Showers | December Garden | Navarro Watch | Swimming Hole | Adventist Warning | Jesus Review | Ed Notes | Partner McKee | Klamath Crossing | Glaser Hurstory | Yesterday's Catch | Parking Ticket | Highsmith Toast | Clair Patterson | F-Book Confession | Leaving Teaching | Almayer's Folly | Israeli Government | Christmas Attire | Toxic Leader | Black Champ | Sharecropper Shack | Tired American | Possible Awakening | Nutmare | Ukraine | Another Payday | Winter Solstice
SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE TODAY before diminishing tonight and Wednesday. There is a slight chance for thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. Another frontal boundary is expected Thursday with breezy winds and moderate rainfall. Additional weak systems will bring light to moderate rain into early next week. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S RAINFALL (past 24 hours): Laytonville 4.78" - Willits 3.80" - Yorkville 3.56" - Leggett 3.08" - Covelo 2.45" - Boonville 2.44" - Ukiah 2.01" - Hopland 1.59"
GARDEN SIGHTS from Deep End Heights on Boxing Day (before the rain) by KB
NAVARRO RIVER UPDATE 12/26/22
The NWS Navarro River level forecast predicts a rapid rise Tuesday starting at 2.5 ft. at 3 AM and peaking at 13.1 ft. at 2 PM.
However, there is no danger of Hwy. 128 closing due to flooding. Although the sandbar closed in a few days ago, except at highest tide, the coming surge will easily blow it out early tomorrow morning. There is however a chance that tonight's big storm will drop tree branches and debris on the roadway, so be alert if you're driving that way early Tuesday morning.
Forecasted continuing rains through this week and into the new year will keep the Navarro flowing moderately high in the near term, However the official level for “minor flooding” is 23 ft., and only about half that level is forecast even at the peak on Tuesday.
Here's the NWS Navarro Hydrograph Forecast chart link: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=eka&gage=nvrc1
There's a lot of rain forecast for the next 10 days and beyond. Here's the Weather Underground 10-day weather forecast for my location in East Little River: https://www.wunderground.com/forecast/us/ca/little-river/KCALITTL10
Also very big 20 ft. waves coming Tuesday, so if you go watch them please stay well back from the bluffs and rocks. https://www.surf-forecast.com/breaks/Big-River-1/forecasts/latest
JEFF BURROUGHS WRITES:
My wife was admitted to the Ukiah Adventist ER one night back in October because the lymph nodes in her neck had swollen to the size of lemons. She was also suffering from dizziness, sever fatigue and nausea. They took blood and for some unknown reason ignored the swollen lymph nodes in her neck. Instead they obsessed on her high blood pressure, gave her Blood pressure medication and sent her home. Two days later she was rushed to the ER due to a severe reaction to the meds. They kept her in the hospital for two days while she recovered only to administrator the same medication that almost killed her, just a smaller dose they said should be fine? NO, it wasn't. She had to spend two more nights in the hospital recovering again. By the time she left the hospital two days later they had not once tried to help her swollen lymph nodes that were slowly poisoning her system. We are currently seeking medical advice from a doctor other than the ones at the horrible Adventist Hospital. I suggest everyone stay away from Ukiah Adventist if humanly possible.
SKIP TAUBE WONDERS: “Will the historical review board give Jesus a pass?”
SITTING HERE on the left bank of the atmospheric river as the tv weathercasters hype the level 3 event with almost Old Testament hyperbole while the calmer pros of the National Weather Service predict winds and rains only a little more intense than the storm at the beginning of the month. Maybe it's because we've forgotten what a truly rainy rainy season was like that a routine day's storm seems almost apocalyptic.
HAVE THE FASCISTS begun to make their move? Tacoma, Washington, lost electricity Christmas morning when three power substations in the area were “attacked” by unknown suspects. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said that responding officers found signs of forced entry at all three locations, along with vandalized equipment that had caused the outages, cutting power to more than 14,000 people. Police said they haven’t taken anyone into custody and still don't know any of the whys of the sabotage, it has occurred amid a surge in threats to power grids nationwide—with the number of recent events in Washington and Oregon—a hotbed of organized domestic extremism—now standing at eight. In January, a Department of Homeland Security memo warned that domestic extremists have harbored “credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020,” and in late November the agency released another bulletin saying those threats remained heightened. Days later, unknown actors shot up two power stations in Moore County, North Carolina, knocking out power to more than 40,000 homes in what federal and local officials are calling an “intentional” and “criminal” event.
