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AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE will drop south over the coastal waters on Thursday, mainly just bringing mid level clouds and southerly winds to the area. Dry weather is forecast to continue through Monday, with precipitation moving south across the area Monday night and Tuesday, along with gusty winds and colder temperatures. This could bring significant snow to the interior. (NWS)
LOW TEMPS this morning: Laytonville 25°, Yorkville 27°, Ukiah 28°, Mendocino 29°, Fort Bragg 33°
IS NAVARRO BEACH OPEN TODAY? [MCN-Announce]
Navarro Beach was still closed today as state parks uses a bulldozer to push mountains of sand off the beach parking area.
I checked it out today from an overlook on Hwy 1 across the river from the beach. Looks like they are almost done.
They sure waited a long time before starting work to clear the debris and sand left by the series of atmospheric river storms at the start of the year.
Meanwhile the channel through the sandbar on the north side of Pinnacle Rock is flowing freely straight into the ocean.
— Nick Wilson
SUPERVISOR JOHN HASCHAK: “The majority of Supervisors sided with me in not spending $25,000 for outside counsel to tell us whether the Equity Grant the County has been administering for the last year and a half is breaking federal law. This is a state funded grant so if we are breaking federal law regarding cannabis activity, then everyone from the Governor to every county accepting these funds is guilty (which I don’t think is the case and isn’t worth spending time or money trying to figure out). The others did want to send it off to the State Attorney General for an opinion which could take a year or so.”
FORT BRAGG’S NEW CRISIS RESPONSE GETS THUMBS-UP FROM MARBUT
Fort Bragg’s visible homeless camps are gone, the panhandling has all but stopped downtown or outside McDonald’s and a respite center is nearly ready to open behind Adventist Health Mendocino Coast Hospital to treat people before they hit rock bottom.
Things have changed drastically for those living on the streets of Fort Bragg since 2019, including the recent opening of The Plateau, the first ever housing project in town built with a special area for supported housing for former street people.…
GUALALA COMMUNITY CENTER ARSONIST BOOKED
Roland Joseph Eskin Jr., 52, from San Ramon, was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on February 13, 2023 charged with Arson of structure of forestland.
DEFENSE IN UKIAH BABY DEATH CASE DOUBTS DEFENDANT’S COMPETENCE
by Colin Atagi
The defense attorney for a Ukiah man accused in the death of a 13-month-old boy whose body was discovered last year near railroad tracks in Ukiah is questioning her client’s mental competency.
She presented her concerns Wednesday in Mendocino County Superior Court in Ukiah, where her client, Edward Two Feathers Steele, was scheduled to attend a preliminary hearing that could have determined whether there was enough evidence to send him to trial.
Steele instead remained at the Mendocino County Jail and attended the brief proceedings via Zoom while Jan Cole-Wilson, his public defender, presented her concerns to Judge Victoria Shanahan.
Cole-Wilson referenced a recent conversation with Steele, who would only talk about surveillance footage that investigators believe shows him the night of the child’s death.
Steele insisted it showed someone else and Cole-Wilson explained she did not believe her client would be able to assist in his defense.
“I don’t believe he is competent at this time,” she told Shanahan.
The judge ordered Steele to be examined by a doctor. The findings of that exam are to be presented to Shanahan March 8, when officials may reschedule the preliminary hearing.
Steele, who pleaded not guilty in September, is charged with second-degree murder in the Aug. 3 death of the boy who was found near the 300 block of Brush Street.
A makeshift memorial was later set up for the child at the scene, which is in a small industrial area between North State Street and Highway 101. The railroad tracks run north and south with businesses on both sides.
The boy’s 2-year-old brother, who was also found a short distance away, was briefly hospitalized. Besides the murder charge, Steele is also charged with child cruelty in this case.
According to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Steele was dating the children’s mother and they had an argument early Aug. 2 in the 1700 block of North State Street.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested the mother on suspicion of domestic violence and battery, and Steele retrieved the children, who were with a babysitter at a Motel 6 on North Street in Ukiah.
Investigators previously said deputies were advised a babysitter was with the boys and child protective services would have been called if the children were present during the arrest and showed signs of child abuse or neglect.
The mother was later released and reported around 1:30 p.m. Aug. 3 that her children were missing.
Just before 4 p.m. later that day, a passerby found the older child, who was taken to Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Hospital for life-threatening injuries.
The younger sibling was found nearby and pronounced dead at the scene.
Steele was identified as a person of interest and members of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians reported on Aug. 4 that he’d been spotted on the Hopland Rancheria.
Steele refused to cooperate during court proceedings and entered his not guilty plea to second-degree murder after several delays.
CITY OF UKIAH SEEING ‘SIGNIFICANT DECLINES’ IN SALES TAX REVENUES
by Justine Frederiksen
As staff members are ramping up work on the city’s next spending plan, City Manager Sage Sangiacomo reported earlier this month that revenues have taken a significant downturn in the past year.
“On a quarterly basis, we receive updates from our sales tax consultant, providing estimates on the sales tax (revenues) coming in,” Sangiacomo told the council during its Feb. 1 meeting, explaining that the city saw “significant declines over the estimates” for the second quarter in a row.
“At this point, I don’t feel that it’s a recessionary trend, because that’s not what is being demonstrated across the state of California,” Sangiacomo said, pointing instead to something “that is unique to Northern California, which is the fallout of the cannabis industry. That is having a significant impact on companies that provide (products directly to cultivators such as) irrigation, fertilizer, and other materials, as well as secondary markets such as home improvement stores and farm equipment.”
The third level of impact, Sangiacomo said, is “the employment from that industry, and the lack of purchasing power when people don’t have those funds coming in for restaurants and normal living.” He again described the downturn in the cannabis industry as a “unique trend that is happening in Northern California that’s (affecting) certainly Mendocino County and Humboldt, and likely Lake and Trinity counties.”
As for what impact the reduction in revenue from the cannabis industry would have on Ukiah specifically, Sangiacomo described the city as “well-positioned with regards to our reserves, and also the surpluses that we built into this budget, in a conservative way, to ensure that we don’t have to have a knee-jerk reaction to declining revenues. But I will say that I suspect this impact will be long-term,” akin to other industry declines in Mendocino County, such as that experienced by the timber industry.
“The decline of the cannabis industry makes me think that we really need to work on another economic development strategy, and not just be passive about it,” said Ukiah Mayor Mari Rodin after Sangiacomo’s report. “And I think about the possibilities that go along with developing the Great Redwood Trail and tourism. That’s one thing I hope we can work on.”
