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DRY WEATHER WITH COLD WINTER TEMPERATURES are forecast through Sunday. Some precipitation will be possible Monday through Wednesday next week. (NWS)
BOONVILLE ARMED ROBBER ARRESTED IN NEW YORK
During the course of this investigation, Matias Tomas Vietto was identified as being the suspect in this case. Sheriff's Detectives learned Vietto told friends that he was leaving California to return to his country of origin, Argentina. Using this information, Sheriff's Detectives discovered Vietto had an international flight booked from the state of New York to Argentina on the evening of Saturday, December 10, 2022. An arrest warrant was obtained for Vietto and New York law enforcement authorities were alerted. On Monday, December 12, 2022 at approximately 9:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time), Vietto was arrested by the New York Police Department attempting to travel to Argentina. Vietto will be held in New York pending extraditation back to Mendocino County.
Public Health is advising local schools and employers to allow people to return to work or school with a signed self-attestation form, rather than requiring a note from a doctor or health clinic when recovering from flu, COVID, or other viral illness.
“Most people will recover in their own home from flu or COVID without a problem”. Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren stated, “Based on my experiences as a family doctor for the last 40 years, I am recommending that schools and workplaces accept a self- attestation form when people are ready to return to work or school.”
The Self-Attestation form has a checklist that goes over important symptoms to monitor, and when it is appropriate to return to work or school. When monitoring symptoms, it is important to look out for the danger signs and go to the ER immediately if you see or feel: shortness of breath, dehydration (from vomiting/diarrhea) or ANY change of mental status. For more information about deciding when to go to the ER vs treating at home, please see our previous Press Release on the issue.
Treatments are also available to reduce the severity of COVID or flu and make a home recovery more likely. They are available at local pharmacies, through your health provider, or at Test-to- Treat sites in the county. For more information, please see our Treatments webpage. You can also contact the Call Center at 707-472-2759 with any questions.
OUR ‘HOLIDAY HONEY GLAZED HAM FEAST’ is right around the corner! Our free Holiday Feast will be served Thursday the 22nd from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. All are welcome!
We will be open at our usual time Friday, Saturday, and Christmas Day. Any food donations may be dropped off Monday-Friday, 8 am to 2 pm. To make an online donation, visit: plowshares-peace-and-justice-center.networkforgood.com/projects/175938-winter-appeal-fundraiser-2022
TONY LINEGAR (former Mendo Ag Commissioner, former Sonoma County Ag Commissioner): "I believe [Sonoma County Ag Commissioner] Andrew Smith will help get the Mendocino Ag Department back on track and will provide some much needed leadership and mentoring for the staff there."
BOONVILLE QUIZ POSTPONED
Due to circumstances beyond the Quizmaster’s control and understatement, there will not be a Quiz this week. We shall have our final Quiz of 2022 on Thursday, 29th December - a special holiday event held as usual at Lauren’s at The Buckhorn in Boonville beginning at 7pm. Hope to see you there. Cheers,
Steve Sparks, Quizmaster
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS APPROVE COUNTY MINIMUM WAGE OF $17.42
On December 13, 2022 the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with County bargaining units raising the minimum wage for County employees to $17.42 [about $36k/year gross]. In light of the inflation crisis gripping the nation, the County of Mendocino hopes this measure will alleviate some of the burden on staff during these difficult times. Affected positions include:
Account Specialist I
Animal Control Assistant
Animal Facility Attendant
Animal Protection Officer I
Community Health Worker I
Community Services Officer
Grounds Maintenance Technician I
Sheriff’s Services Technician
Staff Assistant I, II, III
Work Experience Trainee Extra Help
Incumbents in these classifications should expect this new wage increase the first pay date in January, 2023.
For more information on County employment, please visit the Human Resources website at https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/human-resources or by calling 707-234-6600.
SINGLE FATHER AND 10 YO-BOY. WORK TRADE?
We are looking for a space to rent, we ideally would each have our own room, a yard, and space to build things as I'm a handyman. I have references available and I run an unlicensed handyman business. I'm open for work trade or can pay rent. It's getting colder and the car is our only refuge soon.
Michael and Evan
Michael Hilburn <email@example.com>
CANNED FOOD DRIVE LAST DAY TODAY, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14!
Your kids have rocked this! The last day for donations is tomorrow by 9:00 a.m. The race is tight!
My heart is happy and grateful. AVUSD kids can.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
DEPARTMENT OF UNINTENTIONAL HILARITY, This Headline: “Eyewitness Reported An X-Shaped UFO Flying Over Redwood Valley In Early October.”
“Eyewitness,” singular? How about the nabes, did they see it? Fact: There are high school kids all over the country getting their kicks doing UFO's with laser lights, but the unhappy fact is we're alone, tucked into a remote corner of our universe, barely a speck in the grand scheme of things. Unless creatures from billions of light years away have learned how to get around the immutable laws of physics, the intelligent beings who may be out there are certainly intelligent enough to stay the hell away from us.
OLDER OLD TIMERS will remember the famous 1948 laugher when ”Dewey Defeats Truman” appeared as the headline on the front page of the Republican Chicago Daily Tribune the day after incumbent US President and Democrat, Harry Truman, won an upset victory over Dewey, then governor of New York. The Tribune had insulted Truman as a “nincompoop,” which made Truman's upset victory over Dewey so delicious that Truman famously brandished the errant paper the next day.
