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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022

King Tide | Christmas Day | Winds of Change | Atmospheric River | Alton Flood | Mixed Messages | Friendly Neighbor | AV Events | Pet Mango | After Shock | Grandma's Cellar | Convertor Crooks | Mendo Gnomes | Come Together | Snow Carts | Chinook Return | Brodericks | Bout Sentence | Yesterday's Catch | Bodkins Wish | Playing God | Whiskey Trail | Mary Fields | Vader Claus | Marco Radio | Jack Johnson | Purdy Comeback | Breaker Boys | Dickens Christmas | Pant Repair | Twitter Thread | FBI Tree | Christmas Childhood | Persimmons


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King Tide overtaking Navarro Beach sandbar, Christmas Eve, 2022 (photo by Elaine Kalantarian)

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MILD AND MAINLY DRY WEATHER will occur across the region through tonight. A storm system producing heavy rain, strong south winds, and high surf will then impact Northwest California Monday afternoon through Tuesday. After Tuesday, additional periods of rain and high mountain snow will occur through late next week.

THE MAIN AND MOST IMPACTFUL RAIN STORM THIS SEASON will start to bear down on the area starting Monday afternoon. Heavy rain with a strong (bordering on extreme) atmospheric river is forecast to impact the entire area Monday night through Tuesday with 24 hour rain amounts of 2 to 6 inches.

(National Weather Service)

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by Gerry Diaz & Jack Lee

California and the Bay Area are looking at some of the best holiday weather in the country this weekend. Temperatures will be warm and the sun will be shining. But just as festivities wind down, atmospheric river activity will be picking up.

Atmospheric rivers are narrow moisture bands thousands of feet in the air that stream enormous amounts of water vapor from the tropics to the western U.S. A plume of atmospheric moisture is expected to fuel moderate rainfall in the Bay Area early next week.

“We want people to enjoy their holiday, but also pay attention to the forecast so that when they are traveling after the holiday, they know when it’ll be safest for them,” said Brooke Bingaman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Bay Area office.

With the upcoming weather system, the Pacific Northwest will be the first to experience precipitation, but rain showers are expected to make it to the North Bay on Monday evening. The heaviest rains in the Bay Area will fall between that evening and Tuesday morning.

The upcoming heavy downpours will be a stark contrast to the warm, dry weather coming this weekend.

Heavier rainfall will sweep through Sonoma and Napa counties on Monday night as a strong low-pressure system taps into the plume of atmospheric moisture. This plume will then trek south, settling over San Francisco Bay on Tuesday and churning up moderate rain bands across San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

The European model’s cast of ensembles is forecasting 1 to 3 inches of rain in the Bay Area on Tuesday, and up to 5 inches of rain along the Mendocino and Eureka coastline. Higher totals are also expected in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Marin Headlands and North Bay Highlands. Farther inland, the Central Valley and Sierra foothills will tally around 2 to 4 inches, while most of Southern California is on tap to see anywhere from three quarters of an inch to an inch before all is said and done.

At the moment, expected weather conditions meet the criteria for a weak atmospheric river, due to the amount of moisture that will be ferried to the West Coast. Most of this ferried moisture will stem from the warm waters off the Hawaiian islands, making this weak atmospheric river a “Pineapple Express” scenario. This means that rain bands will be moderate for most of Tuesday and spread out over most of Northern California, bringing moisture levels that are well above what’s considered normal for this time of the year.

“If that forecast holds true, then we could potentially be seeing 200% to 300% of what’s normal for moisture in the air,” Bingaman said.

This moisture, also referred to as precipitable water, is why several inches of rain are in the forecast. This much precipitable water, which measures how much water vapor is available for rain over an area, will help moisten the atmosphere.

Humidity levels will be high across the Bay Area, reaching saturation — the point where rain forms — during the day on Tuesday. Heavy downpours will develop by the afternoon across most of the North Bay, East Bay and Peninsula before spreading south into the Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz Mountains.

The rains will lighten up after Wednesday morning, but the Bay Area could continue to see more wet weather through the rest of the year. The storm door will stay open after Tuesday, as more and more moisture off the Pineapple Express rolls into the California coast.

This weather isn’t unusual for this time of year, as California typically tallies most of its precipitation during the winter months. If anything, it will provide a healthy coating of rain to parts of the state still running behind on the water year.

At higher elevations, in the Sierra, the system will bring snow, which could produce tricky driving conditions for holiday travelers on the road. Current guidance from the European and American weather models suggests up to 2½ feet of snow will be possible along some of the big ski resorts, including Kirkwood, on Tuesday. This will be a great addition to the snowpack and a boon for the state’s overall water supply.

“It’s the kind of winter system that is good and bad,” Bingaman said. “There’s going to be some good impacts, there’s going to be some impacts that people need to be cautious about.”

(SF Chronicle)

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Flood in Alton (near Fortuna), 1953

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by Mark Scaramella

Is Mendocino County capable of financial management?

In a recent info-free exchange, former Fifth District Supervisor Candidate John Redding complained that Mendocino County was “imploding,” and “in a death spiral toward bankruptcy.” He implied that the Supervisors will raise taxes because it’s “harder to do business here,” and said the supervisors are “in over their heads.”

In an equally vacuous response, Supervisor Ted Williams said Redding’s remarks were “ridiculous.” Williams claimed that the Supervisors are “ripping off bandaids,” and they are trying to recover from a “long legacy of questionable financial reporting.” Williams apparently thinks the County should do a forensic audit. (Never mind that such audits are themselves expensive and that Williams has been a Supervisor for three years now, rubberstamping three budgets, yet he only recently discovered that Mendo’s financial reporting is “questionable.”

We were not surprised that their windy exchange lacked even the slightest nuance, much less any actual information. 

For possible clarification and context, let’s review some relevant financial observations and factoids from 2022, both positive and negative.

On the positive side…

Last fall, Employees Union rep Patrick Hickey told the Board that Mendo is “swimming in money.”

In a February interview with former CEO Carmel Angelo, Mike Geniella reported, “As she prepares to step down, Angelo said she is especially satisfied that the county, facing near bankruptcy in 2010, is today on firm financial footing with $20 million in reserves in the face of an annual operating budget of $340 million. ‘I leave knowing the situation today is much healthier than when I was appointed CEO in 2010,’ said Angelo.”

Mendo has enough money to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in unaccountable, unquestioned outside legal costs every year, including for doing their own job of negotiating with their employees. They also had enough money to give every employee (including themselves) an across the board 2% raise. (Each percent amounts to about $1 million per year.) Plus $2k for each employee from federal covid funds. They also had enough money to hand out a few hundred thou for a water agency with minimal staffing in out-years. 

CEO Darcie Antle’s financial staff estimated a $500k carryover (underrun) for this fiscal year (although the exact numbers are not in yet). That $500k was applied to Mendo’s $6.1 mil deficit.

