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DRY WEATHER WITH COLD WINTER TEMPERATURES are forecast through the end of the week. Some precipitation will be possible late this weekend into early next week. (NWS)
SUPERINTENDENT SIMSON TAKES ON THE CIF
I drove three hours this morning to San Ramon and then back this afternoon to appear on the CIF agenda about the outrageous computerized ticketing system and outrageous gate fees that cost more than a day's wages for some of our families.
Here are my remarks.
I am Superintendent of the Anderson Valley Unified School District located in Boonville, California. I greatly appreciate the work of CIF, and I am here today with a suggestion to make CIF better, and more importantly, to ensure that all of our parents have barrier free access to their kids' extra curricular games.
I am proud to say my boys soccer team won their regional CIF championship. I am sad to say that some of my parents and families watched that game behind the fence because they couldn’t afford the ticket fee. I am going to put my teacher hat on--how many folks in this room have a credit card? And I am sure like me, many of you have more than one. I assure you many of my parents do not have credit cards. They cannot access the online ticket system. And, even with a cash box, the $15 gate fee represents one hour of labor for a minimum wage job. Asking a family of two parents and two kids is a $50 investment in a game where the average household income is $35,000 is unconscionable. Some of you may say, well the district should subsidize it. Let me tell you the reality of Anderson Valley School District. I have 70 year old buildings. I have two collapsed septic systems with sewage flowing out on the field and playgrounds. We are not in a position to subsidize sports; yet, because parents need to be there, we have eliminated the fees at all our home games and urge CIF to do the same in all high poverty schools.
Parents have a legal right to participate in their students' extracurricular activities and the high play-off prices are preventing that. I know your funding structure is unstable and maybe we need to partner with the legislature on subsidizing low income schools to fit into the CIF model. I don’t know what the solution is, but I do know parents need to watch their kids play.
We already faced the huge inequity of the wealthier school districts whose students play club sports. They arrive in their private vans, and their travel suits, their $400 shoes, and their extra months of practice under their belts, and my kids are scrappy enough to win a championship through true grit, earned skill, and hard work. Our parents deserve the chance to watch them play. They also need the opportunity to go to away games and see students play. This ticketing system excludes anybody without a credit card, and I shouldn’t have to front that as a district.
There was some suggestion not based in reality, after I talked about fundraisers to off-set fees, and then one really brave member of that panel spoke up and I applaud him. He said not all title schools are the same. He had been to Boonville. He had seen our kids play. He said it was time CIF looked at this issue. We have been referred up to the next tier of meetings at cif to review this proposal. If you can drop this gentleman a note of sincere appreciation, I would appreciate it. He was brave.
Gabriel Albavera, Principal at Elsie Allen HS in Santa Rosa. email@example.com
Again: Send that man a note of thanks. He did a good thing and swam against the tide. Good stuff.
Let's see where we go....
Anderson Valley Unified School District
CONVERSATIONAL SPANISH AND CREATIVE WRITING at the AV Adult School!
Hello Adult School community,
We are writing to let you know about some new class offerings you may be interested in starting the week of January 30, 2023.
In addition to our regular class schedule (attached) of English as a Second Language, High School Equivalency (GED), Citizenship, and Child Development in Spanish, we are pleased to announce three levels of Conversational Spanish and a Creative Writing class.
Thanks to a partnership with Mendocino College, we are able to offer these classes in Boonville at a cost of $12 for the entire semester.
This is a Mendocino College non-credit class. You can register directly with the college. If you need help registering or guidance on which is the best level for you, or if you have any questions, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 895-2953.
Just a little holiday reminder that the Secrets of Salsa cookbook makes a great gift! All proceeds go to supporting adult education students in the valley via Anderson Valley Adult School. Pick up a copy at local stores like Boontberry, AV Market, Lemon’s, the Mercantile, the Navarro Store, Goodlife Cafe in Mendo, and more!
