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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, March 19, 2023

Light Rain | Howard Creek | Support Letters | Emogene Golden | Track Letters | Pet Rusty | Vocal Ensemble | Lighthouse Watch | Eel Restoration | Scott Dam | Gnar Bar | Rock Stop | Mendo Mill | Protocol Pissing | Wood Grain | Poetry Reading | AV Events | Witherall Papers | Symphony Concert | Vote Val | Prema Love | Must Go | Board's Fault | Yesterday's Catch | Marco Radio | Toward LA | Hollywood Propaganda | Irish Green | Reunification | Geronimo | Lynching Deplorables | Woke Stuff | Ukraine | Uncle Fun | Killed Sadat | Cat Mob

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LIGHT BENEFICIAL RAINS and high mountain snowfall will occur across Northwest California this morning. Precipitation is forecast to continue through tonight, and then briefly clear during Monday. However, additional light rainfall is expected Tuesday through late week. (NWS)

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Howard Creek flowing into the ocean (Jeff Goll)

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FORT BRAGG NEEDS LETTERS OF SUPPORT: CRU funding support

I apologize for the late request but with the help of the MCHCF potential funding for our CRU program has been identified. Any support letters can be sent to Huffman.Projects@Mail.House.Gov with the subject line Community Project Funding 2024 - Mendocino Coast Healthcare Foundation — Fort Bragg Care Response Unit - Continuation - Support Material.

We have until end of day Monday to send letters. Apologies again for the late request.

Bernie Norvell, Mayor City of Fort Bragg, <bnorvell2@fortbragg.com>

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EMOGENE GOLDEN

Our beautiful mom passed away this morning. Emogene (Gene) Golden, lived in Anderson Valley from the late 40's until 1973. Age 94, she lived a long and happy life. A brain tumor took her 4 weeks after diagnosis. Survived by her husband Winfred 95, her daughters Judy (Jim) and Janet (Ivan), four granddaughters, four great-grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren plus one on the way. Preceded in death by their son Gary. They have lived in Montana since they left the valley.

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HELP

Hi Everyone,

We are working on a Long Shot effort with CalTrans to bring in an all weather track and field at the high school site that would be available for student/adult/community health and fitness. It would be all weather turf with football/soccer markings and a track. Estimated cost is $2.75 million. We have a grant writer working on this. The school kids (including the elementary kids that could be bused over) could use this for p.e. and fitness and competition. Community soccer groups could use on the weekend.

If anyone is supportive of this effort, can you give me a hard copy letter by March 27? If you have your classes write letters, I will take those too. This grant is designed for under-served communities. I am burning some grant writers' time on this because it is important. The skate park is going in under a separate ask. How amazing would it be for Boonville to have an all weather track and field, park, and skatepark? If you make this a class experience that would be powerful. Please ensure it is on 8 1/2 x 11 paper and scannable.

Community group letters or resident letters of support would be outstanding. It is okay folks to ask...It is okay for the funders to say no. Let's see where we go!

Take care,

Louise Simson, Superintendent

Anderson Valley Unified School District

Every Student • Every Possibility • No Matter What

Cell: 707-684-1017

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UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK 

Rusty is a mellow dog with lovely indoors manners. He’s a big fan of walkies in the great outdoors, and he’s looking for a strolling partner. Rusty spent time in a foster home, so we have some detailed info about him, including this: Rusty is very good in the house. Calm, quiet, lovely. Outside he did well on a leash, until he discovered how much wildlife there is here! He’s affectionate, friendly to people who came to visit, not hostile to my cats, but not friendly to other dogs. It would be so wonderful if a family with a fenced yard would adopt him. He needs play, social outlet and exercise--more than I was able to provide him with here." Rusty is 2 years old, 87 pounds, and he’s neutered, and ready to walk out the shelter’s door and into your life ASAP.

Head over to mendoanimalshelter.com  to read more about Rusty. Visit us on Facebook at: facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/

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

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FEMALE VOCAL ENSEMBLE

This is an Opus Chamber Music concert that cannot be missed! Solstice at Preston Hall, Mendocino at 3 PM Sunday March 19th.

Part of their program:

Nasha Pisnya (Our Song) Krista Enos

Music for a While Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

Chiribom Traditional Yiddish as performed by the Barry Sisters,

Ufros Aleinu Traditional Hebrew

West Virginia, My Home Hazel Dickens (1925-2011)

Dieu! Quail la fait bon regarder! Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

La Vie En Rose Edith Piaf (1935-1963)

This Woman's Work Kate Bush

Shto Mi e Milo Macedonian folk song

Tickets at Out of this World in Mendocino, Harvest Market in Fort Bragg and online brownpapertickets.com/event/5714548

Check them out at solsticesings.com

More information at symphonyoftheredwoods.org

Symphony office 707-964-0898

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Your chance to climb the stairs to the top of the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse and watch the migration of the grey whales from our tower.

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PG&E SIGNALS THAT IT WILL SPEED UP REMOVING DAM Which Helps Divert Water From The Eel River To The Russian River

PG&E has signaled strongly that it is considering the expedited removal of Scott Dam due to seismic concerns, according to a news item in an industry publication on March 16. In the meantime, the spillway gates at the top of the dam will remain open. 

This will cause Lake Pillsbury, the reservoir behind the dam in Lake County, to be ten feet, or 26% lower than it normally is, heading into spring. According to the PG&E article, “With the dam gates remaining open, water availability will be similar to dry year conditions experienced in 2020 and 2021.”…

kymkemp.com/2023/03/18/pge-signals-that-it-will-speed-up-removing-dam-which-helps-divert-water-from-the-eel-river-to-the-russian-river/

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A READER RESPONDS: Historically 75% of the salmon produced by the eel river came from spawning grounds below these dams. The diversion should cease. A system of reservoirs was envisioned and designed on paper to supply water from Marin County north into the Russian River basin by Marin Municipal Water District and others decades ago. This was abandoned because of cost and the fact they had Eel River water to take.

Why not settle for 75% of the original fish population and keep the Pillsbury dam. It offers control of water on the river during flood and drought.

Clear back in the 1800s when the Eel was commercially fished, the managers of those affairs both private and governmental knew that the river could not sustain the fish at the rate they were being taken, and they knew the river would never recover if regulations were not bumped up to secure the future of the salmon population. They did just that.

Back in the fifties and sixties when I was fishing, there were still mind boggling runs of fish by todays standards. It wasn’t until runs of fish devoid of fish over about eight inches long began coming up the river with mysterious markings on their skins made by seine nets they had escaped from began telling the tale. The Chinese were raping our fish stocks, following them everywhere they went, and nothing was done about it.

That was the death blow to the eel. Suddenly the fish population dwindled to almost nothing compared to years past and it has never recovered thanks to the pike minnow, pollution and politics.

Removing the Pillsbury Dam is a pipe dream cure for what ails the Eel. What needs to happen is to kill the pike minnow out of the river and develop a breeding system for the salmon and steelhead.

I became heavily involved with Eel River science and politics in the early eighties. I was dismayed at the level of subterfuge presented by all sides of the issue to achieve their political goals at the expense of the river and bailed, stood back with my arms crossed and watched the river fail. I quit fishing when catch and kill was introduced. All that did was kick the can down the road.

Kill the pike minnow, regulate the fertilizer out and start a breeding program or we will never see revenue or food from the Eel River again.

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Scott Dam

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NEW RESTAURANT IN MENDOCINO

Tonight I went to the Grand Opening of the Gnar Bar restaurant in Mendocino. It's right across from the Mendocino Cafe, where Tote Fete used to be. The two proprietors are really nice guys, and the food is wonderful. There's limited counter seating, so it's mostly take-away. Besides the food menu, they have an exotic and eclectic choice of snacks and bottled beverages as well. No alcohol. It's so refreshing to see such a "friendly" place open up in that location, I wish them well.

Disclaimer: I know one of the owners, but my review here is unbiased, it's really a neat little eatery.

