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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Unsettled | Point Cabrillo | Widespread Outage | Boonquiz | Joseph Myers | Village Appreciation | Arena Volunteers | Grocery Outlet | Hop Pickers | Rivino Dispute | Redwood Marathon | McGourty Announcement | Supe Speculations | Record Snowpack | Drum Circle | Minnie Smith | Craig's Day | Clearlake | Killer Afro | Yesterday's Catch | Game 1 | Street Tacos | George Longland | Lily White | Floral Valley | PG&E Interview | End Near | Mutilation | Village Idiot | California Reparations | Vote Hinckle | Coates Interview | Bank Failures | FDIC Limit | Bill Curry | Ukraine | Just Cooking | Bellicose Management | All Puffy | Speak Up | James Baldwin

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THE WET UNSETTLED WEATHER CONTINUES as well as the possibility for isolated thunderstorms in Mendocino and Lake counties. Partly cloudy skies with period of few to scattered cloud groups and showers easing this evening. (NWS)

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Pt Cabrillo Lighthouse Gorge (Jeff Goll)

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TUESDAY, MAY 2ND had something for everyone, with wild weather of wind, rain, and bursts of sun; a two-hour morning power outage; and the Ukiah Road closed down in both directions for an hour when powerlines fell across the roadbed about 1pm, location not yet known.

JIM HEID wrote: The outage is apparently pretty huge! PG&E outage map as of 8:57 am…

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It’s Quiz time once again! Yes, this Thursday is the first one of the month and we shall 'throw out the first pitch' at 7pm.

Hope to see lots of fun-loving people there, and even a few curmudgeonly bastards is fine too!


Steve - The Quiz Master

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HOW THE AV VILLAGE IS WORKING (written by the daughter of one of our members):

My mom had a fairly abrupt decline in cognitive function in December 2021, to the point that she was no longer able to run errands, go grocery shopping, or go out to see friends. The AV Village was incredibly helpful in bridging the gap over the last year+ until we were able to find a stable care-taking situation. Philip Thomas brought groceries from Ukiah weekly for many months, Philip Kampfer provided occasional tech support, and Mary O’Brien and Jana Caffey came and visited with my mom, often multiple times per week. These practical services and social visits really made a difference. Anica was incredibly supportive throughout, including coordinating remote participation in a workshop and reaching out to the AV Village community when we were looking for a renter/caretaker to live in the tiny house we placed on my mom’s property last fall. The Village is an amazing group of people and I deeply appreciate all of the staff and volunteers who give their time and energy to allow seniors like my mom to age in place.

(from the AV Village Monthly Newsletter, May 2023)

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As the Grocery Outlet meeting gets nearer, I’ve been wondering why anyone would oppose it. It’s not like it’s mandated that you have to shop there. If you don’t want to shop at Grocery Outlet simply keep your hands on the wheel and bypass it. Seems simple enough doesn’t it? 

Does anyone (including those opposed) remember during the fire emergencies when we had hundreds if not thousands of people coming to the coast for a reprieve from the heat and smoke? Does anyone remember how empty the grocery shelves were in all of the Markets/Stores in town? Have people so soon forgotten what the shelves looked like during covid? I have a feeling even those opposed would be banging on the door of Grocery Outlet to grab what they can if it wasn’t available any place else. Would they swallow their pride of not shopping at Grocery Outlet to grab a 4 pack of toilet paper off the shelf if it wasn’t available at any other location? I believe the answer to those questions is “yes, they would.” If they say they wouldn’t then I would gladly trade them a 4 pack for a bottle of Pink Whitney should it come down to that. 

Some of the same people opposed to Grocery Outlet are concerned about a way out of Fort Bragg should a disaster strike. Are they not concerned about what happens if they don’t get out during a disaster/emergency? They may as well be out in the middle of the sand dunes on a life raft waiting to paddle their way to safety. Within a day or two the grocery shelves will be empty. Seems to me having another store with supplies would be a good thing. It could be the very thing that gets people through another day until help can arrive. 

