Winter Storm | Tree Lighting | Craft Fair | Idyllic Ukiah | AV Village | County Road | Rental Need | Yoga Wednesdays | Pre-Trial Settlements | Christian Bros | Positive Mo | Sharkey Painting | Coastal Plan | 1955 Flood | Ed Notes | Portlanders | GG Bridge | Yesterday's Catch | Tequila Soup | Ultra-Privileged | Transamerica 50 | Lancaster UK | Gatekeeper | Swagger | Free Assange | Wet Floor | Cockburn Picks | Punch Blessed | Beaver Comeback | Find Myself | Torch Passing | Norway Fords | US Warnings | USAF Stripes | Ukraine | Captain Ford | Peace Prayer | Modern Witch | Loser Party | Automat
A WINTER STORM will move through Northwest California this evening through Thursday. Heavy mountain snow, along with periods of moderate to heavy rain and strong south winds along the coast are expected. The storm will move east of the region by Thursday night leaving cold air in its wake. Afterward, another generally colder winter storm will enter the region by Friday afternoon and last through Saturday. Heavy snow, rain and wind are expected yet again. (NWS)
ARTS AND CRAFTS FAIR IN ELK ON SATURDAY
The Greenwood Community Church foundation will hold its 22nd annual HOLIDAY ARTS and CRAFTS FAIR this coming Saturday December 3rd from 10am to 4pm at the Greenwood Community Center located in downtown Elk.
Several new vendors as well as perennial favorites will be participating. Delicious homemade baked goods and hot lunch prepared by the Elk School Moms and teachers will be available.
So skip the trip to the mall and keep it local this holiday season!
More information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
LARRY SHEEHY: Idyllic scene of midtown Ukiah neighborhood a few blocks from downtown.
The wonderful thing about this photo is the blue sky and not a car in sight! As a serious (for my age) bike rider, I look forward to the completion of the long-time-coming Downtown Streetscape Project (only about 100 yds east from here). Even before that's finished, I seriously hope the City Council will get serious about the Climate Emergency and adopt a Climate Action Plan (don't get me started*) and a local Green New Deal. But their service to the community as Council members is very much appreciated! I'd just like them** to get more long range vision and some progressive policy awareness. So there.
ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE monthly newsletter
We currently have a record 59 members (46 memberships) and 48 trained volunteers ready to lend a hand!
Happy Birthday to our wonderful members and volunteers: Richard Bonner, Judy Nelson, Kristina Teplin.
We had a lovely Tea Party at our November gathering with treats a plenty and joyous company! Thank you, Evette, for sharing your beautiful quilt creations – an impressive collection!
Call out to Our Talented Community! Please lend your skills, passions and ideas for the greater good! We are looking for participants (members, volunteers and beyond) for the following opportunities:
- We are looking for writers interesting in sharing their work at our Gathering, probably March. This is always a fun event with an amazing variety of authors. Anyone interested should call Lauren 895-2606.
- We are also looking for folks to help breath new energy into our committees – including the AV Village Events, Membership, Volunteer Committees and more, depending on interests. Let the coordinator know if you would like to be on one – thank you!!
Upcoming Village Events: Events Calendar
LOOKING FOR LIVING QUARTERS
I have been living in a 30 year old RV that is now falling apart with problems. Currently, there is smoke from wood stoves leaking into the RV making it almost impossible to live in it. I have an air purifier going but difficult keeping up with the flow.
I have a headache, stomach, ache and my throat is burning from the smoke. I need to move immediately. Also, I have a new 4 month old puppy who weight 3lbs and will grow to 5lbs. She is unlike any dog I have ever had in the past. She is so loving, loves to be held, and loves everyone she meets. She is a Morkie. She is smart and well behaved.
I would appreciate any help locating a place to live from Cleone to Mendocino. I am looking for a approx. 400 sq ft cabin/cottage, no stairs or loft, full kitchen, approx $1,100.00.
Rose Lee Calabro <RoseLeeCalabro@outlook.com>
YOUTH WANTS TO KNOW: WHAT IS PRE-TRIAL SETTLEMENT?
Curious, in the Doug Stone case, what does pre-trial settlement mean? And combining into one case, what does that do? Benefits who?
Bruce Anderson replies:
Well-heeled defendants can delay matters endlessly because the pathetic Superior Court of this lost county allows it. Ditto for the DA in this case.
Mark Scaramella replies:
In my experience, pre-trial settlement (and its preparation) is mainly a way for lawyers to make more money. It never occurs at the outset of a case, but only after months of legal bills pile up so that a case cane be made legally eligible for settlement, aka “ripe” as my lawyer once told me. The courts/judges never order people into mandatory settlement discussions at the outset of a case like they should to possibly save time and money and court time. Instead, they require that the saps, aka, litigants, pay through the nose before they can be allowed to talk to each other under court supervision when many cases could be “settled” at a relatively low cost and where legal rules are much looser. Take, for example, the Sheriff’s case against the County. Instead of ordering the County and the Sheriff and his lawyer into immediate mandatory settlement talks, Judge Moorman dragged the relatively simple question out for months and months, requiring lots of billable hours on both sides. And now it’s still open and under appeal. I could give many more examples. The lawyers (which of course all judges are) call all the shots.