TUESDAY, I FELT like the Tribune that day in '48. Cyber imperatives demand that we get the paper-paper to our Hayward printer as early as possible on Tuesdays. As always, on this very Tuesday, we'd finished our end of the complicated process of producing the paper-paper, and had sent it off through the ethers to Renee Lee, the wizard who assembles the jumble of prose we send her every week. Renee lives and works, as the proverbial crow flies, maybe a quarter mile from the AVA's shrunken headquarters.
RENEE, as she does every week, worked her electronic magic, and off flew the cyber version of Boonville's beloved weekly to the paper-paper printer in Hayward early Tuesday morning.
AND THEN, as I sat mesmerized by the waning golden sun on the ridge outside my window, a presser wafts in from the Sheriff's Department announcing that the Boonville Armed Robber, Matias Tomas Vietto, had been apprehended in New York before he could board a plane for his home country of Argentina. Our paper-paper this week, by the time it reaches the print dinosaurs who still get their information the old fashioned way, will see our story, our lead story, number one above the fold, that does not contain the crucial news that the bandido has been caught.
USED TO BE, before the alleged geniuses of the Silicon Valley took over the world, we did the whole process of newspaper production by hand. Late-breaking news? No prob. The old story came down, the new story went up, and the whole show was completed in one long day in our office, and then we drove it to Healdsburg (or Willits for years before that) to be run off on a giant web press.
NO MORE. The great time-saving electronic process means our paper-paper, which appears locally on Thursdays, has got to be wrapped up by early Tuesday morning, almost three full days before we get it back in Boonville. The Boonville bandit might even be back in the Mendocino County Jail by the time our paper-paper readers get the news he's been busted clear across the country. (I think of the old bush hippies way to hell and gone out Spy Rock waiting a whole seven days for the latest on the Boonville event!) I think technology is taking us backward.
MY PRIMARY PREDECESSOR in this dying business, the late, great Homer Mannix, wrote the paper, composed the paper, printed the paper in his museum-quality shop in the center of Boonville. Then came progress.
I'LL BE FREE ASSOCIATING with Karen Ottoboni on KZYX this morning (9am). A rare appearance for The Editor at that venue.
AT THEIR LAST MEETING of 2022 the Supervisors took some steps to whittle away at the estimated $6.1 million budget deficit for this fiscal year by deferring some facilities spending, re-allocating some as yet unspent PG&E settlement money, drawing down some pension reserves, hoping there’ll be about half a mil carryover from last year, and postponing addressing the $3.6 million Health Plan deficit until early 2023. Along the way, Supervisor Dan Gjerde drew criticism from Supervisor John Haschak when Gjerde said that the Health Plan Deficit was made worse by a few dozen “marginal hypochondriac” employees who caused a spike in the Health Plan costs by their “frenetic and excessive” demands on the County’s health insurance program. Haschak said he resented such characterizations of sick people that the Board doesn’t know anything about. More to come. (Mark Scaramella)
BUSINESS ACCELERATOR PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS ANNOUNCED
West Business Development Center (“West Center”) is pleased to announce that twelve early-stage entrepreneurs have been selected for the StartUp Mendocino 2023 business accelerator program. This no-cost program is designed to give local entrepreneurs with great ideas the opportunity to participate in an intensive training program to spark new thinking about what is possible for their business, their community, and the economy of Mendocino County.
The program will begin on January 12, 2023 running until the program’s event finale on Friday June 8, 2023 at the Little River Inn, to which the public is invited. Over the course of the 21-week program participants will be introduced to new approaches that address business and financial planning, successful branding and marketing, technology and best practices for e-commerce, time management, and how to pitch your business.
The 2023 participants include:
Miss KJ's Bangin Bites, a catering company offering desserts to full meals, is owned by Kerryjane DeVito (North Coast) Full Service Fire Prevention was formed by Josh King to mitigate the potential of wildfire on public and private property (North County) Ignacio Fuego Hot Sauce warms people’s souls and bellies with unique hot sauces made by Michael Sheller (Ukiah Region)
Syd's Tempeh Co.’s owner, Sydney Grange, makes handcrafted tempeh from locally sourced grains and beans (Ukiah Region)
Alien Major, started by Cameron Underwood-Williams, provides worksite wellness services (Ukiah Region)
Mendo Junk Removal, run by Scott Shaw, is the only local company that specializes in junk removal services (North County)
Wild Mendocino utilizes the wildcrafting skills of owner Sherry Bell who makes handcrafted organic soaps (North Coast)
Paradise Garden Landscape Design, founded by Stevie Jean Carey-Prock, brings climate-forward landscape design and installation (North Coast)
Big Earl’s BBQ’s owner, Earl Chavez, cooks up Texas-style barbecue with all the fixings (Ukiah Region)
All Our Relations Consulting, a new business owned by Buffey Bourassa, plans to lead partnership efforts with tribal communities (North County)
352 Innovation, LLC, owned by Krystyna Kubran, offers several unique engineering solutions that support the clean transportation industry (Ukiah Region)
Grazing Bull Catering is a queer owned catering company, founded by Lew Crockett, that cooks up nutritious comfort food for the local community (Ukiah Region)
Laura Brooks, StartUp Mendocino’s Program Director, stated, “We were so pleased with the caliber of all applicants to the program. Every candidate was worthy, so it was a challenge for the selection committee to make their final decision. Kudos to everyone who applied.”
