accomplishments achieved or in progress include: 1) Securing the active participation and involvement of the school district 2) Recruitment and election of a new and capable board of directors 3) Recruitment of many new and enthusiastic volunteers.

These are all definitive and measurable mile markers on the way forward to the future. It does feel as though we've turned a corner. As Veronica put it in a recent meeting, "It's like a switch has been turned on; It was dark before and now light has come back on."

Much more work remains to be done and a project like this is really only ever as successful as the ongoing efforts of people behind it. But I feel quite confident and optimistic about our future.

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I had a conversation with a tree the other day. Whether or not you choose to believe me, the trees have a message for us: they want us to slow down. At the pace we are moving, they cannot adapt.

We can start by driving the speed limit instead of exceeding it. Use the cruise control – you’ll be making a statement. We can do this.

But this goes deeper than how we drive our cars (and how much we drive them). A cluttered, speeded-up mind is no friend to the environment, either. As a local church leader suggests, “Practicing throwing on the brakes can be accomplished by developing the habit of … mindfully doing one thing at a time.”

It also works to rein in desires. I can speak to this personally: mail order can be addictive, but confining shopping to our locale puts the brakes on those Amazon trucks and whatever other conveyance may be involved. It has a bonus: “Limitations keep us sharp and give us a sense of fellow-feeling” (from Conservation Psychology).

Join in, slow down please. The trees and other growing beings (hint, hint) will hug you back.

Ilka Jerabek

Santa Rosa

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The Andrew Rocca Family, Lake County, 1880s

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Boon Box subscriptions from the Boonville Barn Collective are now available! The Boon Box is a mix between a subscription box and a CSA. You pay for all 3 boxes up front, get chiles from our farm delivered in three boxes, and help support our farm with the funds we need to get the next growing year started. You also get satisfaction for helping a small farm during the time of the year when farming input costs are high! As a “thanks” for your upfront investment, you receive the products at a 10% discount.

The first box of the year ships in early December, followed by March and July. It makes a great gift for friends and family as well as the perfect way to keep your kitchen stocked with chiles during the year. If you purchase the Boon Box for yourself and live here in the valley, we will provide an extra $39 worth of goods from the farm to cover the shipping costs that are included in the overall price. 

There are 3 different versions of the Boon Box available this year that have no beans, 5 pounds of beans, and 10 pounds of beans included. Check out more details here on our website or shoot Krissy an email ( if you have more questions. Our website is also full of our Boonville grown chiles. If you'd like to place an order online and pickup at our office, use the code ILIVEHERE at checkout to remove shipping costs. Krissy will reach out to schedule pickup. You can also find Boonville Barn goods at The Farmhouse Mercantile, The Boonville Hotel, Disco Ranch, AV Market, Pennyroyal Farms, Toulouse, Drew Cellars, Sun & Cricket, and the Ukiah Co-Op. 

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, November 17, 2022

Ambriz, Bairrine, Hoaglen, Leahy

SERGIO AMBRIZ, Sacramento/Ukiah. Grant theft-money, trespassing.

TIFFANY BAIRRINE-HART, Delray Beach, Florida/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

SYLVIA HOAGLEN, Covelo. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, probation revocation.

NIKOYA LEAHY, Covelo. Nunchucks, bringing controlled substance into jail.

Lincoln, Powell, Want

LUCY LINCOLN, Covelo. Burglary with priors.

WILLIAM POWELL II, Ukiah. Domestic battery, failure to appear, probation revocation.

TINA WANT, Covelo. Grant theft-money. 

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CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN, an on-line comment: Why does a progressive lawyer from Marin County, one of the wealthiest counties in California, represent Humboldt and Del Norte Counties? Why did the Democrats gerrymander a worm district which blobs Marin, worms up a narrow band of the Sonoma and Mendo coasts, and then blobs out in Humboldt and Del Norte. Is this fair since Paperbag Huffer is uber wealthy and reps the interests of fellow wealthy lefties but somehow can rep and feel the pain of economically poor Humboldt and Del Norte residents? I don’t think so. Gold spray paint works best for the planet, paper bag.

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Highland Springs Sanitarium, Lake County

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We Are In This World But Not Of This World

Identify with that which is "prior to consciousness", give the mind a suitable mantram to purify the bogus atmosphere of the earth plane, and go back to Godhead. Bingo! You are liberated. 

…Om Namah Shivaya …Om Namah Shivaya … Om Namah Shivaya …

…Om Namah Shivaya …Om Namah Shivaya …Om Namah Shivaya …

…Om Namah Shivaya …Om Namah Shivaya …Om Namah Shivaya …

…Om Namah Shivaya …Om Namah Shivaya …Om Namah Shivaya …

…Om Namah Shivaya …Om Namah Shivaya …Om Namah Shivaya …

Craig Louis Stehr

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by Peter Hartlaub

He’s a poet, a novelist, and an NBA player whose number was retired by the Golden State Warriors. Why don’t more people know about him?

Grant Elementary School on Pacific Avenue in San Francisco is long gone, closed more than a half century ago. So are the kids and their games, and the prejudices, bullying and social dynamics of that schoolyard.

But it all comes back to life when Tom Meschery talks about his first kickball game, in the late 1940s, when he nearly sent a ball flying off the property.

“I found that by kicking the ball very far, the other students liked me better,” Meschery says. “I wore short pants, I didn’t speak English very well. I was an outsider in that school. But I kicked the heck out of the ball. And after that, when they’re choosing teams, I got a little bit of cred. ‘Hey, let’s get Meschery’ …”

A kickball game started the legend of Tom Meschery, the greatest Bay Area athlete you’ve probably never heard of. The Warriors forward’s number 14 is up in the rafters of Chase Center, retired alongside five championship banners and revered names including Chamberlain, Barry and Mullin.

But his NBA honors are just one vignette in a life story that’s Forrest Gump-ian in its eclectic romp through culture and history.

