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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, March 12, 2023

Light Rain | Arena Sunset | Tree Accident | Hendy Day | Herbs Talk | Edu Meeting | Salmon Canceled | 101 View | Bragg Housing | Willits Theater | Logging Conference | WVFD Fundraiser | Budget Bust | Post Quake | Roundabouts | Hallucinogen Laws | Basketball Tournament | Weed Blame | Mendocino Mill | Played Out | Variety Show | Blue Line | Pet Hooch | Disaster Relief | SNWMF | Folk Heroes | Yesterday's Catch | Cannabis Reform | Kelce Bros | Two Sides | Titanic Report | Marco Radio | Lost Head | Off-Kilter | The Future | Dead Oscar | Kafka Housing | Relax | Silicon Diary | Balboa Street | Civil Unrest | Father Flip | Ukraine | American Breakfast | Expendable Pawns | Zelenskiy Film | Snow | Grey Owls

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ADDITIONAL LIGHT RAIN is expected today with periods of moderate rain. Heavier rain and periods of gusty winds are expected Monday and Tuesday. Drier weather is expected Wednesday and Thursday with more rain possible late in the week. (NWS)

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Point Arena Sunset (photo by Jennifer Smallwood)

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A man was injured this afternoon after a tree fell on him near Yorkville. Medics at the scene requested an air ambulance. Scanner traffic beginning around 11:28 a.m. indicated a 30-year-old man was injured when a tree came down on him near the intersection of State Route 128 and Yorkville Ranch Road. The dispatcher specified the incident is near mile marker 38.21 Highway 128.

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On the Second Sunday of every month in 2023, the Hendy Woods Community is covering the Hendy Woods State Park’s Day Use fee ($8) for local residents from the following communities: Yorkville, Boonville, Philo, Navarro, Comptche and Elk (know your zip code). Enjoy a free visit to the park on us and stroll the old growth redwood groves and beautiful meadows, hike the trails, and unwind along the river! Note: Day use is from sun up to 1 hour after sunset.

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THE MENDOCINO COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION will hold a board meeting March 13 at 10AM. Meetings are open to the public via live stream on YouTube. Find the schedules, agendas, live stream link, and public comment form for all board meetings here:

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On recommendation from California and Oregon agency representatives and industry advisors, the National Marine Fisheries Service took inseason action to cancel ocean salmon fishery openers that were scheduled between Cape Falcon, Ore., and the U.S./Mexico border through May 15.

The sport fishery had been scheduled to open off California in most areas on April 1. The actions were taken to protect Sacramento River fall Chinook, which returned to the Central Valley in 2022 at near-record low numbers, and Klamath River fall Chinook, which had the second lowest abundance forecast since the current assessment method began in 1997.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) has produced three regulatory options (PDF)(opens in new tab) for the May 16, 2023, through May 15, 2024, time period. None of the three options would authorize commercial or ocean salmon sport fishing off California until April 2024. The alternatives were approved by the PFMC for public review today.

On March 21, 2023, the PFMC will hold a public hearing in Santa Rosa to receive public comment on the three proposed regulatory alternatives. The PFMC will then meet April 1-7 in Foster City to adopt final regulations. More information regarding the PFMC meetings and options can be found on the PFMC website at

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Driving North on Route 101 towards Ridgewood Grade (Jeff Goll)

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by Frank Hartzell

Twenty-two small apartments are emerging from what used to be the Colombi Motel, courtesy of Chico developer Bryan McDougal. It’s a promising sign for housing-starved Fort Bragg, but is another step away from an old Fort Bragg fondly remembered by many.…

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We decided to advertise the sale of the theater in our onscreen ads and on the Community Board. It is listed with Coldwell Banker & Loopnet for national coverage. We just imagine a wealthy cinophile swooping in from SF or LA & saving the day. What we really want is a local buyer who knows & loves the theater as much as we do. We still have the desire & energy to train up anyone who is willing. It is the most fun job that you can imagine....except for the book keeping. The extensive improvements that we have made were in anticipation of the movie business coming back & Covid fading from our memories. The 21 Club was installed to attract our older set (People like us who read Facebook). 

It's happening! Hollywood is coming back. We are coming back! Sales are increasing. Attendance is up. The movies are better! We serve alcohol. We have loungers. New carpets. New furnaces for the cold movie goers from the 80s. The place is in great shape waiting for the next owner to step in. I guess you could say that it's a turnkey business for sale. Tell your wealthy friends. People with families to run the place. This is the coolest project that Lois have ever undertaken. Since 2012!

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THE REDWOOD REGION LOGGING CONFERENCE is coming up March 16-18 in Ukiah, CA! 

Get your tickets & plan out your sessions or sign up for a class on Risk Management or CPR Training!

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by Mark Scaramella

Next Tuesday’s Supervisors meeting agenda includes a mid-year budget presentation (i.e., more than two months ago.) In that presentation prepared by the CEO’s office, not the Auditor, there’s a section called “Summary of General Fund Departments Projections by Budget Unit.”

But they add, “This summary provides information on budget unit projections for end of year (EOY) FY 2021-22 and only includes those budget units that are projected to come in greater than $100K, over their NCC assignment.”

There several things wrong with just that opening sentence.

1. They must mean FY 2022-23, not FY 2021-22, otherwise they shouldn’t need “budget unit projections.” 

2. Only the budget units “projected” to be more than $100k over? Projected by whom? Based on what budgets?

3. They are basing their projections on the department’s “assigned” “NCC” (net county cost), not the department’s own budgets. Meaning the CEO’s office has again dictated County departmental budgets based on an arbitrary pro-rata share of the anticipated General Fund revenue, not on the departments’ own budget estimates.

Then we look at the few departments which the CEO’s office says are more than $100k over budget.

“BU 1020 — Executive Office. The Executive Office budget unit anticipates being over budget by $226,539, due to the increase in salaries and staffing needed to accommodate the management of the Payroll Unit and the needs of special projects assigned to the Executive Office.”

The Board was not told that it would cost upwards of $225k to shift payroll duties from the Auditor to the Executive office based on unfounded worries by Supervisor Ted Williams. And “the needs of special projects”? What special projects? 

“BU 1610 — Buildings & Grounds (Facilities). The Buildings & Grounds (Facilities) budget unit anticipates being over budget by $239,530, due to salary increases, energy costs, increased travel & transportation costs, the Judicial Council of California charging $90,000 over what was budgeted, and internal revenue estimates coming in lower than budgeted.”

Salary increases, energy costs and travel and transportation should have been in the original budget; there should be no surprises there. The Judicial Council should pay for their own blown budget. And all underestimated revenues should be explained. 

“BU 2310 — Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office budget unit anticipates being over budget by $503,304, due to the new MOU’s and the changes to premium pay types, longevity pay, and certain paid time.” 

This is just plain wrong. The Sheriff continues to have ongoing budgeted vacancies that will offset a large amount of whatever overrun the CEO’s office is guessing about. The Sheriff also has grants and donations which will further offset any alleged overruns. Did anybody in the CEO’s office even talk to the Sheriff? There are no “new MOUs,” (contracts with Sheriff’s department bargaining units). The only unbudgeted salary increases they got were the across the Board $3k bonuses everybody got which came out of the Federal covid money, not the General Fund.

“BU 2810 — Cannabis Management. The Cannabis Management budget unit anticipates being over budget by $662,000, due to shortfalls on Cannabis fee revenues.”

We think this overrun is probably underestated. Even some Supervisors have declared this budget unit to be a “train wreck,” and “totally bungled.” But as we reported yesterday, the whole subject is beyond our ability to comprehend.

“BU 2860 — Animal Care. The Animal Care budget unit anticipates being over budget by $329,737, due to the average monthly staffing costs are higher than budgeted and revenue estimated to be 61% of budgeted.”

This one deserves its own special explanation. The 2022-2023 budget shows the Animal Care at about $1 million. So this is an extremely high percentage overrun. How could staffing costs be so much higher than budgeted? If it had to do with moving Animal Control out of the Sheriff’s department and into Animal Care, then there should be an offset in the Sheriff’s budget. Why were revenues so badly underestimated?

But that’s all the CEO’s office provided. They did not provide numbers for any other departments. They did not provide the budgeted amounts their overrun calculations were based on. They did not explain the difference between the departments’ budgets and “assigned NCC.” And they did not say over which period these projections were made (half a year? more than two months ago?). 

