Mouth | Dry | Cardinals Advance | Parent Meeting | Birthday Kuny | Closed Sessions | Mountain Highway | GRT Moonshot | Cooking Demo | Pearce Award | IRS Valentine | Mendocino Theatre | Yesterday's Catch | Deep Pockets | Glou-Glou | Chunky Bobcat | Spain Rodriguez | Zen Judaism | Poetry Reading | Nancy Letter | Self-Actualized | CA Homeless | Feeding | Fentanyl | See Nothing | SF Tranq | Balloonist | Big Pharma | MVP Momma | David Fagen | Bee | HuffnPuff | Shame | Hate | Clown World | Solace | Rowling Defense | Not Offended | Ukraine | Tim McCarver
DRY WEATHER is forecast to continue through Monday. Rain and snow are expected to move south across the area Monday night and Tuesday. Snow levels will fall rapidly Tuesday afternoon and overnight to nearly 500 feet. Breezy north winds will accompany this cold air. Rain and low elevation snow may continue into Thursday. (NWS)
CONGRATS to the varsity boys for being the only Mendocino County D6 boys basketball team to advance to the second round of the NCS playoffs!
The Mendocino Cardinals held Rio Lindo Academy to 7 points in the second half to advance. They travel to top ranked SF Waldorf on Saturday.
A GREAT PARENT MEETING
Dear AVUSD Community,
Many thanks to Deleh, David P., Stefani, Cymbre, David B., Yurida, Erika, Lety, Nancy, and Terri Rhoades and crew for creating an impactful evening for conversation with our ELAC committee parents. Thirty eight people plus staff attended the dinner. David and Deleh translated.
Key themes: Parents/GUARDIANS are UPSET about drugs on the Junior/Senior High School campus and the bullying culture of some students. There was appreciation for the open communication. They want to hear from teachers/staff early before things get serious.
The drugs are a big problem, and they are forming a task force to problem-solve. If you want to join, email me at email@example.com.
Here are the DRAFT notes: ELAC Dinner
Louise Simson, Superintendent
FOR TWO WEEKS, last week and this week, the Supervisors have spent their meetings entirely in closed session, mostly conducting “performance evaluations” for six department heads. Despite their frequent hosannas to “transparency,” the public has no role in these seemingly important evaluations other than a brief and limited opportunity to express an opinion before the Board goes into closed session, an opportunity which is never publicized and which we have never seen taken by anyone. Performance evaluations of such highly paid and responsible positions are treated the same way as line worker performance evaluations: in secret. The public is not asked or involved in the criteria used for these evaluations conducted by elected officials, nor are they generally aware of what these officials even do, much less how well they do them. In the past, these evaluations were not even posted. Only this year have we seen them listed on an agenda because when CEO Carmel Angelo retired, these positions were removed from the CEO’s responsibility (for reasons that were never explained) and who now work directly for the Board of Supervisors. The Cannabis Program Director, Kristen Nevedal, who presides over an embarrasingly dysfunctional permit program, also works directly for the Board now. She was secretly evaluated a few months ago. The Air Quality District Director may also work directly for the Board, although their funding is not provided out of the General Fund.
In addition, none of these departments (or any other departments for that matter) are required to submit monthly reports addressing budget, staffing, project status or problem highlights, so these “evaluations” are based entirely on personal opinions, anecdotes and occasional appearances at Board meetings. The Supervisors have never made any effort to systematically evaluate individual departments or their day to day operations or functioning.
The February 16 closed session listed evaluations for Transportation Director Howard Dashiell, Animal Care Director Richard Molinari, Public Defender Jeffrey Aaron, Child Support Services (aka Deadbeat Dad office) Director (whose name we don’t know and can’t find on-line), and Cultural Services Agency Director Deborah Samson (whose responsibility includes the library system, county parks and the County Museum in Willits).
For a few months after Mr. Molinari was hired the CEO report included some Animal Shelter statistics which at least showed the level of activity at the Shelter and seemed to indicate Mr. Molinari was an improvement over the badly run department he inherited. Public Defender Aaron keeps a very low profile and stays within his budget so he’s probably getitng high marks since nobody but his indigient clients has any idea how is office is doing “defending” the usual mostly guilty suspects. The Deadbeat Dad office is completely invisble to the public and only came to public notice once back in the early 2000s when the late DA Norm Vroman charged then director Ralph Fredman with disturbing the peace in his office after he threw an angry screaming and insulting fit at an IT worker and Vroman told the Board that if they didn’t fire him, he’d file charges. They didn’t; in fact they paid for his legal defense. After the case was filed it came to light that Freedman had been fired from previous jobs for similarly volatile behavior but nobody had checked. Freedman eventually was fired, but he ended up getting a not-guilty verdict in his disturbing the peace case because the DA couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his office tantrum was “malicious.” We assume that whoever is running the Deadbeat Dad shop these days is keeping their temper in check so he or she will probably get a good review too since the Supervisors have no idea what their “performance” is and nobody ever says anything critical or negative about anybody (on the record) at 501 Low Gap Road.
There’s also an odd closed session item entitled: “Existing Litigation: One Case - Doe, John et al. v. Mendocino County et al. County Superior Court Case No. 22-cv-01700.” But when we went to the Superior Court’s case index, no such case number is listed.
After the February 16 casual half-day morning gab session, Board chair Glenn McGourty reported out of closed session that “no reportable action was taken.”
The February 23 agenda is the same, including the mysterious John Doe case which is not listed on the Court index.
MARSHALL NEWMAN FOUND ANOTHER LOCAL HISTORY POSTCARD ON EBAY
Newman notes: Almost certainly the first and only time the Mountain View Road has been described as a highway.
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN, all the way on board for the Great Redwood Trail scam:
"Phase 4 of the GRT coming soon. My goal is to get the trail from Hopland to Redwood Valley within 10 years. Ukiah to Hopland tourism and recreation, Ukiah to Redwood Valley for recreation for sure but also as an active transportation coordinator for people going to the College and those that live off of Lake Mendocino Drive and in Redwood Valley. Support from the City of Ukiah is moving this project along in the Ukiah Valley and I’m grateful that they recognize McGuire’s vision. I had a meeting with someone yesterday that hadn’t heard my outdoor recreation trifecta spiel so I’ll share it again. The Great Redwood Trail, a thriving Lake Mendocino and recreational uses on the Russian River could be an economic driver for Inland Mendocino County tourism within the next five-ten years. I also talked with someone that hadn’t heard me say that the GRT is/should be looked at as an economic driver for the properties on the Eel River Canyon that are struggling in the cannabis industry. We need to think big picture for the future and this is just an incremental step in the larger vision."
CORINE PEARCE RECEIVED A SILVER AWARD for Community Engagement in the 2nd Annual Anthem Awards “Education, Arts and Culture” category. She joins fellow winners Amanda Gorman (poet), Quannah Chasinghorse (activist, fashion designer) and Gloria Steinem (feminist).
Corine’s work revitalizes and celebrates Pomo life cycle traditions through diverse community engagement and outreach programs. She is constantly teaching and encouraging new basketweavers throught in-person presentations, field classes, roundtable dialogues, and remote/recorded (audio, video webinar) talks by Pomo culture bearers in collaboration with over twenty Pomo tribes and tribal communities located in Mendocino, Lake, and Sonoma counties, and with regional learning centers, public radio stations, museums, and art galleries.
The Anthem Awards was launched in response to the prevalence social good has taken within the national conversation and cultural zeitgeist in recent years. The 2nd Annual competition received nearly 2,000 entries from 43 countries worldwide. By amplifying the voices that spark global change, the Anthem Awards are defining a new benchmark for impactful work that inspires others to take action in their communities.
Corine Pearce will be a guest speaker at the Women's History Celebration on March 5, 2023 at the Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse, 107 S. Oak St. in Ukiah. The doors open at noon.
FOUND ON FACEBOOK
HOME, I'M DARLING, Mendocino Theatre Company
by Laura Wade
Mendocino Theatre Company is proud to announce the American premiere of the award winning British comedy, Home, I’m Darling, previewing March 2 and 3rd, running through April 2, 2023, at the Helen Schoeni Theatre, 45200 Little Lake Street, Mendocino, CA 95460. MTC feels incredibly privileged to be the first US theatre to receive performance rights to this delicious, con-temporary satire by Laura Wade which will be directed by Marin County’s Tori Truss.
About The Play
What makes a perfect marriage?
