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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023

A VERY POWERFUL PACIFIC CYCLONE is rapidly strengthening and heading closer to the West Coast. The storm will bring heavy rain and flooding, strong to damaging winds, very large surf, isolated strong thunderstorms and heavy, high elevation snow. (NWS)



FLOODING: The NWS Navarro River forecast as of now shows a forecast flood crest at 28.6 ft. early Thursday at 6 AM. Flood stage is 23.0 ft. A second flood crest is due to arrive early Sunday morning:

HIGHWAY CLOSURES: That means that Hwy. 128 will be closed due to flooding overnight Wednesday and all day Thursday and Thursday night. The predicted flood crest would put parts of 128 under more than 5 ft. of water, leaving mud and woody debris needing to be cleared away before reopening.

CalTrans may reopen the highway by noonish on Friday, but not for long. Another big flood surge is forecast to reach the 23 ft. level by 4 AM Sunday, so chances are good that 128 will be closed Friday night to Sunday.

Hwy. 1 will likely be closed at the Garcia River between Manchester and Point Arena Wednesday night into Thursday, and again Sunday. NWS Garcia River forecast:

Check highway status at or call 1-800-GAS-ROAD for phone access to the same information. That official highway info may lag an hour or more behind reality.

HEAVY RAIN AND HIGH WINDS: Heavy rain and wind are forecast for Wednesday, with total of 1.74" and heaviest rain from 11 AM to 8 PM, and sustained winds above 20 mph from 3 AM Wednesday through 8AM Thursday, and above 30 mph with gusts to 53 mph Wednesday from 9 AM through 5 PM.

10-day weather forecast shows two atmospheric river flooding events expected Wednesday and Friday/Saturday.

POWER OUTAGES: Sustained power outages are very likely as trees topple onto power lines at many places, with the ground already saturated and high rainfall and wind forecast. While I don't mean to be overly alarmist, I think some parts of the coast may be without PG&E power for several days, from tomorrow (Wednesday) through sometime next week. So if you're planning to rely on a generator, better stock up on fuel and check the oil today.

Have you noticed the flood stains on the redwoods along 128? There will probably be some new ones by this time next week.

Stay warm and dry, neighbors.  Gonna be an epic stormy period!

— Nick Wilson




by Gerry Díaz & Jack Lee

A bomb cyclone spinning up hundreds of miles off the California coast will deliver more rain to a soaked Bay Area starting Tuesday night. While the weather system will remain offshore, associated warm and cold fronts will bring heavy rains and strong winds to Northern California on Wednesday.

“This will be a pretty intense storm,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA and the Nature Conservancy during a YouTube presentation Tuesday morning.

Bomb cyclones are storms that undergo rapid intensification — often seeing as much as a 24 millibar drop in pressure at their core. Once these systems reach their peak intensity, they quickly ramp up strong winds and intense rain- and snowfall. The California coast and most of the Sierra Nevada will host the lion’s share of these impacts as Wednesday’s cyclone approaches the West Coast.

The National Weather Service Bay Area office has issued a flood watch for Tuesday night through Thursday morning for the entire Bay Area and Central Coast, and a high wind warning is also in effect for the region from 4 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Thursday.

First, a warm front is expected to move through the Bay Area beginning Tuesday evening. This front will channel warm, moist air into Northern California, nurturing brief sprinkles and light to moderate showers Tuesday evening. These showers will evolve into heavy downpours brought into the region by southerly winds gusting to 35 mph across most of the Peninsula, North Bay valleys and Santa Cruz Mountains Wednesday morning, with the rainfall steadily intensifying in the Bay Area between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.

A colder and windier front, fueled by moisture from an atmospheric river, is expected to arrive between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday, as the bomb cyclone brings the worst of its impacts to the Bay Area. This cold front will shift the winds to be more out of the west, and it will channel heavy downpours into most of Northern California.

“Rainfall rates are going to be high for a few hours around the time of cold frontal passage,” Swain said. “Winds will be quite strong, even at lower elevations.”

Strong winds will gust to 30 to 45 mph across much of the Bay Area as the cold front moves through Wednesday afternoon and evening, with gusts of up to 60 mph higher in the mountains and up to 70 mph at the Bay Area’s highest peaks.

Expected rainfall totals through Wednesday are 3 to 4 inches across the San Francisco Peninsula; 4 to 6 inches in the North Bay mountains, East Bay Hills and San Mateo County mountains; and up to 8 inches on Sonoma County peaks and in the Marin Headlands and Santa Cruz Mountains.

Notably, rain could fall at up to half an inch per hour in some parts of the Bay Area, with the potential to cause widespread urban and creek flooding as it hits soils already soaked by last week’s storms.

“Everything is now completely saturated,” Swain said.

Parts of the Bay Area that saw flooding over the weekend — such as San Francisco, Oakland, Walnut Creek and the Sacramento Valley — could see a repeat on Wednesday. Steep landscapes are also susceptible to potential mudflows and landslides, and due to the saturated soils, trees may topple in the strong winds and gusts.

“To put it simply, this will likely be one of the most impactful systems on a widespread scale that this meteorologist has seen in a long while,” wrote a National Weather Service Bay Area forecaster in a Jan. 2 area forecast discussion.

By late Wednesday into early Thursday, the cold front is expected to pass through and, while there may be additional rain, flooding risk will slowly subside. But light to moderate rain will continue across the Peninsula and most of the Bay Area through Thursday afternoon as the bomb cyclone’s outer bands slowly exit Northern California. Runoff from all the downpours will take until after Thursday evening to clear out.

Bay Area residents will only stay dry for a day or two before more wet weather is expected to roll through. The storm door is slated to remain open as another round of atmospheric rivers ferries winter storms toward California this weekend and into early next week.



Hoopa Valley Family



NWS (National Weather Service) has issued a Flood Watch from 1/4/2023 6:00 PM to 1/6/2023 4:30 AM PST for Mendocino County as heavy rains continue. Anticipate flooding along roadways, debris, and downed trees. National Weather Service has issued Flood Watches for the following areas:

Russian River at Hopland (HOPC1):

Navarro River at Navarro (NVRC1):

Southern portions of the August Complex Fire:

Possibility of flooding on HWY 175.

High Wind Watch: In effect from Wednesday (1/4/23) morning through Thursday (1/5/23) morning. Damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines. Widespread power outages are possible. Travel could be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles.

Remember, never drive through flood waters. If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 911 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002. PG&E continues to restore all power outages as they occur. Go to to view latest power outages and preparedness information.

Debris Flow Warning Signs: Listen and watch for rushing water, mud, and/or unusual sounds. Unusual sounds, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together, might indicate moving debris. A faint rumbling sound that increases in volume is noticeable as landslides near. Movement of fences, retaining walls, utility poles, boulders, or trees. Report debris flows to 9-1-1 Again, please use caution if you’re driving and stay home if possible.

(Mendocino County Presser)


Lake Mendocino, 2023



by Jonah Raskin

Woke this morning, Tuesday, January 3, 2023 and clicked on an email from the SF Chronicle, a daily paper that’s a shadow of its former self, that said a “brutal storm” was headed for the City Wednesday January 4. By the time you read this it will have come and gone. How “brutal” could brutal be? I have weathered brutal storms before, in Sonoma and Mendocino counties and have survived downpours and flooding. According to the US National Weather Service it rained 5.45 inches in downtown San Francisco, making it the second-wettest day in the area since records began in 1849 at the time of the Gold Rush. The current local record of 5.54 inches was set on November 5, 1994. The California Highway Patrol temporarily closed Highway 101, a major North/ South thoroughfare, in both directions near Oyster Point due to major flooding caused by non-stop rainfall and high tides. 

