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GENERALLY COOL AND PLEASANT weather will build today with interior highs in the low to mid 60s. Another round of light drizzle is possible along the coast late this evening with accumulations below 0.1 inches. Localized frost is likely tonight with more widespread frost Wednesday night. (NWS)
SPRING HAS SPRUNG (finally) in California, and with warmer temperature, major snowmelt flooding looms. Plus: El Niño is rapidly developing…
by Daniel Swain
Well, things are finally calming down, weather-wise, in California after a rather extraordinary season. And March, in some ways, put an exclamation point on this very active period: it ended up being the coldest March on record in some parts of NorCal, and well colder than average almost everywhere else in CA. That is a truly remarkable statement, especially since the sustained centennial-scale warming trend in California has made it very difficult to experience long durations of record-breaking cold temperatures in recent decades. This very cold March has major implications for agriculture in California, and have also been part of the reason why the enormous Sierra snowpack has only just begun to melt as temperatures finally start to warm in early April.
This winter overall also ended up being the coldest in ~44 years in a statewide basis–meaning that no one born after 1979 has ever experienced a season this cold in California! And, yet, winters as cold as this one used to be relatively common prior to the 1970s, which is a dramatic testament to just how large and sustained California’s long-term warming trend has actually been and how rare record-breaking cold is today.
This winter was, of course, also exceptionally wet across portions of California. Although this year has not turned out to be among the wettest on record on a statewide basis–since far NorCal actually saw near-average precipitation–it was indeed the wettest on record across central portions of the state stretching from the Central Valley into the southern and central Sierra Nevada. This means that around two thirds of California has now experienced a “record wettest” winter at some point in the past decade–and nearly all of California has also experienced a “record driest” winter during the same period (and in some cases, more than once)!…
TWO HORRIFIC LOCAL TRAGEDIES remain under investigation. Saturday morning's apparent tandem suicide off the Albion Bridge (April 8th), and the deaths of three people killed in a 6am crash on Highway 101 near Pomo Lane, Ukiah on Thursday, April 4th. The Sheriff's Department is investigating the suicide, if that's what it was, the CHP the Ukiah crash.
It is with heavy hearts that we announce that Joan Yvonne Spears passed away peacefully at the Orchard Pointe Memory Care facility in Surprise, AZ on March 27, 2023.
Joan was born on May 29, 1926 in a small house on a ranch in northwest Kansas to Vinnette and Harry Faylor. Some of her ancestors had crossed the prairies in a covered wagon in the mid-1800s to homestead in the area where Joan was born. She frequently talked about what a hard but rewarding life it was growing up on a ranch and farm. She began at a young age helping out around the ranch. As a young woman she would help her mother feed the traveling harvest crews when they came to harvest the Faylor crops.
In 1943, Joan left her high school and went to Florida to help build Liberty ships. She said she wasn’t a “Rosie the Riveter” but she helped in other ways. When she returned home she worked as a waitress until she married Don “Jack” Kerns in 1945. Then it was back to the farm-life while raising 2 children, Tom and Jan.
After 9 years of farming, Don decided to go to college. The family left the farm and moved, first, to Ft. Collins, CO and later to Ames, IA. Don received his degree in Veterinary Medicine in 1960 and the family was on the move again, this time to California, where he started his own veterinary practice in Fairfield, CA. Joan and Don were divorced in 1963.
In 1964 Joan married Bill Lynn and the family moved first to Modesto, CA then to Escalon, CA where Joan moved back onto a ranch. Joan and Bill were divorced in 1974.
In 1975 Joan married Bob Spears, who would be the final love of her life. They had dated in high school in Kansas before Joan married Don Kerns. When Bob heard Joan was “available” he contacted her and the rest is history.
Joan and Bob started their married life in Sylmar, CA in the Los Angeles area, but soon moved to Boonville, CA to be near Joan’s parents. For over 30 years, Boonville was home, where they lovingly enjoyed retirement at “Vista Ranch”. As hosts to countless holidays and summer getaways with their kids and grandkids, Joan and Bob provided for the next generations’ appreciation of ranching and homesteading.
Joan and Bob loved to travel around North America in their RV and would take off for months at a time, touring around the country. Joan loved to document their travels with photos and descriptions that she would put together in travel albums.
Joan and Bob celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in March 2015. Unfortunately, Bob died in April 2015. After Bob’s death, Joan moved to an independent living facility in Lebanon, OR to be near her daughter, Jan. Later, she moved to an assisted care facility in Surprise, AZ when Jan and her husband Bill moved to Arizona.
Joan is survived by brother, Dale (Dode) Faylor, her daughter, Jan (Bill) Anderson and her son, Tom (Cathy) Kerns, as well as 8 grandchildren and step-grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents, her husband, Bob, and her step-daughter, Shar Rice.
A Celebration of Life will be held in the summer when Joan will be interred at the Boonville Cemetery next to Bob.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Dementia Society of America or your local Hospice Services organization.
JENNIFER SMALLWOOD (Point Arena):
Regarding the article: ” Laytonville Emergency Shelter Update”. Point Arena also found itself islanded/on our own during the last big storms. Because of that experience, we have also started the process of coalescing community groups to be better prepared for the next emergency – fire, smoke, power outage, weather events, etc. So far committed to meeting at the Point Arena School district Office (the high school gymnasium is our evacuation center) on May 4th is the superintendent of schools, high school maintenance staff, Fire Safe Point Arena and the Red Cross. Also invited is the Redwood Coast Fire dept., the city manager and mayor of Point Arena, and Mendonoma Health Alliance. If the CalFire station is staffed by then, we’ll invite them too. I believe the list will get longer as we make progress with a plan to supply the center, set up communications and recruit volunteers to run the center. It’s good to know we’re in the good company of the folks in Laytonville. Good luck up there. Keep posting. You have great ideas. Thank you.
* * *
JIM SHIELDS REPLIES:
You’re definitely on the right track the way you’re getting yourselves organized. The late February North County snowstorm/Highway 101 closure was just the last in a series of last straws where County officials exacerbated problems instead of either:
1) Staying out of the way and allowing locals to solve the problem; or
2) Actually doing their jobs by assisting locals to solve the problem.
I’ve always believed that problems don’t just happen, people make them happen, which is far too often the M.O. here in Mendocino County.
Feel free to contact my daughter Jayma (best option for most information) at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com
We’d be more than happy to help in any way we can.
Jim Shields, Editor, Mendocino County Observer
POMO PERSPECTIVES ON SEAWEED: APRIL 15
On Saturday, April 15, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum presents Pomo Perspectives on Seaweed, a panel discussion and presentation. Hillary Renick (Noyo), Eric Wilder (Kashaya Pomo), and Meyo Marrufo (Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians) will each share their thoughts about aspects of seaweed important to North Coast Native cultures. The event is free with Museum admission: $5 general; $12 per family; $4 for students and seniors; and free to members, Native Americans, and standing military personnel.
The Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on this day, in order for visitors to explore the current exhibit, "The Curious World of Seaweed." Featuring the luminous work of seaweed artist Josie Iselin, the exhibit explores the surprising science and history behind seaweed, along with the longstanding connections indigenous peoples have to this plant, and the human impact that threatens its existence.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.
DONALD BETTENCOURT: "I would like to share some thoughts about my time in Fort Bragg, coming back after retirement. I graduated from FBHS in 1952. I worked for Paladini Fish CO two summers before graduation & a summer choking logs at camp 20 during the summer of '52. Thanks to the fishing industry then & the Union Lumber CO., we all had jobs. I think there were three fish processing plants at the harbor then. Remember Reno & Rose Cavalini? They were the best! You could go down to the mouth of some of the local rivers & creeks to watch the Salmon coming in to spawn. Around 1950 we drove up to Usal for Steelhead, they were running, we were using eggs. The next year we went back & the river was full of mud due to the logging, no fish when their spawning gravel was silted. The old growth Redwoods were mostly gone between 1850-1950, the first 100 years. There was no sustainable cutting, The Union Lumber Company answer was to raise Redwood seedlings from their large nursery for planting, a failure. The Redwood trees are amazing, you cut down a big one & there may be six more growing around the stump, second growth, but it doesn’t take another 1700 years before they are cut again. In the 70’s the environmental activists started showing up, they were the enemy! Guess what, they were right. So, what’s left? No Salmon this year, no Abalone, (Red Sea Urchin), not much fish, (It takes years for Ling Cod to grow), Albacore & Dungeness Crab. Crab fishing is restricted now as well.
That’s why I write this after the post about the 21’ slab of Redwood that is in front of the Museum. Jerome Ford & CR Johnson made available good jobs in those days, but after cutting everything in sight, they moved back to San Francisco. No jobs now except for the service industry & tourism. Just saying."
BELIEVE IT OR NOT THIS IS ALL PLANNED
The Staff Report(s) and Agenda for the April 20, 2023 Planning Commission meeting is now available on the department website at: mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/meeting-agendas/planning-commission
Please contact staff if there are any questions, thank you!
Jocelyn Gonzalez-Thies, Staff Assistant III, Planning and Building Services
MENDO REVIEW BOARD LOOSENS UP
“Most noteworthy is perhaps the most significant policy change in recent history that now allows property owners to paint the body and trim of their buildings in any combination of the 191 reds, greens, blues, and oranges included in the Benjamin Moore Historical Collection without Board review. The number of colors is still limited to two under the Planning Code, so a third color requires Board approval.”
I WAS at least dimly aware that lots of grandparents, heavy on grandmothers, were raising the children of their feckless offspring, but I didn't know the official statistic claims that more than 2.4 million grandparents across America have stepped in to parent for a second time.