At the time the appeal was filed for the Grocery Outlet project Vice Mayor Jessica Morsell-Haye, councilmember Marcia Rafanan, and councilmember Lindy Peters voted to deny the appeal, while Tess Albin-Smith voted to uphold the appeal. Mayor Bernie Norvell recused himself. Before voting to uphold the appeal Albin-Smith stated “she wanted to have the EIR completed, and then move the project forward.” Well, now that the EIR has been completed and if the Planning Commission approves the project and we see yet another appeal filed, will Albin-Smith stay true to her words?

Town Hall on May 10, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. Even if you write, please show up to support this project.

The clock is ticking…get your letters going (or simply say “I support the Grocery Outlet project” to

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My family hop picking in Hopland: L-R Great Grandmother Amy Kelton Winsby, her father, my grand mother Violet Winsby Phelps Borgna, her father Walter Winsby, and his son Grant Winsby. They lived in Redwood Valley and would travel to Hopland to camp for three weeks while picking. It was too far to drive back and forth every day.

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by Mike Geniella

Rivino Winery is a happening Ukiah Valley showcase on the eastside of Highway 101. It is a wine tasting and entertainment venue with swag.

Beyond the tasting room is a tent-covered performance area with a big sign proclaiming “Boujee,” a slang term underscoring a lifestyle and a line of varietals the boutique winery produces.

Rivino is the place to be on the weekends, a favorite haunt of locals and travelers looking to gather over a glass of wine and take in the view across the vineyards to the Mayacamas Mountains flanking the valley on the east. 

Community leaders like retired Superior Court Judge John Behnke and former County Executive Officer Carmel Angelo have hosted their retirement parties here, and civic groups and individuals use Rivino as a place to celebrate special events. In 2022, Rivino was the setting for more than 150 community related events.

Rivino’s fate, however, is now in the hands of a Mendocino County Superior Court judge who is presiding over a tangled divorce. The outcome shadows the popular venue as the warm weather season gets under way in Wine Country.

Court documents show that Mendocino Superior Court Judge Cindee Mayfield is poised to turn over ownership of the five-acre Rivino venue site, which includes the entertainment center, outdoor seating, and tasting room, to Suzanne Jahnke, a Canadian native who, with her husband Jason McConnell, bought the property and surrounding vineyard from her late father’s estate. 

Jahnke and McConnell wed in 2005 after reaching a prenuptial agreement. McConnell’s name is also on the 200-plus acre vineyard, which was originally purchased by Jahnke’s father in 1997 but primarily managed by McConnell since the senior Jahnke’s death in 2013. The vineyard operation was expanded in 2019 with the couple’s purchase of an adjoining 32-acre vineyard to the south. 

Judge Mayfield stated that because there is a nearby home the couple once shared adjacent to the Rivino winery and tasting room, the house and parcel should be distributed now to Jahnke. The judge cites a provision in an agreement that when the winery site became community property in the event of divorce, Suzanne Jahnke would have the first right to possess and own the home.

“I think that she is entitled to possession now,” said Judge Mayfield in a tentative ruling March 21 signaling her intent to award the entire Rivino tasting room and entertainment venue site to Jahnke. 

Such a decision if formalized as expected will make things “a little bit disruptive,” conceded Judge Mayfield.

McConnell’s attorney Wallace Francis of Santa Rosa had argued that it is McConnell who envisioned and built the Rivino tasting room and entertainment venue and has managed it since.

A court transcript reveals an exasperated McConnell walked out of the March 21 hearing, after telling the judge: “You just destroyed my business. You destroyed my business. I hope you know that.”

McConnell at Rivino

McConnell said this week that he is not giving up despite the judge’s stated intent. 

“It is everything I have worked for. I have never drawn a salary from the winery operation. I have put it all back into growing the business,” he said.

McConnell said he plans “to keep fighting to preserve Rivino. We’ll keep holding events. I hope all our supporters in this community will come out, enjoy the property, the music, and the wine,” he said.

In an email exchange, Suzanne Jahnke downplayed Rivino’s emergence as the Ukiah Valley’s leading event center and gathering place. She also said she is uncertain what might happen if Judge Mayfield in fact awards her control of the winery site and public venue.