Apparently the back of the drought in the region has been broken, though surely not forever. Droughts and flooding like booms and busts, form the weather patterns here. In previous years, when I lived in rural California, if the winds weren’t brutal I would go out in a storm and walk, survey the streams, check the flow and the volume of water. That was exciting. Storms serve as valuable sources of information, though they can create havoc in the lives of people. I once stupidly tried and failed to drive through a road that was flooded when Atascadero Creek near my house broke its banks. My Volvo stalled. I had to get out of the vehicle and push it through the waters. Then I couldn’t start the engine and had to have the car towed to a mechanic. 

Actually, I dislike the use of the word “brutal” to describe a storm. “Brutal” ought to be reserved for historical figures like Julius Caesar, Joseph Stalin, Hitler, and US General Curtis LeMay, who wanted to bomb the Vietnamese back to the Stone Age, or so he said. A brutal guy. Brutal—that describes the National Football League that inflicts pain and suffering on players like Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills who was critically injured and went into cardiac arrest during a recent game against the Bengals.

When I settled in SF in May 2021 after living for 40 years in Sonoma County, armed with four umbrellas, my brother Adam— a private investigator who has modeled himself after Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon—took one look at them, laughed and said, “You won’t need them here.” 

I am rather fond of umbrellas, or “brollies” as I call them, a word I learned when I lived in Manchester in the 1960s when I used a brolly to protect me from the rain. My Sam Spade look-alike brother is not the only person who has proved to be wrong about the weather in SF, where typically it does not rain as heavily as it does in counties to the North of it. You’d think it would rain a lot in “The City” as everyone here calls it, since it’s situated on a peninsula with water on three sides, but topography, geography, ocean currents and winds from the sea and the land keep rain at bay. 

Recent heavy rainfall in The City has had the beneficial effect of washing the streets clean, and removing the stench of human urine and garbage, in many cases a result of humans living on sidewalks, sometimes in tents, sometimes huddling in alleys. Downpours and flooding must be brutal for the homeless who can be seen in many neighborhoods in The City, though not in wealthy neighborhoods and not near higher elevations on Russian and Telegraph hills reached by the famed cable cars. California Highway Patrol temporarily closed Highway 101 in both directions by Oyster Point due to “major flooding” caused by non-stop rainfall and high tides. 

Either Mark Twain or his friend and co-author Charles Dudley Warner—they wrote The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873) together—wisely observed near the end of the nineteenth century that ”while everybody talked about the weather, nobody seemed to do anything about it.” In the current Gilded Age, in which the gap has widened between the haves and the have-nots in San Francisco and elsewhere, everyone still talks about the weather and nobody seems to do anything about it. In an hour or so I’m leaving my flat and going outside with a brolly. It’s my birthday and I’m planning to celebrate at a Vietnamese restaurant on Irving Street, a mile or so way. If it’s not raining I’ll walk. If it is raining I’ll take the N-Judah streetcar. Bring it on, I say. I can take it. The City won’t be carried out to the Pacific Ocean and neither will I or my brother and my fellow citizens.


Blue Lake, 1908



by Katie Dowd

Heavy rain from the weekend's storm opened up a massive sinkhole in Mendocino County, swallowing up a car and leaving residents and guests of a RV camp stranded.

The private road off Highway 101 between Arnold and Willits developed a sinkhole on Friday amid storm conditions that swept through Northern California over the holiday weekend. A vehicle on the road eventually dropped into the widening hole in the asphalt and needed to be removed by Caltrans workers, according to MendoFever, but luckily no injuries were reported.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Office spokesperson captain Gregory Van Patten told SFGATE that “residents are only able to access their homes by use of a foot trail as the roadway entrance is no longer passable by vehicle.”

“The sinkhole was located on private property so the owner was working with their insurance company ... to attempt to identify a road repair company to fix the damaged roadway,” Van Patten added.

The road primarily serves the Creekside Cabins and RV Resort, a 50-site RV camp that's open year-round. MendoFever reported “about 50” guests were unable to move their cars and RVs as a result of the sinkhole. Requests for more information about the current status of the road were not returned by the Mendocino County Office of Emergency Services at the time of publication.

More rain is on the way for Northern California. The National Weather Service declared a flood watch for Mendocino County starting early Wednesday until early Thursday. Three to four inches of rain are forecast for lower elevations, with up to six inches of rain at higher points.

“Area creeks and streams are running high and could flood with more heavy rain,” the weather service said. “In addition area rivers including the Russian, Navarro, Garcia, Mad, and Eel Rivers are expected to rise several feet.”

(SF Chronicle)


photo by Larry Wagner


THE AV GRANGE WELCOMES YOU all to a new year with new pancakes, fresh eggs and bacon, coffee, tea and orange juice plus a table full of fixins. It's this Sunday January 8th 8:30-11:00, (as always the second Sunday every month). It'll be a good time to check in with neighbors and friends and see whats coming up in this brand new year. At the Grange itself we are in the process of improving the kitchen, come check it out this Sunday



As we had a Quiz just a week ago, on the 5th Thursday of December, this month we will not have one on the 1st Thursday as usual. We shall return for the 3rd Thursday, January 19th, and look forward to seeing you there. Happy New Year to one and all. Cheers, Steve Sparks, Quizmaster


Blue Lake, 1901



A SHURIKEN (Japanese: literally: “hidden hand blade”) is a Japanese concealed weapon that was used as a hidden dagger or metsubushi to distract or misdirect. They are also known as throwing stars, or ninja stars, although they were originally designed in many different shapes. The major varieties of shuriken are the bō shuriken (stick shuriken) and the hira shuriken (flat shuriken) or shaken (wheel shuriken, also read as kurumaken). — Wikipedia

Kyle Mason

THIS SLO LEARNER was stymied this morning by the term “shuriken,” which was one of charges filed against Mr. Mason. I'd never seen the term, and thought for sure it was a typo. As editor and boss man, I demanded that the night shift either make sense of the word or erase it. The night shift replied with a full tutorial on the device as reproduced above. I surely wouldn't want a shuriken hurled at me, and I seriously doubt Mendo practitioners of the ancient Japanese art of warfare have mastered it, but it is considered a weapon, and thus illegal in the wrong hands.

ON THE SUBJECT of Japan, I read with interest my friend Jeff St. Clair's list of the movies representing his all-time faves. I didn't recognize any of them except for two by the great Japanese filmmaker, Kurosawa, neither of which I remembered. But I certainly did remember Kurosawa's ‘Ran,’ a warfare epic I was lucky enough to see on a big screen at the Geary Theater in San Francisco, which so impressed me I still remember where I saw it. I doubt it would have the same overwhelming impact viewed at home on a small screen as delivered by one of the seemingly innumerable movie services, but give it a try, and while you're at it, high and dry and hunkered down as the atmospheric river rushes past, check out my other two seldom seen faves — ‘The Battle of Algiers’ and ‘Burn,’ the latter starring Marlon Brando but not widely shown in the United States, some say because of its radical message. And two more of my all-timers, and don't be deterred by subtitles or more generally movies by furriners, but these two by the great Chinese director, Zhang Yimou, and both starring the amazing Gong Li, will knock you right outta your Birks: ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ and ‘Red Sorghum.’ Meanwhile, I just read somewhere that ‘Babylon Berlin’ is in its fourth season, another truly memorable series first aired on German television, of all places, and that'll be the day when we get something as good here in Liberty Land.