Meschery’s grandmother was a Tolstoy. His family fled the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution, and he arrived in San Francisco after spending World War II in a prison camp in Tokyo. He started at small forward during Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, taught high school English for 21 years and wrote poetry books. And now, at age 84, Meschery has just published his first novel: the detective mystery “The Case of the ‘61 Impala.”

San Francisco Warriors forward Tom Meschery goes up for a shot against the Zephyrs at the Cow Palace in Daly City on Nov. 27, 1962. Bob Campbell, Staff / The Chronicle

“I bet you if you asked Warriors fans to name the team’s retired uniforms, a lot of people will stumble when they get to Tom Meschery,” says former Warriors president Rick Welts, who was a Seattle SuperSonics ball boy when he met Meschery in 1969. “A lot of newer fans don’t know him. They definitely should.”

I used to be among that number, first “discovering” Meschery while looking at photos in the San Francisco Chronicle archive, and finding a 1964 image of Meschery surrounded by Senegalese children. On the back, in beautiful looping cursive, was a poignant letter to the Chronicle newsroom about how much he had learned during his NBA goodwill trip to Africa.

“I only wish there could be more time to work with these youngsters,” Meschery said, in closing. “We all agree that seven days are just not enough.”

Nothing in Meschery’s life is easy to describe in one sentence, including his playing career.

The athlete was a standout at Lowell High School; a 1956 photo in the Chronicle archive shows Meschery modeling perfect shooting form. He led a strong St. Mary’s team and was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors. On the night Chamberlain scored 100, a rookie Meschery scored 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting. (And made both his free throws.)

Feb. 9, 1956: Future San Francisco Warriors star Tom Meschery shoots for Lowell High during a basketball game against Polytechnic High. Chronicle File, Staff / The Chronicle

But when the team moved to San Francisco and acquired one of the NBA’s best shooters ever, Rick Barry, the forward was needed for other skills: his sharp elbows. He changed from a Chris Mullin mold, with shooting touch and quick hands, into a lower profile Draymond Green-like player — rebounding, setting screens and putting his attitude on full display while leading the league in personal fouls.

Meschery’s statistics were good, but he didn’t have Wilt Chamberlain or Rick Barry scoring numbers. He stayed in the league for a decade, leaving the Warriors years before the team’s first championship in 1975. Barry and his coach Alex Hannum nicknamed Meschery “the Mad Manchurian,” which sports writers later changed into “the Mad Russian.” (He was born in Manchuria and prefers the former.)

“I think that had to do with intensity,” Meschery explains now. “I was not a great athlete. I couldn’t jump as high as some of the guys. I wasn’t fast. And I had a little bit of a short fuse I must admit.”

But as that legend grew, his close friends and teammates knew that Meschery, as Welts describes, “is just a wonderful bunch of contradictions.” He hung out with erudite broadcasting legend Bill King on the team plane, talking about literature and music. The guy who wasn’t afraid to fight always had a book in his locker.

“(Tom) had just this terrifying demeanor if you had to go against him as an opponent, but away from the court he was this thoughtful, smart, well-read kind of guy who was so interested in the world around him,” Welts says. “That contrast of him as a player and the reality of him as a human being struck everybody. It certainly struck me.”

Meschery’s life changed when he met former U.S. Poet Laureate Mark Strand while with the Sonics, and sat in on Strand’s classes during nights the team wasn’t playing. Meschery received his master of fine arts degree at the University of Iowa, briefly ran a bookstore in Truckee, then taught English in Reno for two decades until his retirement in 2005.

Golden State Warriors forward Tom Meschery with a group of children in Senegal in 1964. He sent the photo with a handwritten note detailing his experience to the San Francisco Chronicle.

For most of that time, Meschery was estranged from the Warriors organization. But when Joe Lacob bought the team in 2010, and Welts joined the organization in 2011, team leadership began bringing former players back into the fold.

Around the same time, Meschery was isolating during a multiple myeloma fight, and his son bought him an NBA League Pass for his TV. Meschery fell in love with his former team’s unselfish offense and joyful style that reminded him of his playground days.

“I thought, ‘I’ve been missing something. This game has morphed,’” he says. “It’s played in the air, like the playground games I used to love.”

Tom Meschery records for the Total SF podcast at Chase Center on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. Heather Knight / The Chronicle

On a recent weekday at Chase Center, Meschery records a Total SF podcast episode and talks about his early life in San Francisco, basketball career and new book.

“The Case of the ‘61 Impala” follows twin brothers who own a used car dealership in the 1960s, becoming private detectives after a dead body is found in a trunk. The novel has no sports but is filled with street-level detail of Oakland and Alameda, complicated racial dynamics and real-life events; the Black Panthers, the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and a fictionalized version of the Hell’s Angels are in the plot.

The writer has also been working on a memoir (current title: “The Mad Manchurian”), which explores the contradictions in his life. How did a player known for an easily triggered temper become an English teacher who hardly ever raised his voice?

Meschery explains he was trying to fit in, and excelling at sports was his path to feeling like an American. “On the court it seemed to me that if someone was trying to better me, they were attacking the one thing I wanted most: To fit, to be part of a team, to be part of a tribe.”

I’ve seen him at Warriors events and in recent parades, but find myself dismayed that I have to explain to others who he is.

“He deserves a part of that history,” Welts says. “I hope we’ve been successful in making him feel that part of his life is going to be celebrated forever.”

The number of players who grew up in San Francisco and became stars on San Francisco teams is small, including Bob St. Clair with the 49ers and Phil Smith with the Warriors. The number of former players who became indie bookstore owners, published poets and might arrive at your home with a bottle of Russian vodka has to be exactly one.

It’s impressive to be one of the six retired numbers in 76 years of Warriors basketball.

But I’m even more inspired by a man who continues to write, look for lessons from his past and be curious about the people he meets in the present. Tom Meschery’s playing career ended more than a half century ago. But he keeps proving there are more chapters to come.