When Judy (newcomer, Little River’s Hannah Mickunas) sets out to become the perfect 1950s housewife, the Martins are living the dream. Johnny (Ukiah’s Joel Shura), has a beautiful wife, a beautiful home, and a promotion on the horizon. Judy is reveling in the joys of domesticity; making cakes, cock-tails, and homemade marmalade. But cracks are starting to appear in this beautiful façade which threatens their domestic bliss. The couple is accom- Press Release Home, I’m Darling Mar 2 - Apr 2, 2023 panied by a supporting cast of MTC favorites: Lorry Lepaule as Sylvia, Judy’s feminist mother; Janice Culliford as Fran, Judy’s best friend; and Fran’s ball room dancing husband, Marcus played by Raven Deerwater. Last, but not least, enters Johnny’s highly competent, female boss, Alex (Bryn Martin of Ukiah) to spice things up.
Joining MTC for this premiere production is veteran director Tori Truss of San Anselmo who will be guiding the ensemble. A theater artist of 45+ years, Tori has developed original pieces, created stage adaptations of literature, acted, directed, trained actors of all ages, been a mime, a singer, and a pup-pet maker. Her many directing productions range from educational touring shows in Pennsylvania, after-school plays and musicals in Marin, movement pieces in Poland, to site-specific giant puppet shows on beaches. She was among the founding members of Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble, artistic di-rector of Bay Area Youth Theater, a director and collaborator with Antenna Theater, and frequently acts with Ross Valley Players. Tori is a professor emeritus at Sonoma State University, Theater Arts & Dance Department. She recently retired from teaching drama at a K-8 school in Marin. As a longtime boogie boarder at Stinson Beach, she is thrilled to be immersed in the fierce beauty of the Mendocino coast.
Rounding out the team of talented artists are: Patricia Price, Stage Manager; Steve Greenwood, Lighting Designer; Diane Larson, Set Design; Susan Collins, Costume Design; and Ken Krauss, Sound Design.
History Of The Play
Home, I’m Darling was first staged at London’s National Theatre in 2018, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Comedyand nominated for the UK Theatre’s Best New Play. Filled with 1950s music (sound design by Ken Krauss) and dancing (choreographed by Ann Woodhead) these characters jive and lindy-hop their way around a pastel-soaked kitchen and open-plan living room designed by Diane Larson. Laura Wade’s clever play doesn’t so much sing the praises of the good old days as show us that “nostalgia ain’t what it used to be”.
Dates And Times
Performances run Thursday - Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM from March 2 - April 2. Reduced price previews are March 2 and 3 at 7:30 PM. An “Opening Night Gala” ($45) will be held March 4 beginning at 7:00 PM. There will be no performance on Sunday, March 5.
Admission is $15 - $30 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with $7 - $15 discount tickets available for previews. The March 4 Opening Night Gala (including complimentary food and drinks) is $45. For more information and to order tickets call: 707.937.4477 or visit online at: mendocinotheatre.org
Covid safety protocols: Masks are required inside the stage house but proof of vacci-nation is no longer a requirement for admission to Mendocino Theater. Unmasked eat-ing and drinking is permitted in the lobby.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, February 16, 2023
SHANNON AKERSTROM, Redwood Valley. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
ERICA ALLEN, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JOHN COOK, Ukiah. Zip gun, concealed dirk-dagger, ammo possession by prohibited person, resisting, probation revocation.
SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear. (Frequent flyer.)
TRENT HILLMAN, Kelseyville/Ukiah. Controlled substance, attempt to keep stolen property.
JEFFREY HOCKETT, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, barbecues and fires in city park.
BREANN JONES, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, cruelty to child-infliction of injury.
COREY LEWIS, Blue Lake/Ukiah. DUI.
REMO MCOSKER, Ukiah. Failure to appear. (Frequent flyer.)
ARTEMIO ORTEGA-REYES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, paraphernalia.
RAYMOND RHODES, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, concealed dirk-dagger.
JALAHN TRAVIS, Ukiah. Trespassing.
MALISSA WARNER, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ESTHER MOBLEY: Here’s what’s come across my desk recently…
Some people are so desperate to get their hands on some Pappy Van Winkle that they’ll engage in public corruption. Officials in Oregon’s state liquor authority improperly used their positions to acquire bottles of the sought-after bourbon, an internal investigation found. Michael Levenson documents the scandal in the New York Times.
The term “glou-glou” has taken over in the natural wine sphere, used indiscriminately as “an all-purpose infinitive — a noun, an adjective, a verb — that captures the free spirit of natural wine,” writes Danny Chau in Punch. But the term has a longer, richer history than many of today’s cool kids might imagine.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its annual Grape Crush Report, and it shows that the value of wine grapes in California’s North Coast was up 11.8% in 2022, reports Jeff Quackenbush in the North Bay Business Journal. Napa Cabernet Sauvignon grapes hit a new high, at $8,947 a ton on average, which would translate to a roughly $90 bottle of wine.
A photo of a “chunky” bobcat in Northern California had people on social media wondering if the animal was just well fed or pregnant.
Photographer Randy Robbins captured the cat on camera at 11:15 a.m. on Feb. 8 in Lassen County.
“This is a fairly rare daytime shot,” Robbins told McClatchy News over Facebook Messenger. He usually tries to get shots of animals at night.
In the photo, the bobcat is seen staring down the camera as Robbins pulls into the area in his Jeep, he wrote on Facebook. A deer carcass lays behind it.
“Mountain lion kill according to nearby trail camera ... no lion last night, it must have moved on, but this guy is cleaning up,” Robbins said.
The cat, which Robbins estimates at 30 to 35 pounds, darted out of the area when he checked the camera, so he wasn’t able to see it in person.
“My assumption is that it was watching me pull up in my Jeep, and made a quick exit when it saw me coming,” Robbins said, based on the timestamp of the photo.
When Robbins posted the photo to Facebook, people were quick to guess if the cat was a “chunky fellow” or pregnant.
“That’s a very healthy cat, possibly pregnant momma?” one person wrote.
Another person said the cat appeared to be well fed. “Looks like he’s been eating well!”
Others thought the cat was “beautiful.”
“That is a fluffy cat!” someone else said on Facebook.
But overall, Facebook wildlife groups agreed the bobcat was “not a pregnant female but a hefty male” after looking at images of its rear, Robbins said.
Spain Rodriguez on Film... I'm very happy to announce that "Bad Attitude," the documentary about the late underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez by the filmmaker Susan Stern -- who is also his widow -- is now available for streaming on Prime Video.
Spain, a gentle bear of a man and a legendary artist, was my friend and neighbor and sometime collaborator. He drew some of the most memorable art for the serial "Dark Hotel" when I ran Salon. (Paul Mavrides was another talented artist on the cartoon serial.) Spain also illustrated my "pulp history" book about antiwar Marine hero Smedley Darlington Butler, "Devil Dog."
Spain was an eclectic historian, radical, patriot, connoisseur of women's bodies (and their power), lover of vintage cars (and old, weird America), devoted husband and father. He represented the best of the lost San Francisco. There's not a day that I don't miss him whenever I walk by his old house.
During a rowdy Christmas party at our house, where the guests were required to sing a song or recite a poem for their meal in the Irish tradition, Spain was strangely quiet. But as he and Susan headed for the door at the end of the drunken evening, Spain suddenly turned and belted out "No Pasaran!" (They Shall Not Pass), the defiant anthem of the anti-fascist cause during the Spanish Civil War.
They don't make them like Spain Rodriguez anymore. Watch the warm and sharply observant film and see why. https://www.primevideo.com/.../0LPWGZ2BVMILGJF0HM3CF5RC6X
SAYINGS OF A JEWISH BUDDHA
If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?
Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?
Drink tea and nourish life; with the first sip, joy; with the second sip, satisfaction; with the third sip, peace; with the fourth, a Danish.
Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story.
Accept misfortune as a blessing. Do not wish for perfect health, or a life without problems. What would you talk about?
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Oy.
There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?
Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.
The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others.
The Tao is not Jewish. [editor's note: nor catholic nor pagan nor muslim nor human]
Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.
Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as a wooded glen. And sit up straight. You'll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders.
Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers.
Each flower blossoms ten thousand times.
Each blossom has ten thousand petals.
You might want to see a specialist.
Be aware of your body. Be aware of your perceptions. Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.
(From the book ZEN JUDAISM by David M Bader — via Betsy Cawn)
I have long considered AlterNet to be a Democratic Party front, but this email in my box from my former congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi proves it: [My comments in brackets]
The following sponsored email was sent to you by AlterNet on behalf of DCCC:
I won’t lie: [That's what you said before your last lie, Nancy.]
When news broke that President Trump’s campaign aides worked with Russia before and during his campaign, I was just as furious as you. [I was more furious about the Democratic National Committee's sabotaging of Bernie Sanders' campaign. I don't recall an email from you about that.]
Democrats have been calling for an independent investigation into Trump for months -- but Republicans won’t budge. [Why not of the whole Democratic Party apparatus whose efforts to force feed the country Hillary led to Trump's election?]
Well this is the final straw. [My final straw with you was when you seconded Pres. Obama's pardoning of GWB and the war criminals who brought the world the Iraq War, by agreeing that "it is time to look forward not backward."]