Derek <helios@saber.net>

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ROCK STOP (PHILO) IS OPENING FOR THE SEASON

Heron and I are excited to open for the season. Here is our Craigslist ad. Thanks for the last 21 years of support at the same location. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4pm. All the best, Sam and Heron

https://mendocino.craigslist.org/cbd/d/philo-rock-stop-for-jade-crystals/7600187709.html

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

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AND NOW WE’VE ENTERED THE PROTOCOL PISSING CONTEST

by Jayma Shields Spence

By the time this hits the newsstands/email inboxes for The Observer [Laytonville] readers, it will be three weeks to the day my husband Roland Spence and myself sacrificed 36 hours of our lives to operate an “emergency shelter” on our own in Laytonville, during one of the worst snow storms our area has seen in decades. It took almost 3 weeks for a member of the County to contact me for a follow-up conversation and to offer additional resources/pledges of future support. They also offered an apology as there was a sense that things could have gone better, but didn’t, and the county is offering resources to our area and those most impacted by the recent snow event. 

I figured it would happen sooner than later, but now we’re being made to be scapegoats in what I’m calling a Protocol Pissing Contest. In a Facebook post by Mendocino County Supervisor Ted Williams, he writes in a comment to one of his page followers “The county does not open warming centers, only evacuation centers. The trailer has supplies for declared evacuations. Nonprofits run warming centers and are suppose (sic) to be able to maintain for 72 hours. Protocol allows local fire departments to request evacuation from County’s Office of Emergency Services. This did not happen. Rather, at 8:30 p.m., a request came, with roads already closed, not from the fire department, to open the container for supplies.”

Funny this statement comes from a Supervisor who doesn’t represent our district, and I don’t know who Supervisor Williams spoke to, but it wasn’t with me or the local fire department who was on the ground requesting assistance before and after “8:30 p.m. with roads already closed.” Should we have waited before roads were closed to predict that people (some with medical conditions) would be stranded in Laytonville for the next 2 days? Or should we have waited 24 hours once Highway 101 re-opened to south-bound traffic to make a call requesting assistance?

Let’s join the pissing contest, shall we?

Fact: I was called by Sue Carberry at about 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, February 23 after Highway 101 had been closed in both directions due to hazardous road conditions, traffic accidents, and further north in the Leggett area, trees and power lines down across the highway. Several inches of snow had already accumulated on local roads and highway. Sue is the retired Laytonville Fire Department Chief, but she is also a current EMT and was acting as incident command for Laytonville Fire Department while the Fire Chief and other department personnel were on the ground assisting with traffic control due to the highway closure as well as responding to accidents and medical calls that night. The acting Fire Chief requested Sue make contact with our organization to set up an emergency shelter because of all the stranded travelers in Laytonville. The fire department relayed information to the Chevron station as well as local radio station KMUD after Roland and I agreed to open the “shelter” at Laytonville Healthy Start. The fire department was encouraging stranded motorist to go to our office to get out of the snow storm. If you read last week’s Observer, you may have read a letter from one of the stranded travelers who relayed that they found out about the “shelter” because a member of the fire department confirmed via a call back after she had heard information at Gravier’s Chevron that we had opened up as a shelter.

Fact: In her role as incident command and a member of the Laytonville Fire Department, Sue began reaching out to county personnel to let them know about our situation. She also passed along phone numbers to me and gave who she was speaking to my number. The first call I made was to the Office of Emergency Services rep. I was asked by this person who I was and why we had opened our doors. I let him know the local fire department made the request and that I currently had about 15 people in my office and I was requesting to access the trailer that was sitting outside my office. I let him know that I was worried more people would show up and I was hoping to access the supplies inside the trailer. I was told “We will continue to monitor the situation and call you back” I didn’t receive a call granting us access to the emergency trailer supplies until about 9 a.m. the following morning, Friday, February 24th. 

I have a few problems; one is with Supervisor Williams’ insulting comments about our situation. Here we go back to that damn rulebook. Rather than Roland and myself and the volunteers who helped us in our situation get some praise, or heaven forbid an official apology for not stepping up Thursday night when we needed it the most, we are made to look like idiots because in a bureaucrat’s mind protocol or chain of command wasn’t respected nor followed. This is a slap in the face. 

Instead I guess we were supposed to stand-by with our 15+ guests in the middle of a horrible snow storm after 9 p.m. with Highway 101 shut in both directions and await while Bureaucratic Phone Tag was played. A request to gain access to a trailer already parked at my site, stocked with all the basic supplies to offer some people comfort wasn’t granted permission until the next day. Question: would it have cost the county money to allow us permission Thursday night to access the trailer? What was the difference in granting access 12 + hours later? Did they want us to prove that people were actually in need of a place to sleep? To make people more appreciative after they slept on my office floor to receive a cot and a blanket the next day?

I have never heard from any County official that it is the non-profit’s duty to open a ”warming center” and be ready to keep it open for 72 hours. My site staff were trained on emergency shelter management through the Red Cross after we signed an agreement with the County being designated an emergency shelter site. I was told that in the event of an emergency, we may be called upon to open our doors and handle things until the county could send a shelter team or Red Cross could respond. 

When Sue and I spoke to the various officials we spoke to, neither one of us used the term “warming center.” We specifically said shelter and we were looking to access the emergency shelter supplies trailer to help people who were stranded in our community. Because it was already late into the evening, even if Highway 101 were to miracously open up in the middle of one of the worst snow storms, I doubt any of our guests would have opted to drive off into the dark and snowy night in hazardous road conditions. 

If someone coordinating emergency response thought that was an option in an area of the county with limited resource and first responders already stretched thin to send people out into the storm, I don’t even want to think about that outcome. The people occupying my office were safe and sound and out of the storm- isn’t that the ideal place in such a situation?

A former colleague, retired from the County, let us know that Social Services is mandated by law to open emergency/disaster trailers in the county. This person, familiar with protocol because they helped establish disaster trailers to the outlying areas, wrote to me and my dad, Jim Shields, after my article appeared, “This was a well-coordinated system, clearly laid out with all concerned, so everyone was empowered to do what was needed for the safety of the public. It is apparent that now, that system, those policies, those close, well-established connections to the communities no longer exist.”

The experience of 36 hours of running a shelter on our own and the insulting response from Supervisor Williams further solidifies for me a lesson learned that in the event of the next disaster (not a matter of if but when), our community needs to be prepared to handle things on our own. 

Thanks to the generosity of the people near and far who read my article “We Ran an Emergency Shelter and All We Got Was This Lousy Pile of Laundry” or heard/saw us on the news, we are getting closer to gathering the basic supplies we need in the event we have to open our doors in the next emergency/non-emergency/non-disaster/disaster. We have been offered additional training by a volunteer disaster response group. People have come forward and pledged to help volunteer in the next event. I am looking at establishing formal agreements with local partners so we can call on each other to respond and utilize existing resources within our own community. 

Walking away from this experience, I am grateful that Sue and the Fire Department made a call that night that I believe saved a few lives. I am thankful to my husband Rolo who burst into action, welcomed our guests in for 2 nights and even played the card game Apples to Apples with those sheltering. I appreciate those who stepped forward and brought food, supplies and came by to lend moral support and give us a pat on the back when we needed it most. The outpouring of kind words, donations and “Atta boy” and “Atta girl” are further proof that we stepped up and did the right thing during a time when I wish we would have been taken seriously and treated as though our situation was important that Thursday night and extending a simple blessing of “go ahead and get into that trailer”.

I believe we did what we do best in Laytonville: we see a problem or a need and we put our heads together, pool resources and make it happen.

To learn more about our efforts or to assist us in establishing basic supplies for our “Laytonville Emergency Shelter” donations can be made to: Harwood Memorial Park-FRC with “Shelter” in memo line, PO Box 1382, Laytonville, CA 95454

Donations can also be made via the Healthy Start website at Laytonville.org/healthystart and select “Donate” under Ways to Help. I have also established an Amazon Wishlist that I’m happy to share, just shoot me an email.