These pathetically incomplete numbers however show that CEO’s office can calculate departmental revenues and expenses down to the single dollar and make projections based on them, dubious as they seem. Yet the Supervisors continue to pester the Auditor, not the CEO, about timely financial reports. 

If the CEO’s office simply did their job and provided a standard monthly revenue and expense budget report for each department with an explanation of significant discrepancies from the departments (not from the CEO’s office) then the Departments, the CEO, the Supervisors and the public would have a much better understanding of the County’s finances. But the CEO’s office has never provided such reports; the Supervisors have never demanded them. Yet the Board continues to whine that they’re in the dark about the County’s finances. As County employee (and Sherwood Band of Pomo Indians Tribal Council Treasurer) Tracy Wright told the Supervisors last August regarding CEO Darcy Antle’s failure to provide budget info to the Board: “She’s not doing her job. You need to get on her. That’s the final line.” 

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Fort Bragg after the 1906 earthquake

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Like you, I’m happy at the idea of slowing down traffic through Boonville. But I am surprised that roundabouts were approved by the county without first being reported in local media, and with no public input (that I know of). From the sound of it, the access road to my small neighborhood might be part of a roundabout at Lambert Lane that presumably would include the Boonville Hotel parking access, and Farrer Ln. across the street. It seems it might also have some inpact on the Buckhorn and the ice cream store. Whenever I have to use one of the roundabouts that have appeared in the county in recent years I curse to myself and clench my fingers on the steering wheel. I don’t like them. Another concern is the mention of street lighting associated with the roundabouts. How much new lighting will there be, and will it be shielded to prevent light pollution in surrounding neighborhoods? It doesn’t take much in the way of low clouds or fog to reflect light from existing downtown street lights already.

Brian Wood


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AS CALIFORNIA CONSIDERS LEGALIZING PSYCHEDELICS, A Fort Bragg Woman Faces Felonies For Allegedly Selling Mushrooms And Acid Online

by Matt LaFever

With Sacramento reconsidering California’s laws around hallucinogens, a recent arrest and criminal case indicate that Mendocino County’s criminal justice system remains ready and willing to enforce the prohibition on psychedelics.

Heather Baird

51-year-old Fort Bragg woman Heather Baird currently faces multiple felony charges for her alleged possession and distribution of multiple hallucinogens. She also faces misdemeanor child cruelty for “willfully caus[ing] or permit[ing] [a] child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered.”

We will publish a follow-up piece to this initial article providing the totality of Baird’s version of events. When we reached out to her for comment, she was adamant her account be made public to address what she characterized as lies told by law enforcement.

The cultural conversation around psychedelics has radically shifted in the last decade with scientific research touting the therapeutic benefits of hallucinogens. Micro-dosing has become an underground brain hack practiced across industries.

Demonstrating that politics is often downstream from culture, the public’s exploration of psychedelics has paved the way for lawmakers to follow suit. Oregon decriminalized mushrooms in 2020. In 2022, Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative decriminalizing the possession, production, and distribution of psilocybin, psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline for residents 21 years old and older. These votes also approved “healing centers” where psychedelics can be purchased, consumed, and experienced under supervision.

Despite California’s reputation for being ahead of the curve, the state has yet to pass any legislation decriminalizing psychedelics. Cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Arcata have passed a variety of measures designed to deprioritize enforcing psychedelic prohibitions and decriminalizing possession.

As of March 2023, California legislators are in the early stages of Senate Bill 58 introduced by San Francisco Senator Scott Weiner to decriminalize the possession and personal use of specific psychedelics. This bill is sponsored by the Heroic Hearts Project, an organization that connects veterans with psychedelic therapy for addressing their trauma. If passed, Californians could possess, prepare, transport, and use specified amounts of psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline.

With Sacramento reconsidering California’s laws around hallucinogens, a recent arrest and criminal case indicate that Mendocino County’s criminal justice system remains ready and willing to enforce the prohibition on psychedelics

Court documents show that Baird was the center of an investigation conducted by the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force. Investigators claim Baird sold “several varieties of controlled substances” via a website “available for shipment upon payment.”

On February 20, 2023, Baird allegedly “sold LSD and psilocybin-infused edibles to an undercover officer.”

Two days later, investigators raided two locations associated with her finding “commercial quantities of LSD, psilocybin, marijuana, marijuana concentrate, and other controlled substances.”

Baird insists “commercial quantities” is fiction. She told us cops found a minimal cannabis garden, less than a pound of mushrooms, and a random assortment of capsules and chocolates.

As a result of the investigation, Baird’s 12-year-old boy was taken into Child Protective Services custody where he remains to this day. After the raid on her home, Baird was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County jail on February 22, 2023.

On February 24, 2023, Mendocino County Deputy District Attorney Eloise Kelsey submitted what is known as a “bail source review” order asking the court to verify the money Baird would use to “obtain bond [was] not a product of illegal activity.”

An investigator with the task force offered three pieces of information that indicated Baird could very well use money from her alleged drug sales to post bail. The investigator wrote that despite being unemployed, Baird paid $5,000 per month to rent two properties and she drives a new 2022 Toyota Tacoma. These financial obligations suggested to the investigator that “Baird is living well above her financial means” requiring some sort of illegal supplementation of her income.

Baird said this investigator’s claim is wrong. She is employed and pays taxes, she rents an apartment for $2,000 and collects rent from tenants on her farm. Regarding the truck, she sold a previous vehicle to purchase her new truck which she makes monthly payments on.

Baird also allegedly told a task force agent “she would be willing to pay millions to bail out of jail”, a statement that once again implied access to large sums of cash.

Baird said her comment about millions of dollars to the investigator was a reference “to getting my son who I would go to the ends of the earth for.”

Commenting on the officer’s asserted belief in her wealth, she said, “It would be clear to any intelligent human that I didn’t have millions since I’m living in a garage apartment.”

Three days later she was in the courtroom of Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Clay Brennan represented by Deputy Public Defender Frank McGowan. Appearing on a video from the Mendocino County jail, Baird pled not guilty. She says she spent five days in solitary confinement and was finally released without bail.

She is now required to submit to search and seizure of her property (including electronics) at any time, prohibited from possessing narcotics and cannabis, and must submit to a drug test when requested.

Baird stands accused of possessing commercial quantities of Schedule I narcotics and selling them online.

Last May, Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster took to Facebook to publish a press release regarding his office’s conviction of two fentanyl traffickers. The press release hammered home the lethality of the synthetic opioid and the threat it represented to the public. He wrote, “those who get caught trafficking fentanyl for sale in and through Mendocino County should not expect leniency when – not if — convicted.” He criticized Sacramento for adopting sentencing guidelines that would reduce drug traffickers’ prison sentences by as much as 66.6%.

Less than a year after DA Eyster condemned the scourge of fentanyl, his office is taking a Fort Bragg woman to court for a drug that could very well be decriminalized during California’s 2023’s legislative session.

Heather Baird is known on the coast for her work with the Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund supporting local children for seven years. She ran a non-profit under their umbrella and “a free thrift store for a year during the pandemic.” Baird received a Mayoral Commendation from Fort Bragg Mayor Lindy Peters in 2017 for volunteering to work in Paradise, California after the tragic fire. Neighbors recall her efforts to gather raincoats, winter coats, boots, and sleeping bags for the needy.

In the aftermath of her arrest, she was evicted from her home, her assets were frozen, and her 12-year-old son was taken into the custody of social services where he remains.

Bairds supporters are mounting a letter-writing campaign to the District Attorney’s office demanding the charges be dropped citing her work in the community, fentanyl’s clear and present danger, and the decriminalization of psychedelics. On April 6, 2023, multiple local bands are playing a benefit concert to raise funds for Baird to assist in her legal defense.

Baird will return to court this Monday, March 13, 2023, to set a date for the preliminary hearing. These pre-meetings provide an opportunity for prosecutors and defense attorneys to negotiate, and possibly propose a plea bargain that could resolve the case.

She is determined to tell her side of the story and get her son out of the foster home Child Protective Services placed him in. “The pain and suffering that they are placing on him is cruel and unnecessary.”

Mendocino County’s Probation Department is conducting a pre-trial risk assessment examining whether Baird’s history, age, and alleged criminal conduct make her a suitable candidate for probation.