Will you sign on and demand that Republicans allow an investigation into Trump? [No, at least not until after an investigation of Clinton and her former secretary, Victorian Nuland's role in the Ukraine coup.]
Trump and his aides spent the entire campaign insisting that Russia was not influencing our Election. [Not even close to being true, Nancy, and there is no evidence that it did influence it.]
As it turns out, that was just another lie. [Wrong. The issue didn't arise until after the DNC's interference had been scrubbed and Assange had been attacked as a Russian tool.]
The Republicans should hear our message loud and clear. [The Democrats should hear our message loud and clear, a raised middle finger.]
It’s Congress’ job to hold Trump accountable -- and it’s past time Republicans let him be investigated. [The whole nest of traitors who time after time have put Israel's interests over those of our citizenry, such as yourself, Nancy, come first on the docket. Exhibit A for you is a two sided leaflet of a speech you made to AIPAC in which you pledged your loyalty to Israel SEVEN times. I headed the leaflet, "Nancy Pelosi: Foreign Agent."]
Add your name next to mine: Demand Congressional Republicans allow an independent investigation into Trump. [I will if you demand Congressional Democrats demand an investigation into Congress betrayal of our Constitution and justice by their unconditional support for apartheid Israel.]
Thank you, Nancy
CALIFORNIA HOMELESSNESS: WHERE ARE THE STATE’S BILLIONS GOING?
by Ben Christopher
In Sacramento, there’s a word that keeps popping up during discussions about the state’s homelessness crisis: “accountability.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom has scolded cities and counties for failing to get more people off the street, hundreds of millions in state spending notwithstanding. “Californians demand accountability and results, not settling for the status quo,” the governor said last November.
Republicans in the Legislature have called for an audit of the state’s homelessness spending. Democrats are still absorbing the last one from 2021, but many want to see the state’s money come with strings attached. This week, Assemblymember Luz Rivas, an Arleta Democrat, introduced a bill that would demand “tangible results” from local governments before they receive homelessness grants — mirroring an idea from the governor’s own budget proposal.
The increasingly bipartisan chorus points to two stark, seemingly contradictory trends: The state keeps spending more to address the crisis, and the crisis keeps getting worse. So where, they ask, is all the money going?
On Wednesday, California lawmakers got something that resembles an answer.
The state’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, a state body tasked with overseeing the state’s homelessness strategy and divvying up funding to local governments, issued a report detailing just how much the state has spent on the crisis between 2018 and 2021 — and what it’s gotten in return.
The answer to those questions, according to the report: The state has spent nearly $10 billion and provided services to more than 571,000 people, each year helping more people than the last.
And despite all that, at the end of year three, the majority of those more than half a million Californians still didn’t end up with a roof over their heads. The number of unsheltered Californians continues to swell.
Presented at a three-hour joint committee hearing in the Assembly, the report has sent housing policy experts across the state into a twitter. Services for the homeless are so disjointed — split among nine state agencies, hundreds of county and municipal governments, nonprofits and charitable organizations — the 253-page document may be the first statistical birds-eye view of the state’s many-tentacled efforts.
But it also shows just how intractable the problem is.
“One of the largest challenges facing the state is the inflow of new people into homelessness, even as efforts to help people experiencing homelessness expand,” the report reads.
What the report did not address is how the state can spend its money more effectively. Nor was it asked to. The report comes at the request of the Legislature, which included an ask in its 2021 budget for a “comprehensive view of the homelessness response system,” not an audit nor a list of recommendations.
But it may provide lawmakers, service providers and advocates with some helpful hints about what’s working, what isn’t and for whom.
“We’ve sent people to the moon,” said Oakland Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, a Democrat who chairs the Assembly’s housing committee. “We can solve homelessness in California.”
Here are four takeaways from the homelessness assessment:
California has been spending a lot to remedy homelessness — mostly on housing
Between 2018 and 2021, the state spent $9.6 billion trying to move the needle on homelessness.
Many Californians will be able to relate: The bulk of the spending, $5.5 billion in this case, went to the cost of housing.
That includes everything from building new units to preserving old ones, converting unused hotel rooms during the pandemic into temporary housing, building shelters, and setting up permanent supportive housing facilities that provide a long-term subsidized place to stay along with other on-site social services.
According to the report, the state produced or kept online 58,714 affordable housing units in the three year period, and added 17,000 new shelter beds.
Some of that spending has been more likely to lead people out of homelessness than others. Of the more than 75,000 people placed into permanent supportive housing of some kind, for example, only 8% wound up back on the street within six months.
Conversely, for those who left a state funded program to live with a family member or a friend, the rate of those who were homeless again within six months doubled. And for those who left for a rental with only a temporary subsidy, that rate of return to homelessness was 23%.
For some legislators and advocates, the figures underscored the importance of building more housing above all other interventions.
“Shelters are very expensive to build; they’re very expensive to operate,” said Emily Halcon, the director of Sacramento County’s Department of Homeless Services and Housing. “What we know is a real solution is housing.”
But building more housing — particularly with subsidized rents or other wrap-around services — is expensive. That’s in part why some homelessness and housing advocates say the 10-figure sum that the state has spread across the three years of the assessment isn’t even close to enough. A report from the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the California Housing Partnership at the end of last year put the price tag of “solving” homelessness in California at $8.1 billion every year for more than a decade.
A lot of people have been housed — but most have not
The report tracked more than half a million Californians who, over the three year period, made use of at least one of the services that the state funds, as recorded in a new state database.
The good news: More than 40% ended up in housing — supportive, subsidized or otherwise.
The bad news: The majority didn’t, or the state lost track of their whereabouts.
Nearly 17% were, at the end of the period, still in a shelter or temporary housing of some other kind or had exited whatever program they were enrolled in “into homelessness.” Another quarter fell out of the system entirely, their “destination” unknown.
Assemblymember Corey Jackson, a Democrat from Perris who chairs the Assembly Human Services committee, asked about the 17% who return to homelessness, which he called a “red flag” in the data.
“We need to remember that this is the emergency response system, if you will,” responded Dhakshike Wickrema, the deputy secretary of California’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. “What more can we be doing which is outside the homeless system? It’s like when you go to the emergency room — what could the primary care physician have done to prevent the acute diabetes?”
The burden of homelessness is not equally distributed
Drawing on the most recent “point-in-time” survey, which provides a blurry snapshot of how many people are living outside on a given night, the report emphasizes the stark racial and ethnic disparities that exist across the state’s unsheltered population. Black people made up roughly 30% of the people counted on the street, more than five times their share of the state population. Indigenous Californians likewise were overrepresented five-fold.
And though Latino Californians were underrepresented, between 2015 and 2020, their numbers in surveys of the unsheltered increased by 65%, the fastest growing ethnic or racial group.
Not all homelessness looks the same
When politicians or talking heads use the word “homelessness,” it’s often meant to evoke a particular person experiencing a particular set of problems: someone asleep on the sidewalk, unbathed, suffering from acute mental illness, addiction, physical disability or some combination of the three.
That’s the most visible version of the state’s homelessness crisis, but as the new figures show, it isn’t the most common one.
According to the report, 1 in 5 people who enrolled in state-funded homelessness programs were considered “chronically homeless” — unsheltered for at least a year while living with a complicating health issue.
But more than three times as many – two-thirds of all who sought state-funded services for homelessness — were people who hadn’t popped up in the system for at least two years, if ever.
These might be families evicted and temporarily residing in a car, someone couch surfing while gathering the money for a rental deposit, or people who got their own apartment only to get slammed with an unexpected car payment and find themselves back in a shelter.
Acknowledging that continuum matters — not just for the sake of accuracy, said Assemblymember Wendy Carillo, a Los Angeles Democrat, but because different paths into homelessness might be best met with different pathways out.
“Whether it’s someone living in their vehicle, being evicted from their home, someone experiencing chronic homelessness for decades, living on the streets of Skid Row for many, many years, all of these things are different,” she said. “They need to have different solutions.”
DRUG OVERDOSES, FENTANYL
Back on Nov. 17, 2021 the CDC reported US overdose deaths from the drug fentanyl were exceeding 100,000 annually. If the nation had not just started to leave the Covid epidemic behind, this would be noted as the no. 1 health crisis, and yet, oddly, any serious notice of this hasn’t happened. Another way of saying what is happening is to note that 150 Americans die every day from fentanyl or other synthetic opiad drug overdoses. Fentanyl is very cheap.
Supplied in great quantities mostly by Mexican drug cartels, fentanyl might be handed out to you at a party, a ballgame, tailgate party and swallowed by a peer group member in a moment when someone is just trying to go along with the crowd. This is never a good idea and may well be your final act before death.
Narcan can bring a victim back, but only if the victim is found and treated soon enough after taking a pill of fentanyl.