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I have a part time job doing store logistics. Unloading trucks and stocking shelves.

Nobody likes ‘ROACHES’. How can anybody responsible enough to hold down a job appreciate a freeloader. Sometime I would rather not like to work, but you do what you have to do.

They are in every day and some of my fellow employees even mistake people who are just in the store to get some time for themselves to be thieves, they get so sour.

We can’t confront them in any way. But we can get into customer service mode. Be helpful, ask them what they are looking for. 

Following with a feather duster or rag cleaning shelves works too. They usually just set down what they are carrying and leave the store.

Employee shrinkage is supposed to be a big deal, but I can’t imagine it is at our store. We seem to hire people who are into working for a living and doing their job. The job does not include biting the hand that feeds you.

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Like His Grandfather by Francisco de Goya

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by Barbara Ehrenreich

Greed – and its crafty sibling, speculation – are the designated culprits for the ongoing financial crisis, but another, much admired, habit of mind should get its share of the blame: the delusional optimism of mainstream, all-American, positive thinking. As promoted by Oprah, scores of megachurch pastors, and an endless flow of self-help bestsellers, the idea is to firmly belief that you will get what you want, not only because it will make you feel better to do so, but because thinking things, “visualizing” them – ardently and with concentration – actually makes them happen. You will be able to pay that adjustable rate mortgage or, at the other end of the transaction, turn thousands of bad mortgages into giga-profits, the reasoning goes, if only you truly believe that you can.

Positive thinking is endemic to American culture – from weight loss programs to cancer support groups – and in the last two decades it put down deep roots in the corporate world as well. Everyone knows that you won’t get a job paying more than $15 an hour unless you’re a “positive person” -- doubt-free, uncritical, and smiling—and no one becomes a CEO by issuing warnings of possible disaster. According to a rare skeptic, a Washington-based crisis management consultant I interviewed on the eve of the credit meltdown in 2007, even the magical idea that you can have whatever you truly want has been “viral” in the business culture. All the tomes in airport bookstores’ business sections scream out against “negativity” and advise the reader to be at all times upbeat, optimistic and brimming with confidence—a message companies relentlessly reinforced by treating their white collar employees to manic motivational speakers and revival-like motivational events. The top guys, meanwhile, would go off to get pumped up in exotic locales with the likes of success guru Tony Robbins. Those who still failed to get with the program could be subjected to personal “coaching” or of course, shown to the door.

The same frothy wave of mandatory optimism swept through the once-sober finance industry. On their websites, scores of motivational speakers proudly list companies like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch among their clients. Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide Mortgage whose subprime ventures precipitated the entire crisis, was known for his congenital optimism and described in the Guardian earlier this year as “absurdly upbeat” even as his industry unraveled. No one was psychologically prepared for hard times, when they hit, because, according to the tenets of positive thinking, even to think of trouble is to bring it on. In May, the New York Times reported that Merrill, caught up short, was suddenly trying to “temper the Pollyannas in its ranks,” and force its analysts to occasionally say the word “sell.”

For those at the very top of the corporate hierarchy, all this positive thinking must not have seemed delusional at all. They actually could have almost anything they wanted, just by expressing the desire. CEO compensation has ballooned in recent years, creating the new class of billionaires and centi-millionaires who inhabit Lear jets and four-figure a night hotel rooms, who can dispatch a private plane who pick up a favorite wine, or a pet, they happen to have left in the Hamptons. According to a new book from the UK, Unjust Rewards by Polly Toynbee and David Walker, these masters of the universe tend to be seriously uninformed about how the other 99 percent lives and, Toynbee told me, often uncomprehending of the financial operations – the derivatives, CDS’s, etc. – that their wealth is derived from. If you live in a bubble of perfect wish-fulfillment, how could you imagine that, for example, some poor fellow in Cleveland might run up against unexpected medical bills or car problems that could waylay his mortgage payments? 

Americans did not start out as deluded optimists. The original ethos, at least of white Protestant settlers and their descendents, was a grim Calvinism that offered wealth only through hard work and savings, and even then made no promises at all. You might work hard and still fail; you certainly wouldn’t get anywhere by adjusting your attitude or dreamily “visualizing” success. Calvinists thought “negatively” as we would say today, carrying a weight of guilt and foreboding that sometimes broke their spirits. It was in response to this harsh ethos that positive thinking arose - among mystics, lay healers, and transcendentalists – in the 19thcentury, with its crowd-pleasing message that God, or the universe, is really on your side, that you can actually have whatever you want, if the wanting is focused enough.

When it comes to how we think, “negative” is not the only alternative to “positive.” As the case histories of depressives show, consistent pessimism can be just as baseless and deluded as its opposite. The alternative to both is realism – seeing the risks, having the courage to bear bad news, and being prepared for famine as well as plenty. Now, with our savings, our homes and our livelihoods on the line, we ought to give it a try.

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He's the Bitcoin whizz-kid feted by celebrities and politicians. But now his empire's crashed, along with his investors' savings – and may take the whole cryptocurrency economy down with it

by Tom Leonard

When a Gulfstream G450 private jet took off from the Bahamas capital of Nassau, bound for Argentina late last week, it briefly became the most heavily tracked plane in the aviation world.

For many were convinced it belonged to ‘Crypto King’ Sam Bankman-Fried and was whisking him off — like a fugitive from justice — to a new life in South America.

The digital currency tycoon in question later denied it was his plane, although he hasn’t yet addressed another rumour: that he and two colleagues were stopped on the tarmac at Nassau Airport as they tried to take the plane to Dubai, a country with no extradition treaty with the U.S.

Such melodrama is the stuff of a Hollywood thriller, but entirely understandable given that 30-year-old Bankman-Fried, who until very recently was hailed as the billionaire golden boy of the cryptocurrency world, is now accused of being at the centre of one of the most stunning financial frauds in history.