I would like to express a heartfelt appreciation to those who have donated to our cause. Your kind words of encouragement and praise mean so much to us.

For more information, feel free to contact me at (707) 984-8089 or jayma@laytonville.org

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Wood Grain (photo mk)

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POETS & POETRY LOVERS are invited to Gallery Bookshop, March 23rd at 6:00pm.

An open reading featuring many of Mendocino County's best poets. Read one of your own poems, share another poet's work, or just come to listen and enjoy the experience. The store will be open, so feel free to browse our poetry section and pick up one of your favorites. We'll see you there!

More information at 707.937.2665 or gallerybookshop.com

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ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE: List of Events

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THE WITHERELL PAPERS

AVA,

My Grandpa, Ralph C Witherell, was born in Oregon in 1899. Shortly thereafter, his family migrated to Anderson Valley where they joined up with their earlier arriving family members. He kept a small autograph book filled with notations from his friends, family and schoolmates that I was lucky enough to get after my Dad died. 

Ralph Witherell

Petaluma

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SYMPHONY CONCERT featuring auditioning conductor Bryan Nies and guest trumpet soloist Scott Macomber

Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 pm & Sunday, April 2 at 2:00 pm, Cotton Auditorium, Fort Bragg

Pre-concert lecture by the conductor begins one hour before the performance

Trumpet Concerto in E flat minor - Joseph Haydn

Quiet City - Aaron Copland

Symphony No. 5 in F major, Op. 76 - Antonin Dvorak

symphonyoftheredwoods.org/concert-3.php

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ATTN BLISS NINNIES

Prema Love: Healing Concert, April 2nd, 5:30pm

Join us for an evening of Healing Music, Mantra, Community. Prema is visiting from Maui HI and lived in Mendocino for 11 years.

Stanford Inn by the Sea (In the Yoga Room), 44850 Comptche Ukiah Rd, Mendocino, CA 95460

$20 Reserve via Venmo @premalovemusic or $25 cash at the door

(805) 433-5616 for questions, www.premalovemusic.com

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KRISTIN NEVEDAL HAS GOT TO GO!

(John Sakowicz)

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FUBAR AT MCD

John Sakowicz,

After reading the report on this fiasco, I am flabbergasted that the head of the Cannabis Dept. still has her job. She made an error to the tune of $3.2 million, blew a hole in the County's budget and kept quiet about it. Grade school level work but the Supervisors will still give her an A because, you know, nice-guy collaboration and all that.

What else stood out in the reporting is that the BOS, whose focus makes me think of ADHD, kept redirecting staff to new tasks, apparently none of which are revenue generating. Here is the relevant conversation that includes the only honest Supervisor on that underperforming Board:

“So there's a number of things that we could not have planned for in this budget because we don't have a crystal ball and we didn't know it would be the will of this Board to ask us to take on additional tasks that would push back revenue-generating tasks,” she concluded. “Well, it seems like it's the Board's fault, then,” Haschak replied.

Uh, yeah.

John Redding

Mendocino

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, March 18, 2023

Bicknell, Delvillar, Diloi

BENJAMIN BICKNELL, Fort Bragg. Protective order.

JULIO DELVILLAR-ACEVEDO, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license for DUI, probation revocation.

WILLIAM DILOI, Willits. DUI, probation revocation.

Flinton, Garcia, Goldsmith

SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probtion revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

ERIC GARCIA, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-intoxicated by drugs with alcohol.

MICHELLE GOLDSMITH, Willits. Addict driving a vehicle, probation revocation.

Gomes, Ladd, Peters

RYAN GOMES, Fort Bragg. Grand theft, forgery.

CODY LADD, Ukiah. Parole violation, resisting.

TARA PETERS, Sacramento/Ukiah. Petty theft, vandalism.

Rodriguez, Sanchez, Walsh

ALEXANDRIA RODRIGUEZ, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

CHLOEE SANCHEZ, Willits. DUI, suspended license.

JASON WALSH, Cotati/Ukiah. Indecent exposure, paraphernalia, parole violation.

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MEMO OF THE AIR: See Hy-Brasil on $5 a day.

"Angels wrestle over control of their own shining hands, each crying out to the other, Stop hitting yourself. I'm not. Yes you are. Stop it! Shut up. You shut up. God gets back from business and says, Is there a problem here? No, sir. That's good, because I have a job for you. I have a bet going with The Other Guy. I want you to go down there and blight someone, almost enough but not quite. You think you can do that? Oh, yes, sir. Get going, then."

Here's the recording of last night's (2023-03-17) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA) and KNYO.org: https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0532

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

Besides all that, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com 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:

About 3-D comic books. (via Fark) You can get two-color 3D glasses and enjoy all sorts of things like this; for example, the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels that sometimes flew into two-color 3D, like in the acid-in-the-park scenes, and the characters' journey through The Blazing World (Alan Moore's concept of Hy-Brasil). You can even make your own with cellophane and colored felt pens.

http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/home/images-from-the-archive/comic-books

Imagine one of these with electric assist in it, tearing along at 50 mph on an elevated lane through rainforest canopy. That's the future we gave up but could have now. Any company making these beauties would rule the bicycle world. And then, a few years later, like the innovative toy drone we saw last year, but life-size, you'd press a button, the wheels would split down the middle, flap up into rotors to the sides and you'd zizzz up into the sky for real, easily possible with ever-better batteries and motors. Just /try/ to tear your eyes away from the aqua-turquoise one. In the early 1980s I had a '63 Rambler Classic that I had bought whole for something between $50 and $200, that I gave Earl Scheib on Arden Way the extra $20 to paint it that best of all colors for a vehicle, the color of a glorious future. Rockets and robots and swimming pool tiles and front doors and doughnut glazing and shiny-toe tap-shoes, reading glass frames, ceramic teeth, aerodynamic washing machines and toasters. What a color! When I win the lottery, tch, a plug-in hybrid Fiat 500 that color inside and out.

https://nagonthelake.blogspot.com/2023/03/the-spacelander.html

And a lovely little record player to go with it. People spent $1.2 billion on records last year. You still have all your old records. That's not going out of style. I've been following the price of these particular boxes for awhile now. It can go as high as $85 to as low as $45 in a week and then go back up again. It's plastic, mostly, and probably not built to last, but it's got Bluetooth, so you can connect it directly to the speakers inside your Bluetooth-ready electric toothbrush. You've been wondering why your toothbrush has Bluetooth, well...

https://www.amazon.com/Victrola-Bluetooth-Suitcase-Turntable-Turquoise/dp/B01MQ2RBTZ

Marco McClean, memo@mcn.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com

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Toward Los Angeles California, March 1937 (photo by Dorothea Lange)

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BLINKIN’ WITH BLINKEN AT OSCAR’S BIG SCREEN

by David Yearsley

What’s the difference between an American movie producer and an American secretary of state? The one dreams of winning an Oscar; the other makes sure the awards go to the right global players.

American foreign policy has long been committed to flooding the world with Hollywood films. Inseparable from this open market ideology is the recognition of the moving image’s literal projection of American power and the universal rightness of the American Way.

Winston Churchill paid homage to these forces when he described Mrs. Miniver, that silly Little Olde England wartime MGM melodrama of 1942, as “propaganda worth a hundred battleships.” Falling in line with war effort, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences obediently named it Best Picture in 1943. Mrs. Miniver beat out The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles’s critique of the devastating social consequences of the automobile and therefore an attack on the just-mentioned American Way.

A year later in 1943 Roosevelt’s Secretary of State Cordell Hull dispatched former Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph E. Davies to the Kremlin with a print of Warner Brothers’ just-released movie adaptation of Davies’s own memoir, Mission to Moscow. Directed by Michael Curtiz, who’d done Casablanca the year before, the movie began with an appearance by the ambassador himself (after that scene, Walter Huston plays him) assuring viewers that, “No leaders of a nation have been so misrepresented and misunderstood as those in the Soviet Government.” What follows is a fawning view of U.S-Soviet friendship, the over-heated sentiment warmed still further by Hollywood’s most prolific and proficient composer, the Viennese émigré Max Steiner, who channeled the heroic sweep of Tchaikovsky to seal the short-lived alliance. Davies’ memorandum to Hull reported that Stalin watched the film with “glum curiosity.” Uncle Joe far preferred American Westerns.