From this case, the Mendocino County public knows one thing for sure: whether it’s fentanyl or shrooms, when DA Eyster warned those selling illegal substances to not expect leniency, he must have meant it even if those substances might soon be legal.



A lot of people in this country wouldn't attend a wedding if there was no champagne. We are an alcoholic culture, historically. That's our addictive drug of choice. It's so ingrained in our society that a TV comedy about addicts taking their drugs every week isn't ever questioned. If "Cheers" had been about a bunch of heroin addicts, I'm thinking it would never have made it to the air, yet heroin and alcohol have more in common than not. Moving from a mind-blotting depressant to a non-addictive substance that promotes a sense of wholeness and connection with the universe doesn't seem like a bad thing to me.

Too bad it doesn't work like that. The same sort of fantasies fueled the idea that vaping was better than smoking tobacco but what really happened is that, after decades of constant anti smoking campaigns, there are still smokers but now there are people vaping added to the smokers. No one gives up their dearly held vices by substituting another vice. And meanwhile a whole class of vice without worrying about the consequences will be added. You don't get rid of alcohol. You just add other things. So now you get alcohol and pot and psychedelics and whatever someone wants to sell the delusional.

You live in a world of homeless addicts, murders and robberies involving drug dealing of one kind or another, legal drugs that turned into the "opiate crisis", fentynal being an international trade that subsidizes violence in countries around the world, yet without even a pause to think you embrace more.

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No doubt that our local economy is in shambles. It’s been one resource extraction or manipulation after another: otters, whales, fisheries, timber, grapes and weed. Luckily a lot of the natural beauty has been preserved or conserved (like a good jam) so that the tourists and big city money continues to flow through Mendoland.

I’m now seeing many of the mom-and-pop types going back to work at regular jobs. Mostly in our education sector, which is wonderfully in need of staff.

But many of the so-called “mom-and-pop” weed folks are not your average struggling local folks. They are transplant trust-funders from Argentina and Chicago who have multiple permits and Hannah Nelson in their back pockets. These are the same folks who probably already made it to the permit system finish line cuz they were able to grease the wheels.

It seemed to me that it was very convenient to blame our problems on the critically inept Mendo County weed government officials when the price of black market ganja was still relatively high. Now that the price (black and white market) is settling into a more realistic long-term value, then it’s just pathetic and sad to throw all the blame on Nevedal and her band of chronic document misplacers. It’s like all the Mendo liberals blaming their problems on Trump.

Kirk Vodopals


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Big River Mill, circa 1868 (photo by M.M. Hazeltine)

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Agreed, Kirk Vodopals. Ever since legalization in 2017, cannabis has been a joke. A sick joke. Nothing but smoke and mirrors. Con artists everywhere. Everyone pretending to be an “expert.” Every con artist pitching for investors. 

Also, carpetbaggers and scallywags from outside the Mendocino County, like the ones at Flow Kana, looking to make our local farmers into sharecroppers in a tenant farming system.

Unfortunately, the casualties are real. So many of Mendocino County's small farmers have gone out of business. Most were simply supporting their families. Even in the best of times, most weren't rich. Most were just subsistence farmers just scrapping by.

The Emerald Triangle is the “Appalachia of the West.” Our poverty statistics are shocking. One in two residents qualify for Food Stamps. One in four qualify for Medi-Cal.

Our fisheries are fished out. Our forests are clear-cut. We have no manufacturing. We have no tech. We have no research, no science. We have no pear orchards anymore, no walnuts either -- no agriculture -- except for wine.

We have no railroad. Our water is exported to Sonoma County.

You take away cannabis and we have nothing. Nothing except tourism, government employment, and healthcare.

And that, my friend, is not a diversified economy.

Tourism, government, and healthcare? Hell, we make nothing!

We just spend money we don't have!

John Sakowicz


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To whom it may concern,

I'm letting a few people know what's going on here in Fort Bragg.

I'm the one mentioned in the piece below, who wrote the FB city manager and chief of police about the Thin Blue Line Flag / Gang symbology displayed on FB patrol cars.

The 1st link is one I attached to the email to the city of FB. The 2nd is the Advocate news piece about the Blue Line flag, in response to my email.

Not very subtle or creative are they?

More of same ThinBlueLine Gang Symbology in Fort Bragg.

Wondering why none call 'em out on this!

Rob Somerton


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Hooch is what we lovingly call a big ol’ goober dog! And we love the goobers. Oh yes we do! Hooch is happy, playful and energetic. He loves to amuse with toys, and he’s over the moon when around people. Hooch would love to take a basic dog training class to brush up on his manners — especially walking politely on-leash. Being a big, fun dude, Hooch will need plenty of space to run and play. He will reward you with many, many slobbery kisses, and look at you with his big, soulful peepers. Hooch is a Mixed Breed, 1 year old male, weighing in at 80 adorable pounds. Head over to to read more about Hooch. And — you can begin the adoption process on our webpage. 

Visit us on Facebook at:

For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453 in Ukiah, and 707-467-6453 in Ft. Bragg. 

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President Biden has declared that an emergency exists in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from severe winter storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides beginning on March 9, 2023, and continuing. 

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Fresno, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Mateo, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne, and Yuba.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures (Category B), limited to direct Federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding. 

Deanne Criswell, Administrator of, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Andrew F. Grant as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas. 

For further information media should contact the FEMA news desk at (202) 646-3272 or

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SNWMF, Boonville Fairgrounds, June 16-18, 2023

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LE VENT DU NORD (“the north wind”) 

Award-winning, beloved by audiences worldwide, and highly acclaimed, Le Vent du Nord (“luh von du nor” - close enough!) is a leading force in Quebec's progressive folk movement. With over two decades of experience, eleven albums, more than 2000 live performances, and numerous prestigious awards, it's no surprise that the musicians of Le Vent du Nord are hailed as “Quebec's Reigning Heroes of Folk.” The group's vast repertoire draws from both traditional sources and original compositions, delivering a broad range of global influences with hard-driving rhythms, strong voices, and great harmonies.

The band members play a rousing assortment of instruments including the fiddle, guitar, bouzouki (a large member of the mandolin family), keyboard, button accordion, bass, and hurdy-gurdy, a string instrument that produces sound by a hand-crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The band members' most compelling instruments, however, are their voices, and they will sometimes put aside that assortment of strings and keyboards to offer a cappella in rich harmony.

Although most of their songs are performed in French, you don't need to understand the lyrics to resonate with these superb musicians in an unforgettable performance!

As the Syracuse News Times put it, “If you've seen them before, you already know. And if you've never seen them, words won't do them justice. Le Vent du Nord is one of the best bands touring today, no matter your musical taste.” 

After three years of bookings, postponements, and rescheduling, we can't wait to see them finally take the stage! 

Because Le Vent du Nord is a group of such renown and because they had to cancel again last spring due to Covid, we have booked the large-capacity Ukiah High auditorium in anticipation of a hearty audience of music lovers. If you are not already a season subscriber, may we recommend that you buy tickets as soon as possible.

Tickets for non-season subscribers are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Advance tickets are available online at the UCCA website and at Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah and Mazahar in Willits. (Only cash or check payments are accepted for tickets at the stores.)

As part of our on-going educational outreach program, free tickets are available to youth 17 and under when accompanied by an adult, and to full-time (12 units) college students.

Free tickets are contingent on availability and must be reserved in advance by calling 707-463-2738 with name, phone number and email address.

For more information, please contact us at 707-463-2738 or at

By popular demand, tickets are already available on the UCCA website for the grand finale of our 75th anniversary season with AJ Lee and Blue Summit on April 16, 2023, 2:00 at Mendocino College.

We are deeply grateful to our season subscribers, our donors, and our advertisers, for it's only because of you that we continue to bring superb talent to the Ukiah stage year after year.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, March 11, 2023

Burgess, Casey, Domanowski

ERIK BURGESS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

HUNTER CASEY, Fort Bragg. County parole violation.

MICHAEL DOMANOWSKI, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, county parole violation.

Duman, Hoaglin, Ianuzzi

ROCKY DUMAN, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, failure to appear.

FOX HOAGLIN, Covelo. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.

ANDREW IANUZZI, Clearlake/Ukiah. Parole violation.

King, Livingston, Martin


KIMBERLY LIVINGSTON, Fort Bragg. Possession of personal ID with intent to defraud.

