ED NOTE: If today’s Mendocino County Today seems incomplete, it’s due to wind-related power outages in Anderson Valley on Tuesday.
COLD. Below freezing weather is predicted for most inland areas of Mendocino County on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Winds will be gusty. Precip will likely include cold rain, snow, and possible hail and freezing rain in higher locations.
JEFF GOLL: Wintery weather starting today. I was traveling back from the store this morning and came across this scene in Willits: Bovine and incoming rain in Willits.
LISTEN UP, FOUL WEATHER TRAVELERS: Please note that if you are stuck while traveling in winter weather, that an inexpensive heater can be fashioned from a tin and tea candles. The whole heating device takes up very little space.
Consumer Affairs magazine describes how the kit works and why you should use it. They say:
If you’re trapped in your car, running the engine to generate heat is a bad idea for two reasons: one, even starting with a full tank you’ll run out of gas in a few hours, thus leaving you unable to move even when the road eventually clears; and two, if falling or drifting snow or ice blocks your car’s exhaust pipe, you and everyone else in the passenger compartment can quickly die of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fortunately, it’s easy to make heat without running the engine, and you can put together an emergency automotive heating kit for less than $5. You only need four items: a large-ish metal can with a removable lid, a supply of metal-cup “tea light” candles, some matches, and waterproof resealable sandwich or freezer bags to hold the candles and matches inside the metal can.
BOONVILLE lost power this Tuesday afternoon from exactly 1:42 pm until 2:55. Many downtown businesses were forced to close. Power in Boonville was restored a little before 3pm, but some other areas of the Valley were (or are) out for “extended periods.”
And From The Coast Chatline…
JAMES KACHIK: Power outage from Caspar to Little River . . . power out at the Woods as well.
NICHOLAS WILSON: PG&E power is out at my place on LR Airport Rd.
PG&E Outage map shows that hundreds of customers are without power from Caspar south to Little River, and out Comptche Rd. to Melburne. https://pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/outages/map/
PG&E site shows the outage began at 1:04 PM. Estimated restoration is To Be Announced.
The cause is no doubt the high and gusty winds taking down one or more trees into power lines.
This is why backup generators are a good thing. Otherwise I wouldn't have internet access to check the PG&E site and post this info.
Two pairs of underwear,
One white and the other pink,
Flew up and down
On the laundry line,
Telling the whole world
They are madly in love.
— Charles Simic
GREG LUDWIG: Three bedroom, two bath house for rent at $2000/month. Clean and well maintained. Fenced vegetable garden, laundry facilities. About one mile from downtown Boonville, schools, and clinic. (707) 489-3595 Leave message
MENDO, TOO, OF COURSE. A company that processes drug tests has detected a ninefold rise in fentanyl use in the western US these past three years — showing the powerful opioid has now cast its deadly shadow across the whole country. Eric Dawson, the vice president of clinical affairs at Millennium Health, said his researchers had seen a 146 percent increase in the number of positive fentanyl tests nationwide between 2019 and 2022. The biggest rises were seen along the Pacific coast and mountain regions, which respectively saw 900 percent and 875 percent increases in detections of the powerful synthetic opioid.
THE SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT reported Tuesday that Sonoma County has decided to establish “managed homeless camps” on County-owned sites in Sonoma County. One of the sites is at Sonoma County’s admin center in Santa Rosa where a 100-tent campsite is planned. Which produced an immediate “aha” moment here, when we realized that Mendo could make a big dent in Ukiah’s homeless problem by establishing their own “managed homeless camp” at the 501 Low Gap Road Admin center! It’s obviously a workable idea; the only hiccup might be that it would have to be “managed,” a requirement that official Mendocino County is incapable of.
Wednesday morning on KZYX’s TKO Show, host Karen Ottoboni takes a look at hot topics in local politics. This week’s guests are local cannabis entrepreneur Jim Roberts and Michael Katz, Executive Director of the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance. We will discuss what a healthy craft cannabis market could and would bring to our local economy and what’s holding that back. Tune in Wednesday at 9am or online at KZYX.org. (Or if you’re too late to listen live, go to KZYX’s jukebox webpage and listen to a recording of the show.)
by Bruce Anderson
For thousands of years, Mendocino County history was memorialized in spirit rocks like the giant granite message board at the headwaters of Feliz Creek, and another near Cloverdale on the Russian River. All are federally recognized archeological sites. The more accessible ones are fenced off, and none have been decoded, so far as I'm aware.
Feliz was clearly a busy route for the original people of Clearlake that led them to their annual sea banquets at the Pacific. Farther north, ancient shell mounds on the Lost Coast testify to thousands of years of summer feasts.
The Feliz trail led over the hill from Lake to Hopland, up the creek to its lush headwaters, from there steadily west up and over the ridge to the Y Ranch area of present-day Yorkville, out Fish Rock to the ocean. Spirit rocks are covered with thousands of years of travelers' comment, all of it in laboriously wrought symbols whose meaning is lost to time.
And there was the Arrow Tree, unremembered now by any living person and the tree itself long gone, but it was a mile east of Korbel, which is six miles east of Arcata, an ancient redwood noted by the first white men to pass through on their way to the Trinity gold fields.
This site is said to have been used by Indians to commemorate an important peace treaty. In memory of the treaty, each tribe, upon passing, was supposed to have shot an arrow into the bark.
For thirty or forty feet the Arrow Tree must have looked like a giant porcupine because of the hundreds of arrows shot into it over many hundreds of years by many hundreds of Indians. Indians said that way back, when time was young, coast tribes were at war with the tribes who lived in the hill country. There was a great battle with untold losses on both sides, with the hill tribes getting the worst of it. The carnage was so great the Indians vowed never to repeat it. Ever after the memorial redwood became the border between the coast people and the hill people, and the tree, because of its significance as both boundary and a symbol of the bloodshed preceding the boundary, was ever after considered sacred.