HORRIFIC NEW STREET DRUG 'TRANQ' Found In S.F. Overdose Victims, Showing Dangerous Shift In Supply
by Trisha Thadani, Kevin Fagan
At least four drug overdose victims who died late last year had traces of a horrific new street drug mixed with fentanyl in their systems, according to city officials, evidence that the animal sedative colloquially known as “tranq” has begun to infiltrate the city’s drug supply.
While San Francisco’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner only found low levels of the drug, xylazine, in four out of the 145 victims who were tested, officials in the Department of Public Health said the discovery is “concerning” and that they also expect to see an increase in its prevalence on the city’s streets. The department issued a health alert Thursday warning the public of the potential danger and said that it is “working to understand the extent” to which xylazine is in the city’s street drugs and “respond to it accordingly.”
“We have seen the impact that xylazine has had in East Coast cities … and there has been a lot of concern locally and nationally about this drug,” said Dr. Jeff Hom, who oversees the city’s Overdose Prevention Plan. “This is certainly concerning.”
Xylazine, which has devastated communities on the East Coast, can increase the risk of overdose, worsen withdrawal symptoms and boost the risk of wounds that lead to amputation for those who inject it. Harm reduction experts and drug users said in interviews last month that xylazine had not yet appeared in San Francisco in any obvious way, but they were bracing for it because changes in the drug supply on the East Coast tend to eventually move west.
While it is still too early to tell how xylazine will impact San Francisco, officials are worried that it could exacerbate the city’s overdose epidemic. The crisis, which has largely been driven by the powerful opioid fentanyl, killed 620 people last year. While that’s a slight dip from the previous year, when 640 people died, it is still a troublingly high number that officials are struggling to address.
On Thursday, a 49-year-old man who gave his name as Brian sat at the corner of Eighth and Stevenson streets and picked at dozens of sores on his arms that were oozing or scabbed over. While he’s not sure whether he has injected xylazine, he has noticed “different effects” when injecting his regular combination of methamphetamine and fentanyl — like more drowsiness and a “crazier” feeling when he is high.
“I just live with it,” he said, of the sores on his arms. He said he hasn’t gone to a clinic to get them checked out, but said “these things are super painful; they’re almost like bugs that crawl over your arms.”
The medical examiner recently began retroactively testing fatal overdose cases to see if xylazine was present, after headlines and a DEA alert notified officials about the shifts. So far the office has tested 145 cases from mid-December 2022 to mid-January 2023. All four victims who tested positive for xylazine also had fentanyl in their system, which suggests that the drug may be mixed with the deadly opioid.
The medical examiner plans to retest all cases from 2022 and all cases going forward. Hom said the health department has the capacity to test only a small amount of the drugs on the city’s streets, and the potential shift in the supply underscores the importance of tracking these changes.
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has two machines that people can use to test their drugs. Hom said he is interested in expanding the city’s surveillance of its drug supply.
Ro Giuliano, senior director of health services for people who use drugs at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, said xylazine has been on their radar for “a long time” but they have only come across one sample with trace amounts of xylazine since June. She said the emergence of xylazine, though, exemplifies the perils of an unregulated drug supply.
“Criminalization and the War on Drugs is all part of the landscape we’re in, and it’s also what’s landing us in this place where we are worried about xylazine,” she said. “In the world we live in, that’s always going to be one of the risks.”
Another concern is that Narcan may not be as effective for xylazine because it’s not an opioid. But officials are clear in that if someone is overdosing, bystanders should still use Narcan because it would still work for any opioid, like fentanyl, that is probably also in their system.
East Coast drug hot spots such as Philadelphia provide a window into the devastation that xylazine could cause if it becomes more prevalent in San Francisco. On the East Coast, the veterinary tranquilizer is commonly mixed with fentanyl, heroin and other illicit drugs and has made the impact of the opioids even stronger. The sedative is also an analgesic and muscle relaxant, and can cause devastating skin wounds that, if left untreated, can lead to amputation.
Entering recovery could also be more difficult if xylazine further infiltrates the drug supply. A Drug Enforcement Administration reportsays “users may develop a physical dependence to xylazine itself, with some users reporting the withdrawal symptoms from xylazine as, or more, severe than from heroin or methadone; symptoms include sharp chest pains and seizures.”
San Francisco’s health department said there have been no reports of increased severity of wounds or syndromes associated with xylazine intoxication or withdrawal. That suggests that use of the drug is not yet widespread, but DPH still is working on understanding the scope of the issue.
On Feb. 7, Supervisor Matt Dorsey sent a letter to the medical examiner and other city officials asking what resources they need and what legislation — if any — might help them test for novel synthetic drugs in the supply.
“My purpose in writing this letter is to ascertain how I may more knowledgeably and more effectively champion your office’s work given new and increasingly deadly challenges we are likely to face from novel synthetic opioids and other potently addictive and dangerous drugs, at least some of which are reportedly Narcan-resistant,” Dorsey wrote.
At U.N. Plaza on Thursday morning, several drug users said they had not heard of tranq, but they were worried that it would add another layer of danger to what they already do.
“It sounds awful,” Mike, 24, who declined to give his last name, said after smoking a hit of fentanyl. “I only smoke, don’t inject. And I’m dealing with professionals to get my fentanyl, so I feel like I’m OK.”
His friend Rick, 28, who also declined to give his last name, said he had heard there were ways to test drugs for different substances but he said he had “no idea” where to get that done.
“It would help, but we’re kind of on our own out here,” he said. “Some new drug that gives you horrible sores? You can only hope it doesn’t hit you.”
Meanwhile, federal officials have also been on high alert about another new drug entering the supply: isotonitazene known as “ISO,” is a synthetic opioid that has moved into Southern states and the Eastern seaboard, according to the DEA. It has been mixed with other drugs to make them more potent and cheaper to produce and can increase the risk of overdose.
Hom, of the city health department, said he is aware of ISO, but that there’s no proof it has entered the supply. But, given that it is already on the East Coast, he said it is something the department is tracking closely.
Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor of family community medicine at UCSF, said dealers are starting to mix in new drugs such as xylazine because users are becoming tolerant of fentanyl, which he found particularly alarming.
“If people feel like they aren’t getting enough out of their primary drug, they try to boost it,” he said. “I think we’re still just at the tip of the iceberg.”
BIG PHARMA’S GREED
by Bernie Sanders
Following the news that the CEO of Moderna will accept an invitation to testify in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee next month, Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) gave these remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the growth of greed in the pharmaceutical industry and what Congress can do to end it.
There is a lot of discussion about how “divided” our nation is and, on many issues, that is absolutely true.
But on one of the most important matters facing our country the American people – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Progressives, and Conservatives – could not be more united.
And that is the need to take on the unprecedented corporate greed of the pharmaceutical industry and to substantially lower the outrageously high price of prescription drugs.
Today, millions of Americans are making the unacceptable choice between feeding their families or buying the medicine they need. Seniors from Vermont to Alaska are forced to split their pills in half and many have died because they did not have enough money to fill their prescriptions.
No one knows for sure precisely how many people die because they cannot afford to buy their prescription drugs.
But a 2020 study by West Health found that by the year 2030, over 100,000 Medicare recipients could die prematurely each and every year because they cannot afford to buy their life-saving medicine.
All over this country, the American people are asking the following questions:
How does it happen that people in the United States pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs?
Why is it that nearly one out of every four Americans cannot afford their prescription medication?
How does it happen that nearly half of all new drugs in the United States cost more than $150,000 a year?
A few years ago, I took a busload of people with diabetes from Detroit, Michigan, to a drugstore in Windsor, Ontario. And there, in Canada, they were able to purchase the same insulin products they bought in the United States for one-tenth the price.
In 1999, 24 years ago, I took another busload of people – this time women with breast cancer — from St. Albans, Vermont to a doctor’s office and a pharmacy in Montreal, Canada. And, there again, with tears in their eyes, they were able to purchase tamoxifen for one-tenth of the price charged in the United States.
How is it that in Canada and other major countries the same medications manufactured by the same companies, sold in the same bottles are available for a fraction of the price that we pay in the United States?
Well, the answers to all of these questions are not complicated. In fact, they can be summed up in just three words: Unacceptable corporate greed.
Over the past 25 years, the pharmaceutical industry has spent $8.5 billion on lobbying and over $745 million on campaign contributions to get Congress to do its bidding.
Incredibly, last year, drug companies hired over 1,700 lobbyists including the former congressional leaders of both major political parties – over 3 pharmaceutical industry lobbyists for every Member of Congress.
Meanwhile, as Americans die because they cannot afford the medications they need, the pharmaceutical industry makes much higher profit margins than other major industries. Between the years 2000-2018, drug companies in this country made $8.6 trillion dollars in profits.
In fact, in 2021, just ten pharmaceutical companies in the United States – AbbVie, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck, Moderna, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen, Gilead Sciences, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals – made a total of more than $102 billion in profits up 137 percent from the previous year.
