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A WEAKENING COLD FRONT will bring very light rain to areas North of Cape Mendocino today. However, cool and mainly dry weather will occur across Northwest California through Friday. Thereafter, a winter storm is forecast to impact the region Saturday through early next week, with heavy snow occurring for elevations above 1000 feet, along with hail, sleet, and a few thunderstorms developing along the coast. (NWS)
THE FORT BRAGG HOMELESS MODEL
Good afternoon city and county leaders.
Let me start by thanking all of you for everything you do for your communities. I would like to share some of the Fort Bragg success and ask you to consider implementing a similar approach to your community.
Going back to 2016, the city of Fort Bragg was in a similar situation as most of you are in now. Perhaps we were worse off than others but collectively as a county, I believe we were all in trouble and struggling to get ahead. The issue and plan I am referring to is our approach to addressing the homeless, transient, mental health and substance abuse situation wreaking havoc on our downtown neighborhoods and our economy.
I am sure you are all aware of Robert Marbut and his assessment of our communities and the plan he provided to help us deal with this issue. The City of Fort Bragg took this valuable tool seriously and started implementing his guidelines into our policies. Although his approach was deemed severe by some, or tough love if you will, I am here to tell you it works and the best time to get started is yesterday. But today is not too late.
Attached you will find a power point by our Police Chief Neil Cervenka. The Chief has been a strategic partner in this endeavor and has taken the existing plan and made it his own. In order to succeed, this cannot be done alone and will take buy-in from all of your colleagues. You will notice in the presentation the number of homeless arrests has gone down considerably, but our overall arrests have doubled. When we started on this endeavor, our police department was committing 75% of their time to this demographic. Now that a Care Response Unit (CRU) has taken over an intermediary role, our police can focus on crimes and criminals, thus making our city safer. I could go on for days about the success we are having, but I will let you make your own assessments.
I am reaching out to all of you today because, although we are having success here in Fort Bragg, we will eventually reach a plateau in which we will essentially be working against our neighboring communities in Ukiah, Willits and the unincorporated County. As long as the issues in neighboring communities go unreconciled, we will never be able to fully solve our problems. The problems from other communities will continue to bleed over into our communities until we are all on the same page and sharing a similar approach. Neither I nor the City of Fort Bragg are naive enough to believe we will completely solve homelessness. However, we do aspire to achieve a manageable state where we are no longer chasing our tail. We are close. Imagine the good we can do if in all our communities homelessness is reduced to a manageable state and we can direct more help to those on the verge of being homeless.
Please reach out to either Chief Neil Cervenka or me with any questions or concerns. Together we can and should make a difference, but alone we are left to fight individual battles.
Bernie Norvell, Mayor Fort Bragg
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ED NOTE: According to Chief Cervenka’s presentation Fort Bragg’s Care Response Unit began as a crisis unit for the homeless and now includes mental health follow-up with connection to services such as addiction services, life mentors and placements in the Extreme Weather Shelter.
The CRU co-responds with police officers for homeless related calls and is staffed by two full-time women with backgrounds in education and behavioral sciences. “They are NOT social workers,” adds Cervenka. “They are committed to service and trained in crisis care.
From July to December 2021 there were 157 people arrested for homlessness related reasons which was 53% of total arrests. In the same period for the following year when the CRU was up and running there were 74 people arrested for similar reasons (18% of total arrests).
The CRU has handled 485 cases with 140 individuals served. Ten homeless individuals have been reconnected with family/friends. 22 with vehicles were simply provided with fuel to get home. Three were placed in in-patient rehab with eight more being assisted with rehab.
The City’s “Extreme Weather Shelter” program covered 37 nights from November to this last January with 317 total room-days provided for 82 individuals. In that period there were less than 10 events requiring Police Officer involvement including check-in. Seven individuals from the Extreme Weather Shelter were moved to stable housing.
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MS NOTES: We’d like to think that Mayor Norvell’s optimistic appeal to Mendo’s other City and County leaders to adopt the obviously effective Fort Bragg Model will succeed. But given their history and their steadfast resistance to the Marbut report, we are not convinced that they’ll even read Norvell’s letter or Chief Cervenka’s statistics, much less adopt any of it. Of course, The Sheriff’s Crisis Respone Unit could be a good place to start, even though that obviously helpful program took Mendo more than four years to implement since the time it was first funded by the Measure B Committee. So far we don’t see any evidence that the Continuum of Care bunch has any interest in building on it and none of their wordy reports praising themselves ever mention it.
LIVE MUSIC with 3Point Hitch and the BoonMex food truck this Friday at the brewery. Music is 4:30-6:30PM. BoonmexTacos and the Boonville General Store will start at noon till close. We do have a back up person on standby if for some reason the weather gets weird.
BOONVILLE QUIZ TONIGHT, THURSDAY, MARCH 2. Lauren’s at the Buckhorn, downtown Boonville. The fun starts at 7pm.
ON-LINE COMMENTS OF THE DAY
 My brother overdosed on Fentanyl in Willits. He was 26. Just a kid. Single dad. Left me his daughter. 7yr old. Her mom is a homeless addict in Ukiah as well. Her choice, heroin.
 My condolences, everyone in these parts has a story, a loved one, a mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, cousin or family friend who has one form of addiction or another. People like those who are dealing death to our families, friends and neighbors need to be dealt the steady hand of the law. They need to be locked up for a substantial amount of time that they no longer can deal their poison disguised as drugs to our children teens and families. The people who hide these dealers, and do not report these dealers need to begin speaking out and calling the Sheriff department Tip Lines. Enough is Enough, Take Mendocino back from the death dealers! If you know of people dealing, selling it, trading Fentanyl in our community, call the Mendocino County Sheriff Department: NON-EMERGENCY TIP LINE (707) 234-2100
A LUTA CONTINUA!
Enclosed is my remittance for two more years of the mighty AVA, the little paper with a sling and a stone to topple the corporate Goliaths. As my memory seems to be beginning to fade, I was spurred into action by the red stamp reminding me time's up.
When I read sometime back about Mike Montana's passing, I remembered his kindness towards my family when we lived on the "Rancho" (Navarro) through the 90s. Mike and Lee would have us over to watch 49er games, as we had no TV. Often Fritz Ohm and David Meek would join us to cheer our team on. Mike also kept our cars in service for a modest fee. May his memory be a blessing.