NOT THE RIGHTWING MILITIA: Two men have been charged in attacks at four Washington State power substations that left 14,000 people with no power on Christmas Day. The duo told investigators that their plan was all in order to steal a cash register at a local business, according to the criminal complaint filed Saturday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma. After cutting off power to the area — subjecting people to a cold and dark holiday weekend — the men drilled a hole in the lock of a business and stole its cash register.

LAKE SUPERIOR STATE UNIVERSITY performs a much needed annual public service by publishing its banished words list. Some of the big buzzwords of 2022 many of us want to see the end of, included “the greatest of all time or GOAT.” More than 1,500 language-sensitive Americanos submitted choices, which included “inflection point,” “quiet quitting,” “gaslighting,” and “moving forward.” Rounding out the top 10 were “amazing,” “does that make sense?” “irregardless,” “absolutely,” and “it is what it is.” All were selected for misuse, overuse, and uselessness.

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: “Moving forward” was former First District Supervisor Carre Brown’s favorite phrase. She used it for a variety of reasons: to shut down discussion of subjects that made her uncomfortable, to sound official, to ignore or overlook past problems or shady dealings, and to pretend that something had been accomplished so that the Board could move onto some other equally minor subject. PS. At the end of the day we’d love to see the end of the phrase, “At the end of the day…”


On the Humboldt Farm, 1940s


GREAT PHOTOSHOP COURSE at Mendocino College, Fort Bragg. Jan 18-May18, MW 6-8:25p

This course is for anyone who needs an introduction to Photoshop. If it has been a couple of years since you last used Photoshop, you will certainly want to take this course too, as Photoshop's features have expanded exponentially lately with the advent “smart” selection tools, camera lens profiles, Camera RAW features, and Neural Filters. Thorough knowledge of Photoshop is a “must have” for designers, animators, and serious digital photographers. Seating is limited, early registration is encouraged.

DAM-110 Digital Image Manipulation with Photoshop, Jan 18 - May 18 6-8:25pm Mon, Wed.

It's easiest to sign up in person at the campus 1211 Del Mar Dr, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, (707) 961-2200 If you have any questions please contact the instructor Markus Pfitzner:


Scottsville (now Blue Lake), 1902


MY STORY ON BIRD FLU, is NOT the conventional angle you will get.

As many of you know, chickens are my lifelong passion. Here is my latest piece on bird flu and how the industry creates it and controls the narrative. It’s a pandemic threat and something you need to know when you support the industrial food supply.

I got into chickens heavily after seeing the conditions in egg CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) in Ohio at the paper where I was city editor, The Newark Advocate. I believed I could raise healthy meat birds that didn’t suffer and did. Same with egg birds, but others have done that. However, the power of the CAFO has increased every year and the USA created CAFO model is now being forced on the world. Although the Gates Foundation seeks wisely to reduce meat consumption, their efforts to destroy local agriculture in favor of massive new farms have done far more to benefit the CAFO than almost anything. The monocrop and spray revolution is held up as the ONLY way forward. Industry controls the narrative!

Frank Hartzell

Fort Bragg


Scottsville, 1930s




People may not realize it, but when they cover their yard with plastic and top it with mulch or rocks, they are getting rid of birds, and they will still get weeds. Birds cannot eat through plastic, rocks, fake grass, pavers, etc. It is recommended to have just 5 feet of noncombustible material next to one’s house. So, if one wants to have birds in their yard and neighborhood, as well as having soil that is rich and fertile, cover the ground with mulch. Areas of lightly watered grass also works for birds. Both are good alternatives to covering over nature.

Lynn Hoyle

Santa Rosa


CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Berry, Cleek, Duncan, Hornlein

KENNETH BERRY, Cloverdale/Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, grand theft, burglary.

DENESA CLEEK, Willits. Transportation of controlled substance, resisting.

SABRINA DUNCAN, Covelo. Taking vehicle without owner’s permission, DUI.

GARRICK HORNLEIN, Fort Bragg. County parole violation.

KATHLEEN KNIGHT, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.

BIANCA SCHOFIELD, Point Arena. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

CHAUNCEY SMITH, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

SKYLER THOMAS, Ukiah. DUI while on probation, child endangerment.


The Swinging Bridge, Mad River



Brahmin Is Right Now Chanting Kali Mantram Utilizing the Body-Mind Complex!

Craig Louis Stehr




The Department of the Interior today announced a $84.7 million investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help 36 communities throughout the West prepare and respond to the challenges of drought. The selected projects will help bring clean, reliable drinking water to communities across the West through investments in innovative drought resilience efforts, such as groundwater storage, rainwater harvesting, aquifer recharge, water reuse, ion exchange treatment, and other methods to stretch existing water supplies.

“As climate change exacerbates drought impacts throughout the Western United States, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is advancing our work to invest in innovative, locally-led water infrastructure projects and provide clean, reliable water to families and communities across the country,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. “Today’s funding will assist our local partners as they work to build drought resilience and improve water security for their community.”

“Drought resilience is more important now ever as the West is experiencing more severe and longer droughts,” added Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “This investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in locally-led projects will help solidify community’s water supplies and allow families and farmers to respond to the challenges posed by drought.” 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $8.3 billion for Reclamation water infrastructure projects over the next five years to advance drought resilience and expand access to clean water for families, farmers and wildlife. The investment will repair aging water delivery systems, secure dams, complete rural water projects, and protect aquatic ecosystems. Today’s funding announcement is part of $1 billion provided through the law for the innovative WaterSMART program, which supports states, tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and avoid potential water conflicts.


Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, AEWSD Drought Recovery Wells and Conjunctive Use Modeling Tool, $2,000,000

California Land Stewardship Institute, Creating Long-Term Water Supply Resiliency for the Communities of Ukiah Valley and the Upper Russian River, $1,531,635

Cawelo Water District, Reuse Produced Water Project, $5,000,000

City of Big Bear Lake, Wolf Reservoir Boosters and Pipeline Project, $1,600,000

City of Rialto, City 3A Groundwater Well Treatment Facility Project, $2,000,000

Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District, Turnipseed Water Bank Phase VI, $2,352,759

Fresno Irrigation District, Carter-Bybee Recharge Basin Project, $2,000,000

Goleta Water District, Goleta Water District Airport Well Treatment Project, $2,000,000

Pixley Irrigation District, Phase I – Lateral #4 Expansion Project, $2,000,000

Porterville Irrigation District, North West Service Area Conjunctive Use Groundwater Recharge Project, $460,891

San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, Cactus Basins Connector Pipeline Project, $1,353,519

Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency, S Wells Per- & Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Treatment & Disinfection Facilities, $5,000,000

Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District, Southeast Recharge Facility and Conveyance Improvements, $500,000

Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District, Kimberlina Pipeline Conveyance Improvement Project, $1,315,083

Stockton-East Water District, Stockton East Water District Aquifer Storage and Recovery Well, $600,000

Trout Unlimited, Inc., Portola Redwoods State Park Drought Resiliency Project, $1,473,621

Western Municipal Water District of Riverside County, Inc., Building Groundwater Reliability and Resiliency: Regional Well Installation and Water Quality Treatment Project, $5,000,000


Dogon Tribesmen, 1931



by Ann Killion


That’s the image I’ll remember from Monday night’s NFL game in Cincinnati between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals.

The thin membrane between the game and its potential consequences was ripped away when Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a life-threatening critical injury on the football field.