When asked if the downtown could be a lingering result “from businesses that were shuttered during Covid,” Sangiacomo said he did not see that as a significant reason for the current decline in revenues, given that Ukiah had a fairly “resilient” economy that had not been as greatly affected by Covid as other cities that rely more heavily on tourism, “such as Napa or even Fort Bragg.”
“We have a little bit more resiliency (because of) the number of activities that we have going on, but I do appreciate (Mayor Rodin’s) comment regarding continuing to work on that resiliency, (because) adding additional items to our portfolio will certainly make a huge difference.” Sangiacomo said.
(Ukiah Daily Journal)
YOU MIGHT QUALIFY.....
The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) announced February 6, 2023 that individuals and families affected by the recent severe winter storms in three counties, including Mendocino, may be eligible to receive Disaster CalFresh food benefits as part of continuing disaster recovery efforts.
Who Can Apply?
Any individuals and families who lived or worked in Mendocino County between December 27, 2022 – January 25, 2023, may be eligible for Disaster CalFresh food benefits if the household experienced at least one of the following as a direct result of the severe winter storms:
• At least one person in the household was not getting regular CalFresh food benefits,
• Money was spent because of the storms or related power outage,
• Money was lost from work because of the severe winter storms, or
• Money was spent because of damage to a home or business.
How To Apply
Households may apply between February 13-15, 2023, by calling their local county social services office, submitting a paper application, or submitting a pre-registration online application, and will be accepted in Mendocino County at https://benefitscal.com.
Disaster CalFresh food benefits will be provided via an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.
For more information about Disaster CalFresh, call your local county social services office:
Fort Bragg office: 707-962-1000
Ukiah office: 707-463-7700
ANDERSON VALLEY REMAINS A HAVEN FOR REMARKABLE WHITE WINES
by Sarah Doyle
Located 26 miles northwest of Cloverdale, past a relentlessly windy stretch of Highway 128, the Anderson Valley wine region in Mendocino County isn't a hop, skip or jump from the Bay Area.
That's part of its appeal.
Secluded enough to deter tour buses of bachelorette parties, yet a highly rewarding destination for those who commit to the journey, here is a treasure for wine enthusiasts who appreciate Anderson Valley's intimate charm and high-quality, well-priced wines.
While pinot noir and chardonnay have come to dominate Anderson Valley in recent years, a handful of wineries still are dedicated to the region's original varieties: gewürztraminer, riesling and other whites that thrive in the appellation's cool, sea-influenced climate.
Location, location, location
Hugging the Navarro River, Anderson Valley has a western edge just 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. This area is known as the "deep end," where chilly sea breezes and lingering fog are funneled upriver through the valley.
Here, temperatures can fluctuate more than 50 degrees between day and night. The region receives just enough warmth and sunlight to ripen wine grapes before the evening fog rolls in, helping the fruit retain its fresh, lively acidity.
While wine grapes have been grown in Anderson Valley since the 19th century, it wasn't until the 1960s that the region's modern wine industry took root.
Back in the 1940s, researchers at UC Davis came together to help the California wine industry recover from the destructive grapevine pest phylloxera and Prohibition by developing the Winkler Index, a resource that uses regional climate data to determine which grapes would grow best in a particular region. (UC Davis researchers started work in 2021 to update the index to better reflect changes in climate over the last 80 years.)
Anderson Valley, according to the index, was ideal for growing gewürztraminer, a deeply perfumed, pink-hue variety native to Germany that can range from sweet to dry. Now grown primarily in Alsace, France, the grape thrives in cool climates that preserve its distinct lychee and rose aromas and where it retains enough acidity to balance its inherent fruitiness.
In 1964, Donald Edmeades was the first person to take a leap and plant gewürztraminer in the valley. He was soon followed by others: Husch Vineyards, Lazy Creek Vineyards, Navarro Vineyards and Handley Cellars.
By 1983, the year Anderson Valley was designated an American Viticulture Area (AVA), three white varieties dominated the region: gewürztraminer, riesling (another Alsatian variety) and chardonnay (another index recommendation).
Heritage wine producers
Deborah Bennett, who cofounded Navarro Vineyards with her husband, Ted, in 1975, fell in love with gewürztraminer on a trip to Alsace. When the couple decided to buy a 900-acre sheep ranch in Philo and try their hand at winemaking, gewürztraminer was at the top of their list.
"When we started producing gewürztraminer, no one was making a dry version," Deborah said. "A lot of gewürztraminer was being planted in areas that were too warm, so the grapes tended to develop bitterness. Winemakers would try to cover that up with residual sugar. I think that turned off a lot of wine drinkers who assumed all gewürztraminer was sweet."
In the beginning, she said, making a dry gewürztraminer allowed Navarro to stand out among the competition, as long as she could convince customers to taste it.
"I feel like I've told thousands of people to just, 'Try it! It's dry!'" she said.
These days, Navarro tends to make more riesling than gewürztraminer, which is a grape so aromatic that it's susceptible to bee damage. They also make a sparkling gewürztraminer and a dry edelzwiker, a blend of pinot gris, riesling and gewürztraminer.
While Navarro has replaced some gewürztraminer vines with pinot gris and pinot noir, Deborah said they are committed to their original varietal.
"We're fortunate to have purchased our ranch 50 years ago, because it gives us the freedom to grow and make the wines we want and sell them at an affordable price," she said. "Many of the newer wineries with expensive land can't do that. That's why so many people are growing pinot noir."
Across Highway 128, third-generation proprietors and siblings Zac Robinson and Amanda Robinson Holstine operate Husch Vineyards, the first bonded winery in Anderson Valley. Husch's founders, Tony and Gretchen Husch, were the second people to plant gewürztraminer in the region. Husch continues to produce exceptional releases each year.
"Gewürztraminer really ebbs and flows in popularity," Amanda said. "Many people still think it's sweet and don't want to try it. But when we added the word 'dry' on the label in the 2000s, sales really took off."
Like Deborah and Ted Bennett of Navarro, Husch's founders purchased their land. With little overhead, they were able to sell their wines at an affordable price.
"We really benefit from having owned our land for so many years," Amanda said. "It's easier for us to keep our prices down."
Demand for white varieties
As demand for premium pinot noir continues to rise throughout California, the variety has come to dominate Anderson Valley. It now makes up 70% of the vineyards in the region.