JENNIFER MARTIN, Ukiah. Parole violation.

Olstad, Palmer, Rohloff

RICHARD OLSTAD, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.

TIMOTHY PALMER, Willits. Vandalism.

AUGUSTINE ROHLOFF, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

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A HUMBOLDT COUNTY “CANNABIS REFORM INITIATIVE” which will be on Humco’s March 2024 ballot aims would “eliminate mixed-light and indoor farming, limit the number of permits the county can issue, cap farm size to 10,000 square feet and only allow one cultivation permit to be issued per person or corporation.” Apparently, the initiative has drawn considerable opposition from Humco pot growers and the Humco Supervisors.

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There is no good way to lose a 16-year-old. That is a given. Two juniors burst into a freshman’s class at Montgomery High School and attacked him. The freshman responded, lethally, with a knife he was not supposed to have. There are two sides to this story, and so far I have seen only one in The Press Democrat. Two against one. Older against younger. Intruders in the freshman’s class. There is plenty of blame to go around.

I was bullied for years in school. I never had the courage to respond because I was a victimized girl in the 1950s. I understand the idea that I have to do it myself because no one else will protect me. I am old now and the scars I bear from those days still pain me.

There are two sides to this story. Please give us the perspective of both.

Marian McDonald


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MEMO OF THE AIR: Götteryämmerung

“True friends stab you in the front.” -Oscar Wilde

Here's the recording of last night's (2023-03-10) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA) and

That show is more like I'd like the show to be than it's been in awhile. Lots of longish creative work, including the Gabriel Garcia Marquez story Louis Bedrock translated into English and sent; it's another one about Ana and her sex adventures on the island. There's Del, Ezekiel, Amanda, Paul, Douglas, Lorrie, Laura, Louise, Kent… And I see Clifford, Craig, Molly, Sky, Sebastian, W.J., John, Sam, Bill, Norman, Jean, Mark, Nate, Diedra, Carol, Travis, Erik, wow, so many and so much. Thanks! Let's do it again next week. And Alex Bosworth called on the phone after a self-described comical butt-hurt hiatus of like two years and we parted on an up-note for a change, so, good omen.

Email your written work and I'll read it on the very next Memo of the Air on KNYO.

Besides all that, at you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:

First things first: here's Physics Girl's entire YouTube channel. Knock yourself out.

Here's what's going on with Physics Girl now, told by Simone Giertz because she can't tell it herself. Get out your hankie; this is gonna wreck you. Get out a large t-shirt for a hankie.

And help her, please.

Marco McClean,,

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by Amelia Nierenberg

On Sunday, March 12, most people in the United States will “spring” their clocks forward by one hour, heralding the end of standard time (with its brighter mornings and darker evenings) and the beginning of daylight saving time (with its darker mornings and brighter evenings).

But according to polls, most Americans don’t like changing the clocks twice a year, and the days after the switch are often a turbulent time for public health.

As a result, a growing cadre of scientists, politicians and business leaders have been urging the country to stop changing the clocks altogether, and to pick one permanent time system. In fact, the Senate passed legislation in March 2022 that, if approved by the House and signed by President Biden, would make daylight saving time permanent.

One issue: Many scientists think a permanent switch to daylight saving time is a horrible idea.

The arguments for permanent daylight saving time

The claim that darker mornings and brighter evenings would be a boon for public health has not been well studied, in part because it’s near impossible to conduct national experiments on the topic. And in fact, many related studies are limited and sometimes contradictory.

Nevertheless, a loud group of business leaders, academics and bipartisan senators have suggested that a permanent switch to daylight saving time would be beneficial for most people in the United States.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has been one of the most vocal champions of the switch, arguing that Americans shouldn’t have to suffer the sleep loss or hassle that comes with changing the clocks twice a year. Brighter afternoons, he and other senators have said, will make people more productive, well rested and happier.

Some limited yet related research seems to support that claim. In one study from Denmark published in 2017, scientists analyzed a psychiatric database of more than 185,000 people from 1995 to 2012. They found that the fall transition to standard time was associated with an 11 percent increase in depressive episodes, an effect that took 10 weeks to dissipate. The spring switch, by contrast, had no similar effect.

There are economic interests as well. Some lobbyists in the retail and leisure industries have argued that more light in the evenings would give consumers more time to spend money — through shopping or golfing, for instance.

And some advocates say that permanent daylight saving time might also lead to savings in energy, since people won’t have to turn their lights on until later in the evening (though most research disputes that claim, or finds only a minor effect).

Proponents also argue that lighter evenings would translate to fewer robberies and safer roads for pedestrians. And permanent daylight saving time in general would mean fewer fatal car crashes.

“Darkness kills; sunshine saves,” said Steve Calandrillo, a law professor at the University of Washington who has conducted economic research into daylight saving time. He said that the evening rush hour is already dangerous: The roads are crowded, drivers are tired after work and they are more likely to have alcohol in their systems.

But dark roads are only one factor in car safety.

The arguments for permanent standard time

Several coalitions of scientists, including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, on the other hand, argue that standard time (with its brighter mornings) is more naturally aligned with the progression of the sun, and therefore with the body’s natural clock. However the studies in favor of this argument similarly do not prove cause and effect.

Scientists say that a permanent switch to daylight saving time might throw people’s circadian rhythms out of whack, leading to unintended health consequences.

Bright mornings help people wake up and stay alert; dark nights allow for the production of melatonin, the hormone that triggers sleep. When it’s too light at night, it can be hard to fall asleep. When it’s too dark in the morning, it can be hard to wake up. Together, both circumstances could lead to sleep deprivation.

One 2019 study, which looked at how light affects people at opposite ends of a single time zone, found that an extra hour of natural light in the evening led to an average of 19 fewer minutes of sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a range of health conditions, like obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

This “mismatch” between your internal clock and environmental cues, said Dr. Anita Shelgikar, a professor of neurology and director of the sleep medicine fellowship program at the University of Michigan, can disrupt your circadian rhythm.

Light cues from the sun also regulate metabolism, insulin production, blood pressure and hormones. And your circadian clock helps to control your immune system, so being out of whack during daylight saving time can wear down your body’s natural defenses.

“The idea is that you’re off-kilter,” said Dr. Beth Malow, a professor of neurology and pediatrics and the director of the sleep division at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

While no study has proved that standard time is best for human health, most experts agree that circadian misalignment can carry higher risks of some serious health conditions, including obesity, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular issues, depression and even cancer. A loud chorus of sleep researchers even suggest that resetting the clocks by just one hour during daylight saving time could trigger those same outcomes.

What the future holds

The movement to enact permanent daylight saving time is gaining momentum. More than a dozen states have passed legislation that would adopt permanent daylight saving time, and are now waiting for a federal greenlight. (Hawaii, most of Arizona and U.S. territories like Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are already in permanent standard time.)

But if history is a guide, a widespread and permanent switch to daylight saving time would not last long. The United States already tried it, in 1974. After widespread discontent, the country went back to flipping the clocks twice a year. Russia tried it more recently, too, but ended the policy as public support of the change plummeted.

(NY Times)

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MAUREEN CALLAHAN: The Academy keeps performing CPR on a dead patient. As they do in the movies, someone needs to melodramatically grab their shoulders, shake them and shout: The Oscars are dead, you idiot! They're dead and they're never coming back! If you want to know when exactly the Oscars breathed its last breath, look to one year ago this weekend: After slapping Chris Rock onstage, Will Smith accepted his Best Actor Oscar to a standing ovation. A standing O! That still shocks me, but then I remind myself: This is an industry that turned a blind eye to Harvey Weinstein for decades. A crowd that gave child rapist Roman Polanski an Oscar for Best Director in 2003 and a standing ovation in absentia. A town that regarded Woody Allen as a misunderstood genius until that was no longer tenable.

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FRANZ KAFKA could never have written as he did, had he lived in a house. His writing is that of someone whose whole life was spent in apartments, with lifts, and stairwells, and muffled voices behind closed doors, and sounds through walls. Put him in a nice detached villa, and he'd never have written a word.