WHEN MY WIFE and I functioned as foster parents, I was frequently in losing arguments with insensate social workers about placement of dependent children they'd bounce from home to home seemingly unaware that children need routine, predictability, the stability in which they can pull themselves together. The system provides the opposite. The most egregious experience I remember was with a ten-year-old black kid from San Francisco named Ronnie Lee, screaming that he wanted his grandmother from the time he burst through the door in a mutual headlock with another kid, both of them throwing punches, rolling all the way into the fireplace. The dithering social worker and I had a helluva time pulling them apart. The representative of the state handed me a beaker of liquid thorazine. “Ronnie needs an eye dropper of this medication whenever he seems over-active.” Which he perpetually was, and constantly demanding his grandmother. I said there was no way I was going to drug the lad, who was beyond anybody and everybody except, apparently, his grandmother. The state, if it paid even cursory attention to its thousands of dependents, would have paid the boy's grandmother to cope with him rather than some white stranger in a far off place called Boonville. Instead, I'm sure they kept Ronnie zonked on thorazine his entire youth, shuffling the boy in and out of juvenile psych wards until the magic age of 18 when he was free to make his way in a world he likely repaid with as much violence as had been done to him.
ON THE RECOMMENDATION of Denis Rouse, a guy who knows his books, I found a used copy of “Travels with Myself and Another” by Martha Gellhorn who is invariably linked with Hemingway to whom she was married for a few years. Nobody's the equal of the master, but it's a cosmic literary insult that Gellhorn's genius is not exactly ignored, but when it is noted it's invariably tied to her ex-husband. Ms. G. was the first internationally famous female war correspondent, her nationally syndicated work beginning with the Spanish Civil War, on through WW Two and concluding with the disaster in Vietnam. “Travels,” I'm ashamed to admit, is the first book by this wonderful writer I've read. It's an acerbic, often funny account of three long overseas adventures, the first one to war-torn China during the WW Two years with Hemingway, thinly disguised as “U.C.,” the second a very long journey through both West and East Africa, both of which were written before the left-fascists intimidated so many writers into self-censorship. There's also a fascinating meander through the war-time Caribbean, still unspoiled, where merchant sailors, their ships torpedoed by Nazi submarines, found an idyllic sanctuary on then-remote, unspoiled islands. (We know what's happened to them since, and it isn't idyllic.) I'm going to read the rest of her work after “Travels,” which I found hard to put down, and believe me I seldom have the problem of tearing myself away from most of what I read. I gulped this book.
MR. ROUSE cited this brilliant passage in “Travels” as one of many: “At the shore, thousands of flamingos lifted off and spread in a coral pink streamer against the sky. The sound of flight was like tearing silk…”
NATURE WALK TO EXPLORE FREY CONSERVATION LAND
by Suzanne Pletcher
A Sunday morning, May 7, nature walk with foresters, naturalists and birders to Frey family conservation land in Tomki will mark the first time the 187-acre property is opened to the public by the Inland Mendocino County Land Trust.
The walk across a meadow and into a creek and woodland habitat of mature fir and redwoods will be held from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. with an optional picnic lunch after the hike. The walk is suitable for most fitness levels. Besides learning about the flora and fauna of the area, attendees will learn its history and how parts of the conservation easement are recovering from the 2017 wildfires that tore through Tomki.
“This first conservation easement of the IMCLT was inspired by the threat of a commercial timber harvest which would have decimated old-growth redwood and fir neighboring the Frey vineyards,” said IMCLT Executive Director Alan Nicholson. ”The Freys took the burden of uniting the local community to raise funds to purchase the property and save it.”
The ordeal to save the woodland began in 2000 when a speculator filed a logging plan on the parcel adjacent to the Freys. The Freys and neighbors persevered over 14 years through one challenge after another until the property was purchased, the conservation easement established, and the woodland permanently protected.
“It was not easy,” said Jonathan Frey. “But because we subdivided a portion of the property to help raise money to purchase it, some of my family were able to purchase their own land here.”
The Inland Mendocino County Land Trust was established in 1998 under the initial leadership of local public lands pioneer Phyllis Curtis. The Frey conservation easement was IMCLT’s first project, and Curtis and her board managed the legal aspects and established the deed in 2002.
Four generations of the Frey family have lived at the Tomki property since Jonathan’s parents bought 95 acres in 1961 and raised 12 sons and daughters there. Grapes were planted in 1966 to improve the value of the land. Over the years, the Freys purchased additional vineyard land and established Frey Vineyards Winery, one of Mendocino County’s earliest wineries and the first in the nation to produce organic wines.
As a young student, Jonathan studied horticulture with Alan Chadwick, the inspiring horticulturist and university professor who pioneered organic gardening and farming in North America. Jonathan learned organic and biodynamic gardening at Chadwick’s Round Valley Garden Project in Covelo. It was there that he met his wife, Katrina.
The couple returned to his parents’ Tomki property in 1978, planted a market garden and began making wine from the small vineyard his parents had maintained. The winery was bonded in 1980. The original fermentation tanks were repurposed from the dairy operation at the state hospital in Talmage when it closed.
Over the years, the Freys purchased land and vineyards from neighbors and farmers in Potter and Redwood Valleys. Today, about half the winery work force is still made up of some of the Frey siblings, along with their descendants and families, and the entire staff manages 365 acres of organic vineyards and other small diversified farms, purchases grapes from other vineyards, and operates the winery.
Just a year after the Freys paid off the land and recorded the final subdivision, disaster struck. The 2017 Redwood Complex Wildfire tore through the Frey property, destroying the bottling line, barn, and much of the winery equipment. Parts of the conservation easement lands were burned, but the deeper canyons were relatively untouched. The Freys have slowly recovered and will open a new bottling plant and tasting room this summer on West Road in Redwood Valley.
Although the Frey conservation easement was IMCLT’s first, it was not the last. The land trust now manages or is in the process of acquiring an additional four properties, including the Phyllis Curtis homestead outside Ukiah. Landowners interested in conserving their property are encouraged to contact IMCLT at https://www.imclandtrust.org/
“Land trusts are important because they preserve land in perpetuity according to the landowner’s vision,” said Nicholson. “Phyllis’s vision for IMCLT was — because Mendocino County is on the periphery of San Francisco metropolitan sprawl — to preserve a sense of rural Mendocino County for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. We’re proud to work alongside the Freys to offer this nature walk on conservation land so the public can visit and learn.”
Registration for the nature walk is a $20 tax deductible donation to IMCLT with optional $10 lunch afterward. To register, visit: www.imclandtrust.org/events
Re: Retirement Board
Happy Belated Easter.
I was following up on my application for an appointment as public trustee to the Retirement Board. I applied several weeks ago.
Atlas Pearson (copied), our Deputy Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, helped me input it into the system. He was very kind.
Again, to review my credentials, I served on the Retirement Board from 2012-2017, for which I was awarded a Proclamation.
I worked on Wall Street for years, most recently at UBS. I had some of the best mentors, including John Mulheren at Spear Leeds Kellogg (now Goldman Sachs) and Ken Tropin at Dean Witter (now Morgan Stanley).
I earned Series 7 and Series 3 licenses.
In all the years I worked on Wall Street, I never received a sanction. My work record is impeccable.
I was trained in being a public trustee at a public pension system by CALAPRS (California Association of Public Retirement Systems) at Stanford Law School, UC Berkley's Haas School, and UCLA's Anderson School.
I served on the Retirement Board with collegiality and mutual respect, as I was trained to do.
My attendance was perfect while serving on the Retirement Board.
I served on the Retirement Board's Budget and Audit Committee, and Search Committee.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, April 10, 2023
ADRIAN GUYETTE, Covelo. Vandalism.
WHITNEY HUGHES, Ukiah. Paraphernalia.
MANUELA LUNA-ARREDONDO, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ERIKA MONTES DE OCA HERNANDEZ, Willits. Suspended license, failure to appear.
ELIANA NUNEZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
DAMIAN ROSALES-REYES, Cloverdale/Ukiah. Controlled substance, suspended license for DUI, tear gas, county parole violation, probation revocation.
CYNTHIA VEGA-AYALA, Ukiah. Under influence, disobeying court order.
VARIOUS WIRE SERVICES: The gunman who opened fire during a morning conference at the Old National Bank in downtown Louisville, Kentucky livestreamed the attack that killed four on his Instagram and left a note to his parents telling them he was going to shoot up the bank. Authorities say Connor Sturgeon, 25, started shooting up the bank with an AR-15 style assault rifle at around at 8.30am on Monday after being fired from his position as a syndications associate and portfolio banker. Images shared on social media show that he had posted on his Instagram account a series of memes — including one of Kylo Ren from Star Wars saying “I know what I have to do but I don't know if I have the strength to do it,” and another reading: “They won't listen to words or protests. Let's see if they hear this.” During the shooting, it was overheard on police scanners that Sturgeon was “suicidal” and texted a friend that he would “shoot up the bank” and had left his parents a note informing them of his intentions to attack his workplace. Police also confirmed that Sturgeon livestreamed the shooting on his Instagram, which has since been taken down and is now in police custody.
CONNOR STURGEON was a star athlete in high school who allegedly suffered so many concussions he wore a helmet at basketball games. When he was a freshman at the Floyd Central High School in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, Sturgeon was an all-round athlete, playing basketball, football and running track. A classmate remembered that Sturgeon wore a helmet while playing basketball due to multiple concussions he suffered while playing football.
While families in our area are struggling with rising costs for food and trying to provide healthy meals for their children, extremist Republicans in Washington are proposing massive cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — the key program helping millions put food on the table.
Republicans have introduced legislation that, for the first time, would subject parents or grandparents with children 7 years or older to a harsh time limit of three months of SNAP benefits if they cannot meet burdensome work requirements. Right now, adults with any minor child are exempt. To put it clearly — these proposals would take food away from hungry children. If this legislation passes, 4 million children would see a massive reduction in their food assistance.
SNAP is one of the strongest tools our nation has to combat hunger. Our elected leaders should be strengthening SNAP benefits and protecting them against attacks, not doing the opposite. Our families are counting on our members of Congress to stand up against these attacks and protect SNAP.