“First, I am not sure if I would call Rivino an ‘event center.’ Rather, it is a small winery that has live music and other entertainment on the weekends.”

Jahnke noted the case is ongoing, and “We still have many issues that need to be decided or settled.”

As for Rivino’s fate, Jahnke said, “At this point, I cannot say what my plans are once our case is resolved.”

In general, Jahnke said, “The property where the winery is located was my father’s before he passed away, part of which I owned before marriage. Further, it is where I built my house before we were married. I hope that I will be able to continue living on the property that my father and I worked so hard to develop and improve.” 

The couple met at a food and wine event in Hopland in 2003. Both are from families in Alberta, Canada. Suzanne Jahnke’s father Gordon was a law professor and businessman from Saskatchewan who brought the Ukiah Valley property in 1997. 

McConnell acknowledges the Jahnke family’s original ownership, but he notes, and a 2022 court document supports his contention, that he took over management of the property after the senior Jahnke’s death in 2013. 

Jahnke eventually added McConnell’s name to grant deeds covering the vineyard and tasting room properties including the residence. In 2022, during preliminary divorce proceedings, McConnell was officially given temporary but primary management and control of all vineyard and wine making aspect s relating to Rivino, including sales of wine in the tasting room, bulk wine sales, shipping, grape sales, hiring and firing of employees, and control over advertising, marketing, and social media.

McConnell said the current situation surrounding the Rivino complex is untenable.

“I never imagined that after 15 years building Rivino that I would be in this situation. Starting in 2008, I literally built the tasting room and winery with my own two hands. I had the help of some incredible people that volunteered their time and support from this community. In 2013, when Gordon passed away, I stepped up to manage the vineyard and because of that we were able to buy it out (fromGordon Jahnke’s estate) three years later.”

Francis, McConnell’s Santa Rosa attorney, said he and his client have repeatedly pointed out to Judge Mayfield the lack of involvement of Suzanne Jahnke in management of the vineyard, and the development of the Rivino complex. 

“I find the case to be deeply disturbing on a number of levels,” said attorney Francis. “In 17 years, I have had about three cases like this where someone was obviously being untruthful and there is smoking gun evidence of that, and it just doesn't seem to matter.” 

“I think if you look at the testimony and the evidence objectively, it's tough to defend some of these rulings,” said Francis about Judge Mayfield’s rulings to date.

Marvel Harrison, a cousin of Suzanne Jahnke, lived at Rivino for a couple of years, and helped get the wine tasting and entertainment venue going. 

“I helped out with the wine club, worked in the tasting room, did lots of odd jobs and helped to get special events organized at Rivino,” said Harrison.

“Pouring wine was fun but my real passion in life is my concern for the emotional and social well-being of the folks who make up a community. I am a counseling psychologist. Rivino creates a place for people to gather, to connect, to laugh, to be with each other, all while being out of doors, in and near nature. It is a gift to Ukiah.”

Noted Anderson Valley winemaker Jim Klein agrees. “I greatly admire what Jason has done at Rivino. He has created an iconic place along Highway 101 that showcases the Ukiah Valley, and the local wine industry.”

Klein said Rivino offers what visitors are seeking: “A relaxed environment, good wine and food, and an entertainment venue for local and out of town performers. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Paula Samonte, an iconic Mendocino County performer, said she is scheduled to appear May 20 at Rivino.

“It gives many local musicians a place to do their thing,” said Samonte. 

Samonte said she hopes the dispute can be resolved in a manner that allows McConnell to oversee his creation. “Rivino is so much a part of the Ukiah Valley scene now. We need a place like this. It gives back to the community in so many ways.”

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Subject: Press release

Mendocino County 1st District Supervisor Glenn McGourty has announced that he is not running for a second term on the Board of Supervisors in 2024. “After 35 years in public service, including 33 as a UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor and 2.5 as a Supervisor, I will be ready to call it a day when my term is up in 2024. I still have many adventures ahead of me, and when this term is over, it will be time to pursue them,” he remarked. 