Whenever Indians from either side passed the tree they shot a commemorative arrow into its soft bark. At first the arrows may have been war arrows, but within the memory of the last Indians who knew its history, they have been merely sharpened sticks. Gradually, the significance of the tree faded into the mists of endless time, and it became more and more an altar for worship and a place of prayer for the last Indians able to remember it as it was.
And then the tree died and Korbel became the site of tree worship of a much less reverent type when timber executives erected a combined lodge and rumpus room not far from where the Arrow Tree had stood all the way back to when time moved slowly.
The Rain Rock sits on the Trinity River in Sugar Bowl Valley four miles from Hoopa. At not more than four feet in diameter, the Rain Rock is hardly noticeable. It was called the “Rain Rock” when white people became aware of its importance to Indians, who called the smallish boulder Mi, or Thunder’s Rock. The Indians believe a weather spirit has its home in and around the stone which, when it’s unhappy with the Indians, calls down killing frosts on Hoopa’s gardens or prolongs the rains until it floods or withholds them to bring on drought and famine. When some natural or human catastrophe affects the Indians, the Indians believe the spirit inhabiting the Rain Rock is angry with them, and that only a mandatory feast which everyone must attend at the site of the rock will restore order to the world.
Announcing and accompanying the feast, fires are built in the canyon as a kind of illuminated path to the Rain Rock where a final fire is kindled to cook the food for the appeasing banquet. After the people have eaten, and the remnants of the feast have been burned, the priest makes a prayer for temperate weather as he sprinkles the sacred rock with water in which an incense root has been mingled.
According to legend, probably a legend that had its beginning among the pre-Gold Rush Indians, a Sanel Indian maiden named Sotuka jumped from the top of the foreboding Squaw Rock, rechristened in these allegedly more enlightened times as Frog Woman Rock. Sotuka, while holding a great stone, landed, as she’d hoped, on her faithless lover, Chief Cachow and his new bride who were sleeping below, killing the three of them.
Squaw Rock, some local liberals claim, is a vulgar reference to female reproductive organs, but its mammoth stone bulk looms so large beside the Russian River between Cloverdale and Hopland that stories about it seem inevitable. “Squaw” may not be as vulgar as some people claim, but given its prevalence among the first ad-sals, as Indians called the first white settlers, the term is unlikely to be reverential. (White settlers were also called "Goddams," the curse Indians heard so often from the murderous intruders it became synonymous with pale faces.)
Comparably famous Indian landmarks are everywhere in the Redwood Empire. Few of them are remembered, but wherever the landscape suddenly becomes startling, you can be sure it was as significant to Indians over a much longer time than the Golden Gate Bridge has been significant to us.
TRIAL FOR MAN ACCUSED OF IGNITING 2021’S HOPKINS FIRE WILL NOT BE HEARD IN MENDOCINO COUNTY
by Colin Atagi
A defendant is going to trial for the 2021 Hopkins Fire that was started in the town of Calpella, but proceedings won’t be taking place in Mendocino County.
A change in venue is in the works for Devin Johnson, who’s charged with arson in the Sept. 12, 2021, blaze that wiped out dozens of homes 5 miles north of Ukiah.
During a brief court hearing Tuesday morning, Mendocino County Judge Keith Faulder announced optional available venues had been narrowed down to Marin and Colusa counties.
The Colusa County Superior Courthouse is nearly two hours east of Ukiah, where Mendocino County’s court proceedings take place, and the Marin County Superior Court in San Rafael is about 90 minutes away.
Faulder suggested Marin County would be a better option because its jury pool is larger.
“They are the larger jurisdiction,” Faulder said Tuesday.
According to the Judicial Council of California, venue changes are allowed if a judge believes a defendant cannot receive a fair trial in the county where a case occurred. Reasons for such a decision include significant pretrial publicity, bias, the area’s political atmosphere or other circumstances parties believe would prevent a fair trial.
In late 2021, the Mendocino County Public Defender’s Office filed a motion to move proceedings in Johnson’s case from Ukiah because officials there believed he was unlikely to find an impartial jury close to home.
The defense’s motion references the region’s sensitivity to wildfires and Calpella’s proximity to Ukiah, which is Mendocino County’s most-populated area.
It notes many area residents supported Calpella, and emphasizes the fire’s extensive media coverage and references on social media and law enforcement websites.
“The effect of the coverage would suggest to ... potential jurors in this trial the probability that defendant was, in fact, the actual cause of the fire,” the defense wrote.
Faulder’s decision to change venues was solidified Jan. 24 when the prosecution and defense attempted to choose jurors for a trial in Mendocino County. None of the potential jurors who were questioned were chosen because they all were familiar with the Hopkins Fire.
Faulder approved the defense’s request for a change of venue that same day.
Following Tuesday’s hearing, Mendocino County Deputy District Attorney Heidi Larson said “everyone knew” about the Hopkins Fire.
She said she would have preferred the trial take place in Sonoma, Lake or Humboldt counties, but they were ruled out because they’re too close to Mendocino County.
The matter was supposed to be discussed, and possibly finalized, Tuesday but was rescheduled due to the absence of Public Defender Jeffrey Aaron, who was having a root canal, according to his staff.
The parties agreed to resume discussions Monday.
Larson said some details still needed to be ironed out, such as when jury selection would begin and if proceedings would be overseen by Faulder or a judge from the jurisdiction where the trial will take place.
She worried that witnesses would have to travel as far away as Colusa County to testify during the two-week trial.
“It’s very frustrating,” she said. “I’m dealing with numerous victims.”
The Hopkins Fire destroyed at least 30 homes and scorched 257 acres of hillside bordered by the Russian River and Lake Mendocino. About 200 people were evacuated in triple-digit temperatures. No injuries were reported.
Much of the damage was along Eastside Calpella Road, a north and south street parallel to the Russian River.
Flames spread up a 1,000-foot ridge and down to the western shore of Lake Mendocino before burning sections of the reservoir left dry as a result of California’s drought.
Prosecutors contend that they have surveillance footage showing Johnson at the fire’s point of origin and fleeing as smoke develops.