SARAH KENNEDY OWEN:
Speaking of FBI, another debacle happened right here in Northern California, Santa Rosa to be exact. In 1969, a criminal by the name of Joseph Barboza entered witness protection (was actually, at that time, the first person to be enrolled in that program) and was placed in Santa Rosa. The debacle was that, as an FBI informant, he was actually being protected from prosecution for murder in Boston (Boston again!) while four innocent men (“likely suspects”) rotted in jail for this crime (at their trial, Barboza lied on the stand about their involvement while he himself was the actual murderer).
While in Santa Rosa he committed another crime, also involving murder, but got off with a short sentence (paroled in 4 years) thanks to a Boston judge (and former Assistant U.S. Attorney 1965 – 1969) who made a personal appearance at Barboza’s California trial to give him a glowing reference! All of this happened between the mid-60’s and the mid-70’s when James Whitey Bulger was just recovering from his stint in prison and rising in the crime world. The U.S. government was ordered to pay 100 million dollars to the four men (or their families, two of the men died in prison, after 30 years) for the injustice they endured. True story, and a tiresome example of FBI corruption.
However, I do not believe Trump would lift a finger to solve these FBI corruption problems, just as he never lifted a finger to do much of anything besides provide for himself politically while in office.
How many people died because of his inaction/bad advice involving Covid? Clean hands? Hardly.
IT’S EASTER, SO WE’RE TALKING RABBITS. When they arrived in Australia in 1788, rabbits multiplied like… well… rabbits! One man, Thomas Austin, inadvertently sparked a rabbit takeover when he released a handful on his Barwon Park property in Victoria in 1859. Within a few years the rabbit population at his property increased dramatically, spreading into the surrounding district and beyond. They were reported in Tasmania in 1827. By 1886 they had reached the Queensland-New South Wales border, a distance of over 1,200km in just 27 years! Today feral rabbits are found all over Australia, except in the farthest reaches of the north. But don't be fooled by their adorable appearance—these bunnies are no innocent creatures. Feral rabbits compete with native wildlife, damage vegetation, and degrade land.
QUICK COVID QUIZ 2023
by Steve Heilig
True or False:
1. Covid is still killing hundreds of Americans every day, and countless more elsewhere, as in, it’s not “over,” far from it, sorry.
2. Covid is still spreading locally with outbreaks in/from schools, concerts, films, all kinds of public indoor gatherings, but we don’t really know exactly how much of it is around, so at least indoors, it’s safest to act like it’s right there in your face.
3. Covid virus mutates rapidly to spread easier faster and newer variants get names like “Kraken” because even virologists have a macabre sense of humor/survival.
4. Covid is usually much less serious/lethal than before - unless you are over, say, 65 years old, immune-compromised, unvaccinated/boosted, malnourished, a smoker, or just genetically or otherwise unlucky in the crapshoot that is life.
5. “Red” States or regions where Covid vaccination rates are lower have much higher death rates than those where vaccination rates are high, a weird example of what might sadly be called “political epidemiology” or even “Covid belief Darwinism.”
6. Over a billion people have been Covid-vaccinated and it has not been shown to sicken any but a tiny minority, like other vaccinations most of us got for schooling without problem or protest, and then only for a while, and no, it doesn’t mess with our genes or contain microchips or other nefarious non-science fictions.
7. Boosters are now a complicated thing and individual recommendations vary so it’s best to talk with informed medical pros about what you might now need.
8. Masks DO work to decrease Covid transmission if properly used on your face and indoors, and while you might have read of a big report saying that’s not so, said report was so flawed the otherwise-respected group that issued it had to crawl it back and say Oops, sorry, we didn’t really mean that. Plus they are cheap and we wear them for others, not just ourselves, right?
9. If you do get infected with Covid, Paxlovid is a truly great medication you should get ASAP, within days, to prevent serious illness and maybe longer-term effects too. And there are more meds coming for this too. And you should isolate for at least 5-10 days too. Again, for others, if you’re feeling non-selfish.
10. Some other famous medications like Ivermectin, HCQ, etc., still promoted in some quarters for bizarre reasons, have now been researched very conclusively and don’t help with Covid, but can render you sick or even dead if they keep you from proven therapies. But if you have worms, ivermectin can be very helpful.
11. Boosting your immune system is a good idea even without Covid flying around so look to trusted sources on how to do that (selected hints: sleep, exercise, Vit. D, zinc, and more with decreasing evidence but your results may vary). Alas it seems we can’t count on “natural” immunity from previous infection very long.
12. Even if you are young and brutally healthy, it’s looking like that for some folks repeated infections can constitute an “assault” on our health, with many unknown but potentially serious long-term effects, aka, “long covid,” a still-murky but too often serious condition that can seriously mess up one’s life; so, everyone should avoid the bad bug if at all possible.
13. We don’t truly know 100% where Covid came from, lab or animals or outer space or whatnot; Science keeps an open mind. That said, the bulk of evidence and precedent points to animal vectors. We should treat animals a lot more humanely and safely AND improve lab research safety policies and practices. In any event, wherever it came from doesn’t alter any of the smartest recommendations on prevention and treatment.
14. Covid misinformation was/is a big factor in the spread and toll of this disease, sadly, and while there are always minority voices, even credentialed ones. But eventually truth wins out and they are discredited, as happened with the many AIDS “theories” about origin, spread, treatment, etc., now confined to historical shame and obscurity for all but a few true believers who most see as nuts, but not always harmless ones. And so many clinicians have indeed been heroic in helping their patients, at risk to themselves from both Covid and delusional attacks, even violent ones. Remember howling out windows at 8pm to honor them? Seems like ancient history already, but maybe we should be doing that always.
15. Welcome to the Pandemicine, our era of common and recurring new epidemics of spreading diseases of various severity; it’s always been this way, historically, but the modern world spreads both bugs and (mis)information faster than ever and there will be more and worse pandemics coming, sorry. Hopefully we can all learn from this one, for the benefit of us all. One can dream, right?
(ANSWERS: 1-15: True.)
MARIN COUNTY AND THE NEW NEW (THIS TIME IT’S DIFFERENT!) WAR ON DRUGS:
Part 1: DEA Special Agent Wade Shannon’s ‘Clear And Present Danger’
by Eva Chrysanthe
Three months after yet another Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent was sentenced to more than ten years in prison for money laundering and bank fraud (a reality that would prompt even GOP Senator Chuck Grassley to demand – again – a briefing on the agency’s lack of oversight), Marin County’s lily-white “Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Board” hosted DEA Special Agent Wade Shannon at their March 7, 2022 meeting.
Despite its wealth and notorious level of racial segregation, Marin County reportedly also has the distinction of the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in the state, and this trend is especially noticeable amongst its white youth population. The members of the AOD Board understandably wanted this to end, and so the DEA took the opportunity, not to illuminate the current crisis, but to do some damage control on its own behalf.
Special Agent Shannon’s average-white-man visage is the perfect avatar for an agency that received approximately $3.4 billion in funding in 2022 despite a success rate of less than 1% in its professed goal of interdicting drug traffic. And for anyone at all skeptical about the self-professed value of the DEA, Agent Shannon did not disappoint, opening his comments with a dogwhistle loud enough to be heard in East Oakland:
“My job is to go after all the drug cartels and all the traffickers,” Agent Shannon told the virtual attendees, “but we can’t win the drug war unless we have treatment and prevention.”
Curiously, none of the middle-aged and elderly white homeowners on the County’s AOD Board questioned the obvious contradiction in Agent Shannon’s assertion. How could the DEA profess to want any meaningful level of “treatment and prevention” when, per the Department of Justice, DEA agents themselves had repeatedly been involved in trafficking drugs and multiple other forms of corruption – and at other times, in full “Three Stooges Mode”, DEA agents had botched their own interdiction efforts with near-criminal incompetence?
How could we have “treatment and prevention” when the DEA and other law enforcement agencies were squandering such a large percentage of federal monies?
Agent Shannon’s slide show was clumsily concocted, but an agency with a $3.4Billion budget doesn’t have to be smart. Just before he described the overdose crisis as “A Clear and Present Danger” (somewhere, Tom Clancy’s estate is smiling) Agent Shannon described the current National Drug Threat Assessment as essentially, Mexican Criminals Assaulting The Good and Decent White People of Marin County:
“The main focal points, and this is really critical, this is really our bread and butter, and it’s impacting all of you in Marin County, Mexican criminal organizations, the cartels, are smuggling drugs into the United States.”
Bread and butter: In front of an ill-informed assemblage of home-owning Marin Board members who themselves had suffered deep family losses to substance abuse, Agent Shannon went on to repeatedly, nakedly, lay the drug blame at the feet of people of considerably darker hue: “Hondurans”, “Mexicans”, “Oakland”, “China” and “India”, but importantly, nobody who looked like Agent Shannon or the Board Members.
“Oakland is our main focal point, because Oakland has a lot of problems with drug distribution,” Agent Shannon explained. “A lot of the drugs coming into the Tenderloin are coming from East Bay, Hondurans in particular are the primary distributors. Right now I’m talking to you from 450 Golden Gate, I’m right – the Tenderloin is right outside my door right here on Larkin and it’s, it’s crazy what’s going on there…. It’s all coming in from the East Bay, the gangs there are controlling it, and the cartels are providing it.”
It’s crazy what’s going on there: It was frustrating yet totally predictable that Marin’s lilywhite AOD board completely failed to push back on anything Agent Shannon presented, especially the explicitly racist comments targeting Mexicans, Hondurans, and “Oakland” (that last word specifically denoting, to a Marin County audience, Black people.)