I'VE WONDERED FOR YEARS who reads David Brooks, the blandly insane bloviator for the blandly insane New York Times. The only reality-based writer the paper has is Maureen Dowd without whom you might as well be reading Press Democrat editorials. Here's Brooks this week comparing the movie version of Lincoln with Biden. Did you say Brooks is comparing Abraham Lincoln to an insensate figurehead of a president placed in the position by a corrupt Democratic Party so utterly bereft of more plausible candidates they come up with this lifelong errand boy for the most rancid corporations in the Country? ’Fraid so.
BROOKS: “Finding the balance between passionate ideals and mundane practicalities has been a persistent American problem. The movie ‘Lincoln’ with Daniel Day-Lewis was about that. Lincoln is zigging and zagging through the swamps of reality, trying to keep his eye on true north, while some tell him he’s going too fast and others scream he’s going too slow. Joe Biden has struck this balance as well as any president in recent times, perhaps having learned a costly lesson from the heartless way America exited from Afghanistan. He has swung the Western alliance fervently behind Ukraine. But he has done it with prudence and calibration. Ukraine will get this weapon system, but not that one. It can dream of total victory, but it also has to think seriously about negotiations. Biden has shown that America can responsibly lead. He has shown you can have moral clarity without being blinded by it…”
IF I WROTE everything I know about the place I live, I'd have to pick up my mail at the Boonville Post Office in a Humvee. I don't know if it's a consequence of age or simply too much idle time over the Christmas weekend, but to get rid of morbid memories I thought I'd write down a couple, the only sure fire way I know of disencumbering oneself of certain recalls. There's knowing and there's gossip. What I know is that it occurred to me the other day as I drove up and down The Valley delivering my doomed newspaper, is that almost every address I passed, a related sad story subliminally flitted across my mind screen. I remembered the man who so thoroughly cut himself off from the few friends and relations he had that when he starved himself to death he wasn't found in his last bed for almost two months. And there was the man who dove into the bottle, disappearing into his cabin-like house that was so overgrown with trees and vegetation that newcomers didn't know there was a home in the middle of all that biology. He died one night trying to get through a fence to the rear of his burrow after a booze re-supply. The unspeakably abused wife of a Boonville man hung herself in the doorway to her torture chamber of a home so her tormentor would see her as he came through the door after work. I could go on. And on, but I'll spare you the rest.
BOB MCKEE, ANOTHER VIEW
Bob McKee gave me my first job when I arrived in Humboldt County in 1969, a poor hippie with a broken down car and a few bucks in my pocket. In the early 70s I worked at his construction yard doing odd jobs such as nailing up wooden shingles on the sides of his country store and later ran a shovel and a chain saw behind his D6 bulldozer while it was building roads on his Briceland Ranch subdivision. In the 80s I bought and traded multiple parcels with Bob. Also in the 80s, Bob invited me to invest with him in his Black Oak Ranch subdivision in Laytonville, now partly the Hog Farm and the site of the Kate Wolf Festivals. A few years later I was a 50% partner with him in the Siri Property subdivision also in Laytonville and his Yorkville subdivision in the Boonville area.
Several years later and having gotten nothing out my investments, Bob shrewdly offered to buy me out with monthly payments. A month after signing this agreement, Bob declared bankruptcy. On the advice of my attorney, I signed his Chapter 13 Bankruptcy offer, along with nearly 50 other “unsecured” creditors, who were owed millions of dollars. We were promised 40 cents on the dollar, paid off over a 20 year period. Several of the creditors told me there was no point in hiring an attorney to become a claimant if you were owed less than $50,000 because of the attorneys fees, consequently many creditors simply abandoned the money they were owed. Remember, this was in the 80’s, when a million dollars was worth substantially more than now. After waiting 20 years to get paid back, my attorney had to go back to court. We were informed that the pay off now amounted to only 20 cents on the dollar, because it had been a fixed total amount owed creditors and additional creditors, some with special ties to the McKee family, had been added to the creditor list. After declaring bankruptcy, Mr. McKee made numerous promises to me, promises that were never kept. After I won in the bankruptcy court, Mr. McKee was forced to pay me. However, my attorney fees accounted for half the money recovered, which means I recovered 10 cents on the dollar 20 years later, which allowing for inflation actual amounts to pennies on the dollar.