—Alan Bennett, 1988; from a Diary entry

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by Katie Norton

Sunday, January 25, 2009 — My footsteps pound the hard packed sand as I run on the beach, fog swirling, the sound of the waves keeping time with my breath. The office job in Silicon Valley, on the other side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, is never off my mind, but today is the weekend and I will wring enjoyment out of every second. Spending a wintery day outside renews the spirit. We are in a severe drought, but I look on the bright side, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, trying not to think about what the lack of rain will do to the water supply. I think about the triathlon I plan to enter in a few months, running along the beach on a natural high, not a great athlete, but taking it one step at a time. Training is a zen-like pursuit in which you strive to do your best in the moment. You never can attain perfection, there’s always something new to keep working towards. Heaven! 

All this simply distracts me from the coming storm on Monday at work, where I anticipate possible layoffs. Due to the global economic crisis, it’s likely there will be a layoff at the office this week. Not sure if I might be cut, rumor has it the firm is planning to move our department’s work to the Atlanta office. No matter how fabulous my performance reviews have been, that can’t save me from a surgical restructuring where my position will be eliminated. The only saving grace is that I also work for the Asia group, which seems to be doing well.

Monday, January 26

My suspicions prove correct. Monday is a bloodbath. Rich Elman, my Senior VP, is on his annual ski trip in Vail. An executive meeting is set for Monday morning, with a dial-in for those who cannot attend in person. Rich dials in to the meeting from Vail, then he calls back to lay off two people in my department, Ray and Nancy, my friends and co-workers. After hearing the bad news from Rich by phone, Ray transfers the call to me. Rich tells me that in five minutes all employees will receive an email from the firm CEO announcing layoffs. Rich says that Nancy has been cut, but that I was safe. I stifle a sigh of relief, and feel very bad for Nancy, Ray and the others who have been laid off. Rich says he tried very hard and negotiated as best as he could over the weekend to try and find Nancy and Ray other positions in the firm. As expected, most of our department’s work is being moved to the Atlanta office. Rich is senior enough to keep his position. Luckily a year ago I sought out extra work, and the fact that I’m part of the Asia group is what saves me. 

Despite the layoffs, the company seems to have plenty of business and I assist the Asia group with a billion dollar merger that has me running from conference room to conference room. I spend the day switching from crisp professional in the conference room with clients, to shoulder to cry on for the co-workers who are leaving. Compartmentalization of emotion is a necessary skill for anyone hoping to survive. 

Today is the first day of Chinese New Year and some people say it’s a bad time to do layoffs. I take it as a lucky sign that I still have a job. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted, headachy and my heart is pounding. I run for an hour after work, which helps calm me down. 

Tuesday, January 27

I’ve been invited to the Asia group’s luncheon to celebrate the signed merger. Team Building! As hell rains down at the office, I sit at the very posh Town Bistro. When I arrive at the restaurant, I act blasé. Attitude is everything among the rich. They eat the weak. The Asia group didn’t lay anyone off, so they decided to go ahead as planned. We all feel a bit guilty. I feel doubly guilty, as I am only peripherally involved with this group. 

There are about 20 people at the luncheon. Sami Khan is usually traveling in India, but today he happens to be in town. As the group is seated in a private dining room, Sami, a Type A to the max, says “I’m so glad to be back. This is the greatest country in the world! When I got off the plane yesterday, I could have kissed the ground!” Then he madly launches into a story about his friend who had survived the recent Mumbai terrorist attack in the Oberoi Hotel by pretending to be dead and hiding under a pile of dead bodies for 24 hours. Lovely luncheon conversation. But it is interesting to hear about the Mumbai terrorist attacks from a prominent person such as Sami who has an insider view of things. 

He practically invented the entire outsourcing to India phenomenon. When comedians on TV make fun of the Indian call centers I think of Sami. He’s one of the people who got it all started. Now look at what it’s become. Sami runs with the Top People in India. I could listen to him talk all day, he’s quite fascinating, although he’s obviously on adrenaline. He needs to stop and take a deep breath, but he’s the type who never will, the exact antithesis of a calm, contemplative Indian. The manager of the Asia group, Larry Joseph, looks a trifle bummed that the special luncheon is starting with an extended discussion of the death and gore of the terrorist attacks. 

The food is superb. Appetizers: tiny crackers with minced ahi; skewered pesto chicken bites; cheese puffs; sausage bits. 

We have a choice of salad or truffled turnip soup as the first course. I have the salad, hearts of romaine with fresh pears, walnuts and bacon bits in a buttermilk dressing. It’s now cool in places like this to call ranch dressing “buttermilk” dressing. Ranch dressing used to be called buttermilk dressing. Everything old is new again. One of the executives in the group sends back her salad asking for a new one without bacon bits, as she is a vegetarian. The fact that the salad contains bacon is stated on the menu, but she obviously didn’t read it and makes double work for the waitress. High level executives who work on billion dollar mergers can’t be expected to read a menu.

Sami looks at me and says to the entire table, “In India, you would never eat with your left hand.” Left-handed me placidly continues to eat. I’m not going to let superstitions from India intrude on my lunch here in America, even if the guy making the comment is way above me on the office hierarchy. I don’t even take offense at this because Sami is so hyped up from working 24-7 and jet lag and all and he isn’t trying to be mean, his mouth just worked faster than his brain. If I ever go to India, I’ll keep it in mind, but for now I’m left-handed and proud of it. Left-handed people’s brains work differently.

I have survivor’s guilt about the layoffs, but I can’t let it show here.

Wednesday, January 28

Another sad, dragging day at the office, but Rich Elman wants to use our department’s team building funds, which were allocated a year ago. Use ‘em or lose ‘em. Rich wants to go to Chef Fong’s for the special Chinese New Year Banquet. He invites laid off Nancy and Ray to attend, who both decline, politely, to their credit. They probably don’t want to burn any bridges.

The week the staff is decimated, I’m invited to two expensive restaurants. 

The first thing I see after ascending the stairs to the private dining room is a suckling pig, cooked to golden brown perfection, on display in front of a crowd of the Very Affluent. All seats are taken. The entire room is packed full. Chef Fong is standing there with a microphone, emceeing the event. It is a 10 course Chinese New Year’s Banquet and each dish is more complicated than the last. He describes the preparation of each dish in great detail as waiters run into the room bearing trays aloft and efficiently distribute the plates to each guest. Like a Roman bacchanal, there is a different wine to accompany each course. The seating is family style at large round tables with a lazy susan in the middle. They put strangers together to fill up the tables. 

At my table, seated next to me, is Rose Fong, wife of Chef Fong. One of their sons is a Hollywood film director, a young up and comer. Rose speaks proudly about him. I spend three hours chatting with the mother of a film director at a fabulous Chinese New Year’s Banquet. 

Thursday, January 29

Today at work we have an All Employee meeting, led by firm CEO Frank Taylor and his right-hand man, Sam Waters. The laid off have cleaned out their desks and gone. This meeting is for the survivors. Our largest conference room is packed full. I stand at the back of the room as I can’t get a seat. Frank opens the meeting by saying, “It is always difficult to size a company.” (Oh, is that what they call it?) He then walks us, like an economics professor, step by step through the mortgage crisis which leads to the credit crunch and thus the global economic crisis. Nothing he says is anything we haven’t read or heard on the news, but the way he recaps it neatly makes it very easy to understand. He then says that our clients are hurting very much and have been giving us less business than they had been. He says it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The firm is positioned to take advantage of the turnaround when it happens, better than most firms. Frank and Sam both express sincere regret at having to lay people off and they acknowledge that us remaining employees probably feel terrible and miss our friends who have been laid off.

We have been invited to submit questions beforehand. I wonder what sort of fools would do this. You’d have thought all those idiots would have been part of the lay-off. But no, apparently there are questions. Frank reads from the slip of paper: “Is management going to feel this? Well, let me tell you, we’ve cancelled our Lake Tahoe retreat this year.” I guess when you’re up in the stratosphere, that’s your idea of suffering, cancelling the annual executive meeting at Tahoe. 

I thank God, my guardian angels, the Universe, for looking out for me, as I go through life one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, keep on keeping on. I pray that my two laid-off compadres, Ray and Nancy will be ok. 

Friday, January 30

I survive! It’s been a helluva week. I leave work and drive over the hill toward home. It feels good to get back to Santa Cruz with the weekend stretching before me. Got paid today. I pay some bills on line. 

I open the windows, taking deep gulps of the fresh, clean, cold, ocean air, listen to the wind chimes on my deck. In the morning I’ll run for miles on the beach.