The current leading man at the State Department fits snugly into these traditions of cinematic statecraft. Aside from being a pitch man for Israel and the Saudis, arms manufacturers and Silicon Valley, Antony Blinken’s main qualification for his current job is that he was an associate produce of The Addiction, an arty 1994 vampire flick set at NYU in which the blood-sucking nocturnal depredations are interleaved with archival footage of the Holocaust. Blinken would soon be addicted to power.

Not coincidentally, 1994 was also the year Blinken took up his first governmental post in Clinton’s National Security Council, where he became Senior Director for Speechwriting—what in Hollywood would be called screenplay development. Mastery of the cinematic and political arts and sciences requires the mixing of selective truths with large quantities of vote-winning/ticket-selling fiction.

A decade on from his arrival in East Coast Babylon, Blinken was beating the drum for the invasion of Iraq, knocking out speeches and strategy papers for Biden when the future president was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden was still in bad need of a script doctor more than a dozen years after having been chased from the 1988 presidential campaign for stealing the family stories of British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock and passing these stirring orations off as his own. Biden was a mediocre, if reliable character actor doing the Working Class Joe bit in whatever political theater would have him. 

The problem was that Biden’s people hadn’t first secured the film rights to Kinnock’s screenplay. Like this year’s best Supporting Actor winner, Key Huy Quan, Biden would have to spend a couple of decades doing bit parts and his own stunts before landing, improbably, the role of a lifetime as American Commander-in-Chief. “Props, get me another pair of Top Gun Aviators®!”

Having hitched his cart to the right horse, the resourceful Blinken rose up through the Democratic studio system, specializing in disaster features like the Islamic State and intervention tragi-comedies like Destroying Libya, which bombed in the Middle East but were hits on American home screens in 2011. It was a huge year for the studio, one that also saw the release of the critically acclaimed documentary Operation Neptune Spear: The Killing of Osama bin Laden Blinken watched the premiere in the White House Situation—i.e., Screening—Room.

Blinken also recognized that the studio bosses and their backers loved drones. He has never stopped loving them. The 10,000 Islamic Fighters he claimed were killed with the airborne death merchant equipped with highlight-reel cameras were merely extras in the ongoing American widescreen epic. By the end of the Obama years Blinken had risen to become Deputy Secretary of State.

With Trump’s screwball antics hogging the frame, Blinken took a role as creative “consultant” (i.e., lobbyist) at his firm, WestExec, brokering deals and wielding influence with a self-assured sleaziness equal to that of the most adept and ruthless Hollywood player.

Watching from the wings (almost literally since WestExec offices are just a couple of blocks from the White House), Blinken kept the faith that his interventionist brand of American exceptionalism would find favor again. From his off-screen vantage point he surely welcomed the apotheosis of Parasite at the Oscars in the election year of 2020. That “foreign” victory was repudiated by the nativist Trump, liberal Hollywood thumbing its nose at him and turning butt to Make-America-Great-Again motion pictures.

Cannier observers like Blinken would have welcomed, perhaps even facilitated, the recognition given the South Korean movie, one that lavishly ogled the wealth driving its rags-infiltrate-riches story. The Oscars were a signal to the pariahs of communist North Korea that they would never reap the financial rewards or aesthetic prestige of their freedom-loving neighbors to the south. The Best Picture award for Parasite was a preview of The Return to the Asia Pivot to be produced by Blinken once he was back at State.

More than two years into his contract as Big Bog of Diplomacy, Blinken must have smiled all through last Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony as foreign policy movie objective after the next was met.

Everything Everywhere All at Once hauled in seven statuettes, including that for Best Picture. The movie tells of a valiant, yet heart-warming battle against the nefarious forces of surveillance, control, incarceration, and death. Good, law-abiding, small-business-owning immigrants, having fled the Communist oppression, are continually portaled into the multi-metaverse, pursued there by a bad gal and her bad guys. Only the Democratic values of inclusion and love, abetted by martial arts, can repel the totalitarian threat. It’s Facebook versus TikTok, and no coincidence that, with the Academy Awards now done and delivered, the US can move against the dangerous social media menace from the PRC.

That Stephanie Hsu (also nominated for Supporting Actress along with her castmate, Jamie Lee Curtis, who won the Oscar) plays both the American-born lesbian daughter of the immigrant family and the arch-villain makes for an obvious and admonitory allegory of the Two Chinas. (Spoiler alert: guess which one wins?) In her Best Actress speech, Michelle Yeoh summoned Asian children around the world to follow her example and pursue dreams only possible in real democracies. Best Supporting Actor Quan and his family escaped Vietnam in 1971. Co-Writer-Director Daniel Kwan’s parents came to the U.S. from Hong Kong, now suffering under the communist boot. Everything was a clarion call of freedom.

Any covert operation must adhere to the doctrine of plausible deniability, and Everything could not be allowed to win in every category. David Byrne’s duet with Mitski of their quirky, contrapuntal, cosmic Best Original Song candidate, “This is a Life,” was a perfectly executed act of covert sabotage conducted in plain sight and sound. Normally unflappable, even when flapping away as a dancer, Byrne detuned and detonated his own number. Yet his Every-Key-Everywhere-All-at-Once approach could be heard, if painfully, to accord with aesthetic precepts of the picture it accompanied. Byrne fell on his sonic sword with the theatrical conviction of a true patriot.

Byrne’s sacrifice served Blinken’s other objectives too. India had to be thrown at least one concession as part of a larger strategy to pry the subcontinent loose from the increasingly cozy Chinese embrace. That concession came in the form of a cheap gold statuette for the madcap, viral song-and-dance of “Naatu, Naatu.”

Even while American attentions and resources turn towards Asia, the venerable NATO alliances must be safeguarded. Germany’s All Quiet on the Western Front won four Oscars, including one for Volker Bertelmann’s score, its bombed-out orchestral grandeur gnawed at by the electronic ghost of his grandmother’s harmonium. Nominally an anti-war movie, this All Quiet rewrites Remarque’s novel so that (Alert: spoiler number two coming!) the protagonist Paul is bayonetted from behind by a French soldier in a literal enactment of the pernicious Stab-in-the-Back myth that helped Hitler march Germany into World War Two. Many Germans were incensed at this disfiguration of the book’s message, but the message from Hollywood and Foggy Bottom was clear: Deutschland, hold the line in the Ukraine! Obviously, then, the documentary Navalny had to win in that category.

These Dolby diplomatic successes duly recorded, Israel will have to be shored up and the nascent, big-bucks Saudi film industry boosted next year come Oscar time. Closer to the Hollywood homeland, awards for the right kind of Mexican border movie might have to be arranged.

As the chimes at midnight tolled in Washington between Sunday and Monday, Blinken was ready to turn in as the happy honcho he sees himself as.

But even a canny movie man like the Secretary State has his blind spots. The thing about the Big Dark and the celebration of its allure in the bright lights of Awards Night in the Dolby Theatre, is that the movies are lethally efficient at allowing, indeed encouraging, escape from reality. 

Even as Blinken and his cinematic operatives dole out the goodies in his Movie Marshall Plan, they don’t seem to know that the closing credits of the American Empire’s blockbuster are already rolling.

For now, there are laurels to be rested on. Before drifting off into his own American superpowered dreams, Blinken might have thought back to his own movie past. He is not known to have helped with the script for The Addiction, but I’m betting he penciled in one line uttered by the main character, Kathleen (Lili Taylor), who’s trying to finish her Ph.D. as a student in philosophy, and who, at the film’s climax (Spoiler Alert 3), bites her way through the faculty: “It makes no difference what I do. Whether I draw blood or not. It’s the violence of my will against theirs.”

(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at dgyearsley@gmail.com.)

