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CLOUDS AND LIGHT RAIN SHOWERS will prevail across the coast and coastal interior today followed by a more pronounced period of light rainfall and snow as a frontal system moves across the area tonight. A deeper trough will follow on Sunday bringing higher rain amounts and lower snow levels. Occasional rain showers and mountain snow showers and colder conditions will persist into early next week. (NWS)
AN UGLY END TO A STELLAR LAW ENFORCEMENT CAREER
by Mike Geniella
Chris Awad’s career as a Mendocino Coast police officer was stellar before his errors in judgment crashed in on him.
By the time he turned 30, Awad was twice honored as “Officer of the Year” by the Fort Bragg Police Department. He quickly rose through the ranks, promoted to sergeant, and assigned to the elite Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force, the top law enforcement unit in the county.
These were remarkable achievements for a rookie cop who served under four police chiefs in eight years in a rural police department struggling to right itself. At one point during a police chief vacancy, administrative oversight was so lax the sergeants were running the department.
Then, all hell broke loose.
In April of 2019, Awad, on patrol near the Harbor Lite Lodge overlooking Noyo Harbor, stopped a vehicle driven by a young local woman. He arrested her for driving under the influence. A year later Awad stood accused by District Attorney David Eyster’s office of interfering in the prosecution effort, and not being truthful during an internal affairs investigation into a consensual tryst that Awad had with the young woman in a San Francisco hotel room months after he arrested her.
Awad was fired by the Fort Bragg department in April 2020 based on conclusions of its internal police investigation and influenced by the DA’s damaging decision to place the officer on the “Brady List,” a ranking almost certain to end a cop’s career.
The Brady list, determined by a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision, requires prosecutors to divulge to defense attorneys any information about law enforcement officers with histories of misconduct that could impact their credibility testifying under oath.
His firing was a crushing blow for the small town Sacramento Valley guy. Awad was a top athlete at Durham High School and became a police officer at age 24 after graduating at the top of class in the criminal justice program at Butte College.
“I am not excusing my actions,” said Awad. “I admit I made mistakes. But the DA and the city came after me hard. I don’t think I deserved that.”
Awad ran afoul of the DA’s office and his police superiors after a junior prosecutor three years ago accused him of attempting to “tank” the prosecution on the arrested woman’s behalf by being vague in court testimony about specific details of her arrest for drunk driving. Awad later admitted he had struck up a friendship with the woman, owner of small café in town, via a social media site.
Awad said because he believed the woman’s case was being resolved with a plea deal; he wrongly agreed to meet her months after the arrest while he was in the Bay Area on training. He described it as a onetime hook up in a Bay Area hotel fueled by alcohol.
“I never thought I would have to testify against her, so I allowed things to happen that clearly should not have,” said Awad.
Awad was fired after an internal affairs investigation concluded he willfully failed to inform his superiors or a substitute prosecutor that he had become friends with the defendant. When the District Attorney’s Office withdrew a “wet and reckless” plea deal and forced the DUI case to trial, Awad found himself in a bind. Earlier he had asked the original prosecutor assigned to the case, Kevin Cisney, to consider reducing the charges because the woman, a local resident with DACA immigration status, fearing she might be deported.
Prosecutor Melissa Weems Roth, who has since left DA David Eyster’s office to become a prosecutor in Georgia, stepped in after Cisney’s departure from the DA’s Fort Bragg office and took the DUI case to trial. She clashed with Awad over his seemingly “soft” recollections as a witness and complained to Eyster she believed the officer’s testimony was “swayed towards aiding the defense.”
Awad’s demeanor on the witness stand was indeed “odd,” agreed Public Defender Francis McGowan. He said he later came to understand why, however.
“I had negotiated a plea agreement with Cisney on the defendant’s behalf, and he [Awad] thought he was not going to have to testify against her,” recalled McGowan.
But Cisney, the original prosecutor, and Eyster had a sudden blow up and Cisney abruptly left for a new job in Tennessee. McGowan said he and Cisney in fact a short time before had reached a plea deal to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor “wet and reckless.”
“When Cisney left, Eyster pulled the deal off the table and insisted the case go to trial,” said McGowan.
Awad’s demeanor on the witness stand may have been questionable but it clearly did not sway the jury, said McGowan. The jury found the defendant guilty on the more serious DUI charge.
Eyster, angered by his junior prosecutor’s account about Awad courtroom behavior, ordered his then chief investigator Kevin Bailey to probe the matter, and he encouraged the Fort Bragg police to conduct an internal affairs investigation. Bailey’s report concluded that Awad had fudged details, including his accounts of the hotel room encounter with the woman when first questioned by investigators.
However, no evidence of possible perjury by Awad while testifying under oath in court was found in either the DA review or the city’s investigation.
Awad challenged his termination, but after a hearing an arbitrator ruled that his failure to tell the DA’s office and his superiors about his subsequent personal connection to the defendant was a “willful omission” and justified his dismissal.
“I feel that I deserved punishment for my actions. But I have never lied about what went on. To label me a dishonest cop on the Brady list is unfair, especially when seen in comparison to other things that have gone on around here,” said Awad.
Awad’s misconduct issues are the latest to surface in Mendocino County law enforcement during the past year, a respected community of professionals who serve a sprawling rural region. The disclosures have stirred scrutiny and raised questions about what goes on behind a “blue wall of silence.”
DA Eyster, who is the county’s chief law enforcement officer, refuses to discuss the individual misconduct cases involving Awad and three other high ranking former cops. Eyster refuses to answer questions about his policies surrounding local police misconduct, or why he acts in some cases and not others.
Awad is the only local police officer to speak publicly about the specific misconduct allegations against him. He has engaged in a series of online video commentaries with Trent James, another former Mendocino County law enforcement officer. James too was an “officer of the year” while he was a sheriff’s deputy before his career went off the rails in an internal flap with his superiors. James ran as a write-in candidate in the last election, and won 15% of the vote, a surprising number given the typical 5% or less usually associated with such campaigns.
In a bid to move on with his life, in January Awad voluntarily surrendered his state certification as a cop. He was the first cop in California to do so since a new state law went into effect allowing public disclosure of such cases.
“I have to put this behind me. I realize I don’t belong in law enforcement anymore if this is how justice is handed out,” said Awad.
Awad fought his termination at arbitration. He said he did so because he wanted to be free of allegations that he lied about actions as a police officer.
“I did not lie through any of this. I am not a dirty cop,” averred Awad. “I fought to protect my credibility.”
In a high profile follow up, a few months after his firing Awad found himself the focus of a federal Department of Homeland Security and FBI raid, aided by local Sheriff’s deputies and DA investigators. The early morning raid at his Fort Bragg home — he was away working at a logging site — apparently was provoked by rumors that he was dealing in weapons. No illegal weapons were found by federal agents, and no charges as a result of the raid were ever filed. A probable cause for the raid is under seal, and unavailable for public review.
“For a while I thought this nightmare would never end,” recalled Awad.
Now, three years later Awad is living out of state, piecing his life back together after surrendering his certification as a cop.
It is a dubious distinction to be the first, but one that Awad said during a series of interviews was a decision he needed to make.
“I am in my 30s. I can rebuild my life and get on with the good things that I showed I can do,” said Awad. “Who knows where I would be if I was not pulled from that career, and with corrupt superiors who have done way worse but continue on the job. I am happy to be away from it.”
What happened in Awad’s case is detailed in hundreds of pages of documents released under California’s new SB 1421 legislation. The request was made by the California Reporting Project, a collaboration of 40 news organizations including KQED, Bay Area News Group, the Investigative Reporting Project at UC Berkeley, Capital Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times. The California Reporting Project’s offices are at Stanford University.
The internal documents reveal how Eyster effectively doomed Awad’s career by placing the young cop on the “Brady List,” the confidential internal declaration that prosecutors sometime use to deem errant officers less than credible to testify as witnesses in future criminal cases. Awad was terminated by the city after its own internal affairs probe and a DA review contended he deliberately failed to inform prosecutors of his subsequent relationship with the woman he had arrested months earlier.
Eyster’s selective use of the Brady procedure has emerged as a flash point in a growing number of local police misconduct cases that have rocked Mendocino County. They include a former Ukiah police sergeant, a former Ukiah police chief, and a Willits police lieutenant. All three cases involve sex-related allegations among other issues. Awad’s case differs significantly in that he and the woman involved agree their one-time encounter in a hotel room was consensual and occurred months after her arrest.
Why some cops get branded as untruthful or worse and land on the Brady List, and others do not is unclear and outside of public purview. There are no uniform protocols, and any listing is at the sole discretion of individual prosecutors.
About 95% of California law enforcement agencies rely on policy guidance from Lexipol, a for-profit national police research and policy organization. The organization’s own research arm found that there are no uniform policies or practices regarding Brady Lists among prosecutors at the state and federal levels. Simply put, some prosecutor’s offices maintain lists, while others do not.
“The lack of uniformity creates problems,” said Val Van Brocklin, a former state and federal prosecutor who writes about law enforcement issues for Lexipol’s news publication. She is recognized nationally for her police training programs.
Van Brocklin said some prosecutors “weaponize” Brady with career ending consequences. “There are prosecutors who have used Brady against officers for political, personal-grudge or whistleblower retaliation reasons” because it is outside procedural protections provided in law enforcement agencies’ official disciplinary processes.