They (including Williams) had enough money to hand over about $600k for tourism promotion (although Supervisor Gjerde voted no, citing funding shortfalls).

They had enough money to spend hundreds of thousands for a new parking lot at County admin HQ,

They had enough money to give their County Counsel a big raise, making him the highest paid public attorney in the County (although County Counsel Curtis botched his raise process by violating the Brown Act he claims to be an expert in).

They casually re-allocated millions of previously allocated PG&E dollars to help close the budget gap. (And Gjerde said they could increase that by reallocating about $2.6 previously earmarked for Coastal Valley EMS (emergency services admin) for an “elusive” Joint Powers Agency. (Note: Gjerde had previously voted to give the $2.6 mil to Coastal Valley EMS.)

They have enough money to pay themselves and their CEO (i.e., just six people) a total of about $1 million a year for salaries and benefits.

(Note: In the last budget crunch in 2009 the Supervisors (with the notable exceptions of “liberals” David Colfax and Kendall Smith) took a (voluntary) 10% pay cut. At that time, the three Supervisors who took the cut noted that it would look bad if they imposed cuts on employees but not on themselves. Even CEO Angelo deferred her raises until 2018 after the budget was finally re-balanced. 

A check with outside financial analysts a few months ago showed that despite all the financial handwringing and finger-pointing, as recently as August, the county’s credit rating remained “in the top tier” at a solid A+, with Williams bragging about it at the time.

A couple of long term debt instruments from decades ago will finally be paid off in the next couple of years and that money will be available for the general fund.

On The Negative Side…

They have never had basic monthly department-by-department financial reporting showing budget versus actual, although having promised such reports in the past, and they’re again promising (in the December CEO report) that they will have improvements in 2023. There’s no evidence that that will occur or that they even know what decent financial reporting is.

They do not know if the $3.6 million health plan deficit will continue nor how much additional that they, and their employees, will have to pay to keep from going further into health plan budget deficit.

They have several pending employee lawsuits that not only continue to cost hundreds of thousands in legal costs, but could cost hundreds of thousands if not millions more in settlements or court judgments. 

They have a CEO who was a staunch Carmel Angelo loyalist and Angelo’s Chief Budget Officer for years, yet who has yet to explain where Angelo got the $20 million reserve estimate Angelo claimed when she retired.

They have hundreds of chronic vacancies, many of them in general fund departments. Even if some of those vacancies must remain funded because they are categorized as “revenue generating” or for “public safety,” they remain vacant. Where are those savings?

White shoe Sacto architect Nacht & Lewis has a blank draw on Jail expansion administration and Measure B money with their unchecked, unquestioned, hundreds of dollars per hour construction management and overhead rates, for excessive planning and paperwork that they know they can pad without question from the County. Instead of looking for more cost effective local architects, they recently borrowed about $10 million to cover the jail expansion overrun instead of asking the state to cover it since it is the state’s project. That debt will cost the County at least $500k per year for the next 20 years.

For more than a year, everybody has known that the budget was padded with pot tax revenues which were dropping as the pot the market tanked and pot permit applications dried up. Yet no adjustments were proposed, much less made.

CEO Antle gets the equivalent of CEO Angelo’s pay even though several department heads no longer work for the CEO, but now report directly to the Board.

Even though the Employees Union reps follow budget matters very closely, they never registered a complaint about the $2.6 million “Colossal Waste of Dollars” (per Supervisor Gjerde) for Coastal Valley EMS, nor have they pushed for the Dispatch consolidation suggested by former Sheriff Allman, nor have they argued against the $600k promotional handout, a huge annual handout that no other private industry in the County gets. 

There’s about $4 million per year of new money expected to start coming in from Measure P, the “essential services” measure the voters recently approved by an underwhelming majority. Local fire services supported the measure because even though there’s no legal restriction, the Board passed a resolution that they will hand the proceeds over to local fire departments as hoped for. If the budget deficit is as bad as they say, will Mendo keep any of those Measure P revenues to balance their budget as many suspected before the vote, a vote where about 45% of voters voted no even though it was for a popular purpose (firefighters) — clearly an indication of distrust of the Board?

In a subsequent interview with Mike Geniella, former CEO Angelo said, “If there is a lack of fiscal leadership at the county level, it lies with the board itself.” Angelo told Geniella that “when she left office earlier this year county reserves totaled $20 million, and board members had been briefed about what was needed as the new fiscal year unfolded including the county’s ability to cover increased costs of new labor agreements.”

And finally, longtime (former) Treasurer-Tax Collector Shari Schapmire, a well-respected veteran of county finances, was blunt in her assessment: “The majority of this board is ill-equipped to comprehend the financial complexities that are inherent in the operation of the county.”

Our prediction? Official inertia and entropy will continue and the Board will stumble forward, bleeding money, pissing off their employees who will continue to look for work elsewhere, rubberstamping every stop gap measure the staff can dig up, with no significant improvement in budget tracking or reporting. 

Presumably sometime in January the Board will receive the results of last year’s books being closed, after having been delayed for more than six months. Their response to whatever that number turns out to be will be an opportunity to prove that Schapmire’s assessment is wrong. 

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Our last 2022 Pet of the Week is Mango — a smart and social dog who’s clearly had some basic training. Mango knows SIT, and he likes to SHAKE hands/paws with everyone he meets. Mr. Mango has wonderful leash manners, and loves going on walks. He also has great indoor manners. Plus, this big boy is swooningly handsome. Mango is 3 years old and weighs 76 pounds.

What’s not to love???!!!  For more about Mango, head to

If you can’t adopt, consider fostering. Our website has information about our Foster Program, on-going DOG AND CAT ADOPTION EVENTS, and other programs, services and updates. Visit us on Facebook at:  For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.

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I would say a really Big One is anything over 7.5. Anything over that you don’t even want to think about. This one at 6.4 was a real box shaker. Something fell off my dresser and the walls were rattling, most of the havoc being wrought came from the kitchen. I stepped in a moist pile of potted plant mix on my way there. Good thing I go to bed early cause it’s 2:34 am and today has started on the early side.

They say you should have a plan which sounds like the Mike Tyson quote “everybody has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.” The power is out, my glasses and phone fell on the floor somewhere, my keys are in the kitchen but first I need a flashlight and meantime my dog is standing there looking at me for guidance. And the cat is not taking any orders right now.

I always believed in the stand in the doorway theory as an unlikely place for the building to collapse on you but if you’re that close to the outside why not just go out? But for that you need clothes on first.

By now all the shaking has stopped except for your insides. So we walked around and met the neighbors who were all out in their sweatpants and flashlights.

I text my wife to keep her informed and mention I’m on a deck chair on the deck. Why are you outside she asks? I was a little shy about going back in and she calls me a “drama queen.” To try to sleep after this is like trying to walk on sea legs.