Our proxy war with Russia and Ukraine has once again brought out the threat of nuclear war, reminding us all of the insanity of using weapons that can destroy life on Earth permanently.
I was 10 when I saw a movie at the Pacifica Library called 'The War Game,' a BBC documentary on what would happen if an Hiroshima sized bomb fell on England's Midlands. The effects were described starting 100 km (60 miles) from Ground Zero, moving in 10 km intervals toward Ground Zero. When they got to the part where people's eyes were melting down their face, I had to walk out, sickened knowing something so evil was on this earth.
That the nuclear "club" is large and growing and is run by mentally unstable "leaders" highlights exactly why nuclear weapons should be abolished.
Being a victim of childhood violence, I naturally became a pacifist, knowing in my bones that violence solves nothing besides determining who is a criminal.
I opted out of the death machine at age 17, declining to register for the draft in 1973 when the war was winding down. I read a pamphlet put out by The Resistance (an anti-draft group) that said only 1% of non-registrants faced prosecution, which seemed like the easy way out. And there was no computerized cross referencing like today, where when you renew your driver's license you must prove you are registered with the Selective Service.
After years of marching against wars and missiles and bombs we are no closer to my goal of a nuclear free world. Of course all my anti-nuclear, anti-war and anti-corporate posts on FascistBook never get any likes because I must make people uncomfortable.
Ukraine is a good war because they're white. Yemen will be ignored despite thousands of extremely malnourished children on the edge of death.
The political party that represents most of America does not exist and may not be born until this ever-so slow dissolution of terminal stage capitalism gives up the ghost.
Meanwhile, an ignorant electorate can't figure out both parties are one party, like the mayor of Halloween Town in the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas: Smiley Face on one side of his head and a frowning face on the other. Adam Schiff (less) is only a leftist to the fascists on the right and the deluded. Guess what? What's good for General Dynamics and Raytheon and Boeing is not good for the country.
On the brighter side, I'm happy that the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival has survived, bringing many of my favorite artists to Boont. My days off have changed at work to Saturday and Sunday nights off so I'll be able to do Sunday at the Fair to see my favorites — the sheepdog trials, the parade and the rodeo finals.
Two years have passed since my second wife and childhood friend Melissa died in my arms and I am as lost as the day she left. The first year was total paralysis, last year somewhat less. Living without my partner and best friend hurts, and I can see why many long-time couples pass away in short order once one of them "flies west" as the aviators say.
I need to follow your exercise regime more closely as nothing (almost) would make me more happy than to see that corporate harlot Babylon The Great fall and crash. I've got a feeling it will take a while.
One love and aloha to my Valley friends.
A luta continua! The struggle continues!
THE DAY I met the coyote, I was footing it west across the parched summer expanse of Anderson Creek to Ornbaun Road where the walker resumes pavement. Used to be that Ornbaun, in the dry months, served as a road. Automobiles could drive across the creek from the end of Ornbaun Road to connect with Anderson Valley Way where Pippa Hall's place is now.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY is a kind of 'used to be” place, with the topography of only a few years ago almost unrecognizable today.
THE COYOTE figures heavily in Native American mythology. Indians admired the coyote for its intelligence and humor. I do too, ever since, for no particular reason, I peered into the creek end of a large culvert placed beneath Anderson Valley to drain the winter rains from the east hills into Anderson Creek.
AND THERE was a coyote staring back at me from the other end.
THE COYOTE stared at me. I stared back. I looked away, he looked away. I smiled, I swear he smiled. The coyote didn’t move, I didn’t move. He was maybe twenty yards from me at his end of the culvert, perfectly still, gazing back at me. I wondered how long he'd keep it up. I felt a little foolish in a stare down with a wild creature.
WE LOOKED at each other for long minutes. I knew he was playing with me. I supposed at the time that he would have kept the game going indefinitely, but I finally turned away from him and continued down the garbage-strewn path from the end of the culvert to the streambed, the path that the current residents of the stilt house use as a shortcut home from town, and atheists of all ethnicities use as a garbage dump because only a person utterly without any sense of the world’s splendors could so casually defile such a beautiful place.
EVERY YEAR there’s more consumer-culture detritus for the winter deluges to purge from battered Anderson Creek, and every year, after the rains, the volunteer alders and willows struggling up from stream’s margins are festooned with everything from disposable diapers to hula hoops.
DEAR MR. ANDERSON: "Recently, during a regular account review, we noticed you've only been using a portion of your credit line. To better fit your card usage, we've reduced your credit limit to $5,000. We have kept your credit card limit significantly above your highest balance over the last year to ensure you can continue to use your card as you have been, while providing flexibility for future spending. Sincerely, Capital One”
TRANSLATION: Run a big balance so we can charge you extortionate interest every month.
THE LAST TIME I even had a balance, it was $248 for which this bank charged me $39 in unexplained "fees," and $17.6 percent in interest. Our president strenuously represented the Delaware-based credit card companies all his years in Congress, one of many reasons he emerged from his years of “service” as a multi-millionaire.
MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE said on Monday night that she was attacked by an “insane” woman and “screamed at by her adult son” while dining at a restaurant. The MAGA congresswoman didn’t disclose details of where the alleged assault took place, instead using the purported incident to bemoan a lack of tolerance Americans have for those who hold different political opinions to their own. “They had no respect for the restaurant or the staff or the other people dining or people like me who simply have different political views,” Greene said of her supposed attackers. “They are self righteous, insane, and completely out of control. I was sitting at my table, working with my staff, and never even noticed these people until they turned into demons.” She added: “People used to respect others even if they had different views. But not anymore. Our country is gone.” Greene has recently made headlines by calling for a “national divorce” between red and blue states because she says conservatives are tired of Democrats’ “sick and disgusting woke culture issues” and “traitorous America Last policies.”
POT FARCE LAFFS ON AND ON AND ON
Thursday, February 23 — Aagenda item 2b was published for Monday’s General Government Committee meeting where the Mendocino Cannabis Department (MCD) proposes redirecting $6.8 million in direct grant funding currently allocated to licensees to Departmental administrative costs that “were not known to the department when filing the original application.” These funds are part of the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program (LJAGP) from the state. On the LJAGP Website it reads: “The County of Mendocino proposed to use grant funds to create direct funding opportunities for commercial cannabis applicants and permit holders.”