StartUp Mendocino 2023 is made possible by the generous support of our local sponsors, which include: Redwood Credit Union, the County of Mendocino, Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Tri Counties Bank, Charles D. “Charlie” Kelly, LPL Financial LLC, and Umpqua Bank. West Center is still actively seeking sponsorship for this Mendocino business accelerator program.
Follow the StartUp Mendocino program at www.westcenter.org/startup-mendo <http://www.westcenter.org/startup-mendo> or contact Laura Brooks, firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> for program information.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, December 13, 2022
MOISES BUENROSTRO, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, stolen property-vehicle, suspended license for DUI, failure to appear.
JAMES COLYAR, Willits. Controlled substance, concealed dirk-dagger, suspended license, failure to appear.
TATIANA FRANCO-CORTEZ, Garberville/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-intoxication by drugs and alcohol.
JASON HENRY, Clearlake Oaks. Protective order violation.
JEFFERY HOCKETT, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
EVAN HOPPEL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
MICHAEL KING, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
RICARDO LOPEZ, Redwood Valley. Domestic battery.
SARAH SEAGO, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation.
LIKE A NEW CAR
Warmest spiritual greetings, Following my usual morning bottom lining the voluntary trash & recycling chore at the Building Bridges homeless shelter in Ukiah, California, went to Rod's Shoes at the Pear Tree Center and purchased a new pair of HOKA brand shoes, in which I slipped the Power Step liner previously purchased to extend the life of the previous pair. For a walker, it is like getting a new car! This left me with $349.91 in my bank account in the middle of December. Tell Santa to send money to Paypal.me/craiglouisstehr. I've already got the shoes.
My new year's wish is to leave the Mendocino County homeless shelter and go anywhere to perform spiritually based direct action on the planet earth.
Nota Bene: Somebody else can take out the garbage and sort the recycling, assuming that the current inhabitants, plus staff, are interested in the building remaining open.
Craig Louis Stehr
HOUSEHOLD WATER WELLS ARE DRYING UP IN RECORD NUMBERS AS CALIFORNIA DROUGHT WORSENS
Across California, domestic wells are drying up in record numbers due to severe drought and the overpumping of underground aquifers.
The crisis has hit rural farming areas particularly hard and left some families to fend for themselves or wait years for permanent solutions as nonprofits, state water officials and well drillers struggle with a growing backlog of assistance requests.…
CHARLES ALBERT’S CHRISTMAS CAROL: His Art Filled a Void; It Might Fill Yours
by Jonah Raskin
In the village of Petrykivka in Ukraine, Maria Yanenko worried that bombs would obliterate her home and destroy her traditional folk art practised by women in her family for decades. She gathered 40 paintings of birds and flowers in blues and yellows, inserted them in mailing tubes, took them to the nearest functioning post office and dispatched them to a daughter in Oakland, California. Before long, they went up on a wall at Refugee Eye Gallery in the Mission District in San Francisco, California where hundreds of people saw them in a show called “Liminal.”
At about the same time at Canessa Gallery in the Financial District on the other side of The City, Charles Albert mounted an exhibit of his work. While it wasn’t threatened by bombs, his sketches and drawings are a testament to his own resilience and determination to bring art out of his own personal darkness. Like Yanenko’s flowers and birds, Albert’s work isn’t overtly political, but like her flowers and birds, his subjects have the power to heal.
“In January 2022, one or two evenings a week, I’d hang out in the kitchen, stir-fry something, listen to music and draw. No agenda, no masterpiece, just draw,” Albert told me. He added, “The act of drawing was calming. The focus of making a mark displaced most thought. It had a rhythm. Mark the paper, step back; see the mark next to all the other marks. Move in, mark again.”
Something ritualistic and healing about the creative process drew him to it. His drawings and sketches made with graphite and compressed charcoal on paper are on exhibit from now until the end of December. The exhibit is called “Dark and Light: Filling the void.” The “Liminal” Exhibit at Refugee Eye is up until mid-January 2023. They’re both work seeing, both worth a trip to The City if you happen to live in the suburbs and beyond.
This Christmas, Albert will probably get out of town. Christmas 2021 was likely the darkest time in his life. Away from his children and his home of 17 years, he told me that he was “consumed with grief and loss.”
“I realized how important it was to have someone to just listen to me ramble, then simply say ‘it sucks, doesn’t it,’” he told me. “That meant so much more to me than words of hope. A commiserating shoulder was where I was at, rather than a redirect to a time and place I couldn’t imagine.” Tell that to the therapists and the psychologists who think they have the answers to holiday sadness and grief.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1963, not long before JFK’s assassination, Albert studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and became a designer who helped other people solve their problems. Then problems hit him hard. The designer had to design a solution for himself.
“The drawings I made helped fill the void,” he told me. He added that last Christmas, when he lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment, he experienced “a profound sense of grief.”
Of course, it’s not unusual for humans in the US in the 21st century to feel especially sad and lonely at the holidays, when they’re expected to be happy and to extended season’s greetings to friends, relatives and even strangers.
Drawing was an escape and a meditation. Like exercise, it required effort, and over time it produced results. Through experimentation, Albert found the medium that worked for him. “Using just graphite became frustrating,” he said. “The more of it I’d put down on paper to produce black, it would insist on holding at ‘dark grey’ or worse, become shiny.” The answer turned out to be Conte Crayons, also known as compressed charcoal, that come in shades of grey, white and black. Just what he needed.