The catastrophic unravelling of FTX, a cryptocurrency business founded three years ago by Bankman-Fried that went from being valued at $32 billion to virtually nothing in just a few days, is a business tragedy for the ages.

And it’s certainly one for this particular age, involving as it does the deeply shady world of cryptocurrencies, a woke bunch of bed-hopping, digital whizz-kids holed up in luxury in a Caribbean tax haven, and an endless parade of grasping A-list dupes who fell for their hype.

Even Washington — right up to the White House — has been implicated as the liberal causes which Bankman-Fried generously funded included the Democratic Party.

Joe Biden’s 2020 election campaign received $5 million and Bankman-Fried — or SBF as he’s known — showered a jaw-dropping $40 million on favoured candidates (most of them Democrats) in last week’s congressional midterms.

In hindsight, this generosity, not to mention SBF’s philanthropic pledges to give away his fortune, look to many like cynical ploys to curry favour and respectability for a payment system famously beloved of criminals and terrorists anxious to cover their tracks.

In May, his political friends invited SBF to address Congress on, of all things, relaxing restrictions on his industry.

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have been hailed as the future of money and involve the creation of digital tokens that exist only online and that are beyond the control of meddling banks and governments. Rishi Sunak has said he wants the UK to be an international cryptocurrency capital.

However, heavily based as it is on secrecy and avoiding regulation, the controversial industry has struggled to win mainstream acceptance. Even FTX wasn’t licensed to operate in either the U.S. or UK (a fact that, regulators warn, will make it very difficult for British people who lost money in the company to get any back).

Now FTX has gone into liquidation and it’s hard to think of any other multi-billion-dollar company that’s crumpled in this way so terrifyingly quickly — Bloomberg News called it ‘one of history’s greatest-ever destructions of wealth’.

And the carnage may only have begun as the scandal has tipped the entire cryptocurrency world into crisis.

There are fears that what Bankman-Fried’s main rival has called ‘cascading contagion’ will spread to a cryptocurrency industry that had already lost two-thirds — about $2 trillion — of its value in the past year and seen Bitcoin’s worth shrink to little more than a quarter of what it was a year ago.

Governments around the world were already deeply suspicious of the crypto world and its Wild West reputation — and with good reason, many say — before the seismic events of the past few days.

Whether or not the whole house of cards does now collapse, the disaster has spectacularly illustrated the two defining qualities — greed and gullibility — of the Bitcoin craze. FTX has admitted that more than a million people may have lost money that appears to run into the billions.

And it could potentially take far more than the cryptocurrency world with it. Ominously, many have compared its demise with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, America’s fourth largest investment bank, in 2008.

The firm went bankrupt after being involved in the subprime mortgage crisis that triggered a collapse in the U.S. housing market and a worldwide recession.

What’s particularly mortifying for the cheerleaders of crypto-currencies was that Bankman-Fried and FTX — an exchange that allowed customers to store digital currencies and, if they wanted, trade them — were almost universally regarded as one of the few stable rocks in this ridiculously volatile industry.

Behind the studied scruffiness — wild hair, a wardrobe of T-shirts and shorts, and an endearingly nerdish lifestyle — SBF assiduously courted the powerful and famous as he burnished his image as the principled white knight of cryptocurrency.

As recently as April, he drew luminaries, from Tony Blair and Bill Clinton to supermodel Gisele Bundchen and actor Orlando Bloom, to a glamorous crypto convention in the Bahamas.

As well as coming across as spectacularly bright in the shambolic uber-nerd way that investors reportedly find reassuring, Bankman-Fried — the son of Left-wing law professors from California — had another string to his bow: he insisted he wanted to use his billions not to buy a fleet of Lamborghinis and yachts like most in his business but to save the world by giving much of it away to good causes.

Bankman-Fried claimed he wasn’t interested in riches and luxury, posting online pictures of the giant beanbag on which he would sleep beside his desk and telling interviewers that he paid himself only $100,000 a year and drove around in a Toyota Corolla. ‘I don’t want a yacht,’ he proclaimed piously.

In reality, a yacht would have been cheaper than the £32 million penthouse where it’s now emerged he and his senior team lived and worked on the Bahamas island of New Providence.

Billed as the ‘ultimate in waterfront living’, the five-bedroom property — part of the glitzy 600-acre Albany resort — was bought with the £62 million his company spent on property this year.

Insiders say the ten flatmates, who SBF knew from his time at university or in his first job on Wall Street, lived in a ‘polycule’ — a polyamorous relationship in which they were in and out of sexual relationships with each other.

‘The whole operation was run by a gang of kids in the Bahamas,’ a contemptuous insider told the cryptocurrency website CoinNews. Another source added: ‘They’ll do anything for each other.’

The flatmates include Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend and self-confessed Harry Potter nut. Despite being the chief executive of Alameda Research, a hedge fund set up by SBF (and now at the centre of the scandal), she had boasted about taking large amounts of amphetamine stimulants (as did SBF), and also bragged last year that she only needed ‘elementary school maths’ to run the firm. In retrospect, it was hardly reassuring.

Her former lover had also displayed a casual amateurishness towards his business which — if they hadn’t been so deeply in awe of him — investors might have found rather alarming. He admitted he liked to play video games (particularly League Of Legends, an immersive fantasy combat game) during business meetings and while taking crucial calls from investors and partners.

When they found out, business associates simply dismissed it as further evidence of his brilliance.

After all, Bankman-Fried had come from nowhere to turn FTX into the world’s second biggest cryptocurrency exchange. Having studied physics and maths at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined a Wall Street finance house as a trader.

He spotted that there were considerable profits to be made exploiting variations in the value of Bitcoin around the world, and in 2017 moved to California and set up Alameda Research to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. The firm was soon making $1 million a day.