GREAT REDWOOD TRAIL: Compensation Sought For Landowners
A lawsuit recently filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims alleges that landowners along the Great Redwood Trail were not properly compensated when “the federal government took private property from the owners of land along the 175-mile-long (trail) through Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties.”
The suit states that “the easement for the railroad right-of-way and the railway line was abandoned, the original railroad easement terminated, and the present-day owners hold title to the land. The federal government, however, created a new easement for the Great Redwood Trail across these owners’ land, mostly along the Eel River. The federal Trails Act authorized the Surface Transportation Board to issue an order taking these owners’ land for the Great Redwood Trail (and) these private landowners are owed compensation for the property.”
Also, the suit states, “the landowners have serious concerns about the public access to their adjoining property. In past cases, the courts have found that the creation of public recreational trail corridors increases crime and trespass to the owners’ adjoining land, requiring the owner to build fences and implement other measures to protect their property and privacy. Other owners have lost the right of access to their property, rendering some or all of their property inaccessible. The federal government must pay these owners for this taking of their property and the damage to their remaining property.”
Creation of the trail has been championed by State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), who reported in October that the plan had cleared another hurdle.
According to McGuire, “the Federal Surface Transportation Board soundly rejected the Mendocino Railway (also known as The Skunk Train) Company’s bid to take over 13 miles of the Great Redwood Trail, (paving) the way for one of the most important steps yet for the Great Redwood Trail — protecting and preserving 175 miles of rail line forever through the rail banking process. This will allow the Great Redwood Trail to begin breaking ground on these miles of line and ensure the former rail right of way remains in public ownership in perpetuity.”
“This is a momentous day for the future of the North Coast and the Great Redwood Trail,” McGuire was quoted as saying in the release. “With this proposal soundly rejected by the federal government, I’m thrilled that we’ll once and for all start moving dirt and getting large swaths of the Great Redwood Trail built.”
The completed trail would span 320 miles on the former rail line from the San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay, “through and near some of the most spectacular landscapes on earth including ancient Redwoods, State and National Parks, golden oak-studded hills, lush vineyards and along the shores of the Eel and Russian Rivers,” McGuire said.
(Ukiah Daily Journal)
HOME FOR RENT IN ALBION 3 bdrm/2.5 bath
$2,400/month plus utilities
Utilities: Propane, Internet, PGE
AmeriGas Propane - by usage and price per gallon changes
PGE is split between two homes, the tenant pays $75 per month
Firewood is also a source of heat you can use with the one stove downstairs. House is passive solar so it heats very well in winter from the sun.
No trash service, tenants must know and understand how to use the dump, and how to secure their own trash efficiently from bears, etc.
No dogs. Cats ok, 3 cats
One-year lease required, then month to month
About 3 miles up Albion Ridge Road, about 25 mins to Mendocino
Available mid-Jan or Feb 1st
Kira Shaw <email@example.com>
SHE OR HE OR THEY?
The best Pronoun(s) EVER were explicated in Marge Piercy's novel “Woman on the Edge of Time” in which the protagonist (an Hispanic abused wife in the City) is propelled into an alternate future where everyone is addressed as PERSON. It totally works and I don't understand why everyone didn't adopt this answer to the gender issues (and the age issue as well). A Person is that Person from the moment of birth to the moment of death.
It works for everything....singular, plural, possessive, first person and every other category covered. For example: Per's, Person's, Persons, Persons'.
— Allison Martin, Fort Bragg
Vines grow here. You don’t have to go to a Tarzan movie. In my quest for firewood, I have become intimate with vines. To the point: They have untied my boots. They have scratched, lacerated, punctured, punctuated and ripped my skin (which doesn’t count, my skin being past its “remove by” date), they have removed the little pad that cushions your glasses at the bridge of your nose, they removed my watch, which was my son’s. Thank heaven it fetched up inside the snuggy wrist-sleeve of my coat. They have tripped me up and laid me low time without number. They have stopped my borrowed 4WD V8 pickup truck cold, and it remains now in a little swale in the woods, which, in times of significant rain, becomes, like the streams of the southwest that are dry washes 99.9 percent of the time except in times of significant amount of rain, when they earn their highway names of Roaring Rapids and Flashing Flood, Droownyouquik and Get The Hell Outra Here. The truck sits there now, waiting for me to have another go at extrication—hard, punishing work I’m way too old for, but there’s not that much that makes you feel able than doing foolish things and surviving, (When you have ADD).