But it was also telling that Agent Shannon described the serious challenges in the area outside his own Tenderloin office as being there, rather than here, when here was where he happened to be sitting. The Federal office building at 450 Golden Gate has top-rate security; its own cafeteria; and its own parking garage. A DEA Special Agent in a white shirt and tie who lives in the wealthy white suburbs of the Bay Area can drive in to the 450 Golden Gate offices in his SUV and comfortably rely on never interacting with the Tenderloin’s actual residents, whose experiences and political stances are diverse enough that many would disagree strenuously with the practices of the DEA.
* * *
Despite the media’s prurient fascination with the Tenderloin’s ongoing challenges, which have far more to do with poverty than a lack of law enforcement, the actual rate of overdose deaths in wealthy, highly segregated Marin County continues to be reported as the highest in the state. Marin County’s high rates of drug abuse (and especially alcohol abuse) are routinely surfaced in yearly reports that otherwise give the very wealthy county some of the best health grades in California.
For additional context, the overdose rate amongst white teens in Marin County is higher than it is in either the Black or Latino teen populations of the County. Which is to say, money and white skin can buy all the amenities that promote health and extend life, but it apparently can’t wean anyone from their need to self-medicate.
But such privileges can help you evade law enforcement for extended periods of time: One notable omission in Agent Shannon’s presentation was any mention of what had been occurring for years practically ‘next door” to the DEA’s San Jose office. That DEA office stands less than three miles from the San Jose Police Officer’s Association, where the white, “grandmotherly” Executive Director Joanne Segovia was allegedly engaged in illegally importing kilos of fentanyl over a period of eight years, from 2015-2023.
This prompts an obvious question: with a $3 billion budget, why was the DEA so focused on the activities of “Hondurans” “Mexicans” and “Oakland”, and so resolute in turning a blind eye to white police and police union officers, and white gangs who have so often been overachievers in the fentanyl importation and distribution arena?
But Agent Shannon didn’t have time for such details. He was here to assure the audience that he and the Board had a lot “in common’, despite his 25 years at the DEA, an agency that not a few Republican and Democratic representatives have suggested should be abolished.
“I watched my kids grow up and have been going through all of the trials and tribulations of being a parent and a scout leader and watching lacrosse games and doing all those good things.”
Being a parent and a scout leader and watching lacrosse games was apparently all you needed to say if you were white and speaking to the kinds of people typically appointed to Marin County’s boards and commissions. To play lacrosse in Marin means that your family has several thousand dollars to spend every season on a sport that didn’t even exist in the County before the mid-1990s, when it had to be imported by wealthier, whiter, more status-oriented East Coast transplants.
Because those East Coast transplants demanded a lifestyle that was even more racially segregated than earlier generations of County residents, lacrosse in Marin has one meaning: you will not play a sport that includes Black people from Marin City or Latino people from the Canal. In the words of one Black resident, lacrosse in Marin is “hyperwhite.”
Many of the people in the meeting had been purposefully recruited onto the AOD Advisory Board by its law-enforcement-boosting former Chair Mark Dale because they had suffered tragic losses and setbacks in their families due to opioids. And yet it was apparently impossible for this board to make the connection between the deaths of their own children and the fact that the DEA, as well as many other law enforcement agencies in the US, had been more problem than solution.
We all have great sympathy and even empathy for the losses these parents suffered. It is wrenching. But why have they promoted a law enforcement response that has a long and established history of incarcerating and killing Black and Latino populations that often have lower usage rates than white people? This disconnect has yet to be explained by any of the Board members. Even now, AOD Board Chair Ruby Gibney, perhaps best known for a 2007 extramarital affair with then-Mayor Gavin Newsom (which resulted in a $10,000 payout by the City and County of San Francisco at a time when arrests for Black San Franciscans for cannabis use were peaking), refuses to address the matter.
The AOD Board has further shown no ability to reckon with the reality that the DEA, whose budget had expanded from $75 million in 1973 to $3 billion by 2022, has zero incentive to actually interdict drugs. The DEA exists in a kind of institutional Catch-22: because the DEA serves little actual purpose except as a sponge for federal monies, meeting their claimed mission of actually interdicting any substantial portion of the actual drug trade would eliminate the need for the outsized funding.
That funding is the source of thousands of DEA jobs here and abroad. After all, how else would Agent Shannon pay for wholly necessary status activities such as scout leadership and lacrosse? In other words, Agent Shannon’s mortgage payment wasn’t going to pay for itself, and if it meant your kid had to die and other kids’ parents ended up serving lifetime sentences for minor possession, so be it.
* * *
Another notable omission: On the large map of the DEA’s claimed “91 foreign offices” which Agent Shannon displayed during his presentation, the city of Kabul, in Afghanistan, is marked with a red dot, indicating an office. But curiously, although the focus of his presentation was “opioids”, Agent Shannon never mentioned the words “Afghanistan” or “Kabul”, where the DEA shuttered its office in 1979, only six years after the DEA itself had been established by Richard Nixon.
That DEA office in Afghanistan was reopened in 2003, three years before Afghanistan’s opium production spiked, in part as a result of US support for Afghan leaders involved in opium production. (It was the Taliban, our sworn enemy, that had banned opium production in 2000.) Why we in the US had to partner with the sworn enemy of our sworn enemy who used to be our ally, no one can quite remember. But in that region we had done so since the Soviet era, so it was the custom of our country, even if our country’s conduct there had bitten us, the citizens, in the hindquarters in devastating, tragic ways.
It’s telling that the DEA had established an office in one of the richest opium growing regions in the world by 1979, within the first six years of the DEA’s founding. The reality is that interdicting traffic into the US never required an office in Kabul. The issue has never been Afghanistan’s or any other country’s supply of illicit substances. The issue has always been the high US demand for illicit substances, and our government’s simultaneous desire to both criminalize those drugs, and to work with governments and groups that provide those drugs in the first place. By 2007, after the US had bombed and occupied Afghanistan for nearly six years, Afghanistan ranked as the source for 93% of non-pharmaceutical grade opiates in the global market.
If anything, drug interdiction has only worsened the crisis by creating illicit markets filled with drugs that are even more dangerous. This of course was never explained to the AOD Board by Special Agent Wade Shannon, nor is it anything the Board themselves have conceded.
* * *
In the last half decade, it has become fashionable for Americans to denounce the Sackler family because of its devastatingly predatory production of OxyContin. The Sacklers surely deserve opprobrium, as does the DEA’s involvement in this debacle for repeatedly ignoring the prescription opioid problems until far too late. But to ignore the far longer history of US involvement in drug production and trafficking, and our carceral response, is a profound error, and one that will prevent us from ever finding any sort of resolution to our current crisis.
None of these points were raised during the meeting. The AOD Advisory Board members apparently view the current opioid crisis as a particular and distinct slice of history, totally independent of the larger history of opium trafficking. (There remains, for example, no awareness on the part of Board members of the 19th century opium trade’s role in supplying capital for much of the US and UK’s legitimate industrial factories – and thus the wealth and political power of our own now-crumbling Anglo-American hegemony – a point that has been made for several decades by, among others, Professors Alfred W. McCoy and Peter Dale Scott.)
Agent Shannon himself reinforced the narrowest of views, with a slide titled “Three Waves of the Rise in Opioid Overdose Deaths” which begins, curiously, in 1999. Agent Shannon divides this into “Wave 1: Rise in Prescription Opioid Overdose Deaths Started in 1999”; Wave 2: Rise in Heroin Overdose Deaths Started in 2010”; and Wave 3: Rise in Synthetic Opioid Overdose Deaths Started in 2013”.
But what explained the third wave? And what, beyond botched “interdiction” efforts, and “education” efforts, was the DEA actually doing? Why did no one on Marin County’s AOD Advisory Board question Special Agent Shannon about how the DEA’s law enforcement focus had played a major role in each of those waves?
There is no way to interdict to any sufficient degree the vast quantities of cheaply produced synthetic opioids, but more to the point, it was the interdiction that cemented the problem in the first place.
* * *
After showing a photograph of a pencil point with a few granular bits of fentanyl that Agent Shannon insisted was enough to kill you, the presentation was wrapped up with a discussion of “Red Ribbon Week”. For those unfamiliar, Red Ribbon Week is the DEA’s decades-long annual habit of barging into schools to interrupt ostensibly important lesson plans with the DEA’s politicized laments about the death of DEA Agent Kiki Camarena 38 years ago, when some of these kids’ parents were just graduating college.
If there’s anything that’s going to make kids distrust the New New War on Drugs, or spark their interest in drug experimentation, it’s going to be the sheer brainlessness of Red Ribbon Week. Even white children in Marin County know that the death of one DEA Agent is not equivalent to the vast harms that resulted from the so-called “War on Drugs.” So why can’t the AOD Board comprehend that? And almost every kid enduring “Red Ribbon Week” has to be aware that Kiki Camarena’s death had less to do with scary Mexican cartels and more to do with the idiocy of the DEA’s assault on a marijuana cultivation business, legal or not.
Not only does the farcical, counterproductive “Red Ribbon Week” continue, but getting a DEA visit to schools in Marin County prior to October’s Red Ribbon Week was apparently the only thing the Board members really wanted from Special Agent Wade Shannon.
And this is tragically why children in Marin County will most likely continue to die of overdoses. Parents in Marin are incapable of admitting that the threat was never from “out there”, it was never from “Hondurans” or “Mexican cartels.” It will never be from “Oakland” or “China” or “India”, or any of the other boogeymen that Agent Shannon and his colleagues concoct. At this point, it’s not even the Sacklers. The threat is Marin County’s own increasingly toxic culture.
No one on the AOD Board is asking why the County’s hopelessly wealthy youth keep playing Russian Roulette with illicit substances. In all this time, no one has ever acknowledged the correlation between the County’s highest-in-the-state racial and class segregation, and the County’s highest-in-the-state white youth overdoses.