Two years later, having relocated to Hong Kong to benefit from a friendlier regulatory regime, he founded FTX with former Google employee Gary Wang, a quiet computer engineer and one of SBF’s flatmates. Colleagues say Wang loves nothing better than to ‘get lost in coding’, but he is also so curiously secretive that he has no presence online.

FTX principally made its money from investors borrowing money to make huge bets on the future price of cryptocurrencies. This practice remains illegal in the U.S., although SBF established an American affiliate — also now bankrupt — that offered more basic trading opportunities. FTX expanded rapidly and, as Silicon Valley’s deep-pocketed venture capitalists poured in millions of dollars, SBF shelled out heavily to promote his company.

Last year, FTX signed a reported $135 million deal to have its name attached to the home court of the Miami Heat basketball team.

In the same year, it signed a sponsorship deal with the Mercedes Formula 1 team to have its name emblazoned on Lewis Hamilton’s car. And, in February this year, U.S. comedian Larry David starred in a high-profile commercial for FTX during coverage of the Super Bowl final.

Bankman-Fried even pulled in America’s most glamorous celebrity couple, Gisele Bundchen and her now ex-husband Tom Brady, the American football star, to promote his firm and appointed the Brazilian supermodel — with whom he appeared in Vogue — as FTX’s head of environmental and social initiatives.

Saving the world, which is such a popular hobbyhorse for technology billionaires, was key to SBF’s heavily promoted image of himself.

While the workings of his business remained opaque, he loved to opine in interviews and on Twitter about how he expected to become the world’s first trillionaire, but intended to give nearly all of his money away.

He was an enthusiastic advocate of a trendy philanthropic movement spreading through the upper reaches of Silicon Valley called ‘effective altruism’. This creed, whose main exponents include a young Scottish philosopher and Oxford University academic named William MacAskill, enjoins its young followers to go out and make as much money as they can so they can then — eventually — donate it to causes, such as global health and animal welfare that minimise suffering in the world.

Meanwhile, SBF was riding to the rescue of struggling crypto companies for the good of the industry’s credibility — or so he said. He sounded too good to be true and it increasingly appears that he was. Less than two months after FTX obtained a licence to operate in the European Union, the company abruptly imploded.

Its problems started little more than a week ago when it was alleged that FTX had secretly lent some $10 billion of its customers’ money to Alameda Research, its hedge-fund sister firm, to be used in very risky cyber trading. And that as much as $2 billion of that has vanished.

Worse, it also emerged that the assets FTX and Alameda Research said they owned and used to guarantee investors’ deposits were in large part made up of a digital currency which Bankman-Fried had invented out of thin air. Its value was dubious at best.

Inevitably, investors scrambled to get their money out of FTX and the company didn’t have it. SBF made frantic efforts to find a saviour but, as an investor he approached told Reuters, his financial figures were ‘very amateurish’.

Admitting that it had an $8 billion shortfall, the company filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. last Friday. SBF has apologised for the collapse but blamed ‘poor internal labelling’ of the company’s financial accounts. In addition, some $662 million in crypto money has reportedly gone missing in 24 hours, presumed stolen, from the company’s accounts.

Bankman-Fried’s personal fortune appears to have been based entirely on crypto, as it has gone from an estimated $16 billion last week to next to nothing now.

America’s Justice Department and its financial regulators are, together with the Bahamas police, investigating Bankman-Fried and his companies.

Many of those who came into contact with Bankman-Fried have been left looking very foolish, including the supposedly shrewd venture capitalists that invested nine-figure sums in FTX, his new-found Democrat pals who allowed him to become one of their biggest donors and, above all, the investors who ploughed in billions of dollars they’ll never see again.

Some, however, say we ought to thank him for exposing the terrifying risks of swallowing the Bitcoin hype — and for proving the sceptics right.

(Daily Mail)

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The Night-Blowing Cereus (1799) by Robert John Thornton

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U2 PLAYED A SURPRISE 1987 S.F. CONCERT. Then all hell broke loose

by Peter Hartlaub

Eric Blockie was on stage in 1987 with the biggest rock band in the world.

But the memory that strikes him 35 years later is the buildings surrounding him. The young security guard working the U2 show in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza peered over the crowd of 20,000 at the corner of Market Street and the Embarcadero, and saw another vertical wall of fans.

“I remember looking out and every one of those windows in downtown San Francisco had a face pushed up against it,” Blockie says. “All you saw were faces. I’ll never forget it.”

It was a calm moment before the chaos.

The free Embarcadero Plaza concert on Nov. 11, 1987 caused an unforgettable furor in local politics and entertainment. One of the greatest achievements in promoter Bill Graham’s storied history — pulling off a surprise concert in less than a day — was overshadowed by a week of controversy.

Bono defaced public art, drew the rage of then-mayor Dianne Feinstein and faced a graffiti charge — all before the concerts that he’d come to the Bay Area to play. By the time the saga ended with a band apology on Nov. 17, 1987, the drama had split the city in two.

“To this day, if he comes up in a playlist or something, I still skip to the next song,” said Karin Golde, who attended the show as a 17-year-old high school senior.

Nov. 11, 1987: U2 singer Bono and bassist Adam Clayton entertain San Franciscans during a free concert in Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco. (Fred Larson, Staff / The Chronicle)

U2 flew into San Francisco days before a pair of weekend concerts at the Oakland Coliseum, coming off the success of the band’s breakthrough “The Joshua Tree” album, while recording and filming the hybrid studio/concert album “Rattle and Hum.”

The November 11 “Save the Yuppies” concert in San Francisco was suggested by U2, scheduled on a Wednesday and planned in less than 24 hours. The dramatic scene — the band played on two flatbed trucks in front of the Vaillancourt Fountain and learned the chords to “All Along the Watchtower” minutes before the performance — gave the group a rebellious punk rock moment for the “Rattle and Hum” movie.