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

A big chunk of the general population are herded into delusion by their favorite puppets. About 40% of the US population thinks the Big Guy is doing a good job. About 40% (probably the same 40%) agree that we should send troops to Taiwan if China invades.

Fortunately China won’t invade (pretty sure of that). Invasion would cause damage, death, and ill-will – and then you gotta put the pieces back together. 

As the door closes on a naked, drooling US whacking off in a dark closet, China will become Taiwan’s primary trading partner. Anti-China rhetoric will cease. Eventually they will be peacefully reunited. 

About half of Taiwan’s population wants reunification already, but if you listen to our mockingbird media, you’d think every citizen of Taiwan has a bayonetted AK in each hand, being held back like snarling dogs from killing every commie chink on the mainland.

* * *

Geronimo

* * *

LYNCHING THE DEPLORABLES

The criminal investigation undertaken by the federal government against hundreds of participants in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol is polarizing the country and shredding civil liberties.

by Chris Hedges

There is little that unites me with those who occupied the Capitol building on Jan. 6. Their vision for America, Christian nationalism, white supremacy, blind support for Trump and embrace of reactionary fact-free conspiracy theories leaves a very wide chasm between their beliefs and mine. But that does not mean I support the judicial lynching against many of those who participated in the Jan. 6 events, a lynching that is mandating years in pretrial detention and prison for misdemeanors. Once rights become privileges, none of us are safe. 

The U.S. legal system has a very sordid history. It was used to enforce segregation and legitimize the reign of terror against Black people. It was the hammer that broke the back of militant union movements. It persecuted radicals and reformers in the name of anti-communism. After 9/11, it relentlessly went after Muslim leaders and activists with Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). SAMs, established by the Clinton administration, originally only applied to people who ordered murders from prison or were convicted of mass murder, but are now used to isolate all manner of detainees before and during trial. They severely restrict a prisoner’s communication with the outside world; prohibiting calls, letters and visits with anyone except attorneys and sharply limit contact with family members. The solitary confinement like conditions associated with SAMs undermine any meaningful right to a fair trial according to analysis by groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights and can amount to torture according to the United Nations. Julian Assange faces SAMs or similar conditions should he be extradited to the U.S. The Classified Information Procedures Act, or CIPA, begun under the Reagan administration, also allows evidence in a trial to be classified and withheld from defendants. The courts, throughout American history, have abjectly served the interests of big business and the billionaire class. The current Supreme Court is one of the most retrograde in decades, rolling back legal protections for vulnerable groups and denying workers protection from predatory corporate abuse.

At least 1,003 people have been arrested and charged so far for participation in events on Jan. 6, with 476 pleading guilty, in what has been the largest single criminal investigation in U.S. history, according to analysis by Business Insider. The charges and sentences vary, with many receiving misdemeanor sentences such as fines, probation, a few months in prison or a combination of the three. Of the 394 federal defendants who have had their cases adjudicated and sentenced as of Feb. 6, approximately 220 “have been sentenced to periods of incarceration” with a further 100 defendants “sentenced to a period of home detention, including approximately 15 who also were sentenced to a period of incarceration,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. There are six convictions and four guilty pleas on charges of “seditious conspiracy.” This offense is so widely defined that it includes conspiring to levy war against the government on the one hand and delaying the execution of any law on the other. Those charged and convicted of “seditious conspiracy” were accused of collaborating to oppose “the lawful transfer of presidential power by force” by preventing or delaying the Certification of the Electoral College vote. While a few of the organizers of the Jan. 6 protest such as Stewart Rhodes, who founded Oath Keepers, may conceivably be guilty of sedition, and even this is in doubt, the vast majority of those caught up in the incursion of the Capitol did not commit serious crimes, engage in violence or know what they would do in Washington other than protest the election results. 

Joseph D. McBride went to law school because his brother was serving a 15-year sentence for a crime he did not commit. He provided free legal advice as a law school student to those encamped in Zuccotti Park in New York City during the Occupy movement. Following law school, he worked as a public defender and in the Legal Aid Society. He represents several of those charged in the Jan. 6 incursion, including Richard Barnett. Barnett was photographed in Nancy Pelosi’s office with his leg propped up on her desk. Barnett was convicted by a federal jury, which deliberated for two hours, on eight counts, including disorderly conduct in the Capitol building. He faces up to 47 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 3.

“The post 9/11 model is being applied to American citizens,” McBride told me when I reached him by phone. “That model is the 19 hijackers. Everyone who is a religious Muslim is a suspect for the next 20 years. They should be waterboarded. They should be put in fucking jail and left in Guantanamo Bay. Lock them up. Throw away the key. Because they are psychopath extremists who believe in Allah and we don’t have time for that. They’re a threat based on who they are, what they look like, what they believe in. When the truth is, the vast majority of these guys don’t do drugs, don’t drink alcohol, they have five kids and they live pretty good lives. But because of the label of ‘terrorism’ and ‘Osama Bin Laden’ and ‘al-Qaeda’, everybody who is a Muslim is now a target. If we get on a plane next to one of these people, we get nervous about it because that’s how much it’s ingrained in us. The same thing is happening, except it’s being applied to a new group of people, primarily white Christians, Trump supporters, for now.” 

“Power is going to change hands,” he warned. “The Democrats are not going to be in power forever. When power changes hands, that precedent is going to travel with it. If somebody else from the other side gets in and starts to target the people who are in power now, their families, their businesses, their lives, their freedom, then it’s over. America goes from being a free democracy to a tribalist partisan state. Maybe there’s not ethnic-cleansing in the streets, but people are cleansing each other from the workplace, from social media, from the banking system and they’re putting people in jail. That’s where we’re headed. I don’t know why people can't see what’s on the horizon.”

The Jan. 6 protestors were not the first to occupy Congressional offices, including Nancy Pelosi’s office. Young environmental activists from the Sunrise Movement, anti-war activists from Code Pink and even congressional staffers have engaged in numerous occupations of congressional offices and interrupted congressional hearings. What will happen to groups such as Code Pink if they occupy congressional offices with Republicans in control of the White House, the Congress and the courts? Will they be held for years in pretrial detention? Will they be given lengthy prison terms based on dubious interpretations of the law? Will they be considered domestic terrorists? Will protests and civil disobedience become impossible?

McBride said those who walked to the Capitol were not aware that the Department of Justice had created arbitrary markers, what McBride called an “imaginary red line that they draw around the Capitol grounds.” Anyone who crossed that invisible line was charged with violating Capitol grounds.

He railed against the negative portrayal of the protestors in the media, the White House and Democratic Party leadership, as well as a tainted jury pool in Washington composed of people who have close links to the federal government. He said Change of Venue motions filed by the defense lawyers have been denied.

“The D.C. jury pool is poisoned beyond repair,” McBride said. “When you just look at what the January 6  Committee did alone, never mind President Biden’s speeches about ‘insurrectionists,’ ‘MAGA Republican extremists’ and all this stuff, and if you just consider the fact that D.C. is very small, that people who work in the Federal Government are all by definition, kind of victims of January 6 and what happened that day, their institutions and colleagues were ‘under attack.’ How can anybody from that town serve on a jury pool? They can’t. The bias is astounding.”

Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon shaman” who was adorned on Jan. 6 in red, white and blue face paint, carried an American flag on a spear-tipped pole and wore a coyote-fur and horned headdress, pleaded guilty to obstruction. He was sentenced to more than three years in prison. Chansley, who says he is a practitioner of ahimsa, an ancient Indian principle of non-violence toward all living beings, was not accused of assaulting anyone. He was diagnosed in prison with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. 

Guy Wesley Reffitt, who did not enter the Capitol building, nevertheless was sentenced after three hours of deliberations to seven years and three months in prison on five charges, including “two counts of civil disorder, and one count each of obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a firearm, and obstruction of justice.” His obstruction of justice charge came from “threatening” his two teenage children to prevent them from reporting him to law enforcement.