Egged on by their parents, who are barely even conscious of their role in this, white and wealthy youth in Marin are forced to compete with one another in a no-win game for social status, and they rarely if ever have the opportunity to interact with children from different backgrounds, whose own less-druggy sense of self could provide some necessary peer modeling. To that point, Special Agent Shannon was not the only person who appeared before the Board at that particular meeting. One of the other non-Board members who spoke was Benita McClarin, a Black US Navy Veteran who now heads Marin County’s Health and Human Services. The very different reception these two individuals received was telling, and will be covered in Part II of this ongoing series.
DAN ELLSBERG & THE BIONEERS
by Jonah Raskin
Daniel Ellsberg, who recently announced that he has prostate cancer and doesn’t have much longer to live, sent out an email in which he wrote, “It is long past time--but not too late!--for the world's publics at last to challenge and resist the willed moral blindness of their past and current leaders.”
The notion that it’s not too late was one of the key concepts and loudest cries at the annual Bioneers Conference held in Berkeley April 6-8, 2023. It’s also the title of a new book co-edited by Rebecca Solnit, one of the keynote speakers at Bioneers. There were several variations on the “not-too-late” theme. The organizers of the conference blasted friends and followers with a post that read, “It’s not a great resignation. It's a great revolution.” In my lifetime, the burden of the left in America has been to acknowledge the powers of the powerful, and at the same time to encourage and instill “we, the people” with a sense of hope.
Nina Simons, one of the founders of Bioneers along with Kenny Ausubel, began the first day of the conference by acknowledging that it was “hard to find something positive.” Then she pivoted and adopted the view that “There is reason for hope.” Simons also borrowed the most famous line from the 1976 Paddy Chayefsky/Sidney Lumet movie, Network, when she said, “We're mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore.” Everyone in the audience seemed to know it.
Saru Jayaraman surfed the anger wave, and, speaking as a worker addressing a boss, shouted to the packed house in Zellerbach Auditorium on the campus of UC Berkeley, “Take your job and shove it.” Born and raised in India, Jayaraman organizes restaurant workers in both the front and the back of the house, and advocates for living wages, which are way overdue. Especially now, she explained, in the wake of the pandemic when many restaurants folded, workers lost their jobs and found they were ineligible for unemployment insurance. Talk about a crime!
“We are organizing people who don’t vote, to vote themselves a raise,” Jararaman said. “We, the people, can win.” That’s precisely the sentiment that members of the audience wanted to hear: winning. They stood as one, clapped and cheered, and they were just warming up.
Jade Begay, a young Native American of Tesuque Pueblo and Diné and Southern Ute ancestry, offered a measured view of the political landscape that organizers and activists often face. “I know a lot of you are skeptical,” she began. “Philanthropy fails to deliver money to indigenous people.” Begay added, “We are fighting the same fight over and over and again and it’s killing us. It’s unsustainable and people are leaving.” But she also saw what might be called progress in the decolonization movement, much of it about language and that wasn’t semantic.
Begay was buoyed by the fact that for the first time the word “colonization” has been used in the international movement around the issue of climate change. She considered that addition a major event. Begay suggested that friends and allies might try the word “self-determination,” rather than “sovereignty,” and the word “devotion” rather than “solidarity.” She added, “It’s about localizing,” and about “working smarter not harder.”
Other speakers included Shane Gero, who talked about whales and the need for cultural as well as biological diversity, and Laura Flanders of the Laura Flanders Show who talked about Preston, England and community wealth building. Jason Nious, a performance artist, used his body and his mouth to make music and persuaded the audience to participate.
I had the distinct feeling that the words and the concepts I heard at Bioneers would move around the country and reverberate widely, as people who attended the conference went home and back to their own communities.
It’s probably too late to recruit Ellsberg for Bioneers next year, though he would add a refreshing perspective and a much needed sense of the history of the anti-war and anti-nuclear movements over the past fifty years. Soon after the publication of The Pentagon Papers in The New York Times, when I was feeling euphoric, I called Ellsberg “a white collar guerrilla” and meant it as a compliment, which is how he took it. There’s more than one way to wage a guerrilla war and more than one way to make a revolution, including a revolution from the heart of nature.
Interesting topics popped up in the bar this weekend, as the world on the outside that means the city meltdown around the eels of its citizens, such as all the shootings we've had in recent months usually by children that had no guidance from their parents, part of this is because the government got involved in telling you how to raise your kids, give them a license that the children to tell you to go second, when you asked your child to do chores, but I was growing up my father said gather the wood and milk account, today's children would not do this they would say that you're abusing them by making them work or they would demand money for the privilege, country kids are raised a lot differently it taught respect and given matters city kids, have no respect and children don't either, even the parents could be bothered less about giving guidance to the children that somebody else do it, after all there were an accident, then the government gets involved say that you can't spank your child, even though the Bible pretty well says you can use other rules that nobody seems to think is important, our society is falling apart from the lack and a total disregard of the rules of the Lord our God, as we celebrated Easter yesterday we've turned it into something the make money off of and you turn the kids lose hunting Easter eggs when the true meaning, it's celebrate the rising into heaven for Jesus Christ not bunny rabbits or baby ducks it is truly sad that our society has gone so far down the toilet, that we don't remember what the true meaning of Easter.
I was watching a movie the other day had to do with the court world, they made the witness whereof the Bible that he would tell the truth and when was the last time either the judge, members of the jury and or just about anybody in government actually read the book, and they always say you promise to tell the truth so help you God, even though the tried to divide church and state they do bring religion into the courtroom when they want you to promise something, that you might not believe it, the only thing that will save our country is the Pickering must stop, the political parties in this country broke it failed to remember what the Civil War was about, not just about slavery, it was about the rich Democrats in the South it didn't want to give up their slaves, that the Republican president Abraham Lincoln wanted the African-Americans to be treated equally under the law, and abolished in every sense of the word slavery, yet the Democrats in the South and whether Feith. Neighbors for their point of view, and even after the war was over with, they fought back hiding behind the Ku Klux Klan to continue their reign of terror against the blacks and their families, and even to this day they do not pay them a living wage they will fight that war until the end of time itself, it was many presidents later that got them the right to vote, and even today they're not really treated as citizens, that's why they fight back and they blame us all the pain they've had to their life.
Today much of our government is as corrupt as those days in Civil War, and we are on the brink of wars to come for free at it is not the United States that we fought for in 1775, and we're still not as free as we hope to be, as our politicians fight among themselves and their posture for leadership they really don't care about the citizens only their boat as a lie to all of us about what's going on we have a hard time believing that this is America home of the brave land of the free, they wouldn't take all our guns away from us, leave us defenseless against anything that might happen isn't this what they did in Germany back in the 30s, one by one we are losing all our rights to freedom of speech will go down the tubes along with the right to bear arms and remember that part where said government for the people by the people that's going away to, where are we headed a government for the government by the government for the preservation of the government and to hell with the people the only way to save the boat is to learn how to vote, term limits Senators and Congressmen no more Dynasty government.
THE BOMBING OF NORD STREAM - THIS ACT OF WAR AGAINST EUROPE REQUIRES CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION
by Dennis Kucinich
As a former chair of a Government Oversight congressional investigative subcommittee, I am calling on Congress to investigate whether or not the Biden Administration initiated the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline, near Denmark’s Bornholm Island, on September 26, 2022.
Veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s comprehensive account of the Biden Administration’s role in the bombing of Nord Stream has provided a road map for a series of congressional inquiries necessary to confirm or disconfirm Administration culpability.
President Biden’s own statements predicting the end of Nord Stream , preliminary to the devastating attack on its infrastructure, point to the necessity of determining whether or not the president was speaking from his singularly informed position of the Chief Executive, as Hersh indicated.
A deconstruction of Hersh’s detailed narrative, (published two months ago on Substack), makes possible the development of a stream of subpoenas to determine the details of the planning and execution of the dismantling of Nord Stream by explosives.
This is a proper subject for a investigation, under Congress’ Article One, Section 8, Clause 18, constitutional powers to gather information, including to inquire on the administrative conduct of office.
The bombing of Nord Stream was an unconstitutional Act of War, involving the destruction of billions of dollars of energy infrastructure and wreaking havoc on the energy markets of Europe. The destruction of this major energy pipeline has affected over 80 million people, threatened the viability of continent’s manufacturing base and its overall economic stability.
The Administration did not have congressional approval, required under Article I, Section 8; nor did they consult with congressional leaders regarding the use of military assets for an attack on Nord Stream.
The President cannot cling to “Executive Privilege.” The President takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution (Article II, Section 1, U.S. Constitution)…and to “take care the laws be faithfully executed.” (Article 2, Section 3, U.S. Constitution.) Executive privilege cannot be invoked to cover up violations of domestic or international law. Production of presidential records relating to Nord Stream can be compelled.
Several foreign governments have investigated the undersea demolition. They have, however, withheld information from not only their constituents, but also from members of their parliaments, further necessitating the exercise of United States’ congressional authority. Last week, the U.N. Security Council turned down a Russian request for an investigation of the Nord Stream bombing.
The American people have a right to know if their government, as has been reported, was involved in secretly perpetrating an Act of War, using US military personnel and the expenditure of US tax dollars, without the people’s knowledge and without the assent of their elected representatives.
In order to be of assistance to my former colleagues, based on my experience in guiding subcommittee investigations (with the assistance of congressional staff), and with express appreciation for Seymour Hersh’s diligent investigation, I offer an example of (but by no means all-inclusive) congressional subpoena…
SHORT TAKES (from today's New York Times)
Summary of the Day: "The Dalai Lama apologized after a video showed him sticking out his tongue and asking a child to suck it. His office called his actions lighthearted."
Photo of the Day: dig those groovy aiguillettes…
A NERVOUS HIATUS
by James Kunstler
On Easter Sunday, fate put me on the Jersey Turnpike at 5:30 in the morning. I was motoring home from our nation’s capital where I traveled for the memorial service of a favorite aunt who passed away last month at ninety-five after a richly rewarding life. Her husband, my favorite uncle, enjoyed a long and colorful career in America’s Intel Community, and passed-on back in 2002. They recruited him at the founding of Spooks Inc in the late 1940s, since he came out of the army intel corps in Southeast Asia during World War Two.