So scuse me. Nissan awaits. I hope you saw The White Lotus last night. HBO rules!
CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, December 12, 2022
TRINITY AMADOR, Willits. Probation revocation.
DIAMANTE MCCAIN, Redwood Valley. Domestic battery, false imprisonment, intimate touching against will of victim, resisting.
KYLE MCNAMARA, Ukiah. Domestic battery, controlled substance.
JAVIER MENDEZ, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
NATHAN MOORE, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
SUSAN PORTER, Willits. Failure to appear.
JAMES TRAN, Oakland/Ukiah. DUI.
PURDY DARN GOOD
by Lindy Peters
You remember picking teams on the playground, right? The best players were the first ones picked and so on until it finally got down to the last guy. And nobody wanted to be the last one picked. There was a certain stigma attached. The curse of a loser. But you know, there are times when the playground gets it wrong.
For example Joe Montana wasn’t always the 49ers starting QB. Taken late in the 3rd round in 1979, he once backed-up Steve DeBerg and only saw action while holding the football for placekicker Ray Wersching. That’s right. The greatest QB in the history of the franchise actually began his NFL career on special teams. He was special all right. He just needed to get a chance. Soon after he replaced DeBerg in the 1980/81 season, the longtime losers began to win again. And the next year the 49ers would win the Super Bowl. The legend of Joe Montana was born.
Enter Brock Purdy, the final player taken in this year’s NFL draft which happened to be by the 49ers. His nickname automatically became “Mr. Irrelevant.” Most in this category don’t even make the team. He did. He made the team as the back-up to the back-up quarterback. Basically he would roam the sideline with a clipboard and a headset, looking more like he worked for quality control rather than an actual 49er player. But two injuries later and the Niners had lost both their starting quarterbacks (Trey Lance and Jimmy G) for the seaon. The 22 year-old rookie from Iowa State was suddenly relevant. The third stringer was now first string. And to top it off, in his first NFL start he had to line-up opposite the greatest quarterback of all-time in Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady. Now in his mid-40’s Tom Brady was playing in the NFL when baby Brock came home from the hospital in a blanket.
And the first play of the game was not very purdy, er pretty. The Buccaneers ran a corner blitz that was unblocked and Purdy got leveled at full speed. Bam!! Bone-jarring welcome-to-the NFL hit. But he got up. Like the old dependable Timex watch, he took a licking and kept on ticking. Boy did he. In fact, he was looking more like a gold-plated Rolex by the end of the first half. True the 49ers have some great offensive weapons. But Brock Purdy? Who knew? He scrambled in for a score on 3rd down as he dodged would-be tacklers like a ferret. He threw for 2 touchdowns. One a quick shovel pass to Deebo Samuel and the other a pump-fake bomb to Brandon Aiyuk who had juked the defender with a double-move. And Purdy got leveled as soon as he threw that pass too. He stood in there and delivered. 28-0 at halftime and this fresh-faced kid was clearly the leader. No wonder his teammates love him. Not to mention the announcers. And the fans. They were chanting his name by the game’s end. And as for Tom Brady? The GOAT was, uh, actually the second best quarterback on the field yesterday. Final score 35-7. 49ers win. And though there were plenty of replay highlights of Purdy’s exploits on the field, perhaps the best video replay of the day was when the camera picked up Purdy’s father in the stands. As the crowd was rollicking around him in a frenzy, Brock’s Dad was clearly seen wiping a tear of joy away from his eye after his son had delivered the 49ers 3rd touchdown. We’d soon find out why. When interviewed on national TV after the game and asked if he was surprised at his sudden success Brock humbly said,
“My Dad always told me I was good enough.”