“I understand the importance, and I fully support Brady requirements. But there needs to be due process with its use. Just as we give murderers due process, we need to give people placed on a Brady list the same,” said Van Brocklin.
Van Brocklin said she fears some prosecutors are emboldened to use Brady because courts have ruled that they enjoy absolute prosecutorial immunity for conduct associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process. This includes how a Brady listing is used.
Eyster in fact used that immunity to free himself at taxpayers’ expense in excess of $50,000 from a 2017 civil lawsuit filed by Amanda Carley, when the role of a Brady listing first surfaced locally in her case. Carley is a former Mendocino County probation officer who accused Eyster of being the “architect” of a plan to end her law enforcement career by placing her on his Brady list.
Eyster did so following a contentious law enforcement investigation into Carley’s claims that she was physically and financially abused by her former live-in partner Noble Waidelich, then a high ranking Ukiah police officer. Carley eventually lost her job, while Waidelich was promoted to Police Chief.
In June 2022, Waidelich was fired by city officials after allegations that he sexually assaulted another Ukiah woman surfaced.
For seven months Eyster has sat on the results of a Sonoma County investigation into Waidelich’s possible criminal case. The DA refuses to publicly discuss the status of the Waidelich case, or any of the other pending police misconduct cases. In the meantime, Waidelich’s alleged victim has filed a sexual battery and violation of civil rights lawsuit in federal court against the former police chief and the city of Ukiah.
Eyster also remains mum about the results of an outside investigation completed last Fall on former Willits Police Lt. Derek Hendry’s alleged sexual assaults on a Willits woman.
Carley, the police chief’s former live in partner, now lives and works in Southern California. She proudly points to the fact that she has since obtained a state criminal investigator license after an exhaustive state review of her past including DA Eyster’s Brady listing of her.
“There is no doubt I was a victim of Eyster’s weaponization of Brady,” said Carley.
Carley agrees with Awad that Eyster seems to use the “Brady bat” against cops who personally fall into his disfavor, while ignoring more serious credibility issues involving others.
“We all know cops who have had longstanding credibility issues but who remain on the job because their honesty isn’t publicly questioned by Eyster,” said Carley. “It isn’t fair that he can arbitrarily use Brady as a weapon, and no one can challenge his findings.”
“There are officers still working who have done far worse but were given second chances and are still officers today,” he said.
Awad said he still feels resentment because he voluntarily agreed to a follow up interview with Eyster’s former chief investigator Kevin Bailey. Eyster used Bailey’s findings to justify placing Awad on his Brady list, internal documents show.
“I never anticipated that they would twist my words and use them to complete their narrative,” said Awad.
Awad, Carley and others wonder how the credibility of other law enforcement officers including Waidelich, disgraced former Ukiah Police Sgt. Kevin Murray and fired Willits Police Lt. Hendry seem to have escaped the same level of DA scrutiny.
For example, court records show that Murray lied about his role in the severe beating of a disabled Ukiah veteran, yet he was never slapped with a Brady listing by Eyster, according to the sworn testimony of one of his own deputy prosecutors who handled the criminal prosecution of the victim. When all the facts emerged, the criminal assault charge against Murray’s victim was dropped “in the interest of justice.”
In a later criminal case against Murray, Eyster agreed to drop three serious sex-related charges and a possession of methamphetamine allegation in exchange for guilty pleas to lesser charges. The plea bargain was blasted as a “sweetheart deal” by one of Murray’s alleged victims, and it provoked a public demonstration outside of Eyster’s courthouse office. Instead of serving a jail term as recommended by probation officers, Murray walked out of the courtroom after being placed on probation for one year. A third alleged victim of Murray, a former police trainee, has a pending civil lawsuit against him and the city of Ukiah.
Hendry was fired from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office in 2018 for timecard fraud after an internal affairs investigation, yet law enforcement sources say Hendry also escaped being placed on Eyster’s Brady list, allowing him to be later hired by Willits Police.
In the Awad case, the fired cop acknowledges he attempted to intervene with prosecutors on the woman’s behalf when he learned she was undocumented and that she feared she could be deported if convicted of felony drunk driving as charged. Police and prosecutors commonly review pre-trial charging issues.
“I honestly didn’t feel the possibility of deportation fit the crime in her case, and I had no problem asking the original prosecutor to turn her case into a ‘wet and reckless’ which carries a lesser penalty,” said Awad.
Initially Awad relished being a cop in Fort Bragg, a small town like the rural communities of the Sacramento Valley where he grew up. Public Defender McGowan and others say he fit in. “He was personable, and calm and cool with people he encountered on duty. I seldom heard any complaints about his conduct,” said McGowan.
Awad said he made mistakes, and sometimes lapses in judgment because of chronic fatigue from working too many shifts because of staff shortages. “I was only 24 years old when I started in law enforcement, and was very immature to be honest,” said Awad.
“I started cutting corners,” he admitted. “Yes, some of them were probably worthy of disciplinary action and possibly even suspension.”
But Awad never expected to be fired. He was stunned when DA Eyster pushed for the city to conduct an internal affairs investigation and went after him with the Brady listing. A Brady listing cannot be the sole reason for termination, but it effectively bars a cop from testifying, a necessary requirement of any law enforcement job.
“I wish he used Brady across the board, instead of selectively using the bat on just some of us,” said Awad.
In April 2020 Eyster spelled out at length in an official letter to Awad how he would be placed on the Brady list, describing it as part of a “secure system available to all prosecutors in the DA’s Office.” He used the same wording in his 2016 notice to probation officer Carley that he was placing her on his Brady List.
Eyster declared in both notices that “This Bradyinformation will be stored in my office's Brady Listing and Documents System (BLDS), a system maintained and secured by the District Attorney Bureau of Investigations. Again, the BLDS is a secure filing system maintained exclusively for local prosecutors, to confirm and satisfy their Brady obligations, and is accessible — through specific inquiry to the investigators — only by deputy district attorneys who are prosecuting a specific case in which you are deemed a material witness on matters of guilt or punishment.”
Yet it is unclear whether such a formal system actually exists in the DA’s office.
In 2021, a year after Eyster’s Brady declaration to Awad and five years after notice of Carley, senior Deputy DA Luke Oakley testified under oath that he didn’t know whether a formal Brady system existed within the DA’s office. His testimony was taken in a civil lawsuit filed against former Ukiah Sgt. Murray.
On May 18, 2021, Oakley was specifically asked if he knew a Brady list existed for prosecutors to review.
“I don’t know if there is a list,” Oakley responded.
The question and answer sequence continued, according to an official transcript:
“I mean generally based on my past experience; I have received e-mail notifications that certain officers have Brady material.
Who do those e-mails come from?
Based on my experience, Mr. Eyster.”
Sonoma County attorney Izaak Schwaiger, who questioned Oakley under oath during that deposition, said he believes it is a “fair assumption” that no formal Brady procedure exists as Eyster claims.
Oakley also testified that to his knowledge Murray was never placed on a Brady list even though it eventually was disclosed that the officer had lied and filed a false arrest report during a 2018 investigation into his vicious beating of a disabled Navy veteran. Victim Chris Rasku originally was sentenced for criminal assault against a police officer, but the DA’s office later dropped the case “in the interest of justice.” Police video clips revealed Murray’s use of excessive force, and largely confirmed the victim’s account. Rasku eventually was awarded $1.1 million in damages by the city to settle a civil lawsuit that later followed.
Murray continued as an officer until he was fired for sexually assaulting a woman in a Ukiah motel room in November 2020. The victim later settled a civil claim against the city of Ukiah for $250,000.
For Awad and others hammered by Eyster for Brady type violations, the Murray case underscores the selective use of career ending measures.
“Brady was the kiss of death for me professionally,” said Awad.
(Mike Geniella was public information officer for the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office for 10 years ending in 2021. Before that for 23 years Geniella was chief of Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s Ukiah News Bureau.)
ELIZABETH JENSEN: Anyone local capable of designing, building and installing a new gate for our local park Arch entranceway? Here are some ideas for inspiration but the design would be custom to coordinate with the Arch style. Looking for local vendor who can provide estimate for design/materials/labor/install.
WHO SHOT NICHOLAS WHIPPLE?
On Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at approximately 4:34 AM the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center received a report of an adult male in need of emergency medical assistance on Tabor Lane in Covelo.
Deputies were dispatched to the location as it appeared the adult male had sustained some type of injury possibly the result of a physical assault.
Personnel from the Round Valley Tribal Police Department arrived first and began providing CPR as the adult male was not breathing and had no pulse. Medical personnel arrived thereafter and after some time the adult male was declared deceased as emergency life saving efforts were unsuccessful.
Deputies arrived and noticed the adult male had what appeared to be a possible gunshot wound. Sheriff's Detectives were summoned to the scene and began a death investigation with the assistance of the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office, Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force (MMCTF) and criminalist with the California Department of Justice.
Investigations into the circumstances of the adult male's death are currently ongoing, thus no further information is currently available for public release.
The adult male victim has been identified as being Nicholas Shehli Whipple, a 20-year-old male from Redwood Valley.
A forensic autopsy has been scheduled for the afternoon of 03-30-2023.