“Exquisite light absorbed the blackness and spread on paper like silk,” Albert explained. He moved from drawing lines, to blocking out fields of lights and darks, and then added details.
Some of the first sketches were of spheres and balls. Then came birds, including parrots, and a pair of shoes that might remind viewers of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous worn-out footwear.
Albert got into his art and his art got into him, including his skin and his fingernails. It took days to wash away the charcoal and the graphite.
Albert should have known that art would liberate him. After all, art runs in his family, in both directions and toward older and younger generations. His mother and grandmother were both artists and so are his two children. The show includes examples of their work, including a marvelous self-portrait by his daughter. “My grandmother learned to draw after her divorce,” Albert tells me. “She went on to become wildly successful.”
His inspiration came from close to home. Maybe this is a cheerful holiday story after all.
ANDY CAFFREY: When I was entering college in 1975 they were promising us commercial fusion in twenty years. It's now 47 years later and they get the first spark with one of the most elaborate devices ever created by humanity, something that is thousands of times more complex than what you would need to have it scale down to to have a commercial reactor.
Fusion is a scam, always has been. The primary purpose of this technology is to be able to bring nuclear weapons testing out of the field and into a laboratory.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
“Vox populi, Vox dei”. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Thus does Loki (Elon) mock us. But what he himself believes, who can say? Not that in any case!
My point? You don’t have to believe in democracy to not want these monsters to rule the Earth. Part of doing that is to stifle all other voices but their own. So Elon Loki opposes them because – well maybe because he just hates assholes. What are you against? What have you got? It could be as simple as that. But that, even if a bit twisted, is a desire for freedom. Not unmixed with license of course. We were once better than that, but no longer. Once upon a time, he would have no moral message for us, but he does now, alas.
THE BEST SAN FRANCISCO MOVIE OF ALL TIME, Chosen By Chronicle Readers
by Erika Carlos
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” is considered by many to be one of the best movies ever made — and there was a poll to prove it. The beloved movie reigned as the Greatest Film of All-Time on an influential poll for a decade, igniting controversy when it was ultimately booted from its No. 1 spot this month and replaced by Chantal Akerman’s “Jeanne Dielman” (1975). Amid the news, the Chronicle decided to launch our own poll, asking: What is the best San Francisco movie of all time?
We published a survey on the Chronicle’s website allowing readers to choose from a list of 13 acclaimed movies that heavily feature San Francisco. Here’s a breakdown of more than 1,300 responses:
#1 - “Bullitt” (1968) | 23.8%
#2 - “Vertigo” (1958) | 22.5%
#3 - “The Maltese Falcon” (1941) | 10.8%
#4 - Mrs. Doubtfire” (1996) | 9.7%
#5 - “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” (2018) | 9.0%
#6 - “Milk” (2008) | 5.7%
#7 - “So I Married an Axe Murderer” (1993) | 4.3%
#8 - “The Rock” (1997) | 4.1%
#9 - “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1979) | 3.3%
#10 - “Zodiac” (2007) | 3.0%
#11 - “The Princess Diaries” (2001) | 1.6%
#12 - “Inside Out” (2015) | 1.2%
#13 - “Sister Act” (1992) | .1 %
We then took 4 of the top contenders for the No. 1 spot and asked the same question on Twitter. Here’s how more than 3,600 people voted:
#1 - “Vertigo” (1958) | 51.7%
#2 - “Bullitt” (1968) | 18.6%
#3 - “The Maltese Falcon” (1941) | 16.2%
#4 - “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” (2018) | 13.4%
In the Chronicle survey, “Bullitt” beat out “Vertigo” by a small margin, with many voters saying the car chase in “Bullitt” is “still the best way to see the (slightly jumbled) streets of the city.” On Twitter, however, “Vertigo” was the clear winner among voters for its “urban scenes, romance, treachery and pure charm.” Movies that were not included in our original poll but were called out as notable by voters in the write-in section were “The Conversation” (1974), “Dirty Harry” (1971), “Star Trek IV” (1986) and “What's Up, Doc” (1972).
VIBRANT, GALVANIZING BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
by Ralph Nader
The following recent books invite the application of the aphorism, Readers Think, Thinkers Read. They also make good gifts for this Holiday season.
1. Fashionopolis: The Secrets Behind the Clothes We Wear by Dana Thomas (Dial Books, 2022). I learned much from this eyewitness story of the textile and fashion industry worldwide.
2. Who’s Raising the Kids? The Big Tech, Big Business, and the Lives of Children by Susan Linn (The New Press, 2022) and You Are Your Own Best Teacher! Sparking the Curiosity, Imagination and Intellect of Tweens by Claire Nader (Essential Books, 2022). Both books will encourage you to rescue youngsters from controlling corporate hucksters and the addictive Internet Gulag.
3. 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting by E.J. Dionne Jr. and Miles Rapoport (The New Press, 2022). Even if you are skeptical about universal voting, the authors make it easy for you to change your mind.
4. The Greatest Evil is War by Chris Hedges (Seven Stories Press, 2022) and The Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine by Andrew Cockburn (Verso, 2021) and War Virtually: The Quest to Automate Conflict, Militarize Data and Predict the Future by Roberto J. González (University of California Press, 2022). These clear writers may motivate you to join or create groups that wage peace, starting with recapturing Congress, focusing first on your two Senators and Representatives.