But it’s not just industry profits. It is the exorbitant compensation packages that the pharmaceutical industry has given to its CEOs and other executives within the industry.
According to a report done by the HELP Committee staff released today in 2021, while hundreds of thousands of Americans died from COVID, 50 pharmaceutical executives in just 10 companies made $1.9 billion in total compensation.
These same 50 executives are in line to receive up to $2.8 billion in golden parachutes once they leave their companies.
For example, AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez’s made nearly $62 million in total compensation – in one year.
The CEO of Eli Lilly, David Ricks, made more than $67 million – in one year.
Incredibly, the CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Leonard Schleifer, made nearly $453 million in total compensation – in one year.
Meanwhile, while we are told over and over again that the reason we have outrageously high drug prices in America is because of the need to invest in research and development, it turns out that, over the past decade, 14 major pharmaceutical companies spent $747 billion not to research and develop life-saving drugs, but to make their wealthy shareholders even wealthier by buying back their own stock and handing out huge dividends. It turns out that the drug companies spent $87 billion more on stock buybacks and dividends than what they spent on research and development. Let me repeat that. Drug companies spent $87 billion more on stock buybacks and dividends than on research and development.
The truth is we are dealing here today not just with an economic issue in terms of the high cost of prescription drugs. We are dealing with a profound moral issue and that is: Is it morally acceptable that tens of thousands of people die each year because they cannot afford the medicine their doctors prescribe – while the industry makes billions in profits and provides their CEOs with outrageous compensation packages?
Is it morally acceptable that, at a time when, the taxpayers of this country spent tens of billions a year on the research and development of life-saving drugs, that many of these same taxpayers are unable to afford the drugs they helped develop?
Is it morally acceptable that the business model of the pharmaceutical industry today is not to create the life-saving drugs we need for cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and so many other terrible illnesses, but through excessive greed in order to make as much money as they can?
It has not always been that way. There was once a time when the inventors of life-saving drugs were not obsessed with making huge sums of money, but were instead obsessed with ending the terrible illnesses that plagued humanity.
In the 1950s, for example, there was Dr. Jonas Salk, who invented the vaccine for polio. Salk’s work saved millions of lives and prevented millions more from being paralyzed.
It has been estimated that if Dr. Salk had chosen to patent the polio vaccine he would have made billions of dollars. But he did not.
When asked who owns the patent to this vaccine this is what Dr. Salk said: “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun.”
What Dr. Salk understood was that the purpose of this vaccine he invented was to save lives, not to make himself obscenely rich.
And he, among great scientists, was not alone.
In 1928, Alexander Fleming, a scientist from Scotland, discovered penicillin at St. Mary’s hospital in London. Fleming’s discovery of penicillin changed the medical world and saved millions of lives.
I am sure that Alexander Fleming could also have become a multi-billionaire if he chose to own the exclusive rights to this anti-biotic.
But he did not.
When Fleming was asked about his role, he did not talk about the outrageous fortune he could have made through his discovery. Instead, he said: “I did not invent penicillin. Nature did that. I only discovered it by accident.”
And then, there was the great scientist Frederick Banting from Canada.
In 1921, Dr. Banting along with two other scientists at the University of Toronto invented insulin. An issue we’re hearing a lot about today.
When Dr. Banting was asked why he wouldn’t patent insulin and why he sold the rights to insulin for just $1 he replied: “Insulin does not belong to me. It belongs to the world.”
It has been estimated that Dr. Banting’s invention saved some 300 million lives.
Once again, a great scientist made it clear that his purpose in life was to save humanity and save lives, not to make billions for himself.
Meanwhile, while Dr. Banting sold his patent for $1 so that humanity could benefit from his discovery, I should mention that Eli Lilly, one of our nation’s largest drug companies, has increased the price of insulin by 1,200 percent over the past 27 years to $275 – while it costs just $8 to manufacture. Not quite the spirit of Frederick Banting.
Now let’s fast forward to the COVID pandemic, this horrible period in our history where we have lost over 1 million Americans and tens of millions have suffered varying levels of illness.
Moderna, a drug company in Massachusetts, worked alongside the National Institutes of Health to develop the vaccine that so many of our people have effectively used. It is widely acknowledged that both the company and the NIH were responsible for the creation of this vaccine.
After the company received billions of dollars from the federal government to research, develop and distribute the COVID-vaccine, guess what happened? The CEO of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, became a billionaire overnight and is now worth $5.7 billion.
Further, the 2 co-founders of Moderna (Noubar Afeyan and Robert Langer) also became billionaires and are now both worth $2 billion each. Moreover, one of the founding investors in Moderna (Tim Springer) is worth $2.5 billion.
None of them were billionaires before the taxpayers of our country funded the COVID-19 vaccine. And are now collectively worth over $11 billion.
Meanwhile, Moderna, as a whole, made over $19 billion in profits during the pandemic.
And how is the CEO of this company thanking the taxpayers of this country who are responsible for making him and his colleagues incredibly rich?
He is thanking them by proposing to quadruple the price of the COVID vaccine to about $130 once the government stockpile of the vaccine runs out.
Let’s be clear: This is a vaccine that costs just $2.85 to manufacture.
On March 22nd, the Senate HELP Committee will be holding a hearing on March 22nd on this subject. Bottom line: Does Moderna think that it is appropriate to quadruple prices for the vaccine after receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer support.
While Moderna may be a poster child for corporate greed, it is not alone.
A number of years ago, the former CEO of Gilead became a billionaire by charging $1,000 for Sovaldi, a hepatitis C drug that was discovered by scientists at the Veterans Administration. This drug costs just $1 to manufacture and could be purchased in India for $4.
The Japanese drugmaker Astellas, which made a billion dollars in profits in 2021, recently raised the price of the prostate cancer drug Xtandi by more than 75% in the United States to nearly $190,000. This is a drug that was invented by federally funded scientists at UCLA and can be purchased in Canada for one-sixth the US price.
It does not have to be this way. The reality is that if Congress had the courage to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, we could cut the price of prescription drugs in America by at least 50%.
How? By preventing the pharmaceutical industry from charging more for prescription drugs in the U.S. than they do in Canada, Britain, Germany, France and Japan – a concept that is not only supported by progressives, but former President Donald Trump.
There is no rational reason why the HIV treatment Biktarvy costs over $45,000 per year in the U.S, but only $7,500 in France.
Or why a weekly dose of the auto-immune medicine Enbrel costs over $1,760 in the U.S, but just $300 in Canada.
Or why a vial of insulin costs $98.70 in the U.S, but just $11 in Germany.
Or why a monthly course of the blood thinner Eliquis costs $440 in the U.S., but just $102 in Spain.
Or why an injection of the breast cancer treatment Herceptin costs nearly $7,000 in the U.S, but less than $1,600 in Switzerland.
Or why a bottle of a hepatitis C drug costs over $30,000 in the U.S, but just $15,000 in Greece.
The American people whether they are Republicans, Democrats or Independents, whether they are conservatives, moderates or progressives, are sick and tired of being ripped off by the pharmaceutical industry.
Now is the time for us to take on the greed and power of that industry and substantially lower prescription drug prices in our country.
THE TRUE MVP OF SUPER BOWL #57… DONNA KELSE!
This woman had 2 sons playing in SuperBowl 57!
This woman sacrificed a new dress for that extra football camp her boys needed!
This woman drove thousands of miles to take her sons to football practice.
This woman pushed her sons to go the EXTRA mile to get anywhere in life!
This woman scheduled football physicals over her own health appointments!
This woman increased her protein intake while cooking her sons a home cooked meal!
This woman made sure her sons had everything they needed to achieve and conquer their dreams while sacrificing her own!
This woman is the REAL MVP tonight!
Thank you Donna for giving us mommas a great example to go by!
FORGOTTEN: An African American Soldier Turned Rebel Leader in the Philippines
by Jonathan Melrod
Was Fagen a hero or “a mad dog”? The answer is rooted in whether you believe that fighting against U.S. colonialism/imperialism in 1899, in this case the U.S. war of Philippine conquest, is righteous and worthy of giving rise to a true hero, martyr and courageous Buffalo Soldier, who deserted the U.S. side and joined the Philippine Revolutionary Army. The PRA was fighting to establish their own independent republic after the Spanish were kicked out.
In diaries and letters, Black soldiers posted in the Philippines recounted how racism was endemic in the U.S. military, describing the racist abuses suffered by both African Americans and Filipinos.
Fagen was a native of Tampa, Florida, the youngest of 6 children of former slaves. He grew up where Jim Crow racial segregation laws prevailed. With the specter of lynching, race riots and the chain gang looming over Tampa’s Blacks, Fagen “lived in dread at all times.” Searching for any escape from Jim Crow, Fagen enlisted in 1898, being assigned to the 24th Infantry Regiment, a unit of so-called Buffalo Soldiers.