Anyone with information that can assist Sheriff's Detectives with this death investigation are urged to contact the Sheriff's Office Tip-Line by calling 707-234-2100 or the WeTip Anonymous Crime Reporting Hotline by calling 800-782-7463.
COVELO, an on-line comment: There is really good adequate money out there to clean up Round Valley or offer more opportunities for people. $10 million was the last award… Where are positive programs for our youth? Clean places to hang out instead of hanging out with molesters and not so nice people. Yes, yes indeed, things can be better. 100% sometimes hope is all we have. I love Covelo, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. Let’s do the work, Covelo. Many opportunities to be had, it’s time to start embracing them instead of wasting them. No matter the circumstances, a 20 year old dead in the middle of the road is not an opportunity.
ANGRY AND BROKEN-HEARTED, the Round Valley Tribe Demands Witnesses of Recent Murder Come Forward
by Sarah Reith
The Round Valley community is reeling from the brutal murder of twenty-year-old Nicholas Whipple early Wednesday morning. At a standing-room-only press conference at the Round Valley Tribal Administration Building yesterday, tribal members called out drugs and alcohol, a reluctance to report crimes to law enforcement, and law enforcement itself, for the many unsolved crimes on the reservation.
Tribal council members wept as they pleaded with the community to come forward if they witnessed Whipple’s murder. Lewis Whipple, Vice President of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, listed the names of murdered community members as Nicholas Whipple’s aunt held up pictures of her nephew and women wailed.
“Our people want to cover for these people?” he demanded. “Come on, you guys, I grew up in this community. You raised me. We need you to stand up. Speak!”…
REMEMBERING PHYLLIS CURTIS
by Mendocino Land Trust Board Member Chet Anderson
The Mendocino Land Trust and all of Mendocino County have lost a strong, passionate advocate with the recent passing of Phyllis Curtis. Phyllis was a founder of the Inland Mendocino County Land Trust and led our fellow land trust to many successes over the years.
Phyllis was inspired to create the IMCLT in 1997 after witnessing the enormous loss of agricultural lands and open space occurring in California. Her work focused on permanently conserving agricultural lands and natural environments in Mendocino County through easements.
GREAT REDWOOD TRAIL PLANNERS Tout Potential Tourism Profits While Mendo Residents Express Concerns at Community Workshop
The Great Redwood Trail planners held a community workshop in Willits from 6 to 8 pm on Thursday, March 23. The purpose of the workshop was to showcase the section of the trail that will go through Willits, as well as to gather suggestions, comments, and concerns from the public, and also to provide information about the entire 316-mile trail, planned to eventually run from San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay.…
Mr. Scott Chapman posted this today:
I commented and asked him to call me which he did. We had about a twenty minute conversation. Scott is doing great. He is still sober and is still taking care of his parents. He has acquired his drivers license and is working part time fixing E-bikes.
He is thankful every day that the City of Fort Bragg never gave up on him and helped him get home allowing him a fresh start. A life now without heroin or the cravings for heroin.
Getting Scott home was no easy task and required lots of help. I had tried for over a year to get Scott home and away from Fort Bragg where his addiction ran his life. Once I knew Scott had completed rehab I found him staying in a hotel waiting for a package from his dentist. Scott was very wisely avoiding town and triggers for his addiction. He was ready to go home but was reluctant until his package arrived. I stayed in touch until he was ready. Finally Scott called and said, “Let’s do it.”
This is where it gets interesting. FBPD had agreed to pick Scott up and bring him to the very early MTA pickup to Ukiah The PD got him breakfast and I provided him with some pocket cash for the trip. Scott called from Ukiah worried he was at the wrong location and feared he would miss the Greyhound. I immediately contacted Supervisor Mulheren to verify the bus stop and it turns out he was in fact in the right spot. Mo was great. By now Scott was in a bit of panic and had started drinking. Scott had to get on the bus or this could go south fast. Knowing he had a couple hours left to wait I contacted Sheriff Kendall and asked if he could check on Scott. He of course understood the situation and went to stay with Scott. About two hours later the Sheriff called to tell me to say that Scott was on the bus and headed towards Utah.
I cannot express how important it is that our communities get on the same page in this regard. Until we do, the wins like this will come but they will be few and far between. The Fort Bragg Model works; you just have to work it.
Bernie Norvell, Mayor
City of Fort Bragg
A READER WONDERS: Did I dream that someone local is doing Uber or similar? An out of town person has asked me if it is possible to get from Deep End to Boont without a car.
by Mark Scaramella
The Supervisors have hired an expensive consultant to help various water projects around the County apply for grant funding. The consultant has prepared a list of possible projects, a rather pathetic list that has been floating around for more than a year now, so the consultant didn’t have to do much to assemble the list.
The list is unique in that even though its intent is to better prepare Mendo for future droughts, there’s nothing about water storage or conservation. And of course, it does not contain any mention of former Supervisor John Pinches’s ideas about projects like Scout Lake east of Willits (planning for which was near completion before Pinches left the Board back in 2010), a downhill winter-only Dos Rios water pipe to supplement Willits’s haphazard supplies, or fish hatcheries along the Eel. The only project on the list that might have to do with mitigating a future drought isn’t a Mendo project, but a small groundwater recharge project on Indian land in Pinoleville which shouldn’t need much, if any, funding in the first place.
Apparently, despite years of talking and meetings and workshops, nobody (with the conspicuous exception of Fort Bragg) in Official Mendo has any ideas for water storage or conservation. And they’ve already demonstrated that they have no intention of considering any of Pinches’s ideas.
To make the subject even more ludicrous, the Board couldn’t even decide which projects the consultant should devote grant prep time, other than maybe the top five.
Supervisor Williams thought they should just pursue all ten.
County Transportation Director Howard Dashiell ended up with what’s left of the Water Agency after it was closed back in 2010 to save a few bucks. Dashiell offered an odd bit of homespun wisdom on how to handle the problem.
Dashiell: “If I go down to Maple [the Maple Café in Ukiah] and get five pancakes and some butter to put on ’em, I get pretty thick butter. But if I keep the same amount of butter and get ten pancakes, I’ll spread it thinner. So as we work with the applicants, if we can spread the amount of resources they have for this we might get a little bit of butter spread on ten pancakes. Or I’ll have to call the waitress, in this case the Board of Supervisors, and ask for more butter. More money, in other words.”
Supervisor Maureen Mulheren disagreed:
“Mr. Chairman, some of the pancakes might be hotter than others and the butter might spread more quickly. I think that’s what we’re headed down. The butter is not going to be spread equally. We can do all ten and move forward.”
Supervisor Glenn McGourty commented: “It must be near lunch, the topic has turned to food.”
Dashiell: “It sounds like the motion is for nine projects and for me to come back if we can’t get give ample assistance.”
McGourty: “That’s correct.”
The trouble is, soggy pancakes like these projects will do nothing to improve Mendo’s drought preparedness no matter how much butter is spread on them.
AT THE AV BREWERY!
Ranger Steve & the Loglifters Live this Friday, March 31 4:30-6:30PM. Depending on the weather, they may be outside. Boonmex Tacos and Boonville General will be serving from 12-7PM in the Beer Garden. Please note, they are cash only. Ranger Steve and the Loglifters, are welcoming two of their newest members and debuting their complete project "The Road" for the first time. Following a lone traveler on a mind-bending journey through the cobwebbed corners of his own sanity.
AV GRANGE VARIETY SHOW, THE 30th YEAR!
A lot of the performers in this year’s Variety Show weren't born when the first show hit the boards, and a lot of the past performers have gone on to that big stage in the sky. It's the way of the world folks and we got to roll with it. The heart of the show is still strong however, that being a celebration of community.
For a while back in the early 2000's word was spreading beyond Mendocino County. Though we welcome acts and audience from all over it seemed we were in danger of losing that critical feeling of Anderson Valley in Mendocino County.
Somebody writing a book on odd events in Ca. wanted to add a chapter on the Variety Show. No thank you. We met a very nice lady from the New York Times at Lauren's who came to the valley to do an article. Again, no thanks.
This is our show, real and live!
Acts are signing up, there's still room for your performance though, even if you only have an idea for an act maybe we can help to make it happen. We have lighting effects, a grand piano, a fabulous pit band, plenty of mics, a well appointed dressing room and a tech rehearsal the weekend before the show where each act can have 20 minutes working on the stage with lighting, sound, entrances and exits etc. And what tops it all off is the best audience imaginable, no kidding, they have welcomed every act on that stage, they are pulling for you, we all win in this game.
The show is May 12th and 13th with the tech rehearsal the weekend before. Give Abeja a call at 707/621-3822 or Cap Rainbow 707/472-9189. And as always we love animal acts, skits and demonstrations of skill or artistry, (we've had chain saw sculpture, a large free form group painting, big Doug throwing a vase on his potters wheel, a basketball dribbling demo, unicycle riders, a soccer ball trick balancing act, karate and gymnasts, trapeze, not to mention the silks floor to ceiling out over the audience).
Hey, Anderson Valley and beyond time to get back in the saddle: We got a show to do!
ALICIA BALES HIRED as Program Director for Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. (RFFI)
Redwood Forest Foundation Inc (RFFI) is pleased to announce the hiring of Alicia Bales as our new Program Director. She will spearhead RFFI’s efforts to facilitate meaningful community involvement in the future of our region’s forests.