There's no denying plantings of gewürztraminer and riesling have dwindled into double-digit acreage over the past 20 years. Even so, growers like Matt Tollini of Ordway Valley Foothills Vineyard in Philo say the interest in white varieties, like riesling, is still there.
"We've been getting more requests for riesling, but we don't want to plant anymore because the (demand) for chardonnay is so high," Tolllini said. "But we are planting more on grüner vetliner (a white grape from Austria). More people are learning about it, and it makes a really nice drinking wine."
Norman Kobler, a grape grower whose parents, Hans and Therese Kobler, made gewürztraminer at Lazy Creek Vineyards in Philo in the early 1970s, also has seen demand for chardonnay and riesling rise.
"There are only four riesling plantings in the valley, so it's nearly impossible to come by," Kobler said. "Gewürztraminer has become a harder sell. We used to have 12 acres at Ferrington Vineyard, but we pulled two-thirds of it out. It's a great wine in the tasting room when you can hand-sell it person to person. But on a store shelf, it's much harder to push."
Anderson Valley White Wine Festival
The region's focus on making gewürztraminer and riesling may be more part of its heritage than its future. Nonetheless, that heritage will be celebrated with the 16th annual Winter White Wine Festival Saturday and Sunday at 27 participating wineries throughout the region.
Alsatian varietals like riesling and gewürztraminer will be highlighted, along with pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, grüner vetlimer, chardonnay and sparkling wine.
"White wine grapes are an important part of our region's history, and this event is designed to pay respect to both our Alsatian grape heritage and the other unique grapes in Anderson Valley," said Courtney DeGraff, executive director of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association.
"We don't have flashiness or overdevelopment or event stop signs here," she said. "But we do have delicious wine and food, simple beauty and an amazing local community. We want people to come and experience that for themselves."
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
JUSTINE FREDERIKSEN added an update to her story:
Valentine's Day Advice - How To Stay Married For 60 Years
For years when I drove by the cemetery in Ukiah, I saw a man visiting his wife’s grave every morning.
When it was hot, he wore a hat and short sleeves; for the rain he brought a raincoat and umbrella. First he would tidy up the flowers and grass near the headstone, then he stood with his arms folded for about 15 minutes.
For all those years I wanted to talk to him, yet did not for fear of disturbing him. But finally, something made me go into the cemetery one day and approach him with a small wave. When he waved back I asked, “Are you visiting your wife?”
“Yes,” he said, nodding at the fresh red roses lying on the grass. “Today is our wedding day.”
“We were married for more than 66 years,” he said of his high school sweetheart. “And you’re not going to believe this, but in all those years we never had an argument. We both grew up in homes where people were always yelling at each other, so we made up our minds that we weren’t going to do that. And we didn’t. We had a lot of discussions, though, with time for me to talk and for her to talk. And by the time we went to bed, we had worked everything out.”
To stay married, he said, you’ve got to be “willing to listen and you’ve got to be willing to admit when you’re wrong. And usually, my wife was the one who was right. As a husband, there are two things you should say every day: ‘I love you’ and ‘Yes, dear.'”
When asked what he liked about his wife when they met, he said it was her beautiful smile. “I don’t think there was another woman with a more beautiful smile. And she was pretty inside and out.”
When asked why he visited his wife’s grave every day, he said he was in his nineties, so “I don’t have much else to do. And she gave me her life. It’s the least I can do.”
Update: After reading this story in the newspaper, the man’s daughter, Linda Talso, contacted me to say that her father, Lewis Martinelli, now 97, continued to visit his wife’s grave every day “until he gave up his driver’s license on his 94th birthday.”
Talso said she still takes her father to the cemetery about once a month and “always on special occasions to take a dozen red or pink roses. Today, Valentine’s Day 2023, we went in spite of the rain, cold and bit of slushy snow.”
Talso explained that Valentine’s Day is particularly special to her father and mother, who was named Dolores and died in 2012, because she was born on Valentine’s Day.
“Every year, Dad tells me the story of my mother handing me to him for the first time and telling him, here’s your Valentine,” she said.
(Ukiah Daily Journal)
CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, February 15, 2023
ROLAND ESKIND, San Ramon/Gualala. Arson of structure or forestland.
ALVIN FOGLEMAN, Eureka/Piercy. Burglary, pot possession & sales & transportation, failure to obey lawful peace officer order.
KATRINA FOWLES, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
RODNEY GELIN JR., Fairwood Court, Florida/Ukiah. Hit&Run resulting in death or injury.
MATTHEW LIBERTO, Ukiah. Leaving scene of accident with property damage, suspended license, probation revocation.
ABRAHAM MARIN-CARRILLO, Willits. Annoying phone calls-threatening/obscene, stalking and threatening bodily injury, criminal threats.
ERIC OLECIK, Ukiah. Domestic battery, violation of protective order, probation revocation.
TONY PAUL, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CYNTHIA PHILLIBER, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
NATHAN RILEY, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
ANTONIO RODRIGUEZ, Kelseyville/Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse.
ROY SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Parole violation.
IF I CAN'T HAVE HER, NOBODY CAN HAVE ME
by Bruce Anderson
A back page blip announcing an unnatural death rattled around in my head for a long time before I exorcized it by giving it a prose toe tag.
In the November 9, 2005 edition of The Oregonian I’d read, “Amtrak train hits, kills man on tracks in Eugene. An unidentified man died after he was hit by an Amtrak passenger train in northwest Eugene. He was pronounced dead at the scene Tuesday night, the Lane County sheriff’s office reported.
“Witnesses said the man had been walking south on the tracks, but stepped off when the engineer on the northbound train sounded the horn. The man then took off his coat and stepped back onto the tracks, they said. The sheriff’s office is investigating the incident.”
But this dead man wasn’t the transient I’d assumed he was, some hopelessly disoriented lost soul so out of it he didn’t see the train hurtling at him.
A surprising number of people meet their ends on train tracks.
There was the guy who was in such a big hurry to get to the other side of the street he drove around the down safety arm and was smashed into oblivion by an oncoming train. And there was a high school kid who somehow got hit by two trains sometime after midnight out at a train yard. He was skateboarding on the tracks with his headphones on and never heard it coming. Lost both his 14-year-old legs, but he lived.