So about 2 pm I thought what the hay I’ll cruise around a bit, see if anything is open while I charge up my phone and Eureka Natural is and they’re packed. So I got some hot food and coffee and feel a whole lot better and sit down to write and bam another aftershock.

There are some positives in a little shake up like this, the people act nicer to one another, also they say a quake like this let’s off some pressure pushing the Big One a little farther out and it wasn’t raining, windy or cold.

Power’s supposed to be back on by 10 which we desperately need to get back to feeling normal. No property damage that I can tell. Our poor friends to the south of here in Ferndale, Fortuna and Rio Dell probably not as lucky. It all depends how close you are to the fault line and they run all over this area.

I knew this Native American gal and her reaction to one of these was it’s all mother nature. Nothing to worry about. Another old friend Don who is about 100 and has lived here all his life said when talking about how everywhere has some downside to it like hurricanes, tornadoes and such, with an earthquake, ”there’s no preliminary hype and worry, 30 seconds and it’s over.”

Now I’m just going to pray a little bit.

From Eureka, California,

Charlie Brannick

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Grandma's Cellar (1937)

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On December 24, 2022, the Cloverdale Police Department received several calls about a gold Mercedes Benz vehicle, occupied by several subjects, that had been seen tampering with parked vehicles.

Cloverdale Officers located a vehicle (Gold 2001 C240 Mercedes) matching the description and conducted a traffic stop on South Foothill Blvd. and Sandholm Lane in Cloverdale.

Located in the vehicle were Jose Robles 38, Richmond, Ca., Hugo Cerda 38, Richmond, Ca., and David Coyt 28, Richmond, Ca. During the course of the investigation, officers located several tools and items commonly used to commit burglaries and Catalytic Converter thefts.

The three occupants were detained and later arrested for multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, including conspiracy, Possession of burglary tools, theft, and Possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia.

All three were transported and booked into the Sonoma County Jail with a bail enhancement.

Among the property seized from the vehicle were several shaved vehicle keys, multiple saws and saw blades, a floor jack, four recovered vehicle catalytic converters, controlled substances, drug paraphernalia, and a vehicle window door prying tool.

The case is still being investigated, and anyone with information that might be related to this incident can contact Cloverdale Police Officer Ofc. Katie Vanoni at (707) 894-2150 or

To prevent further thefts of this nature, the police department recommends parking inside a garage if possible or under well-lit areas, preferably areas with surveillance cameras if available. Another deterrent is the purchase and installation of a CAT SECURITY SHIELD or similar device, which is a robust aluminum plate that, once installed, provides a strong barrier against catalytic converter theft. This device makes stealing your catalytic converter nearly impossible without some serious time, making it less appealing for would-be-criminals.

If you witness unusual activity, please report to the Police Department by calling (707) 894-2150.

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by Mackenzie Mays

I woke Tuesday morning to a phone call from my editor before 8 a.m. — earlier than usual — with the kind of assignment you can’t plan for. 

There had been an earthquake. A big one. Could I drive five hours north from my home in Sacramento to Humboldt County? Now? 

I rushed to pack a bag, shoveling in phone and laptop chargers, a notebook and pens and business cards to prove I am who I say I am. I opened my map app and typed in Fortuna — a historic logging town, population 12,000 — that I hadn’t been to in my eight years of living in California.

I didn’t have time to do much research but knew it was a magnitude 6.4 quake that led to two deaths, 11 injuries and the closure of a bridge over the Eel River. I knew that people had gone to bed the night before with a very different life than they woke up to. 

What I didn’t know was that a new place would feel so familiar and that the reporting would be easy because of that sense of community. This coastal county, about 55 miles from the Oregon border, surrounded by giant redwoods, reminded me of my hometown in West Virginia, at the heart of Appalachia. 

Both are regions defined by a connection to nature, fading 20th century industries and people who are resilient as hell. 

It was my first glimpse of a town that had been wrecked by nature but was full of people helping one another get through the crisis while grasping for a shred of normalcy.

At a vintage shop down the street, I felt my first aftershock, which made an antique chandelier sway. I’ve never experienced a big earthquake and wondered what we should do. I was struck by the owner’s nonchalance. 

“Oh, that’s a tremor. We should probably go outside,” said Heather Herrick, owner of the Haute Hoarder boutique, taking a break from cleaning up shards of glass. 

By the end of my first day there, though, I understood being underwhelmed by an aftershock. I was exhausted, at one of the few hotels in town that had power restored but was still without water. I was too tired to care about the slight swaying in the middle of the night. I let the tremor rock me to sleep.

I’m always surprised by people who are willing to let journalists into their lives on the worst days. People were without sleep, power or water. They couldn’t stay warm or charge their phones. They didn’t know if insurance would cover the damages. Motorists lined up to panic-buy gas. All of the grocery stores were closed.

Yet no one turned me away or scolded me for intruding, even as I was questioning people who’d been left homeless in an instant. One person always led me to another. 

“Is this Mackenzie with the L.A. Times?” a text read. It was Kevin Mcniece, a friend of Herrick, who had told him I was in town, and he wanted to show me his house that had been split into three pieces, caught fire and condemned by local officials. He had lost most of his belongings and was staying in a hotel. For free. 

“Riding on the coattails of generosity,” as he put it. He wanted to share his story.

A family who’d been sleeping in their car introduced me to their pit bull, Sarah, when I ran into them at at a pop-up food bank. A woman who’d taken refuge at the fire department started crying while telling me that someone had offered to buy her family a hotel room for the night.

Volunteer firefighters and food-bank workers assembled. It made me think of that quote attributed to Mister Rogers that doubles as good reporting advice. In times of disaster, he said, “look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

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Parts of Humboldt County that were hit hardest, including the towns of Scotia, Ferndale and Rio Dell, seemed much like where I grew up. 

In West Virginia, we don’t have earthquakes, but we have floods. Instead of old lumber-company towns, we have remnants of a once-booming coal mining industry. 

Both places have immense natural beauty and are home to people who struggle with poverty but are proud of where they’re from. They are places rightfully leery of outsiders but astoundingly welcoming. 

In this part of California, like West Virginia, communities are tight-knit in part because they believe no one else is coming to help them. I sensed a relatable frustration with feeling overlooked and misunderstood.

But I knew I wasn’t one of them. I was there for only two days. All I could do was listen. I always asked about more than the earthquake: What’s this place usually like? What do people get wrong about it?

“The more densely populated areas tend to speak for all of us,” Mcniece told me. “The Bay Area and Los Angeles and Sacramento — they get to be the face of what California has on its mind, but over here behind the redwood curtain, we have different needs.” 

Whether they lost a few dishes or entire homes, people tended to stay positive. This wasn’t their first earthquake, and it probably won’t be their last.

“Living here isn’t easy to begin with,” Rio Dell resident John Ireland said. “When something bad does happen, people come together. You get to see the best sides of people.”