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS RETREAT CENTER, Monte Rio, 1957
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN (commenting on a motivational speaker’s tiktok remarks on facebook): "I’ve been sitting on a post about the County Culture while I work through my own emotions. I really like what he has to say. Venting is normal, but be careful that you aren’t taking it too far. Positivity breeds positivity."
THE EXCITEMENT BUILDS
Save The Date Dec 3, GRI Zoom On Local Coastal Plan
Local Coastal Plan Update is Beginning
December 3 @ 10 am Via Zoom (link will be forthcoming)
This Event is Hosted by the Grassroots Institute
Meet with Supervisors Gjerde and Williams
The GrassRoots Institute invites the Coast Democratic Club to join us in a meeting on Saturday, December 3rd at 10 am to discuss public education and engagement in regard to the Local Coastal Program update that the coastal cities and the county have begun.
In approving the grants applications from Mendocino County the Coastal Commission recognized the critical need for full public participation. Indeed, to that end, the Commission allocated over $150,000 specifically for community outreach.
Coast Democrats <email@example.com>
SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE: The Department of Energy’s recently appointed head of Spent Nuclear Fuel Management has been charged with felony theft after allegedly taking someone else’s bag from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Sam Brinton, 35, who started working in June as the deputy assistant secretary of spent nukes, was seen on Sept. 16 on surveillance footage taking a bag from a baggage carousel that appeared similar to one which had been reported missing.
Brinton, who applies the pronoun plurals they/them to himself, then appeared to remove the “bag’s tag and put the bag tag in the handbag ‘they’ were carrying,” and “left the area at a quick pace,” the court filing continues. The complaint says Brinton initially told law enforcement: “If I had taken the wrong bag, I am happy to return it, but I don’t have clothes for another individual,” adding, “That was my clothes when I opened the bag.” Brinton allegedly contacted authorities at the airport later to say ‘they’ hadn’t been “completely honest” and “admitted to taking the blue bag,” explaining that they were “tired and took the suitcase thinking it was theirs.” Brinton has been on leave from the DOE for at least a month, according to reports. A hearing is scheduled in the case for Dec. 19. If convicted, Brinton faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
FRISCO has a new model public toilet, most of the previous models setting new records for being out of service. When I used to spend whole days wandering around the city on Muni or on foot, I was dependent on the old pissoirs, when I could find one that wasn't occupied by junkies or the unique lurks that make SF their home. One night, walking to the foot of California Street from the ballpark, my bladder so near to bursting I was close to audible whimpers, I lurched into the public kiosk in that little Embarcadero park across from the bus stop only to step into about six inches of fetid water and two oblivious drug sports shooting dope into their forearms. I relieved myself behind the bathroom.
AS SOCIETY IMPLODES, taking civic responsibility with it, the only way public bathrooms can be made to work properly, meaning safely and cleanly, is by assigning on-site attendants to each one, preferably unarmed attendants but leaving the choice to the attendants.
OUR SUPERVISORS natter endlessly on about low cost housing while Fort Bragg actually gets it built, the town's can-do mayor, Bernie Norvell, pushing to get it done. Even Ukiah has managed to get some low income housing built, while exactly zero reasonably priced shelter gets erected in the unincorporated vastness of the county over which the supervisors allegedly preside.
RECOMMENDED READING: Paul Auster’s “Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane,” which is a reverent biography of a great writer by a very good writer. The friend who alerted me to it warned, “It's real long but worth it.” It was. Crane used to be required reading in high schools back in the days before the didacts and moralists took over the classrooms. But he's the ground floor guy for fiction in English, the break-through writer who set the standard for all the great fiction to come, and did it before he was thirty and dead. Auster's bio includes a lot of writing Crane did as a war correspondent in Cuba and Greece, and a lot of journalism and uncollected short fiction I'd never read. Among his many triumphs besides the masterly Red Badge of Courage and the Blue Hotel, my faves and everyone else's too, he managed to get himself prosecuted by New York's blue noses (when Teddy Roosevelt was the city's police commissioner) because he'd testified for a wrongly accused prostitute, an unheard of act at the time by a well known person.
IN THE DEPTHS OF THE DEPRESSION WHEN CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY WAS HIGH
Katy Tahja commented on a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on opening day with a huge crowd of people packed onto the bridge in celebration: “My in-laws, Andrew and Marjorie Tahja, were on the Golden Gate Bridge on opening day. I really liked the photograph. I wonder how many of we local seniors had family on the bridge that day?”
“The Golden Gate Bridge was constructed using a $35 million bond, well below early construction es- timates of up to $100 million, due to ingenuity on the part of chief engineer Joseph Strauss and his team. The bond issue was supported by San Francisco-based Bank of America.”
But BofA wouldn’t have “supported” the bond issue unless NorCal people put up the collateral.
“On November 4, 1930, voters within the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District’s six member counties (San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Del Norte, and portions of Napa and Mendocino) went to the polls on the question of whether to put up their homes, their farms and their business properties as collateral for a $35 million bond issue to finance the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge (Bridge). For some, the timing of the bond election was considered economically reckless as it would create bonded indebtedness during the Great Depression. Others said bridge construction represented the economic relief needed from the Great Depression. After the vote, it was clear the people believed in Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss’ vision – 145,057 voted in favor and 46,954 against it.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, November 29, 2022
RUBEN ACEVEDO, Willits. Domestic battery, child endangerment.
AGUSTIN AMADOR, Willits. Ammo possession by prohibited person.
JAMIE ARMSTRONG, Comptche. Vehicle theft with prior.