Christopher M. Kalter-Strand, 23, was the third person in a week to be hit by a train in the Eugene, Oregon train yards, but he wasn’t trying to beat the train across the tracks and he wasn’t working out on a skateboard. Christopher M. Kalter-Strand didn’t want to live. He deliberately jumped in front of an afternoon Amtrak headed north for Portland at 60 miles per hour.
And Christopher was no transient. He was the only child of Allen and Sherly Kalter-Strand, college professors. Christopher spent his early life in securely middleclass comfort. The hyphenated name alone translates as an inside-the-bubble pedigree — private daycare, Whole Foods, a Waldorf primary school, soccer camp, braces, Subaru hatchbacks, family vacations.
On November 9th, Christopher was a lithe, handsome young man in his senior year at Oregon State. He had everything to live for, as the cliché has it. The very week after he chose death Christopher was to have been in Spain for a leisurely semester's study, and by graduation time he not only would have had his college diploma, he’d have his youth, and all of life’s banquet to choose from.
But Christopher despaired because the love of his life wanted a little emotional room, a little time off from him. But she was it for him, The One, and just thinking about her with someone else…
An old man could have told Christopher, “Look here, kid. You’re young. Get yourself drunk and go on. A year from now you’ll laugh at yourself over this. Lighten up, for crissakes.”
But the kid couldn't get over her, he begged her and he brooded, and decided not to go on with her, probably not thinking about the lifetimes of pain he would cause his parents and everyone who knew him.
Christopher's name wasn’t released until the police were certain of his identity. It took a month to be certain, which is how long the ID process sometimes takes even when the police start out knowing whose remains they’re looking at.
The police brought out a few details beyond the fact that a man had intentionally jumped in front of a train the morning of November 9 in Eugene, Oregon.
“Thomas Ray Crone,” Lane County sheriff's office investigator James Jorgensen wrote, “said he was operating the train. He was northbound from Eugene traveling at about 60 mph. He observed a white male walking towards him on the tracks. He blew the horn and the subject stepped off the east side of the tracks. As the train started to pass, the subject threw his coat down and jumped in front of the train. The train struck him and he flew off the east side of the tracks.”
Investigator Jorgensen also interviewed Michael Lee Isom, Crone’s co-pilot.
“Isom said he was stepping into the cab and saw a brown head directly in front of the train and immediately heard a thump. He observed the body glance off the left side of the train.”
Crone and Isom are identified right down to their heights and body weights — both coming in at 275 and both well under 6 feet. They were victims too, after all. Crone had braked hard to spare the young man looming up in front of him, but trains aren’t automobiles, and Christopher Kalter-Strand, 23, honor student with less than a year to go to college graduation, was killed instantly.
Marie A. Hattenburg told the investigator that she was one of the train's conductors, and that the train just left the train station en-route to Portland when she heard the train blow its horn.
A short time later she noticed the train braking hard because she was thrown forward like when a car is stopping fast. She said she went to the front of the train and was informed that they just hit someone.
Marie could not say what happened because she did not see what happened. She did say that the men operating the train told her that they’d noticed a person walking down the train track so they blew their horn, and the person jumped to the side; however, when the train approached the person, he jumped in front of it.
There was no doubt that Christopher had intended to die. The young woman who inspired Christopher’s death said “they had agreed to see other people.”
Anja Brahmer, a student at the University of Oregon, was the love of Christopher's life. She also grew up in Salem. Anja and Christopher had gone to high school together, and they'd been a couple ever since. They were still a couple, sort of.
When Anja had returned from her year of study in Spain, Christopher had taken a break from his studies at Oregon State to live with her in Eugene.
Anja last saw Christopher when she left for work the morning of the day he’d decided to die. She said there was nothing in Christopher's behavior that so much as hinted that he might kill himself. They’d argued the day before, argued long and repetitiously because Christopher, fatally jealous, kept coming back at Anja with other young men she'd met while she was abroad, and Anja kept reminding Chris that they'd both agreed to take a break from each other.
And then they’d gone to bed.
The next morning, Christopher’s last, they’d gotten up together. They again exchanged the same opinions about the history and present state of their relationship they’d exchanged the night before. Anja was tired of it. She had classes to attend and a job to go to. She left their apartment, reminding Chris to lock the door if he went out.
But Christopher didn’t have classes and a job to go to. All he had left were his demons, his envy. As he walked the three miles from Anja’s place to the train tracks, Christopher must have steeled himself to die rather than go on torturing himself with visions of Anja with other young men. If their affection for each other survived Christopher’s torment, maybe it would be strengthened and maybe it wouldn't. After all, they were young, and they'd already been together since high school. People grow, change. There’s a whole literature about it. Songs, too. Christopher understood that in theory.
But emotionally, Christopher was dying, and in a few hours after his last sight of his Anja he finished the rest of himself off.
Anja had come home from work late in the afternoon to find Christopher’s 11-page farewell on a chair in the middle of the room. Anja knew what the letter said even before she read it.
She called her mother. She called Christopher’s mother. Anja’s mother told her to call the Eugene Police Department. But Christopher had been dead for five hours by the time Anja read his last testament.
“He was fine that morning,” Anja says. “He said he was going to Salem for a while so I didn’t expect him to be home when I got back from school. If he’d even suggested he might hurt himself, 1 would have acted and so would his parents. We just didn’t see it. Yes, we were going through a rough time in our relationship but we hadn’t broken up. I’d been abroad studying for a year, so we'd been apart. We had agreed to see other people, but I guess he didn’t expect it to actually happen, even though we'd talked about it and he’d had a relationship with someone else, too. But he was very upset and disappointed and hurt about it; not really jealous just very unrealistic, I think.”
Christopher had locked their apartment door as Anja had asked him to do that morning.
“I got home from school and found it and started reading it,” Anja remembers of the day she’s now condemned to remember all her days. “I knew even before the end of the first page what it was and what had happened, and I knew exactly what he’d done. I hadn’t expected it at all. He didn’t say specifically that he was going to kill himself, but I could tell what he was trying to say. He'd told me about two friends of his who'd been suicidal. Chris had helped them to get through it. But he’d never said anything about doing it himself. I was shocked that he was able to help other people but not himself. He was a very quiet person but he never became any more depressed than anybody else gets sometimes. If I'd even suspected he might do something like this I would have gotten him help right away. I didn't see it in him, and he hadn’t said anything that made me think he might hurt himself. He was close to his parents, too. But nobody close to him even suspected he was so far down. I just keep telling myself it was his choice to do this. No one else is responsible.”