Concurrently, Mr. McKee was suing me for a right of way across property he had sold me 20 years previously. Mr. McKee lost the suit. The court decided he had no standing, he simply wanted the right of way. He just knew he was right. Defending myself cost $30,000 and over a year of court appearances and the accompanying stress. I was deposed repeatedly for both legal actions, the right of way and the bankruptcy. I was on trial and appeared before the court numerous times and my credibility was attacked. I had to defend myself against numerous false and outlandish accusations. In a private meeting with only our lawyers present, Mr. McKee told me that in my line of business I shouldn’t be opposing him. Besides the drama and trauma of being in court, and although being vindicated in both trials, in the end I lost 10 years of hard earned savings that I invested with my friend and mentor, the charming Bob McKee. I met the man behind the curtain.
Watching Mr. McKee interact with the county planning departments in our subdivision projects, Bob would become enraged with the bureaucracy, and unfortunately would become entangled in endless, and in my mind needless fights about who was right. Bob had a bumper sticker that read “Bureaucracy, the process of turning energy into solid waste,” which he found amusing, and aligned perfectly with his attitude. Mr. McKee’s 13,000 acre Southern Humboldt [Tooby] Ranch subdivision around 1998 is a case in point. From my experience of more than 20 building permits and a half dozen subdivisions and working with multiple counties, I have learned to make the planners partners in your projects, asking them for direction and then following their lead and suggestions. On the other hand you can go into planning demanding your permits, try to can bully them, insisting you are smarter than they are. Mr. McKee by his own account spent many years and millions on attorney fees fighting the county over the Williamson Act cattle ranch property tax discount that was in place over the [Tooby] ranch when he bought it. Although he knew he was right, Humboldt County sued him and he lost. He might have considered their suggestion of selling 600 acre minimum lots, thus leaving the Williamson Act in place. Instead, Mr. McKee double escrow-ed the ranch selling the entire 13,000 acre ranch to unsuspecting buyers in roughly 160 acre lots. A double escrow means he simultaneously bought and sold the [Tooby] Ranch, the same day. He did not use any of his own money but used the buyers money, and charged 3 and 4 times what he paid for it, pocketing by my estimation $20 million. Thus he created hundreds of “gray” parcels, subdivisions that were not county approved, adding to the probable many 100s more across the north state. Many property owners had not received a clear title over a decade later, and often any subsequent permitting, including cannabis, was denied.
Mr. McKee could be charming and self effacing, and this enabled him to sell more property. He once confided in me that if he sold parcels for no money down, at 10% interest, that it was the equivalent to “giving a man enough rope to hang himself.” In later years he was the go to man for growers with bags of money, which often worked out to the equivalent of a lease until the property got busted. Mr. McKee often would get back grow parcels after a bust, then resell them again. He repossessed a neighboring parcel to mine and resold it 4 times. In private he bragged to me about the hundreds of parcels he had flipped. In my opinion, Mr. McKee was a man primarily motivated by greed and self aggrandizement. Men like Mr. McKee are often born wealthy, having inherited large tracks of property and thus feel entitled, having never had to start from nothing or earn their positions of wealth, and have no empathy for those with less. They get blinded by monetary success. These ambitious men have no feelings for those that have had to work and save. Lying to and cheating the county government or clients is just part of the game of getting richer, proving you are smarter than everyone else. This the same macho posturing and competing that is unfortunately common in our culture, and dare I say seems to be the same mind set that got our previous President elected.
My apologies if I have offended anyone who might hold Mr. McKee in high regard. I felt the same for many years.
— John Mahony
MARTIN'S FERRY crossing the Klamath River
INTRO TO HURSTORY 101 (Jan 22, Feb 5 and 12th at 5pm)
5000 years of Patriarchy is more than enough for award winning actress and author Sherry Glaser, star of Family Secrets, Oh My Goddess and Taking The High Road. In her new show, Intro to Hurstory 101, Sherry comically and cleverly dissects the male driven agenda buried deep in language and the power therein. Sherry spells it out for you in this interactive, rebellious, paradigm shifting evening of theater.