Sharon Goetzl, a marketing and events manager for Embarcadero Center, said she walked through Justin Herman Plaza with Bono, Graham, her boss and “Rattle and Hum” director Phil Joanou the afternoon before the show. Embarcadero Center gave permission for the concert, and at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning trucks rolled in — even as the concert remained top secret. On all the band’s gear, tape covered the name “U2.”

“Bill did not want any information let out to the press, to the public, no one,” Goetzl remembers. “Our PR person... was just fielding calls one after another. ‘I don’t know. I can’t say anything.’ And people in the towers could see there was something going on.”

Blockie credits the show’s success to the brilliance of Graham, remembering his boss getting on an early cellular phone less than two hours before the concert and calmly calling local radio stations one by one to spread the word: “U2 is playing a free show in Justin Herman Plaza at noon.”

According to Blockie, Graham timed the announcement perfectly to get a crowd that was big, but not too big. Another hour’s notice could have brought crowds from Sacramento.

“About a half hour later, we were kind of looking at each other like, ‘Wow, there's not that many people,’” Goetzl said. “But by 11:30 people started breaking for lunch … and it was like a wave. People just were flooding in. I mean, it was crazy.”

Academy of Art student Robert Quinn heard about the concert on the radio, and quickly made a huge sign on aluminum poles, “SF + U2.” It would spark the second most infamous moment of the day.

U2 opened the set with “All Along the Watchtower” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” but Bono grew agitated and paused midway through the second song. The singer mistook the letters “SF” on Quinn’s sign as support for Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army political wing responsible for a 1987 bombing just days before that killed 11.

Quinn could tell U2 singer Bono was furious with someone in the crowd. But until fans started begging him to take his sign down, he had no idea that one of the biggest pop icons in the world was lobbing profanities at him.

“I couldn't understand what he was saying exactly,” Quinn remembers. “I just heard cuss words and a very angry yelling tone to his voice.”

Robert Quinn, now an artist who makes posters on the Groovy Frisco site, held a sign at a U2 concert 35 years ago that caused an uproar. He sits in front of the Vaillancourt Fountain where the band played. (Chloe Aftel / Special to The Chronicle)

The vibes would get even worse.

In 1987, Mayor Feinstein was in the middle of a crackdown on graffiti and public tagging, offering a $500 reward to citizens who turned in their friends. Bono would be the 346th person in San Francisco cited for graffiti that year.

Blockie and Goetzl were both surprised to see Bono holding a spray-paint can during the last song, “Pride (In the Name of Love).” With cars halting to watch the show on the double-decker Embarcadero Freeway that overlooked the plaza, Bono snaked through the sculpture created by Canadian artist Armand Vaillancourt, climbed a ladder and tagged “Rock and Roll, Stop the Traffic” on the fountain.

Goetzl, who up to that point had mostly been worried about fans climbing light poles, said she moved to stop Bono, but was blocked by security.

“I don't know if I thought it was going to tackle him or just grab him and say, like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’” she said. “Once he was above me, there was really nothing I could do.”

Karin Golde, the U2 fan who skipped class at Bishop O’Dowd to see the concert, remembers booing the singer.

“I just felt like he was a visitor or a guest. You know, he doesn't live here,” Golde said. “... It felt so presumptuous.”

Over the years, the show has become synonymous with Bono’s graffiti of the fountain, but in the moment, concert video shows, there was little reaction. The singer disappeared for what seemed like several minutes into the maze-like sculpture behind the stage, as fans seemed disinterested, or confused.

“There was no collective gasp” from the crowd when the graffiti started, Blockie remembered. Music critic Joel Selvin’s Chronicle coverage of the event didn’t mention the incident until the ninth paragraph of his story. But behind the scenes, there was a scramble as soon as the hour-long concert ended.

Graham sent Blockie with the spray paint to Fox Hardware on Fourth Street, to ask what paint remover was needed to restore the statue. The tag was removed by the end of the day, but back at City Hall, Feinstein was enraged.

Bono was cited for malicious mischief and ordered to return to court in December. The band’s rebel act became front page news for the rest of the week, with Chronicle headlines like “U2 Star May Have to Scrub Buses.” (Removing graffiti from Muni coaches was a popular punishment during the Feinstein administration.)

Nov. 11, 1987: A crowd of 20,000 showed up when U2 played a free concert in Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco. (Fred Larson, Staff / The Chronicle)

“Police delivered the citation to Bono Hewson yesterday afternoon in his room at the Portman Hotel,” The Chronicle reported the following Friday. “(SFPD) Inspector Joe Toomey (said), ‘He was very pleasant, very cordial. He said once again that he did not do this as an act of graffiti but as an artistic expression.’”

The Chronicle letters to the editor page was full of U2 discourse all week, mostly critical of Bono. Herb Caen surprisingly defended the band, on the grounds of his dislike for the sculpture, writing, “Anything done to that abomination — real title: ‘10 on the Richter scale’ — has to be an improvement.”

By his Saturday show in Oakland, Bono was all bluster. He invited sculptor Vaillancourt, who defended the singer, and the pair created more street art with paint rollers on a stage backdrop.

“Have you ever picked on the wrong band,” Bono told the Coliseum crowd. “We're U2. We're the Batman and Robin of rock and roll. Somebody should explain to Mayor Feinstein there is a big difference between graffiti art and an act of vandalism."

But off stage and behind the scenes, he was taking a different tone. Bono penned a private note to law enforcement, explaining that he regretted spray painting the art.

"I am sincerely sorry if my actions caused any inconvenience to the citizens or law enforcement forces in the city," Bono wrote. "I think San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities U2 has ever been asked to play. I would never want to deface it. Spraying Vaillancourt sculpture was a mistake. I regret that, but it was not meant as a malicious act. I would also hope that the real street artists of San Francisco will not suffer because of a scrawler like me."

District Attorney Arlo Smith dismissed the charge, and that was the end — except for the legend, which continued to grow. When The Chronicle shared found photos from the concert five years ago, dozens of readers wrote in with their memories.