GAVIN GIACOLETTO, Clearlake/Ukiah. Getting credit with someone else’s ID.
JACOB SANDERSON, Laytonville. Vehicle theft with prior.
JAKE SCHULER, Ukiah. Parole violation.
RONALD VALENTINE JR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SARAH KENNEDY OWEN:
How ironic that ultra-privileged Annabella Rockwell decided on Mt. Holyoke for her college experience. It was founded by Mary Lyon as a “seminary” for young women who would not ordinarily be able to afford education past the basic “free” education level available at that time. Mary Lyon was a genuine genius from a poor family who taught school in a small schoolhouse in Buckland, Massachusetts before going on to found Mt. Holyoke. That this Annabella person was wealthy enough to afford a private college education (in 2011) and then to erase it all because she imagined she had been brainwashed sounds like pure hogwash to me. She now works for a conservative advocacy group, PragerU, and is making quite a bit of professional capital on her “terrible” experience at Mt. Holyoke. Picked up by conservative news like Fox, she is becoming famous for serving the rich kids who have had such a hard time because of their mean nasty college. Boohoo.
Yes, college is tough, and we all have to sort out what we will accept in our studies and what might be trendy or deceptive. That is part of growing up. Just like other schools, it is an experience that will transform with time as we understand things better. In this case, the mother of Annabella decided to take control and have her daughter “deprogrammed.” A panicky reaction, at best, directed by the disappointment of high expectations that her daughter would come out of college with a firm appreciation of her privileged, overprotected status. If the goal was for Annabella to come out of college exactly the same person she was when she went in, what was the point?
A ONCE-HATED S.F. ICON TURNS 50. Chron Critic Has New Things To Say
The Transamerica Pyramid was just a few years old when John King started exploring downtown San Francisco in the mid-1970s.
The Chronicle’s urban design critic, then a student at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord, would convince his teachers that letting him loose in San Francisco had educational value; he’d take BART to the city, walk up Montgomery Street through the new buildings redefining the skyline, spend some time near Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf, and head back home.
“Growing up reading The Chronicle and living in the Bay Area, I just got really interested in buildings and neighborhoods and blocks of cities,” King said. “Why is Sun Valley Mall different from North Beach and things like that?"
King and the Pyramid cross paths again this week, as the iconic building turns 50, and the urban design critic writes his usual thoughtful and conversational piece about the city he’s been analyzing since childhood. This time it’s something King couldn’t have imagined during those teenage excursions into the city — a multimedia project with time-lapse video and other modern touches merging with John’s analysis and fun detail-oriented journalism. (Did you know: The original Pyramid design was 250 feet taller than the finished product; almost as high as the Salesforce Tower?)
I’ll encourage you to discover the piece for yourself. Just as King puts the Transamerica Pyramid in the context of the surrounding city, I called up the writer to put him in the context of the famous skyscraper.
King worked on the business development beat at the Boston Globe, then covered the mayor’s office and Contra Costa County for The Chronicle, but always loved criticism — “putting on the tweed jacket and taking out the pipe,” he says, “even if you’re going to a Go-Go’s concert.”
The Chronicle staff’s merger with the Examiner staff in 2000 created the rare journalism problem of too many reporters and not enough beats. The Chronicle years earlier had lost its Pulitzer-winning architecture critic Allan Temko. King came out of the chaotic fusing of newsrooms with his dream job. He’s been a Pulitzer Prize finalist twice since then, and is one of the most engaging reads in The Chronicle.
While Temko would wage war with a new city addition (his Pier 39 takedown is legendary), John has a more intimate approach. Taking King’s fantastic new Financial District audio tour, I repeatedly found myself wanting to audibly respond to the (pre-recorded) voice in my headphones.
I’ve read at least three King articles about the Pyramid over the years (this is my favorite), and wondered if he got sick of it. To the contrary, just as he’s a different person than that teen leaving school in Concord to wander the city, the Pyramid has grown too.
“Any creation gets viewed differently at different times,” King says. “There’s the built object, and then it's the thing that's been around for 20 years and all these things have changed around it. And now it's the thing that's been around 50 years and there's a taller building in the city.”
King’s latest Pyramid story touches on the past, the future and the building’s place in contemporary culture. Transamerica Pyramid was derided by national and local critics — Temko was infuriated — making San Francisco Mayor (and Pyramid backer) Joe Alioto look like a stubborn loon.
“The futuristic architecture that angered critics when the proposal was unveiled in 1969 now stands as a reassuring marker for Bay Area residents trying to make sense of the changes around them,” writes King in The Chronicle today. “Simply put, the Transamerica Pyramid still matters.”
In essence, King and the city he covers are growing up together.
“It's not 'so and so wrote a poem, and I think the poem sucks or I think the poem captures the essence of the human soul,’” King says. “With a building so much is involved in terms of the different factors of work, and I want to convey that so that even if someone disagrees with me, they have a sense of why I think what I think.”
And as a long-term Chronicle reader myself, I find it fascinating to read.
— Peter Hartlaub
RANDY BURKE of Gualala sends along these travel pics from Lancaster, county Lancashire, England:
AFTER I DIE I shall return to the earth as a gatekeeper of a bordello and I won’t let any of you -- not one of you! -- enter.