Investigators add that a photo from a local photographer shows Johnson watching the fire from the Moore Street Bridge, which crosses a dried-up section of the river.
He was arrested two days after the fire was started.
Johnson was ordered to stand trial during a preliminary hearing in November 2021 but his erratic behavior in court spurred questions about his mental competency.
In February 2022, officials concluded Johnson was not mentally capable of helping defend himself. At that time, he was ordered to undergo treatment to re-establish his competency.
Court proceedings resumed in July after it was determined Johnson’s competency had been restored. One month later, he was again ordered to stand trial.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, February 21, 2023
DAVID CHURCHILL, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, elder/dependent abuse resulting in great bodily harm or death, county parole violation.
BRICE DOWD, Ukiah. Burglary, robbery, conspiracy.
ROBERT FACKRELL II, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, ammo possession by prohibited person.
JUSTIN JAMES, Whitethorn/Ukiah. Stalking & threatening bodily injury.
TYLER KELLER, Ukiah. Arson of property, arson during state of emergency.
SHANNON KIDD, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-intoxicating drug & alcohol, parole violation.
BRANDY OCHS, Eureka. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
CESAR PEREZ-MAGANA, Ukiah. Burglary, robbery, conspiracy.
JESSICA SHELLY, Fort Bragg. DUI.
ERYCKA SMITH, Willits. Fugitive from justice.
UKRAINE, TUESDAY, 21ST FEBRUARY
US President Joe Biden declared "Kyiv stands strong" as he marked nearly one year of Russia's invasion of Ukraine with a speech in Poland. His remarks came a day after he made a surprise trip to the Ukrainian capital.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is suspending participation in New START — the only remaining major nuclear arms control treaty with the US — and sought to blame the West for the Ukraine conflict during his state of the nation speech Tuesday.
China’s top diplomat Wang Yi is in Moscow and will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Wednesday, according to Russian state media.
Meanwhile, on the ground, Russian forces have made incremental gains around the city of Bakhmut as the war grinds on in eastern Ukraine, according to analysts.
MILLIONAIRE PUBLISHER DECLARES HE’S BROKE
by Warren Hinckle
On the night before the Thanksgiving of 1964 I was comfortably seated in the neo-Edwardian lobby of the Algonquin Hotel in New York City having a drink with Ramparts Magazine publisher Edward Keating.
The occasion was pure ambrosia. I had just declared to him in an outburst of statistical euphoria that we had “almost doubled” our circulation—from 2,200 to 4,000 readers. The transformation from a 2,000-plus-copy quarterly to a 4,000-copy monthly magazine was taking place under my aegis, for which purpose I had just taken a six-month leave from my secure job as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. It bothered me not a whit that we had to print 50,000 copies to sell 4,000. That was the publisher’s problem. Ramparts was his own expensive toy, but within the somewhat stormy confines of what I took to be the natural eccentricity of the very rich, I was being given reasonable access to play with It, too.
Ed Keating’s eccentricities were not of your ordinary common garden variety .One day a strange bill crossed my desk. It was an invoice for $47 from a shoemaker, across which Keating had scribbled, “Editorial expenditure.” Since I was nominally the executive editor, I asked him what it was about. He confided that he had sent a young civil rights worker on a secret undercover mission to Louisiana. His assignment was to dig up proof that Leander Perez, the notorious segregationist czar of Plaquemines Parish, had “colored blood” in his veins. The proof was among some papers that Ed had heard an old slave had hidden under a floorboard in one of Perez’s dungeons. Our spy was to infiltrate the dungeon, find the floorboard and get away with the goods. The $47 was for special alterations to his boots—the heels had been hollowed out and a metal file and a compass hidden inside. If he was captured by the evil Perez and locked in the dungeon, he could saw his way out with the file and use his compass to escape through the swamp.
I knew the legion of stories about the wacky ways of rich publishers, and I doubted that there was anything Ed Keating could do which would surprise me.
I was wrong.
A glance across the table alerted me to the fact that my sense of well-being was not shared by the man who was providing for it. Ed Keating was crying.
I did what any sensible coward would do and pretended I hadn’t seen. I reached over and rang the little brass bell on the battle-scarred oak cocktail table that summoned the waiter to bring more drinks, which he eventually did, but that did not effect any change in Keating. He was still crying.
I had never seen a millionaire cry. Finally, curiosity got the better of prudence. I asked Ed if there was anything wrong.
Keating looked up from the spot across the lobby where his blank gaze had been fixed.
“I’m broke,” he said quietly.
“But Ed,” I said, “you can’t be broke. You’re the publisher.”
His abrupt statement was as immediately incomprehensible to me as the national debt. Ed Keating was rich. He was famous for being rich. He owned the magazine. I knew that he had poured a lot of money into the quarterly Ramparts, but he still had to be rich because he had just turned it into a monthly. He had hired me. I had hired a staff. We were publishing. We had all kinds of stories in the works. There were subscription ads in the newspapers. At that moment there were thousands of copies stacked in trucks on the way to the newsstands. We had another issue going to press in two weeks. This was crazy. It couldn’t be. He couldn't be broke.
“But Ed,” | tried again. “You're a millionaire.”
“I used to be,” he said. “But I spent it. It was my wife’s money.”
The business about the wife was equally unexpected and, for one of the few times in my compulsively chatty existence, the cliché was reality; I became speechless.
Keating asked what I thought he should do. My shock became part residual disbelief, part resentment that he might be telling the truth. I suggested that he should shut down the whole shooting match that very night, fire the staff by telegram, and see if he could get his deposit back from the phone company.
Keating glowered as if I were the one bringing him the bad news. He sat up, clanging the bell for more drinks, and began an impassioned speech, without any awareness of melodrama: “I just couldn’t bring myself to close the magazine. It’s too important to the Catholic Church. I must go on. There must be something that can be done to save it. There must be someone else who would be willing to put money in it besides me. Isn't there some way you can find someone to help me?”