Quinn, who now makes San Francisco-themed art under the Groovy Frisco brand, says despite being misunderstood by Bono for an Irish revolutionary, he’s still a U2 fan.

“I really felt bad about it because it was just a misunderstanding,” Quinn said. “If I had spelled out ‘San Francisco plus U2’ there would not have been an issue.”

Golde continues her U2 boycott, but acknowledges the statute of limitations may have passed

“Maybe at this point in my old age I can quietly forgive Bono and we can come to terms with each other,” she said, laughing.

Blockie continued his career in concerts, and is now the general manager of the Tech Port Center and Arena in San Antonio, Texas. He thinks about Bill Graham and the U2 show often.

“Downtown San Francisco on a Wednesday? You just couldn’t pull it off now,” he said, with a little bit of awe in his voice. “Something like that will never happen again.”


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US DETERMINES SAUDI CROWN PRINCE IS IMMUNE in case brought by Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée

by Alex Marquardt

The Biden administration has determined that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, should be granted immunity in a case brought against him by the fiancée of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whom the administration has said was murdered at the prince’s direction.

A court filing was made by Justice Department lawyers at the request of the State Department because bin Salman was recently made the Saudi prime minister and as a result, qualifies for immunity as a foreign head of government, the request said. It was filed late Thursday night, just before the court’s deadline for the Justice Department to give its views in court on the immunity question and other arguments the prince made for having the lawsuit dismissed.

“Mohammed bin Salman, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is the sitting head of government and, accordingly, is immune from this suit,” the filing reads, while calling the murder “heinous.”

The decision is likely to provoke an angry reaction. The White House had hoped the July trip by President Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia would get the rocky US-Saudi relationship back on track but since then, relations have only continued to sour. 

The relationship is being reevaluated, the White House has said, in the wake of an oil production cut by Saudi-led OPEC+ that the administration saw as a direct affront to the US. Members of Congress, already infuriated by the oil cut and calling for a reevaluation, will likely only be angered further if the prince is given immunity.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, and the Washington-based human rights organization that the late journalist founded, DAWN, initially brought the lawsuit against bin Salman and 28 others in October 2020 in the Washington, DC, Federal District Court. They allege that the team of assassins “kidnapped, bound, drugged, tortured, and assassinated” Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and then dismembered his body. His remains have never been found.

“Biden himself betrayed his word, betrayed Jamal,” Cengiz told CNN. “History will not forget this wrong decision.”

Cengiz also tweeted, “Biden saved the murderer by granting immunity. He saved the criminal and got involved in the crime himself. Let’s see who will save you in the hereafter?”

The executive director of DAWN, Sarah Leah Whitson, called the immunity request a “shocking outcome” and a “massive concession” to Saudi Arabia.

“It’s really beyond ironic that President Biden has basically delivered an assurance of impunity for Mohammed bin Salman, which is the exact opposite of what he promised to do to hold the killers of Jamal Khashoggi accountable,” Whitson told CNN. 

A US intelligence community report into Khashoggi’s murder published in February 2021 as Biden took office said bin Salman approved the operation to capture or kill the journalist which ended with his murder and dismemberment. 

Bin Salman denied the allegations and sought immunity from prosecution, claiming that his various government and royal positions gave him immunity and put him outside the US courts’ jurisdiction. 

But as Crown Prince, bin Salman was not entitled to sovereign immunity which would normally just include a head of state, head of government or foreign minister, none of which bin Salman was.

Then, just a few days before the Biden administration was supposed to weigh in last month on the question of immunity, bin Salman was promoted to prime minister by his father, King Salman, who would normally hold that position.

That was a “ploy” to secure so-called head of state immunity, DAWN’s Whitson said, after which the Justice Department asked for a delay.

Now that bin Salman is prime minister, “the government ought to recommend that he’s entitled to immunity” said law professor William Dodge at the University of California Davis Law School, who had previously written that the prince wasn’t entitled to immunity. 

“It’s almost automatic,” Dodge said, “I think that’s why he was appointed prime minister is to get out of this.”

The State Department was not required to make a determination of immunity but was invited to do so by the court. A spokesperson said that their request that bin Salman be granted immunity is based on longstanding common and international law, rather than a reflection of current diplomatic ties or efforts.

“This Suggestion of Immunity does not reflect an assessment on the merits of the case. It speaks to nothing on broader policy or the state of relations,” a department spokesperson told CNN. “This was purely a legal determination.”

The Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bin Salman had also claimed immunity in a case against him by former Saudi counterterrorism official Saad Aljabri, who accused the prince of sending a hit squad to kill him in Canada just days after Khashoggi’s murder. That case was dismissed for other reasons by the same court.

“After breaking its pledge to punish MBS for Khashoggi’s assassination, the Biden administration has not only shielded MBS from accountability in US courts, but effectively issued him license to kill more detractors and declared that he would never be held accountable,” Aljabri’s son, Khalid, told CNN on Thursday.

The White House was widely criticized for Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia in July, when the president awkwardly fist-bumped the crown prince he said he still holds responsible for Khashoggi’s murder.

Biden said he raised the killing at the start of their meeting and that the prince continued to deny being responsible.

“I was straightforward and direct in discussing it. I made my view crystal clear,” said Biden.

The four-page US intelligence community report released in 2021 said that the 15-person Saudi team that arrived in Istanbul in October 2018 when Khashoggi was killed included members associated with the Saudi Center for Studies and Media Affairs (CSMARC) at the Royal Court, led by a close adviser of bin Salman, as well as “seven members of Muhammad bin Salman’s elite personal protective detail, known as the Rapid Intervention Force.”

The report noted that bin Salman viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom “and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary, to silence him.”

The intelligence report said that they did not have visibility on when the Saudis had decided to harm the father of five. “Although Saudi officials had pre-planned an unspecified operation against Khashoggi we do not know how far in advance Saudi officials decided to harm him,” it said.