A thirty year resident of California and the North Coast, Sherry Glaser was born and raised in New York, is the Star and author of Off-Broadways’ longest running one-woman show; Family Secrets. She developed her passion for the solo performance while practicing improvisation in the early 80’s in San Diego in the company of Whoopi Goldberg, Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy.
Glaser then played Ma and Miguel in her one-woman play, Oh My Goddess! Ma was depicted as the Great Jewish Mother of us all, “...reminding us of the simple and sacred nature of life on earth”. In 2004, Glaser collaborated with Thais Mazur on a theater/dance project called Remember This (An Intimate Portrait of War through the Eyes of Women) which debuted in Mendocino and then went on to San Francisco. Glaser wrote another one-woman show called Taking the High Road (Comic Confessions from Behind the Cannabis Curtain) in 2015 after her Medical Marijuana Dispensary and her home were raided by local and Federal agents. Glaser also co-authored a book with her mother, Rochelle (Shelly) Glaser about their experiences with mental illness, titled The First Practical Handbook for Crazy People.
Glaser also writes a weekly Tuesday evening editorial on Mendocino County, California, radio station KZYX. Glaser's writing has been featured in the anthologies, Exit Laughing, The Other Woman, He Said What? (Victoria Zackheim, editor), and Warrior Mothers (Thais Mazur, editor).
PLEASE NOTE: All above performances are accompanied by a full bar featuring mixed drinks, premium wine, beer and soft drinks.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, December 26, 2022
TEVEN HOAGLEN, Covelo. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
VINCENT RAMON, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
JHONATAN ROSAS-TORRES, Sacramento/Ukiah. DUI, no license.
DANIEL WOLDT, Fort Bragg. Criminal threats, resisting, probation revocation.
DOWNTOWN SANTA ROSA
I had an emergency veterinary appointment in Sebastopol. I stopped for cash at my bank on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa. There were no meters left, and I was in a hurry. I parked for one minute next to a car at a meter in front of the bank. I put my flashers on and ran to the ATM. I was in the middle of my transaction when I saw a parking attendant across the street writing a ticket.
I watched and waited for my transaction to be complete. He was taking photos of the car, writing a ticket and placing it under the wiper. I ran to the car, opened my door and got one foot inside. He sauntered across the street and said, “Unfortunately, I am going to give you a ticket.” I said, “I watched you. You were not even finished placing that ticket before I got halfway into my vehicle.” He said it didn’t matter and he was going to ticket me for illegal parking.
This is why I will not shop, eat or go downtown anymore. I can walk to Montgomery Village where I will do my business. Santa Rosa will watch its downtown die with these draconian parking measures.
Kate E. Black
MY NEW YEAR’S EVE TOAST: to all the devils, lusts, passions, greeds, envies, loves, hates, strange desires, enemies ghostly and real, the army of memories, with which I do battle — may they never give me peace.
— Patricia Highsmith (New Year's Eve, 1947)
THE MOST IMPORTANT SCIENTIST YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF
by Lucas Reilly
For 60 years, American drivers unknowingly poisoned themselves by pumping leaded gasoline into their tanks. Here is the lifelong saga of Clair Patterson — a scientist who helped build the atomic bomb and discovered the true age of the Earth — and how he took on a billion-dollar industry to save humanity from itself.…
I QUIT TEACHING OVER PAY. It would take more than money to get me back into a classroom
by Yoo Eun Kim
Earlier this month, Congress introduced the American Teacher Act — a policy to establish a federal minimum salary for K-12 public school educators. The new law would ensure a minimum annual salary of $60,000 [comparable to about $29/hour for a 2080 hour work year] and would include mandatory annual salary increases that account for inflation.
The average starting salary for teachers in the 2020-2021 academic year was $41,770 [comparable to about $20/hour for a 2080 hour work year], according to a National Education Association report. Boosting pay would be a promising step forward to improving public education, which has historically struggled to attract and retain top talent.
However, as a former classroom educator, I can say with certainty that increasing pay isn’t enough to address the challenges that public K-12 education faces.
From 2016 to 2019, I taught middle school math in the working-class city of Chelsea, Mass. Many of the kids in my class were students of color and came from immigrant backgrounds. The opportunity to build their confidence in mathematics and to prepare them for college, vocational school and the general workforce was incredibly rewarding; I saw my impact in the classroom every single day.