With the firsthand knowledge that the county faces many complex natural resource and economic issues, McGourty ran for supervisor in 2020 and won the election, backed by a broad coalition of voters with different interests. His term is marked by many challenges and changes for Mendocino County, including the COVID-19 Pandemic, appointing a new Chief Executive Officer, a generational turnover in county staff, multiple natural resource issues and natural disasters, economic challenges, and redistricting. McGourty presently serves as Chair of the Board of Supervisors. 

Reflecting on his service as a supervisor, McGourty said, “I will always be grateful to my supporters who helped my campaign, voted for me, and continue to remain engaged in local government. Equally important, I appreciate the constituents who sometimes hold different views but share my commitment to civic engagement and improving our county. We all recognize the importance of caring for the place where we live. It is an honor to serve, and I am humbled by the trust you have given me as your supervisor.”

Glenn McGourty <>

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Glenn McGourty

WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT that 70-year old Supervisor Glenn McGourty will not seek a second term, it’s probably too early to start speculating on what the January 2025 Supervisors might be shaping up like. But let’s do it anyway.

Except for water issues, McGourty never showed much interest in being a Supervisor, not even bothering to write periodic Supervisors reports or make social media postings or brag about how many water meetings he attended. So we’re not surprised that he has given up.

There are three seats open for the March 2024 primary, almost a year away now. If a candidate gets more than 50% in the primary, then they become Supervisor without a run-off in June. If nobody gets 50%, the two top vote-getters will run against each other in June of 2024, but won’t take their seats until January of 2025.

Dan Gjerde announced he won’t seek a fourth term for the north coast seat a few months ago. Fort Bragg Mayor Bernie Norvell has announced for that seat. Fort Bragg City Councilman Lindy Peters ran against Gjerde in 2020, but lost by a large margin, 61% to 39%. We haven’t heard any indication that Peters is considering another run.

Maureen Mulheren’s 2nd District (Ukiah) seat is up. We haven’t heard if anyone plans to run against her in March. In 2020 Joel Soinilla and Mari Rodin ran against Mulheren, and Mulheren beat Rodin in the run-off by a similar percentage as Gjerde beat Peters. So far only Mulheren has announced her candidacy for a second term.

In the 2020 contest for the First District which includes Potter Valley, Redwood Valley and the Hopland area, the candidates were Jon Kennedy, James Green and John Sakowicz. So far this year, Redwood Valley farmer Adam Gaska, and photographer/trucking company owner Carrie Shattuck have said they’re running for the seat McGourty is vacating. Other possibilities include Kennedy, Forester/Land Manager Estelle Clifton who narrowly lost to John McCowen in 2010 and who has since moved into the First District. In 2020 candidate John Green once declared his love for apples as the main reason he was running for Supervisor. There’s always a chance that John Sakowicz who got a few percentage points in the Kennedy/McGourty/James primary contest in 2020 could run again, even if just to bring up his favorite subjects. 

None of the declared or possible candidates to replace McGourty are known to be members of the Cheap Water Mafia. So there’s a chance that an inland water board director might enter that race if they can find someone who seems popular enough and who could help maintain the Cheap Water Mafia’s control over Russian River water allocations and diversions.

Of all the known and possible candidates, only Ms. Shattuck seems to be following the Supervisors meetings and issues. Fort Bragg mayor Bernie Norvell has staked out several positions in Fort Bragg that contrast with the County’s position, particularly law enforcement and homeless policies. But he has not weighed in directly on any county issues so far.

Whatever the outcome, Mendo is set to have one of the least experienced boards in County history.

— Mark Scaramella

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MOUNTAIN SNOWPACK, A Historical Perspective

Shown here is the snowfall measured by the USFS around April first. The water content is the water in the snow if it was melted. Data for Plaskett Meadows goes back to 1944. (National Weather Service)

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Full Moon Drum Circle on Friday, May 5th at 7PM. It is happening at Pudding Creek Beach in Ft. Bragg

Bring Drums, tambourines, bells, shakers, pots, pans, etc., and a friend. There will likely be a few extra drums. You may want to bring a chair.

Everyone is welcome. Bienvenidos

Eclectic And Leaderless (In other words, anyone there will have the opportunity to start a beat or two. No one person will be starting all the rhythms.) 