And we watched fear and shock sweep through the men who play the game.

They wept. They sat, stunned. They hugged and prayed. No longer separated by uniform colors. Bound together by their humanity.

It was a gut-wrenching and terrifying night. A 24-year-old man was given life-saving care in the middle of a football field. He was taken by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center trauma unit, where it was reported he was intubated and in critical condition. His mother Nina, who had come to the stadium to watch her young son play a game, was with him.

As I write this, we don’t know specifics on Hamlin’s status or any prognosis. There are plenty of amateur and professional doctors speculating on social media. The hospital did not provide any update but the Bills released a statement late Monday night:

Damar Hamlin

“Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in our game versus the Bengals. His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment. He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”

A young man’s life hangs in the balance.

Following Hamlin’s collapse, after more than an agonizing hour of delay, the NFL finally announced the obvious measure of suspending the game until further notice.

The league released a statement that said, in part: “Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills. We will provide more information as it becomes available.”

It was the only answer. No man on that field cared about standings or playoff seedings. They were terrified and wanted to hold each other or their moms or their own kids.

ESPN’s broadcast initially reported the league had offered an absurd solution: that the players — who had just watched their brother receiving CPR on the turf — would be given five minutes (five minutes!) and then the game would resume on that same ground. On a conference call NFL executive Troy Vincent pushed back against that report, saying “That’s ridiculous. That’s insensitive.”

In any event, the coaches of each team appeared to take over. The Bills’ Sean McDermott and Bengals’ Zac Taylor met with each other and officials. A few minutes later the teams departed for their locker rooms.

We don’t know exactly how the decision was made or who was responsible, but ultimately the right thing was done. The message was sent:

This is a game. It is not as important as a human life.

During that agonizing hour between the time Hamlin stood up from a tackle and then fell to the ground and the news of the game’s suspension, we heard a lot the talking heads say how unprecedented the situation was. That we’d never seen something like this.

And it is, to a certain extent. But in other ways the scene felt like something that we have always known is a reality in this violent game that is America’s obsession.

Ambulance. Chest compression. Defibrillator. Prayers. Tears. Horror.

Most of the toll of the violence isn’t played out on the field. It is recorded in blue tents, in locker rooms, in hospitals, in private homes, in darkened bedrooms, in dementia centers. Most of the toll of the game’s violence isn’t immediate. It can take years, decades, to reveal itself.

But we always know it is there. The violence is lurking. It will reap its due. Whether we see it or not.

But on the second day of the new year, the cover over the game’s cost paid by those who play it was ripped away on national television. For the audience in the stands that waited quietly in the cold for the official suspension. For the national audience at home. For the broadcasters.

And for the players who have to compartmentalize in an almost impossibly unhuman way every time they step on a football field, placing a wall between the game they play for our entertainment and the potential consequences of that game.

That barrier was ripped away.

In the aftermath, instead of a football game to entertain us, we saw compassion. We saw, mostly, perspective.

While waiting to learn any news about his health, the world learned a little more about Hamlin. He had started a toy drive fundraiser last month with a goal of $2500. Within 90 minutes of his post being shared on social media people who had witnessed his trauma and wanted to reach out had pledged almost $1 million to the fund. Later it was up to over $5 million.

Retired Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth tweeted at someone worried about how to reschedule the game, “No good answer. But who cares. What if none of them want to ever play again? This is bigger than football scenarios! It’s our NFL brother.”

And Damar Hamlin’s own tweet (@HamlinIsland) from Sept. 27, 2020, was retweeted thousands of times.

“If you get a chance to show some love today do it! It won’t cost you nothing.”



DAMAR HAMLIN was drafted in the 6th round of the 2021 NFL Draft when Joe Schoen was the Assistant General Manager of the Bills and Brian Daboll was the Offensive Coordinator of the Bills. I’m sure this is hitting the two of them hard. 



I see that Skip Bayless got excoriated for strongly questioning the decision to cancel the game. People were screaming, “This man’s life is more important than a game!!!”

Our culture is completely pussified now. How does either stopping or not stopping a game save this man’s life? The doctors at the hospital are not hindered at all by whether the game continues or not. 

Pussification leads to over-emotional and irrational decision making and thinking. Most likely Hamlin himself would say, “Shoot man! Keep playing! Our team needs this win.” 

Well, that was old style thinking.



IT’S NOT THE SAME as Damar Hamlin’s chest injury, of course, but some of us of a certain age still remember back in 1985 when New York Giants star linebacker Lawrence Taylor, probably the most terrifying pass rusher of the era, crashed into Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann on a drop-back, snapping Theismann’s lower leg. Taylor hit Theismann hard and awkwardly breaking two major bones below Theismann’s knee, one bone came jutting right out bare and bloody on National TV. It was one of the ugliest and most high profile football field injuries ever. It lead to a few rule changes about “roughing the passer” and for years made many football fans very nervous whenever a quarterback went back for a pass amidst a posse of much bigger guys hurtling headlong in the QB’s direction, frequently when the QB wasn’t even looking. 

Lawrence Taylor said afterward: “I knew right away. I heard the leg pop twice, and he was in a shitload of pain. I remember just trying to get off of him ’cause I knew it was bad, real bad. I started waving to the Redskins’ bench to get the training staff out on the field.”

The next day Theismann said, “My nurse came in and said, ‘Mr. Theismann, Mr. Taylor is on the phone—would you like to speak to him?’ I said, ‘Give me the phone. LT, is that you?’ He said, ‘Yeah, Joe, how you doing?’ I said, ‘Not very well.’ He said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Well, you broke both bones in my leg, for crying out loud.’ Taylor said, ‘Joe, you’ve got to understand something—I don’t do things halfway’.”

Taylor later commented: “Listen, I always played the game clean, and that play was clean. Unfortunately for Joe, he got caught between me and Harry [Carson], and the only place his leg could go was sideways. … I certainly felt bad cause it ultimately led to the end of Joe’s career, and I always had a lot of respect for Joe; he was a tremendous competitor and friend. But I’ve never felt guilty because there was no intent to injure. It’s just one of those plays that unfortunately happens sometimes in football.”

In 2002, ESPN polled its audience for the “10 most shocking moments in football history.” Readers ranked the Taylor/Theismann sack as the biggest shocker, ahead of O.J. Simpson’s arrest for murder.

Years later when the writer and director of the movie “The Blind Side” wanted to use the footage of Theismann’s injury in the opening scene of the movie, the NFL’s lawyers replied, “We would prefer you didn’t use the footage—it portrays football as a violent sport.”

—Mark Scaramella (quotes from


Brixton Riots, 1981


THE VOTE FOR HOUSE SPEAKER is the kind of government procedure that Americans often ignore, but yesterday’s highly unusual votes have important implications for the future of the Republican Party and how it will govern.

On their first day in the majority, House Republicans couldn’t agree on who will lead them. Representative Kevin McCarthy has sought for years to become speaker, but some members of his party’s far-right faction refused to back him. It was the first time in 100 years that the House failed to elect a speaker on the first ballot, and lawmakers adjourned after three ballots without making a choice. The Democratic House leader, Hakeem Jeffries, even received more votes than McCarthy in all three rounds of voting.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right lawmaker who has become a close ally of McCarthy’s, accused her fellow hard-liners of “playing Russian roulette with our hard-earned Republican majority.” Bill Huizenga, another McCarthy supporter, asked his colleagues, “You guys aren’t interested in governing?”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump, who had endorsed McCarthy, refused to say after the votes if he was sticking to his endorsement. (McCarthy later said that he had talked to Trump and still had his support.)