Unfortunately, my career as a teacher was unsustainable. The physical, mental and financial stressors took their toll on me. I spent 60 hours each week creating lessons, grading papers, contacting student family members and guardians, and overseeing school activities. Yet, despite the added responsibilities, my salary over the three years as a classroom educator barely increased — from $45,000 to $52,000.
Since local taxes are linked to public school funding, my school district was at a disadvantage compared to those of wealthier communities and struggled to provide basic classroom amenities for its students. I had to use my own money to make sure that all of my students had the pencils and notebooks they needed to do their classwork.
Eventually, like many teachers, I reached a breaking point. Wanting more financial autonomy and shorter hours, I took a managerial role overseeing and training K-12 educators in Los Angeles. My new job paid me over 25% more than my teaching salary.
As a manager, I oversaw roughly 20 educators, rather than over 100 middle school students. My lifestyle improved vastly as I worked 40 hours per week, rather than 60. Middle management was far less intense than teaching. I received reimbursement for transportation and office supplies and had a flexible schedule. During the pandemic, the educators I oversaw were more stressed than I was, particularly as many were pushed back into the classrooms before adequate COVID-19 protection and guidelines were set.
Now, I am a master’s candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, whose graduates make around $160,000 annually. As part of the recent exodus of teachers looking for opportunities outside of education, I feel guilty for leaving the education field, especially at a time when it needs people like me the most. According to the Wall Street Journal, from February 2020 to May 2022, around 300,000 teachers and other school staff members left the education field. The pandemic staffing shortage has left America’s kids in need of teachers more than ever.
However, I do not regret prioritizing my health and sense of worth. And I am not alone.
Almost 25% of educators shared that they were likely to leave their jobs by the end of the school year in a 2021 Rand Education and Labor survey. Moreover, according to the Economic Policy Institute, classroom educators earn around 24% less than their college graduate counterparts. According to a recent Merrimack College and EdWeek Research Center survey, only 46% of teachers said that they feel respected by the general public. Based on a survey conducted by the California Teachers Association and the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools, workload burnout and political attacks are major contributors to California teachers’ dissatisfaction with their profession.
The introduction of a federal bill to raise teacher pay is a promising start, but more needs to be done to save our education system. We need to reinvent school funding models to serve our low-income school districts. The American Teacher Act would incentivize states and school districts to establish a starting salary of $60,000 by the 2024 to 2025 academic year, but the amount set aside to fund the program has yet to be specified. Ultimately, states and school districts will be responsible for covering the federal minimum teacher salary. Most school districts will find this requirement difficult without reducing overhead. This will force teachers who remain to pick up the slack.
We need to reduce teachers’ workloads, not saddle them with more work for moderately higher pay. We also need to improve teacher onboarding and improve the public reputation of the teaching field.
Without these changes, the federal compensation mandate is only a temporary stopgap to address the challenges experienced by our public school system. Systemic changes are needed if we want to positively change the current status quo. Until then, the disarray in our public schools will continue unabated.
(Yoo Eun Kim is a former classroom teacher and a master’s candidate at Stanford Graduate School of Business.)
ISRAEL’S NEW ‘GOVERNMENT OF DARKNESS’: The Most Underreported Story in the Middle East
by Patrick Cockburn
If a prize was to be awarded for the most important yet least reported story in the media in 2022, it might well go to the news outlets that failed to report on the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians, which is now combining with the likely impact of the incoming far-right government in Israel.
The explanation for the neglect is domination of the news agenda by the war in Ukraine and, more culpably, fear by part of the media that any criticism of Israel will be attacked as anti-Semitic. This attitude is more common today in Britain than the US, while the reverse used to be the case.
The latest grim episode in this extremist shift in Israel came this week when prime minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in forming a governing coalition in which many senior posts will be filled by religious and ethno-nationalist zealots.
‘A government of darkness’
The membership of Netanyahu’s new cabinet reads like a list of ingredients guaranteed to deepen repression of the Palestinians and divide Israeli society. Openly anti-Arab ministers are given enhanced security powers over Palestinians. Anti-secularists will set the rules for secularist Israelis. Judicial restraints will be curtailed.
“He managed to assemble a government of darkness,” tweeted Avigdor Lieberman, a secular nationalist politician and former ally of Netanyahu on the news of the new coalition agreement.