A PRISONER’S EYE VIEW
I’ve seen in the news recently how Oakland is closing 7 to 10 schools over the next few years so they can save $40 million. Then I saw how Alameda County Supervisors have approved a measure to spend the monies given them to improve their mental health services and to expand housing for the homeless on a new jail instead. I guess it’s their sick, morbid way of improving the living conditions for the mentally ill while providing them with housing at the same time. This in and of itself should be a crime and those responsible should get their asses thrown in to jail then made to live on the street when they are released; maybe then they would get the picture.
These Supervisors should take into account that for what it takes to hire five correction officers they can hire ten teachers. What it takes to build one prison and staff it would cost $300 to $400 million, and to build one school and staff it would cost around $200 million.
A C/O is paid $80,000 to start then with overtime they are making over $110,000 a year and a starting teacher makes $50,000, no over time. What in the hell are we thinking? Do you want your kids going to prison or collage? That should be a no-brainer.
Maybe you’re thinking why are we not building schools instead of prisons? I'll tell you why: It’s your politicians. They take big kickbacks when they build a prison. Something they don’t get when they build a school. The guards union and the victims rights groups which are funded by the unions are willing to force their members to pay them x-amount to give to their causes. If only you people could see how lazy these C/Os really are you might rethink your position on prisons.
For $80,000 a year to start these C/Os sit on their asses and do as little as possible. What ever you do don’t ask them to get up and unlock a door until it’s time for them to make their rounds.
It’s really sad to see how bad they are taking advantage of the people of this great state.
Wake up, California. It is time you see how bad you’re being treated. Prosecutors and the California Supreme Court both think you the voters are nothing more than a bunch of dumb saps.
Charles V. Statler
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
As you may know, I have a periodic hobby/fascination with looking at online prison women personals and then looking up their crimes and mugshots and whatnot.
Many of them have a fair amount of tattoos, piercings and are often plastered with makeup and/or have foggy/soft-focus images.
When I manage to find a mugshot (not always easy or possible), they look almost completely different– kind of like young men or very clean-shaven gay men.
– Drugs (dealing, taking and/or manufacturing and/or conspiracies thereof)
– Public intoxication (a couple of them in their mugshots still appear drunk lol)
– Drunk driving
– Manslaughter from drunk driving
– Hit and Run
– Thefts of different sorts
– Frauds of different sorts
– Prostitution (even a prostitution ring or two)
– Accessories (sometimes apparently inadvertent) to murder/manslaughter (getaway car, etc.)
– Assaults of different sorts (guns, knives)
– Child abuse/neglect
– Sex with minor
– Murder (often in for life but not always)
There are many others of course all rich in variety.
A little belated for Valentines Day but pick the kind of bad girl you want and go get her.
(Personally, I’m partial to the financial fraud, resisting arrest, rejecting police authority and the general stick-it-to-the-system-somehow-without-really-hurting-anyone girls, but might be willing to consider the stab/shoot the abusive boyfriend in the thigh/ass kind too.).
More good information and then the kind of crap we have been hearing from Jewish activists who claim to support the Palestinian struggle and exaggerate "positives and eliminate (or downplay) the negatives" when it comes to battling the Israel Lobby and its influence over Congress (without, for the second time in two days), mentioning the US billions for Israel which might attract popular attention while speaking about a NON-EXISTING pro-Palestinian insurgency in Congress. Betty McCollum's bill designed to tie US aid for Israel to its treatment of Palestinian children, has been stuck on less than 35 sponsors for more years than I can count. In other words it is going nowhere and the Squad has essentially held its fire since Biden took the White House. AIPAC, and unlike what Phil Weiss tells us, IS NOT LOSING!
"The AJP Action report is optimistic. The lobby is spending all this money because it sees the trends in progressive life:
"The 2022 midterms signal a changing strategy from the Zionist political industry. With their back against the wall and a growing insurgency advocating for a free Palestine in Congress, AIPAC et al. are doing everything they can to reverse the advances made by pro-Palestinian advocates. They’re attempting to bully and scare Members of Congress from advocating for Palestinian human rights. In a way, their actions this last election are an admission that they’re losing.
"I share that optimism. Despite the lobby’s efforts, Palestinian solidarity has gained a beachhead inside the Democratic Party. The Squad is growing, and though rising progressive pols learn to toe the line on Israel, it’s not like they’ll stay bought. Rep. Betty McCollum’s move to restrict aid to Israel over human rights abuses has gained liberal Zionist backing because leftleaning Dems care. And if AOC does take on Gillibrand next year, we are sure to see the Israel issue break out in prime time."
This is the second effort in two days by Weiss to exert control over the movement, such as it is, and sorry, folks, after 75 years it hasn't amounted to much.
ONLY PUNY SECRETS need protection. Big secrets are protected by public incredulity. You can actually dissipate a situation by giving it maximal coverage. As to alarming people, that’s done by rumors, not by coverage.
—Marshall McLuhan, “Probes”
A SAD DAY: Raquel Welch (September 5, 1940 – February 15, 2023)
Through her portrayal of strong female characters, which helped in her breaking the mold of the traditional sex symbol, Welch developed a unique film persona that made her an icon of the 1960s and 1970s.
TRUMP PLANS TO BRING BACK FIRING SQUADS, Group Executions if He Retakes White House
by Asawin Suebsaeng & Patrick Reis
The former president wants to expand the use of the death penalty, and expand the federal government's options for carrying out death sentences.
"What do you think of firing squads?”
That’s the question Donald Trump repeatedly asked some close associates in the run-up to the 2024 presidential campaign, three people familiar with the situation tell Rolling Stone.
It’s not an idle inquiry: The former president, if re-elected, is still committed to expanding the use of the federal death penalty and bringing back banned methods of execution, the sources say. He has even, one of the sources recounts, mused about televising footage of executions, including showing condemned prisoners in the final moments of their lives.
Specifically, Trump has talked about bringing back death by firing squad, by hanging, and, according to two of the sources, possibly even by guillotine. He has also, sources say, discussed group executions. Trump has floated these ideas while discussing planned campaign rhetoric and policy desires, as well as his disdain for President Biden’s approach to crime.
In at least one instance late last year, according to the third source, who has direct knowledge of the matter, Trump privately mused about the possibility of creating a flashy, government-backed video-ad campaign that would accompany a federal revival of these execution methods. In Trump’s vision, these videos would include footage from these new executions, if not from the exact moments of death. “The [former] president believes this would help put the fear of God into violent criminals,” this source says. “He wanted to do some of these [things] when he was in office, but for whatever reasons didn’t have the chance.”