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Balboa Street, SF, Looking West (photo by Byron Spooner)

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I am not a market guy, but I do know that something big has to happen soon. The ship cannot be righted without capsizing first, or at least taking on a whole lot of water and losing half its crew, passengers, and cargo.

After the “pandemic” orgy of free government money for all who were stomped into poverty, forced out of their crappy jobs that barely paid the bills before…for three years now in many cases, can only result in an end to logical financial functions.

Add to this that the last drips of the free “pandemic” money officially stops everywhere within a matter of weeks around the nation, if it hasn’t already. Within days or weeks of that you’ll have the poor folks unable to get the lowest of essentials (people were barely getting by with the extra help anyway, and far too many of whom used it to buy crap like TVs and take-out food instead of stocking up or saving at least a little).

They will be very angry, rightfully or not, depending on their situations.

Banks are teetering (or even collapsing, as happened today with SVB). If this trend continues, even those who have plenty of money will begin to get angry, and also scared to become like the filthy masses they feel superior to because their bank accounts prove their status year after year. Some will stay that way, many will drop like flies into quick ruin, themselves only sustaining opulent lifestyles with a few months cushion before missing payments on the Land Rover(s) in their five-car garages once their five-figure paychecks stop coming.

Inflation is soaring, rent increases are through the roof, food/gas/diapers, everything will suddenly be the target of even more theft than is already taking place since “covid” created a new generation of feral youths seeing no consequences for their actions. People filling their gas tanks and driving off will become commonplace, as will people just walking in and sacking convenient stores for cigarettes and booze (which of course happens now in many places…but think daily, and in Des Moines, Boulder and Fargo). You can take it from there…

Biden will tell everyone it’s all going to be okay, and not to panic. The government will put it all back together, we just need to all work together. No one will believe him.

Remember, we’re supposed to be ashamed of ourselves now, and not have pride in our country or our increasingly-disintegrating common bonds.

Firearms will become much more important to those tens of millions who never actually thought they might really have to use them outside of the range. Individual amateur thieves may be repelled from suburban residences…once or twice. But more will be back, and many will be larger and more organized. Good luck w/that.

So in short, a lot of kinetic civil unrest is very likely, and probably by this summer. Just my $1.05, but hey – you asked.

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Walter Molino illustration

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Russia has launched nearly 100 missiles at Ukraine over the past day.

Russia has launched nearly 100 missiles of various types over the past day, the Ukrainian military said Friday. 

Much attention has been focused on several launches of Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles, which are especially difficult to stop. Ukrainian officials have acknowledged their defense systems are not holding up well enough.

Here's what to know:

Continued Russian shelling: Russia has launched a total of 95 missiles of various types over the past day, the Ukrainian military said. While Ukraine's defenses knocked down 34 of the strikes, dozens of missiles pounded infrastructure targets, further battering the country's fragile energy systems. At least half a dozen people were injured specifically in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the region's military administration. The attacks hit private houses and damaged a gas pipeline, he said.

The situation in Bakhmut: The eastern Ukrainian city remains the target of some of the heaviest direct Russian fire, according to a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military. A third wave of fighters from the Wagner private military company fighting in the area is being replaced by Russia's regular army, an official said.

Wagner recruitment: The private military company, Wagner, will be opening dozens of new “recruitment centers“ across Russia, the head of the group said in a statement published by his holding company, Concord. The Wagner group has been active throughout the war in Ukraine, and its head, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has recently been outspoken about ammunition issues, placing the blame for his fighters' deaths on Russia's defense ministry.

Western support: US President Joe Biden and European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen pledged “security, economic, and humanitarian support” to Ukraine for as long as it needs. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley defended US support of Ukraine even at a time when Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, are bitterly divided on Capitol Hill over whether to continue sending weapons and aid to the nation. 

Tension in Moldova: The US intelligence community believes that people with ties to Russian intelligence are planning to stage protests in Moldova to try to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government, with the ultimate goal of seeing a more pro-Russia administration installed there, White House officials said. The US believes that Russia is working to weaken the Moldovan government, the officials said, which is seeking closer ties with the European Union. 


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Ukraine is a pawn for militarists intent on degrading Russia and ultimately China in a self-defeating quest to ensure U.S. global hegemony. The end of this war, like most proxy wars, will be ugly.

by Chris Hedges

There are many ways for a state to project power and weaken adversaries, but proxy wars are one of the most cynical. Proxy wars devour the countries they purport to defend. They entice nations or insurgents to fight for geopolitical goals that are ultimately not in their interest. The war in Ukraine has little to do with Ukrainian freedom and a lot to do with degrading the Russian military and weakening Vladimir Putin’s grip on power. And when Ukraine looks headed for defeat, or the war reaches a stalemate, Ukraine will be sacrificed like many other states, in what one of the founding members of the CIA, Miles Copeland Jr., referred to as the “Game of Nations” and “the amorality of power politics.”

I covered proxy wars in my two decades as a foreign correspondent, including in Central America where the U.S. armed the military regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala and Contra insurgents attempting to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. I reported on the insurgency in the Punjab, a proxy war fomented by Pakistan. I covered the Kurds in northern Iraq, backed and then betrayed more than once by Iran and Washington. During my time in the Middle East, Iraq provided weapons and support to the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) to destabilize Iran. Belgrade, when I was in the former Yugoslavia, thought by arming Bosnian and Croatian Serbs, it could absorb Bosnia and parts of Croatia into a greater Serbia. 

Proxy wars are notoriously hard to control, especially when the aspirations of those doing the fighting and those sending the weapons diverge. They also have a bad habit of luring sponsors of proxy wars, as happened to the U.S. in Vietnam and Israel in Lebanon, directly into the conflict. Proxy armies are given weaponry with little accountability, significant amounts of which end up on the black market or in the hands of warlords or terrorists. CBS News reported last year that around 30 percent of the weapons sent to Ukraine make it to the front lines, a report it chose to partially retract under heavy pressure from Kyiv and Washington. The widespread diversion of donated military and medical equipment to the black market in Ukraine was also documented by U.S. journalist Lindsey Snell. Weapons in war zones are lucrative commodities. There were always large quantities for sale in the wars I covered.

Warlords, gangsters and thugs — Ukraine has long been considered one of the most corrupt countries in Europe — are transformed by sponsor states into heroic freedom fighters. Support for those fighting these proxy wars is a celebration of our supposed national virtue, especially seductive after two decades of military fiascos in the Middle East. Joe Biden, with dismal poll numbers, intends to run for a second term as a “wartime” president who stands with Ukraine, to which the U.S. has already committed $113 billion in military, economic and humanitarian assistance.

When Russia invaded Ukraine “[t]he whole world faced a test for the ages,” Biden said after a lightning visit to Kyiv. “Europe was being tested. America was being tested. NATO was being tested. All democracies were being tested.” 

I heard similar sentiments expressed to justify other proxy wars.

“They are our brothers, these freedom fighters, and we owe them our help,” Ronald Reagan said of the Contras, who pillaged, raped and slaughtered their way through Nicaragua. “They are the moral equal of our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women of the French Resistance,” Reagan added. “We cannot turn away from them, for the struggle here is not right versus left, it is right versus wrong.” 

“I want to hear him say we’re going to arm the Free Syrian Army,” John McCain said of President Donald Trump. “We’re going to dedicate ourselves to the removal of Bashar al-Assad. We’re going to have the Russians pay a price for their engagement. All players here are going to have to pay a penalty and the United States of America is going to be on the side of the people who fight for freedom.”

Those feted as heroes of resistance, like President Volodymyr Zelensky or President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, are often problematic, especially as their egos and bank accounts inflate.  The flood of effusive encomiums directed towards proxies by their sponsors in public rarely matches what they say of them in private. At the Dayton peace talks, where the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic sold out the leaders of the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Croats, he said of his proxies: “[they] are not my friends. They are not my colleagues…They are shit.”

“Dark money sloshed all around,” The Washington Post wrote after obtaining an internal report produced by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

“Afghanistan’s largest bank liquefied into a cesspool of fraud. Travelers lugged suitcases loaded with $1 million, or more, on flights leaving Kabul. Mansions known as ‘poppy palaces’ rose from the rubble to house opium kingpins. President Hamid Karzai won reelection after cronies stuffed thousands of ballot boxes. He later admitted the CIA had delivered bags of cash to his office for years, calling it ‘nothing unusual.’”