What makes the ultra-nationalism of the new government so potentially explosive is that it takes office when Israeli-Palestinian relations are becoming more confrontational by the day. Some 150 Palestinians and 31 Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year. Israeli police on Friday shot dead an Israeli-Arab who is alleged to have rammed them with his car in central Israel after first opening fire. A day earlier, a Palestinian was mortally wounded when Palestinians exchanged fire with Israeli soldiers who entered Nablus on the West Bank to escort Jewish worshippers to a site known as Joseph’s Tomb in the Palestinian city.
The new Israeli cabinet
Netanyahu, in winning a majority in the general election on 1 November, has normalized the presence of religious and nationalist fanatics at the centre of Israeli government. Itamar Ben Gvir, the leader of the Jewish Power party, is to be security minister – a newly created post placing him in charge of the national police force.
A religious settler from Kiryat Arba close to the West Bank city of Hebron, Ben Gvir was convicted in the past on charges of inciting racism and supporting terror. He is notorious for threatening Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s life just a few weeks before the latter was assassinated in 1995, and for hanging in his home until recently a photograph of Baruch Goldstein, who shot dead 29 Palestinians as they worshipped in Hebron in 1994.
Other ministers in the new Israeli cabinet include Bezalel Smotrich, a West Bank settler leader who believes Israel should annex the occupied territory, and is set to receive widespread authority over West Bank settlement construction. Previously he has supported the segregation of Jews and Arabs in Israeli maternity wards, governing Israel according to the laws of the Torah and for Jewish property developers to refuse to sell land to Arabs.
‘A total mess’
Under new legislation he is to get enhanced powers on the West Bank that were previously held by the Defence Ministry. Another Netanyahu ally, Avi Maoz, who is head of a small religious, anti-LGBTQ faction, is to control parts of the country’s national education system.
Only in the last few weeks have the implications of what is happening in Israel and the occupied territories begun to sink in abroad. In an article titled “What in the World is Happening in Israel?”, Thomas L Friedman, the most influential of American columnist writing on Israel, concludes that the arrival of Netanyahu’s ultrareligious, ultranationalist government is combining with long term political, demographic and social trends to produce chronic instability at every level.
“If you ask me,” he writes, what “is the most likely outcome [of the present situation] – a total mess that will leave Israel no longer being a bedrock of stability for the region and for its American ally, but instead, a cauldron of instability and a source of anxiety for the US government.”
Netanyahu is playing down such dire predictions, claiming “I didn’t hand over great powers in Judea, Samaria, the West Bank, not at all. In fact, all the decisions will be made by me and the defence minister.” Significantly, this calming declaration was swiftly followed by a row-back admitting that Netanyahu was indeed transferring authority on the West Bank, notably on settlement construction and policing, to his far-right coalition allies.
The confusion about who is in charge confirms Friedman’s thesis that a great and dangerous “mess” is in the making. Netanyahu insists that he can restrain his extremist partners and has done so in the past. But that may actually be his problem as his new cabinet colleagues regard him as wholly untrustworthy and likely to renege shamelessly on pledges and alliances whenever it suits his interests. They will make every effort to show that they exercise real authority under the coalition agreement which explains why it took so long to negotiate.
But it is not only the suspicions of his coalition partners that may make Netanyahu’s devious manoeuvring less effective than in the past. History has moved on for both Israelis and Palestinians. The two-state solution has long been a sham, with half a million Jewish settlers on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. The pretence that this option still has life in it, so far as it ever did, is simply a convenient piece of hypocrisy enabling the US and European powers to pretend that diplomatic progress is feasible.
Violence and force
The political reality is that for decades the balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians has been so skewed in favour of the former that many Israelis – and non-Israelis – no longer believed compromise to be necessary. Yet, in one crucial respect, perception of Palestinian weakness was deceptive, because the Palestinians today make up slightly more than half the 14 million people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Divided geographically between the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and Israel itself they may be, but in practice this separation creates multiple points of possible friction, each of which might detonate into protests and resistance.
Nor are such outbreaks as easy to isolate as they once were as news of them spreads instantly through the internet regardless of walls and barbed wire fences. A protest against the eviction of Palestinians from a house in the Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem in May 2021 quickly affected the two million Palestinians sealed off in Gaza and a similar number in Israel, where they make up 20 per cent of the population. Fear of these outbreaks erupting again was one factor pushing Israeli voters towards the ultra-right in the general election.