That’s all he needed. That and a chance to play. That chance came yesterday. And it just goes to show that nice guys don’t always finish last, even if they are the last guy picked. And no matter who you are as a starting QB for the 49ers and in what era you compete, you’ll eventually get compared to number 16. For one game anyway, number 13 played the part. And he was Purdy darn good.
ED NOTE: Yes! We usually tape-delay the game to avoid the commercials, but I was so excited to see how Purdy would do I watched it live, commercials and all, vowing to never ever buy a Toyota based on their excruciating ads. I thought Purdy had looked pretty darn promising the few times he's gotten into games, and now, after Sunday's amazing performance I, like everyone else, has put huge expectations on the kid. Darn near cried when Deebo went down, and here's hoping he's back for the playoffs. On to Seattle!
BYGONE SAN FRANCISCO: WHEN NIGHT TIME WAS A WAY OF LIFE...
The Black Hawk! Central to the Jazz scene during the '50s, the Black Hawk was located at the corner of Turk and Hyde Streets. “A 'caged' area separated by woven wire fencing was provided for patrons under 21 years old who could not legally consume alcohol. This exception to the liquor laws was set up in an agreement between Black Hawk owner Guidio Caccienti and Mayor George Christopher, and made it possible for young people to experience jazz.”
“Notable musicians who appeared there include the Dave Brubeck Quartet, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Vince Guaraldi, Stan Getz, Mary Stallings, Johnny Mathis, Art Blakey, Shorty Rogers, Art Pepper, Art Farmer, Gerry Mulligan, Horace Parlan and Russ Freeman. Art Tatum mainly did concert work in the last 18 months of his life; he played the Black Hawk in 1955.”
BY 40, OUR MIDDLE FINGER IS AT HALF-MAST...
By 50, it’s full on UP. By 60, both of those fingers are hoisted, and not a single care is given any more. I mean, we care about our family, our friends and our passions. We care about the environment. We care about equality and living in peace. But we don’t care about ‘fitting in’ and we don’t care about what people think of us. Not anymore. Too many years were wasted on that. We certainly don’t care to stay quiet, or bite our tongues, we haven’t wasted all these life lessons to play dumb when the situation calls for our wisdom. Neither do we care if our waistline is the acceptable size or if our thighs are toned and unblemished. We have wrinkles, we have stretch marks, we have war wounds, warts and all. And we are rocking each and every one of them in all their glory. You see, there comes a time in every woman’s life where you realize that this is it. This is the time to be alive. To live without restriction or oppression. To break free of the chains society binds us with and tear loose. This is our time to be completely and totally who we were supposed to be along. The sooner you get there, the better. Life waits for no woman.
— Donna Ashworth
WHAT NOW FOR NEWSOM’S OIL PROFITS TAX?
by Dan Walters
For several months, Gov. Gavin Newsom has waged a war of words on California’s petroleum industry, accusing it of price-gouging and asking the Legislature to impose a tax on its soaring profits.
“Big oil is ripping people off at the pump, and they’re making more in profits off of Californians than in any other state — that’s why we need a price gouging penalty to hold them accountable and get these profits into your pockets,” Newsom said on Oct. 27 as he summarized what he said were huge increases in third quarter profits.
“These record profits came as Californians saw price hikes at the pump despite the cost of crude oil going down and no change in state taxes or fees,” Newsom continued. “Instead, the cost of gasoline skyrocketed purely because refineries wanted to put more in their own pockets.”
On Tuesday, the state Energy Commision, an arm of Newsom’s administration, staged a hearing that delved into the ups and downs of California’s gasoline prices, particularly their differences with those in other states.
The state’s refiners refused to participate in the hearing. Paul Davis of PBF Energy told the commission in a letter that “The politicization of this issue by Governor Newsom, heightened by the misleading information he released and commented on relating to our (2022 third-quarter) earnings, precludes us from participating in this hearing.”