A Trump spokesman denies Trump had mused about a video-ad campaign. “More ridiculous and fake news from idiots who have no idea what they’re talking about,” the spokesman writes in an email. “Either these people are fabricating lies out of thin air, or Rolling Stone is allowing themselves to be duped by these morons.”
Trump’s enthusiasm for grisly video campaigns has been documented before, including in an anecdote from a former aide that had the then-president demanding footage of “people dying in a ditch” and “bodies stacked on top of bodies” so that his administration could “scare kids so much that they will never touch a single drug in their entire life.”
Asked about firing squads and other execution methods, the spokesman refers Rolling Stone to lines from Trump’s 2024 campaign announcement. “Every drug dealer during his or her life, on average, will kill 500 people with the drugs they sell, not to mention the destruction of families. We’re going to be asking everyone who sells drugs, gets caught selling drugs, to receive the death penalty for their pain.”
At an October rally — to cheers and applause from his audience — Trump pitched a form of supposed justice that has been embraced by some brutal dictatorships. “And if [the drug dealer is] guilty, they get executed, and they send the bullet to the family and they want the family to pay for the cost of the bullet,” Trump said at the rally. “If you want to stop the drug epidemic in this country, you better do that [even if] it doesn’t sound nice.”
The former president’s zeal for the death penalty has already proven lethal. During the final months of his administration, he oversaw the executions of 13 federal prisoners. Since 1963, only three federal prisoners had been executed, including Oklahoma City bomber and mass murderer Timothy McVeigh. In January 2021, in the final stretch before Biden would become president, Trump oversaw three executions in four days.
“In conversations I’d been in the room for, President Trump would explicitly say that he’d love a country that was totally an ‘eye for an eye’ — that’s a direct quote — criminal-justice system, and he’d talk about how the ‘right’ way to do it is to line up criminals and drug dealers before a firing squad,” says a former Trump White House official.
“You just got to kill these people,” Trump would stress, this ex-official notes.
“He had a particular affinity for the firing squad, because it seemed more dramatic, rather than how we do it, putting a syringe in people and putting them to sleep,” the former White House official adds. “He was big on the idea of executing large numbers of drug dealers and drug lords because he’d say, ‘These people don’t care about anything,’ and that they run their drug empire and their deals from prison anyways, and then they get back out on the street, get all their money again, and keep committing crimes and therefore, they need to be eradicated, not jailed.”
Trump’s firing-squad fixation may address his desire for the “dramatic,” but some experts believe that an instant death-by-gunshot may be more humane than lethal injection. “There’s pain, certainly, but it’s transient,” according to Dr. Jonathan Groner, a professor of surgery at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. “If you’re shot in the chest and your heart stops functioning, it’s just seconds until you lose consciousness.”
Rules made during Trump’s presidency made federal firing squads more feasible. Previously, lethal injection was the only permissible federal method of execution. But under the administration’s new rules, if lethal injections are made legally or logistically unavailable, the federal government can use any method that is legal in the state where the execution is located.
The rule took effect on Dec. 24, 2020, and thus far has not been applied: All 13 Trump-era executions were done by lethal injection. But the expanded methods of execution could be relevant in the future. Opponents of the death penalty have pushed drugmakers to withhold the drugs needed to conduct lethal injections, complicating efforts to impose capital punishment. In Indiana, home to the Terre Haute facility where most federal executions are conducted, the new policies “legally open the door for the authorized use of firing squads, electrocution, or the gas chamber,” the Indianapolis Star reported at the time.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr, the ideological architect of Trump’s execution binge, told Rolling Stone in December that Trump and his administration would have had more people put to death soon, had he won a second term in 2020. “Yes — that was the expectation,” Barr succinctly summarized in a phone interview.
There are 44 men on federal death row. The only woman on federal death row in modern times was Lisa Montgomery, whom Trump and Barr put to death on Jan. 13, 2020.
There could soon be a 45th prisoner on federal death row. The Justice Department is seeking the death penalty for convicted domestic terrorist Sayfullo Saipov, who steered a truck onto a bike path and pedestrian walkway in New York City on Halloween in 2017, and is set to be sentenced in federal court in the days ahead. Biden and his attorney general, Merrick Garland, implemented a moratorium on capital punishment, but the sentence would leave Saipov eligible for execution under a future president.
by Izzy Finkel
‘In politics, you leave the way you came in.’ In Turkey the phrase is attributed to Süleyman Demirel, the seven-time prime minister and president in 1999 when a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck just east of Istanbul. Voters, resolving to punish officials who’d been complicit in construction practices that killed 17,500 people in their beds, used the next election to install Erdoğan’s AK Party for the first time.
Twenty-four years later, some are returning to Demirel’s words after the twin earthquakes that hit southern Turkey and north-west Syria on 6 February. Despite freezing temperatures, rare survivors are still being disentombed from the rubble more than a week later. Each rescue is a relief and an indictment. With a more effective disaster response, many more might have been saved.
The earthquakes were made deadlier by the heavy snows, and because they struck some of Turkey’s fastest growing cities, with populations swelled by refugees from twelve years of war in Syria. No one can help the fact that Turkey sits at the meeting point of three continental plates. Yet the toll has also been exacerbated by shoddy construction, of the kind which not so long ago provoked so many to say ‘never again’.
Now homes that were advertised as meeting the highest earthquake standards lie flattened. Survivors are asking for accountability from those who built them and from those who allowed them to get built.
The earthquakes have exposed the Turkish government’s lethal habit of overruling the experts. The runway of Hatay airport was ripped apart, delaying critical relief efforts: it straddled a fault line where the authorities had been warned not to site it. Members of the confederation of professional bodies for architects and engineers (TMMOB) are among those used to being ignored. But the sight of a TMMOB branch still standing amid the ruins in Kahramanmaraş is emblematic of the fact that building safely is a choice.
Gönenç Gürkaynak, a lawyer who in normal times acts for clients like Twitter, used the microblogging site to co-ordinate the delivery of aid to remote villages in rented off-road vehicles – one of many volunteer operations that jumped into action when government agencies were overwhelmed. ‘First I’m going to get back to trying to raise donations,’ Gürkaynak wrote, after days of that work. ‘Then it will be time to engage using the law.’ The police have started to arrest contractors, as they ought. But after the 1999 quake few arrests led to convictions.