It wasn’t an easy place to file a news story. I didn’t have power to charge my laptop. Cellphone service is spotty on a good day. When the sun set, the already quiet town of Fortuna was silent, pitch-black and difficult to navigate.

Lacking a reliable internet connection, I had to file a story the old-fashioned way, calling from my car a co-writer who transcribed my notes and plugged them in. I filed another story from the McDonald’s in Eureka. (Great WiFi.) On the drive home Wednesday evening, I pulled over in dark and foggy Lake County and pleaded with the initially reluctant owners of a hotel to let me use their internet despite not being a guest. (Shout-out to the Lodge at Blue Lakes.) 

When I got back to Sacramento, where I normally cover state government and policy, I was thankful for seeing a part of California that reminded me of my hometown nearly 2,500 miles away. 

I was thinking about the Scotia Lodge, a 100-year-old hotel that was somehow mostly unscathed by the earthquake, even as destruction was visible all around it. The owners of the lodge rushed to take in the displaced. By the end of the week, they were back up and running, and the rooms were filled with both paying tourists and community members staying for free, nowhere else to go.

Aaron Sweat, the lodge’s chief executive, told me about a family visiting from Europe who were so alarmed by the earthquake that they fled Scotia in a rush. When a gas station wouldn’t accept their international credit card, a local stepped in to pay and refused to take cash in return.

“I guess in times of tragedy, Humboldt, and all these small, rural towns everywhere, just come together and say, ‘Let’s figure this out,’” Sweat said.

On Facebook, the lodge let concerned locals know that the place was still standing.

“This isn’t the first time, nor the last, that this old gal will be put to the test by Mother Nature,” the post read. 

The historic building, sturdy and welcoming, was a surprising sight. But it gave me a feeling that was achingly familiar. 

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Horse drawn snow carts en route to New York City, 1891

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by Alastair Bland

Chinook salmon haven’t spawned in the McCloud River for more than 80 years. But last summer, thousands of juveniles were born in the waters of this remote tributary, miles upstream of Shasta Dam.

The young Chinook salmon — some now finger-sized smolts in mid-migration toward the Pacific Ocean — are part of a state and federal experiment that could help make the McCloud a salmon river once again.

Winter-run Chinook were federally listed as endangered in 1994, but recent years have been especially hard for the fish. Facing severe drought and warm river conditions, most winter-run salmon born naturally in the Sacramento River have perished over the past three years.

So restoring Chinook to the McCloud has become an urgent priority for state and federal officials. In the first year of a drought-response project, about 40,000 salmon eggs were brought back to the McCloud, a picturesque river in the wilderness of the Cascade mountains.

Iconic in Northern California, Chinook salmon are critical pieces of the region’s environment. They are consumed by sea lions, orcas and bears, and they still support a commercial fishing industry. Chinook remain vital to the culture and traditional foods of Native Americans, including the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, whose historical salmon fishing grounds included the McCloud River.

Conservation experts say the McCloud’s cold, clean water holds great promise as a potential Chinook refuge — and perhaps even a future stronghold for the species. Restoring salmon there is considered critical to the species’ survival, since they now spawn only in low-lying parts of the Central Valley near Redding and Red Bluff, where it’s often too hot and dry for most newborn fish to survive.

“We probably won’t be able to maintain winter-run chinook on the valley floor forever,” said Matt Johnson, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Johnson spent much of the past five months camped beside the incubation site on the lower McCloud River, guarding the eggs and emerging fry and overseeing the experiment, which is a collaborationbetween his agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

So far, the project, biologists say, has gone well. About 90% of the eggs hatched, and the young fish have reportedly thrived in the McCloud, growing faster than hatchery fish.

Recent rain storms have boosted river flows, which may increase the odds that salmon will reach the ocean this year, escaping the dangerous water pumps and predators of the Delta.

The project is the first step in a long-term plan that may involve capturing adult winter-run Chinook in the lower Sacramento and transporting them to the McCloud to spawn. It’s a difficult and risky venture for the fish but it may be the best shot the species has at survival.

“The winter run is headed for extinction, no question, if we don’t develop an artificial system for keeping it going,” said Peter Moyle, a fish biologist at UC Davis who has studied Central Valley fish since the 1970s. He co-authored a report warning that many of California’s native salmon and trout are likely to vanish this century as the environment warms.

A genetically unique run of salmon, winter-run Chinook once spawned in the McCloud in great numbers, along with other seasonal runs of the fish.

Even though the Central Valley’s river system, which includes the McCloud River, marks the southern limit of the Chinook’s range, it was once their stronghold. Between 1 and 2 million fish, some weighing 50 pounds or more, spawned in the tributaries of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers each year before the Gold Rush.

The fish have dwindled to a fraction of their historic abundance. Spawning numbers of winter-run Chinook dropped to fewer than 200 in the early 1990s. They’ve rebounded, but their future remains in doubt.

The McCloud — a state-designated wild and scenic river — used to offer prime habitat, with deep gravel beds for egg-laying and year-round flows of clean, cold water from Mount Shasta. Construction of Shasta Dam in the 1940s — and Keswick Dam shortly after — changed all this by locking ocean-run salmon out of some 500 miles of productive high-elevation habitat.

The salmon became confined instead to the lower reaches of the Sacramento River system, where they did not previously spawn. Blazing temperatures in the summer — when the winter-run fish lay and fertilize their eggs near Redding and Red Bluff — have made it difficult for salmon to thrive. Chinook, especially in their early life stages, are sensitive to high temperatures.

Only with the support of hatcheries have California salmon remained abundant enough to be fished.

For decades, fishing groups, agencies and Winnemem Wintu tribal leaders have pondered the possibility of reintroducing salmon into the McCloud. Finally, last spring and summer, after two poor spawning years in a row — and with a third one looking likely — federal and state agencies took action.

Last year “temperature modeling going into the winter-run spawning season showed a lot of uncertainty — basically a 50-50 chance of being able to maintain suitable temperatures for winter-run eggs to develop in the river,” Johnson said.

A bumpy trip for precious salmon eggs

Because winter-run Chinook are listed as endangered, fishery agencies are scrambling to save the fish. Last spring they transported about three dozen adult winter-run Chinook trapped at the base of Keswick Dam, just north of Redding, about 50 miles southeast to the north fork of Battle Creek, a tributary near Red Bluff where waters typically run cool and clear.

They also launched a more complicated effort: They took winter-run Chinook eggs from adult fish at a federal salmon hatchery and transported them up and over Shasta Dam to a remote national forest campground next to the McCloud River.

They came in two batches of 20,000 — the first by truck on a bumpy, 80-mile ride. A helicopter delivered the second clutch. “We wanted to make sure the transportation phase went smoothly,” Johnson said.

The fertilized eggs were incubated in protective cages submerged in river water for weeks. The scientists even placed an electrified barrier around the eggs to protect them from foraging black bears.