RSVPs are helpful but not essential. 

There is a good chance there will be NO rain at that time. If it's raining, we will cancel until June.

For more information and to RSVP call, text, or email to 707 235-9080 or

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Just completed 2.5 hours of testing/imaging at Ukiah’s Adventist Health cardiovascular department. Taking all meds, with an evaluation appointment with the department head on May 15th. Zoom meeting May 17th (with a housing specialist in the room) in regard to getting a housing voucher; the next step to actually moving into an apartment. Continuing to play three lotteries twice weekly. Not identified with the body nor the “mental factory”, I am the Eternal Witness. Last night’s drop in at Applebee’s was terrific: two 22 oz. Eel River IPAs plus two shots of Maker’s Mark, which washed down the steak entree. Enjoyed the Sixers-Celtics game on the sports screens. Bought a Klondike ice cream bar at a gas station/food mart later, for the walk up Talmage Road to my spring bed at Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center. Am here right this instant at the Ukiah Public Library on computer #5 tap, tap tapping away. Breathing in and breathing out. 

Craig Louis Stehr

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Clearlake, Monday, May 2nd (photo by James Marmon)

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by Bruce Anderson

Yeah, yeah, I got into scuffles once in a while but nothing serious, and not nearly as serious as many of the fights in the Boonville Lodge back then, and not nearly as serious as the rifle round whistled over my head as I walked past a Boonville cowboy’s front yard rodeo pen, prompting me ever afterwards to carry an unregistered handgun when I hiked in the lonelier venues of the Valley, hoping to catch the gunman alone somewhere so I could whistle a retaliatory bullet past his pointy little head to even things up. Mendocino County has always been a force-and-violence kind of place, and you have to be prepared to defend yourself against the violent people who operate, with impunity, outside the law.

One night I was waylaid by a soft man whose condition was unequal to his desire to do me harm. He’d popped me feebly on the side of my head as I walked out of a Boonville school board meeting where I’d said something he apparently didn’t like. I hit him straight on the point of his surprised jaw and down he went; I was sitting on top of him trying to make up my mind whether or not to hit him again when Deputy Simon drove up. “Why don’t you guys grow up?” And that was that one.

What I'd said at the school board meeting was, “You can’t cut my kid’s hair.” The child was a future enforcer for the Black Guerrilla Family named Randy Alana, but at the time he was just a kid who wore his hair in a then-fashionable Afro. I was his legal guardian.

The hair issue had already been to the Supreme Court and all the way back to where it even applied to Boonville. But the Boonville School Board and its superintendent, Mel ‘Boom-Boom’ Baker thought long hair on any non-female person was the first sign of disorder that might, if not forcibly checked, engulf all of Mendocino County, all of America, the world.

“If you touch the kid I’ll have you arrested for assault. I’ll sue you individually and I’ll sue your school district and you’ll lose,” I'd rattled righteously on, reading off legal decisions a lawyer friend had prepared for me; I even delivered a brief history of long hair in America back to the Founding Fathers, throwing in some asides about how silly it was to be having this discussion in 1971. As I was speaking, there were mutters behind me to “sit down and shut up.”

In reply, Superintendent Boom-Boom, reminded his school board of five glaring ranchers, four of whom had no hair at all, “I’ve seen these people hide knives and razors in those things,” which was Boom-Boom’s reference to the Afro as both hairstyle and weapons cache. “Our high school looks pretty good with the all the boys’ haircut and our school dress code, and I hope we keep it that way.”

Traditional Boonville was violently opposed to hippies, although quite a few locals were making money off the hippies who’d bought logged over land in the hills, and were bringing new businesses into Boonville, and into all the dying little towns everywhere on the Northcoast.

The vote was 5-0 to enforce the school’s hair code, but they never enforced it on my guy, and I knew then that the only kids they dared push around were those kids who didn’t have anybody looking out for them. That was the night I was popped on the side of the head by the “old timer” as I left the room, and with my answering thunder punch I’d solidified my dubious reputation as point man for hippies of the fighting type.