What is becoming clear is that controlling the Palestinians in their separate enclaves is going to take ever-increasing amounts of violence and force to maintain Israeli dominance, however counterproductive this is likely to be.
Read anything about the Syrian cholera outbreak recently? Probably not, because Syria is one of the many simmering wars that have never ended but the rest of the world has forgotten about. Yet economic sanctions still do their deadly work, degrading water and electricity supplies and sewage disposal. This provides ideal conditions for the return of cholera and other epidemic illnesses we associate with pre-modern times.
Since a ceasefire in and around Idlib province, largely rebel held, in 2020 there has been less shooting, but the country is still too dangerous and unstable for people to go home, with the result that Syria still has 6.8 million internally displaced people – the highest such figure proportionate to population in the world.
Beneath the Radar
The War We Left Behind is the best documentary I know about the systematic destruction by the US Air Force of Iraqi infrastructure in a short period in 1991. The Iraqi economy and society have never recovered from this attack 31 years later. Note that power stations were hit repeatedly to prevent them being rebuilt post-war, one near Basra being attacked 16 times until it was a heap of ruins.
An iron rule of warfare is that all governments and armies lie about the meticulous care they take in avoiding civilian casualties. Full disclosure: the Frontline documentary is by Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, my brother and sister-in-law.
I found this interview with Russian dissident Boris Kagarlitsky in Moscow about Russia losing the war convincing. Also interesting is the apolitical attitude of the Russian public until the shambolic partial mobilisation a few months back. This public apathy also explains President Vladimir Putin’s ludicrous pretence that his “Special Military Operation” is not a proper war, and his continuing failure to mobilise adequate Russian resources in manpower and military equipment.
(Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso). CounterPunch.org)
EARL MACPHERSON: “Holiday Festivity” December 1949 Artist's Sketch Book Calendar Illustration from The Shaw-Barton Calendar Co. - I normally post a copy of the calendar, but this was a copy of the original sketch that Heritage Art Gallery sold last year. Mac always painted great lines and tones for his ladies. I'll post more tomorrow since it is going to be COLD in Northern Florida along the Forgotten Coast. Verse - “In the holiday season, a yule log fire gives our model a reason for this Christmas attire”
A military leader whose presence makes his organization (squad, platoon, company, battalion, brigade, or higher) worse. Usually characterized by an inflated sense of self-esteem and self-importance, vulnerable to flattery, and the reedy, high-pitched tone of their screams (delivered whenever their whims are not immediately met with full agreement). Often have conventionally attractive girlfriends/wives. Also known for reading and professing admiration for Ayn Rand past their twenties. Understand that they have to appear to be sympathetic to their subordinates or they will be punished or miss promotion, but do not actually possess the capacity to sympathize or empathize with other humans. Have the ability to charm attractive women and superiors, while remaining viscerally detested by almost every one of their subordinates.
— Adrian Bonenberger, ‘Afghan Post’
JACK JOHNSON becomes the first black heavyweight world champion after defeating Canada’s Tommy Burns who was making the 12th defense of the title. After 14 rounds the fight was stopped by police who stopped all filming of the bout as in order to stop the filming of a black man knocking out a white champion. Burns received $30,000 for the bout the highest ever to date for a fighter. Johnson received $5,000 yet stood as king of the world and the new heavyweight world champion.
Throughout the fight Johnson teased Tommy with taunts of “Poor little Tommy, who told you you were a fighter?” And on the odd occasion Burns did land a shot he would be met with a laughing Johnson’s remarks of “Poor, poor, Tommy. Who taught you to hit? Your mother?” Lightweight boxer Rudy Unholz later admitted to promoter Otto Floto that he and a pal had crawled under the ring prior to the fourteenth round and shouted for the police to stop the fight. Unholz worked Johnson's corner and had bet a large sum of money on Jack winning.