— Arturo Toscanini to the NBC orchestra
“I tossed my shoulders and swaggered away, whistling with pleasure. In the gutter I saw a long cigarette butt. I picked it up without shame, lit it as I stood with one foot in the gutter, puffed it and exhaled toward the stars. I was an American, and goddamn proud of it.”
― John Fante
THE GUARDIAN COULD HELP ASSANGE By Retracting All The Lies It Published About Him
by Caitlin Johnstone
The Guardian has joined The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País in signing a letter from the five papers which collaborated with WikiLeaks twelve years ago in the publication of the Chelsea Manning leaks to call for the Biden administration to drop all charges against Julian Assange. This sudden jolt of mainstream support comes as news breaks that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been personally pushing the US government to bring the Assange case to a close.
The Guardian’s participation in this letter is particularly noteworthy, given the leading role that publication has played in manufacturing public support for his persecution in the first place. If The Guardian really wants to help end the persecution of the heroic WikiLeaks founder, the best way to do that would be to retract those many smears, spin jobs and outright lies, and to formally apologize for publishing them.
This is after all the same Guardian which published the transparently ridiculous and completely invalidated 2018 report that Trump lackey Paul Manafort had met secretly with Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy, not once but multiple times. Not one shred of evidence has ever been produced to substantiate this claim despite the embassy being one of the most heavily surveilled buildings on the planet at the time, and the Robert Mueller investigation, whose expansive scope would obviously have included such meetings, reported absolutely nothing to corroborate it. It was a bogus story which all accused parties have forcefully denied and no serious person believes is true, yet to this day it still sits on The Guardian’s website without retraction of any kind.
This is the same Guardian which ran an article in 2018 titled “The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride”, arguing that Assange looked ridiculous for continuing his political asylum in the embassy because “The WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the US.” The article was authored by the odious James Ball, whose article begins: “According to Debrett’s, the arbiters of etiquette since 1769: ‘Visitors, like fish, stink in three days.’ Given this, it’s difficult to imagine what Ecuador’s London embassy smells like, more than five-and-a-half years after Julian Assange moved himself into the confines of the small flat in Knightsbridge, just across the road from Harrods.”
This is the same Guardian which published an article titled “Definition of paranoia: supporters of Julian Assange”, arguing that Assange defenders are crazy conspiracy theorists for believing the US would try to extradite Assange because “Britain has a notoriously lax extradition treaty with the United States,” because “why would they bother to imprison him when he is making such a good job of discrediting himself?”, and “because there is no extradition request.”
This is the same Guardian which published a ludicrous report about Assange potentially receiving documents as part of a strange Nigel Farage/Donald Trump/Russia conspiracy, a claim based primarily on vague analysis by a single anonymous source described as a “highly placed contact with links to US intelligence”. The same Guardian which has flushed standard journalistic protocol down the toilet by reporting on Assange’s “ties to the Kremlin” (not a thing) without even bothering to use the word “alleged” on more than one occasion. The same Guardian which advanced many more virulent smears as documented in a 2018 article by The Canary titled “Guilty by innuendo: the Guardian campaign against Julian Assange that breaks all the rules.”
Even the wording of the joint letter itself is dishonest when coming from The Guardian.
“This group of editors and publishers, all of whom had worked with Assange, felt the need to publicly criticise his conduct in 2011 when unredacted copies of the cables were released, and some of us are concerned about the allegations in the indictment that he attempted to aid in computer intrusion of a classified database,” the letter reads. “But we come together now to express our grave concerns about the continued prosecution of Julian Assange for obtaining and publishing classified materials.”
As we’ve discussed previously, the narrative that Assange recklessly published unredacted documents in 2011 is itself a dishonest smear, and the unredacted files were actually published elsewhere as the result of a real password being recklessly published in a book by Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding (the same Luke Harding who co-authored the bogus Manafort-Assange story). Assange took extraordinary measures to try and minimize the damage that was done by those Guardian reporters, but wound up getting thrown under the bus and blamed for their actions anyway.
If The Guardian is sincere in its stated desire to see the end of the persecution of Julian Assange, the single most effective thing it could do to help advance that goal would be to publicly acknowledge that it helped to deceive the world about him, and work to correct the record.
The only reason Assange’s case doesn’t have more support currently is because so much of the public has been deceived into believing that what’s happening is not the unconscionable persecution of a journalist for telling the truth, but rather the righteous prosecution of a sinister Russian agent who has broken laws and endangered lives. The Guardian easily played a larger role in manufacturing that collective misconception than any other single news outlet in the world, and as such it could do tremendous good by retracting and apologizing for its publications which fed into it.
This is the sort of thing a publication would do if it was really interested in truth, justice, and journalistic ethics. Is it what the people who run The Guardian will choose to do? I highly doubt it.
THE PERVERSIONS OF POLITICAL PUNDITRY
by Patrick Cockburn
A study of political pundits appearing on US television discovered that they are more likely to be invited back by the TV station if they are wrong in their predictions than if they are right. One reason why the erroneous commentator is re-invited is because they are categorical in their opinions. They do not see the arrows pointing confusingly in different directions, something that real experts are all-too-prone to do. Another cause is that these same experts may express opinions that deviate radically from conventional media wisdom to the horror of TV interviewers and discussion hosts.
I suspect that it is the triumph of the “pundit class” on US television which makes so much of it boring and uninformative. What makes the tedium so irritating is that it is quite unnecessary as Washington is bulging with real experts on almost every conceivable thing. But few of them get within sniffing distance of a TV studio where they might say alarming, unexpected and interesting things.