Davis specifically objected to Newsom’s characterization of refiners’ gross operating margins as profits, saying it is “intentionally misleading to consumers and inflates purported ‘profits’ by purposefully excluding California’s highest-in-the-nation operating and regulatory costs that significantly lower actual profits.”
Despite the industry boycott, presentations by the commission’s staff largely bolstered industry assertions that global and in-state factors largely beyond their control, rather than arbitrary price-gouging, caused the sharp spike in pump prices.
They include declining refinery capacity due to high operating costs, periodic maintenance outages in the few remaining refineries, an uptick in gasoline imports whose prices are affected by the global oil market and transport costs, and a gradual decrease in California’s gasoline demand.
So where does that leave the excess profits tax that Newsom is demanding, but so far has not laid out in detail?
Gas prices spiked at more than $6 a gallon earlier in the year, but lately have been declining. This week, regular gas was selling in Sacramento for under $4.50 a gallon and by the time the Legislature would take up Newsom’s profits tax, several months hence, prices could be below $4.
A new tax would require two-thirds legislative votes and while Democrats have more than those numbers in both legislative houses, the oil industry has been active in the campaign arena and will contend that any tax will eventually be passed on to consumers in higher pump prices. The highly unionized industry can also count on support from union leaders.
All of that aside, there are some odd aspects to Newsom crusade against the industry, beginning with the fact that his personal wealth was founded on oil money.
The seed money for Newsom’s PlumpJack chain of wineries, hotels and restaurants came from the trust of Gordon Getty, an heir of oil industry pioneer J. Paul Getty. The Getty trust was managed by Newsom’s late father, William Newsom, who had been a long-time advisor to the elder Getty.
It also seems strange that Newsom should be railing against high gasoline prices when his declared goal is to banish gas-powered cars from the roads and shut down the industry that fuels them. High prices encourage Californians to drive less and shift to the battery-powered cars Newsom wants them to buy.
“Her first act was a dunk,” ESPN reported of the first basketball workout Brittney Griner had on American soil after 10 months detained in Russia.
Through her agent and others, reports on Griner's first few days of freedom have been shared over the weekend.
Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs who joined Griner on her trip home, told CNN that the WNBA star spoke to every member of the plane's crew.
Per Carstens, Griner told those on the plane that she’s “been in prison for 10 months, listening to the Russians. I want to talk.”
“I was left with the impression this is an intelligent, passionate, compassionate, humble, interesting person, a patriotic person,” Carstens said.
Upon Griner's arrival in Texas, where she reunited with wife Cherelle, she even picked up a basketball for the first time since her detainment, according to ESPN.
“If she wants to play, it will be for her to share. She has the holidays to rest and decide what's next without any pressure,” said her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas.
THE KILLDARES "Whiskey In The Jar" Live at the Granada Theater on YouTube. Dedicated to Bruce McEwen: https://youtu.be/TD2Niae26Ow
Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.
— Noam Chomsky
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Slippery slopes being what they are, there can be no middle ground between free speech absolutism and effectively abrogating the First Amendment.
Yes, uninhibited free speech does open a Pandora’s box, and impressionable people will become convinced of many things that are false, more than a few of which are malicious.
But that is also true of today’s Corporate-State-managed “reality.” What makes this far worse is that much of the truth is kept from those wise enough to discern it, unavailable as an option for belief.
At least in an environment in which all positions can be expressed, that which is true is given a fighting chance of competing with falsehood. And that would be a huge improvement over today’s arrangement, in which the ignorance of the credulous is not nearly as much of a problem as the things they “know” that just ain’t true.
ALARM BELLS GO OFF
by James Kunstler
Startling fact of the week: Twitter’s senior ranks of content moderators included over a dozen former FBI and CIA agents and analysts who let child porn run loose all over the app while surgically removing any utterance contradicting the government’s claim that mRNA “vaccines” are “safe and effective” — not to mention the effort this elite crew expended against anyone objecting to the Woke-Left’s race and gender hustles. Wouldn’t you like to know how much they were paid? Probably more than government work.