Part of McCarthy’s problem is that his party holds a narrow margin in the House, with 222 seats to Democrats’ 212. So he requires support from Republicans’ right-wing flank to reach the majority he needs to be speaker. But that is only part of the story.

Republicans also don’t agree on what the party is and what it should stand for: Should it continue down the path that Trump began when he won the Republican nomination for president in 2016? Or should the party moderate and embrace more compromise to consolidate power?

“There are a number of lawmakers in this group who have never liked McCarthy and have never trusted him,” said my colleague Catie Edmondson, who covers Congress. “They see him as an extension of the establishment in D.C. that they want to tear down.”

The answers to these questions will help shape how Republicans will govern — whether they will stick to an uncompromising version of Trumpism or adopt more moderate views to win over more voters. “Regardless of the outcome, the votes have already shown there is a powerful group of right-wing lawmakers who are not going to be afraid to throw their weight around,” Catie said.

— German Lopez (The New York Times)


— Robert Frost


THE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS of Marilyn Monroe in 1955.

Must have the discipline to do the following –

– go to class – my own always – without fail

– go as often as possible to observe Strasberg's other private classes

– never miss actor's studio sessions

– work whenever possible – on class assignments – and always keep working on the acting exercises

– start attending Clurman lectures – also Lee Strasberg's directors lectures at theater wing – enquire about both

– keep looking around me – only much more so – observing – but not only myself but others and everything – take things (it) for what they (it's) are worth 

– must make strong effort to work on current problems and phobias that out of my past has arisen – making much much much more more more more more effort in my analysis. And be there always on time – no excuses for being ever late. 

– if possible – take at least one class at university – in literature 

– follow RCA thing through.

– try to find someone to take dancing from – body work (creative) 

– take care of my instrument – personally & bodily (exercise) 

-- try to enjoy myself when I can – I'll be miserable enough as it is.


The Road from Work


Q: MANY AMERICANS have great respect for law enforcement. And many are suspicious or deeply suspicious of law enforcement. One of the primary criticisms of policing these days comes from the view that there’s a serious problem of racism within law enforcement. And I want to ask you, what do you think it would take to build more trust between law enforcement and those who are suspicious of law enforcement? What can police do to kind of increase that trust?

A: I think if you got into the areas where you would expect to have racism and talk to the people that actually live there, you would get a very different answer than what you’re getting from some people who are very far removed and just think that they know. Even with the defund-the-police movement — if you go into those neighborhoods, they want the police there. They don’t want less police; they want more police. But at the same time, we definitely have racism within the police department. How could we not? It’s in every culture, every occupation. I think it’s about separating from those cops. Other cops standing up against it. And just building that trust one at a time. I’m me. Each one of us is ourselves. The only thing we can do is go out there and make sure every single encounter that we have with the public is the best that they could have and that I handle a job the way I would want it handled from my loved one, myself. When they start to have positive reactions with police officers, it will change.

— Ashley White, Police Officer




by Matt Taibbi

Twitter tried to balk at cooperating with government agencies deemed “political.” In the end, it allowed everyone access through the FBI “Belly Button…”

In the first week of May, 2020, at the peak of Covid-19 panic, Twitter senior legal executive Stacia Cardille received a communication from the Global Engagement Center (GEC), the would-be operational/analytical arm of the U.S. State Department. Founded in the Obama years under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the GEC was like the State Department’s wannabe version of the NSA or the Defense Intelligence Agency. 

Appended to an attachment with a long list of names was a note from the GEC — remember, these were the Trump years — that read, in part:

We are providing these 5,500 accounts that display inorganic behavior and follow two or more of the 36 Chinese diplomatic twitter accounts that we have identified in the report. Due to the fact that these accounts follow two or more of these diplomatic accounts, and a good portion of them are newly created, we believe that they are suspicious.

The list of “accounts that display inorganic behavior” was part of what another Twitter legal executive described as an effort by Mike Pompeo’s State Department to pull a “full court press in the media” to “hold China accountable” for “spreading misinformation about the COVID crisis.” 

Just a day before, on Wednesday, May 6th, the Associated Press broke news of a four-page report by the Department of Homeland Security claiming Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the Covid-19 outbreak. Now the State Department, by way of GEC, was getting in on the action.

Within a day of receiving the GEC list, Twitter executives were in a lather. A high-speed examination of the accounts revealed what company executives euphemistically called “concerns.” Cardille, Trust and Safety Chief Yoel Roth, and others immediately drafted a response to the GEC:

“Thank you for sharing information… We have begun reviewing the list of 6,000 accounts that GEC provided this morning and have serious concerns... In our initial review, we have already identified numerous accounts belonging to government entities in the Americas including Canada, NGO and human rights organizations, and journalists.

The drama that subsequently broke out between Twitter and the State Department would prove revealing, both about the nature of the public-private “content moderation” bureaucracy, and about the internal culture at Twitter, which that year would end up rolling over in a big way for outside moderation demands, again, despite an initial show of resistance. 


Twitter executives seemed particularly put out by the idea that the GEC was taking someone else’s intelligence, then using the press to squeeze its way into an exclusive moderation club. The DHS circulated a report on Chinese disinformation just a few days before the GEC reached out to Twitter. 

By then the company was no longer shy about working with Congress, the FBI, DHS, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). However, they were not anxious to work with the GEC, which they seemed to perceive as a weak sister of the intelligence community, and also “political,” as Roth put it, which in Twitter-ese was code for “pro-Trump.” The company reportedly had similar issues with some Pentagon agencies beginning in 2017. One former defense intelligence source suggested Twitter preferred the FBI because it was “less Trumpy.” 

How “Trumpy” or not the GEC was is hard to say, but it’s clear Twitter executives were opposed to letting the fledgling State agency lay hands on its magic moderation machine, preferring to “keep the circle of trust quite small” as Roth put it. 

“Obviously, State is a significant voice and one we don't want to neglect,” wrote Roth on May 6th, 2020, “but I do want us to continue to maintain a distinction between the highly trusted, valued relationships we’ve built over years with entities with considerable expertise and authority… and other parts of USG that may engage on these questions from time to time (sometimes in more political ways than others).”

Cardille argued shutting the agency out entirely was a bad idea, preferring to build “goodwill,” but agreed the GEC was amateurish, and bad news. They “cannot be trusted, particularly if they can score political points,” she said. 

A cursory internal review at the company revealed the State Department list included accounts belonging to the Canadian military, Western NGOs, and journalists, including a CNN account. State’s methodology was incredibly broad, including accounts that followed “two or more” Chinese diplomats. “We’re all on that list,” joked one Twitter staffer.

Roth internally even circulated a Bellingcat tweet making fun of the GEC’s conclusions. “Oh yeah, the disinformation that U.S. sanctions are contributing to the death of Iranians during the pandemic,” sneered Aric Toler. 

Twitter and GEC ended up clashing publicly that Friday, May 8th. The State Department released news to friendly journalists that “Beijing appears to be increasingly adopting Russian tactics to sow discord and spread disinformation on social media” about the origins of COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, articles like CNN’s “Twitter disputes State Department claims China coordinated coronavirus disinformation accounts“ presented Twitter’s side, claiming the Trump State Department included “authentic accounts” in its list of names. A GEC spokesperson replied, defensively, to CNN:

“The GEC provided Twitter with a small sample of the overall dataset that included nearly 250,000 accounts,” adding that it was “was not surprising that there are authentic accounts in any sample.”