Doubting the depth of Boom Boom’s black experience, I went to the school one day to talk to him privately about the hair issue, and to repeat my promise of big trouble for him and his school if he tried to cut my kid’s hair. 

But I didn’t want to be at permanent war with the valley’s primary institution either. I thought maybe I could cool Boom Boom out a little. Talk him down. Take a little percussion out of his drums. 

The school secretary, the usual ultra-capable woman who runs most schools for 25% of the money the man gets who’s theoretically in charge, was Frances Lytle. “Mr. Baker is out back behind the gym, probably.” Her voice suggested that Mr. Baker spent a lot of time out in back of the gym because he didn’t have much else to do other than fulminate about long hair and be out back of the gym.

I walked on out behind the gym to track him down. The gym was larger than all the school’s classrooms put together, and there he was, the boss man in brown janitor khakis throwing rocks at the barn swallow nests nestled in the gym’s eaves some 50 feet up. The superintendent heaved a couple more futile stones skyward before turning to me. 

“Oh, it’s you,” he said, immediately segueing into a monologue of his serially improbable life experience, including one seemingly improvised for the liberal he perceived me to be. The unprepossessing man standing before me had been Satchel Page’s catcher and had been a personal friend of Dwight D. Eisenhower. I couldn’t help but enjoy the guy, but breaking into his monologue, I said gently,

“Mr. Baker, you can’t cut the kid’s hair.”

Baker repeated his claim that he’d seen “razor blades up there.”

And on he went with more chapters of his life’s book, none of them related to hair, occasionally pausing to heave a futile rock at a swallow’s nest. But I knew he wouldn’t try to cut the kid’s hair, and he never did.

The kid with the troubling Afro grew up to be a guy who would have hidden a bazooka in his hair if he thought there was tactical advantage to be gained, but in his Boonville incarnation the only thing up there was a hair pick.

Years later I picked up a Bay Area newspaper and read, “A man described by prosecutors as an enforcer for the Black Guerrilla prison gang strangled a trustee to death in the Oakland City Jail yesterday. Randy Alana, 6’7 and 270 pounds, reached through the bars of his cell and, before guards could break his grip on the trustee’s throat, strangled the man to death. Alana is awaiting trial for a murder he allegedly committed in federal prison.”

Randy had certainly been irritable as a child, but we couldn’t have expected such eminence as this from him. A killer among killers? Yes, he enjoyed hurting animals and the other boys, but so did his similarly doomed peers. Add chronic fire setting and bed wetting and most of our boys met the serial killer’s early child psychological profile. They all bore watching, and that’s what we were paid to do, that and containment.

In his youth, The Enforcer was fascinated by any loco-moted object, anything propelled by an engine. But by the time we’d resolved the hair question with Boonville’s school authorities in a way that was consistent with the law of the land, The Enforcer had been sent home to Oakland to live with his drunken father and dad’s beaten down Brunhilde of a German wife, The Enforcer’s mother. “Family reunification” was the social work fantasy of the time, the assumption being that there was a family to be reunified with, not the incubators of dangerous youths these fragged families obviously were. If The Enforcer had been allowed to stay in one place long enough to consummate his fascination with automobile engines he might have grown up to become a talented, functioning psycho of a mechanic.

“Reunification is in the best interest of this child,” the court order said, standing all semblance of objective reality on its head. Dad was mumbling drunk every time I saw him and, drunk or sober, he beat on mom so often she seemed brain damaged, punch drunk as it used to be called. I arrived one afternoon to find mom, a forlorn figure in a ratty house dress, defrosting the ice compartment of her refrigerator with a blow drier, not necessarily proof of brain damage but an indicator. “Damn ting too iced up,” she explained.

The Enforcer, more dangerous by the day, was soon stuck away in the California Youth Authority. At age 18 he passed on into the adult penal system, bigger and stronger, so strong that by the age of 30 he could reach through the bars of a prison cell and strangle a man to death.

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UPDATE: Calling him a “creepy” manipulator who’d unleashed a “tsunami of lies,” a judge on Thursday sentenced career criminal Randy Alana to 131 years to life for strangling federal defender investigator Sandra Coke in 2013.