5. The Destructionists: The Twenty-Five Year Crack-Up of the Republican Party by Dana Milbank (Doubleday, 2022) and Demolition Agenda: How Trump Tried to Dismantle American Government, and What Biden Needs to Do to Save It by Thomas O. McGarity (The New Press, 2022). These narratives show how Trumpsters adversely affected your family and community’s livelihood, health and safety and favored giant corporations.
6. Wastelands: The True Story of Farm Country on Trialby Corban Addison (Knopf, 2022) is likely to become a movie about brave local people using tort law and jury trials to take on giant industrial Pig Farms in North Carolina. We Are the Middle of Forever: Indigenous Voices from Turtle Island on the Changing Earth by Dahr Jamail and Stan Rushworth (The New Press, 2022) gives voice to first Natives. Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America by Joshua Frank (Haymarket Books, 2022) – exposes the expanding deadly radioactive threats at the Hanford Washington Testing Site. This three-book trilogy can be called The Poisoning of America.
7. Servants of the Damned: Giant Law Firms, Donald Trump, and the Corruption of Justice by David Enrich (Mariner Books, 2022) and American Cartel: Inside the Battle to Bring Down the Opioid Industry by Sari Horwitz and Scott Higham (Twelve, 2022). Both books report commercial ravages against justice and safety, and explain how the corporate crooks were shielded by corporate law firms.
8. Buyer Aware: Harnessing Our Consumer Power for a Safe, Fair, and Transparent Marketplace by Marta L. Tellado (PublicAffairs, 2022). The head of Consumer Reports highlights the tools you can use to outfox tricky sellers.
9. In my two books on improving conditions for all Americans, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think (City Lights Publishers, 2016) and The Day the Rats Vetoed Congress (Fantagraphics Books, 2020), I report how people made change, how to make greater overdue advances and offer a Fable that makes you laugh yourself serious and rejoice in the practical arousal of the people to reclaim their Congress from the corporatists and then get justice done pronto. We need to imagine so as to envision real possibilities.
10. Between your reading feasts, maybe you will want to sit down to delicious, nutritious food feasts, and use The Ralph Nader and Family Cookbook: Classic Recipes from Lebanon and Beyond includes mostly my mom’s great, simple recipes (Akashic Books, 2020). Parents looking for advice to convince children to be less picky eaters may want to read the introduction. Bon Appétit!
GOVERNMENT REMAINS AMERICANS' TOP PROBLEM IN 2022 / GALLUP
Where’s Russia & Ukraine? Less than 1%.
For the seventh year in the past decade, Americans name dissatisfaction with the government as the nation’s top problem in 2022.…
THE GHOST OF EUGENE MCCARTHY COULD HAUNT BIDEN’S PATH TO RENOMINATION
by Norman Solomon & Jeff Cohen
These days, conventional media wisdom says that President Biden will have a smooth path to renomination if he wants it.
Don’t be so sure.
Fifty-five years ago, pundits scoffed when a Democratic senator announced that he was running against incumbent Lyndon Johnson for their party’s presidential nomination. Eugene McCarthy launched his campaign to challenge Johnson’s continual escalation of the war in Vietnam.
Joe Biden’s public approval rating is now at 42 percent, virtually identical to what it was for President Johnson when the McCarthy campaign began in November 1967. A few months later, on March 12, 1968, McCarthy received 42 percent of the votes -- a stunning result, just 7 percent behind Johnson -- in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary. Senator Robert Kennedy jumped into the race four days later. And two weeks after that, Johnson shocked the country by declaring that he would not seek re-election.
It would be nice to hear from Biden the kind of statement that Johnson made: “I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office -- the presidency of your country.” But Biden has said in recent weeks that he intends to run again.
Spinners aligned with the White House are careful to detour around the notable shortage of enthusiasm for Biden among the Democratic electorate. New polling found that 57 percent of Democrats don’t want him to be the party’s nominee.
So far, no Democrat in Congress has shown any interest in entering primaries against Biden. Yet a progressive challenger could launch a principled campaign to constructively give Biden a run for his corporate money in early primary states -- raising vital questions about crucial policies along the way.
Skeptics might point out that, unlike when McCarthy received strong support from antiwar citizens, now there is no single overriding issue like the Vietnam War. But there *is* a class war (by any other name) going on with great intensity in the United States -- and a wide range of Americans are feeling the countless dire consequences of inordinate corporate power and worsening economic inequality.
Of course, Biden does not want to face a primary rival who could clearly illuminate such issues. In the absence of a credible opponent, the president would be able to skate through primaries without needing to face cogent critiques of his administration’s record on an array of chronic problems -- including corporate price-gouging, skyrocketing costs of housing, voter suppression, and a bloated military budget that soaks up roughly half of all federal discretionary spending.
Given the enormity of the crises facing the United States and the world, measures that Biden has proposed are often akin to calling for garden hoses to put out roaring wildfires. Being far better than Republicans in Congress is a high jump over very low standards, while simply blaming Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema is more like scapegoating than explaining.
Whether in the realms of the predatory healthcare system or the exploitive treatment of workers by huge corporations or the ever-increasing stranglehold of big tech companies or many other ills, Biden has often accepted or worsened destructive priorities while rejecting remedies that would improve people’s lives instead of boost corporate profits.