On the surface, this episode looked bad for State, and made it seem Twitter wasn’t the soft touch seemingly every other agency had found them to be. But GEC would get the last laugh, sort of, in an episode that showed that partisan conceptions of how this moderation system worked are likely off base. 


When GEC sent its list of 5000+ accounts in May, the move was seen as amplifying messaging from Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who’d accused China of withholding information. Twitter executives agreed, with Musketeerish spirit: with a vote ahead, they wouldn’t be party to that. 

“Especially as the election heats up in the coming months, introducing an actor like GEC into what has to date been a stable and (relatively) trusted group of practitioners and experts poses major risks,” is how Roth put it. 

About a month after the Chinese disinformation fiasco, Roth got word via his counterpart at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, that GEC wanted a seat at the regular “industry” meeting that included the FBI, DHS, and ODNI. This was too much. It was the opinion of Roth, Gleicher, and Google’s Rick Salgado that GEC’s participation should be opposed. One of the reasons given was startling:

“— The GEC’s mandate for offensive IO to promote American interests”

Eventually, Cardille chimed in, saying she “previewed” the GEC problem to the FBI. Her words resonated “with Elvis, not Laura,” i.e. with San Francisco FBI agent Elvis Chan, but not Foreign Influence Task Force chief Laura Dehmlow:

“I just spoke to the FBI… I previewed to them that they will find resistance to adding the GEC. I talked through the issues we have encountered, and also raised that the GEC/State is focused outside of the U.S., and that we should deal with U.S. elections separately. That resonated with Elvis, not Laura.”

As the 2020 election approached, the FBI, via Chan, negotiated with Roth and others to make sure every interested government agency had a seat at the table. A concerned Roth asked, “What USG agencies will be allowed” on a new Signal channel for centralizing industry briefings? 

“I think the easy ones will be FBI, DHS/CISA, and ODNI,” Chan replied. “For your awareness, State/GEC, NSA, and CIA have expressed interest in being allowed on in listen mode only. Welcome your thoughts on this.”

Roth protested the GEC’s participation, noting the “press-happy” nature of the GEC, adding, “I'm also not entirely sure that every member of that group wants their phone number quite so broadly available.” 

Chan replied that the Signal group would be a “one-way communication from USG to industry.” If “industry” could “rely on the FBI to be the belly button for the USG,” then “we can do that as well.”

A belly button for the USG! Chan elaborated, explaining that the FBI would essentially coordinate federal-level reports, while the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency would handle domestic traffic.

“We can give you everything we’re seeing from the FBI and USIC agencies,” he wrote. “CISA will know what is going on in each state.” 

This, it seems, ended up being the compromise solution Twitter accepted. A significant portion of the government analytical sector — from the FBI to the CIA to the GEC — was able to at least listen in, in the fashion of someone auditing a college class, to regular “industry” intelligence briefings. This was important because, as Twitter knew full well, anyone who saw any information flow about suspect accounts could leverage them in the media. 

Though not every agency got Yoel Roth’s number (which agent Chan, in a curious display of operational security, sent in a Word Document called “Signal Phone Numbers,” via an email subject-lined “List of Numbers”), every agency, Trumpy or not, got to see the intel headed to and from Twitter in those meetings. They could also all send requests via the FBI. 

This led to the situation described by Michael Shellenberger two weeks ago, in which Twitter was paid $3,415,323, essentially for acting as an overwhelmed subcontractor. Requests poured in from FBI offices all over the country, day after day, hour after hour: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Baltimore. “Do you guys have a list of those 132 accounts action was taken against on 09/29/2020? We wanted to get process served on those accounts,” an FBI agent asked one of Twitter’s senior lawyers just before the 2020 election. “I apologize in advance for adding to your work load.”

Twitter also ended up taking in requests from every conceivable government agency, from state officials in Wyoming, Georgia, Minnesota, Connecticut, California and others to the NSA, FBI, DHS, DOD, DOJ, and many others. They even, ultimately, elevated requests from the GEC, which appeared to grab intelligence passed during one of the industry briefings and went to the media about it. Once Twitter realized the State Department planned on publicly identifying accounts like @BricsMedia and @RebelProtests as “GRU-controlled,” they backed down.

This is the background of the email described in an earlier thread, in which a Twitter executive with a CIA background explained how he previously had elected to wait for more evidence in those cases, he now thought a “more aggressive” stance by Twitter’s government “partners” made that impossible. “Our window on that is closing,” he said. 

Twitter ended up receiving so many requests from so many different avenues, their executives seemed to get confused. “Hi Elvis!” wrote one, receiving a notice about something called the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. “Is this something different than what we’ll already be receiving through the Signal channel?” Chan explained: “We will be sharing the typical threat indicators through Signal,” he said, while the NCRIC was part of a Homeland Security-based network called HISN, which would be “focused on local public safety matters (riots shootings, bombings, etc).”

“My in-box is really f— up at this point,” wrote Cardille, referencing the swarm of FBI requests. 

Remember the “internal guidance” Twitter leaders circulated in late 2017, in which they formally agreed to remove any user “identified by the U.S. intelligence community” as a state-sponsored entity involved in “cyber operations”? Such “USIC” identifications by 2020 came regularly and in bulk, asserting that Russia’s Internet Research Agency was targeting Africans, South Americans, even African-Americans (spreading “racially derogatory content” in July of 2022, according to an “Other Government Agency” report). There was even an “OGA” warning about publicity for a book written by former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokhin, who claims he was fired at the behest of Joe Biden, for investigating his son. 

In some cases the reports were incredibly short, as small as a single paragraph, saying things like “Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) cyber actors used the attached email accounts… for use in influence operations, social media collection, or social engineering.” An excel document containing 660 email addresses would then be passed to Twitter. There are multiple emails in the record in which Twitter execs express frustration that government “partners” didn’t even do the legwork of matching phone numbers or email addresses to Twitter handles, leaving that work to the company. 

Not every request was honored. In one remarkable case, Twitter’s government liaison passed word from the office of Democratic congressman and Intelligence Committee then-chair Adam Schiff asking to “suspend the many accounts, including… @paulsperry, which have repeatedly spread false QAnon conspiracies.” Journalist Paul Sperry of Real Clear Investigationsby an extraordinary coincidence was the reporter who revealed the name of Schiff’s “whistleblower“ in the Ukrainegate affair. The coincidence was so extraordinary that even Twitter cringed at first. “We don’t do this… No, we don’t do this,” came an immediate response. 

These episodes from the Twitter Files show how the digital censorship system evolved from 2017. Early on, company emails were entirely internal and requests about, say, “Russia-linked” accounts came on a case-by-case basis, in some cases through physical meetings with officials at places like the Senate Intelligence Committee. 

By 2020, the moderation machine was a high-speed, formalized information highway, with federal and international requests passed through the FBI via Signal and Teleporter, and domestic asks funneled upward through Homeland Security mechanisms like HISN. The $3 million tab Shellenberger revealed Twitter was paid by the state looks like a bad deal for the company, the more you examine the documents. Twitter had to assign reams of personnel to deal with these requests, and during the election season there were clearly too many “reports” to handle. 

Moreover the FBI and DHS stopped asking Twitter, and soon simply sent long lists with the expectation of fulfillment. If Twitter didn’t act fast enough, they got quick follow up emails from the Bureau. “Was action taken…? We wanted to get process served.” Or: “Any movement?” 