For the last 15 months or more, local licensees have been told repeatedly that these funds would be made available to them directly to manage expensive and complicated CEQA compliance to transition from Provisional to Annual Licenses. This new request from MCD comes only after just recently informing licensees that despite the plan laid out on page 23 in the County’s application for LJAGP funds, MCD will NOT be processing operators’ Appendix G CEQA paperwork.
With only six annual cultivation licenses in Mendocino County today, it’s not looking good for the licensed legacy cannabis operators Mendocino County, which is why we have called for urgent state intervention. MCA’s full 16-page letter can be read here: https://bit.ly/MCA-Urgent_Intervention_Request
(The Mendocino Cannabis Alliance serves and promotes Mendocino County’s world-renowned cannabis cultivators and businesses through sustainable economic development, education and public policy initiatives. Learn more at MendoCannabis.com.)
On Monday, February 27, 2023, at approximately 3:30pm, Ukiah Police Officers responded to an address on Dora Ave. for a report of a burglary. It was reported that an unknown suspect entered the residence through a bedroom window when the homeowners were away at work. The victim reported that multiple items were taken including a legally owned and registered handgun, an Apple watch, and other personal items.
Officers began investigating the reported burglary and began developing leads. Information received during the investigation led officers to a residence in the 1700 block of Lockwood Drive in Ukiah. Officers responded to the residence on Lockwood Drive and were aware Mark Wolk lived at the residence and was on active Mendocino County Probation for burglary.
Officers conducted a probation search of Wolk’s bedroom and located the exact property that was reported to be stolen earlier in the day on Dora Ave. The handgun was located and was found loaded in Wolk’s bedroom.
Officers obtained video surveillance footage from the 700 block of Dora Ave. which showed Wolk leaving the area with bags of items in his hands. Wolk was also wearing the same clothing at the time of his arrest as he was wearing on video in the area of the burglary. Wolk was arrested and booked at the Mendocino County Jail.
AV VILLAGE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER (March 2023)
We currently have 61 members (47 memberships) and 47 trained volunteers ready to lend a hand!
Happy Birthday to our wonderful members and volunteers: Jillene Barr, David Jackness, Cynthia McMath, Sandra Nimmons, Nancy Wood, Julie Burroughs, Judith Roberto
Call out to Our Wonderful Community: Please lend your skills, passions and ideas for the greater good! We are also looking for folks to help breath new energy into our committees – including the AV Village Events, Membership, Volunteer Committees and more, depending on interests. And we are looking for members to briefly share their hobbies, passions, stories, etc. at Sunday Gatherings. Let the coordinator know if you are interested in either of these – thank you!!
Upcoming Village Events: Events Calendar
Tech Support Update: Thank you to those who gave their input on this topic and we look forward to seeing you at our tech support events! As you can see, we have scheduled an iPhone Support Presentation on the 23rd and based on how that goes we will try for more – let us know what other tech topics you are interested in learning more about! There was also interest in a roundtable tech support event where we help each other and share tips to make our phones or tablets easier to use. I was thinking about scheduling that before one of our Sunday gathering – let me know what you think?
Pilot Membership Assistance Program: With some generously donated money, AV Villages will begin a Membership Assistance program offering a reduced Membership fee to those who might not otherwise be able to join. If you or your family is interested, please contact. If you are interested in joining the Village at the reduced rate, please contact Anica Williams, 707-684-9829 or Philip Thomas, 707-895-3595.
VAL MUCHOWSKI PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS… MALIA!
WHAT CALTRANS IS UP TO LATELY
Check out the Caltrans web site for projects planned in Mendocino County: dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-1/d1-projects
Some of the below listed projects are listed on the above mentioned web site.
The Coastal Commission on 2-10-2023 found no substantive issue with Mendocino County's decision to grant permit with conditions to Caltrans for the Navarro Ridge Safety Project, including but not limited to: increasing roadway travel lanes to 12 ft.-wide, increasing paved shoulders to 4 ft.-wide, installing Midwest Guardrail System, replacing drainage facilities, and removing up to 75 trees along approximately 0.52-mile-long segment of Highway 1 near Navarro Point (Post Miles 41.78-42.3; staging at PM 42.4), between Albion and the Navarro River.
The Coastal Commission on 12-16-2022 also found no substantive issue with Mendocino County's decision to grant permit with conditions to Caltrans for the Navarro Drainage Project along Highway 1, including but not limited to relocating a drainage system to its natural channel, repairing roadway embankment side-slopes, increasing roadway travel lane width to 12 feet, and increasing paved shoulder width to 4 feet along an approximately 0.1-mile-long segment of Highway 1 near its intersection with Navarro Ridge Road between post miles 42.35 and 42.45.
In addition to all these projects Caltrans wants to Rehabilitate Hare Creek Bridge, Replace/Rehabilitate Albion River Bridge, Replace Elk Creek Bridge, "Enhance" Gualala's Downtown, Replace Salmon Creek Bridge, and deal with the Salmon Creek Sandblast Waste Abatement. Little River Bridge is also on the agenda.
Caltrans Approves Richardson Grove Project, Again (wildcalifornia.org) <https://www.wildcalifornia.org/post/caltrans-approves-richardson-grove-project-again?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=c53fab94-bdd1-4850-9665-0ab1d89f6c9d>
For the Thursday March 9, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Virtual Meeting for Jack Peters Bridge Widening use the WebEx link or call the meeting phone number.
WebLink: https://cadot.webex.com/cadot/j.php?MTID=m135d112c071534e8b341d2b94584415e <https://cadot.webex.com/cadot/j.php?MTID=m135d112c071534e8b341d2b94584415e>
Meeting Phone #: 1(408) 418-9388
Access code: 2482 022 7970
For additional information see: https://savehighway1.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/savethealbionbridge/
THE REAL SARAHS: As rising stars in the west coast Americana scene, The Real Sarahs have distinguished themselves as skillful harmony singers and evocative songwriters. With an organic sound that enchants and uplifts the spirit, they share their special gift of vocal synergy. This ensemble creates magic with voices in harmony, acoustic instruments, and the energetic connection between artists and audience. Embracing many genres of music, you are likely to hear threads of folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass, and country running through their songs. Singing from the stories of their own journeys and life experiences, their original music is honest, captivating and heartfelt.
COAST CLINIC’S NEW OB-GYN
MCHC Health Centers is pleased to announce the arrival of Dr. German Cuadra, an obstetrician and gynecologist who is excited to serve patients here in Mendocino County. As a newly trained OB/GYN, he had his pick of where to practice, but when he met the team at MCHC, he said the choice was easy.