“Our ideas are way more popular than Joe Biden is,” a progressive Democratic member of the New Hampshire legislature says in a TV ad that will begin to air throughout the state this week. A young voter says “Joe Biden representing the status quo in 2024 simply won't cut it.” Another New Hampshire voter warns in the ad (which was produced by our colleagues in the Don’t Run Joe campaign), “We can't afford to risk the White House for a Republican who could defeat status-quo Joe.”
But where is a prominent progressive Democrat willing to challenge status-quo Joe in the primaries? Political courage appears to be in short supply among self-identified progressives on Capitol Hill, who so far have done nothing to help get Biden out of the way and clear a path for bolder leadership. It will be up to grassroots activists to get the job done.
MODERN BRITAIN HAS RETURNED TO THE “OLD CORRUPTION” THE VICTORIANS TRIED TO END
by Patrick Cockburn
Britain has entered an era of legalised larceny by the politically well-connected some 150 years after the Victorians ended what they execrated as the “Old Corruption”. By this they meant the toxic system whereby the ruling elite enjoyed a parasitic relationship with the state enabling them to obtain jobs and money through patronage, partisanship and purchase.
Generals appointed because of their wealth and social connections, rather than ability, produced spectacular debacles, such as the Charge of the Light Brigade. The best-known achievement of the Victorian reformers was the Northcote-Trevelyan Report of 1854 that intended to produce a Civil Service in which “none but qualified personnel will be appointed”.
The Old corruption
Fast forward 170 years to the allegations against Baroness Michelle Mone over PPE procurement which so “shocked” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and notice how many of the worst ingredients of the “Old Corruption” are re-emerging in modern Britain. The Victorians did not use the term to mean exclusively those doing anything illegal, but, then as now, the system was all the more pernicious because so much that was destructive to good government was permitted. We have yet to reach the stage, as happened long ago in Russia and the oil states of the Middle East and Africa, where government has become a looting machine run by a kleptocracy, but we are further down this road than most people in Britain imagine.
Signs of the retreat from the standards of honest and competent government to which the Victorian reformers aspired are today visible everywhere. What makes this decline so serious is the vast size of the sums of money now being wasted or misused. The most flagrant example of this was the waste of £12 billion spent on defective or over-priced PPE during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Probably, the figures are too gargantuan for people to take on board, but in a report published on June 2022, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, scarcely a muckraking body, spelled out the losses: equipment worth £4 billion did not meet NHS standards, £2.6 billion was not of a type or standard preferred by the NHS, £4.7 billion was written off because too much had been paid for it, and £673 million was spent on PPE that was defective.
The Theft Of The Century
What we are really looking at here is one of the thefts of the century. The Government brushes aside this enormous useless expenditure of public funds, most of which ended up in somebody’s pockets, blaming it on an unprecedented emergency with which ministers were heroically seeking to cope. They argue that no time was available to check on PPE suppliers, however inadequate or dodgey they subsequently turned out to be.
This dubious argument silences many potential critics, aided by a certain naivety in Britain about the traditional mechanics of corruption. Our nineteenth-century ancestors would not have been so simple-minded, and would have been instantly suspicious of such self-serving government pretensions. They would not have been taken in by its claim that it was only its laudable enthusiasm to fend off disaster that regrettably led to so-many well-connected companies close to the Conservative Party winning profitable contracts.
And they would have been right: a study by the New York Times in December 2020 found that out of a sample of 1,200 Covid-19 related central government contracts worth £16 billion, about half of which worth £8bn, “went to companies either run by friends and associates of politicians in the Conservative Party, or with no prior experience or a history of controversy. Meanwhile, smaller firms without political clout got nowhere.”
The Best Moment To Strike
I have heard too many excuses about an existential crisis producing understandable errors too many times during corruption scandals in the Middle East to believe them. People intending to steal billions from a government are not fools. They put a great deal of thought into their planning. They must have insiders working for them, but they must also avoid official scrutiny by departmental committees and oversight bodies.
A war is the best moment to strike for anybody intending to plunder the public purse without their activities being closely monitored. I was in Iraq after the US invasion in 2003 when the entire military procurement budget of $1.2 billion disappeared, nominally spent on some Soviet helicopters too old to fly purchased from Poland and a contract with a Pakistani company for military equipment worth hundreds of millions of dollars scribbled on a single sheet of A4 paper in such poor hand writing that Iraqi officials could not tell what had been ordered.
Wars may be good for mass thefts but a pandemic turns out to be even better because of the general panic. People plotting to part a government from its money have a nose for this sort of chaos and know how to exploit it. They know how to sniff out and pay off influential people they need to help them, safe in the knowledge that their lobbying is legal with no risk of punishment aside from reputational damage. If unmasked as secret influencers, they can hide behind the unlikely claim that they were paid a lot of money by some very tough and worldly-wise people – for whom they then did almost nothing to further their interests.
Another superficially plausible way to downplay the current avalanche of scandals is to say that nothing much new is happening and there have always been such scandals. So there have, but the lobbyists and influencers are now playing for much higher stakes than previously with tens of millions of pounds in the offing. Past scandals such as “cash-for-questions” in parliament or MPs’ expenses commonly involved paltry sums.
Looting government was easy in the eighteenth century because so many functions of government were out-sourced, a notable example being the East India Company with its own empire and army. Such outsourcing was a recognised feature of “Old Corruption” because profit was prioritised over performance and regulatory control was minimal. Much the same now happens in modern Britain as state functions are outsourced and degraded in the supposed interests of efficiency.