Working through the “belly button,” Twitter was an involuntary subcontractor. And an underpaid one.




by Ralph Nader

Give the New York Times its due. Its teams of reporters produce more investigations of wrongdoing by entrenched vested interests than does the entire recess-rich, Tuesday-to-Thursday U.S. Congress with all its Committees and Subcommittees. The Times should promptly publish some of its exposes as small books. Their on-the-ground series on the burning Amazon Forest and their series on expanding sports gambling corruption and addiction exemplify great reporting.

However, in the last decade, the Times has freaked out over the decline in print subscriptions, loss of advertisements and the rise of the Internet with its many aliterate users. Though a little late, the Times now has responded with a thriving Internet presence of about 10 million national and worldwide online subscribers, in addition to new businesses offering information and travel services. Unfortunately, their changes to the print edition – which produces important content – have exhibited an accelerating stupefaction.

Huge photos replace what was serious content on its Sunday Business and Opinion Pages, formerly the Weekly Review. Repeatedly, the entire valuable front pages of those Sections are filled with photographs or graphic artwork. That space used to contain great investigative columnists like Gretchen Morgenson. The inside of these sections is not much better – with too many photos and soft articles replacing first-rate columnists on consumer rip-off cases and the abuses of airline passengers.

As one long-time reader, about to cancel his subscription, just told me – parts of the supposedly serious sections (apart from the vast entertainment sections) come across like People Magazine.

The Times has really gone overboard in diluting its storied editorial and op-ed pages. From as many as nearly 20 concise, meaty editorials, the Editorial Page is down to about three a week. This space is being occupied by often mediocre columns such as the lengthy superficial exchanges between “liberal” Gail Collins and “conservative” war hawk Bret Stephens who are supposed to disagree with one another but often engage in not so witty repartee.

As for the Editorial Page, the kinds of enlightening op-eds which were submitted by outsiders over the years now are preceded by the Time’s regular columnists – ok – but also by a stable of countless designated “contributing opinion writers.” With photos or graphics even on this page, outside freelancers and thought leaders are mostly left to drift away without so much as a courteous email acknowledgement of their receiving these op-ed submissions.

Young people – bereft of history – should realize that those two pages used to be considered the most important spaces in American journalism. This self-inflicted stupefaction intensified in the 2021-2022 years without the Times informing serious readers as to why the changes were made.

During the Trumpian era, the Times developed a bizarre obsession with over-covering political extremists in ways that made them into big acts and gave them material for more fund-raising. Apart from their award-winning continual critical coverage of the Trump Dump, the Times constantly published his slanderous tweets and pejorative nicknames for others without affording the libeled a right of reply.

Its long features on e.g., J.D. Vance, Tucker Carlson and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene were so biographical as to unwittingly serve to advance their careers. They loved the coverage in the “liberal” Times. Without a balanced profiling of counterparts, readers might think that very little is going on within the progressive community. (See, e.g., a totally unreported, aggregated effort on during the mid-term elections).

Unfortunately, one print section remains the same. The much-read letters-to-the-editor take up just one-third of one page in this huge newspaper. That leaves out articulate letters. That in turn discourages readers from writing serious letters. The Washington Post at least adds an entire page of letters each Saturday. Why is so little space available for letters in the Times which has a larger readership?

Also, unlike the Times, the Washington Post covers local baseball team games and prints box scores for major league games and scorecards for major professional sports.

Aspiring for a global reach, the deciders at the Times pay too little attention to its hometown. While they have a sizable Metropolitan desk, the coverage largely ignores the thousands of citizen groups striving to improve the neighborhoods and boroughs of the city often in brave and creative manners, (See NYPIRG) and its work on the refunded New York state stock transfer tax – in the billions of dollars annually.

I’ve suggested in vain that the Times have one weekly section on this large civic community in the city and state – as it has a daily section on the Arts and additional regular entertainment style sections. There are advertisers available for such a section. (The Times has special sections with no or very few advertisers.)

One of the Times’ innovations is a section on page two titled “The Story Behind the Story.” It affords reporters an opportunity to share with readers, some personal details, and the background of their more difficult reportage.

Perhaps some of the above-noted management decisions also deserve “The Story Behind the Story” for puzzled New York Times readers.

Lo the newspaper whose editors are not up to the talents and recommendations of their exceptional reporters.




In a rare show of criticism, Russian nationalists and lawmakers demand punishment for Russian commanders over the deadly January 1 attacks in occupied Makiivka, in Donetsk.

Ukraine says several units of Russian military equipment were damaged or destroyed in the missile strike on a makeshift barracks.

As fighting continues, a Mariupol survivor tries to rebuild his life in Kyiv. Ulvi Zulfili fled one war as a child and found a new home in Ukraine, only to narrowly survive the Russian siege of Mariupol and have to flee again.

A Ukrainian missile strike on January 1 against a vocational school housing mobilised Russian troops in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region of Ukraine has become one of the bloodiest incidents of the war.


A drawing by Roman, 9, shows the fall of Mariupol. (Lyndon French for The New York Times)



by Jeffrey St. Clair

A few weeks ago the writer April Henry unearthed a sobering factoid buried in the tonnage of documents amassed in the case that blocked the merger of two giant publishing houses (Penguin and Simon and Schuster): over the last few years half of the newly published trade titles sold fewer than 12 copies. Most of them, I assume, were books about Donald Trump. Every political pundit seems to have written one. Some have written more than one.

It’s hard to comprehend the mind that craves these books–not Trump’s MAGA-minions, surely. They seem content to snap up his super-hero NFTs at $99 a pop. Most likely they’re marketed at liberals, people who couldn’t wait for him to leave the scene and now can’t let him go.

I’ll confess to reading a couple of them. Maggie Haberman’s was the worst, in part because it was the most readable. It just flows along as steadily as a leaking septic system. But after 600 or so pages, it leaves you knee-deep in the muck, wondering how you got there. Trump doesn’t need explaining. He’s the most transparent president since Gerald Ford and no amount of psychologizing can make him appear deep. His shallowness has always been his selling point. The more you read about Trump the farther you get from who he really is.

When I was growing up in the all-white ultra conservative suburbs of Indianapolis, a common admonition to teens from adults was: “Turn off the damn rock music, go to the library and get a book to read.” How times have changed. Libraries are now viewed by most of conservative America as public dens of iniquity, grooming centers to introduce children to range of perversities, of the mind and the body. A town in Texas recently assigned a cop to the local libraries check out desk to make sure make sure teens were taking home any books that violated “community standards.”

Just when you thought books might rendered to pulp away under the weight of podcasts, TikTok videos and Instagram memes, the prudes and censors have thrown the publishing industry a life ring. Anything so dangerous is surely a desirable commodity. These days the only way a writer, even a long dead one, is likely to get much attention is to be under the threat of “cancellation”. Having your book discarded by a library was once a sign of irrelevance or, worse, indifference, now it’s almost a prerequisite for a major literary award. (Keri Blakinger’s memoir, Corrections in Ink, was deemed so dangerous it was banned in Florida’s prisons.)

Whether it pays or not is another question. The Guardian reported this year that the average annual earnings for a profession writer in the UK is £7,000 ($8,400). It’s about the same here in the states, but at least the British scriveners have what’s left of the NHS when they need a tooth yanked or an appendix removed. For several lean years, I edited a monthly magazine for $12,000 a year, while we were raising two kids and feeding a ravenous Newfoundland. Yet people continue to scribble away, the best of them driven not by the elusive promise of financial recompense or popular esteem, but by the compulsion to understand a world that seems to be unraveling before our eyes.