Unfortunately, it is this same pundit class which decides which issues are important and which are not. Many of those who were speaking knowledgably a month ago about the inevitable “Red Wave” and “Republican Tsunami” in the midterm elections are now busy setting the news agenda for the coverage of the presidential election in 2024.
This is a tremendous waste of time since, as has been shown again and again in past presidential elections, too much will occur in the next two years for the results of midterms to be a useful guide. This and other points made above are discussed by James Fallows here.
Beneath the Radar
The election of Benjamin Netanyahu as the next Israeli prime minister at the head of the most right-wing government in the history of Israel should be attracting more intentional interest. Netanyahu has normalised the presence in Israeli governments of fanatical ethno-nationalists.
Proof of this is the appointment of the extreme right wing leader Itamar Ben-Gvir as Israel’s new national security minister in charge, among other responsibilities, of the Border Police who operate on the West Bank. Once a follower of Meir Kahane, the ultra-sectarian rabbi who wanted to strip Israeli Arabs of citizenship, Ben-Gvir used to keep in his house a picture of Baruch Goldtein who massacred 29 Palestinians in a mosque in Hebron in 1994. Two weeks before the election on 1 November, Ben-Gvir waved a handgun in East Jerusalem and encouraged police to open fire at Palestinian demonstrators.
His appointment has appalled many Israelis and American Jews. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the head of America’s Union for Reform Judaism, said on Sunday that giving Ben-Gvir the job was akin to “appointing David Duke, one of the heads of the KKK, as attorney general”.
As for what was happening on the West Bank, even before Ben-Gvir’s appointment, here is an excellent piece of reporting by the admirable Haaretz journalist Amira Hass.
Britain may be failing in many respects, but it still produces meticulous reports on what went wrong. I wonder how many people read them. From the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) on the uses of British development aid to finance Afghanistan, it emerges that a large chunk of aid money may have gone to finance the notorious police death squads.
“ICAI reports that £252m used to fund the salaries of the Afghan National Police as part of an international commitment was a ‘questionable use of UK aid’, because the police were primarily assigned to counter-insurgency operations rather than civilian policing. The report acknowledges that UK support for what was primarily a paramilitary police force helped protect Afghan communities from Taliban attacks, but it highlights concerns of police corruption and brutality, including extortion, arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial killings. The report found that attempts were made to end police funding, but they were overruled at the ‘highest levels of the UK government’.”
“I was just a big kid that God blessed with a good punch. Besides that I had no other talents.”
— Jack Dempsey
BEAVERS ARE ON THE COMEBACK!
by Lisa Krieger
In a deep muddy creek near Silicon Valley’s busiest freeway, a large furry head pokes up. And then quickly submerges.
The brief sighting, along with a growing collection of video footage, confirms something remarkable: After being hunted to extinction in the 1800s, the North American beaver is returning to the creeks of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Ecosystem explorers, beavers were re-introduced to Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos about four decades ago, and made homes in upper Los Gatos Creek. Since then, they’ve expanded their range north along the edge of the Bay to the Guadalupe River, Coyote Creek, San Tomas Aquino Creek in the wetlands by Sunnyvale’s Water Pollution Control Plant – and, now, Palo Alto’s Matadero Creek.
”There’s a resilience that’s built into their DNA to find a location, set up shop, find a mate and go to work on increasing the population,” said naturalist Bill Leikam. This week, his trail cameras captured proof that a pair of beavers – male and female – enjoy evening strolls together along the creek, just two miles from the global headquarters of Intuit and Google.
Urban Wildlife Research Project co-founder and president Bill Leikam stands behind one of his trail cameras which has captured images of beavers and other wildlife animals in Matadero Creek in Palo Alto, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (Photo: Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Plump, smelly and paddle-tailed, beavers shaped the California landscape for thousands of years. Their dams built ponds, slowed runoff, cooled stream flow and re-charged aquifers, creating pockets of biodiversity in a hot and dry landscape.
They were eradicated by the 1840s, when fur trappers swept through the west in search of pelts for men’s beaver top hats, which were warm, waterproof and an essential part of a sophisticated wardrobe.
“They were little $20 bills swimming around,” said Heidi Perryman of Martinez, who founded the beaver advocacy group, Worth a Dam.
But conventional wisdom held that the rodents had never lived here in the Bay Area. In historic range maps published in 1937 by preeminent zoologist Joseph Grinnell, the first director of the Berkeley’s Museum of Zoology, they were nowhere to be found.
More recent research suggests that Grinnell got it wrong – and the Bay Area has always been a soggy beaver paradise.
While visiting the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., Palo Alto-based physician and amateur ecologist Dr. Rick Lanman discovered a beaver skull from Saratoga Creek collected in 1855. A beaver tooth and some bones, dated back to A.D. 300-500, were found at Emeryville Shellmound, a sacred burial site of the Ohlone people located on historic Temescal Creek.
Now beavers are back, in a long-overdue homecoming.
They’re unlikely celebrities: they’re nearly blind, eat their poop, and have anal glands that emit musky yellow-tinged oil to mark their territory. Reclusive, they’re rarely seen in the wild because they tend to work in the dark, avoiding people.
But they’re increasingly cherished for their role as civil engineers, creating complexity in a landscape by building ponds that serve as safe habitats for fish, otters, herons and other wildlife. In celebration last April, supporters gathered for the first-ever California Beaver Summit. Every June, the town of Martinez hosts an annual Beaver Festival.