Alicia is a well known voice in Mendocino County, with decades of history as a community radio journalist and local community organizer. Her background fits exceptionally well with RFFI’s mission to acquire, restore and manage depleted forest landscapes through inclusive community engagement to benefit the environment and the wellbeing of the community. “Alicia has a deep and demonstrated commitment to the things RFFI cares about, the Redwood forest and the people who live here,” said Kathleen Moxon, RFFI’s Interim President/CEO, “To deeply engage the community takes dedication and consistency, and we feel fortunate to have Alicia coming on board to help us carry out this important facet of our mission.”
RFFI was founded in the late 1990s by a visionary alliance of community members that included local forest workers and environmentalists. Their goal was to create a nonprofit corporation that would acquire cut-over industrial forestlands and manage them restoratively, to revive the forest, support local economic development and reconnect the human communities devastated by a century of extractive logging. In 2007 RFFI purchased the 50,000-acre Usal Redwood Forest, formerly owned and logged by Georgia Pacific Corporation. The Forest is situated north and west from Hwy 1 at Leggett all the way to Piercy in Northern Mendocino County, encompassing the Salmon-bearing watersheds of Usal Creek and Anderson Creek, and several tributaries to the South Fork Eel River including Standley Creek, Mill Creek and Wildcat Creek.
Financing the purchase has demanded much of RFFI’s attention since they acquired the property. Now, thanks to innovative funding models and grants for several large scale restoration and fire mitigation projects, the nonprofit is in a position to expand its staff and focus on deepening community engagement in both governance and activities relating to the forest, truly meeting the mission of being a community forest.
I am as surprised and relieved as anyone that Mendocino County and the state of California have received so much rain this Winter. Suddenly we are in a much better position than we’ve been in years, and the dark cloud of drought literally and figuratively washed away, along with related stress and concerns.
But anyone who’s lived through a few generations in California has seen this before. We shouldn’t fool ourselves that drought will not come again. This is exactly the time, while our reservoirs are filling nicely, to invest in rain harvest barrels for our yards, to collect the water dropping from the sky to water our gardens, cars, driveways, etc. Just a little rain can quickly fill up a 60-gallon tank, and the internet is filled with videos that show how to set one or more up, easily and cheaply. This should be our mentality.
As the new people move in from all over the country to build a little wineries shows ranchers and the loggers away, people with huge amounts of money that enforced most of the old-timers of the state, remembering the days of celibacy branches and the timber industry's thriving on the coast as well as the county, where everybody worked hard looking to a better future, only to have their children get their parents to the curb in favor of making the big dollar in the cities, never to return to the home branches at selling us out one parcel at a time, as I remember the days when we didn't have to lock our doors, and we didn't have crime in abundance in our County, remembering the times that we gather at the various little bars throughout the county and talk of the days of the good work, today shows us a dim future and looking at what's happened to the town of elk which was known proudly in the old days as Greenwood now it is mostly owned by the Indians from over the valley, and nothing is getting done other venues from B&Bs exist in the town with high prices and no locals working there, they hire Hispanics because they were cheap, what we had in the old days is long since buried and the only reminders we have are in old books and magazines, the joy of living in that community was a work ethic has been cut out and illuminated, and a few people that were locals have sold us all down the river, for their own self-interest the lack of community spirit is very abundant, and the fact that we have more timber volume in the county than we did in 1800, but nobody wants a sawmill on the coast, having only one dairy down by Manchester the others unfolded their folded up their businesses and moved away those of us that are left are like writing the Titanic, the boat is sinking and we are left on the Stern waiting for it to go down, Wiley environmental groups would like to turn everything into a giant park without realizing the community needs to make money to survive, yet the little grocery store that we used to go get our states and hamburger at is nothing more than a glorified delicatessen with extremely high prices no longer does the gas station and gasoline to pop, and there is no longer places to eat to get a decent burger and a glass of beer unless you want to break the bank, and businesses charge you two dollars, you go up the road to Fort Bragg for dinner and it will cost four dollars per beer, and $15 for a high end mixed drink such as Long Island iced tea, remembering the days gone by when you could get drinks and a meal for $25 for two people those days are gone, and then our government is chasing us out because we can't afford to live in California, it was all have electric cars for PG&E can get fatter, many of my friends moved as far away as Texas so when they retired from state they can actually keep the money, others have moved only in the Nevada and what few friends I have left on the coast I'm sure there's thinking about, bailing out soon, we have abundance of natural resources available on the county and nobody will do anything about, much of the coastline as abundance of oil, but our government does not want to share or letters make enough money to live here for generations, and our government is going around trying to keep us from having propane heaters or natural gas in new construction again there in bed with the power company I wonder how much are getting paid off, meanwhile back east politicians are trying to eliminate each other, I keep telling the voters, these people are supposed to work for us not for themselves yet nobody listens and one day will wake up we will no longer, have the right to bear arms we will no longer have the right to choose who we want to lead our country, we are headed to the way of the Communist world and nobody noticed until it was too late when you go vote remember what you give up if you don't make a stand, nobody thinks back to 1775 at what we had to do to get a free country away from oppressive government yet, or headed that way again who'll be here to find, or where do we go from here we need to take back what we battle fought so hard to get in the beginning and if somebody doesn't want to go to war and fight for what we already have we need to deport them they don't deserve to live here.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, March 30, 2023
JUAN CONDE-DIAZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
ELLIOTT DILLE, Ukiah. Battery with serious injury.
PAUL GOLYER, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
STEVEN GREEN, Fort Bragg. Suspended license for DUI, failure to appear, probation revocation.
MICHAEL LANGLEY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
SAVIOR LYKES, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
JEREMIAH MEDLIN, Ukiah. Domestic battery, protective order violation.
PATRICK PAINTER JR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SHANNON RIVER, Willits. Pot cultivation, possession for sale, conspiracy.
Knowing the Mystery, Listening to NYC Harinam, Reading Rothenberg's "Altar Pieces"
Good afternoon everybody, A deep cleaning at the Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center in Ukiah, California was followed by a free lunch at the Plowshares Peace & Justice Center, and right here and now, am at the Ukiah Public Library listening to the New York City Hare Krishnas chanting in the subway on YouTube, while also reading through Jerome Rothenberg's "Altar Pieces". All of this is happening while not being identified with the body nor the mind, but only with the Immortal Self, or Atman, or whatever you choose to call the Divine Absolute.
Meanwhile, a callout is hereby given for global environmental direct action on Earth Day April 22nd, in response to the climate emergency which has been caused by this demonic postmodern civilization's materialists, who are stupid and insane. This global direct eco-action is the further statement by the Earth First! movement, whose approach is without a doubt the only way to resolve the present madness.
Thank you for listening, and feel free to contact me. I am doing nothing crucial presently. Only biding time in Mendocino county and attending to medical appointments for general upkeep of the body-mind complex. Ya gotta take care of the instrument! It is what the Divine Absolute makes use of in order to carry out its higher will. Stay centered, and do not interfere with the Dao working through you. Simple as that.
Craig Louis Stehr
Silicon Valley Bank has been acquired by First Citizens Bank & Trust, which will now assume $110 billion of the failed bank’s assets, writes Roland Li in The Chronicle. Wine Spectator reports that the deal includes $1.2 billion in winery loans.
Cornell University has unveiled a new grape variety: Aravelle, a crossing of Riesling and Cayuga (another Cornell-bred hybrid grape). This white grape is designed for chilly climates like New York, and shows resistance to bunch rot and mildew diseases, reports Krishna Ramanujan in the Cornell Chronicle.
Josh Raynolds, a noted wine critic, has died. Raynolds made his name with the venerable International Wine Cellar, which was acquired by Vinous in 2014. He covered wines from around the world, from the West Coast of the U.S. to Europe, South America and Australia. Antonio Galloni has a brief tribute in Vinous.
SAN QUENTIN COULD BE THE FUTURE OF PRISONS IN AMERICA
by Bill Keller
There are many ways to measure the disaster that is America’s prison system: the sheer, monstrous size of the captive population, the wildly disproportionate confinement of Black and brown prisoners, the recidivism rate, the prevalence of sexual assault, suicide and mental illness rates.
But the metric that has haunted me in the decade since I helped start the nonprofit The Marshall Project and began paying attention to the role of prisons in America is this: Each year more than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons. Far too many of them emerge from custody brutalized, alienated, estranged from their families, stigmatized and lacking in basic education or employable skills. Unsurprisingly, about three-quarters of those released from state prisons nationwide are arrested again within five years. California has one of the worst records for repeat offenses.
That’s why Governor Gavin Newsom’s ambitious new plan for San Quentin State Prison in California deserves national attention.
The more than 500 residents of death row — currently spared lethal injection by California’s moratorium on executions — will be transferred to other state prisons, and their housing unit, along with a prison warehouse, will be repurposed for education, job training, substance abuse therapy and other programs designed to make them safe neighbors. The prison is to be renamed the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center.