Here are the books published last year that taught me the most about the world we’re now living in, how it came to be this way and how we might, against all odds, go about changing it. So buy copies to help feed some starving writers, read them and then send them to a library in Texas.

Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America, Joshua Frank (Haymarket)

The American Surveillance State: How the US Spies on Dissent, David Price (Pluto Press)

Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions, Francesca Royster (University of Texas)

Capitalism and the Anthropocene: Ecological Ruin or Ecological Revolution, John Bellamy Foster (Monthly Review)

Churchill: His Times, His Crimes, Tariq Ali (Verso)

Corrections in Ink: a Memoir, Keri Blakinger (St Martins)

The Forever Prisoner: The Full and Searing Account of the CIA’s Most Controversial Covert Program, Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy (Grove Atlantic)

High Risk Homosexual: a Memoir, Edgar Gomez (Softskull)

How to Become an American: A History of Immigration, Assimilation, and Loneliness, Daniel Wolff, (South Carolina)

Indigenous Continent: the Epic Contest for North America, Pekka Hämäläinen (Liveright)

Life Between the Tides, Adam Nicolson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

No More Police: a Case for Abolition, Mariame Kaba and Andrea Ritchie (New Press)

The Treeline: the Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth, Ben Rawlence (Jonathan Cape)

The War in Court: Inside the Long Fight Against Torture, Lisa Hajjar (California)

Was It Worth It? A Wilderness Warrior’s Long Trail Home, Doug Peacock (Patagonia)

Work, Work, Work: Labor, Alienation and Class Struggle, Michael D. Yates (Monthly Review)

(Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3.)


After the Rain, 1925


  1. Lee Edmundson January 4, 2023

    These current atmospheric rivers we are experiencing in the form of high winds and bountiful rainfall in our currently drought stricken land are a result of collusion/conspiracy between Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, an Italian space laser consortium and the Reverend Senator Raphael Warnock. Oh, and Dominion voting machines.
    I know this to be true because I read it on the InterNet…somewhere. The reporter found evidence proving it on Hunter Biden’s laptop… somehow.
    When I was growing up in darkest Alabama in the 1960s, there was a popular bumper sticker which went, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it”. Today, replace “God” with “Trump” and you have the beginnings of understanding the political lay of the land, Alas. And woe is me. And the best of luck to Kevin McCarthy in his quest for Speaker of the House of Representatives. In the inimitable words of Donald J. Trump: “We’ll see”.
    Here’s to the ghost of Jerry Philbrick, and to the autonomic mind of James Kuntsler. Knee-jerk reactionary vacuous regurgitation of nonsense according to NewsMax, FoxNews and QAnon. Fact free noise. “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.
    I read Kunstler as I do the comics in a regular newspaper. Provocative, amusing, agitating. But, after all is said and done, full of gas and BS. The intellectual equivalent of a sugar high.
    “Opinions are like assholes”, the playwright James Kirkwood wrote in his play “P.S. Your Vat is Dead”. “Everybody’s got one”.
    Hope Mr. Kunstler enjoys his notoriety in his compound on the upper Hudson River of New York state. Hope Jerry Philbrick rests in peace in his grave.
    And to all a good night.

    • Marmon January 4, 2023

      Nice gaslighting Edmundson, but it isn’t going to work going forward.


      “To manipulate (someone) using psychological methods into questioning their own sanity or powers of reasoning.”


    • Chuck Dunbar January 4, 2023

      Well done, Mr. Edmundson. Made me chuckle a bit on this stormy day, too wet to go out in the garden, so reading the AVA, attending to chores, and petting my cats, in that order….

      • Chuck Dunbar January 4, 2023

        Yin and Yang responses above– a contrast already known. Real life facts and human experience, as the future unfolds, will tell us what was real and of value in our American democracy and culture and what was not.

  2. Eric Sunswheat January 4, 2023

    RE: These current atmospheric rivers we are experiencing in the form of high winds and bountiful rainfall in our currently drought stricken land are a result…

    —> January 3, 2023
    As humans continue burning fossil fuels and heating the atmosphere, the warmer air can hold more moisture.

    This means storms in many places, California included, are more likely to be extremely wet and intense…

    They have not yet come to firm conclusions on these questions, though.

    • George Hollister January 4, 2023

      So what caused these atmospheric rivers in 1861 that resulted in record California flooding? Instead of the NYT, I will go with “collusion/conspiracy between Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, an Italian space laser consortium and the Reverend Senator Raphael Warnock. Oh, and Dominion voting machines.” Throw in time travel to boot.

  3. Marmon January 4, 2023


    It’s nice to see actual debate in the House of Representatives. No more of just 4 people concocting bills and pushing them onto their members to pass without debate. McCarthy has been playing Nancy Pelosi’s and Chuck Schumer’s game long enough. It’s time to move bills through committee and then the full house. No more secret deals at the end of the 11th hour. I stand with the Freedom Caucus.


    • Marshall Newman January 4, 2023

      Pretty much the only way Kevin McCarthy will have the ability to manage the House Majority as adroitly as Nancy Pelosi would be a brain transplant – from Nancy Pelosi.

  4. Craig Stehr January 4, 2023

    Benefits of Chanting Kali Mantram “Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundaye Vicce”:
    Brahman, (which is the real you), is the doer, and utilizes the body-mind complex in order to perform spiritual practices which have a profound effect in this world. Chanting of the Kali mantram purifies the planet earth’s global atmosphere and destroys the demonic, resulting in the return of this world to righteousness.

    Craig Louis Stehr
    Telephone Messages: (707) 234-3270
    Share Money Here:
    Snail Mail: P.O. Box 938, Redwood Valley, CA 95470
    da blog:
    January 4th, Ukiah, California

  5. Kathy Janes January 4, 2023

    I enjoyed reading Frank Hartzell’s piece on chickens and their diseases. More from him please, on any topic he chooses.

  6. Marco McClean January 4, 2023

    Regarding the words voted most annoying, I would add for the next vote: when someone ends his or her writing with “Just sayin'” or “Cheers.”

    • Bruce McEwen January 4, 2023

      I suggested dropping the universal insult “fascist” and got roundly censured until a few days later when a reknowned author said the same thing and I had to take my own good advice from someone higher up the chain of command. So don’t go around boasting to your friends, if you have any, that your suggestion will not be condemned, derided and dismissed by the august editors of this broadsheet.

  7. Betsy Cawn January 4, 2023

    The list of drought relief projects funded by the Bureau of Reclamation includes the “California Land Stewardship Institute” which was founded in 2005 and is based in Napa County. Their 2015 Form 990 [] states that “The purpose of this corporation is to plan and implement environmental stewardship, restoration and enhancement programs and projects including educational activities, scientific studies, promotion of beneficial stewardship practices and resource conservation activities on private and public lands and waterways.”

    The federal funding awarded to the Institute, according to the list published in today’s AVA, is $1,531,635 for the purpose of “creating long-term water supply resiliency for the communities of Ukiah Valley and the Upper Russian River.”

    In the past few years of observing the progress of the Potter Valley Project, the formation of the Mendocino Inland Power & Water Company, and the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors inactivity on the drought response and water resource management needs, I have not heard of this organization and would welcome any input from readers about its level of activity IN Mendocino County on these issues.

    The website provided by Google leads to this URL:, and prohibits non-members from viewing its contents. All that does is pique my curiosity. . . . Russian River Waterkeepers?

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