“Dr. Smith is amazing. Have you ever talked to her? Do you know all the things she has done?” he asked enthusiastically. “The whole team is great. They communicate well and they don’t compete with each other. I had offers in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Colorado, but this is where I want to be.” He explained that when providers compete, it gets in the way of their ability to improve, but when they work together, everyone learns from everyone else’s experiences.
Originally from Chile, Dr. Cuadra was brought up “surrounded by women,” including his maternal grandmother who instilled in him a strong work ethic and a rejection of gender stereotypes. “She did not believe in macho culture. She had me kneading bread and helping around the house from a young age—I learned early that everyone is equal,” he said. So, working with a team of highly capable women at MCHC (all the medical providers in the Women’s Health Department “Care for Her” are women) will be nothing new for him.
Dr. Cuadra always wanted to be a doctor, even though he is the first in his family to do so. From the time he was a child, he imagined himself working as a rural doctor, “getting paid in chickens.” As he grew up, he realized it is hard to pay the bills with chickens, but he says he volunteers when he can and he continues to value time over money.
Though he knew he would go into medicine, he did not have a clear picture of which specialty he would pursue until his wife had an emergency cesarean section (which resulted in the healthy birth of his eldest daughter). While he was overjoyed with the happy ending, that was not the only factor that helped him decide to become an OB/GYN. It was the whole experience—the urgency, the relief, and the surgery itself. He knew he would be very happy contributing to the health of moms and babies, and that he would also love working in an operating room.
So, after medical school at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri, he completed his residency at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences and St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, New York, where he worked in fast-paced hospitals on high-risk cases and got plenty of time in the operating room.
He loves performing surgery, but he did not want to keep living in a big city where “it takes an hour to drive to Target.” And, while surgery is sometimes necessary, he believes it should rarely be the first option. He was drawn to MCHC because of its rural, Northern California location, but also because it is a federally qualified health center that is structured with a team approach.
“Having a multi-disciplinary team—that’s the way to practice,” he said. “My philosophy is to care for patients’ minds, bodies, and spirits. It is foolish to think that any single provider can know everything… People with different training see different things and this helps us take care of the whole person. I can’t believe I found a place with social workers on site—we didn’t have that in New York.”
Dr. Cuadra says he approaches each patient as if they were a family member, regardless of their circumstances. He said, “Like when I’m doing contraceptive counseling, I let patients know, ‘If you were my sister, I’d say this’.” He tries to make everyone feel comfortable sharing information, and says it all starts with careful listening.
“My goal is always to support a safe and healthy mom and baby. That’s what matters,” he said. Dr. Cuadra’s practice philosophy is an excellent fit for MCHC, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matt Swain, who said, “We are excited to welcome new teammates to expand our services to the community.”
When he is not caring for patients, he enjoys spending time with his wife, whom he credits with supporting him so he could become a doctor, and their three daughters, ages 8, 11, and 14.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, March 1, 2023
ANGEL ECHEVERRIA, Fort Bragg. Vandalism.
MICHAEL LANGLEY, Ukiah. Under influence, paraphernalia.
JESUS MACIAS-SILVA, Ukiah. Misdemeanor hit&run, probation revocation.
CHARLES RAINES, Ukiah. Domestic battery, under influence, vandalism.
MARCOS RODRIGUEZ-TURNER, Ukiah. Parole violation.
RODNEY WEAVER, Laytonville. DUI.
NOTHING THAT’S FIT TO PRINT
by Marilyn Davin
As I sit in my ergonomic chair in my half of the room that is my East Bay home office, I find myself musing about the thousands of souls in this country who at this very moment are doing exactly what I’m doing – trying to save their local newspapers, or in my case its heart: my neighborhood paper’s twin political columns, Democrat and Republican. It’s a sad microcosm of what passes for political discourse today.
The weekly Rossmoor News looks more like a local paper than many that still exist these days, though in reality it’s the in-house publication of the Golden Rain Foundation. It exhaustively covers the scores of activities in Rossmoor and surrounding towns, and if you surveyed the refrigerators owned by the 10,000 residents who live here, you’d find that most have torn-out announcements from the paper on their doors, stuck behind magnets with interesting quotes. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) reads the paper, which unfailingly arrives Wednesdays on every Rossmoor doorstep despite seasonal rain, snow, drought, or inferno. It has an outsized impact on this community of mostly retirees with time on their hands. The many writer residents who contribute to it are unpaid volunteers; Rossmoor’s charter prohibits paying residents for services; the paper’s cost is included in Rossmoor’s monthly Home Owner’s Assessment. The paper’s ad revenue would make most small-town newspaper publishers weep; the two-section weekly is clogged with page after page of ads that aren’t cheap. I know this from writing and submitting obituaries for both my parents in years past.
For decades the Rossmoor News has included two 800-word opinion columns every week. When I began writing for the “progressive” side some 14 years ago, the columns were managed by the 1,000-member Democratic Club of Rossmoor. I managed the publication schedule when I was a board member and helped earnest Democrats who were not writers when they struggled with their copy. I NEVER changed anything, suggested topics if not asked, altered a tone or conclusion, or recommended that an author do so. These are opinion columns. You’re pissed off and disagree? Get over yourself and write a letter to the Residents Forum. Better yet, write your own column. You have a voice: leave opposing voices in peace and raise your own.
Some editorial clouds appeared sporadically on the paper’s horizon over the years; one of them prompted me to quit the board and the Democratic club on the same day following an editorial rift. A new, left-leaning resident had written his column about the so-called civil war in Syria. He had recently visited the country and found much of it inhabited by cheerful, non-warring Syrians. He also challenged the whole Democratic orthodoxy of demonizing Putin and blaming the whole thing on Russia. When he wrote about this in his column the new president of the Democratic club freaked out at this characterization of the American war machine’s latest enemy and demanded that the column be killed dead. I refused; unlike the rest of us, I pointed out, the author had actually been in Syria and this is what he found. He was not defending the Syrian government but rather offering a context for the conflict, bolstered by both his recent personal observations and natural suspicions of American Russia-bashing. I did eventually start writing columns again at the Dems’ request, but with the understanding that my copy not be edited aside from the inevitable brain cramp, like writing 1923 instead of 2023 for the year. (This is, after all, a senior community…)
Fast forward to today. Rossmoor’s relatively new communications director has put the political columns “on hiatus” because of time-consuming and laborious “fact checking.” Still standing and beyond this newly selective scrutiny are columns on happiness (which I read once), gratitude (which I’ve never read, fearing brain damage), and other vacuous, “woke” literary offerings. Only the political columns have become the paper’s problem children.