I said that as improbable as such a likelihood was, even miracles took time, and it would be clearly impossible to do anything if we stopped publishing, which we most certainly would have to do if he couldn’t even pay for the drinks we had just ordered.
I repeated, in a kind of dumbfounded rote, “You mean you really don’t have any more money?”
Keating brightened a bit. “Well, I do have one shoppng center left…”
I suppose I looked a little blank. Keating, explaining, became almost chipper: “It’s only a medium-sized shopping center, It’s in Santa Clara. It’s got a mortgage on it, and there’s a lawsuit I’d have to settle with one of the tenants, and I'd have to fix the air conditioning before I could sell it. But still in all it should net a little over a $100,000 after that.”
I said to the publisher that I did not want to be the person who told him to sell his last shopping center. But…
I found myself experiencing something of the peculiar merriment Jack London described as possessing men who are facing disaster. Back in a dark abscess of rationality I knew I should be mad as hell at the deadbeat millionaire sitting across from me who deliberately signed me up as first mate in the launching of a journalistic Hindenburg.
But there was something so pathetic and principled in his willingness to throw his last shopping center into the pot that I instead told him to cheer up, I'd think of something, it wasn’t that bad, it could be worse, everything would somehow work out all right. The Optimist’s Rosary: the five Euphoric Mysteries of Comfort.
Perhaps Keating saw the gleam of the disaster-lover in my one good eye, or perhaps he was suddenly fatigued and drained by his disclosure, but I noticed that his spirits were falling almost inversely as mine were rising. “If you only knew what hell I’ve been through, carrying this secret by myself,” he said. “You can’t even imagine how exhausting it is.”
Keating slumped in his chair. I waved at the waiter to bring the check, and told Ed he should try to get a good night’s sleep, even think about taking a few days off to get some rest. I was a little surprised to find myself suddenly a combination father goddam and co-conspirator. Keating kept looking at me as if I didn’t really understand, and I guess I didn’t. “I can never get away … from the stress … no matter where I go, the stress is always with me.”
I was about to suggest another drink for his stress when the waiter came with the check and a small incident occurred that was characteristic of the ambivalence, deference, envy, suspicion, and finally pathos of my extraordinary relationship with Ed Keating over the next several years.
I picked up the check, signed it, wrote a handsome tip on the back and handed it to the waiter, who nodded a gracious assent and left us in silence.
Keating stared across the table at me. “Thank you,” he said.
I thought he was being sarcastic; but no. He seemed genuinely grateful that I had signed the check.
“But it’s your money Ed,” I said. “What are you thanking me for? I just signed my room number. You're paying the hotel bill.”
“I know, I know,” Keating said. “But I just like the way you do it. You just pick the check up and … and sign it. I could never do anything like that.”
I shrugged and mumbled something incoherent about there really being nothing to it.
FIREWORKS IN BERLIN
by Harry Stopes
The elections held in September 2021 for the Berlin Abgeordnetenhaus, the state parliament, were marred by administrative problems at nearly a tenth of polling stations. There were shortages of ballot papers, unusually long queues to vote and ballots delivered to the wrong locations. Some voters were turned away, or offered only ballot papers for the federal elections taking place the same day (in which Olaf Scholz was elected as chancellor). After a long investigation, the state constitutional court ruled last November that the state election would have to be repeated. The date was set for 12 February.
The most obvious beneficiaries of the rerun were the CDU: as in 2016, the 2021 election had left them as the largest opposition party against a ruling coalition led by the SPD, with the Greens and Die Linke as junior partners. Unlike in 2016, this time the CDU were also in opposition nationally, able to position themselves, however disingenuously, as the party of change. Everything from Berlin’s chronic lack of childcare places to its shoddy public transport was grist to the mill. ‘A new election means a new start,’ many of the CDU election placards read. Polls in December showed the CDU only slightly ahead of the SPD, even though only 24 per cent of Berliners were satisfied with the state government.
In the event, the CDU got 28 per cent of the vote; the Greens and SPD each took 18 per cent; Die Linke 12 per cent and the far-right AfD 9 per cent. Turnout, at 65 per cent, was ten points lower than seventeen months ago. All three members of the ruling coalition lost more voters to abstention than they did to any opposition party. (This wasn’t the case for the right-wing liberals of the FDP, however, who lost out to the CDU and saw their tally drop below the 5 per cent threshold, leaving them without any seats in the new state parliament.) Even though the SPD vote dropped to its lowest level since reunification – and the CDU reached their highest tally since 1999 – the so-called ‘Red-Red-Green’ coalition can still hold on to power with 90 of 159 seats. Other possibilities are a CDU-SPD or CDU-Green coalition, though the latter is unlikely, thanks in part to the mindless auto politics of the CDU. Exploratory talks began last Friday.
More important than the anti-political mood, however, or the advantage accruing to the CDU from its being in opposition, are the racist undertones (and sometimes overtones) of the CDU’s campaign. Since its defeat in 2021, and especially since the election of the belligerent Friedrich Merz as leader in January 2022, the party has veered sharply to the right, above all on migration. In November, the national ruling coalition announced their intention to change the law on citizenship, to allow naturalisation after five rather than eight years of residency, and to permit dual nationality, currently impossible in most cases. The CDU’s response was a wave of invective premised on the notion that foreigners are dangerous, workshy and unworthy of the honour of being German (which they never really would be anyway). The change would supposedly unleash a surge of welfare tourism and reduce the German passport to ‘junk’. ‘All I can say to these people,’ the Berlin-based Jewish-American writer Ben Miller tweeted, ‘is that your grandfathers and great-grandfathers would be proud.’
Berlin, like other cities, has a long history of chaotic New Year’s Eve celebrations. This year a bus was set on fire in Neukölln, a neighbourhood which in German public discourse is shorthand for migration and the challenges of the inner city. A number of police officers and firefighters were attacked, and 48 were reported injured. The police announced that they had arrested 145 people. According to media reports the primary culprits were migrants or had a ‘migration background’. Only a week later was it clarified that the arrest figures were for the whole city, not just Neukölln, that only 38 arrests were made for attacks on police or firemen, and that most of the injured police were suffering sonic trauma from the loud noises.