Daniel Ray Caldwell, a Marine Corps veteran, who sprayed a chemical irritant at a group of police officers outside the Capitol and entered through the Senate Wing doors where he remained inside for approximately two minutes, was sentenced to more than five years in prison. He spent, like many who have been charged, nearly two years in pretrial detention.

Even the charges against Rhodes, who faces 20 years in prison, and other militia leaders of groups such as the Proud Boys are problematic. The New York Times reported that, “despite the vast amount of evidence the government collected in the case — including more than 500,000 encrypted text messages — investigators never found a smoking gun that conclusively showed the Proud Boys plotted to help President Donald J. Trump remain in office.” The government has relied on the testimony of a former Proud Boy, Jeremy Bertino, who is cooperating with prosecutors to build an “inferential case” against Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola, the five defendants in the current Proud Boy case. Bertino, on cross-examination, admitted that in previous interviews with the government, he repeatedly told investigators that the Proud Boys did not have an explicit plan to halt the election certification and that he did not anticipate acts of violence on Jan. 6. The FBI had as many as eight informants in the Proud Boys that included its leader, Enrique Tarrio, during the storming of the Capitol, raising the very real possibility of entrapment.

“They’re changing the laws,” McBride said. “Look at the 1512 charge, the obstruction charge. That was used for document shredding in Enron. It has no applicability to Jan. 6 whatsoever. They took it. They repurposed it. They weaponised it against these people and made it impossible for them to defend themselves. When you look at the civil disorder charge, they are saying that if January 6 was one big civil disorder, and if you had any type of interaction with a police officer that day that may or may not have caused the police officer to step away from his duties for a moment, you can go down with civil disorder and get five years in jail.”

Ryan Nichols, a Marine Corps veteran, is living under house arrest in Texas after nearly two years in pretrial detention, much of it in solitary confinement, in Washington, D.C and Virginia jails. He faces five felony and three misdemeanor charges. Prosecutors say Nichols assaulted officers and obstructed an official proceeding. He has been ordered to “stay away from Washington, D.C.” except for business related to his case, according to court documents. He has had to submit to “location monitoring technology” and is denied access to the internet and his phone except to perform functions related to his case. He cannot have contact with anyone involved in the Jan. 6 events, including co-defendants. Nichols must remain in his home 24 hours a day except for medical and court appointments. He is permitted to attend Sunday church services at Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, Texas. He is facing 20 years in prison. He is scheduled to go to trial on March 27.

I spoke with Bonnie Nichols, Ryan’s wife, by phone from their home in Longview, Texas. 

Ryan was arrested on Jan. 18, 2020. The FBI surrounded their house at 5:30 am in armored vehicles. They unscrewed the bulbs from flood lights and cut the wires to the couple’s security cameras before kicking in the front door. The couple and their two children, then aged 4 and 6, were at Bonnie’s parents house during the raid. The FBI confiscated their weapons, electronics and documents, including Social Security cards. 

“We wanted to cooperate,” she said. “We didn’t know anything was wrong. They asked Ryan to come in for questioning. Ryan went and turned himself in. They arrested him and I didn’t see him again for over a year and a half.”

Ryan, who had no criminal record, ran a nonprofit called Rescue the Universe where he carried out search-and-rescue operations after natural disasters. He was denied bail. He was sent to a holding facility in Grady County Oklahoma for two months before being flown to Washington, D.C. where he was met by some two dozen U.S. Marshals. His feet were shackled. His arms were shackled to a chain around his waist. He was placed in long term solitary confinement and denied video calls or visitation from his family, including his children. He was denied access to his trial documents for nearly a year and prohibited from attending religious services in the jail.

Ryan, whose most serious offense appears to be incendiary rhetoric calling for a “second American revolution,” spent nearly 22 months in solitary confinement. Depressed, struggling to cope with the physical and psychological strain of prolonged isolation, he was eventually placed on suicide watch. He was strapped to a bench in a room where a light was never turned off. Guards would periodically shout through a window “Do you feel like killing yourself?” Those on suicide watch who said  “yes” remained strapped to the bench. Those who said “no” were sent back to their cells. Ryan was often prohibited from having nail clippers — the guards told him he could chew his toenails down — or getting a haircut unless he agreed to be vaccinated for COVID-19. When Ryan appeared before Judge Thomas Hogan, who finally released him on Nov. 23, 2022, he told Ryan, with his long unkempt hair and fingernails, that he looked like Tom Hanks in the film Cast Away.

Every night, for the two years Ryan was held in solitary confinement, Bonnie and her two small boys would say prayers that Ryan would one day come home. She said she and her family have received numerous death threats.

“Ryan deals with insomnia,” Bonnie said of her husband. “He deals with extreme anxiety, depression and paranoia. He will not even go outside of his backyard because he’s scared that if he goes outside, that they’re going to take him back to jail. He has liver issues from the food that he ate because they fed him baloney sandwiches and trash while he was in D.C. He’s having a lot of medical issues. He also has lower testosterone than a 60-year-old man because he wasn’t able to have any sunlight. His vitamin D levels are low. The list goes on and on. This man does not sleep at night. He has nightmares. He whimpers at night in his sleep because he has dreams that he's back in D.C. I mean, he’s a mess. This is the result of what has happened to him. He has vision loss. He doesn’t see as good as he used to.”

Ryan’s family, like many families of those charged, are struggling financially. Bonnie said their savings are gone. She and Ryan are heavily in debt. She has set up a fundraising page here.

“We are God-loving patriots,” she said. “Who’s going to be next? It’s not about Republican or Democrat or white or Black, Christian, or Muslim. We are all children of God. We are all U.S. American citizens. We are all entitled to our constitutional rights and freedom of speech. We can all come together and agree on that, right?”

The cheerleading, or at best indifference, by Democratic Party supporters and much of the left to these show trials will come back to haunt them. We are exacerbating the growing tribalism and political antagonisms that will increasingly express themselves through violence. We are complicit, once again, of using the courts to carry out vendettas. We are corroding democratic institutions. We are hardening the ideology and rage of the far-right. We are turning those being hounded to prison into political prisoners and martyrs. We are moving ever closer towards tyranny.

(chrishedges.substack.com)

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* * *

UKRAINE, SATURDAY, 18TH MARCH

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. It was met with dismissal from Russia and praise from Ukrainian and Western leaders.

Putin and a Russian official are accused of forcibly deporting thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia. While Putin is unlikely to stand trial, the warrant heavily limits his ability to travel.

Turkey said Ukraine and Russia have agreed to extend the Black Sea grain deal that was set to expire today. The deal has been pivotal for addressing global hunger.

Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin said he anticipates recruiting 30,000 more fighters by mid-May. Meanwhile, Putin signed laws that prohibit "discrediting" volunteers and mercenaries fighting in Ukraine.

* * *

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DEATH ON THE NILE 

by Alexander Cockburn (1981)

“Magnificent, Poirot!”

Hastings clapped Poirot heartily on the back as the little Belgian delicately touched his magnificent mustaches with a napkin and gazed with disfavor at the half-empty cup of hot chocolate on the hotel breakfast tray. “Mon cher Hastings,” he murmured, “would you not think that the Nile Hilton could prepare a proper chocolat?”

“But Poirot,” exclaimed Hastings, ignoring his friend’s complaint, “to have succeeded where the intelligence services of five countries failed! To have solved the most sensational crime of the decade, the murder of President Sadat!”

Poirot made a lame pretense of modesty. “C’était pas difficile, mon brave, if one only uses the eyes and the brain. Let me explain how I came to my conclusions.”

He leaned back and half closed his eyes.

“The first task was to consider the circumstances of the crime. You will recall that the military authorities were quick to announce that the deed had been perpetrated by four members of the Takfir Wa Higra, meaning ‘Atonement and Pilgrimage,’ and that this desperate faction of the Muslim Brotherhood had acted independently of any foreign power.

“Now it did not require great exercise of what you, Hastings, like to call the little gray cells, to see that this is obviously what the Egyptian military authorities would say in order to postpone inevitably embarrassing questions about the quality of their own intelligence, and indeed possible complicity of the armed forces in the murder. In our dark century, it is always cleaner to have, as our American friends say, ‘the lone gunman,’ or in this case four lone gunmen.