“In public, as President Barack Obama escalated the war and Congress approved billions of additional dollars in support, the commander in chief and lawmakers promised to crack down on corruption and hold crooked Afghans accountable,” the paper reported. “In reality, U.S. officials backed off, looked away and let the thievery become more entrenched than ever, according to a trove of confidential government interviews obtained by The Washington Post.”

Those lionized as the bulwark against barbarism when the arms are flowing to them, are forgotten once the conflicts end, as in Afghanistan and Iraq. The former proxy fighters must flee the country or suffer the vendettas of those they fought, as happened to the abandoned Hmong tribesmen in Laos and the South Vietnamese. The former sponsors, once lavish in military aid, ignore desperate pleas for economic and humanitarian assistance, as those displaced by war go hungry and die from lack of medical care. Afghanistan, for the second time around, is the poster child for this imperial callousness.

The collapse of civil society spawns sectarian violence and extremism, much of it inimical to the interests of those who fomented the proxy wars. Israel’s proxy militias in Lebanon, along with its military intervention in 1978 and 1982, were designed to dislodge the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from the country. This objective was achieved. But the removal of the PLO from Lebanon gave rise to Hezbollah, a far more militant and effective adversary, along with Syrian domination of Lebanon. In September 1982, over three days, the Lebanese Kataeb Party, more commonly known as the Phalanges — backed by the Israeli military — massacred between 2,000 and 3,500 Palestinian refugees and Lebanese civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. It led to international condemnation and political unrest inside Israel. Critics called the protracted conflict “Lebanam,” conflating the words Vietnam and Lebanon. The Israeli film “Waltz with Bashir” documents the depravity and wanton killing of thousands of civilians by Israel and its proxies during the war in Lebanon.

Proxy wars, as Chalmers Johnson pointed out, engender unintended blowback. The backing of the mujahedeen in Afghanistan fighting the Soviets, which included arming groups such as those led by Osama bin Laden, gave rise to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. It also spread reactionary jihadism throughout the Muslim world, increased terrorist attacks against western targets which culminated in the attacks of 9/11 and fueled two decades of U.S.-led military fiascos in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.

Should Russia prevail in Ukraine, should Putin not be removed from power, the U.S. will have not only cemented into place a potent alliance between Russia and China, but ensured an antagonism with Russia that will come back to haunt us. The flood of billions of dollars of weapons into Ukraine, the use of U.S. intelligence to kill Russian generals and sink the battleship Moskva, the blowing up of the Nord Stream pipelines and the more than 2,500 U.S. sanctions targeting Russia, will not be forgotten by Moscow.  

“In a sense, blowback is simply another way of saying that a nation reaps what it sows,” Johnson writes, “Although people usually know what they have sown, our national experience of blowback is seldom imagined in such terms because so much of what the managers of the American empire have sown has been kept secret.”

Those supported in proxy wars, including the Ukrainians, often have little chance of victory. Sophisticated weapons such as the M1 Abrams tanks are largely useless if those operating them have not spent months and years years being trained. Prior to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982, the Soviet bloc provided Palestinian fighters with heavy weapons, including tanks, anti-aircraft missiles and artillery. The lack of training made those weapons ineffective against Israeli air power, artillery and mechanized units. 

The U.S. knows time is running out for Ukraine. It knows that high-tech weapons will not be mastered in time to blunt a sustained Russian offensive. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned in January that Ukraine has “a window of opportunity here, between now and the spring.” “That’s not a long time,” he added.

Victory, however, is not the point. The point is maximum destruction. Even if Ukraine is forced in defeat to negotiate with Russia and concede territory for peace, as well as accept status as a neutral nation, Washington will have achieved its primary goal of weakening Russia’s military capacity and isolating Putin from Europe.  

Those who mount proxy wars are blinded by wishful illusions. There was little support for the Contras in Nicaragua or the MEK in Iran. The arming of so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria saw weapons flow into the hands of reactionary jihadists. 

The conclusion of proxy wars usually sees the nation or group fighting on behalf of the sponsor state betrayed. In 1972, the Nixon administration provided millions of dollars in weapons and ammunition to Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq to weaken the Iraqi government, which at the time was seen as too close to the Soviet Union. No one, least of all the U.S. and Iran, which delivered the weapons to Kurdish fighters, wanted the Kurds to create a state of their own. Iraq and Iran signed the 1975 Algiers Agreement in which the two countries settled disputes along their common border. The agreement also ended military support for the Kurds.

The Iraqi military soon launched a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq. Thousands of Kurds, including women and children, were “disappeared” or killed. Kurdish villages were dynamited into rubble. The desperate plight of the Kurds was ignored, for, as Henry Kissinger said at the time, “covert action should not be confused with missionary work.” 

The Islamic government in Tehran resumed military aid to the Kurds during the war between Iran and Iraq from 1980 to 1988. On March 16, 1988, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein dropped mustard gas and the nerve agents sarin, tabun, and VX on the Kurdish town of Halabja. Some 5,000 people died within minutes and up to 10,000 were injured. The Reagan administration, which supported Iraq, minimized the war crimes committed against its former Kurdish allies. 

President Richard Nixon’s rapprochement towards China, in another example, included terminating covert assistance to Tibetan rebels. 

Betrayal is the closing act in nearly all proxy wars.

The arming of Ukraine is not missionary work. It has nothing to do with liberty or freedom. It is about weakening Russia. Take Russia out of the equation and there would be little tangible support for Ukraine. There are other occupied peoples, including the Palestinians, who have suffered as brutally and far longer than Ukranians. But NATO is not arming Palestinians to fight against their Israeli occupiers or holding them up as heroic freedom fighters. Our love of freedom does not extend to Palestinians or the people of Yemen currently being bombed with British and American weapons, or the Kurds, Yazidis and Arabs resisting Turkey, a longtime NATO member, in its occupation and drone war throughout the north and east of Syria. Our love of freedom only extends to people who serve our “national interest.”

There will come a time when the Ukrainians, like the Kurds, will become expendable. They will disappear, as many others before them have, from our national discourse and our consciousness. They will nurse for generations their betrayal and suffering. The American empire will move on to use others, perhaps the “heroic” people of Taiwan, to further its futile quest for global hegemony. China is the big prize for our Dr. Strangeloves. They will pile up even more corpses and flirt with nuclear war to curtail China’s growing economic and military power. This is an old and predictable game. It leaves in its wake nations in ruins and millions of people dead and displaced. It fuels the hubris and self-delusion of the mandarins in Washington who refuse to accept the emergence of a multipolar world. If left unchecked, this “game of nations” may get us all killed.


* * *

Zelenskiy film, 2018

* * *


by Erik S. McMahon

Pale-jointed knuckles grip the wheel. Squinting, trying to detect shapes of any kind beyond your windscreen. This rates as a full-bore white-out. Zero visibility. Now you’ve lost sight of those blurred red tail-lights that were up ahead. Pull over if you can.

Standing out in the blizzard’s altogether different. Sanity, repute, aren’t at risk or issue, despite frosted lashes and iced moustaches. No one will disrespect you. Nobody sneers or declares you don’t have enough sense to come in out of the snow.

In wintry midst, you’re truly dually aware. There’s heaviness and lightness of flakes, swirling and inventing pointillistic geometric patterns. They shift like flashy silver scales reflected by schools of migratory anchovies.

“Strange simile,” you muse, still frozen at center of the storm. “Wouldn’t make much sense if you’d only seen an anchovy on a slice of pizza or in a Caesar salad.”

“Who’s the real fish out of water?” you demand aloud, violating your initial and most critical self-enacted rule ( [1] “Don’t talk to yourself. What are you, crazy?”). You can be absent, with or without leave. There are questions pertaining to the past, inquiries that relate to the present day, which may stay unanswered in the future,

They say there are genuine memories, and then there are memories of memories. Beginning with the introduction of your recorded history, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish what you legitimately recall from stories told by others.

Assuming that’s so, how can you identify your earliest recollection? Was it really that sensation, at the ripe old age of 30 months or so: perched on an upholstered window seat in the front room of your Grandma’s home, soaking up the sun’s warmth and watching dust motes migrate through its rays? Or did someone tip you later to your Premature Tyndall Effect Fixation?

You'd prefer the version, of course, where you can determine the difference. There’s pedigreed, resonant, first-hand experience, which ought to outclass specious fragments of recycled lore. Through relentless recountings, the latter may have invaded apocrypha of your clan.