The Palo Alto beaver was first spotted one morning by a nature-lover who was meditating on the creek bank. Startled out of his reverie by the three-foot swimmer, he told Leikam about the sighting. Leikam set up a network of camouflaged trail cameras to confirm the animal’s presence.
Now, twice a day – at dawn and dusk — Leikam, 82, weaves through dense thickets of willow and fennel along the banks of Matadero Creek on a two-mile-long route to inspect his 14 cameras, memory cards and batteries.
Discarded plastic bottles, aerosol cans and other trash litter the ground. The nearby freeway creates a constant din. But the creek’s water, as dark and rich as chocolate cake, is clean.
Beaver signs are abundant: Gnaw marks are inscribed into small ash trees, and long-toed claw prints are jumbled through the mud. Bent grasses reveal the beavers’ routes.
“They’re pretty hefty animals,” weighing up to 50 or 60 pounds, Leikam said. This is a second career for him: After teaching English for nearly four decades in Cupertino, he vowed to document the behaviors of the region’s wildlife. His Urban Wildlife Research Project, comprised of thousands of video files, is based at his Mountain View home.
“It’s exciting,” he said, pushing through the brambles with ease. “It’s been 160 years since there have been any beavers along any of these creeks. It speaks of the health of the creeks.”
There’s not yet evidence of a beaver dam or a lodge, the “wooden igloo” that the animals sometimes build as homes. Instead, he said, the Palo Alto beavers likely live in burrows submerged along the creek bank.
Leikam gazes at the water, noting a sudden swirl of spherical ripples. A big brown head emerges, then vanishes.
Its forebears were “problem beavers,” who clogged up canals in the Central Valley, according to Lanman’s research. A California Department of Fish and Wildlife staffer told him that long-ago crews had surreptitiously released the animals in Los Gatos, rather than killing them, Lanman said.
Meanwhile, a different population was making its way west from Sacramento, eventually building homes in Alhambra Creek in Martinez.
While freshwater dwellers, beavers can tolerate brackish or salty water during travel, Perryman said. Our Bay and Delta “is basically a big water highway.”
The Martinez colony has perished, but over the years they raised 27 kits, who have since dispersed. Now there’s a colony in Fairfield and Oakley. On the Napa River, there’s a colony next to the busy Hawthorne Suites Hotel. In Sonoma County, colonies in Sonoma Creek have expanded into the Santa Rosa Creek watershed.
“They’re pioneers,” said Perryman, capable of traveling 10 to 20 miles over land and 100 miles by water. Beavers have moved into the radioactive Chernobyl Exclusion Zone spanning the border of Belarus and Ukraine, reclaiming an area that’s empty of humans. They were killed by the 1980 explosion of Mount St. Helens in Washington, but have since returned.
They can’t live in creeks that have been turned into concrete flood control channels — but in natural settings, they find ways to survive. During the worst of our recent drought, a beaver was spotted inside a small pipe in Los Gatos Creek. It had built a little dam around a steady drip, and sat in the puddle.
As the nation’s beaver population makes a comeback, the animals are incurring the wrath of some farmers and city planners. That hasn’t happened here. And there are techniques to offset any harm from newly green, lush and flooded spaces, Perryman said.
We should enlist them as our ally in environmental restoration, she said.
Instead of just a few new locations, “let’s multiply that by 10 different cities, or 100 different cities,” she said. “Our urban spaces would look really different if we allowed beavers at the edges, where we could tolerate them.”
"Perhaps, as we say in America, I wanted to find myself. This is an interesting phrase, not current as far as I know in the language of any other people, which certainly does not mean what it says but betrays a nagging suspicion that something has been misplaced. I think now that if I had any intimation that the self I was going to find would turn out to be only the same self from which I had spent so much time in flight, I would have stayed at home."
— James Baldwin
HYPE ABOUT DEMOCRATS PASSING THE TORCH: Don’t Get Fooled Again
by Norman Solomon
The past masquerading as the future. Images of passing the torch can be stirring.
President John Kennedy reached heights of inaugural oratory when he declared that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” Three decades later, when Bill Clinton won the presidency, a Newsweek headline proclaimed “THE TORCH PASSES.” The article underneath glorified “a film clip that made its way into a widely seen campaign ad: a beaming, 16-year-old Bill Clinton on a sun-drenched White House lawn, shaking the hand of his and his generation’s idol, John F. Kennedy.”
Weeks later, when Time magazine named Clinton “Man of the Year,” its cover story carried the headline “THE TORCH IS PASSED.”
The Clinton presidency went on to carry the torch for corporate-friendly measures. The NAFTA trade pact destroyed many well-paying union jobs; “ welfare reform ” harmed poor women and their families; a landmark crime law fueled mass incarceration ; Wall Street deregulation led to the financial meltdown of 2007-2008.
Now, the top of the Democratic Party is passing torches on Capitol Hill. When Nancy Pelosi announced two weeks ago that she will no longer lead House Democrats, she said: “The hour has come for a new generation to lead.” But in what direction?
Pelosi quickly endorsed Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to replace her as leader. NBC News offered the common media frame: “Pelosi made history as the first female speaker of the House, while Jeffries, the current Democratic Caucus chairman, would become the first Black leader of a congressional caucus and highest-ranking Black lawmaker on Capitol Hill.”