“But of course the correct question to ask was why the dog did not bark in the night. Who might have known the plans of these four dedicated assassins and not warned Sadat?

“So I had to consider the question of motive, objectively and without prejudice.

“First, who was the immediate beneficiary of the deed? Hosni Mubarak.”

“Great Scott, Poirot,” Hastings burst in. “Mubarak, the friend, the disciple of Sadat! Surely you could discount…”

Poirot raised an indulgent hand.

“Mon cher Hastings, you have the most decent feelings. But I would remind you that we speak of power, of politics. We must not be sentimental. Let us discount Cairo gossip and the stories of Mubarak’s relationship with Jihan Sadat. I do not think we have here a case of the eternal triangle. But consider Mubarak’s situation. He was the creature of Sadat, as he himself said, the vache qui rit, just as Nasser would call Sadat “the black donkey.” He was not insensible of Sadat’s increasing unpopularity inside Egypt. And he knew of Sadat’s occasional suggestions, as for example to Jimmy Carter a few weeks before his death, that he might step down next year and install Mubarak as President.

“Perhaps Mubarak asked himself, why wait? Perhaps in a year the situation would have been beyond recovery. Perhaps on Mubarak’s last visit to Washington someone there too had the same idea.”

“The Americans?” Hastings exclaimed incredulously.

Poirot regarded his friend with amusement.

“Always you think with the emotions. As I said, we must consider all the motives, all the suspects, with dispassion. I did not say I thought the Americans were responsible, even if those reports that the American ambassador left the reviewing stand 15 minutes before the attack were, to say the least, tantalizing.

“Of course it is most unlikely that the Americans had any knowledge of the plot. Sadat was their best friend, their tool, in the Middle East. In many senses his death was an American event. It would perhaps have been more appropriate to have buried him in Arlington Cemetery. You will recall their childish predictions that the streets of Cairo would fill with millions of mourners the night of the murder, or the bizarre claim of le Maire Koch of New York that Egyptians saw Sadat as a father figure. The Americans had no sense that Sadat was unpopular with his own people, that by the end he was jailing not merely ‘fanatics’ but generals, politicians, people of the left, journalists like Hassanein Heikal, even the leading Egyptian feminist, the charmante Nawal el Saadawy. As with the Shah, they could theorize but not actually comprehend that their client’s days were numbered.

Poirot sighed.

Les Americains, always they pick one horse. Always, always they pick the wrong horse. But we must exclude the possibility that someone in Washington perceived that Sadat was becoming erratic and indiscreet. His boast. for example, to an American journalist that he was helping to supply the Afghan rebels. They cannot have liked that.

“In a sense of course the Americans killed Sadat. He isolated himself in the Arab world and in the eyes of many of his people with the Camp David agreements. And they gave him nothing! Rien! They let the Israelis get away with everything. They allowed Sadat to look like a fool, un idiot! Then, to make matters worse, they send three Presidents and Monsieur Kissinger to Cairo. So le pauvre Mubarak looks like the little lap dog.

“This is to speak in the wider sense. As actual accomplices, they are unlikely suspects. And of course Mubarak himself was in the stand. He was even wounded. If he was implicated he took enormous risks.

“But Mubarak was Sadat’s liaison with the Saudis. And with the House of Saud we have a manifest motive.”

Poirot paused to mop the great dome of his forehead with a silk handkerchief.

“The heat, Hastings,” he moaned. “The dreadful Egyptian heat. Do you not think the air conditioning in this hotel is atroce?” He plunged on without waiting for an answer.

“It is no secret that the Saudis had close ties with the Muslim Brothers. They financed some of their literature. Perhaps you may not have observed, my dear Hastings, on the ill-furnished bookstalls of this great city,” Poirot made a fastidious moue, “the lurid cover of the magazine Al Dawa’a. You do not suppose that the money for this evidently well-financed publication, the organ of the Muslim Brotherhood, comes from the humble piastres of the Cairene poor?’

‘Rials from Riyadh, what?” said Hastings.

“They certainly would have had access to Takfir Wa Higra. For them Sadat was anathema, the traitor who flew to Israel. He was also the ally the US most worked with in the Arab world. Sadat, the traitor, they could never embrace. Mubarak, the man they have been in touch with, will be a different matter. Do you not think, mon cher Hastings, that the Saudis could have been sending the US a signal during the debate over that foolish plane, the AWACS? A signal saying, ‘You must deal with us. We, not Sadat, are essential to you in the area’.”

He gazed quizzically across the room at Hastings.

“You are baffled, hein? For you, mon cher, these matters are a little tedious?”

“Of course I follow international events…” Hastings began, rather stiffly.

Poirot smiled soothingly.

“I am just exercising a little drollery. Do not be offended. To continue with our suspects. We must of course consider the Israelis, the formidable Mossad.”

“My dear Poirot!” Hastings cried hotly.

Poirot continued without pause. “By April of next year the Israelis would — perhaps still will, though I have my doubts — have had to hand back the rest of the Sinai. Messieurs Begin and Sharon would have had big problems with the Gush Emunim. There would have been bloodshed. Time and again they provoked Sadat beyond the endurance of any man. He accepted everything. He had patience, like a woman. He suffered every slight. Like the Americans, they killed Sadat in the larger sense. So perhaps the Israelis, aware of the complots against Sadat, fail in the final crisis to say that not all the conspirators have been arrested. Perhaps they think that without Sadat the ‘peace process’ will finally die and they will not have to surrender the rest of the Sinai. Perhaps they will feel more free to attack in southern Lebanon. Remember, Hastings, I merely examine motives dispassionately.

“On the other side we have the PLO. They too had connections with Takfir Wa Higra. For them Sadat was the great betrayer. Since Camp David, Jerusalem has been annexed, the settlements doubled in number, south Lebanon destroyed. To be sure, they had the motive. It is possible that some PLO leaders saw Sadat as a tiny insurance against more fierce attacks by the Israelis and the Syrians. But when has the PLO leadership ever been entirely logical or consistent?

“Nom d’un nom!” Poirot interrupted himself, staring with horror at the shoes proudly deposited by a beaming waiter whom Hastings had just admitted to the suite. ‘Hastings, can this be? The garcon has administered the polish to my shoes.’ Poirot gazed mutely at his cherished patent leather footwear, which indeed bore witness to enthusiastic but misapplied effort.

The waiter was admonished, then dismissed with a look of cold fury from Poirot and a discreet gratuity from Hastings, and Poirot continued.

“I need scarcely speak of the Iraqis, or the Syrians, not to mention the followers of Khomeini. They very much desired to see Sadat dead. The leaders of these Arab countries know well the emotions of their own peoples. You will recall that no Arab diplomat dared attend the memorial meeting in the UN for Sadat.”

“Poirot, you are forgetting the KGB!”

“Always your favorite suspect, Hastings. Bien sur, the Russians had no love for Sadat, the man who expelled them from Egypt. They too must be included in the list.”

“And that filthy swine, Q’addafi.” Hastings clenched his fists. “I’d like to get my hands on that cur!”

“Pas de zéle, pas de zéle, Hastings,” said Poirot beseechingly. Of course Q’addafi wanted Sadat dead. In his fantasies he probably sees himself as the leader of a united Libyan-Egyptian Republic. His agents too had ties with the Takfir Wa Higra. And Q’addafi knew well that Sadat’s emissary, Mubarak, was discussing his overthrow with Washington only days before the assassination. We have here a motivation most manifest.

“And we must not forget the brave General Shazli, whom Sadat fired in 1973. Our friend the American intelligence officer tells us that at a speech in Boston last year at the Association of Arab University Graduates, Shazli more or less openly said he could dispose of Sadat in a coup d'etat, adding that he would be better for American policy in the Middle East than Sadat. 