Milestones along the route of this brouhaha include the Golden Rain Foundation’s most recent board meeting, where political column writers were each granted three minutes to express their thoughts on the matter. When it was my turn I rose and told board members that I found it hard to swallow this sudden “fact-checking” crisis, that column review is the same now as it was 14 years ago when I began writing them. I said that, if I had to guess, I would guess that the editor and her staff were just sick and tired of plowing through a mountain of polarizing columns and hysterical resident letters to the editor every week in today’s toxic political climate. In an earlier “pre-meeting” the editor had shared with us column writers that, following publication of columns on Israel/Palestine, the News is deluged with resident letters, each of which she claimed has to be fact-checked. (Huh?)
So now our little band of a dozen earnest volunteer writers has been tasked with coming up with a proposal to “streamline” the “fact-checking process.” I don’t have the heart to tell my fellow travelers that we’re wasting our time. Though I hope I’m wrong, it’s clear to me that the editor has chosen this intentionally confusing path to dump the columns altogether and free her staff from having to deal with resident politics. In a time not long ago she would have announced that the political columns had outlived their usefulness and simply killed them. But in these times where the appearance of collaboration frees decision makers from the onus of being labeled autocrats, even critical decisions fall victim to foggy group think.
I get it. Today’s heated and divisive politics are hard to deal with – for everyone. Separating the wheat from the chaff in a world drowning in information from often dubious sources is especially vexing for news editors in search of the “truth,” an increasingly elusive exercise. But as I told the board, when times are tumultuous we need more communication, not less. Misinformation thrives – and gloats – in darkness.
Look, this isn’t the New York Times. Aside from in this space, you’re unlikely to read or even hear about it. But this is nonetheless a microcosm of what’s happening everywhere. Zealots may shout from the rooftops; but mainstream politicians whisper.
TWO COVID ON-LINE COMMENTS:
SARAH KENNEDY OWEN: I agree it was Trump who caused Covid to explode. First of all, he denied it existed, thus leading to the initial exposures, as people were not protecting themselves with isolation or masks. Then he dragged his feet coming forward with testing. I mean, if there is no danger from the illness why bother with tests, right? It is my belief many people died without ever even being diagnosed with Covid, thus our estimation of how many died is way short of the mark. So people who had it were infecting others without even knowing they were infected. Then there was the problem that those who got it were not ready for the seriousness of the illness. They couldn’t take care of themselves regarding such basics as getting food or self-medicating, even if they had had an idea of what to medicate with. Hospitals were not ready to treat it and were tragically overwhelmed. It was the classic scenario of an incompetent leader in the cross hairs of a national disaster. Blaming Covid on China is pointless in light of these issues.
* * *
LARRY LIVERMORE: No matter how racist you are, you’d have a hard time convincing any rational person that the Chinese are stupid enough to try waging biological warfare against the US (and/or the world) by releasing a potentially deadly virus in the middle of their own country.
Presumably there would be at least one evil scientist clever enough to realize, “Hey, if we want to wipe out the Americans, maybe we should release the virus, like, somewhere in America?”
And presumably an even smarter scientist would have pointed out that, “Hey, if we release a highly infectious virus anywhere in the world, it will eventually infect us too.”
As Bruce notes, whether the virus evolved naturally or was manmade, any lab leak would have been purely accidental, and if it ultimately had the effect of killing well over a million Americans, well, I don’t think even the most farsighted Chinese germ warfare specialist could have anticipated that in an allegedly civilized and advanced nation there would be that many people who would refuse to follow basic public health protocols because the person issuing them was from the wrong political party or simply because of “mah free-dumb.”
In more advanced nations, including China and nearly all of Asia, the virus exacted much less of a toll because people are mature and educated enough to realize that viruses don’t recognize political affiliations, and also because they trust their governments not to try to kill them. Trump lied repeatedly and flagrantly about the danger of the virus while secretly receiving the best treatment available from modern medicine. Fauci said what he knew, when he knew it, and did his best to save lives; anybody mind-warped enough to think the nation’s chief public health officer was deliberately trying to kill mass numbers of Americans is, well, somebody who probably believes Trump is capable of a) telling the truth; b) acting in anyone’s interest other than his own.
Bottom line: America racked up by far the biggest death total, whether in raw numbers of per capita, precisely because of the anti-intellectual and irrational sentiments pandered to by the Trumpists (and, to be fair, by a fair sprinkling of quasi-leftist New Agers). When the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, the average life expectancy in that country was 37. Since that time, it has more than doubled. Meanwhile, the American life expectancy has fallen dramatically, and is now lower than China’s. I’d say America is rapidly becoming a third world country except that would be unfair to third world countries, most of whom handled the COVID epidemic far better than the good old US of A did.
BACK ON FOOD STAMPS
by Paul Modic
I am now officially poor, having gone full cycle: from dirty hippie living on food stamps, $42 a month fifty years ago, to landed gentry pocketing $273 a month today. Being a scammer most of my adult life I’m overjoyed to have all you taxpayers helping support me in my dotage. Thanks.
What instigated me to sign up for this welfare aid was my homeowner’s insurance increase from $900 two years ago to $2200 last year and then up to $4000-5000 this year. I was kicking myself practically every day for not taking the reduced rate from Costco a few years ago and needed cash help to subsidize the insurance and break this cycle of regret. (Though they honor existing homeowner policies they are not accepting any new ones in Humboldt County because of fire danger. Still available is their car insurance, called “CONNECT,” which will cut your bill by more than half, FYI.)
Enter food stamps, now called Cal-fresh: instead of sending you a pile of Monopoly money every month you now swipe an electronic card to pay for all the pizza, potatoes, and broccoli.
I had no idea I would be eligible for this sweet handout until I got a letter from my healthcare provider, Open Door in Eureka, where I had followed Dr. Hunter from Redway thirty years ago, asking me if I was food secure and needed help to buy it, along with a number to call. I figured I wasn’t qualified because I had money in the bank making a little interest on top of my paltry Social Security, but it turned out to be a small enough income to indicate poverty, though not abject. (About eighteen grand a year is the cutoff point, with expenses like utilities and health insurance factored in.)