You can count on much of the mass media to shower the 52-year-old Jeffries with accolades, largely supplied by fellow Democrats. But, overall, a closer look reveals a problematic record.
Early on, before becoming a New York state legislator, Jeffries worked for years as a corporate lawyer . In Congress – while he has taken a few progressive positions like cosponsoring Medicare for All and voting to cut 10 percent of the military budget – his emphasis has been in sync with the party establishment.
“I’m a Black progressive Democrat concerned with addressing racial and social and economic injustice with the fierce urgency of now,” Jeffries told The Atlantic in August 2021. But during the same interview, Jeffries added: “There will never be a moment where I bend the knee to hard-left democratic socialism.” (Ironically, Jeffries was echoing the “fierce urgency of now” phrase from Martin Luther King Jr., who was a democratic socialist .)
Jeffries likes to jab leftward. In 2016, he called Bernie Sanders a “gun-loving socialist with zero foreign-policy experience.” A 2018 profile in The Economist – titled “High Hopes for Hakeem Jeffries” – concluded that he “is nearly as moderate as a safe-seat Democrat gets.” The article pointed out: "Though he supports the principle of universal healthcare coverage, he speaks of ‘the importance of market forces and getting things done in a responsible fashion.’ Quoting Ronald Reagan approvingly, he suggests this means promoting a flourishing private sector outside the ‘legitimate functions’ of government."
Congressman Jeffries takes umbrage at negative press portrayals to such an extent that his office tries to quash critical assessments. When I wrote in a HuffPost piece in January 2019 that “Jeffries has been more attentive to serving corporate power than the interests of voters in his Brooklyn district,” the response was swift and angry. Jeffries’s communications director and senior advisor at the time, Michael Hardaway, fired off emails to HuffPost, claiming that my characterization was “factually inaccurate and easily disproven.” Despite the escalating fulminations, the HuffPost editor explained that he saw “no reason to correct or update the piece.”
Jeffries has not been a sponsor of the Green New Deal (which Pelosi famously denigrated in 2019: “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”). He also has not cosponsored the Green New Deal for Cities Act .
During the latest election cycle, Jeffries joined forces with one of the most corporate and vitriolic anti-progressive Democrats in the House, Josh Gottheimer, to form Team Blue PAC. Its priority – to protect the party’s incumbents against Squad-like primary challengers – was summed up last winter in a Rolling Stone headline over an article about Jeffries’s initiative: “Top House Democrat Unveils Plan to Beat Back Progressive Rebellion.”
Last year, The American Prospect reported, Jeffries was conspicuously absent from efforts to support public housing in his home city. “When all [other] New York City House Democrats sent a letter to Pelosi urging her to protect all $80 billion for public housing in the BBB [Build Back Better bill], Jeffries was the only member not to sign that missive, especially surprising given that New York Dems are known to act as a bloc.”
Jeffries is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the magazine noted, but that affiliation should not be taken at face value: “Jeffries is a mute member of the CPC, the largest caucus in the party, but has recently chosen to ally himself with its more conservative factions. And while the party’s moderate wing has moved left on everything from foreign policy to social welfare, Jeffries has not moved with it.”
In fact, Hakeem Jeffries is thoroughly corporate, As The Intercept reported four years ago, after he won a close race against Rep. Barbara Lee to become chair of the House Democratic Caucus, “Jeffries is heavily backed by big money and corporate PACs. Less than 2 percent of his fundraising comes from small donors, who contribute less than $200, according to Federal Election Commission records.”
While in his fourth term, “Jeffries was the leading congressional recipient of hedge fund money in 2020,” The American Prospect reported last year. “He banked $1.1 million from the financial sector, real estate interests, and insurance industry in the 2019–2020 cycle. Everyone from JPMorgan Chase to Goldman Sachs to Blackstone contributed. Zimmer Partners, a hedge fund, is one of Jeffries’s top donors in 2021. From the outset, he has governed with those interests at heart. While Democrats were reconsidering their coziness with Wall Street, he broke ranks to vote with the financial services world, including on a high-profile measure literally written by Citigroup lobbyists in 2013 that killed the Dodd-Frank ‘swaps push-out’ rule, allowing banks to engage in risky trades backed by a potential taxpayer-funded bailout.”
Thirty years younger than the outgoing speaker, Jeffries is a fitting symbol of media eagerness to herald generational change for Democrats in Congress. But investigative journalist Alexander Sammon has provided an apt sum-up : “Barely in his fifties, Jeffries is young numerically, but aligned with an older mode of Democratic politics, and has repeatedly distanced himself from the younger crop of Democrats that is almost categorically more progressive (and more popular). He’s made a reputation for himself as the party’s future by becoming a foremost representative of its past.”
When a torch passes, we might be glad to “ meet the new boss .” But we should discard illusions. That way, hopefully, we don’t get fooled again .
TRAVEL WARNINGS SHOW US' CLOSEST FRIENDS HAVE LOW CONFIDENCE IN US GOVERNANCE
(Not a good look for USA.)
As the conflict between Americans with different political demands becomes increasingly violent, some countries close to the US have expressed concerns about the safety of their citizens in the US, reflecting their growing lack of confidence in Washington's political system and governance capability.
A CNN report on Sunday observed the rare phenomenon that nine countries - Australia, New Zealand, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and Israel - have issued various levels of travel warnings against the US due to increasing violence in the country.