In the 1950s, Uncle “B” and his family were posted to Africa, first Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. In the early 1960s, with colonialism crumbling, “B” operated all over Africa, making subtle arrangements in one new country after another for things to come out in America’s favor.
For all his spookish doings, “B” was an artistically inclined soul. On one assignment to West Africa, he noticed the hotel staff were pilfering some of his belongings. He took some rocks up to his hotel and, cognizant that magic ruled in the region’s culture, painted eyes on the rocks and deployed them around the room. The pilfering stopped. “B” was famous for such insights about world’s exotic peoples. (He also played piano capably, specializing in the tunes of Gershwin and Cole Porter.)
Periodically the family sojourned in New York. With each US presidential election, the IC brought some spooks back to the homeland as the new team reassessed the global game-board. One Thanksgiving around 1961 after JFK came in, we were all gathered in the family’s rented Greenwich Village townhouse when three mysterious African gentlemen, ostensibly “from the UN,” were admitted briefly to the proceedings for a confab with “B”. I learned later that they were a delegation from Angola, where a war of independence from Portugal was catching fire. The men were in New York seeking help from our side (that is, weapons).
After that year, Uncle and the family enjoyed long deluxe postings in Rome and Paris, where “B” followed a career, he would tell me, in “public relations.” My three younger cousins were privileged with colorful childhoods overseas. After Richard Nixon came in, “B” was permanently brought home and posted to Spook Central in Washington, where he completed his career. In retirement, he turned to painting full-time and often played piano for his fellow retired spooks and diplomats at their hangout, the Cosmos Club on Mass Avenue, Washington’s Embassy Row.
My cousins, all aging baby boomers now, all turned up, of course, at Auntie’s memorial service, a warmly graceful affair, well-attended by the network of friends she maintained so late in life, and my cousin’s children with their own children, and all the flowering trees in bloom, and lovely spoken remembrances of the great lady. The crowd was very largely of the Washington insider liberal Democrat persuasion, you understand, but there was close-to-zero political chitchat in the cocktail session that followed. Back during the 2020 election, all three cousins had sent me archly opprobrious emails objecting to my support of Mr. Trump against the charming and dynamic “Joe Biden.” They were super-pissed off that their writer-cousin had turned into a right-wing extremist. But all that was put aside, possibly even forgiven, this day of sweet memoriam.
That out of the way, my more pertinent point du jour is about the journey from where I live in upstate New York to Washington DC and back. I made the trip by car because the affordable airplane routes all involved absurd hours-long connecting layovers in far-flung cities at fantastic prices, and there were no seats left on the soviet-grade Amtrak train service at any times that worked. It’s been a while since I traveled the New York to Washington corridor on-the-ground in a car, and the experience was maximally horrifying.
The various Departments of Transportation of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland are working out there at heroic scale to upgrade their stretches of the interstate highways involved. The amount of concrete, steel, and asphalt getting laid down now boggles the mind, considering the essential bankruptcy at all levels of government. But more to point, they are doing this at the very time when the age of mass-motoring is drawing to close.
Government itself is now militating against it, with its poorly thought-out crusade against the internal combustion engine and its promotion of electric cars that Americans can’t afford to buy, while the electric grid can’t possibly support all that proposed battery-charging at the mass scale. (Let’s leave aside for now whatever nefarious influence the World Economic Forum exerts on all this). In any case, the standard of living is crashing in Western Civ now. Incomes are down, or lost altogether, inflation is up, and with it the price of cars. The car industry has reached its limit for trick loan schemes that enable the tapped-out middle-class to regularly replace their vehicles. Not to put too fine a point on it, the system is fucked.
And yet, here we are, building ever more motoring infrastructure as if none of this is happening. The reason, naturally, is that immense bureaucracies like the DOTs have minds of their own. They are not responding to conditions as they are; they are carrying out plans that were made years ago when conditions and assumptions were different. Those plans have implacable momentum. You can see how all this is going to end badly.
Now, I planned my return trip with a layover night outside Philadelphia, so I could leave before the crack-of-dawn Easter Sunday, when few other cars would be on the road. That proved to be the case. But even nearly alone on the highway, and with pretty good navigational skills of my own, plus the help of GPS, I made several wrong turns. This was mostly because the signage contradicted the lady robot’s voice issuing instructions, as well as my own geographical heuristics, especially in the long stretch north up the whole length of New Jersey. There were a few times I felt I barely escaped getting killed making last-second turns. There were extended moments when I thought: I’m in Hell.
Anyway, I made it home alive and undamaged. I’d never want to do that trip again, and the way things are going, I may not have to. The Easter holiday was a strange hiatus in a year that promises fantastic turbulence in public affairs, including especially American politics and our wobbling economy. Financial markets and banks managed to levitate through the first weeks of springtime, but there is a bad odor of imminent failure in the air, at the same time that government’s war against its own citizens shows signs of hardening into the threat of digital currency, renewed efforts at censorship, persecution of political opponents, and a growing awareness of “vaccine” caused death. The natives are restless, the animals are stirring. Events creep toward criticality.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I think the upshot of the government's meddling in automobile markets & manufacturing is that the super wealthy & politically connected will still have POVs, for example ‘Car of the Year’ Lucid Air, at a cost of about $185,000 per unit. As for the Proles, they’ll be riding on stinking city buses ~ as I mentioned ~ with the crazies & fentanyl addicts. I dare say you’ll be at the bus stop in the pouring rain when the Climate Czar blows by in his shiny new Lucid, splashing mud on you and maybe giving you the finger for being in his way.
RECLAIMING OUR COUNTRY
This is a talk I gave on April 4th at the Independent National Convention in Austin, Texas.
by Chris Hedges
We are undergoing the most vicious class war in U.S. history. Social inequality has reached its most extreme levels of disparity in over 200 years, surpassing the rapacious greed of the era of the robber barons. The legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, along with the media and universities, have been seized by a tiny cabal of billionaires and corporations who pass laws and legislation that consolidate their power and obscene wealth at our expense. We are sacrificial victims, whether on the left or the right, helpless before this modern incarnation of the Biblical idol Moloch.
In 1928, the top one percent held about 24 percent of the nation’s income, a percentage that steadily declined until 1973. By the early 1970s the oligarchy’s assault against workers was accelerated in response to the rise of popular mass movements in the 1960s. The billionaire class and corporations poured billions into political parties, academia, think-tanks and the media. Critics of capitalism had difficulty finding a platform, including on public broadcasting. Those who sang to the tune the billionaires played were lavished with grants, book deals, tenured professorships, awards and permanent megaphones in the commercial press. Wages stagnated. Income inequality grew to monstrous proportions. Tax rates for corporations and the rich were slashed until it culminated in a virtual tax boycott.
Today, the top 10 percent of the richest people in the United States own almost 70 percent of the country’s total wealth. The top 1 percent control 32 percent of the wealth. The bottom 50 percent of the U.S. population hold 3 percent of all U.S. wealth.
These ruling oligarchs have us, not to mention the natural world, in a death grip. They have mobilized the organs of state security, militarized the police, built the largest prison system in the world and deformed the courts to criminalize poverty. We are the most spied upon, watched, photographed and monitored population in human history, and I covered the Stasi state in East Germany. When the corporate state watches you 24-hours a day you cannot use the word liberty. This is the relationship between a master and a slave.
The oligarchs have bought off intellectuals and artists to serve commercial interests. The machinery of corporate dominance is carried out by the college-educated, those who rise to the top of academia — such as the economist Larry Summers who pushed the deregulation of Wall Street under Bill Clinton, or the political scientist Samuel Huntington who warned that countries like the U.S. and U.K. were suffering from an “excess of democracy” — those who manage the financial firms and corporate superstructures, those who provide the jingles, advertising, brands and political propaganda in public relations firms, those in the press who work as stenographers to power and those in the entertainment industry who fill our heads with fantasies.
It is one of the great ironies that the corporate state needs the abilities of the educated, intellectuals and artists to maintain power, yet the moment any begin to think independently they are silenced. The relentless assault on culture, journalism, education, the arts and critical thinking, has left those who speak in the language of class warfare marginalized, frantic Cassandras who are viewed as slightly unhinged and depressingly apocalyptic. Those with the courage to shine a light into the inner workings of the machinery, such as Noam Chomsky, are turned into pariahs, or, like Julian Assange, relentlessly persecuted.
Culture is vital to democracy. It is radical and transformative. It expresses what lies deep within us. It gives words to our reality. It validates the facts of our lives. It makes us feel as well as see. It allows us to empathize with those who are different or oppressed. It reveals what is happening around us. It honors mystery.
“The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through the vast forest,” James Baldwin writes, “so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”
“Ultimately, the artist and the revolutionary function as they function, and pay whatever dues they must pay behind it because they are both possessed by a vision, and they do not so much follow this vision as find themselves driven by it,” writes Baldwin.
The central premise of mass culture is that capitalism unassailable engine of human progress, even as global capitalists have pumped nearly 37 percent more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere since the first Convention on Climate Change in 1992. Speak of values and needs, speak of moral systems and meaning, defy the primacy of profit, especially if you only have the few minutes allotted to you on a cable television show to communicate back-and-forth in the usual thought-terminating cliches, and it sounds like gibberish to a conditioned public .
Capitalism, as Karl Marx understood, is a revolutionary force. It is endemically unstable. It exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse. That is its nature. But those in society tasked with revealing this nature have been bought off or silenced. Truth is not derived from social values or ethics external to corporate culture. Our social, familial and individual rights and needs, as well as our ability to focus on these rights and needs, are robbed from us.
There are their facts and there are our facts. Markets, economic growth, higher corporate profits and consolidations, austerity, technological innovation, deindustrialization and a climbing stock market are their facts. Janet Yellen’s need to orchestrate unemployment to bring down inflation is, for them, a vital fact.