Here’s another awful reality (better fasten your seatbelts): What also emerged in the tweet record of Yoel Roth, the company’s chief censor (former “Head of Trust and Safety”), begins to look like a gay mafia assault on the collective American psyche. Having gained official federal government sanction and protection, a statistically tiny homosexual demographic left in charge of the country’s main public forum has been out for revenge against their perceived enemy, political conservatives — Americans disinclined to join the cheerleading for drag queen story hours, “minor-attracted persons,” transsexuals in the military, and other LBGTQ cultural pranks.
In the process, that gay mafia running the public dialogue supported every lie that the government, its protector, put out, to keep it happy and well-fed. Shocking, I’m sure… but there it is. That means they also promoted the most-deadly psy-op in world history: the Covid-19 scare and the mass “vaccination” crusade that will end up killing many millions world-wide, after destroying the economies of the Western Civ nations. The whole package looks like an attempt to turn the world upside down and inside out. Is it any wonder that so many feel the USA has gone crazy?
Of course, that aroused the widespread suspicion that these now-exposed nefarious operators in social media were merely tools for some murky plutocrat elite led by the likes of the WEF, Bill Gates, and George Soros. Could that be the greatest “conspiracy theory’ of all? More likely, I hesitate to suggest, all these characters in one way or another are merely tools of history itself, as the world enters the darkest days of a Fourth Turning secular winter. As TS Eliot observed: “Humankind cannot bear too much reality.”
Thus, so many sense we live in dangerous times. Everything appears to veer out-of-control, including thought itself. Disorder incites more disorder. While all this madness is going on in-country, the US government, led by the phantom president “Joe Biden,” continues to prosecute its insane proxy war in Ukraine in order to antagonize Russia. Lately the US has sent drones hundreds of miles inside Russia to blow up military airfields. How is that not an escalation of hostilities, and exactly how far do the American people want their government to take this crazy project?
Not a goshdarn inch further, the opinion polls indicate. We are apparently not quite so insane as to welcome nuclear annihilation, and we seem to recognize what might bring it on. And so, the dreadful realities of time still stand before us, unmoved by all the mental illness they provoke, uninterested in our excuses for behaving so badly. Is there any way to face them? To incorporate them into a truth-based narrative that Western Civ can use to rescue itself from something that looks like suicide?
Elon Musk, alone, apart from, and in defiance of all the cowards running things in America —the corporate sell-outs, the craven college presidents, the bought-off politicians, the bad-faith media fabulists, the vindictive denizens of Hollywood — is moving to inject some therapeutic truth into the American lunatic asylum. He came out pretty hot over the weekend, branding Dr. Anthony Fauci as a criminal, calling for his prosecution, and promising the release of Twitter files that will demonstrate just how deceitful and untrustworthy the old Twitter acted in all the medical melodrama surrounding Covid-19 and the “vaccines.” On Sunday, Elon tweeted, “Now things get spicy.” Will the reveal of all that wickedness make any impression on half the people of this country still deranged by the many previous salvos of official propaganda? Maybe not all of them. Maybe only twenty percent. But that would be enough to tip the consensus of opinion in the right direction: a recognition of the harm that has been done… and the will to quit doing more of it.
Beyond that, even, Elon has put the basic question to America: Are you in favor of free speech or not? Especially now that you know that “moderating” free speech is an invitation to live in lies. And lying all the time really does bend that old arc of history toward evil.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
UKRAINE, MONDAY, 12TH DECEMBER
The recently liberated city of Kherson in southern Ukraine has come under what one official described as “massive fire” on Monday. Meanwhile significant parts of Ukraine continue to struggle with power shortages after more Russian attacks on energy infrastructure at the weekend. A drone strike on Odesa left 1.5 million people without power.
Fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine remains intense. One Ukrainian official claimed over the weekend that Russian mercenaries belonging to the shady “Wagner Group,” a Russian state-sanctioned private military group fighting in Ukraine, suffered heavy losses after the hotel they were using as their headquarters was hit by Ukrainian forces.
Leaders of the Group of Seven nations are meeting virtually on Monday to discuss the possibility of tougher sanctions against Russia and more assistance for Ukraine.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told CNBC Monday that the West had tried to build bridges with Russia since the end of the Cold War but any trust that was established in recent years has been destroyed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
RUSSIANS AND THE UKRAINE WAR: Few Think It Was A Good Idea, Fewer Want It To End In Defeat
by Patrick Cockburn
What do ordinary Russians think about the war in Ukraine? Do they think it was a bad idea from the start? How eager are they for it to end, and on what terms? Accurate information on these vital questions is submerged in a great swamp of propaganda and partisan reporting.
I believe the Ukraine war media coverage is worse than in any other war I have witnessed because, for Europeans, fighting is closer to home and emotions are more fully engaged. Demonisation of Russia is total, which may be deserved, but is not a good approach for finding out what is really happening.
There is a strong public appetite for any news suggesting that the Russians are fed up the war and want to throw in the towel. The British Ministry of Defence said recently that an independent media outlet claiming access to polling by the Federal Protective Service showed that 55 per cent of Russians favour peace talks with Ukraine and only 25 per cent favour continuing the war. Maybe so, but one needs to know a good deal more about the poll to take it at face value.
Another secret Russian state poll is far more nuanced and sounds authentic. Published in the newsletter Faridaily by Farida Rustamova and Maxim Tovkaylo, who obtained a confidential poll conducted by the Kremlin-controlled polling service Respondents, it surveyed 900 people every week by phone. The pollsters asked them three questions: should the war have been started in the first place? Is it going to plan? And should it be continued?
Answers to the first question show that fewer and fewer Russians believe that it was a good idea to start the Special Military Operation on 24 February. They are still in the majority with 60 per cent saying that Russia needed to do so, but this figure is down 10 per cent in six months. Age is important: among 18 to 45 year olds, who made up a quarter of the sample and get their information largely from the social media, the proportion approving the start of the conflict drops to 40 per cent compared to 76 per cent for those over 45 years. Many say they are unsure, which may mean that they are frightened that giving a negative answer will get them into trouble.
Doubts about starting the war do not necessarily mean that Russians want to end it unconditionally at a time when it is going badly for them. Just 22 per cent think it is going according to plan and 42 per cent think it is not. But this does not translate into opposition to the war according to the newsletter:
“Paradoxically, despite more and more people believing the war should never have been started, the share of those who support a continuation of the war has been growing. As of 17 November, 67 per cent supported continuing the fight. And only 18 per cent of respondents would like the authorities to end the war — the lowest number in six months.”
In other words, Russians do not much like the war but do not want to be defeated. It sounds like the recipe for a lengthy conflict.
Beneath the Radar
The handing over of the West Bank to extreme right wing Israeli politicians is perhaps the most neglected story in the world at the moment – and one that may have explosive consequences in the coming year.
The media is full of reviews of the past year. Many cannot help being interesting after such an extraordinary year, though the subject matter is repetitious. But I particularly liked a long interview with Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye, because his views are trenchant, amusing and original. He thought that “Bottom of the Barrel” was the best headline to summarise 2022 in Britain.
The “bottom” might reasonably have been thought to have been reached with the charlatan Boris Johnson in Downing Street, but then along came Liz Truss with her fanatical tunnel vision which was not so different from plain stupidity. Hislop compared her and Kwasi Kwarteng to 19-year-old students suddenly put in charge of the country.
Private Eye is good at not allowing Johnson off the hook over the circumstances of his departure. It has also doggedly pursued the gargantuan corruption associated with the pandemic during his time in office. The interview is to promote the Private Eye Annual, which is a good pick as a present this Christmas. Watch the interview here.
(Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso). CounterPunch.org)