Alana, Coke

“His persona is a black hole that sucks the life out of all things positive,” said Judge Larry Goodman, who could have sentenced Alana to 40 years to life.

Alana, 58, was convicted of first-degree murder and other felonies for strangling 50-year-old Coke in Oakland and dumping her body in Vacaville on Aug. 4, 2013. The murder occurred just days after he was released from jail for abducting Coke’s elderly cocker spaniel Ginny and extorting $1,000 for the dog’s return.

Coke and Alana had an off-and-on romantic relationship started in 1993 when he was a Santa Rita Jail inmate and she was working on death penalty appeal for serial killer David Mason, also one of my Boonville boys, later executed at San Quentin. Although Alana fathered her daughter, she kept their relationship largely secret from friends and family members.

Before killing Coke, he had 17 felony convictions, including manslaughter, rape and bank robbery. He was acquitted of murdering Oakland resident Marilyn Pigott, 23, with a claw hammer in 1983….

Well, heck, I did the best I could with the lad. Blame it all on Father Flanagan, who’d said there’s no such thing as a bad boy. I’d believed that, more or less, before I met a bunch of extremely bad boys, and hauled them up to Mendocino County where I thought for sure they’d be less bad in a peaceful, pastoral setting.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Garcia, Goldsmith, Redfield, Roberts

JOEL GARCIA, Ukiah. DUI, possession of drill with intent to vandalize, vandalism, suspended license, resisting.

MICHELLE GOLDSMITH, Willits. Probation revocation.

ROY REDFIELD, Santa Rosa/Fort Bragg. Rape by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of bodily injury, criminal threats, assault with deadly weapon not a gun.

CHERI ROBERTS, Failure to appear, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

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WARRIORS DOWN 1-0 TO LAKERS? Have faith, they've climbed out of bigger holes

by Scott Ostler

Here’s a scary thought for the Golden State Warriors and their fans: What if Charles Barkley is right, for the first time in roughly a decade?

What if a jump-shooting team can’t win it all? What if the Warriors are cooked?

So far, after one game of the Western Conference semifinals, Barkley is looking like a wise man. The Warriors lost to the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night, 117-112, on the Warriors’ home court, and the Lakers looked good doing it.

The Warriors gave the Round Mound of Profound Sound plenty to chuckle and crow about. They bombed away from behind the arc, very effectively, hitting 21 3’s, to six for the Lakers. And lost.

Barkley won’t be the only one raising his eyebrows about the Warriors after that one. This is a team ripe for doubting.

That means the Warriors have the Lakers right where they want ’em.

It may seem like the Warriors have spent this season searching for an identity, but I think they think they have one: The bounce-back boys.

They had to overcome the doubters, and surely a lot of self-doubt, to even make the playoffs, winning eight of their final games in the regular season to avoid the play-in garbage round. Then they spotted the Sacramento Kings that 2-0 lead in the first round of the playoffs, and had to go to Crazy Town (Sacramento, with its wild fans) to win Game 7.

Last season, you might remember, was a lot of the same. A lot of bumpy road, a lot of stumbling and doubts, right up to and deep into the Finals, when the Celtics took a 2-1 lead.

And at what point this season, up through the time they were down 2-0 to the Kings, did you fans and experts say, “I can see the Warriors’ path to repeating as NBA champs.” Please, tell me.

And yet, here they are. It would be a leap to say the Warriors are comfortable with their backs to the wall, but they are not faint of heart. While others jump on and off their bandwagon, the Warriors stay the course.

Here they are again: End of the line. Too old, too cute, too wimpy. Overpowered and intimidated in the paint.

They were chased out of the paint by Anthony Davis, like children being waved off the old man’s lawn. The Lakers were bigger, and stronger, maybe fresher. And maybe mentally tougher, surviving a late Warriors’ run on an unfriendly court.

Are the Warriors rattled? If so, they hid it well.

Coach Steve Kerr was upbeat and full of praise for his team after the game. If you dropped into that press conference and didn’t know who won, you wouldn’t pick up any clues from Kerr’s demeanor.

He liked the way his guys played. Were they tired, working on short rest after closing out the previous exhausting series Sunday?