Ah food stamps: I scammed them in my late teens and early twenties in California, Indiana, Michigan, and New York, becoming an expert at filling out the forms and getting paid. The first time was when we were hippies camping out at Nooning Creek and the word was that all you had to do to get them was bring a BLM campfire permit from the fire station in Whitethorn to social services (DSS) at the, soon to be demolished, Lloyd Building in Eureka.
Later I lived in Mendocino County which didn’t participate in the food stamp program and just handed out nasty “commodities,” sterile packs of white flour and blocks of unappetizing and tasteless yellow cheese. Have no fear, the county line was just a couple miles away and some of us in Mendo used residences of friends and family in Humboldt for our required home visit, and we received the food stamps.
We got about forty-two bucks worth a month which you could live on in those days if you could also make another twenty somehow. (I made some bull rush mats for a while though “Little Stevie” Doyle was more ambitious and went up to the Lloyd Building, told them he had five dependents, made about $250 a month, and when they caught on to him he went to jail for six months.)
What blows my mind now is my fellow seniors on SSI or SSA who are eligible but don’t apply, why? Do they just not have that fighting spirit of the determined scammer? They had been spending most of their lives out here playing the Royal Scam, marijuana farming, so why aren’t they applying for Cal-fresh benefits now that there’s no more weed money and they are broke old timers?
I asked around and one of them, in her early seventies, said she “didn’t want to rock the boat,” maybe meaning she was grateful to have her $1000 a month in SSI plus Medi-cal, and is paranoid she could lose it if she asked for more?
I asked someone else not getting Cal-fresh food stamps if they wouldn’t feel comfortable swiping a card at Chautauqua, thus revealing their poverty to the checker and others in line? Not me, I’m shameless, and I answered every question truthfully, daring them to deny my claim. (Every item purchased is tracked and stored in a central computer system somewhere meaning my tongue, stomach, and ass I guess are under state surveillance. No, toilet paper is not covered.)
About five weeks after applying, I received my EBT card in the mail and was giddy with delight. I called the automated system to give them my safe word to activate the account, and then some friends to announce my good fortune.
The online application for Cal-fresh (https://www.getcalfresh.org/) is very simple and user-friendly, it even says it’s okay if you don’t have any paperwork, ie tax stubs or other proof of income, you can still apply and use any pronoun or gender you choose.
California wants to take care of us! (As it reams us out expensively every other way.)
* * *
I had lunch with my former food stamps worker, from 1977, yesterday in Arcata and she put out a tasty spread of beans, homemade salsa, guacamole, salad, and chips. (Gary had said the happiest three words on the phone minutes earlier: “Patricia made lunch.”)
She loved her job visiting the Southern Humboldt hippies in the late seventies at their various cabins, teepees, and caves and approved everyone for food stamps. Now almost seventy-five, she recently couldn’t help herself and bought an original food stamp on Ebay, framed it, and hung it on the wall in the living room where we sat and talked for an hour after lunch. (I wonder if any of her former clients remember their home visits with Patricia?)
WE ARE FORTUNATE that Dorothea Lange provided detailed captions for many of her photographs, but some leave us wanting to know more...like with this woman. Is she the owner of this very modest piece of land (an opulent garden paradise for many who lived in tents or their cars) or maybe she is a worker at a larger farm across the road or nearby. In Lange's defense she had just moments to “snap and chat”, and I am sure many people barely wanted to talk to her at all out of pride, anger, or shame.
TALK TO ME OF MENDOCINO
I bid farewell to the state of old New York
My home away from home
In the state of New York I came of age
When first I started roaming
And the trees grow high in New York state
And they shine like gold in the autumn
Never had the blues from whence I came
But in New York state, I got 'em
Talk to me of Mendocino
Closing my eyes I hear the sea
Must I wait, must I follow
Won't you say come with me
And it's on to south bend, Indiana
Flat out on the western plain
Rise up over the rockies and down on into California
Out to where but the rocks again
And let the sun set on the ocean
I will watch it from the shore
Let the sun rise over the redwoods
I'll rise with it till I rise no more
Talk to me of Mendocino
Closing my eyes I hear the sea
Must I wait, must I follow
Won't you say come with me
— Kate & Anna McGarrigle
PRESERVING SOCIAL SECURITY
Social Security stops taxing income at $160,200 a year. No one pays Social Security taxes above that amount, no matter how much they earn.
Republicans held the majority in the House and Senate on multiple occasions, including from 2016-2018 when there was also a Republican president. They did nothing to solve the Social Security/Medicare insolvency debacle, which both parties have known about for decades, and worse, they passed a $1 trillion tax cut benefiting large corporations and billionaires who historically have never paid their fair share of taxes. Stop blaming Joe Biden. The solution George Fowler claims Republicans are offering is to end both programs, either by sunsetting them or privatizing them.
It’s time to make the ultrawealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. No matter how many times Republicans say it, there is no such thing as trickle down. Corporate profits go straight to CEOs and shareholders, not the employees who make businesses function and thrive. Hardworking, taxpaying citizens should be guaranteed the Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned and are entitled to. If that means taxing billionaires, so be it.
I THINK PROBABLY KINDNESS is my number one attribute in a human being...To be kind - it covers everything, to my mind. If you're kind, that's it.
— Roald Dahl
JOHN PHILLIPS WRITES: Your question about where have all the protest songs (60/70’s) gone, got me thinking.
Here are those thoughts:
• The people that sang those songs are either dead or senile.
• While I have some experience with music (17 festival productions), I do not keep up with all the new stuff. Sometimes I see video (e.g. on Counterpunch from St.Clair), and it’s not the kind of music I would look for…lots of loud, simple lyrics, sometimes to the point of “fuck the system” kinda things.
• Part of that speaks to the void of innovative artists in the last couple of decades…again, I don’t look around much, staying within the compound of my past.
• How much “protest” is there anyway? There is Extinction Rebellion and some others I can’t recall at the moment.
• And what is there to protest? As MLK pointed out on the national stage, exploitation is universal; war is only one aspect of that. I imagine if we look closely enough, there are people singing about poverty, oligarchy, capitalism, etc. Maybe not.
• You mentioned that you meet very few “engaged” young people. I see some of that too. The 30 and 40 year olds I know are struggling to stay on top of life’s challenges (esp. without the weed economy). But this doesn’t mean they aren’t well-informed about the bigger or more overriding causes of our universal problems. Hard to write and play songs when everyday is taken up with survival.