Of the 40,000 eggs, Johnson said, about 36,000 emerged as fry. In late summer, the biologists released them into the wild.

The scientists wanted the fish to spend time in McCloud, both to utilize its invertebrate food sources and to undergo the olfactory imprinting process that enables migrating adult salmon to find their birth streams years later. Indeed, it is this process that gives salmon their remarkable homing powers and would truly make these fish McCloud River salmon.

In an undisturbed ecosystem, the fish in the river would simply swim downstream, through San Francisco Bay, and out into the ocean. But this unique scenario, where a dam and reservoir block their migration, called on a different approach that required human help.

State and federal scientists had to recapture the salmon and release them into the lower Sacramento River. The Fish and Wildlife team placed several traps on the McCloud about 20 miles below the release site and managed to capture 1,600 of them. They then drove the fish downstream and released them into the Sacramento River. If all goes well, some of the young salmon will return from the ocean in two to four years.

The agencies plan to repeat the project next year, transporting more Chinook eggs up to the McCloud and again hauling the young fish back downstream. “We intend to do it again, and do it better,” Johnson said.

To improve the program’s effectiveness, scientists are now addressing some unanswered questions from the experiment.

Rachel Johnson, a biologist with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center, wants to know how many of the salmon released at the incubation site made it as far downstream as the fish trap array. This will reveal the survival rate of the released fish and help Johnson and her colleagues better understand the quality of the McCloud’s habitat.

To do this, she is studying data on daily river flow rates and capture rates in the traps, then combining this information with known effectiveness of the types of gear they used. That, she said, would “give us the number that swam past.”

From what they already know about the size of the fish upon recapture, it’s looking good.

“The fish in the McCloud were 30 to 40% larger than the average winter-run fish that were being caught at the Red Bluff Diversion Dam,” she said, referring to a structure downstream of Shasta.

A gem in ‘a string of pearls’

A great deal of work has already been done to help Sacramento River salmon. State agencies and conservation groups have restored floodplains and side-channels, where slow-moving water provides young fish with abundant food and shelter from predators. This work often involves removing or carving notches in levees so that river water can flow over farm fields.

Johnson sees this connected system of restored habitat parcels as a “string of pearls,” and says the McCloud might be one of its more valuable gems.

Better still, the McCloud’s geographic location at the upper end of the watershed could have a beneficial trickle-down effect through the watershed and the early life stages of Chinook, ultimately improving their life-long survival rates.

“If you can have such highly productive, good-growth habitat so high in the system, it starts the fish off in such a strong condition,” she said.

Protecting areas lower in the watershed are important to Chinook, too. Research by Jacob Katz, a biologist with the group California Trout, shows that floodplains restored in the lower stretches of the Sacramento watershed have helped salmon. Smolts grow faster on inundated floodplains than they do in the river’s channelized mainstem.

Katz said reintroducing Chinook to the high-elevation spawning areas in the McCloud will complement the work he has done, and vice-versa.

“Both spawning habitat and rearing habitat are necessary, yet insufficient on their own,” he said. “We need to restore every link in the habitat chain.”

Ambitious future plans

The summer’s salmon relocation effort was technically not a reintroduction project but an emergency drought action required by the state and federal endangered species acts and intended to shield winter-run Chinook from drought impacts.

However, it’s likely that the McCloud effort of last summer will develop in years ahead into a full-fledged salmon reintroduction program.

Randy Beckwith, head of the state Department of Water Resources’ Riverine Stewardship branch, said “the juvenile collection piece is the most difficult part” of a potential long-term McCloud River reintroduction plan.

While the state and federal fishery scientists did their work a few miles upstream, Beckwith’s agency tested a $1.5 million contraption dubbed the Juvenile Salmonid Collection System in the narrow McCloud River arm of Lake Shasta. The setup is a floating array designed to deflect floating debris, like logs and trash, while a dangling synthetic curtain funnels the young salmon into a dead-end live trap. The trap component has not been installed yet due to regulatory constraints associated with handling endangered species, but the agency has plans to do so, possibly next summer.

While traps of the sort already used on the McCloud are designed to catch a sample fraction of a river’s fish, the system the state is working on will hopefully catch all of them.

A successful McCloud River salmon reintroduction would also mean giving adult salmon access to the river. Currently, Keswick Dam, just upstream of Redding, marks the end of the line for free-swimming adult salmon. If they are to get beyond this point, fishery managers will need to do one of two things: build a stairway, called a fish ladder or fishway, which leads migrating salmon around a dam, or trap the fish and truck them upstream.

Ladders would give the salmon autonomy to migrate on their own. But Shasta Dam is a 600-foot-high barrier, so hauling them instead would be much cheaper. It is generally considered the only feasible solution on the table, although federal officials have no firm plans to do so yet.

But scientists have questioned the effectiveness of trap-and-haul programs. In a 2017 paper, Moyle and a colleague, biologist Robert Lusardi, warned that it can cause high mortality rates in transferred fish, both adults going upstream and juveniles coming downstream. A trap-and-haul program for salmon “should proceed with extreme caution,” they wrote.

There’s another option, too. Battle Creek, which flows off Mount Lassen’s south flank, could also serve as a lifeline for winter-run Chinook. It was once an important spawning stream and, like most California rivers, is now riddled with dams.

But unlike Keswick and Shasta, they are small. One dam was removed in 2010, and Katz said there are plans to remove or modify the rest to provide Chinook with unassisted passage.

“Battle Creek offers an opportunity to have a second population of winter-run fish that doesn’t need to be trucked — a completely volitional population,” he said. “Battle Creek could be the epitome of a 21st century reconciled watershed.”


* * *

The Brodericks of Blue Lake

* * *


Dear Marilyn Davin,

I thought you might like to know that the sentence in your piece that “Bout had served 4 years of his 25-year prison sentence” is incorrect. Bout was arrested on March 6, 2008, and was released on December 7, 2022. That is 14 years and 9 months. In the US federal system, inmates serve 85% of a sentence (the 15% is called “good time” and is earned if you comply with prison rules). Bout was sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 25 years (his judge, Shira A. Scheindlin (RET), said she would have imposed a much lower sentence if she was legally allowed to do so. Her comments and the reasons why she would have done so are available with a simple google search). 85% of 25 years is 21.25. This means that at the time of his release, Bout had served 70% of his sentence. 

Steve Zissou

PS: I am Viktor Bout's lawyer.

(Ed note: The correction has been made.)

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, December 24, 2022

Bolton, Delacruz, Franco, Hickman

JOHN BOLTON IV, Willits. Trespassing, disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

NORMA DELACRUZ, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license for DUI, failure to appear, probation revocation.

TATIANA FRANCO-CORTEZ, Garberville/Ukiah. Controlled substance, concealed dirk-dagger. (Frequent flyer.)