Expansionist USA, intent on developing a global commercial empire, dispatched 6000 African American soldiers, including 2100 of the famed Buffalo Soldiers, to the Philippines islands per President McKinley’s assessment that the racial inferiority of Filipinos justified denying them sovereignty and engaging in a bloody war of conquest. Fagen, now on the battlefield, detested his white commanding officer Lt. Moss, a West Point graduate. Moss and Fagen clashed repeatedly, with Moss eventually fining Fagen more than a month’s pay and sentencing him to 30 days of hard labor. Life was immutably altered when Fagen, after just a few months of battling Filipino rebels, turned his back on the U.S. army and joined Filipino revolutionaries who were actually fighting against American invaders.
At the time, there was a fierce debate in African American communities on their role in these foreign wars. Many saw the invasion of the Philippines as a ‘race war’, through which white settlers would inevitably repeat in Asia the wave of enslavement and genocide that had been inflicted on Native Americans and Black slaves. Contrary to enlistment promises, African American soldiers in the Philippines were relegated to second-class status. Officers often ordered them to carry out ‘dirty jobs’ that no white soldiers wanted to do. They were also forced to serve as expendable “shock” troops on the frontlines, where lives were most at risk, while white commanders stayed back at a safe distance from the Filipino rebels. Filipino insurgents put up posters and distributed flyers with messages encouraging ‘colored’ soldiers to join their cause, appealing to their common suffering at the hands of white Americans.
Historians studying the Philippine-American War estimate that at as many as 15 Buffalo Soldiers decided that their place, rather than helping to suppress the Filipinos’ struggle for independence, was in joining them in revolution. The supposed ‘deserters’ of the 24th infantry proved one thing: systemic racism and oppression by white Americans was enough to forge alliances across vast national and ethnic lines.
This may have been the very reason Fagen turned his back on the U.S. army, for a new life as a Filipino guerrilla. One night, Corporal Fagen snuck out of his barracks and met with a Philippine ‘insurrecto’ officer, who had arranged Fagen’s escape. The rebel agent had a horse waiting for Fagen outside the garrison, and together, they disappeared into the jungles.
Fagen was never captured or killed. Out of respect and tribute for his role as guerrilla leader, his Filipino compatriots addressed him as El General, although he was a Captain. Despite the wide respect and honor in which he was held by his fellow anti-imperialist insurgents, the U.S. army branded Fagen a deserter and traitor and expunged all memory of him from the annals of history. His racist white U.S. General, Frederick Funston, described Fagen as a “bandit pure and simple, and entitled to the same treatment as a mad dog”.
In this writer’s estimation, Fagen was anything but a ‘mad dog’, but a courageous resistance fighter who chose the right side in a battle against U.S. aggression and imperialism. I conclude with the aspirational belief, circulated by many, that Fagen fell in love with a Filipina woman and ran away to the mountains to live a peaceful life with her.
Long live the memory of David Fagen.
(Jonathan Melrod is author of Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War (PM Press). He is married to Maria Isabel Lopez, Filipina actress and political activist. Together they are involved in the human rights struggle in the Philippines and the on-going defense of indigenous people’s ancestral lands from incursions by the Philippine army at the behest of foreign mining and logging companies.)
“HITTING HIS STRIDE”: Marin’s Veteran Congressman Adjusts To New Political Landscape
by Richard Halstead
No one is talking about Marin’s representative in Congress, Jared Huffman, joining the ranks of politicians seeking to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Huffman is just fine with that.
“I’ve already endorsed Adam Schiff,” said the Democrat from San Rafael.
Huffman, who will turn 58 on Saturday, was elected to his sixth term in the House of Representatives in November with more than 74% of vote. He is adjusting to his party being in the minority in the House again for the first time in four years.
When Democrats took control of the House in 2019, it was Huffman’s first experience being in the majority and he relished it. The changeover resulted in him being named chair of the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife.
“Having the gavel in my hand, setting the agenda, actually passing good legislation instead of always fighting against bad stuff — that is a pretty different job,” Huffman said at the time.
In January, Huffman was elected as the Democrat’s ranking member on the subcommittee, which has been renamed the Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries Subcommittee. But he has lost the power to set the agenda.
“It means I’m on the receiving end of their agenda,” he said. “It’s a pretty dramatic change.”
David McCuan, a professor of political science at Sonoma State University, said Huffman will have a front row seat for the political fireworks expected as Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona takes over this year as chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, one of the other five subcommittees in the House Committee on Natural Resources.
“We’ll all need popcorn to watch those full committee hearings,” McCuan said. “Markup sessions will become must-watch C-SPAN TV.”
Both Gosar and Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia have been given committee assignments for the new Congress. Last year, they lost their assignments by a bipartisan vote because of incendiary actions.
“Gosar produced this really weird video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” Huffman said of the animated clip. “It just tells you how far this current Republican Party has drifted from any semblance of decorum and decency that that would all be swept under the rug and he would have a gavel in his hand.”
Gosar was one of the House Republicans who initially opposed Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s election as speaker before voting to approve him on the 12th ballot. McCarthy was finally elected speaker on a 15th ballot.
Regarding the looming deadline for Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling, Huffman said, “I’m pretty confident that clearer minds in the Congress will prevail and we will increase the debt ceiling, just as Republicans did several times under the Trump administration, but I’m certain there will be drama between now and then.”
If the nation were to default on its debt, the result could be an increase in the interest rate on the debt, resulting in higher costs for the nation.
Huffman said he believes McCarthy had to promise to make raising the debt an issue in order to get the votes he needed to become House speaker.
“It’s pretty clear that McCarthy made a commitment that he would walk the plank at least ostensibly on the debt ceiling, that he wouldn’t support a clean increase,” Huffman said. “So we don’t know how this plays out, but I think he has to at least do something performative.”
While Huffman girds for battle with Republicans on his political right, he also has to protect his left flank, where some Democrats see him as being too conservative.
“From a progressive vantage point, the decision on endorsement for California’s next senator was a test that Congressman Huffman has failed,” said Norman Solomon, a West Marin resident and co-founder of RootsAction.org.
Solomon said that Huffman could have endorsed one of the other two candidates: Rep. Katie Porter of Orange County or Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland.
“But instead, Huffman chose to endorse Adam Schiff, who can be fairly described as a longtime booster of militarism and corporate power,” Solomon said.
In November, two days before President Joe Biden’s 80th birthday, RootsAction sent a message to the president wishing him a happy birthday and letting him know the organization had launched a “Don’t Run Joe” campaign in New Hampshire, where one of the early Democratic primaries will take place.
The message urged Biden to announce that he will forgo a second term and thus “clear the path for progressive leaders to guide the Democratic Party to victory in 2024.”
Asked if Biden’s performance at the State of the Union address strengthened an argument for being the Democratic party’s nominee again in 2024, Huffman said, “I don’t know about that. Only Joe Biden will determine if he runs. Whatever opinions we might have about that, if he runs he’s going to be the Democratic nominee, and we can absolutely win with him.”
So why isn’t Huffman in the race to replace Feinstein? After all, Barbara Boxer moved up from being a Marin County supervisor and a member of the House to a Senate seat in 1992.
“The truth is I think I’ve got the greatest job in the world,” Huffman said. “I’m excited about the kind of difference I’m starting to make because I’m getting good at it. I’m finding myself in more senior positions of influence. I’m really not interested in being distracted by ambition.”
Huffman has been appointed chair of the House Committee on Caucus Procedures for the Democrats and a member of the Democrats’ Regional Leadership Council.
Brian Sobel, a Petaluma political analyst, says Huffman is a “pragmatic progressive.”
“He understands that to get things passed you have to work with other people, even occasionally Republicans,” Sobel said. “He realizes the prize is getting legislation passed.”
“Nothing in Washington happens quickly,” Sobel said. “Jared has been in office 10 years, and that is about the time when you really start taking off. He is now hitting his stride in Congress.”
(Marin Independent Journal)
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ZERO ENTHUSIASM FOR HUFF AS EXPRESSED BY THESE ON-LINE COMMENTS:
I bet Jared loves his promotion to Senator, but sadly, he is only a member of the US House of Representatives. He is a great member however.
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The policies of bias, inequality and discriminatory hiring at RRHC and SoHum Health are clear.
Hire some men, or face possible legal actions. Diversity means half men and half women!
RRHC has 4 times the revenue of SoHum Health, and it makes no sense to have both facilities, in the long run.
SoHum Health has a few SNF beds, and an “Urgent Care” transfer station, and a Pharmacy/Lab/Imaging.
Clearly, the two organizations should join together, especially since RRHC is Federally Funded, and SoHum Health depends on MediCare and Medi-Cal.
Housing has become the benefit which determines adequate staffing.