By then the narrative was firmly established: gangs of migrant youths deliberately attacked the police in large numbers. Jens Spahn, a former health minister considered a moderate figure in the CDU, blamed ‘unregulated immigration’. Jan-Marco Luczak, a member of the Bundestag from southern Berlin, said that any debate about regulating fireworks should not distract from the fact that ‘attacks on police officers and emergency workers were mostly carried out by migrant men who are hostile to our state and its representatives.’ A colleague from Hamburg blamed ‘West Asian, darker skin types. To put it exactly.’ Merz told a television interviewer that Turkish and Arab schoolboys are ‘kleine Paschas’ who refuse to obey their teachers, with the support of their parents. Mario Czaja, the CDU general secretary, proposed a ban on children speaking languages other than German in school playgrounds. The SPD tried to get in on the act, with the interior minister, Nancy Faeser, blaming ‘violent integration resisters’.
The integration discussion, as Manuela Bojadžijev and Robin Celikates have put it, is ‘post-factual, selective and ahistorical’, but it performs a useful role for the German right. On the one hand, it’s used as a defence against accusations of racism (such as those I’m making here): we don’t want to get rid of you, the argument goes, we want to integrate you. But this demand reifies the predicament that the invitation to integrate pretends to negate, that the migrant is always the Other. The Berlin CDU asked the Berlin police how many of those arrested on New Year’s Eve had German nationality, how many had foreign nationalities, what those nationalities were, how many of the Germans also had a second nationality, what those foreign nationalities were. Of the Germans arrested, they also wanted to know what their first names were.
Voters got the message. Of those who voted CDU, 41 per cent named ‘security and order’ as their top priority, while 57 per cent of the entire electorate agreed with the statement: ‘I find it good that the CDU clearly identify the problems with migrants.’
(London Review of Books)
TRAVEL TIPS from Erika Kotite, who lives in Huntington Beach. Erika recommends Bodega Bay on the Sonoma Coast:
“Known primarily (if at all) for being one of the settings in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds,’ Bodega Bay is truly a hidden gem. Part of the Sonoma Coast, the town of 1,000 residents clings to both sides of Hwy 1 and up gently rolling slopes. It offers breathtaking views of the Pacific as well as a vital fishing bay with incredible bird life. Spotting a bald eagle is not uncommon. Of course, birds are part of Bodega Bay’s fame, both geographically and cinematically!
Although I’ve been a SoCal resident for many years, I grew up in Santa Rosa and recall many trips in the VW bus to Bodega Bay. We’d eat at The Tides and watch the fishermen clean their boats. If you head northwest from town, you reach the West Shore and Spud Point Marina, where fresh crab and stellar clam chowder at Spud Point Crab Co. await. A little further on are the Bodega Headlands, offering remarkable hiking and views of the Pacific, and frequent glimpses of migrating whales.
The sunsets over the bay change daily, each one better than the last. Grab that bottle of Sonoma Coast pinot, a couple glasses, and bask in your good fortune.”
A very rare CDV photo of "The Ghoul Of Gettysburg" This unidentified man according to local lore was arrested for robbing dead bodies on the Gettysburg Battlefield in the days following the battle. Little is known about this person or event. His photo was sold by local photographers. There was also a Stereoview version of this has the caption "A Battle-field Vulture, Godfor by name–one of those inhuman creatures who follow in the wake of armies, robbing the field of blankets, clothing, turning the pockets of the dead". It was not a very popular view so very little were sold and even fewer exist today.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Up until age six, my only experience regarding churches was what we had here in Eastern TN protestant Bible Belt churches. Plain and simple boxes with not much inside them regarding paintings or sculptures. Statues in churches were regarded as idolatry and Roman Catholics regarded with suspicion.
Then I spent my first summer in Bavaria and toured some Bavarian Catholic Churches that were like displays of overdone acid trips inside. Fantastic explosions of light, color, sound, and shapes inside these baroque churches. I experienced the Weiskirche while an organist was working the pipe organ inside the church. For those not familiar with the building, check it out sometime on google images. The one statue in the church that impressed me above all others was the one of St. Jerome holding a large book in his arms with a human skull resting on the pages. I asked my mom a number of times what the skull was doing there, she didn’t know.
Today, the artists and craftsmen required to create such a building no longer exist.
Margaret Bourke-White atop the Chrysler Building, c.1930. Oscar Graubner
Margaret Bourke-White (June 14, 1904 – August 27, 1971) was an American photographer and documentary photographer. She is best known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet industry under the Soviet's five-year plan, the first American female war photojournalist, and having one of her photographs (the construction of Fort Peck Dam) on the cover of the first issue of Life magazine. She died of Parkinson's disease about eighteen years after developing symptoms.
GOOD NEWS FOR GEEZERS AND WHEEZERS
The director of the George Washington University College of Medicine argues that the brain of an elderly person is much more plastic than is commonly believed. At this age, the interaction of the right and left hemispheres of the brain becomes harmonious, which expands our creative possibilities. That is why among people over 60 you can find many personalities who have just started their creative activities.
Of course, the brain is no longer as fast as it was in youth. However, it wins in flexibility. That is why, with age, we are more likely to make the right decisions and are less exposed to negative emotions. The peak of human intellectual activity occurs at about 70 years old, when the brain begins to work at full strength.
Over time, the amount of myelin in the brain increases, a substance that facilitates the rapid passage of signals between neurons. Due to this, intellectual abilities are increased by 300% compared to the average.
And the peak of active production of this substance falls on 60-80 years of age. Also interesting is the fact that after 60 years, a person can use 2 hemispheres at the same time. This allows you to solve much more complex problems.