Sinan Kurmuş used to work in construction. According to his calculations, the difference in cost between a building that obeys the regulations and one that crumbles under stress is around £40 per square metre. Lethally shortchanging a housing project, he has worked out, hoards a contractor enough profit to buy a medium-sized car. I asked him if a building built to code could withstand a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Unless you’re sitting directly on the fault line. But if you’re building to code you won’t be on the fault line.’
After the 1999 quake, zoning laws and building standards were meant to be strictly enforced. But as recently as 2018 – just before the last general election – the government held a lucrative nationwide amnesty, pardoning more than seven million buildings that weren’t to code. Legislation for another amnesty had been going through parliament before last week’s disaster. A general election was mooted for May. Before the earthquake, a sixth victory for the AKP was far from guaranteed. It is too early to speculate whether voters will honour Demirel’s dictum and blame the ruling party at the ballot box. It is too early even to say if the vote can go ahead. Many of the dead have yet to be buried. Still more have yet to be found. The president has batted away criticism, calling it a time for national unity. But the grieving will not be silenced.
WHO officials are calling this the worst natural disaster in the European region for a century. It is inadequate to speak of the earthquake’s destruction in geographic terms (the damage covers an area the size of the UK), or in numbers (the confirmed death toll of more than 35,000 represents a fraction of the dead). The scale of the grief is such that to speak of it at all is inadequate. And yet not to speak about it suits those who should be held to account.
(London Review of Books)
IN SYRIA, THE WEST’S HUMANITARIAN CLAIMS CRUMBLE TO DUST
The US said it wanted to free Syrians from a tyrant. Then it was willing to let them die of cold and hunger. The truth: for the West, Syria is simply about power
by Jonathon Cook
US President Joe Biden's administration relented last Thursday and finally lifted sanctions on Syria. The change of policy came after four days of relentless and shocking footage from the disaster zone in southern Turkey and northern Syria caused by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
It seems as if Washington felt it could no longer sustain its embargo when tens of thousands of bodies were being exhumed from the rubble and millions more were struggling with cold, hunger and injuries.
The US could not afford to look like the odd man out faced with a global wave of concern for the devastated populations of Syria and Turkey.
Under the new exemption, the Syrian government will be able to receive earthquake relief for six months before the embargo locks back in.
But no one should be fooled by this apparent change of heart.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the State Department’s first reaction was to double down on its policy. Spokesman Ned Price dismissed the possibility of lifting sanctions, arguing it would be “counterproductive … to reach out to a government that has brutalised its people over the course of a dozen years now”.
The truth is that the sanctions regime imposed by the US and its allies in Europe, Canada and Australia was a criminal policy long before the earthquake struck. The brief and belated exemption – under international pressure – does not fundamentally alter that picture.
Western claims of humanitarian intervention in the oil-rich Middle East were always a lie. It just took an earthquake to make that crystal clear.
Sanctions are a form of collective punishment on the wider population. The West has been punishing Syrians for living under a government they did not elect but one the US is determined to bring down at all costs.
The West’s embargo was imposed in parallel to a civil war, which rapidly transformed into a Western proxy war, that ravaged most of the country. The US and its allies fuelled and inflamed the war, sponsoring rebel groups, including jihadists, that ultimately failed to oust the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Many of those extremist groups flooded in from neighbouring countries, where they had been sucked into the vacuum left in the wake of the West’s earlier “humanitarian” regime-overthrow operations.
To avoid the fighting, many millions of Syrians were forced to flee their homes, resulting in endemic poverty and malnutrition. Even as the fighting abated, Syria’s economy continued to sink – not only because of Western sanctions, but because the US and others had seized Syria’s oil fields and its best agricultural lands.
This entirely man-made catastrophe preceded and compounded last week’s earthquake. Already destitute, hungry and isolated, Syrians now have to cope with further calamity.
The supposed logic of the West’s decade-long policy to immiserate Syria, fashioned to a template Washington regularly rolls out against official enemies, was simple. Desperate Syrians would be incentivised to rise up against their leaders in the hope of better things.
But the project visibly failed – just as it has done so often before in official enemy states such as Cuba and Iran. Nonetheless, the programme of suffering continued to be enforced in the name of humanitarianism.
When Syria was hit by last week’s earthquake, Washington’s insistence that the sanctions remain in place shifted the policy from the simply inhumane to the positively ghoulish.
But rather than assume US benevolence for temporarily lifting sanctions, the focus should be on why they are there in the first place.
The logic of the West’s position was this: lifting sanctions requires recognising the Assad government, which in turn would be an admission of defeat in the battle to unseat him. Protecting the collective ego of Washington officials has taken precedence over the protracted torment of millions of Syrians.
That in itself gives the lie to any pretence that, in their fight to topple the Assad government, the US and Europe ever really cared about the Syrian people.
It also offers a revealing counterpoint to Ukraine’s treatment. Apparently, no price is to be spared to save the “European-looking” Ukrainians from Russia’s invasion, even if it risks a nuclear confrontation. But darker-skinned Syrians will be abandoned to their fate as soon as crumbling masonry is no longer on our TV screens.
When did this kind of racist discrimination qualify as humanitarianism?
No, it isn’t compassion motivating the West in arming Ukraine – any more than, earlier, it was compassion motivating the West in sponsoring a Syrian opposition that quickly came to be dominated by the very groups the West labelled as terrorists elsewhere.
Battle for supremacy
The West’s supposed humanitarian instincts can only really be understood by digging deeper. Much deeper.
Helping Ukrainians by arming them with tanks and jets, while depriving Syrians of bare essentials, aren’t positions quite as opposed as they first appear. The inconsistency doesn’t even qualify as a double standard, viewed from Western capitals.
Both policies advance the same goal, and one that has nothing to do with the welfare of ordinary Ukrainians or Syrians. That goal is Western supremacy. And more or less visible in the background in both cases is the very same official enemy the West wants to see decisively “weakened”: Russia.
The Syrian government has been one of the last in the Middle East to stand by Russia, including by giving the Russian navy access to the Mediterranean via the Syrian port at Tartus. That was one of the chief reasons why the West was so keen to see Assad’s government smashed, and why Moscow propped up Damascus militarily against Western-backed rebels, frustrating those efforts.
Ukraine, meanwhile, was gradually being transformed into an unofficial forward base for Nato on Russia’s doorstep – a reason why Russia wished to see Kyiv cowed and why the US is so keen to prop it up militarily.