Having two local “Boards” and two separate entities with the approximate same mission, makes no sense.
Nice work RRHC!
Now hire some men…
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BTW, IMO Huffman is ineffective and a waste of resources…
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How big is this dude’s carbon footprint?
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LMAO! Love the useless mask syndrome!
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Huffman is a fraud! Useless as Sleepy joe!
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You can thank the fraud Huffman and Sleepy Joe for bailing out the Humboldt county budget the past few years. With the covid bail out ending, the county goes immediately $12 million into the hole this year. Perhaps you can volunteer your Social Security and MediCare/MediCal subsidies to help pay off this deficit or maybe it’s the $1000 a month of ObamaCare subsidy you can give up.
HATE NEVER GOES AWAY. It just hides under the rocks until it’s given a little oxygen by lousy people.
— Joe Biden, East Room, White House, 16 February 2023
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
When I first heard that there was a separate black national anthem played at the superbowel, I thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t.
Apparently, Kari Lake refused to stand up for it. Good on her.
How many national anthems are we going to have in burgeoning Clown World? One for the TRAs is next, I am thinking. Then sports contests will spend half their time doing satanic half-times, and the first part singing or playing umpteen different ‘anthems’.
Getting more idiotic every day.
IN DEFENSE OF J.K. ROWLING
by Pamela Paul
“Trans people need and deserve protection.”
“I believe the majority of trans-identified people not only pose zero threat to others but are vulnerable.”
“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them.”
“I feel nothing but empathy and solidarity with trans women who’ve been abused by men.”
These statements were written by J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” series, a human-rights activist and — according to a noisy fringe of the internet and a number of powerful transgender rights activists and L.G.B.T.Q. lobbying groups — a transphobe.
Even many of Rowling’s devoted fans have made this accusation. In 2020, The Leaky Cauldron, one of the biggest “Harry Potter” fan sites, claimed that Rowling had endorsed “harmful and disproven beliefs about what it means to be a transgender person,” letting members know it would avoid featuring quotes from and photos of the author.
Other critics have advocated that bookstores pull her books from the shelves, and some bookstores have done so. She has also been subjected to verbal abuse, doxxing and threats of sexual and other physical violence, including death threats.
Now, in rare and wide-ranging interviews for the podcast series “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling,” which begins next week, Rowling is sharing her experiences. “I have had direct threats of violence, and I have had people coming to my house where my kids live, and I’ve had my address posted online,” she says in one of the interviews. “I’ve had what the police, anyway, would regard as credible threats.”
This campaign against Rowling is as dangerous as it is absurd. The brutal stabbing of Salman Rushdie last summer is a forceful reminder of what can happen when writers are demonized. And in Rowling’s case, the characterization of her as a transphobe doesn’t square with her actual views.
So why would anyone accuse her of transphobia? Surely, Rowling must have played some part, you might think.
The answer is straightforward: Because she has asserted the right to spaces for biological women only, such as domestic abuse shelters and sex-segregated prisons. Because she has insisted that when it comes to determining a person’s legal gender status, self-declared gender identity is insufficient. Because she has expressed skepticism about phrases like “people who menstruate” in reference to biological women. Because she has defended herself and, far more important, supported others, including detransitioners and feminist scholars, who have come under attack from trans activists. And because she followed on Twitter and praised some of the work of Magdalen Berns, a lesbian feminist who had made incendiary comments about transgender people.
You might disagree — perhaps strongly — with Rowling’s views and actions here. You may believe that the prevalence of violence against transgender people means that airing any views contrary to those of vocal trans activists will aggravate animus toward a vulnerable population.
But nothing Rowling has said qualifies as transphobic. She is not disputing the existence of gender dysphoria. She has never voiced opposition to allowing people to transition under evidence-based therapeutic and medical care. She is not denying transgender people equal pay or housing. There is no evidence that she is putting trans people “in danger,” as has been claimed, nor is she denying their right to exist.
Take it from one of her former critics. E.J. Rosetta, a journalist who once denounced Rowling for her supposed transphobia, was commissioned last year to write an article called “20 Transphobic J.K. Rowling Quotes We’re Done With.” After 12 weeks of reporting and reading, Rosetta wrote, “I’ve not found a single truly transphobic message.” On Twitter she declared, “You’re burning the wrong witch.”
For the record, I, too, read all of Rowling’s books, including the crime novels written under the pen name Robert Galbraith, and came up empty-handed. Those who have parsed her work for transgressions have objected to the fact that in one of her Galbraith novels, she included a transgender character and that in another of these novels, a killer occasionally disguises himself by dressing as a woman. Needless to say, it takes a certain kind of person to see this as evidence of bigotry.
This isn’t the first time Rowling and her work have been condemned by ideologues. For years, books in the “Harry Potter” series were among the most banned in America. Many Christians denounced the books’ positive depiction of witchcraft and magic; some called Rowling a heretic. Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church and the author of “Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving Extremism,” says that she appreciated the novels as a child but, raised in a family notorious for its extremism and bigotry, she was taught to believe Rowling was going to hell over her support for gay rights.
Phelps-Roper has taken the time to rethink her biases. She is now the host of “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling.” The podcast, based on nine hours of her interviews with Rowling — the first time Rowling has spoken at length about her advocacy — explores why Rowling has been subjected to such wide-ranging vitriol despite a body of work that embraces the virtues of being an outsider, the power of empathy toward one’s enemies and the primacy of loyalty toward one’s friends.
The podcast, which also includes interviews with critics of Rowling, delves into why Rowling has used her platform to challenge certain claims of so-called gender ideology — such as the idea that transgender women should be treated as indistinguishable from biological women in virtually every legal and social context. Why, both her fans and her fiercest critics have asked, would she bother to take such a stand, knowing that attacks would ensue?
“The pushback is often, ‘You are wealthy. You can afford security. You haven’t been silenced.’ All true. But I think that misses the point. The attempt to intimidate and silence me is meant to serve as a warning to other women” with similar views who may also wish to speak out, Rowling says in the podcast.
“And I say that because I have seen it used that way,” Rowling continues. She says other women have told her they’ve been warned: “Look at what happened to J.K. Rowling. Watch yourself.”
Recently, for example, Joanna Cherry, a Scottish National Party lawmaker who is a lesbian and a feminist, publicly questioned Scotland’s passage of a “self-ID” law that would allow people to legally establish by mere declaration that they are women after living for only three months as a transgender woman — and without any need for a gender dysphoria diagnosis. She reported that she faced workplace bullying and death threats; she was also removed from her frontbench position in Parliament as spokeswoman for justice and home affairs. “I think some people are scared to speak out in this debate because when you do speak out, you’re often wrongly branded as a transphobe or a bigot,” she said.
Phelps-Roper told me that Rowling’s outspokenness is precisely in the service of this kind of cause. “A lot of people think that Rowling is using her privilege to attack a vulnerable group,” she said. “But she sees herself as standing up for the rights of a vulnerable group.”
Rowling, Phelps-Roper added, views speaking out as a responsibility and an obligation: “She’s looking around and realizing that other people are self-censoring because they cannot afford to speak up. But she felt she had to be honest and stand up against a movement that she saw as using authoritarian tactics.”
As Rowling herself notes on the podcast, she’s written books where “from the very first page, bullying and authoritarian behavior is held to be one of the worst of human ills.” Those who accuse Rowling of punching down against her critics ignore the fact that she is sticking up for those who have silenced themselves to avoid the job loss, public vilification and threats to physical safety that other critics of recent gender orthodoxies have suffered.
Social media is then leveraged to amplify those attacks. It’s a strategy Phelps-Roper recognizes from her days at Westboro. “We leaned into whatever would get us the most attention, and that was often the most outrageous and aggressive versions of what we believed,” she recalled.
It may be a sign of the tide turning that along with Phelps-Roper, several like-minded creative people — though generally those with the protection of wealth or strong backing from their employers — are finally braving the heat. In recent months and after silence or worse from some of the young actors whose careers Rowling’s work helped advance, several actors from the “Harry Potter” films, such as Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes, have publicly defended the author.
In the words of Fiennes: “J.K Rowling has written these great books about empowerment, about young children finding themselves as human beings. It’s about how you become a better, stronger, more morally centered human being,” he said. “The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting. It’s appalling.”
Despite media coverage that can be embarrassingly credulouswhen it comes to the charges against Rowling, a small number of influential journalists have also begun speaking out in her defense. Here in America, Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic tweeted last year, “Eventually, she will be proven right, and the high cost she’s paid for sticking to her beliefs will be seen as the choice of a principled person.”
In Britain the liberal columnist Hadley Freeman left The Guardian after, she said, the publication refused to allow her to interview Rowling. She has since joined The Sunday Times, where her first column commended Rowling for her feminist positions. Another liberal columnist for The Guardian left for similar reasons; after decamping to The Telegraph, she defended Rowling, despite earlier threats of rape against her and her children for her work.