Over the past decade or so, corrections officials from several states have made pilgrimages to Europe — Norway is a favorite destination — to study a different philosophy of corrections. Obviously the United States is not Norway, a relatively homogeneous, oil-rich welfare state with an incarceration rate about one-tenth of ours. San Quentin’s roughly 3,000 inhabitants broadly match the population of all of Norway’s prisons put together. In contrast to the way most Americans understand the point of prison, to punish, to incapacitate criminals and to deter would-be offenders, progressive Europeans see a temporary loss of freedom not only as punishment for violating society’s rules but also as an opportunity that should not be wasted. Prison officers are taught that their mission is to diagnose the factors that led to criminal behavior and equip offenders to be law-abiding members of society. Prisons are more like walled campuses than cages, inmates are expected to get themselves to jobs or classrooms on schedule, and prison staff are more like social workers than sentries. Homicide and recidivism rates are remarkably low.
Several states, including Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Oregon, have launched experiments that borrow from European models emphasizing rehabilitation. These pilot programs have sometimes proved hard to sustain, let alone replicate, because staffing is more expensive, the original sponsors move on, budgets get cut and the innovators often encounter resistance from fear-mongering politicians and unions of corrections officers. San Quentin has proved to be fertile ground for reform.
Because the prison is embedded in affluent, liberal Marin Country, and because it has had some progressive wardens, it is rich in programs. When I visited in 2016, the prison had about 3,700 inmates and 3,000 volunteers, offering everything from Shakespeare to yoga and parenting classes to a computer coding program aimed at servicing nearby Silicon Valley. Prisoners publish an award-winning newspaper and produce an irresistible podcast called “Ear Hustle.”
Many American prisons, fearful of a political backlash if incarceration seems insufficiently punitive, offer at most some high school G.E.D. classes and manual labor training. San Quentin, attentive to the reality that upward of 90 percent of the incarcerated are eventually set free, endeavors to prepare its residents for a smooth re-entry to society. Last year its academic program became an accredited, degree-awarding junior college behind bars, Mt. Tamalpais College, the first of its kind in the country.
Mr. Newsom campaigned as a criminal justice reformer. On his watch the state has repealed some draconian sentencing policies, signed legislation banning private prisons, banned potentially lethal police chokeholds and halted executions. A successful re-engineering of San Quentin would add luster to Mr. Newsom’s progressive résumé should he, as many anticipate, make a run for the White House one day.
But he will have to navigate a narrow passage between skeptics on the punitive right and, on the left, his state’s chapter of the utopian prison abolition movement (who see any investment in prison reform as making a toxic system more palatable).
Moreover, the agency that oversees prisons, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, has not always been a brilliant steward of its domain. Under a 2011 Supreme Court order to reduce severe overcrowding, the state offloaded thousands of inmates to unprepared county jails, and many ended up in homeless encampments. Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, corrections officials sent more than 120 prisoners, some of them showing symptoms of infection, intoSan Quentin without adequate screening; 28 prisoners and a corrections officer died, a failure a judge called “morally indefensible and constitutionally untenable.”
So far Mr. Newsom has been vague about the details of this massive undertaking, but he has enlisted an impressive array of advisers to guide the project. I can think of 600,000 reasons to wish him success.
UNCLE SAM’S DAMS ON THE BORDER
by Bill Hatch
My idea of driving five hours across the desert from Indio in the lovely winter light to the Imperial Dam on the Colorado River outside of Yuma, Arizona was a reaction against all the palaver in the press about water agreements not coming to pass and hundreds of millions of federal dollars pledged here, there, thither and yon. I thought seeing and describing the dam complex on the Colorado about 40 miles from the US/Mexican Border as the Coot flies might add something concrete (sic) to my understanding.
I should have figured that because it was on the Border, nothing concrete, abstract, liquid, solid, animal, mineral, vegetable or metaphysical would manifest in any form easy to describe. When I found myself stalled in traffic on the main drag through El Centro and began looking around at the hodge-podge of business signage in Spanish and English, the various bright colors of the walls, the great graffiti, I knew I was back after 30 years. Ramon Ayala’s beautiful “Que Casualidad” came on the radio and I started singing along andswearing at traffic in Spanish, thrilled for a moment to be back in the culture of chaos called the Border, as impervious to organization by the walls of Bill Clinton et al as it may yet prove to be to all the cartel gunmen.
Downstream from the Hoover Dam, the Colorado River flows through the Imperial Dam outside of Yuma and goes from there in different directions: the greatest share to California through the largest canal in the US; small amounts to Arizona and Mexico. A border defines this river: Mexico should get nothing but a silt-choked creek; the people President Herbert Hoover called “wild Indians” should get nothing at all despite reservations along the river with “senior water rights” acknowledged by treaties and adjudicated in federal courts; and the land surrounding the river and its dams is federal, either military or Indian reservation. It almost feels as if the United States defeated Mexico and the Navajos, Utes, Apaches and other Native Americans yesterday, and the US is still occupying a region in southern Arizona and New Mexico called La Mesilla, bounded by the Colorado River in the west, the Gila River in the north, and partly by the Rio Grande in the east, which Mexico sold to the US in 1853 (Gadsden Purchase) a few years after it lost California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and western Colorado and New Mexico in the Mexican-American War (1846-48). La Mesilla now contains: American bombing ranges: a huge American testing site for artillery, mines, military vehicles, and desert training for troops; an American Marine airbase; Indian reservations; absentee corporate agribusiness; Yuma AZ and a few small towns. Lost in the middle of a huge American desert-military complex is the Imperial Dam on the Colorado River.
But it’s hard to recognize the Imperial Dam, or the Parker Dam, which creates Lake Havasu upstream from it, because both are so thoroughly overshadowed in importance by the mighty Hoover Dam, which prevents floods, produces hydroelectricity for about a million and half people in three states, irrigates 1,500,000 acres, and provides water for 16 million people. A congressional deal to dam the river had stalled for years because the states couldn’t agree on water rights, when Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce in the Coolidge Administration, brokered a settlement, splitting jurisdiction between the upper states (Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), and the lower states (California, Arizona, and Nevada), giving 7.5 million acre feet to each side and leaving the distribution of water within their halves to the decisions of the two groups. As president, in 1928 Hoover signed the final Colorado River Compact after six years of wrangling in Congress, and the Boulder Canyon Project Act, which provided the funding for the Hoover Dam, the downstream dams and the All-American Canal; and he oversaw the beginning of construction of the Hoover Dam until he was defeated in 1932 by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Colorado River Delta starts south of Imperial Dam. The river deposited billions of tons of silt gathered in its course from the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of Cortez, creating very rich soil if flooding could be controlled by dams and the water channeled into irrigation canals and ditches. You can see the fan of lush natural growth that extends out from the Imperial Dam going south. It continues to widen and deepen until it ends in the rich agricultural valley of Mexicali, developed in the early 20th century mainly by Americans like Harry Chandler of the Los Angeles Times, who owned 2 million acres there in the early 20th Century. Mexicans seized their land back by force in 1937, but foreign capital has regained control of much of that farmland since.
These three very rich valleys, Imperial (including Palo Verde and Coachella north of Salton Sea) in California, Yuma and the Gila River bottomland in Arizona, and the Mexicali Valley, are all parts of this delta, which now receives Colorado River water through ditches and furrows. There are no more great floods adding to the topsoil of the region, only local flash floods from the surrounding mountains and escarpments.
On his way home from the White House after defeat in 1932, Hoover paused near the construction site of the Hoover Dam (shortly thereafter to be renamed the Boulder Dam until 1947), and told reporters following him: “The waters of this great river, instead of being wasted in the sea, will now be brought into use by man. Civilization advances with the practical application of knowledge in such structures as the one being built here in the pathway of one on the great rivers of the continent. The spread of its values in human happiness is beyond computation.”
In fact, computation of human happiness would be better left “beyond computation” in this region rather than bragged about by Herbert Hoover. Yuma County AZ has an average annual per capita income of $18,418, despite containing a city of nearly 100,000 people and the above mentioned military bases. The only poorer Arizona counties are dominated by Indian reservations: the largest being the Navajo, Hopi, Apache, and Tohomo O’odham. Imperial County is the poorest county in California, with an average per capita income of $16,409, despite its seven cities around the vast plantations of row crops and dates. Income would probably be higher in these counties if more of the profits stayed there. There are reportedly some small farms left amid the fields of absentee agro-corporations, but equipment yards, sheds and loading docks are the rule, not farm houses.
But Hoover, of course, was thinking about the vast citadel of civilization on the coast, Los Angeles and its suburbs.
I did eventually find a view of the Imperial Dam when I was permitted entrance for 15 minutes to Hidden Shores Resort, which lies beside the dam’s forebay. I could see the diversion canal and gates to the Yuma and Gila River canals but could barely see anything of the gates that stop the flow of the river and steer the largest part of it into the beginning of the All-American Canal. The entire Imperial Dam is carefully protected by fences and stern No Trespassing signs put up by the federal Bureau of Reclamation and there is even a sign saying “See Something Say Something,” presumably to obstruct spies from taking pictures of Coots or from throwing something into the water that would make it even worse than it is now. The government warns against eating too much of any fish caught in the All-American Canal due to high levels of Mercury, PCBs and Selenium, and Coots, although they make a lovely croaking sound, aren’t riveting entertainment.