At the heart of the Northcote-Trevelyan Report was a determination that future members of the civil service would be appointed on merit and they would not lose their jobs following a change of government. But when Liz Truss became prime minister and Kwasi Kwarteng chancellor of the exchequer in September, almost their first act was to sack Sir Tom Scholar, the permanent secretary at the Treasury.
Or go back a couple of years to May 2020 at beginning of pandemic in 2020 when Baroness Dido Harding of Winscombe was appointed by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock to establish NHS Test and Trace to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among an unvaccinated population in England. The complicated task was taken out of the hands of experienced local officials and handed over to Harding, assisted by consultants paid £1,000 a day. Even in corrupt cynical eighteenth century Britain, people might have jibbed at that.
ISRAEL AND THE RISE OF JEWISH FASCISM
The mask is being lifted from the face of Israel’s apartheid state, exposing a grinning death’s head that portends the obliteration of the few restraints against killing Palestinians.
by Chris Hedges
Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed coalition government of Jewish extremists, fanatic Zionists and religious bigots represents a seismic change in Israel, one that will exacerbate Israel’s pariah status, erode external support for Israel, fuel a third Palestinian uprising, or intifada, and create irreconcilable political divides within the Jewish state.
Alon Pinkas, writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, calls the coalition government, scheduled to take power in one or two weeks, “a kakistocracy extraordinaire: government by the worst and least suitable collection of ultranationalists, Jewish supremacists, anti-democrats, racists, bigots, homophobes, misogynists, corrupt and allegedly corrupt politicians. A ruling coalition of 64 lawmakers, of whom 32 are either ultra-Orthodox or religious Zionist. Certainly not a coalition Zeev Jabotinsky, the father of Revisionist Zionism, or Menachem Begin, the founder of Likud, could have ever imagined.”
Itamar Ben-Gvir, from the ultra-nationalist Otzma Yehudit, “Jewish Power,” party, will be the new minister for internal security. Otzma Yehudit is populated with members of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party, which was banned from running for the Knesset in 1988 for espousing a “Nazi-like ideology” that included advocating the ethnic cleansing of all Palestinian citizens of Israel as well as all Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation. His appointment, along with that of other far-right ideologues, including Bezalel Smotrich, to be in charge of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), effectively jettisons the old tropes liberal Zionists used to defend Israel – that it is the only democracy in the Middle East, that it seeks a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians in a two-state solution, that extremism and racism have no place in Israeli society and that Israel must impose draconian forms of control on the Palestinians to prevent terrorism.
Ben-Gvir and Smotrich represent the dregs of Israeli society, one that promotes “Jewish identity” and “Jewish nationalism” in a Zionist version of fascism’s call for blood and soil. They are Israel’s equivalent of Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Their Religious Zionist bloc is now the third largest in the Knesset.
Ben-Gvir, who was rejected for army service because of his extremism, stole a hood ornament from Yitzak Rabin’s car a few weeks before the then-Prime Minister was assassinated in 1995 by Jewish extremist, Yigal Amir. Amir, like many far-right Israelis, including arguably Netanyahu himself, considered Rabin’s support for the Oslo Accords to be an act of treason. “We got to his car, and we’ll get to him too,” Ben-Gvir said at the time. He calls for the deportation of Palestinians who confront Israeli soldiers, followers of the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthadox Netueri Karta movement, as well as Israeli-Arab Knesset member Ayman Odeh and the anti-Zionist Marxist Knesset member Ofer Cassif, who is Jewish.
The old tropes Israel employed to justify itself were always more fiction than reality. Israel long ago became an apartheid state. It directly controls through its illegal Jewish-only settlements, restricted military zones and army compounds, over 60 percent of the West Bank and has de facto control over the rest. There are 65 laws that directly or indirectly discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel and those living in the OPT.
The old tropes are being replaced by screed-filled diatribes that paint Palestinians and Arabs (Muslim and Christian) as contaminants and an existential threat to Israel. This hate speech is accompanied by a vicious internal campaign to silence Jewish “traitors,” especially those who are liberal or left-wing and secular. An Otzma Yehudit-run autocracy will shut down democratic debate, eviscerate the protections of civil society and further codify what has long been reality – Jewish supremacy and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their own land that dates back to the founding of Israel in the 1940s.
The once unthinkable is now thinkable, such as formally annexing large sections of the West Bank, including “Area C” where up to 300,000 Palestinians live. The killing of about 140 Palestinians this year, including the American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, is the worst death toll since 2006 (not including major escalations of violence such as Israeli bombardments of Gaza). It has been accompanied by Palestinian attacks that have left 30 Israelis dead.
The new government will accelerate these killings along with house and school demolitions, expulsions of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the uprooting of Palestinian olive orchards, mass imprisonment and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. The totality of these crimes amount to the international crime of genocide, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights explained in 2016.
Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, will continue to be more frequently bombed and shelled. Its infrastructure, including its water, electrical and sewage systems, as well as fuel storage facilities, will be targeted for obliteration. Gazans and their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank will be subject to ever tightening blockades, reducing them to a level of subsistence that will be one step above starvation. Instead of attempting to cover up the murder of Palestinians by Jewish settlers and the Israeli army, the new government will openly celebrate the atrocities.
After the recent execution of an unarmed Palestinian who was shot three times at point-blank range and then again while on the ground, by an Israeli border policeman during a scuffle which was captured on video, Ben-Gvir called the officer a “hero.”