Our facts, the facts of those who are evicted, go to prison, are unemployed, are sick yet uninsured, the 12 million children who go to bed hungry, or live, like nearly 600,000 Americans, on the streets, are not part of the equation. Our facts do not attract advertisers. Our facts do not fit with the Disneyfied world the media and advertisers are paid to create. Our facts are an impediment to increased profits.
One strives towards a dream. One lives within an illusion. And the illusion that we are fed is that there is never an impediment which can’t be overcome. That if we just dig deep enough within ourselves, if we find our inner strength, if we grasp, as self-help gurus tell us, that we are truly exceptional, if we believe that Jesus can perform miracles, if we focus on happiness, we can have everything we desire. And when we fail, as most fail in a post-industrial United States to fulfill this illusion, we are told we didn’t try hard enough.
Sigmund Freud wrote that societies, along with individuals, are driven by two primary instincts. One is the instinct for life — Eros, the quest to love, nurture, protect, and preserve. The second is the death instinct. The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence. It seeks the dissolution of all living things, including ourselves. One of these two forces, Freud writes, is always ascendant. Societies in decline are seduced by the death instinct, as Freud observes in “Civilization and Its Discontents,” written during the rise of European fascism and World War II. The death instinct sees destruction as creation. The satisfaction of the death instinct, Freud writes, “is accompanied by an extraordinarily high degree of narcissistic enjoyment, owing to its presenting the ego with a fulfillment of the latter’s old wishes for omnipotence.”
A population beset by despair, a sense of dethronement and powerlessness, is intoxicated by an orgy of annihilation, which soon morphs into self-annihilation. It has no interest in nurturing a world that has betrayed them. It seeks to eradicate this world and replace it with a mythical one. It retreats into self-adulation fed by self-delusion and historical amnesia.
The danger of illusion is that it allows you to remain in a state of infantilism. As the gap opens between the illusion of who we think we are, and the reality of the inequality, the violence, the foreclosures, the bankruptcies that are caused by the inability to pay medical bills, and ultimately the collapse of empire, we are unprepared emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually for what confronts us. When the wolf is at the door, when our house is foreclosed, when unemployment insurance runs out, we react as a child reacts. We search for a demagogue or a savior who promises protection, moral renewal, vengeance and new glory.
This is the deformed world our corporate masters have created. It is one we must confront and dismantle. It requires us to pit power against power. It requires us to dismantle the illusions used to disempower us, to adhere to values based on the sanctity of life, rather than the fact of profit. It requires us to cross the cultural and political divides the ruling class has erected and to build new political and social coalitions.
The politics of diversity have become advertising gimmicks, brands. Barack Obama did nothing to blunt social inequality and imperial folly. Identity politics and diversity busy liberals and the educated with a boutique activism at the expense of addressing systemic injustices or the scourge of permanent war. The haves scold the have-nots for their bad manners, racism, linguistic insensitivity and garishness, while ignoring the root causes of their economic distress or the suicidal despair gripping much of the country.
Did the lives of Native Americans improve because of the legislation mandating assimilation and the revoking of tribal land titles pushed through by Charles Curtis, the first Native American Vice President? Are we better off with Clarence Thomas, who opposes affirmative action, on the Supreme Court? Or Victoria Nuland, a war hawk, in the State Department? Is our perpetuation of permanent war more palatable because Lloyd Austin, an African-American, is the Secretary of Defense? Is the military more humane because it accepts transgender soldiers? Is social inequality, and the surveillance state that controls it, ameliorated because Sundar Pichai, who was born in India, is the CEO of Google and Alphabet? Has the weapons industry improved because Kathy J. Warden, a woman, is the CEO of Northop Grumman? And another woman, Phebe Novakovic, is the CEO of General Dynamics? Are working families better off with Janet Yellen, who promotes increasing unemployment and “job insecurity” to lower inflation, as Secretary of the Treasury? Is the movie industry enhanced when a female director, Kathryn Bigelow, makes “Zero Dark Thirty,” agitprop for the CIA?
Richard Rorty in his last book “Achieving Our Country” saw where we are headed. He writes:
[M]embers of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers — themselves desperately afraid of being downsized — are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for — someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out. For once a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen. In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly overoptimistic.
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words [slur for an African-American that begins with “n”] and [slur for a Jewish person that begins with “k”] will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.
The public has been siloed into antagonistic tribes. Catering to these antagonistic tribes is the business model of the media, whether Fox News or MSNBC. Not only are these competing demographics fed what they want to hear, but the opposing tribe is demonized, with the scalding rhetoric widening the chasms within the public. This delights the oligarchs.
If we are to wrest power back from corporations and the billionaire class who have carried out this coup d’état in slow motion, as well as prevent the rise of neofascism, we must build a left-right coalition free from the moral absolutism of woke zealots. We must organize to use the one weapon workers possess that can cripple and destroy the billionaire class’s economic and political power. The strike.
The oligarchs have spent decades abolishing or domesticating unions, turning the few unions that remain, into obsequious junior partners in the capitalist system. Only 10.1 percent of the workforce is unionized. As of January 2022, private-sector unionization stood at its lowest point since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. And yet, 71 percent of U.S. workers say they would like to belong to a union, the highest in nearly six decades, and up from 48 percent in 2009, according to a Gallup poll conducted last summer.
A series of anti-labor laws, including the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act and so called Right-to-Work laws, which outlaw union shops, were crafted to weaken workers bargaining power and stymie the ability to strike. When the Taft-Hartley Act was passed, about a third of the workforce was unionized, peaking in 1954 at 34.8 percent. The Act is a frontal assault on unions. It prohibits jurisdictional strikes, wildcat strikes, solidarity or political strikes, and secondary boycotts, whereby unions strike against employers who continue to do business with a firm that is undergoing a strike. It forbids secondary or common situs picketing and closed shops.
Companies are permitted under the Act to require employees to attend anti-union propaganda meetings, which Amazon does with its workers. The Federal government is empowered to obtain strikebreaking injunctions and impose a deal on workers if an impending or current strike imperils “national health or safety,” as the Biden administration did with the freight railway workers. The right to strike in the U.S. barely exists.
The strike is the only weapon workers have to hold power in check. Third parties can run candidates to challenge the duopoly, but they are useless appendages unless they have the power of organized labor behind them. As history has repeatedly proven, organized labor, allied with a political party dedicated to its interests, is the only way we can protect ourselves from the oligarchs.
Nick French, in an article in Jacobin, draws on the work of the sociologist Walter Korpi, who examined the rise of the Swedish welfare state in his book “The Democratic Class Struggle”. Korpi detailed how Swedish workers, “built a strong and well-organized trade union movement, organized along industrial lines and united by a central trade union federation…which worked closely with the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Sweden (SAP).” The battle to build the welfare state required organizing — 76 percent of workers were unionized — waves of strikes, militant labor activity and political pressure from the SAP.
“Measured in terms of the number of working days per worker,” Korpi writes, “from the turn of the century up to the early 1930s, Sweden had the highest level of strikes and lockouts among the Western nations.” From 1900 to 1913, “there were 1,286 days of idleness due to strikes and lockouts per thousand workers in Sweden. From 1919–38, there were 1,448. By comparison, in the United States last year, according to National Bureau of Economic Research data, there were fewer than 3.7 days of idleness per thousand workers due to work stoppages.”
At what point does a beleaguered population living near or below the poverty line rise up in protest? At what point will it engage in sustained civil resistance to break the stranglehold of the power elite? At what point will people be willing to accept the risk of arrest, prison or worse?
This, if history is any guide, is unknown. But that the tinder is there is now undeniable, even to the ruling class. As the American philosopher Richard Rorty warned, if we allow these divisions to expand, we run the risk of allowing Christian fascists to snuff out what is left of our anemic republic. But if we organize around common concerns, including the death sentence handed to billions of the global population by the fossil fuel industry, we can divert focus from the demonized other to the real enemy — our corporate masters.
France is giving us a powerful lesson in how to pit popular power against a ruling elite. The attempt by French President Emmanuel Macron to unilaterally raise the age for retirement has triggered massive strikes and protests across France, including in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux. Some 3.5 million workers were out in France last week during their ninth rolling strike. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to gut judicial oversight was put on hold when the country’s largest trade union umbrella group organized strikes shutting down transportation, universities, restaurants and retailers. Our own history of militant labor activity, especially in the 1930s, resulted in a series of measures that protected working men and women across the U.S., including Social Security, the eight hour work day and the end to child labor.
The United States had the bloodiest labor wars of any industrialized nation — rivaled only by the eradication of organized labor by fascist regimes in Europe. Hundreds of U.S. workers were killed. Thousands were wounded. Tens of thousands were blacklisted. Radical union organizers such as Joe Hill were executed on trumped-up murder charges, imprisoned like Eugene V. Debs, or driven, like “Big Bill” Haywood, into exile. Militant unions were outlawed. During the Palmer Raids carried out on the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution, on Nov. 17, 1919, more than 10,000 alleged communists, socialists and anarchists were arrested. Many were held for long periods without trial. Thousands of foreign-born emigrés, such as Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman and Mollie Steimer were arrested, imprisoned and ultimately deported. Socialist publications, such as Appeal to Reason and The Masses, were shut down.
The Great Railway Strike of 1922 saw company gun thugs open fire, killing strikers. Pennsylvania Railroad President, Samuel Rea, alone hired over 16,000 gunmen to break the strike of nearly 20,000 employees at the company’s shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the largest in the world. The railroads mounted a massive press campaign to demonize the strikers. They hired thousands of scabs, many of whom were African-American workers who were barred by union management from membership. The Supreme Court upheld “yellow dog” contracts that forbade workers from unionizing. The establishment press, along with the Democratic Party, were full partners in the demonization and defanging of labor. The same year also saw unprecedented railway strikes in Germany and India.