“Shazli was getting money from the Iraqis as well, presumably, as from the Libyans. And Shazli still had close ties with his colleagues in the Egyptian armed forces. But I think perhaps that there is more bluster to General Shazli than one might think.”

“I must say,” Hastings broke in, “that as an old army man I find it damned odd how those assassins managed to get their truck in the right lane, get their ammunition and get the job done so efficiently. In my experience, you could train for an operation like that for months and still have something go wrong. Damned odd!”

“Precisely. As usual, you have hit the nail unerringly on the head. Is it not conceivable that commanders in the Egyptian army could have been aware of the plot? The army too was tiring of Sadat, as he had his little chats with la belle Walters. He had not only fired Shazli, but since then Gammasy, and Ibrahim Kamal. Sadat liked to disgrace his own pawns and allies, just to show he had the power to do so. Do not forget that the head of the Egyptian general staff and important officers were killed in a crash in the western desert not long before the assassination. The time-honored helicopter method. It was thought then that Sadat’s security men, on his orders, might not perhaps have been uninvolved.

“And we have the extraordinary affair of the security guards, ordered to relax their vigilance around Sadat minutes before the attentat.

“Does not this arouse one’s curiosity about the role of Abu Ghazaleh, Minister of Defense? He did, it is true, sustain some trifling wound. But his composure was much remarked amid that ghastly scene. Does this not suggest a man unsurprised by the sudden turn of events? Consider. Both he and Mubarak stood inches from Sadat while the assassins raked the reviewing stand with machine-gun fire. Do you not think the assassins performed this raking with extraordinary delicacy and discrimination?

“So now Mubarak and the army must coexist together. He will be careful not to displease them. I would not, all the same, much care to be in the shoes of that gentleman.” Poirot cast another sour glance at his own maltreated footwear.

After a moment’s reflection, he said absent-mindedly, “Ratchett.”

“Eh, what’s that, Poirot?”

“You will recall, Hasting, the murder of Ratchett aboard the Orient Express. An intriguing little mystery. But an instructive one, no?”

Poirot raised his eyebrows humorously as he studied the face of his faithful friend.

“Of course, Poirot! That’s what gave you the clue!”

“Precisely. They all killed Sadat.”

* * *

"The Mob," New Jersey 1961, by Walter Chandoha, known as the Richard Avedon of Cat Photography. Over the course of his decades-long career, the late photographer created over 90,000 images of cats. They appeared in magazines like Life and National Geographic, on cans of cat food, in calendars and books.

17 Comments

  1. Stephen Dunlap March 19, 2023

    “About half of Taiwan’s population wants reunification already, but if you listen to our mockingbird media, you’d think every citizen of Taiwan has a bayonetted AK in each hand, being held back like snarling dogs from killing every commie chink on the mainland.”

    me – a quick Google check said 6.5% of Taiwan population wants re-unification ?

    • Kirk Vodopals March 19, 2023

      I agree. Gotta add some facts to that editorial. Maybe chat with a real Taiwanese person. I know of one in Fort Bragg. Nice lady.

  2. Harvey Reading March 19, 2023

    “Kill the pike minnow, regulate the fertilizer out and start a breeding program or we will never see revenue or food from the Eel River again.”

    Kill the wine farmers and take out the damned dams.

    • Kirk Vodopals March 19, 2023

      Not much of a grape problem in terms of water quality impacts to the Eel…obviously more of a quantity problem.
      In any case, the anonymous writers suggestions are specious at best. Hatcheries are unequivocally one if the main killers of native salmon populations. Chinese ships… puh-leez. The author doesn’t understand how watersheds work if they think the fish will be fine with “just 75%”. Sounds about the same as how us honkeys treated the natives

      • peter boudoures March 19, 2023

        Not much of a water quality issue with grapes? If you don’t consider pesticides and fungicides as an issue then you’re right. Roundup is sprayed below the vineyard canopy before bud break to kill off the grass, then washes into the streams. The vineyards who don’t use round up still use highly toxic materials for routine IPM. I’ve tested the grape Pumace i use for compost, It takes 4-5 years before i can use for cannabis without failing my biomass testing.

        • Kirk Vodopals March 19, 2023

          My assumption is that there are very few vineyards within the Eel River watersheds, but obviously lots of water diverted for vineyards outside of the Eel watershed.
          Definitely lots more weed than wine within the Eel.

          • peter boudoures March 19, 2023

            Some would argue that timber is the main industry along the eel, with thousands of miles in roads which cause silt in the stream beds. Personally I enjoy the Mendocino nation forest and all it has to offer including the recreational roads and lakes. Ruth lake is my favorite boating lake and would love to see it stay as well. While we’re on the topic I’d hate to see the Lake Tahoe dam removed.

      • Harvey Reading March 19, 2023

        Lack of decent instream HABITAT, especially water, is the problem.

    • Maureen L Martin March 19, 2023

      Where is all that fertilizer in the rivers coming from???Let’s all have a glass of wine and just talk about it…..and just talk about it some more…How about all California farming and Ag. industry has to use the same growing practices and restrictions put on cannabis (which are good for the planet and most mom and pop growers already use). Imagine what will return to our rivers and countryside, please.

  3. chuck dunbar March 19, 2023

    “THE MOB”

    Perfectly titled photo of tough-guy cats on the prowl. That slit-eyed, big black cat–he’s the boss. And they’re Jersey cats, the rowdiest of all gang cats! Made me smile.

    • Jim Armstrong March 19, 2023

      I thought so too, but a video about Chandoha says they were his house cats coming in for dinner.
      I sent this pic to my granddaughter.
      I have a double of the one back right.

      • chuck dunbar March 19, 2023

        That’s great, “house cats coming in for dinner.” I love cats and their ways, fooling us into thinking they’re tough guys, but really just coming to get their kibble. Serious business after all….Made me smile again. Thanks, Jim.

  4. Stephen Rosenthal March 19, 2023

    Wow, Jayma Shields Spence paints an even more damning picture of the County’s response than originally suspected. Kudos to her, her husband, Sue and the locals who put aside their own needs during the snowstorm and pitched in with time and supplies.

    About a week ago I commented that Williams is the most unlikeable Supervisor in the last 20 years. Considering some of the Supervisors the County has endured, that’s a very high bar. But after reading his typical blame others offensive message about the situation, not only will I double down on my opinion but expand it to all-time rather than a mere 20 years. What an a-hole!

    • George Dorner March 19, 2023

      It’s apparent that Mr. Williams has little regard for his constituents’ lives and welfare. He is busily justifying a dead storage space that is supposed to be for emergency supplies. Well, if you are the self-appointed expert on this dead storage, Mr. Williams, where’s the key that would make it work as an emergency shelter?

  5. Nathan Duffy March 19, 2023

    RE: WOKE A Book for Basic Dickheads
    Jesus, Mary and Joseph I just fell out of my chair and nearly peed myself.
    A couple guys I work with call everything ‘Woke”, this is TOO GOOD.

  6. Eric Sunswheat March 19, 2023

    George Dorner off – key on lock?

    —>. I am under the impression that Jayma Shields Spence, who is Director of Laytonville Healthy Start, in her own personal capacity, has relayed in the news media, probably during public broadcast program on KZYX last week, that the Laytonville County shelter storage lock is a combination one that does not include a key.

    And that the established protocol is for the County Office of Emergency Services, to delegate two County actors to achieve access to emergency shelter container when deemed appropriate by the County.

    Why does George Dorner continue to have a fixation in numerous online forums about a seemingly non existent key, unless he has a trace of the facts, beyond seemingly as a curmudgeon to blast Supervisor Ted Williams, or do I have this backwards?

    • George Dorner March 20, 2023

      I do not have a trace of fact about access to the Laytonville dead storage that is falsely touted as emergency supplies. I will modify my query to ask why the combination was not available for emergencies. If it were indeed a combination lock, how come no one telephoned Ms Shields with the combination?

      I addressed my query to Mr. Williams because despite the fact it’s not his district, and he is apparently bereft of common sense, he has made himself the defender of the failed status quo.

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