McElroy, McLain, Ough, Travis

TONY MCELROY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

JAMES MCLAIN, Rio Dell/Ukiah. Controlled substance, more than an ounce of pot, disorderly conduct-alcohol.

DYLAN OUGH, Ukiah. Controlled substance, failure to appear.

JALAHN TRAVIS, Ukiah. Shoplifting, probation revocation.

* * *

* * *



Regarding the recent public realization that US Intelligence Agencies are married to big Tech.

We all know that the number one job of Intelligence Agencies is to spy, to conduct surveillance and to gather intelligence.

We also all know that the number two job of Intelligence Agencies is to disseminate and control information.

So it follows all logic that after we realized that big Tech and Social Media were the greatest modern tools to spy, conduct surveillance and gather intelligence that what would follow the happy marriage of Intelligence to big Tech would be the cynical effort control of ALL avenues of communication, what you say and what you hear. It’s a form of transparent blasphemy. It follows from what Kropotkin says in the Conquest of Bread. "It is because all that is necessary for production - the land, the mines, the highways, machinery, food, shelter, education, knowledge - all have been seized by the few in the course of that long story of robbery, enforced migration and wars, of ignorance and oppression, which has been the life of the human race before it had learned to subdue the forces of nature."

So beyond all the theft of nature and the means of production we have the theft of communication and thought. Its just a more pernicious invasion of the human soul. Invasive, pervasive and all controlling. A clear inheritance from Christian Theology as some would say. The attempt to play God. 

Nate Collins


* * *

* * *

SHE DRANK WHISKEY, swore often, and smoked handmade cigars. She wore pants under her skirt and a gun under her apron. At six feet tall and two hundred pounds, Mary Fields was an intimidating woman.

Mary lived in Montana, in a town called Cascade. She was a special member of the community there. All schools would close on her birthday, and though women were not allowed entry into saloons, she was given special permission by the mayor to come in anytime and to any saloon she liked.

Mary Fields

But Mary wasn’t from Montana. She was born into enslavement in Tennessee sometime in the early 1830s, and lived enslaved for more than thirty years until slavery was abolished. As a free woman, life led her first to Florida to work for a family and then Ohio when part of the family moved.

When Mary was 52, her close friend who lived in Montana became ill with pneumonia. Upon hearing the news, Mary dropped everything and came to nurse her friend back to health. Her friend soon recovered and Mary decided to stay in Montana settling in Cascade.

Her beginning in Cascade wasn’t smooth. To make ends meet, she first tried her hand at the restaurant business. She opened a restaurant, but she wasn’t much of a chef. And she was also too generous, never refusing to serve a customer who couldn’t pay. So the restaurant failed within a year.

But then in 1895, when in her sixties, Mary, or as “Stagecoach Mary” as she was sometimes called because she never missed a day of work, became the second woman and first African American to work as a mail carrier in the U.S. She got the job because she was the fastest applicant to hitch six horses.

Eventually she retired to a life of running a laundry business. And babysitting all the kids in town. And going to baseball games. And being friends with much of the townsfolk.

This was Mary Fields. A rebel, a legend.

* * *

* * *

MEMO OF THE AIR: What sounds like Chinese but it's Nahuatl and it means poinsettia?

”In the first drawer I keep my magic stones: One carnelian against all evil and envy. One moonstone to make you sleep. One red coral to heal your wounds. One lapis lazuli against quartan fever. One small jasper to help you find water. One topaz to soothe your eyes. One red ruby to protect you from lightning.” –Kaspar, the second of three singing kings

Here's the recording of last night's (2022-12-23) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA):

Thanks to Hank Sims for tech help, as well as for his fine news site:

And thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which always provides about an hour of each of my Friday night shows' most locally relevant material, going back decades. And tiny bravely struggling KNYO itself. Find KNYO's hidden donation heart and help the station out with a one-time holiday gift or, if you can, a recurring gift from your own hidden heart. And/or acquire a concentrated vial of new and improved heart's-blood-red KNYO hot sauce, for vim and pep and vibrant health. ("It's toasted!")

New stories by Marilyn Davin, Ari Yovel (say yo-VEL), Ezekiel Krahlin, David Herstle Jones, Kym Kemp (the Redheaded Blackbelt), Paul Modic, Craig Louis Stehr, John Sakowicz, Mitch Clogg, Mike Sears, Nick Wilson, Mike Firesmith, Garrison Keillor, the Comtesse DeSpair, and so on. I forgot to read the usual chapter of No More My Echoing Song by Clifford Allen Sanders, but I'll make up for that next week. And I didn't read from Kent Wallace's book, because he called to read a timely story from the point of view of Mary-Mother-of-God's Chicago/New-Jersey/Florida-mob-accented donkey and King Melchior's equally colorful camel. (Yonda lies da camel of my faddah.) Poetry by John Roedel. My dream journal, and a few tentative experiments with ChatGPT. And the usual survey course of music, science, tasteless jokes, art and architecture... And at 3:45AM (6 and 3/4 hours into the recording of the show, see above) I put on the San Francisco Mime Troupe's A Red Carol (58 min.), then closed with William S. Burroughs' quavery/gravelly reading of his own A Junky's Christmas.

Besides all that, at you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:

Tom Lehrer made all his songs available to download for free, made them public domain so you can do what you want with them – perform them, make a show of them, use creatively, whatever. He says, "You're welcome." But all of them in one place like this won't last forever, so jump if you're gonna jump.

Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop's Special Chanukah. (57 min.)

The 1987 Muppet Holiday Special, with original commercials. (55 min.)

And the Singing Sisters. This is my favorite short Xmas bit ever (right up there in the pantheon with The Bloody Olive) all the way through the final line, nearly the only line from the bartender; I'm not about to spoil the gag by quoting it here, though you'll see it coming a mile away. As with many three-or-four-women full-range-of-talent sketches (singing, acting, timing, bathing suit competition), my brain plays with replacing the ladies with Tracy Burns, Pamela Stonem, Ellen Callas and/or Kathy O'Grady from Hit and Run Theater in the early 1980s, and replaces the men with Harry Rothman, Steve Weingarten and Doug Nunn from the same era. Same flavor of casual improv-ish excellence, like flashbulbs flashing in your face, but in a nice way.

*It's cuetlaxochitl (say kwet-luh-sho-shee).

Marco McClean,,

* * *

On December 26th in the year 1908 Jack Johnson became the first African American World Heavyweight Boxing Champion by knocking out Tommy Burns. For years America would not show this image of a Black man knocking out a white man.

* * *


by Eric Branch

After finally resembling a barely drafted rookie for two quarters Saturday, Brock Purdy returned to his now-regular role: seventh-round sensation.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback shrugged off an ordinary opening and lit up Washington’s fourth-ranked defense with a series of second-half big plays in a 37-20 win on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium.