Professor Monchi Uri from the University of Montreal believes that the brain of an elderly person chooses the least energy-intensive path, cutting unnecessary and leaving only the right options for solving the problem. A study was conducted in which different age groups took part. Young people were confused a lot when passing the tests, while those over 60 made the right decisions.
Now let's look at the features of the brain at the age of 60-80. They are really rosy.
Features Of The Brain Of An Elderly Person.
1. The neurons of the brain do not die off, as everyone around them says. Connections between them simply disappear if a person does not engage in mental work.
2. Absent-mindedness and forgetfulness appear due to an overabundance of information. Therefore, you do not need to focus your whole life on unnecessary trifles.
3. Beginning at the age of 60, a person, when making decisions, uses not one hemisphere at the same time, like young people, but both.
4. Conclusion: if a person leads a healthy lifestyle, moves, has a feasible physical activity and has full mental activity, intellectual abilities DO NOT decrease with age, but only GROW, reaching a peak by the age of 80-90 years.
So don't be afraid of old age. Strive to develop intellectually. Learn new crafts, make music, learn to play musical instruments, paint pictures! Dance! Take an interest in life, meet and communicate with friends, make plans for the future, travel as best you can. Don't forget to go to shops, cafes, concerts. Do not lock yourself alone - it is destructive for any person. Live with the thought: all the good things are still ahead of me!
A large study in the United States found that:
The most productive age of a person is from 60 to 70 years;
The 2nd most productive human stage is the age from 70 to 80 years old;
3rd most productive stage - 50 and 60 years old.
Before that, the person has not yet reached his peak.
The average age of the Nobel Prize laureates is 62;
The average age of the presidents of the 100 largest companies in the world is 63 years;
The average age of pastors in the 100 largest churches in the United States is 71;
The average age of dads is 76 years.
This confirms that a person's best and most productive years are between 60 and 80 years of age.
This study was published by a team of doctors and psychologists in the NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE.
They found that at 60 you reach the peak of your emotional and mental potential, and this continues until you are 80.
Therefore, if you are 60, 70 or 80 years old, you are at the best level of your life.
* SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine *.
“To sit alone or with a few friends, half-drunk under a full moon, you just understand how lucky you are; it’s a story you can’t tell. It’s a story you almost by definition, can’t share. I’ve learned in real time to look at those things and realize: I just had a really good moment.”
— Anthony Bourdain, In his Final Interview
OLIGARCHS RUN RUSSIA. BUT GUESS WHAT? THEY RUN THE US AS WELL
by Tim Adams
Veteran senator Bernie Sanders is now part of Joe Biden’s inner circle, and is still fighting his country’s vast inequalities.
After the State of the Union address at the beginning of this month, the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece that argued: “Joe Biden is Bernie Sanders.” By this it meant that, somehow, by stealth, under the cover of darkness, a “democratic socialist” — both words apparently terms of abuse in the WSJ commentator’s lexicon — had invaded the White House and was now making policy for ordinary Americans, interfering in the unjust struggle of their lives, trying to help them get decent jobs and provide them with affordable healthcare. The implication was clear: offshore your assets and offer unhinged prayers to Marjorie Taylor Greene!
Speaking to Sanders last week, I wondered if that was how it felt to him.
The 81-year-old senator for Vermont gave one of his brief, gravelly guffaws, his concession to small talk. “Not quite,” he said. “I do go to the White House every now and then and chat with the president but no, I’m not in the White House. But that’s the Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch’s paper — you know Rupert Murdoch in the UK, right?”
I confirm a passing acquaintance.
“Well, the fact is the Wall Street Journal is shocked — flabbergasted! — that an American president would have the courage to mention in his speech, say, that the oil industry made $200bn in profit, while jacking up prices for everyone; they are shocked to hear that a president wants to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry; shocked to hear a president talk about the need to raise teacher salaries. Joe Biden is far more conservative than I am. But to his credit, I think he has seen what the progressive movement is doing in this country. And he feels comfortable with some of our ideas — and I appreciate that.”
In some ways, the Wall Street Journal was more on the money than Sanders allows. Many of Biden’s proposals did appear to come verbatim from the manifesto that saw Sanders twice beaten to second place in the race to become the Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2016 and 2020 — policies that Sanders has been pressing since he first ran for the office of Vermont senator in 1972, on behalf of the Liberty Union party, and finished third with 2% of the vote. For much of that time Sanders — the longest-serving independent representative in congressional history — sounded a lot like a prophet railing in a wilderness of Reaganite deregulation (he has been arguing for a $15 minimum wage for two decades; it still hasn’t come to pass). In the years since the financial crash, however, and particularly since the start of the pandemic, many more people have listened.
For a generation of millennials raised on digital noise, Sanders became, in 2016, the political equivalent of a rare vinyl record: tangible, authentic, a reliable source of timeless indy riffs. For all but the most self-righteous of those fans — a strident few believed him a sellout for eventually endorsing the “centrist” Biden — he retains that appeal (strange to think that the progressive hero of the land-of-the-next-new-thing is an octogenarian — stranger that both of his most visible political rivals are, too). Sanders has written a new book partly aimed at that millennial generation — its Day-Glo title is It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism — reminding the young of their age-old rights and responsibilities.
The driving narrative of the book is outrage at the obscene wealth inequalities in the world’s richest economy. One of the things that Biden had the temerity — in the Wall Street Journal’sview — to raise in his State of the Union address was a billionaire minimum tax, “because no billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a firefighter or a schoolteacher”. Under the proposed tax on annual gains in wealth, tech billionaire Elon Musk, for example, would have paid upwards of $20bn a year through the pandemic. Sanders would go further, but he concedes it’s a start. In his book he refers to America’s billionaires as oligarchs. He hopes the pejorative will finally start to catch on.
“One of the points that I wanted to make,” he says, “is yeah, of course the oligarchs run Russia. But guess what? Oligarchs run the United States as well. And it’s not just the United States, it’s not just Russia; Europe, the UK, all over the world, we’re seeing a small number of incredibly wealthy people running things in their favour. A global oligarchy. This is an issue that needs to be talked about.”