Some January dawns, you tuned in to a magic AM signal, the local station with the dial’s strongest wattage, and squirmed as the honey-voiced announcer recited entries from his list of schools that wouldn’t open. Hearing yours… there wasn’t any better feeling, Not an answered prayer, exactly, or a winning lottery number. More like landing on “Chance” or “Community Chest” in Monopoly, picking up a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

Surely you recall such mornings, or the odd unsupervised evening. Pajama’d, you stayed up very late, because every family member stared enthralled at nuclear news or electoral returns on a giant fuzzy black-and-white TV.

Snow fell within bulbous confines of its screen, as well, distorted by thick, smoky glass. But that snow descended inexorably, moving with decisive value and weight.

These anecdotes — until today; for uncounted years — you’ve apprehended as unimpeachable and wholly real. Similarly, one afternoon allegedly found you cowering among forsythia branches after scoring an improbable direct hit on the blue-capped skull of a passing lawman, firing a clot of dusty dirt. Could have happened.

But how much do you possess of your own past? What claim can any player lay to unscripted, ham-fisted drama, beyond a credit line, confirmation one was fortunate enough to land a part?

It’s a slippery slope, nostalgia. If you prefer, it’s a muddy wallow lost in an arid land. A reminder why. The record shows you’ve engaged routinely in retelling of diverting childhood tales. Your daring parachute jump from the upstairs porch of Uncle Roger’s home on Stalling Avenue is a representative example.

You must admit, tribal oral fireside traditions notwithstanding, that ill-advised leap will never rank among the most riveting. Major elements: little kid; big umbrella; faulty judgment. Without some revisionist anecdotal brushstrokes, we’re seriously lacking adrenaline, beyond a turned ankle and parental chagrin. Those don’t sell papers.

Can we make the porch loftier by several meters, suggest the lad had developed an obsession with paratrooper movies, adopting the patois of an Airborne Ranger? Cast a little doubt on stability, in mind and body, of our foolhardy youth?

Yesterday’s snow’s become shop-worn overnight, gone grey, unprettily condensed.

Sooty clumps serve as shameful shadows of the drifts, which conveyed upon the landscape a soft-edged forgiveness.

Returning years later to the hallways of your junior high school, it figures the water-fountains would be ludicrously low. Oddly, the same asphyxiating, fetid scent rises from baseboards; carbon-rubber skids and scuffs mar every tile. Dread, an emotion to which you fiercely cling, is present, but dilute. You're wed to many memories of theoretically unsullied, eye-witness stripe. In one, the boys, itchy in matching, moldy, vintage woolens, commandeered cafeteria trays and swarmed over the closest hill. There was snow enough to smother smaller rocks and nearly all the dirt. They used the trays as primitive toboggans, screaming down the incline without rudder or regard.

Is that an offering, a sacrifice? There’s no question snow enjoyed mythic potency. It alone — besides parents and principals — had the power to allow you to stay home from school. Digging deeper, it was the one natural commodity left uncorrupted, not snagged like leaves or pebbles for class projects or the science fair.

Now, nothing, we recognize, is as it once appeared. How often do you hear about things getting better? So it oughtn’t come as a surprise that slipping standards overall should extend to precipitation. It’s something of a curiosity. Here’s a world where broken records are an everyday occurrence, from home runs to fastest miles to highest jumps. Drifting into meteorology, we only get vaguely melancholy recollections.

“You’ll never see a snowstorm like the one we had in 63,” or so they tell us.

That half-hearted lament squats sorrily beside obits for jazz clubs, movie theaters, valiant soldiers, honest politicians, cheap apartments, pterodactyls, decent mileage, perfect pizza. The character played by Burt Lancaster in Atlantic City summed it up, as he shambled along the warped Jersey boardwalk imparting wisdom to a younger man. “You should have seen the Atlantic Ocean in those days,” he said, glancing seaward. “Now, that was an ocean.”

The kid in you remembers, stubbornly refuses to be cheated or denied. Plowed banks absolutely stood that high, not just on sidewalks but right up the middle of the 700 block of Stalling Avenue. Cars couldn’t get out, and if memory serves, there weren’t any attempts to shovel drives, paths, or front stoops. Populating an otherworldly Little Nemo stage set, children became worker bees and excavated tunnels. They redesigned the city’s grid and fashioned intricate, intersecting passageways, toiling in unfamiliar silence under the brilliance of harsh, intensified light.

How long did that delirious illusion hold sway? Well, there’s a chance it didn’t last a minute. In any case, one of our boys kept the notion with him, closeness of a tunnel’s roof and so much weight above it. He took a job a decade later in the mines. Carried the sense of sub-surface snow, used it like a cat-whisker assessment. It enabled him to execute the combat crawl.

Snow-caves, back then, held up fine. Underground, you might say our boy was lucky he wasn’t on the spot when the wrong wire got tripped or when freed boulders crashed down a drift, stopping for neither of the paralyzed, doomed hang-up men.

And as a consequence of not being pinned or pulverized or flattened, our boy was able in later and much calmer days to walk upon a truly lavish, opulent, prodigious amount of snow. In the dead of winter, along the serpentine spine of the Rockies, at 11,000 feet.

Our boy made his way atop a frozen upper crust, surmounting tons of flakes settled since October on the earth. His thoughts were far removed from battlements and castle-walls and Grandma Moses sculptures, school closings and unstable tunnels.

In the present, his teeth clenched with each step, because the sound of Vibram soles on congealed snow recalled so closely the tone his dentist produced when he pressed amalgam into a freshly-routed cavity.

* * *

A female Great Grey Owl (Strix Nebula) with 3 chicks in the nest. (Krzysztof Baranowski)


  1. Harvey Reading March 12, 2023

    “They found that the fall transition to standard time was associated with an 11 percent increase in depressive episodes, an effect that took 10 weeks to dissipate. The spring switch, by contrast, had no similar effect.”

    What was the effect of not screwing around with the natural time at all? After all, it’s what the species experienced, and adapted to, for millennia, before the warmongers forced the change in clock settings on people, for the sole purpose of control–to show the masses that they could do anything they wanted (including imprisonment of Socialists).

    I haven’t changed my clocks, as ordered, for decades. I just add an hour mentally when the “daylight “savings” nonsense rolls around. What some idiot, like Rubio, says is irrelevant to me. I believe it was Bush2 who last extended the nonsense to nearly year-round, to condition us for HIS war based on lies. This country needs a purge, of the ruling class, and its yuppie lackeys.

    Bye the way, if the Times published it, it’s probably a lie…

  2. Harvey Reading March 12, 2023

    “The Academy keeps performing CPR on a dead patient.”

    Duh! I haven’t watched that Academy Awards crap since the late 60s. Just a bunch of Hollywood hoopla that deserves to disappear. As far as I am concerned, Hollywood is an overrated, not to mention, isolated, foreign country.

    Since I stopped watching TV, in 2011, I cannot even remember the names of most of the “stars” who were popular then, along with those that were popular before. I have no clue who is popular now, and don’t give a damn! Breaking the TV habit was one of the better things I have ever done. Almost as good as quitting drinking!

  3. Marmon March 12, 2023


    The Sacramento Kings are 40-26.
    The Sacramento Kings are the 2nd seed in the West.
    The Sacramento Kings own the best road record in the West.
    The Sacramento Kings own the top offense in the NBA.
    The Sacramento Kings are good.

    Long live the Kings


    • peter boudoures March 12, 2023

      Nice overtime win by the warriors but wow does Jordan Poole need to step it up.

      • Marmon March 12, 2023

        The Warriors’ winning era is winding down. Kings have a young team and a good coach. Stealing Mike Brown from the Warriors was a brilliant move. As soon as Brown gets the Kings to play some defense there will be no stopping them. The Warriors defense is struggling this year with the absence of Coach Brown. Brown was the Warriors’ defensive coach for years.


        • Marmon March 12, 2023

          Curry will be 35 years old in 2 days, Sac’s Fox just turned 25. These teams are headed in different direction. The Warriors need to trade Curry, Thompson, and Green for some draft picks and rebuild.


    • Harvey Reading March 12, 2023

      I thought Sac threw ’em out. Too bad they didn’t.

      • Marmon March 12, 2023

        No, we saved them. A new owner and a new Arena. They’re here to stay.


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