To prevent railroad strikes, which disrupted nationwide commerce in 1877, 1894 and 1922 the federal government passed The Railway Labor Act in 1926 — union members call it “The Railway Anti-Labor Act” — setting out numerous requirements, including the appointment of a Presidential Emergency Board before a strike could be called. Biden set up a Presidential Emergency Board in July of last year. One month later, freight railway workers were forced to accept a contract that excluded any paid sick leave.
Our oligarchs are as vicious and tight-fisted as those of the past. They will fight with everything at their disposal to crush the aspirations of workers and the demand for democratic reforms. It will not be a quick or an easy battle. But if we focus on the oppressor, rather than demonizing those who are also oppressed, if we do the hard work of building mass movements to keep the powerful in check, if we accept that civil disobedience has a cost, including jail time, if we are willing to use the most powerful weapon we have - the strike - we can reclaim our country.
RE: WOKE SHOOTER.
Connor Sturgeon hated Trump and his pronouns were He and Him.
Who cares? A lot of people hate Trump and use the pronoun He and Him.
Connor Sturgeon almost certainly suffered from CTE as a result of multiple concussions. Get a life and get out of ours, Moron.
Also he played single-sex sportsball in school, so you see what homosexual-team youth sportsball gang life can lead to? Then he worked in a bank, where he was constantly exposed to the smell of money until it permeated and saturated his brain. And he had a weird mouth; I mean, just look at the picture. All of that, and a legally purchased private arsenal of guns. It’s a perfect storm for murder, Marmon, a perfect storm for /murder/.
(Hear that in your head in the voice of 1940s-era Orson Welles.)
James, your obsessions with shooters, and their gender identities/sexuality and political leanings, are sick, pointless, stupid. Give us all a break.
Obsessions with shooters, and their gender identities/sexuality and political leanings are relevant ONLY when shooters are un-woke straight White males!
Mr. Dunbar, the name-calling and personal attacks because of a difference of opinion, philosophy, etc., are ruining the AVA dialogs. It has happened in the past, and no good ever came from it. What did happen was several thought-provoking writers left!
In my opinion, of course…
That’s very funny, Laz. Thank you for sharing.
Just trying to keep the peace, Bubba. But in the end, this is your railroad…
Maybe you want some of us to leave. If let’s hear it.
Please, spare us all the Princess and the Pea objections. The insults have been minimal and harmlesss. Jezus H.
Okay, tough guy…
Poor Kucinich. He’s too truthful for this sick society, and the sick society rebuked him. He could be a great presudint…if he sold out to the robber barons. He won’t do that. Besides he couldn’t be great if he did. So, it won’t happen. We’ll continue with the likes of brain-dead Biden, half-fascist neoliberals, like Obama, or utter fascist filth, like trump. Such are “the daze of our lives”.
We had our holiday din-din with two school teachers Sunday and one of them has had three possible shooter alarms and lockdowns since Thanksgiving at her school.
So you can count the Trumpsters who go ballistic and weigh them against the antiTrumpers, but the long and short of it is none of these people would have been able to enact their homicidal rage if these weapons were not readily available.
I get an email several times a day from Sportsman’s Warehouse offering to bring ammo to my door and advertising all the new handguns and assault rifles going sale, new and improved.
This shit needs to stop!
Bruce McEwen, I am on the same page.
Our school teacher talked about the fear- frozen faces of her 18-year-old boys and I recalled the faces of 18-year-olds frozen in fear as me and one other lucky marine were taken off the airliner at Kadena AFB, and the rest of those poor fuckers went on down to Da Nang, and from there to Graves Registration in Hawaii. Going back to school after Spring Break, for them, was like going on R&R before going back the siege at Khe Sanh … or Mi Lai, would be more like it.
In two of the lockdowns, our teacher said, there were actually loaded firearms found on campus —in one case, in the classroom next to hers — and the third one was an armed robbery right next to the school. So these weren’t anodyne fire drills, and it seems only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose. She has to teach two classes now, due to teacher shortages and many students simply refuse to go to school, which I can’t blame ‘em, either.
In short (and this is for Marmon’s edification), the situation has become so desperate that I have no patience for anyone’s obstinate insistence on obfuscating the issue and trying to justify the status quo and propagate NRA policy for the gun lobby, buddy, so how’s about a big hot cup of shut-the-fuck-up; you need to be cancelled, because your freedom of speech ain’t worth the safety of these teachers and students… get it?
How the hell can anyone argue in favor of school shootings? That’s demented.
Wow! This comment makes me proud!
Okay, I found my daughter after all these years — or, rather, she found me! Welcome to the AVA community, Sherry!
QUICK COVID QUIZ 2023
Thank you, Steve Heilig, for this straight-forward, factual update–all true– on the status of Covid, and how to be safe for selves and others.
You Branch Covidians crack me up, lol.
That was funny, James. That fits The Man From Snowy River-image that suits you best (do you still have that Aussie duster you used to pose in w/ the 5-gallon hat)? But stop egging on the gun lobby, or lose all the respect I have for you, and I mean it.
With his obsessions, I think it’s more The Man From Brokeback Mountain.
If these Covid experts would keep rereading #6 maybe they would leave everyone else alone.
If all the compulsive motormouth journalists featured here (usually four or five a day) would spend more time clear thinking they would have time for clearer writing.
I am wearing out my scroll-down button.
Regarding MARIN COUNTY AND THE NEW NEW (THIS TIME IT’S DIFFERENT!) WAR ON DRUGS: Part 1: DEA Special Agent Wade Shannon’s ‘Clear And Present Danger’ by Eva Chrysanthe —
Our counties are participants in the Northern California “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas law enforcement consortium comprised of Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey Counties.
At no time have I been made aware of any such involvement by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office or its marijuana eradication SWAT team, the narcotics task force, or special local task forces formed to address massively injurious distribution of hazardous substances, although from time to time the city of Lakeport’s Police Chief posts reminders on their Facebook page about the dangers of coming into contact with miniscule amounts of Fentanyl.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office [Facebook page, March 22, 2023]
Over the last several months, Lake County Sheriff’s Office detectives, assigned to the Narcotics Unit, and deputies, assigned to the Roadmap Task Force, have investigated a large illegal marijuana production operation that originated within Clearlake Oaks.
Over twenty locations were investigated after search warrants were authored by detectives and signed by Lake County Superior Court Judges. The search warrants were served at locations in Clearlake Oaks, Clearlake, Lower Lake, Kelseyville, Middletown, Sacramento, and West Sacramento.
During the investigation, a large, sophisticated chemical manufacturing laboratory was located in the Middletown area. The laboratory was using very volatile, combustible, and highly flammable chemicals for manufacturing concentrated marijuana, commonly referred to as hash oil. There were over 780 gallons of the chemicals at the scene, which were not being properly and safely stored, which posed a severe hazard and safety concern to the community. The chemicals on scene were later safely removed by a hazardous materials team. The laboratory was producing over 200 pounds of hash oil each day it was active, which was determined by ledgers and products found on scene. Over 200 pounds of hash oil, 7,000 pounds of processed marijuana, over 600 marijuana plants, and an assault rifle were located at the scene. Lake County Sheriff’s Office Detectives and Lake County Victim’s Advocates found and identified three victims of forced labor human trafficking at the scene. The victims were provided with resources and services to assist them with their pathway to recovery from the traumatic conditions they were forced to be involved in.
During the investigation, another location, associated with the suspects of the laboratory, was discovered in the city of Clearlake. At this scene, over 11,000 marijuana plants were located. Additionally, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Detectives and Lake County Victim’s Advocates found and identified another victim of forced labor human trafficking at the scene. The victim was also provided with resources and services to assist them with their pathway to recovery from the traumatic conditions they were forced to be involved in.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office Detectives later served search warrants at properties associated with the suspects involved in the investigation in Sacramento and West Sacramento. During the service of the search warrants, over 50,000 cartridges of ammunition were located and seized. Over 20 firearms were seized, including several assault rifles. Over 100 pounds of hash oil product from the laboratory was located, as well as large amounts of packaged processed marijuana bud. Additionally, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Detectives discovered illegal proceeds earned through the unlawful sale of controlled substances. The assets included United States currency in excess of $300,000.00. The investigation is ongoing.
A special thanks to the supporting and assisting agencies in the investigation, who aided in maintaining the safety of the victims, the community, and the environment. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Lake County Victim/Witness advocates, CALFIRE, Lake County Fire Protection District, Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Justice, Sacramento Police Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Code Enforcement, Clearlake Code Enforcement, and Lake County Environmental Health.
For more information and resources about human trafficking, visit humantraffickinghotline.org/en.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office remains dedicated to ensuring Lake County stays safe. To report any suspicious activity or possible human trafficking, call central dispatch (707)263-2690 #lakecountyca
Some of our neighborhoods are plagued by vandalism, theft, threats of violence and actual acts of violence, illicit drug manufacturing and distribution, illegal occupation of “vacant” or abandoned homes, fires set by illegal occupants, sewage and water system contamination and other violations, vehicle thefts, catalytic converter thefts, destruction of public property, and neighborhood degradation well known to all of our law enforcement and fire protection agencies. The long slow (agonizingly slow) legal property abatement process has managed to “red-tag” one property in Clearlake Oaks several times; Code Enforcement has hauled away trailer loads of trash and dumped vehicles and human detritus, over and over again, without being able to prevent re-occupation. Elderly and disabled residents in these neighborhoods are afraid to complain (and those who do get short shrift from some of the law enforcement agencies) or are intimidated by the intruders. Banks who suddenly own homes due to foreclosure are walking away from the properties and declaring the loss on their taxes. We are in many ways defenseless, while these billions of dollars are spent on the fat and happy bureaucrats who benefit from the US DEA program.
Looking forward to Part II, Ms. Crysanthe. Thanks always to the AVA.