Netanyahu, who is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three corruption cases, is determined to politicize the judiciary. He and his coalition partners will further curtail the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel who are already second-class citizens. They will continue to push aggressively for a war with Iran. They will support efforts to seize the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which Jewish Israelis call the Temple Mount, the supposed site of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Jewish extremists have long called for the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest shrine for Muslims, to be torn down and replaced by a “Third” Jewish temple, a move that would set the Muslim world alight. Ben-Gvir, who considers Baruch Goldstein, the Jewish settler who in 1994 massacred 29 Muslims worshipers in Hebron, “a hero,” has announced an imminent visit along with other Jewish extremists to the site of the mosque. When Ariel Sharon, then Israel’s opposition leader, went to the mosque site in September 2000, it ignited the Second Intifada.
I wish this was conjecture. It isn’t. It is what these fanatics advocate.
Avigdor Maoz of the extremist Noam party, which opposes LGBTQ rights and wants to ban women from serving in the military, has been appointed to oversee the Israeli school curriculum, Russian immigration and national Jewish identity.
“Anyone who tries to harm real Judaism is the darkness,” he said this week. “Anyone who tries to create a new so-called liberal religion is the darkness. Anyone who -- with intentional concealment and obfuscation -- tries to brainwash the children of Israel with their agendas, without the knowledge of the parents, is the darkness.”
Jeremy Ben-Ami, the President of the liberal Zionist advocacy organization, J Street, said in a public statement that Israel’s next government “seems likely to take more actions that run counter to the values that American Jews teach our children are the essence of Jewish identity,” including support for civil rights, the labor movement, the women’s movement and LGBTQ freedoms.
“How can we explain to our children and our grandchildren, let alone to ourselves, that these values are the core of the Jewish identity, but the state of the Jewish people is denying another people their rights and equality and undercutting the rule of international law?” he asked. “This is a fundamental crisis that looms over our community in the coming years. Those in the establishment of our community who insist that Jewish America must stand united and unquestioningly loyal to Israel no matter what are doing a deep, deep, disservice to the health of the Jewish community.”
After the 1967 war that saw Israel invade and annex Egypt’s Siani peninsula, Syria’s Golan Heights and Palestine’s Gaza and the West Bank, Israelis frequented Palestinian territory to shop, eat at restaurants, spend the weekend in the desert oasis of Jericho or get their cars fixed by Palestinian mechanics.
The Palestinians were a pool of cheap labor, and by the mid-1980s, around 40 percent of the Palestinian workforce were employed in Israel. But the growing repression by Israeli authorities in the West Bank and Gaza, seizure of larger and larger tracts of Palestinian land for expanding Jewish settlements and festering poverty, saw Palestinians, most of them too young to remember the 1967 occupation, rise up in December 1987 to launch six years of street protests known as the first intifada. The uprising eventually led to the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), headed by Yasser Arafat. Arafat, who had spent most of his life in exile, returned in triumph to Gaza with the PLO leadership.
The Oslo Accords seemed to herald a new era. I was in Gaza when they were signed. Palestinian businessmen who had made their fortunes abroad returned to help build the new Palestinian state. The radical Islamists shrank away. Palestinian women took off their head scarves. Beauty salons proliferated. There was a brief and shining moment when a normal life, free from occupation and violence, seemed possible. But it swiftly soured.
The barring of Palestinian workers from Israel coupled with increased Israeli violence and land theft, led to another uprising in 2000 that ended in 2005. This one, which I covered for The New York Times, was far more violent. Jewish settlers were relocated from Gaza and Gaza was sealed off. Israel also built a security barrier — at a cost of about $1 million per mile and deemed illegal by the Internal Court of Justice — to separate Israel from the West Bank and annex more Palestinian land. The wall was constructed in the wake of a spate of suicide bombings that targeted Israelis, though the idea was floated by Prime Minister Rabin in the 1990s on the basis that “separation as a philosophy” requires a “clear border.” Arafat, who I met with many times, spent the final days of his life under Israeli house arrest. The collapse of Oslo ended the pretense of a peace process or negotiated solution.
I suspect we stand on the cusp of a third and far more deadly intifada. An uprising will be used by Israel to justify savage reprisals that will dwarf the punishing economic blockade and wholesale slaughter meted out in Gaza during Israel’s assaults in 2008, 2012 and 2014, which left approximately 3,825 Palestinians killed, 17,757 wounded and over 25,000 housing units partly or completely destroyed by Israel, including multi-story apartment buildings and entire neighborhoods. Tens of thousands were left homeless and huge swaths of Gaza were reduced to rubble. During the 2018 Great March of Return protests, where young people in the besieged enclave demonstrated in front of the Israeli barrier, 195 Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli snipers, including 41 children, as well as medics such as Razan al-Najjar.
As the violence and repression against Palestinians by security forces, soon to be run by Jewish fanatics, increases, larger and larger numbers of Palestinians, including children, will die in airstrikes, shelling, sniper fire, assassinations and other Israeli attacks, including those carried out by rogue Jewish militias, which also attack Arab citizens inside Israel. Hunger and misery will be widespread.
The brutal subjugation of Palestinians, justified by a toxic ideology of Jewish supremacy and racism, will only be halted by the kind of sanctions campaign mounted successfully against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Short of that, Israel will be a despotic theocracy.