Purdy, 22, became the first rookie in franchise history to win each of his first three starts. And he did so after posting a puny passer rating (25.0) in the first 30 minutes. Purdy responded with a third-quarter explosion that included touchdown passes of 34 and 33 yards to Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle and a 54-yard toss to wideout Brandon Aiyuk that set up another score.

As a result, the 49ers, who were tied 7-7 at halftime, took a 24-14 lead after Robbie Gould’s 26-yard field goal opened the fourth quarter.

The 49ers’ eighth straight victory ran their record to 11-4 and kept them on the heels of the Vikings (12-3) in their quest to land the NFC’s second seed in the postseason. The 49ers are in position to leapfrog Minnesota if they have identical records by virtue of their record (9-2) in conference games.

Purdy completed 15 of 22 passes for 234 yards, a career-high, with two touchdowns and a pick (114.6 rating). And those numbers looked unlikely after a first half in which he connected on just 4 of 9 passes for 55 yards with an interception that wasn’t his fault: Purdy’s on target, over-the-middle pass to Jauan Jennings was bobbled and picked off on the carom by safety Darrick Forrest.

• Pro Bowl pass rusher Nick Bosa did his best to place a stranglehold on the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award with his latest dominant and disruptive performance.

Bosa had two sacks and added another quarterback takedown that didn’t count on the stat sheet: Bosa dropped QB Carson Wentz on a two-point conversion attempt with the 49ers leading 30-20 with 5:30 left.

The takedowns gave Bosa a career-high 17.5 sacks, which leads the NFL and gives him a chance to match or break Aldon’s Smith franchise record of 19.5 set in 2012.

Bosa’s second sack, which came with the 49ers leading 24-14 early in the fourth quarter, was his most impactful: Bosa drilled QB Taylor Heinicke in mid-throw, forcing a fumble that defensive end Jordan Willis recovered at Washington’s 11-yard line. The takeaway led to a 23-yard field goal by Gould.

• Two days after do-it-all wide receiver Deebo Samuel was sidelined with knee and ankle injuries on Dec. 11, head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about wideout Ray-Ray McCloud assuming some of Samuel’s various duties.

“Yeah, you can use them similarly,” Shanahan said. “They definitely have different bodies, I think that’s pretty obvious. But don’t tell Ray-Ray that. He gets extremely offended.”

The 190-pound McCloud, about 25 pounds lighter than Samuel, did a decent Deebo impression in the second quarter: McCloud took a Jet sweep and wasn’t touched as he ran 71 yards down the right sideline on an exquisitely blocked play in which Kittle, running back Christian McCaffrey, wide receiver Willie Snead and right tackle Mike McGlinchey cleared out defenders.

The touchdown run was a career-long for McCloud.

• Running back Jordan Mason was questionable to play with a hamstring injury. And the undrafted rookie was down on the field with an apparent knee issue after the opening kickoff.

Mason wasn’t forced to leave the game, but it’s possible the impressive undrafted rookie didn’t receive a carry for the first time in six games because he was a bit banged up.

Mason ceded his backfield workload to rookie Ty Davis-Price, whom he’d supplanted on the depth chart. Davis-Price, a third-round pick, had his first carries since Oct. 23 and rushed for 30 yards on nine attempts.

Davis-Price has 67 yards on 25 carries this season, Mason has 217 yards on 33 carries.

* * *

A BREAKER BOY was a coal-mining worker whose job was to separate impurities from coal by hand in a coal breaker. Breaker boys were primarily children, and the practice of employing children for this job did not end until the early 1920s. 

A group of breaker boys at the Woodward Coal Mines in Kingston, Pennsylvania (c. 1900)

* * *


by Maureen Dowd

I had always been a bah humbug sort of person about Christmas.

It seemed like a season of stress, as my parents scrambled to find the money to buy presents for five kids and have a big feast. I didn’t like the materialism or the mawkishness. Why should there be one week of the year when we were all supposed to be Hallmark happy?

“You’re weird,” my mother told me.

Then I took a course on Charles Dickens at Columbia University with the estimable Prof. James Eli Adams, and I began to fathom the magic. As Dickens said in his sketch, “A Christmas Tree,” published in his journal “Household Words” in 1850, “Oh, now all common things become uncommon and enchanted to me.” His biographer Peter Ackroyd wrote that “Dickens can be said to have almost single-handedly created the modern idea of Christmas.”

Christmas morally radicalized Dickens. The disparity between the circumstances and fates of different people offended Dickens in the Christmas season. For him, it was a time to think about what we owe one another, how we live with one another; a time to have a proper sense of outrage about inequality and injustice, and to think about the past, present and future and how much they have to do with each other; a time to consider the good values we’ve thrown away and the bad values — selfishness, egotism, social snobbery, condescension and the worship of money — that infiltrate the heart.

Dickens became an outsider looking in when his middle-class life got disrupted by cold, grinding reality: His father went to debtors’ prison and, at 12, Dickens had to leave school to work in a bootblacking factory in London.

During a childhood in which he sometimes felt deprived and isolated, he put his faith in fairies. He found a portal to an ensorcelling invisible world, an Ali Baba’s cave of magical transformations and mythical kingdoms and became a Victorian Scheherazade. He was one of England’s greatest defenders of fairy tales because he believed these “nurseries of fancy” could teach positive values and imbue life, for children and adults, with transcendence; he also felt the macabre side of fairy tales — evil stepmothers, menacing monsters and big, bad wolves — was just as valuable for socialization as the reassuring side. His obsessions were the things at the core of fairy tales: clear-cut heroes and villains, defenseless children and hyper-dysfunctional families.

“I always think of make-believe as a way of making beliefs,” Maria Tatar, a folklore and mythology expert at Harvard, told me. “He understood the deep human need for myth, fantasy, imagination.”

In “A Christmas Tree,” Dickens wrote, “I felt that if I could have married Little Red Riding Hood, I should have known perfect bliss.” As Tatar explained: “She is the child in the woods who is the ultimate victim of the predatory. She is an innocent, powerless girl preyed upon by the rich and powerful. So you can think of Dickens as the first charter member of the MeToo movement.”

Ebenezer Scrooge resonates just as strongly now because we remain absorbed with the comeuppance of the 1 percent. Elda Rotor, a vice president and publisher for Penguin Classics, said that Dickens is a steady seller and that “A Christmas Carol” perfectly fits the definition of a classic book, acting as a bridge from how you relate to the past to how you forge forward.

Paul Giamatti played Scrooge in a Verizon ad this month; Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell starred in “Spirited,” a new rendition of the novella, first published on Dec. 19, 1843, now on AppleTV+; Steve Martin and Martin Short did a takeoff on the tale for a recent “S.N.L.”; The New Yorker offered a humorous take on Scrooge’s Instagram; and Jefferson Mays has gotten raves for his one-man version of “A Christmas Carol” on Broadway, in which he plays all 50 characters, as well as a boiling potato. Dickens is also a fairy godfather hovering over the Hallmark Christmas movies: There are Dickens festivals; the characters quote Dickens to each other; and one movie’s heroine has a dog named “Charles” after the writer.