It is worth noting that these nations are all US neighbors or closest allies that know the country quite well and have relatively frequent and close exchanges with it. Therefore, it says a lot about how chaotic US society is when they warn their citizens about the risks of traveling to the US.
UKRAINE, TUESDAY, 29 NOVEMBER
by Holly Ellyatt
U.S. will help repair decimated Ukraine electric grid; rumors of Russian mobilization in Kherson grow
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told some NATO diplomats visiting Kyiv that transformers are the biggest element of the country’s power infrastructure that needs to be restored.
Speculation is mounting that Russia could soon try to mobilize men in the occupied part of Kherson, in southern Ukraine.
The Center of National Resistance said Monday that “Russians are bringing riot police to carry out the mobilization of men in the southern temporarily occupied territories.” It said this could take place in December. Ukraine called on residents in the region to leave the region immediately so they don’t “become a resource for the enemy.”
Temperatures are plummeting in Ukraine as each day passes. The capital Kyiv can expect temperatures below freezing this week, with even colder weather in the countryside. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s energy infrastructure remains destroyed in places and severely damaged and compromised in many parts of the country.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $53 million in fresh assistance to help restore Ukraine’s power grid. Blinken arrived in Romania on Monday evening ahead of meetings with NATO allies and Group of Seven foreign ministers.
Moscow has postponed a round of nuclear arms control talks with the United States set for this week because of stark differences in approach and tensions over Ukraine, a senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the decision to put off the talks that were scheduled to start Tuesday in Cairo was made at the political level. The postponement marked another low point in badly strained U.S.-Russian relations and raised concerns about the future of the last remaining nuclear arms control pact between the two powers.
“We faced a situation when our U.S. colleagues not just demonstrated their reluctance to listen to our signals and reckon with our priorities, but also acted in the opposite way,” Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow.
Ryabkov claimed the U.S. wanted to focus solely on resuming inspections under the New START treaty and stonewalled Moscow’s request to also discuss specifics related to the weapons count under the strategic arms reduction pact.
This week’s meeting of the Bilateral Consultative Commission established under the treaty would have been the first in more than a year. The timing of the talks was intended to show that Russia and the U.S. remain committed to arms control and keeping lines of communication open despite soaring tensions over Ukraine.
— Associated Press
NEGOTIATE PEACE BETWEEN RUSSIA & UKRAINE
A prayer for peace between Russia and Ukraine for 2023 (or before 2022 ends). The following quote is from the prophet Isiah:
For out of Zion shall go forth Instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.
The Hebrew prophet Isiah lived in Jerusalem from the 8th-7th centuries BC, before the birth of Jesus Christ.
The “Holidays,” celebrating the birth of Jesus, are a time of joy, celebration, worship and love. Only love can replace hate. Using his Russian military, comprised of over 190,000 soldiers, ships, tanks, missiles, and planes, President Vladimir Putin invaded his smaller independent nation, Ukraine March 24, 2022. Putin’s forces have committed awful war crimes and both Ukraine and Russia have lost over 100.000 “killed in action.” Now each side must consider negotiating love, (or, at least, peace).
Frank H. Baumgardner
THE GREAT UNSAID IN US ELECTION: Love For ‘Forever War’ Is What Cost Democrats
by Ramin Mazaheri
It is an American rite of passage to realise that the Democratic Party never achieves what they claim to want to achieve.
Some Americans achieve this realisation at 13, whereas the truly insufferable — because they lie about the past and are forced to deflect from those lies with aggressive self-righteousness — can persist in this self-harming delusion even past 63.
Losing control of the House of Representatives means the election was a major loss. Democrats are spinning the idea that “We could have lost worse” actually represents a positive outcome, but only committed Democrats are able to delude themselves into thinking that such pathetic logic is actually believed by the average person.
Democrats might also lose the Senate, but it’s already a done deal: the United States will be stuck in two years of gridlock, with each party voting down each other’s legislation. An America badly in repair will have only have bipartisan agreement on the usual: increasing military spending. Republicans now have the ability to introduce and discuss legislation which Democrats greatly fear, such as the handling of the coronavirus, the anti-Trump efforts of the FBI, the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, etc.
It’s true that the sitting party’s president almost always loses Congressional seats in the midterm election, but what really cost the Democrats was their commitment to the American Dream of “forever war”. The Pentagon just announced that they will be in Ukraine for “as long as it takes” and unveiled a new command center in Germany to help train and equip Ukraine’s military. Goodbye Afghanistan, but hello Ukraine.
What cost the Democrats on election day is the failure of the economy, and while Americans might have passively stood for another two years of inequality, poor wages and precariousness (what’s 2 more on top of 40?), Washington’s choice to reject diplomacy and fuel war in Ukraine is what sent the economy into a tailspin at warp speed. The economic crisis was the number one issue for voters, and this pain was self-inflicted by the warmongering Democrats.
Just as the economic sanctions on Russia have rebounded so awfully against the West, so did the Democrats’ war drive rebound in their own sanctioning at the ballot box this week.
They did do better than expected, so just imagine how Democrats might have done if the economy was merely stable, instead of the current awful? They could have kept the House and won true control of the Senate — not the often-useless 50-50 split they eked out in 2020.
It’s completely accurate to say that the Democrat-led war drive in Ukraine is the reason why Democrats lost control Congress, but it’s forbidden to say such things in the Western media.