Punishing Syria isn’t an ethical foreign policy. It is rationalised by viewing the world and its peoples through one lens only: how they can serve the naked interests of Western and, primarily, US power.
As ever, the West is playing its colonial Great Game – power intrigues to line up its geostrategic chess pieces in the most advantageous arrangement possible. And those interests include global military dominance and control over key financial resources like oil.
As Syria struggles to deal with the earthquake, the first instinct of the US and its allies was not how to relieve the suffering of its people. It was to play a game of switch and bait. Damascus was blamed for failing to allow aid to reach some of the northern regions hardest hit by the earthquake. These include areas still in rebel hands.
Mark Lowcock, the former head of UN humanitarian affairs, complained: “It is going to require Turkish acquiescence to get aid into those areas. It is unlikely the Syrian government will do much to help.”
The first shipments arrived through a crossing from Turkey last Thursday. The Syrian government also approved the delivery of humanitarian aid to areas not under its control in the earthquake-hit northwest of the country. In response, a spokesman for the HTS militant group, which controls much of Idlib, told Reuters it wouldn't allow aid in from government-held parts of Syria because “we won’t allow the regime to take advantage of the situation to show they are helping”.
Whatever the Western narrative, the blame game over getting aid to northern Syria isn’t simply the result of bloody-mindedness from Damascus.
Today, the Assad government may have secured a majority of Syrian territory, but it is far from in control of the Syrian nation. The US has helped carve out a large, autonomous northeast corner for the Kurdish population, and other chunks of the north are in the hands of an alliance of extremist groups, dominated by al-Qaeda off-shoots, as well as the remnants of the Islamic State group and Turkish-backed fighters.
This fragmentation is proving a massive obstacle to the relief effort. By their nature, governments wish to assert sovereignty over their entire territory.
But the Assad government has additional cause for concern. There are severe dangers for it in letting the local al-Qaeda franchise and other rebel groups take any credit for dealing with the emergency. This isn’t just a public relations battle. If al-Qaeda is seen to bring succour to desperate communities in northern Syria, they stand to win hearts and minds among ordinary Syrians – and Arabs further afield.
Allowing al-Qaeda to be in charge of the relief operations is a recipe for Damascus to lose authority with large sections of the local population. That could serve as a prelude to reviving Syria’s civil war and plunge Syrians back into fighting and bloodshed.
‘Evil of the whole’
The point is not that no blame can be attached to Assad and his government. It is that, whatever Western orthodoxy proclaims, meddling by outside powers to topple governments is never likely to lead to humanitarian outcomes. That is true even if a regime-overthrow operation can be achieved quickly – in contrast to the protracted impasse in Syria.
It was largely for that reason that the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders after the Second World War declared aggression against another nation’s sovereign territory as the “supreme international crime” and one that “contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.
Attacks on sovereign states lead to a loss of the glue that binds a populace together, however imperfectly, and produces its own, usually unpredictable, consequences.
The West’s 20-year occupation of Afghanistan created a crony state, where corrupt local officials siphoned off US funds meant for state-building and served as puppets for regional warlords. The violent chaos unleashed by Washington paved the way for the Taliban’s return.
The US and UK’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, and then the disbanding of the Iraqi police and army, did not realise any of Washington’s promises of “freedom and democracy”. Instead, it created a vacuum of authority that tore the country apart and led to Iran and extremist groups vying for power.
The West’s 2011 toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s government resulted in Libya becoming a country of slave markets, as well as a sanctuary for extremists and a conduit for arms trafficking to other conflict zones, such as Syria.
Now we see in Syria the legacy once again of the West’s humanitarianism. Debilitated by years of a proxy war and a Western sanctions regime, Damascus is far too fragile and fearful to risk ceding any of its residual powers to opponents.
Those who will suffer once again – this time from the earthquake – are not governments in Washington, Europe’s capitals or Damascus. It will be ordinary Syrians – the very people the West claims it wants to save.
UKRAINE, WEDNESDAY, 15TH FEBRUARY
Most Americans favor some role in supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia, but support for supplying weapons and money to Ukraine is declining, a new survey suggests.
The survey by The Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center showed 48% of those interviewed supported providing weapons to Kyiv, 29% opposed it and 22% had no opinion. In the last survey, taken in May, 60% of Americans supported supplying weapons to Ukraine.
A majority of Democrats supported accepting Ukrainian refugees, supplying Ukraine with weapons, and sending money directly to the country. But there was less support among Republicans, the survey showed. And economic concerns were gaining import over Russian sanctions "Democrats and Republicans alike are increasingly likely to prioritize limiting damage to the U.S. economy over effective sanctions," according to the survey of more than 1,000 adults Jan. 26 and Jan. 30.
U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says 97% of the Russian army is now in Ukraine. The Russians are facing "First World War levels of attrition," he told the BBC.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Wednesday that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had asked him to remain in his post. Renzikov has been under scrutiny because of a corruption scandal linked to his ministry.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson pledged to send artillery systems to Ukraine “as soon as possible.” Sweden applied for membership in the NATO military alliance soon after Russia invaded Ukraine.
This a brief combat report from the battlefield here and abroad in the aftermath of the release last Wednesday of my story about Joe Biden’s decision to blow up the Nord Stream pipelines.
First, many thanks for your interest in what the pipeline story was all about: a very dangerous Presidential decision. You are careful readers.
I’m an old hand at dropping bombshell stories that are based on the disclosures of sources I do not, and cannot, name. There is a pattern to the response by the mainstream media. It dates back to my breakthrough story: the My Lai massacre revelation. That story was published in five installments, over five weeks in 1969, by the underground media group Dispatch News. I had tried to get the two most important magazines in America, Life and Look, to publish the story, with no success. Editors at both publications had earlier invited me to do some freelance writing for them, but they wanted nothing to do with a story about a massacre committed by American soldiers.
It was a frightening time for me, in terms of my faith in the profession I had chosen. I was allowed to read and copy by hand much of the Army’s original charge sheet accusing a sad sack 2nd Lieutenant named William L. Calley Jr. of the premeditated murder of 109 “Oriental” human beings. I also had tracked Calley, the Army’s only suspect, and interviewed him at a base in Georgia—he was tucked away—and gotten his assertion that he was merely doing what he was ordered to do. Given all this, I was more than a little rattled—make that terrified—by the failure of senior editors at prominent magazines to jump at a story that would get international attention, especially when those editors professed to deplore the war and want it to end...