• Which plays into the times of past when perhaps we had more time. When I went to college, it was more party than study. I was not rich, in fact qualified for food stamps. It was more the attitude and the atmosphere. Maybe that time gave opportuity to be creative. It also helped that we had major protests and movements (civil rights, foreign war, women’s rights, etc.). Those times were hot and heavy. Songwriting and music was affected by all of this. Maybe the outburst of certain drugs offered insights too.
The protest music that preceded those decades (e.g. Guthrie, Seeger, etc.) gave roots to the Dylans, et al. I think there’s a lot to do with music being a reflection of the times.
That’s all I can think of at this moment. Got to sign off as my electricity is limited until PG&E gets things back up.
From over here, JP, Willits.
THERE WERE SOME PEOPLE who didn't like my being deeply involved with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan and disreputable rock 'n' rollers. I didn't care about that because I was doing what I really believed.
— Jimmy Carter
BEING HERE NOW!
Message Directly from God
The body-mind complex eased out of the shelter bed at 9:30AM, and following morning ablutions, got dressed and headed out. Didn’t win the lottery, but continue to play. Arrived 5 minutes before the door opened at the Plowshares Peace & Justice Center dining room. Excellent chicken and pasta lunch with all of the healthy sides. Walked out to South State Street and waited briefly for the MTA bus, and deboarded at the Ukiah Public Library. Am now tap, tap, tapping away on computer #3 at 1:18PM on Wednesday March 1st, 2023 Anno Domini. Being here now! Alright? Cool.
Craig Louis Stehr
The Divine Absolute constantly works through the body-mind complex instrument without interference. There is nothing left to achieve. Ever.
THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE
The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind happiness
not always being
so very much fun
if you don't mind a touch of hell
now and then
just when everything is fine
because even in heaven
they don't sing
all the time
The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind some people dying
all the time
or maybe only starving
some of the time
which isn't half bad
if it isn't you
Oh the world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't much mind
a few dead minds
in the higher places
or a bomb or two
now and then
in your upturned faces
or such other improprieties
as our Name Brand society
is prey to
with its men of distinction
and its men of extinction
and its priests
and other patrolmen
and its various segregations
and congressional investigations
and other constipations
that our fool flesh
is heir to
Yes the world is the best place of all
for a lot of such things as
making the fun scene
and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
and singing low songs and having inspirations
and walking around
looking at everything
and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
and even thinking
and kissing people and
making babies and wearing pants
and waving hats and
and going swimming in rivers
in the middle of the summer
and just generally
'living it up'
but then right in the middle of it
comes the smiling
— Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from A Coney Island of the Mind, 1955
50 YEARS ON, ‘WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP’ STILL HAUNTS AND INSPIRES
Michael Lesy’s book of historical photographs and found text offers a singular portrait of American life.
by Dwight Garner
Michael Lesy’s 1973 book “Wisconsin Death Trip” is an American oddity, a cult classic for a reason. In a way that few documentary texts do, it makes us leave the baggage of modernity at the trailhead. It forces us back into the inconceivably long nights in rural and small-town America before the widespread use of electricity, before radio, before antibiotics for dying children and antidepressants for anxiety bordering on mania, when events could make a family feel that some nocturnal beast had chalked its door.
The book is a portrait of Black River Falls, Wis., at the turn of the 20th century. Lesy’s method was to blend workaday photographs with horrific local news items that point, page by page, toward spiritual catastrophe. Nearly every person in it looks as if they are about to be struck by lightning.
“Wisconsin Death Trip” is 50 years old this year, and it’s an anniversary worth heeding. Lesy’s unclassifiable book earns its portentous title, and its tone has influenced many disparate works of art. It is a haunting backdoor into history and a raw experiment in feeling. It has never been, as the fissures in American life deepen, more relevant.
The book began its life at the University of Wisconsin, where Lesy was studying for a master’s degree. (It became his doctoral thesis at Rutgers.) At the Wisconsin Historical Society, he chanced upon thousands of photographs taken between 1890 and 1910 by Charles Van Schaick, a photographer in Black River Falls. Van Schaick didn’t think of himself as an artist. His images were work for hire. But when Lesy began to sort through them, they spoke to him. He saw in them gravid documents “created at the secret heart of this culture.”
Lesy chose around 140 of Van Schaick’s photographs and arranged them by theme. He juxtaposed them with short, contemporaneous news items from a Black River Falls newspaper, The Badger State Banner, as well as documents and quotations from other sources, including the writings of Hamlin Garland and Glenway Wescott.
Some of the images are portraits; others show barber shops or timber camps or horses or clusters of musicians. Photography was cumbersome then, and a formal occasion. The photos are grave because few people thought it appropriate to smile. Some of the subjects are dead babies in tiny caskets.
“There are events which arouse such simple and obvious emotions,” W.H. Auden wrote in 1948, “that an A.P. cable or photograph in Life magazine are enough and poetic comment is impossible.”
“Wisconsin Death Trip” reads like a catalog of such events: suicides, arson, derangements, houses thought to be haunted, aquatic beasts that carry farm animals shrieking into rivers, poisonings, ax murders, families wiped out by diphtheria, bankruptcies, early deaths, religious mania, incest, howling wild men from the woods, people found to have been buried alive.
A few selections give a sense of the book’s tonalities:
A woman was recently found wandering about the streets of Eau Claire with a dead baby in her arms. She was from Chippewa County and had lost her husband and was destitute.
Poverty and no work caused August Schultz of Appleton to shoot himself in the head while sitting in his little home with his wife and five children.
The 60-year-old wife of a farmer in Jackson, Washington County, killed herself by cutting her throat with a sheep shears.
The malignant diphtheria epidemic in Louis Valley, La Crosse County, proved fatal to all the children in Martin Molloy’s family, five in number. Three died in a day. The house and furniture was burned.
The 80-year-old mother of an imprisoned man threw herself in front of a train and was cut into three pieces. She was crazed by the disgrace. A cynic would say, and a cynic would have a point, that you could troll through almost any old newspaper over a similar period and compile a comparable list of horrors. But the sheer number of these events in and around Black River Falls comes to feel crushing, and gothic in tone, and suggestive of some collective psychological and social and moral crisis.