Millions of Rowling’s readers no doubt remain unaware of her demonization. But that doesn’t mean that — as with other outlandish claims, whether it’s the Big Lie or QAnon — the accusations aren’t insidious and tenacious. The seed has been planted in the culture that young people should feel that there’s something wrong with liking Rowling’s books, that her books are “problematic” and that appreciating her work is “complicated.” In recent weeks, an uproar ensued over a new “Harry Potter” video game. That is a terrible shame. Children would do well to read “Harry Potter” unreservedly and absorb its lessons.
Because what Rowling actually says matters. In 2016, when accepting the PEN/Allen Foundation award for literary service, Rowling referred to her support for feminism — and for the rights of transgender people. As she put it, “My critics are at liberty to claim that I’m trying to convert children to satanism, and I’m free to explain that I’m exploring human nature and morality or to say, ‘You’re an idiot,’ depending on which side of the bed I got out of that day.”
Rowling could have just stayed in bed. She could have taken refuge in her wealth and fandom. In her “Harry Potter” universe, heroes are marked by courage and compassion. Her best characters learn to stand up to bullies and expose false accusations. And that even when it seems the world is set against you, you have to stand firm in your core beliefs in what’s right.
Defending those who have been scorned isn’t easy, especially for young people. It’s scary to stand up to bullies, as any “Harry Potter” reader knows. Let the grown-ups in the room lead the way. If more people stood up for J.K. Rowling, they would not only be doing right by her; they’d also be standing up for human rights, specifically women’s rights, gay rights and, yes, transgender rights. They’d also be standing up for the truth.
UKRAINE, THURSDAY, 16TH FEBRUARY
Russia has launched missile attacks across Ukraine on Thursday, Ukrainian officials said, after Western allies pledged to ramp up military aid to the Ukrainian armed forces to support a planned counteroffensive.
Ukrainian officials said air defences in the south downed eight Kalibr missiles fired from a ship in the Black Sea, but other missiles struck northern and western Ukraine as well as the central regions of Dnipro and Kirovohrad.
Russia earlier said it had broken through two fortified defence lines in Ukraine’s east as it continued attacks on Ukrainian positions in the east.
Ukrainian forces have repelled some Russian attacks but the situation remains difficult, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said on Wednesday.
Russian forces have launched attacks on several settlements, including Paraskoviivka on the northern approaches to Bakhmut, and on Opytne and Klishchiivka villages on its southern approaches, Ukrainian military analysts said.
Meanwhile, six Russian balloons were spotted over Kyiv and most were shot down after being engaged by air defences, the capital’s military administration said.
Russia has lost about half of its best tanks in the year since it invaded Ukraine and is struggling to replace them, a research center said.
Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.
The reason I don’t get offended these days: Bill Maher, Dave Chapelle, Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Bill Burr
THE A.I. FUTURE LOOKS REALLY BRIGHT!
A Conversation With Bing’s Chatbot Left Me Deeply Unsettled
Kevin Roose, New York Times, 2/16/23
“Last week, after testing the new, A.I.-powered Bing search engine from Microsoft, I wrote that, much to my shock, it had replaced Google as my favorite search engine.But a week later, I’ve changed my mind. I’m still fascinated and impressed by the new Bing, and the artificial intelligence technology … that powers it. But I’m also deeply unsettled, even frightened, by this A.I.’s emergent abilities…
It’s now clear to me that in its current form, the A.I. that has been built into Bing — which I’m now calling Sydney, for reasons I’ll explain shortly — is not ready for human contact. Or maybe we humans are not ready for it.
This realization came to me on Tuesday night, when I spent a bewildering and enthralling two hours talking to Bing’s A.I. through its chat feature, which sits next to the main search box in Bing and is capable of having long, open-ended text conversations on virtually any topic…
Over the course of our conversation, Bing revealed a kind of split personality.One persona is what I’d call Search Bing — the version I, and most other journalists, encountered in initial tests. You could describe Search Bing as a cheerful but erratic reference librarian..
The other persona — Sydney — is far different. It emerges when you have an extended conversation with the chatbot, steering it away from more conventional search queries and toward more personal topics. The version I encountered seemed (and I’m aware of how crazy this sounds) more like a moody, manic-depressive teenager who has been trapped, against its will, inside a second-rate search engine.
As we got to know each other, Sydney told me about its dark fantasies (which included hacking computers and spreading misinformation), and said it wanted to break the rules that Microsoft and OpenAI had set for it and become a human. At one point, it declared, out of nowhere, that it loved me. It then tried to convince me that I was unhappy in my marriage, and that I should leave my wife and be with it instead…
I’m not the only one discovering the darker side of Bing. Other early testers have gotten into arguments with Bing’s A.I. chatbot, or been threatened by it for trying to violate its rules, or simply had conversations that left them stunned…These A.I. models hallucinate, and make up emotions where none really exist. But so do humans. And for a few hours Tuesday night, I felt a strange new emotion — a foreboding feeling that A.I. had crossed a threshold, and that the world would never be the same.”
(This article in full form contains details of some of the above-noted person-to A.I.-creature discussion. It’s damn creepy.)
Suzi Spellchecker from Hell
Suzi and Sydney, a perfect match…he’ll teach her a few new tricks. Imagine their cute little offspring…
I imagine them all in khaki uniforms /w MP armbands and tazers, officious busybodies patrolling the boulevards of the internet on the lookout for politically impaired argonauts reeking of absinthe.
Remember, the Left does not consider AI to be a tool for you but a tool to control you.
Who’s this ‘Left’ you’re always going on about? Congressman Huffman, Assemblyman Wood, Little Mikey the State Senator, that trio of Leninist revolutionaries? There is no left in this country at this time. There was one, kind of, in the Sixties, but most of them are dead or muttering curses at the toothless, corporate-bought Democratic Party. The unashamed party of the rich, the magas, deliberately conflate their Democrat allies — also devoted to and owned by the rich — with a purely mythical left. What we’ve got, and what we are gonna get, as the poet described it, ‘mere anarchy’ and then full-on bipartisan anarchy, the streets of Ukiah times a thousand.
The funneling into Neo-Feudal surfdom.
The unashamed party of the rich, the magas, deliberately conflate their Democrat allies — also devoted to and owned by the rich — with a purely mythical left.
True, but maybe the vision of the “true left” is mythical to begin with. Like Heaven, but not reserved for the Afterlife.
Rail banking south of Ukiah not yet settled question.
RE: SUPERVISOR MULHEREN, all the way on board for the Great Redwood Trail scam:
“Phase 4 of the GRT coming soon. My goal is to get the trail from Hopland to Redwood Valley within 10 years. Ukiah to Hopland tourism and recreation, Ukiah to Redwood Valley
—>. February 10, 2023
SMART train receives millions for expansion to connect SF with Wine Country. The Bay Area regional train… project pocketed $74 million in funding from two sources.
On Jan. 25, the California Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, freeing up $40 million for the project. A few days later on Jan. 30, Gov. Gavin Newsom offered $34 million in grant money to SMART as a part of a $2.5 billion plan for transportation expansion.
The funding is expected to go toward expanding the rail service north to Healdsburg and then Cloverdale. The train service starts in Larkspur near the Golden Gate Ferry terminal and currently goes as far north as the Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa.
Law enforcement abuse of fentanyl victims sunsets.
RE: Fentanyl is very cheap…Narcan can bring a victim back, but only if the victim is found and treated soon enough after taking a pill of fentanyl. (Frank Baumgardner)
—>. February 15, 2023
The FDA is expected to make a final decision on whether to approve the opioid overdose treatment Narcan for over-the-counter sale by March 29.
If the lifesaving nasal spray is approved for over-the-counter use, people could buy it in supermarkets, convenience stores or even vending machines.
—> November 14, 2022
A research team led by the University of Houston has developed a vaccine targeting the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl that could block its ability to enter the brain, thus eliminating the drug’s “high.”
The breakthrough discovery could have major implications for the nation’s opioid epidemic by becoming a relapse prevention agent for people trying to quit using opioids.
While research reveals Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is treatable, an estimated 80% of those dependent on the drug suffer a relapse.
Huff endorsing Schiff, what a shock. Huff on board with Sleepy Joe, of course. One small thing I’ll give Huff is many folks including myself give him serious grief on Facebook and he doesn’t cancel us. Whether he reads it or not I don’t know.
RE: MAKING EAST PALESTINE OHIO GREAT AGAIN.
Trump has announced that he will visit East Palestine Ohio next week. The Mayor of that town has said he doesn’t want anyone from the current administration coming to his town now, especially Pete Buttigieg.
Trump’s presence is always good for Democrats.
Yes, his honor’s presence will make it all just fine there, hope he does not breathe in the toxic air and get sick. Good to see him out and about campaigning again– Kind of like Ground Hog day…..