The resort appears to be a concession of the federal Bureau of Land Management. It includes 800 vacation sites, divided between RV hookups, rental homes, and privately owned homes. It advertises itself as “built with family values in mind.” It is a resort that backs onto an artillery range, but stands on the shore of a stretch of tree-lined river upstream that runs through the beautiful Arizona desert. It has a clubhouse, heated pool, nine hole golf course, a small pitch and putt course, boat docks and other assorted amenities for vacationing families. Yet, clearly, the dam that has created the forebay in which people water ski and fish or simply run their boats, is very off-limits and dangerous.
My intent of seeing the Imperial Dam and perhaps understanding something of how it worked was frustrated. I was particularly interested in seeing the three huge pools and their scrapers, where silt settles before the water goes into the All-American Canal to California and is then scraped into the remains of the river that flows to Mexico. I wanted to know how the gates on the dam worked and how much of the total flow of the river they could divert if the allocations of water were to change.
I drove back to California on I-8 and stopped at one turnout to look at the All-American Canal through a fence posted by the Imperial Irrigation District, which, along with the Pentagon, the Department of Interior, and the Border Patrol, really runs this little corner of the world where California and Arizona collide north of the Border. The ‘net informed me that more than 500 people have lost their lives in that canal. As someone who grew up swimming in canals in the Central Valley I could well imagine. The canal was wide, deep, fast moving and it was cement lined. No way out at all. In recent years, however, the district has installed ropes with floats on them across the canal in certain places where, if you last long enough, maybe you can catch hold and haul yourself out. This monster of a canal runs right along the Border from Yuma to Calexico, a far more dangerous obstacle than Trump’s wall or the Border Patrol. Its largest tributary, the Coachella Water District Canal, goes north up past Salton Sea, irrigates the rich Coachella Valley, and ends in the man-made Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, last of the great Snowbird burgs of gated communities of which Palm Springs is the paradigm.
It is reported that 10,000 workers a day cross the Border south of Yuma to work in those fields during the winter season. Thousands more cross daily from Mexicali to Calexico to work in Imperial County in winter. The work is seasonal, the amount of housing is inadequate, rents are exorbitant, and government is rarely helpful.
This trip was a failure. I couldn’t get to see the Imperial Dam, the great cement hand whose fingers divide the flow into smaller channels: the big one to California, the smaller ones to Yuma Valley and the Gila River; the smallest, silt-full creek to Mexico. There are pictures of it on the ‘net.
I seemed to get a bit of everything but the subject. I didn’t even get a chance to stand for a reverent moment in the Yuma Penitentiary before the photo of the first man arrested in the Mexican Revolution, Ricardo Flores-Magon. But I found a fine restaurant on the corner of 4th Avenue and 2nd Street coming into town on Winterhaven Drive, called Tacos Mi Ranchito. It’s a small orange box of a building, surrounded by parked pickups. Good food, sardonic company.
(Bill Hatch lives in the Central Valley in California. He is a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade of San Francisco. He can be reached at: email@example.com. CounterPunch.org.)
PRESIDENTS HAVE GOTTEN IN LEGAL TROUBLE BEFORE. Many historians believe Richard Nixon would have been charged over the Watergate scandal had his successor, Gerald Ford, not pardoned him. And Bill Clinton, in a deal to avoid prosecution after he left office, admitted to lying under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, paid a fine and agreed to give up his law license.
Trump also faces other investigations — into his involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his handling of classified documents.
There is also one less serious example of a president being arrested: A Washington, D.C., police officer arrested Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 for speeding in his horse and buggy before letting him go.
— German Lopez
THE JELLYFISH TRIBE
The raw and the cooked and the giving of the slip
by Paul Kingsnorth
Call me a cynic or an anarchist – sometimes I’m both at once - but these days I find it impossible to trust anything which comes to me with a seal of authority stamped upon it. In fact, the minute I am told that an ‘expert’, a state-sanctioned authority, a scientific body or a mainstream media organisation has ‘fact checked’ what I’ve just heard, I instinctively dismiss it. I’m not defending this as a healthy response. I’d much prefer it not to be my response at all. But I know it is an increasingly common reaction, even – and perhaps especially – amongst people who were trained from birth to follow the rules.
I was once one of those people. I’m a lower-middle class suburban British bloke from Generation X who was brought up to believe that the system broadly worked and was mostly fair, at least for people like me. The government did its best, though sometimes the wrong people got in; the police were here to help; there were career ladders and housing ladders and all sorts of other ladders, and if you worked hard and behaved responsibly and got married and paid your taxes and turned up to work on time, then society would reward you for it.
Of course, this was a partial story, as all stories are. Plenty of people would have cackled cynically at it from the start, while others, including me, disabused themselves of it by degrees. I spent thirty years writing about the degradation of nature and culture by the system of state-capitalist technocracy that I’ve taken to calling the Machine, so I thought I had a hard-bitten insouciance about the state of play. But the last few years have taught me that I was still too naive. That ‘social contract’ with the state that I apparently entered into at birth, despite having never signed a thing – it turned out that a part of me must still have believed in it after all.
Not any more.
As I say, it’s not just me. The growing loss of faith across the West in our institutions, leaders and representatives in recent years is like nothing else I’ve seen in my lifetime. When, I wonder, did that contract begin to expire? Maybe in 2003, when the lies with which the US and UK launched the Iraq war were so blatant that even those telling them seemed unconvinced. Or perhaps when the near-collapse of the global economy in 2008 brought the real impact of Machine globalisation, which had long been felt in the poor parts of the world, home to people in the West. Or maybe in 2016, when Brexit happened and Donald Trump happened and European ‘populism’ happened, and suddenly liberal globalism was under attack in its heartlands. From then on, we learned that populism was fascism and elected presidents were Russian agents and nationhood was white supremacy and free speech was ‘hate speech’, and while we were still trying to work through all that, along came covid and we all fell into the rabbit hole forever.
It was the pandemic - or rather, the response to it - that changed everything for me. You know what I think about this already – if you don’t, you’ll find it here – but suffice it to say that I had not prepared myself for enforced medication on pain of job loss, blatant media narrative control, scientists being censored for asking the wrong kind of scientific question, or ordinary members of the public being locked out of society while ministers and journalists called them conspiracy theorists and far-right agitators. I wasn’t prepared, in short, to see in my country a merger of corporate power, state power and media power in the service of constructing a favoured narrative, of the kind which had previously only characterised totalitarian regimes. When I did see it, it shook me hard, and it changed me.
The bottom line is that I don’t think I really understood the nature of power until that happened. And now that I have seen, along with other coddled people in the Western bubble, what that nature can amount to, I have come to agree with the anarchist philosopher Pierre Proudhon, who saw it all coming a long time ago:
To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place[d] under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonoured. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.
I wonder what he’d have thought of vaccine passports.
What Proudhon is talking about here is the eternal problem of power. The state is hardly the only power centre in existence, of course: corporations, global governance bodies, NGOs and religious authorities also wield power in their own ways. But nothing has the reach of the modern state. Its sheer scale and strength gives it the ability to corral, organise, define, measure and control its population in a manner that is unmatched in human history.
The momentum of a state is always towards the centre; always towards the agglomeration of more power. No ‘conspiracy theory’ is necessary for any of this to be true, and neither do the people running the state need to be evil. It is simply the logic of the thing. A state is like a vortex or a black hole: at a certain point, it begins to suck in everything around it. As it grows, it will tell stories that justify its existence. Democracy, liberty and progress are some of the more recent banners that state power has gathered beneath, but there have been others: racial or ethnic homogeneity, human equality, religious purity. All of these stories have the potential to unite a people around a state core.
What happens, then, when large and powerful states, along with the institutions of global governance they created and the transnational corporations they promote and protect, are all driving towards the same goal: the universalising of the Machine? What happens is the emergence of the Total System I wrote about a few essays ago. Again, no secret elite conspiracy is necessary to make this happen (not that I’d necessarily discount them entirely …) As the system expands, its expansion creates problems – ecological degradation, social unrest, cultural fragmentation, economic interdependence, systemic fragility, institutional breakdown – which it responds to with more expansion and more control. The Machine will always necessitate more of the Machine.
I have argued throughout these essays that modernity is a system of enclosure. It is fuelled by the destruction of self-sufficient lifeways, and their replacement with a system of economic exploitation which has now gone fully global. In the last essay I tried to sketch the outline of a worldview which offered an alternative to this process – a ‘reactionary radicalism.’ But how could this happy notion actually become reality in a world of increasingly centralised power, with the all-seeing eye of Techno-Sauron gazing down at us? What is the correct response to the problem of power and the reach of the state? Avoid it? Hide from it? Confront it? Ignore it? All of these? Or something else? Can we escape the Machine and live differently? If so, how?
Our old friend Jacques Ellul answered these questions like this:
The only successful way to attack these features of modern civilization is to give them the slip, to learn how to live on the edge of this totalitarian society, not simply rejecting it, but passing it through the sieve of God’s judgment. Finally, when communities with a ‘style of life’ of this kind have been established, possibly the first signs of a new civilization may begin to appear.
Ellul, I think, was right. The Machine cannot be fought head-on, but it can, in certain circumstances, be circumvented. You can find your escape hatch. There are many such hatches, but all have to take into account one reality: that the key driver of Machine modernity, and the chief enemy of human freedom, has always been the state. It follows from this that escaping the reach of the state, and attempting to rebuild a moral economy, is the work – or the beginning of the work – of the reactionary radical.