With the championship now in the hands of Johnson the white world demanded James J Jeffries come out of retirement and reclaim some ‘pride’ within the white race. Within a month of the fight Jeffries wrote “Tommy Burns has his price—$30,000. Burns has sold his pride, the pride of the Caucasian race...The Canadian never will be forgiven by the public for allowing the title of the best physical man in the world to be wrested from his keeping by a member of the African race....I refused time and again to meet Johnson while I was holding the title, even though I knew I could beat him. I would never allow a negro a chance to fight for the world's championship, and I advise all other champions to follow the same course....All night long I was besieged with telegrams asking me to re-enter the ring. I answer them now as I have answered them hundreds of times: 'I have fought my last fight.'“ The Galveston Giant had just began one of the most famous title reigns of all time...his story had barely even began.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I have a picture of a man who has been taking a beating for a long time from 3 punks called Government agency, mainstream Media and Greedy Corporations. He’s fallen on the ground and is on his back taking fist blows to the chin and face. He is tired. So tired he cannot to get up or defend himself, his family or his people anymore.
Is that a true and accurate picture of America today?
IT'S POSSIBLE that the empire's violent shutdown of the awakenings of the 1960s was the mortal wound that would ultimately kill our species, and the last few decades have just been humanity lying on the ground bleeding out and waiting to die of ecocide or nuclear armageddon.
It's also possible that awakening is inevitable, and that the sixties were the first morning stirrings before we opened our eyes to the light.
— Caitlin Johnstone
UKRAINE, MONDAY, 26TH DECEMBER
Ukraine calls for Russia’s removal from the United Nations, arguing that the seat was initially granted to the USSR in 1991, not the Russian Federation, so their membership is “illegitimate”.
The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak to his Chinese counterpart this week as Russia-China relations take on a more significant role in light of Western sanctions.
Russian Iskander missiles ready to be used, says Belarus. The Iskander tactical missile systems and the S-400 air defence systems that Russia sent to Belarus are ready to be used, said a Belarusian official.
While it is unclear how many systems were deployed to Belarus, the news comes amid fears that Russia is planning to strike from the Belarusian border with Ukraine and involve their troops in the conflict.
Sberbank accuses Glencore of using sanctions as excuse. Russian bank Sberbank accuses Glencore of choosing not to pay for oil supplied, saying the global commodities trader could have found a way to pay up without violating Western sanctions. Sberbank has taken legal action to recover debt and penalties from Glencore Energy UK Ltd over the two consignments supplied by a subsidiary of Russia’s largest bank in March. They were worth roughly 58 million euros ($62 million) each, according to Moscow court filings. “Glencore is refusing to pay, citing sanctions,” Sberbank First Deputy Chairman Alexander Vedyakhin told reporters. “There are different ways of working without violating sanctions … This issue could have been resolved, but unfortunately, Glencore is refusing any communications with us.”
In light of Russian sanctions as a result of the invasion of Ukraine, Glencore said in March it would not enter into new trading business in respect of Russian-origin commodities unless directed by the relevant government authorities.
After the US pledges to send Patriot air defense systems and European countries add more money to Ukrainian defense funds, what will the influx of Western weapons mean for the future of the conflict?
RUSSIA INVADED ITS NEIGHBOR, UKRAINE, almost ten months ago to this day. Since then, the United States government has spent more than $100 billion — $100 billion — on that war on the other side of the world, in a country that Washington has long stated contains no vital interest to the United States.
To put that amount into perspective, the amount the U.S. has spent in 10 months is almost double the entire Russian military budget for the year, which is $65 billion. The amount is more than double the average annual amount that the U.S. spent on its own war in Afghanistan, which we were told -- unlike what's happening in Ukraine -- was a war necessary to protect the security of American citizens. So, in just ten months, we're spending more than twice on the war in Ukraine what we spend each year on our own ostensible self-defense war in Afghanistan. And it's 17 times more than what the U.N. told Elon Musk it needed to spend in order to avert world famine in 2022, a claim that was then used to shame Musk for spending $44 billion to buy Twitter instead of feeding everyone on the brink of famine.
That amount is also close to one-eighth of the U.S. own military budget just approved by Congress this week. A sprawling oozing package, of record-breaking package waste in the amount of $858 billion, signaling the imminent arrival of the first-ever trillion dollars military budget. One-eighth of our overall military budget for Ukraine. This is all for a stalemate of a war that virtually every military analyst agrees has no end in sight, meaning the ultimate amount spent by the United States on this war will be far, far greater by the time it's over, whenever that might be.
Now, whatever else you might think about whether the U.S. government should be spending so much of your money on what it calls the “War in Ukraine”, which mostly means pouring money into the coffers of weapons manufacturers like Raytheon and Boeing, the CIA…