One searches for clues, in terms of how to approach and decipher this material. Why did so many people feel the need to pick up shotguns and blow their memories across the floor? There was an economic depression in the 1890s, one that didn’t linger in cultural memory as did that of the 1930s. Banks were liquidated, and people ruined. America was becoming industrialized, shaking the foundations of small-town life. But answers tend to slip through the hands of historians.
“Wisconsin Death Trip” is an imperfect book. Lesy tinkers with some of the photographs and turns a few into surrealist collages, an experiment he has said he regrets. The material from Garland and Wescott seems dated in a way that the news material doesn’t. Snippets of text from “two mythical creatures,” a local historian and a town gossip, are embarrassing. But the book is alive in the hands.
The directors Todd Haynes and Walter Murch have talked about “Wisconsin Death Trip” as an influence on their work. Stewart O'Nan’s novel “A Prayer for the Dying” was directly inspired by it, as was Stephen King’s short story “1922.” The book has given rise to operas; the industrial metal band Static-X titled their 1999 album “Wisconsin Death Trip.” That same year, the British director James Marsh turned the book into a docudrama, a good one, with narration by Ian Holm.
It is no accident that in Cormac McCarthy’s most recent novel, “Stella Maris,” the titular psychiatric asylum is in Black River Falls. There are moments in McCarthy’s novel that speak almost directly to “Wisconsin Death Trip.” The faces in photographs from the 19th century, one character comments, really stare back at you: “Even their smiles are woeful. Filled with regret. With accusation.”
The Black River Falls reference blew right past me when I first read “Stella Maris,” but Greil Marcus pointed it out to me. It makes sense. McCarthy has been known to give copies of “Wisconsin Death Trip” to friends. The book’s news items seem almost like prompts for his novels, especially the pitch-black early ones.
Native American lives are scanted here. African Americans are represented more often, sometimes in neutral contexts, but there is casual racism in the news reports, and scandal erupts when Black men and white women fall in love. Once such story ends, “Police officers from Viola tried to stop the marriage, but the girl being of age nothing could be done.” Two men were arrested, in 1890, for “blowing up a Chinese laundry.”
Residents were “worked up” when a female dance instructor turned out to be a man. In a moving item, a woman who passed as a man for nearly her entire life was found out when she was sent to prison for theft. After the sentence was passed, her wife “fell upon the neck of the prisoner and wept for half an hour.”
Lesy, who taught for three decades at Hampshire College, has gone on to write and curate many other books, but none had the impact that “Wisconsin Death Trip” did. It remains a vehicle for pain and sorrow, a ballad from a forgotten world, a book that rummages around in the marrow of things.
It brings the night in closer, as does McCarthy’s novel. Reading “Wisconsin Death Trip” for the first time in many years sent me back to “Stella Maris” with fresh eyes. Many lines took on new resonance. Here is one:
My guess is that you can only be so happy. While there seems to be no floor to sorrow. Each deeper misery being a state heretofore unimagined. Each suggestive of worse to come. McCarthy also writes: “There’s a lot of bad news out there, and some of it is coming to your house.”
THE BITTER FRUIT OF THE THEFT OF TEXAS
by Ulysses S. Grant
I was bitterly opposed to the annexation of Texas, and to this day regard the Mexican-American war which resulted as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.
Texas was originally a state belonging to the Republic of Mexico. It extended from the Sabine River on the east to the Rio Grande on the west, and from the Gulf of Mexico on the south and east to the territory of the United States and New Mexico — another Mexican state at that time—on the north and west. An empire in territory, it had but a very sparse population until settled by Americans who had received authority from Mexico to colonize. These colonists paid very little attention to the supreme government, and introduced slavery into the state almost from the start, though the constitution of Mexico did not, nor does it now, sanction that institution.
Soon they set up an independent government of their own, and war existed between Texas and Mexico in name from that time until 1836, when active hostilities very nearly ceased upon the capture of Santa Anna, the Mexican President. Before long, however, the same people—who with permission of Mexico had colonized Texas, and afterwards set up slavery there, then seceded as soon as they felt strong enough to do so—offered themselves and the State to the United States, and in 1845 their offer was accepted. The occupation, separation and annexation were, from the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.
Even if the annexation itself could be justified, the manner in which the subsequent war was forced upon Mexico cannot. The fact is, annexationists wanted more territory than they could possibly lay any claim to, as part of the new acquisition. Texas, as an independent State, never had exercised jurisdiction over the territory between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. Mexico had never recognized the independence of Texas, and maintained that, even if independent, the State had no claim south of the Nueces.
I am aware that a treaty, made by the Texans with Santa Anna while he was under duress, ceded all the territory between the Nueces and the Rio Grande— but he was a prisoner of war when the treaty was made, and his life was in jeopardy. He knew, too, that he deserved execution at the hands of the Texans, if they should ever capture him. The Texans, if they had taken his life, would have only followed the example set by Santa Anna himself a few years before, when he executed the entire garrison of the Alamo and the villagers of Goliad.
In taking military possession of Texas after annexation, the army of occupation, under General Taylor, was directed to occupy the disputed territory. The army did not stop at the Nueces and offer to negotiate for a settlement of the boundary question, but went beyond, apparently in order to force Mexico to initiate war. It is to the credit of the American nation, however, that after conquering Mexico, and while practically holding the country in our possession, so that we could have retained the whole of it, or made any terms we chose, we paid a round sum for the additional territory taken; more than it was worth, or was likely to be, to Mexico. To us it was an empire and of incalculable value; but it might have been obtained by other means. The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times, the Civil War in which I played an important role in finally ending.
(Ulysses S. Grant, ‘Memoirs’)
UKRAINE, WEDNESDAY, 1ST MARCH
As Russian forces continue to pound the fiercely contested eastern city of Bakhmut, the Ukrainian military said Moscow is suffering immense losses in the battle and Kyiv has not made the decision to withdraw.
Russia has deployed more experienced Wagner fighters in its assault on the city, where about 4,500 civilians remain, Ukraine said.
Key Russian ally Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko thanked China for its support during a state visit to Beijing, amid warnings from the US that China should not get involved in the war in Ukraine.
Moscow accused Ukraine of launching multiple attempted drone strikes targeting infrastructure deep inside Russia. CNN could not independently confirm the allegations and Kyiv did not respond.
THE POST-TOTALITARIAN SYSTEM touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his or her ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.
― Václav Havel, The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central-Eastern Europe (1978)