In his 2009 book The Art of Not Being Governed, the historian James C. Scott offers up what he calls ‘an anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia.’ Scott’s aim is twofold: firstly to lay out the history of a vast upland region he calls ‘Zomia’, straddling territories from India to Malaysia, which has managed over centuries to avoid assimilation by encroaching states. And secondly to rewrite the standard story of historical progress as it applies to the region. The ‘hill tribes’ and ‘barbarians’ living outside civilisation’s walls, he says, are neither ‘left behind’ by Progress, nor the ‘remnants’ of earlier ‘backwards’ cultures: they are in fact escapees:
Not very long ago … self-governing peoples were the great majority of humankind. Today they are seen from the valley kingdoms as ‘our living ancestors’, ‘what we were like before we discovered wet-rice cultivation, Buddhism and civilisation.’ On the contrary, I argue that hill peoples are best understood as runaway, fugitive, maroon communities who have, over the course of two millennia, been fleeing the oppression of state-making projects in the valleys – slavery, conscription, taxes, corvée labour, epidemics and warfare. Most of the areas in which they reside might aptly be called shatter zones or zones of refuge.
Scott’s thesis is that throughout history, escaping from the reach of the state has been a popular aim, and that in response, some cultures have developed sophisticated ways of living in hard-to-govern ‘shatter zones’ which allow them to avoid being assimilated. Standard-issue historical accounts of ‘development’ in Asia and elsewhere, he says, are really the history of state-making written from the state’s point of view: they pay no attention to ‘the history of deliberate and reactive statelessness.’ Yet such history, whether of hill tribes, runaway slaves, gypsies, travellers, cossacks, maroons, sea peoples, San ‘Bushmen’, Marsh Arabs or many others, is global and ongoing.
Taking this into account, says Scott, would both rewrite history and ‘reverse much received wisdom about “primitivism” generally.’ What he sees in this story is a deliberate ‘self-barbarisation’: a process of reactive resistance, of becoming awkward, of making a community into a shape that it is hard for the state to absorb, or even to quite comprehend.
The state, says Scott, is fundamentally a colonial entity. In its youthful vigour it will institute a process of ‘internal colonisation’, creating a homogenised ‘national identity’ from the various cultures it governs, flattening language and dialect and telling a story in which loyalty to community or place becomes indistinguishable from loyalty to the state. Later that colonisation process may move beyond its borders, as the state projects its power onto more distant peoples, assimilating them too. This is enclosure at work, and it is never voluntarily. Like laissez-faire economics or aristocracy, the state – which has only existed for the last 1% of human history - did not simply ‘evolve’ as some logical phase of human ‘development.’ It was created, by the use of raw power, through land seizures, slavery, enforced labour and taxation. As Scott points out, ‘most of the population of the early states was unfree; they were subjects under duress.’
For this reason, escaping from state power and creating different ways of living in the ‘shatter zones’ was an attractive option. Those zones were usually to be found in hard-to-reach places – in Southeast Asia this meant the hills and mountains – and their peoples, the ‘tribals’ or ‘adivasi’ or ‘savages’, were in fact ‘barbarians by design.’ They would not, in most cases, be entirely cut off from lowland life – tribal people in Asia would often trade with urban centres, for example, and some would raid them too if they got the chance – but they would keep their distance, wary of being corralled by the state machinery.
The Asian states, as they expanded, sought to impose the religious, cultural and economic practices of the dominant ethnic group, be it Thai, Burman, Han or Kinh, onto disparate peoples, and when European colonists arrived in Asia, they simply continued the process with a new cultural flavour. The official religion now might be Christianity rather than Buddhism, and ‘civilisation’ might mean British rather than Han manners, but to the peripheral peoples the result was little different. British imperialist Sir Stamford Raffles spoke not only for his Empress, but for the mind of the colonial state across history, which is also the mind of the Machine, when he wrote:
Here [Sumatra] I am the advocate of despotism. The strong arm of power is necessary to bring men together, and to concentrate them into societies … Sumatra is, in great measure, peopled by innumerable petty tribes, subject to no general government … At present people are wandering in their habits as the birds of the air, and until they are congregated and organised under something like authority, nothing can be done with them.
To read Scott’s book is to be made to think hard about the conditions that a state needs to thrive, and thus the conditions that its cultural refuseniks might need to create in return. Based on Scott’s studies of Southeast Asia, we can begin to compile a basic list of necessities for state flourishing:
- A reliable staple crop (in Asia, wet rice; in Europe, wheat; in South America, maize, etc)
- An effective transportation system for people and goods
- A settled population
- Enforcement of law and order
- An effective central government
- A system of taxation and classification of population
- A system of communication/propaganda
- Slavery or forced labour
All of this applies today to the state in which I live, including the last one. The slavery and forced labour now takes place far from the core of modern Western states, in places like central Africa or China, where the poor mine our smartphone components or sew our cheap clothes in regimented workhouses, but that doesn’t make them any less necessary for the system to function.
For that system to function, what is needed is order. Regimentation, planning, centralisation, efficiency, measurement, straight lines: this is the stuff of the Machine. Those who fled to Asia’s shatter zones, in order to create what Scott calls ‘zones of cultural refusal’, did so to avoid assimilation by this worldview. In practical terms, this meant creating cultures which were almost the precise opposite of the valley states. In Scott’s telling, the hill peoples of the shatter zones built cultures that were deliberately hard for lowland power to reach, based on a few key features:
- A rugged landscape, awkward to access by the state core
- Shifting, diverse food crops and farming systems
- Small-scale community, economy and culture. No agglomeration of power at scale
- A mobile population, prepared to move when necessary to avoid assimilation
- Fluid social structures, with loose and shifting ethnicities/identities
- A potentially unifying spiritual and cultural story
- Potential to break down into even smaller units – eg households – and scatter when necessary
- Networked communities: communication and collaboration between dispersed groups.
The last two are maybe the key. Localised, potentially dispersed cultures can be almost impossible to conquer. In the 1890s, the British found the conquest of the Kachin and Palaung hill peoples in Zomia almost impossible, such was their difficult terrain and anarchic social structures. Because they had ‘never submitted to any central control’, complained the chief commissioner responsible for the process, they had to be attacked ‘hill by hill’ to ensure their submission.
The historian Malcom Yapp invented a wonderful term for this kind of dispersed culture of refusal: jellyfish tribes. In Scott’s words, jellyfish tribalism is ‘a process of defending cultural and economic autonomy by scattering, and/or changing livelihood strategy, make the group invisible or unattractive as object of appropriation.’ The Berbers of North Africa, faced with colonisation by the Arabs, had their own way of putting this: divide that ye be not ruled. Lois Beck, who studied tribal culture in Iran, pointed to the same tactic in use there:
Tribal groups expanded and contracted. Some tribal groups joined larger ones when, for example, the state attempted to restrict access to resources or a foreign power sent troops to attack them. Large tribal groups divided into smaller groups to be less visible to the state and escaped its reach … Such local systems adapted to and challenged, or distanced themselves from, the systems of those who sought to dominate them.
All of this points not only to an overturning of the standard story about ‘tribal people’ and ‘civilisation’, but also to some potential ways forward for today’s reactionary radicals, as we seek to create our own cultures of refusal in the midst of the tightening grip of the Machine. The challenge, it seems to me, is to move beyond pat political formulations of ‘resistance’ and the like, and begin to think instead like the hill tribes of Zomia. To think about jellyfish tribes and cultural refusal and becoming barbarians by choice. To begin to build parallel systems – economies and cultures – which are hard to assimilate, and have a robustness to them which can last.
But how could this actually be done? The modern West is not like Zomia – indeed, as Scott himself points out, modern Zomia is not like Zomia used to be either, with many of its stateless people now being rapidly absorbed into state systems, which new technologies have made more powerful and far-reaching than ever. Meanwhile, as Scott concludes at the end of his book, most of us today are ‘living in a fully occupied world, one with increasingly standardised institutional modules, the two most hegemonic of which are the North American modules of individual freehold property and the nation-state.’ The state, he writes, has never before ‘come so close, as it has now, to sweeping all before it.’ Scott wrote those words in 2009: the Machine seems a lot closer now, and has given up even hiding its ambitions.
What hope, then, of any kind of alternative life in a hyper-connected, monitored, digital age? Even if we wanted to retreat to the margins to build our own community, how many of us could do it? And what would make any of it more robust than the last counter-cultural wave of ‘intentional communities’ which sprang up after the 1960s, and failed to create utopia?
This is why I find the notion of the jellyfish tribe so intriguing. Any attempt at building utopia will fail - but utopia should never be a goal. Some form of free survival is the goal; survival in order to live a life unconformed to the dictates of the Machine, and to uphold the values of a true human life. What Scott calls the ‘state-repelling characteristics’ of the Zomians we could call ‘Machine-repelling characteristics’ today. There is no easy or standardised answer to the question of how we can cultivate them, but there is one question it might be useful for each of us to ask: what kind of barbarian do I want to be?