There are plenty of others. Sanders writes, likably, as he talks — straight to the point, low on personal digression, high on public policy. A keen admirer of his once observed how “Bernie’s the last person you’d want to be stuck on a desert island with. Two weeks of lectures about healthcare, and you’d look for a shark and dive in.” In this determination, he says, he wants to be an antidote to the oligarch-owned American media, which would have its audience think and talk about anything else — celebrities, the ballgame, the latest “woke” meme — than the stuff that might loosen their control of politics and the economy. “We don’t talk about our dysfunctional healthcare system. We don’t talk about income and wealth inequality. We hardly talk significantly about the existential threat of climate. The purpose of my book is to begin that discussion.”
It is one flank of what might yet be the beginning of the closing chapter of Sanders’s unique career, a suitably raucous throat-clearing for a last hurrah. There is another thrust to that campaign. Sanders has just become chair of the Senate health, education, labour and pensions committee. He clearly intends to use that office not only to pursue his primary long-term aim — Medicare for all — but to create some proper political theatre along the way. His opening acts have seen him request the presence before the committee of StÃ©phane Bancel, the chief executive of Moderna, who Sanders argues “has become a multibillionaire” by creating a coronavirus vaccine with government money. Calls have also gone out to Howard Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks, to address his “union-busting” policies and their relation to his staggering personal fortune. Jeff Bezos, of Amazon, a long-term bete noire of Sanders, should also look out for an invitation. Expect TV ratings of Senate hearings to soar.
One of the inspiring things about Sanders’s devotion to his cause — in light of the factional divisions of the British left — has been his grownup willingness to get behind Biden’s programme and try to influence it from within. The two of them have profound political differences, but, as he outlines in the book, a sincere personal respect; their wives get along well. Sanders would probably hesitate to use a term as emotional as friendship for a political adversary, but that’s how it sounds.
“For us to get along was a) the right thing to do,” he says. “And b) good politics. If you’re a smart guy and you want to win an election, why wouldn’t you sit down and work closely with the person who came in second place? The results didn’t go as far as I would like, but there are solid ideas which have been incorporated, in some cases, into governmental policy.”
Having ceded the nomination, he was not interested in any kind of pious sulk that might have divided the Democrats and allowed Trump to return. He is very clear about the existential threat that Trump posed to American democracy. To what extent does he think that threat still will be a factor in 2024?
“Well,” he says, “just before talking to you, I came from a meeting with Lula [Luiz InÃ¡cio Lula da Silva], the president of Brazil. That is exactly what we talked about. He had the same phenomenon with a rightwing authoritarian, [Jair] Bolsonaro, refusing to accept the election result.” He had been discussing with Lula something Franklin Roosevelt argued in the 1930s: “FDR said freedom is not just the right to vote. It is the right to healthcare, housing, a secure job. When [government] works to do that rather than looking after the interests of billionaires, then people will say â˜you know what, I think democracy works’. If it doesn’t do that, bad things happen and Trump and Bolsonaro gain a foothold.”
The 6 January hearings about the insurrection at the Capitol were important historically but had a limited political effect, he believes. “Trump supporters don’t sit around watching CNN. Many of them still believe that the election was stolen and Trump is right.” He points to an ABC-Washington Post poll of a couple of days earlier that, while expressing little excitement about either candidate, had put Trump three points ahead of Biden in a presidential race.
One of the causal factors Sanders addresses in his book is the alarming growth of news deserts in the US: cities and regions where there are no local news outlets at all. In the absence of knowing what is happening in their neighbourhood, people become entangled in the seductive conspiracy threads of social media. But as well as proposing a method of federal funding for local news, Sanders also keeps the faith that social media — a powerful personal campaigning platform for him — can be redeemed. Isn’t there a certain naivety in this? Isn’t the divisive anger that drives the revenues of Twitter and the rest always more likely to be a reactionary than a progressive force?
“Well,” he says, “I think, the more we know, the more positive options are open to us. And in terms of anger, I think people do have the right to be angry. In America right now, weekly inflation-adjusted wages for workers are lower than they were 50 years ago. Should people be angry that their bosses now make 400 times what they make? I know in the UK you have in a lot of strikes and turmoil. It is about the fact that in the last 40 years, 50 years, there has been an unprecedented transfer of wealth, from the working families to the top 1%. Should people be angry about that? Damn right they should.”
The hero in his book is Eugene Debs, five times presidential candidate of the Socialist party of America at the turn of the 20th century. Before Sanders went into politics — when he was living somewhat off-grid in Vermont (“definitely not a hippy”) — he made a documentary about Debs, designed to be sent to schools across the country. He is the figure he has always tried to live up to.
“Debs is almost unknown now, but he was a remarkable man. A great orator, a great organiser. Contemporaries referred to him as almost a Christ-like figure, prepared to give you the shirt off his back. He ended up spending three years in jail for his opposition to world war one.”
I wonder, in relation to this, if any of his early interest in socialist history came from his family.
He suggests not. “My father immigrated to the United States from Poland at the age of 17, without any money at all. He got a job as a paint salesman and was a paint salesman his whole life. He was never a union man.”
What would his parents have made of how things have turned out for their son?
“Both of them died young. To be honest, I think they would have been delighted to discover I graduated college. Being a United States senator, running for president, all that would have been unthinkable.”
And would it have seemed unthinkable for him at the time too?
“It was never about a career,” he says. “When I was in college I got involved in the civil rights movement, then I worked for a union. Those were the things that I was motivated by. Eventually I ended up becoming mayor of Burlington, Vermont by 10 votes. But no, I never thought that I would get elected anything.”
With Sanders making noises about his schedule, this leads us to the billion-dollar — or $15 — question. His book-length manifesto ends with something of a rallying cry: “Let’s do it!” Is he still thinking of another run for the Democrat nomination for 2024?
“I think what’s going to happen,” he says, “is that President Biden is going to run for re-election. And if he does, I will support him.”