Last month, on the fourth anniversary of Khashoggi’s death, DAWN demanded the Biden administration declassify and publish the full intelligence report on his killing.

Khashoggi’s fiancée Cengiz alleges that when Khashoggi tried to get the papers they needed to get married at the embassy in Washington, DC, officials “manufactured an opportunity to murder him.” 

They told him the only place he could get the documents they needed was at the consulate in Istanbul, she said. Two weeks before his appointment on October 2, 2018, the day he was killed, Khashoggi and Cengiz were married in a religious Islamic ceremony, the lawsuit says. 

“The Administration’s decision to encourage courts to uphold MBS’ sovereign immunity is yet another disappointing chapter in a series of failures to hold Saudi leadership accountable for brutally murdering Jamal Khashoggi,” a senior congressional Democratic aide said. “Actions such as this contradict the Administration’s hollow assurances of accountability and fly in the face of our own intelligence assessments of MBS’ involvement.”


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Russia again targets power infrastructure - Ukraine's PM Redeployed Russian forces challenge Ukraine in east Ukraine seeks to restore power after Russian strikes on grid Ukraine minister says bodies, signs of torture found in Kherson KYIV, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Missiles rained down on Ukrainian energy infrastructure on Thursday as Russian forces stepped up attacks in eastern Ukraine, reinforced by troops pulled from Kherson city in the south which Kyiv recaptured last week.

Explosions resounded in cities including the capital Kyiv, the southern port of Odesa, the central city of Dnipro and the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia. Ukrainian military command also reported attacks on civilian infrastructure in Balakleya in the eastern Kharkiv region and Ochakiv in the Mykolaiv region in the south.

"Punishment for all Russian atrocities - both present and past - will be unavoidable," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on Twitter, as news came that a Dutch court had ruled an airliner shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014 during fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces was hit by a Russian-made missile.

The court sentenced two former Russian intelligence agents and a Ukrainian separatist leader to life in prison for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, which killed all 298 passengers and crew. Moscow called the ruling "scandalous".

Ukraine may get access to missile blast site - Polish officials Europe is too dependent on China for technologies, Finland's PM says

A deal aimed at easing global food shortages by facilitating Ukraine's agricultural exports from its southern Black Sea ports was extended for 120 days, though Moscow said its own demands had yet to be fully addressed.

Ukraine has few viable options currently to boost grain exports by rail, road or river barge anytime soon if a United Nations-brokered deal to export by sea runs into trouble. 

— Reuters

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Early X-ray (1896) by Josef Maria Eder and Eduard Valenta


  1. Harvey Reading November 18, 2022

    “Employee shrinkage is supposed to be a big deal, but I can’t imagine it is at our store. We seem to hire people who are into working for a living and doing their job. The job does not include biting the hand that feeds you.”

    Recipe for assuring low wages and obeisance to masters…

    • George Dorner November 18, 2022

      So it’s impossible that management pays fair wages and treats employees so well they are loyal to their jobs, Mr. Reading? Just asking.

      • Harvey Reading November 18, 2022

        Unlikely, especially in the private sector, particularly small bidness peddlers, much as they may enjoy extolling their worthiness. I have heard BS like this all my life. Closest I came to witnessing it was during my 26 years of state service.

  2. Chuck Artigues November 18, 2022

    Two comments today;
    1) Barbara Ehrenreich must be a very depressed person to have such thoughts.
    2) value of Crypto = Monopoly Money ÷ tulip mania × PT Barnum

    • George Hollister November 18, 2022

      2) value of Crypto = Monopoly Money ÷ tulip mania × PT Barnum

      I agree, and good luck regulating that.

    • Harvey Reading November 18, 2022

      1) She’s dead.

  3. Marmon November 18, 2022


    If Twitter is still running with virtually no employees I’m wondering if the same should be done with the government?


    • pca67 November 18, 2022

      Yeah, it’s working great at the County of Mendocino. 🙄

  4. Briley November 18, 2022

    U2. My husband had a day off on the free concert day and drove from Ukiah to Oakland to get his U2 tickets from the nearest Tick-a-Tron. He was on the freeway down there when the radio DJ put out the announcement. He was near the Bay Bridge exit and decided to jet over to the square. He got there, parked and walked into the plaza and stood next to the truck beds where a drum set was set up. But he was the only one there, he thought the whole thing was a joke, no one was there. But he hung out anyway and he said all of a sudden the plaza filled up with people, everywhere. He was at the front row and could have touched Bono if he wanted. Cool memory for him. Right place, right time.

    • chuck dunbar November 18, 2022

      “Right place, right time”–one of the gifts of life. Thanks for this musical tale.

  5. Debra Keipp November 18, 2022

    I gotta say, Fuck Biden! (For caving to Saudis.)

  6. Betsy Cawn November 18, 2022

    Today in history: “U.S. Rep. Leo J. Ryan of California and four others were killed on an airstrip in Jonestown, Guyana, by members of the Peoples Temple; the killings were followed by a night of mass murder and suicide resulting in the deaths of more than 900 cult members.” San Jose Mercury News

    Barbara Ehrenreich blows depression out of the water with her accurate observations of an obnoxious falsehood perpetrated by politicians refusing to hear the facts from the paying public. The AVA does that every day, thank the everloving lords of civic participation.

  7. Cornelia Reynolds November 18, 2022

    Re Noyo Food Forest: According to Board President Teresa Raffo, there are lots of tickets left for their Dec.9 fundraiser. They could really use the support.

  8. Chris Philbrick November 18, 2022

    Great article on former NBA star Tom Meschery! Thanks for that.

    In 1960, as a freshman at San Jose State, I attended the St. Mary’s vs SJS basketball game at home. The gym was packed with St Mary’s fans screaming “Tom Meschery…All American” over and over again throughout the game. When the game ended, I realized why. Indeed he was!

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