I asked Mays why Dickens endures. “His sense of social outrage, his descriptions of misery are balanced by a celebration of the zest, the fun of life,” he replied. “Eating, drinking, dancing, loving. And that’s as important today as it has always been.”

As Mitch Glazer, who co-wrote “Scrooged,” the hilarious 1988 movie with Bill Murray, put it: “Dickens hits us with the setup: regret, loss, mistakes, missed love, wasted life, and then the punchline: ‘It’s not too late!’ In every version from his novella to Mr. Magoo to ours, I always get emotional when Scrooge is reborn.”

Dickens has taught me that it’s not too late to focus on the sweet memories, like the time my mom somehow bought me a doll’s kitchen I longed for that my parents couldn’t afford, or the way she would be aghast if we didn’t wear red and green.

The magic is there, if you look. So on this Christmas, as Tiny Tim said, God bless us, every one!

(New York Times)

* * *

* * *


From FBI to DNI the DNI to "OGA," the full thread on Twitter and its intelligence partners

by Matt Taibbi

  • After weeks of “Twitter Files” reports, the FBI issued a statement Wednesday. It didn’t refute allegations. Instead, it decried “conspiracy theorists” publishing “misinformation,” whose “sole aim” is to “discredit the agency.”
  • They must think us unambitious, if our “sole aim” is to discredit the FBI. After all, a whole range of government agencies discredit themselves in the #TwitterFiles. Why stop with one?
  • The files show the FBI acting as doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship, encompassing agencies across the federal government – from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA.
  • The operation is far bigger than the reported 80 members of the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), which also facilitates requests from a wide array of smaller actors - from local cops to media to state government.
  • Thousands upon thousands of official “reports” flowed through the FITF and the FBI’s San Francisco field office.
  • On June 29th, 2020, San Francisco FBI agent Elvis Chan wrote to pair of Twitter execs asking if he could invite an “OGA” to an upcoming NGO-sponsored conference:
  • OGA, or “Other Government Organization,” is often a euphemism for CIA, and according to multiple former intelligence officials and contractors. 
  • Chuckles one: “They use it to seem mysterious to outsiders.”
  • “Other Government Agency (the place where I worked for 27 years),” says retired CIA officer Ray McGovern.
  • It was an open secret at Twitter that one of its executives was ex-CIA, which is why Chan referred to that executive’s “former employer.”
  • The first Twitter executive abandons all pretense to stealth and emails that the employee “used to work for the CIA, so that is Elvis’s question.”
  • Senior legal executive Stacia Cardille, who had good op-sec by Twitter standards, replies, “I know” and “I thought my silence was understood.”
  • Cardille then passes on conference details to recently-hired ex-FBI lawyer Jim Baker.
  • “I invited the FBI and the CIA virtually will attend too,” Cardille says to Baker, casually adding: “No need for you to attend.”
  • The government was in constant contact not just with Twitter but with virtually every major tech firm. These included Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Reddit, even Pinterest, and many others. 
  • One of the most common forums was a regular meeting of the multi-agency Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), attended by spates of executives, FBI personnel, and – nearly always – one or two attendees marked “OGA.”
  • The FITF meeting agendas virtually always included, at or near the beginning, an “OGA briefing,” usually about foreign matters (hold that thought).…

* * *

* * *


by Patrick Kavanagh (after spending an adult Christmas alone in his Dublin flat)

One side of the potato-pits was white with frost -
How wonderful that was, how wonderful!
And when we put our ears to the paling-post
The music that came out was magical.

The light between the ricks of hay and straw
Was a hole in Heaven's gable. An apple tree
With its December-glinting fruit we saw -
O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me.

To eat the knowledge that grew in clay
And death the germ within it! Now and then
I can remember something of the gay
Garden that was childhood's. Again.

The tracks of cattle to a drinking-place,
A green stone lying sideways in a ditch,
Or any common sight, the transfigured face
Of a beauty that the world did not touch.

My father played the melodion
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east
And they danced to his music.

Across the wild bogs his melodion called
To Lennons and Callans.
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.

Outside in the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.

A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Mass-going feet
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.

Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy's hanging hill,
I looked and three whin bushes rode across
The horizon — the Three Wise Kings.

And old man passing said:
‘Can't he make it talk -
The melodion.' I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.

I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife's big blade -
there was a little one for cutting tobacco.
And I was six Christmases of age.

My father played the melodion,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary's blouse.

(via Paul Kingsnorth)

* * *

Remaining Persimmons (2016) by Kazuyuki Ohtsu


  1. Marmon December 25, 2022


    Apparently the CIA was using Social Media to influence U.S. and other Countries’ politics and/or elections. This thing is going to be huge. Operation Mockingbird all over again, only at a larger scale.

    Operation Mockingbird was a covert U.S. government operation run by the CIA to implant pro-US propaganda in American media and front organizations. Starting in the 1950s, the CIA began to hire and contract students and people in the media to write false stories, or embellish stories to favor the U.S government.


    • Bruce Anderson December 25, 2022

      What else is new, besides it’s Christmas. Have some egg nog and cool out, Jimbo.

  2. David Jensen December 25, 2022

    Sudden calamities can bring out the best in people, or at least disrupt their evil behavior. I was living in Oakland when the Loma Prieta quake hit on October 17, 1989. The power was out across town for several hours. Emergency services were clustered around the fallen Nimitz, but there were no murders – zero – that night.

  3. Chuck Dunbar December 25, 2022

    Merry Christmas to all, each and every one! And we all wish, I am certain, for good health for Mark Scaramella. And heavy rains on the way, the best gift of all!

  4. Randy December 25, 2022

    And rightfully so…Bodkins comes through again. A real Christmas gift to be.

  5. Nathan Duffy December 25, 2022

    RE: Christmas Strike.
    With the increasing Unionization of American workers Santas reindeer and elves have caught the bug as well and decided organize with the Teamsters, Carpenters , Decorators etc and Christmas is on hold this year until all parties involved sit down and hash out a contract to ratify. For Christ sake they’re not giving the elves bathroom breaks and they are starting them in the I-phone factories at the tender age of 8. They’re working 14 hour days 7 days a week with no vacation or sick pay. They are forced to spend all of their shekels at the company store. This must be addressed!!! They started to strike before Christmas until Scrooge McBiden stepped in to put an end to these demands for equality in the name of Americans getting all of their ‘Carrots’ I mean Chinese consumer goods for Christmas.
    An injury to one is an injury to all!!! We need a modern day Christmas Rebellion ala Sam Sharpe!!!!

  6. Kathy Janes December 25, 2022

    What a great article by Mackenzie Mays. What paper does she write for? I would gladly buy a subscription to read more of her writing.

    • Bruce Anderson December 25, 2022

      LA Times, Politico

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