And does he think age is a key issue in that choice — for Biden and for himself?
“Age is always a factor,” he says. “But there are 1,000 factors. Some people who are 80 or more have more energy than people who are 30. I would hope,” he says, warming, as ever, to his theme, “that we will fight ageism as much as we fight sexism and racism and homophobia, judge people on how they are and not simply by their age. There are,” he says, “a lot of elderly people with a whole lot of experience who are very capable of doing great work.”
Even the Wall Street Journal should be grateful he still counts himself among them.
THE UKRAINE WAR AND ICBMS: An accidental launch that could end the world is closer than ever
Russia and the U.S. have 700 of the deadliest missiles ever built. A catastrophic mistake would be far too easy
by Norman Solomon
Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, media coverage of the war hasn't included even the slightest mention of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Yet the war has boosted the chances that ICBMs will set off a global holocaust. Four hundred of them — always on hair-trigger alert — are fully armed with nuclear warheads in underground silos scattered across Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming, while Russia deploys about 300 of its own. Former Defense Secretary William Perry has called ICBMs "some of the most dangerous weapons in the world," warning that "they could even trigger an accidental nuclear war."
Now, with sky-high tensions between the world's two nuclear superpowers, the chances of ICBMs starting a nuclear conflagration have increased as American and Russian forces face off in close proximity. Mistaking a false alarm for a nuclear-missile attack becomes more likely amid the stress, fatigue and paranoia that come with protracted warfare and maneuvers.
Because they're uniquely vulnerable as land-based strategic weapons, with the military precept of "use them or lose them," ICBMs are set to launch on warning. So, as Perry explained, "If our sensors indicate that enemy missiles are en route to the United States, the president would have to consider launching ICBMs before the enemy missiles could destroy them. Once they are launched, they cannot be recalled. The president would have less than 30 minutes to make that terrible decision."
But rather than openly discuss — and help to reduce — such dangers, U.S. mass media and officials downplay or deny them with silence. The best scientific research tells us that a nuclear war would result in "nuclear winter," causing the deaths of about 99 percent of the planet's human population. While the Ukraine war is heightening the odds that such an unfathomable catastrophe will occur, laptop warriors and mainstream pundits keep voicing enthusiasm for continuing the war indefinitely, with a blank check for U.S. weapons and other shipments to Ukraine that have already topped $110 billion.
Meanwhile, any message in favor of moving toward real diplomacy and de-escalation to end the horrendous conflict in Ukraine is apt to be attacked as capitulation, while the realities of nuclear war and its consequences are papered over with denial. It was, at most, a one-day news story last month when — calling this "a time of unprecedented danger" and "the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been" — the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that its "Doomsday Clock" had moved even closer to apocalyptic midnight: just 90 seconds away, compared to five minutes a decade ago.
A vital way to reduce the chances of nuclear annihilation would be for the United States to dismantle its entire ICBM force. Former ICBM launch officer Bruce G. Blair and Gen. James E. Cartwright, a former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote: "By scrapping the vulnerable land-based missile force, any need for launching on warning disappears." Objections to the United States shutting down ICBMs on its own (whether or not reciprocated by Russia or China) are akin to insisting that someone standing knee-deep in a pool of gasoline must not unilaterally stop lighting matches.
What is at stake? In an interview after publication of his landmark 2017 book "The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner," Daniel Ellsberg explained that nuclear war "would loft into the stratosphere many millions of tons of soot and black smoke from the burning cities. It wouldn't be rained out in the stratosphere. It would go around the globe very quickly and reduce sunlight by as much as 70 percent, causing temperatures like that of the Little Ice Age, killing harvests worldwide and starving to death nearly everyone on Earth. It probably wouldn't cause extinction. We're so adaptable. Maybe 1 percent of our current population of 7.4 billion could survive, but 98 or 99 percent would not."
However, to Ukraine war enthusiasts proliferating in U.S. media, such talk is notably unhelpful, if not perniciously helpful to Russia. They have no use for, and seem to prefer silence from, experts who can explain "how a nuclear war would kill you and almost everyone else." The frequent insinuation is that calls for reducing the chances of nuclear war, while pursuing vigorous diplomacy to end the Ukraine war, are coming from wimps and scaredy-cats who serve Vladimir Putin's interests.
One corporate-media favorite, Timothy Snyder, churns out bellicose bravado under the guise of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, issuing declarations such as his recent claim that "the most important thing to say about nuclear war" is that "it's not happening." Which just goes to show that a prominent Ivy League historian can be as dangerously blinkered as anyone else.
Cheering and bankrolling war from afar is easy enough — in the words of Andrew Bacevich, "our treasure, someone else's blood." We can feel righteous about providing rhetorical and tangible support for the killing and dying.
Writing in the New York Times on Sunday, liberal columnist Nicholas Kristof called for NATO to further escalate the Ukraine war. Although he noted the existence of "legitimate concerns that if Putin is backed into a corner, he could lash out at NATO territory or use tactical nuclear weapons," Kristof quickly added reassurance: "But most analysts think it is unlikely that Putin would use tactical nuclear weapons."
Get it? "Most" analysts think it's "unlikely" -- so go ahead and roll the dice. Don't be too concerned about pushing the planet into nuclear war. Don't be one of the nervous nellies just because escalating warfare will increase the chances of a nuclear conflagration.
To be clear: There is no valid excuse for Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its horrific ongoing war on that country. At the same time, continually pouring in vast quantities of higher and higher tech weaponry qualifies as what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism." During his Nobel Peace Prize speech, King declared: "I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction."
In the coming days, reaching a crescendo Friday on the first anniversary of the Ukraine invasion, media assessments of the war will intensify. Upcoming protests and other actions in dozens of U.S. cities – many calling for genuine diplomacy to "stop the killing" and "avert nuclear war" -- are unlikely to get much ink, pixels or airtime. But without real diplomacy, the future offers ongoing slaughter and escalating risks of nuclear annihilation.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and (forthcoming in June 2023) "War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine.”)