In ancient China, the state distinguished between two different kinds of barbarian outsider: the raw (sheng) and the cooked (shu). A twelfth century document detailing the relationship of the Li people with the Chinese state speaks of the ‘cooked Li’ as those who have submitted to state authority and the ‘raw Li’ as those who ‘live in the mountain caves and are not punished by us or do not supply labour.’ But while the raw Li were clearly enemies of the state, the cooked Li were not exactly friends either. They occupied a liminal space: state officials ‘suspected them of outward conformity while slyly co-operating with the raw Li.’ The raw barbarians lived outside the walls and the cooked lived within, but neither were really to be trusted.
What we see here, then, is two potential escape routes from Machine culture: one outside, one inside. Shatter zones do not have to literally be in the hills: they can within our homes and even within our hearts. My heart soars whenever I hear of some remote monastery or surviving rooted community with no online access or even electricity, whose people know exactly where they stand: outside the Machine, the better to see God and experience creation. Such places are the work of the raw barbarians, and we need more of them.
But most people are cooked barbarians. We are, to different degrees, in the Machine but not of it. Perhaps we look like good citizens on the outside. But if we coalesce as a jellyfish tribe, we can begin to dissociate ourselves from the Machine while creating alternatives to it. Plenty of people are already doing this, to different degrees. They create cultures-within-cultures - parallel economies and ways of living. Like small furry mammals running unnoticed beneath the feet of the tyrannosaurs, we can thus build our own little worlds on the margins and wait for the coming of the meteor, which we can already see coming in the very unsustainability of Machine modernity. The mice don’t attack the dinosaurs, and neither do they wait for them to die out: they just avoid them as best they can, and get on with their work.
What Scott’s book shows me above all is that the tension between expanding power centres and free peoples is eternal and never-ending. Throughout history there has been an ongoing flow of assimilation and breakout, consolidation and collapse. There has never been any system as large, as overwhelming, as inhuman, as technological modernity, and yet Rome and Babylon and Han China operated on the same principles. The shatter zones that rise in response are sometimes geographical, sometimes psychological and spiritual, and often all of these at once. Today, some of those shatter zones are at least partly online; and despite my own instinctive Luddism, I have to accept that spaces like this one are meeting points for Machine-repelling people who might never meet in real life. I have to accept, too, that using the technology of the Machine to resist the Machine can be of benefit, even though it can also be a trap. I’ll be writing more on this in the next essay.
It is harder and harder to find anywhere to hide from the Machine. But humans are creative. We can always find our liminal spaces - raw or cooked - and there are countless practical ways in which cultural refusal can manifest in our everyday lives. I am a writer, for instance, who is currently watching the publishing industry being taken over by political puritans who are purging incorrect thoughts and people from the shelves whilst rooting around in the past for baddies to cancel. I can whine about this, or I can support or start new publishers on the margins who do things differently. The same might be true for music, art, academia, food-growing: you name it. Nothing is easy; everything is compromised. But building anew, building in parallel, retreating to create, being awkward and out of shape and hard to grasp, finding your allies and building your zone of cultural refusal, whether in a mountain community or in your urban home: what else is there?
Wherever you live and whatever culture you come from, it will offer up at least one folk hero who earned his or her status through state-repelling behaviour. Folk heroes mostly do, which should tell us something about the relationship through history between the folk and the state. Here in Ireland, virtually every historical figure wears state-repellent garb, but in England too we have hundreds of pirates, highwaymen, outlaws and rebels to choose from. You all know the name of the most famous: England’s shadow self Robyn Hode, who flits through his shatter zone, the English greenwood, with his merry band of refuseniks in tow. We could do worse than to find our own greenwood and take our stand there, beneath the shelter of its great, ancient oaks.
A question for Paul Kingsnorth, do you drink the government, and media’s “climate change” Cool Aid?
Kool-Aid is spelled with a “K”
Will the Secret Service guard Trump in jail?
I think Ralph Lauren got the bid to tailor the Presidential orange jumpsuit the former president will be wearing. As with the search warrant episode, it is singularly refreshing to see a rich man put through these pedestrian humiliations the rest of us are routinely subjected to.
I think Michael Cohen correctly forsees a home confinement outcome because this guy has been exposed to too many classified secrets.
I’m sure they’ll put the same guards in as they did for Epstein….
I ask this of everyone, not just the delusional MAGAs:
Why is the State of New York going after such a tedious, relatively complex charge when there are so many other options (selling gov’t secrets to Saudis, pandering for Georgia votes, etc.)? Paraphrasing Ryan Grimm here… they’re charging Trump with something that would not jeopardize the slew of other politicians who have committed similar crimes. Put another way, this might be the only politically-acceptable crime to prosecute since any other charge could probably be applied to hundreds of politicians. But the chances of this one sticking are pretty slim.
So the democratic Circus continues: Charge Trump with another unstickable offense, galvanize both sides, Trump looks invincible yet douchy as ever, both the left and the right keep foaming at the mouth as we get closer to an “election”…
I did like the dude sporting the T-shirt that said, “I hope the officer that takes Trump to jail is named Brandon”.
From what we know now, this is strictly a political prosecution, and nothing more than that. It supports Trump’s claims, too, regarding the political weaponization of government. Of course this is not new. In the present, as in the past, government goes after the most provocatively spoken ones opposing the political establishment. Trump certainly fits the mold.
JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED
I beg to differ with this common assertion. It is wrong. Trump’s indictment in reality is just the opposite of a “political prosecution,” as these two commentators point-out so clearly:
“It is a watershed, she (Jennifer Rubin) writes: ‘Trump is being prosecuted not because he is a former president but because his status as a former president does not shield him from the law.’
Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut agrees in an op-ed, calling the charge a ‘long-overdue reinforcement of a foundational principle of our republic: No one, however powerful, is above the law.’ ”
WASHINGTON POST 3/31/23
Trump has long used his power and money, bravado and guile, to corruptly avoid being prosecuted for many issues. Here in this case it is not working. He will meet his fate in the judicial system, just like the average guy. He has surely earned it, and more is coming… Finally, Trump will not be “above the law.”
JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED…?
Most, if not all, of the above statements, should be a disqualification from any jury ever…shameful.
It’s “political persecution” Every American should be alarmed. Democracy will just be a memory with just a one party rule moving forward. Can you imagine our country be ran by a bunch of Chuck Dunbar’s.
Can you imagine a confederacy of Marmon’s running the country?
Dunbar is a fascist.
Another pile of hooey from Marmon. If nonsense were gold, he would be a wealthy man.
On the way to the DA’s office on Tuesday, Trump should smash some windows, rob a few shops and punch a cop. He would be released IMMEDIATELY!
Good luck to the Redwood Forest Foundation’s board of directors. Alicia Bales cannot be managed. Her environmental and climate change politics are impeccable. Her personality is toxic — one might go so far as to say, lethal.
It’s an old method that works; to get from deep end to Boont without a car, simply walk out to the highway, stick out your thumb and smile at passing cars. You will get a ride, if I’m driving by I will certainly pick you up.
The Democratic Party PAC head of standforbetter.org has tweeted an assertion this morning regarding participants in a waived, unacknowledged special access program briefing key Congressional staff and members after provisions in the 2023 NDAA enabled that:
This of course is much bigger news than the upcoming trial of what’s his name.
There are some indications that the Senate Intel subcommittee on Emerging Threats will hold UAP hearings during the latter half of April. Senator Gillibrand is already bugging DOD to provide the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office with sufficient funding.
RE: GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT.
Pelosi mistakenly says that Trump can prove his innocence at trial. Law in the US assumes the innocence of a defendant and the prosecution must prove guilt for a conviction.
Twitter files has them in a frenzy
Helping Chapman: The generic term for this method of getting rid of someone originates with the Royal Navy. It’s called “pressganging.”
What part of Scott’s post makes you think he did this unwillingly. Data proves people recover and improve where they have family or friends (stability). The only friends Scott had here were drug addicts and enablers. He has his parents and nieces and nephews where he is and clearly doing well. Not allowing him this opportunity most likely our have lead to his demise or incarceration. You don’t have to agree with the plan but you cannot argue the results. There is always the states model of more money meanwhile the problem of homelessness increased by. 10% last year nearly doubling ever seven years. When we choose ideology over outcome, everyone loses. Fort Bragg will wait for no one to fix this problem. #TheFortBraggModel.
Good work on this case, Bernie Norvell, with the help of Sheriff Kendall. You folks are doing the right thing. Good for you for caring and for implementing your pragmatic, effective program in Fort Bragg.
My comment implies no criticism. It’s just that this program has such an ancient lineage that it has a name. Outside Fort Bragg, most jurisdictions do not have the resources to have the City Mayor, a County Supervisor, and the County Sheriff working all night in two cities 60 miles apart to get one drunk junkie on a Greyhound bus from California to Utah.
No, pressganging is akin to shanghaiing, it’s recruiting crew by force. If there’s a name for this it’s not pressganging.
In my younger days I had the pleasure of living in Sweden for a year. Paul Kingsnorth should spend some time in Scandinavia so he can see what good, centralized government can do for a nation. They live the longest, have security from cradle to grave, and are happy in their lives. The return on their high taxes is enormous in terms of free education, medical care, safety, and quality of life benefits. After some time in Scandinavia, Paul should be dropped off in Haiti to experience what life is like in the absence of government.
Take note also, George H: “good, centralized government” that helps care for the main needs of its citizens is not an evil thing.