“No, I thought we were the fresher team down the stretch,” Kerr said.

Kerr didn’t even seem phased by the stat that the Lakers shot 29 free throws to six for his Warriors. It’s hard to create a they-hate-us conspiracy theory when your team is a ratings bonanza for the TV folks and the league.

“They are going to shoot more free throws than we are,” said Kerr, who almost never cries about the refs. He added, “I think they were number one in the league (in free throws attempted) and we were last or next to last.”

One problem the Warriors might have is that, unlike past playoff foes like the Memphis Grizzlies and the Kings, the Lakers aren’t going to get overconfident after a win or two.

Remember the Kings’ Malik Monk implying that the Warriors were too old? Same thing the Grizzlies said last season, before falling to the old-folks Warriors.

The Lakers are too smart for that. They are led by LeBron James and coach Darvin Ham, who is a rookie head coach but nobody’s fool. If any Laker wanted to crow about Tuesday’s win, they would have had to go through LeBron and the coach.

James, in fact, oozed respect for his foes. He said it was “just an honor” to be playing the Warriors and their great fellas.

Kerr and Klay Thompson talked about watching film Wednesday, adjusting and tweaking. So far in the playoffs, the Warriors have done that as well as any team. The Warriors know they can’t simply concede the paint to the mighty Anthony Davis, so look for more driving, and maybe slipping the ball to guys crashing in from the dunker spot.

The Warriors are down 1-0. But worried? Nervous? Rattled? Naw, champ.


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* * *

A TRAGIC CASE OF DIPHTHERIA took hold of the Longland family in 1888, with 4 children passing within 11 days. Diphtheria was, and still is in some places, a deadly disease. Norma Hanson told the tragic tale of the Longland children, and ended with the obituary of the father George Longland. The gravestone has all the names of the children that passed engraved on this ornate headstone.

* * *


Here is the second interview with me by the San Francisco Bay View, one of the country's few independent Black newspapers. Those Black newspapers in most other cities in the US are apparently funded by wealthy Jews as was a long time Black paper in San Francisco, The Sun-Reporter, which was largely a project of Walter Shorenstein, a national AIPAC board member, the top political Jew in California and owner of 1/3 of the property in the city's financial district.

I suspected something like that when, in 1985, I organized a picket of the Israeli consulate to protest Israel's alliance and arms sales to So. Africa and its assistance to the US, providing weapons and training for the death squads in Guatemala, El Salvador and the contras in Nicaragua and tried to get a story about it in the Sun-Reporter.

When I entered the paper's office, the aged editor, Tom Fleming, now deceased, apologized to me that he couldn't run an article promoting our protest because it would offend Shorenstein, and as part of his apology, he told me that in 1934, he had been the spokesperson for the Sleeping Car Porters union in San Francisco which had been approached to join the general strike against the city after the police murdered two longshoremen. 

At the time, what I didn't know, was that the ILWU, like most American unions, was "lily white," as an expression of the times put it. The ILWU leader, Harry Bridges, believing the participation of the Sleeping Car Porters was essential to the success of the general strike, gave in to Fleming's demand that the color line be broken and so it was. And the San Francisco General Strike became one of the most memorable events in labor history.

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Geraniums, Lots Of Them

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In her conversation with The Press Democrat, Patti Poppe said the company is making strides to correct the program’s byproduct of also causing unnecessary unplanned outages that pose a major problem locally.

by Marisa Endicott

While in Petaluma for the day at a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. employee town hall, CEO Patti Poppe — two years into leading one of the nation’s largest and most controversial utilities — sat down Monday with The Press Democrat for an interview.

In 2020, PG&E emerged from bankruptcy for the second time in its history after causing catastrophic and deadly wildfires many have attributed to years of profit chasing at the expense of infrastructure and maintenance investment.

The consequences continue to play out as fire victims of wildfires caused by the utility between 2015 and 2018 wait to be made whole and PG&E faces trial for sparking the 2020 Zogg Fire, which killed four people. The blaze burned 56,338 acres in southwestern Shasta County and northwestern Tehama County.

At the same time, customers struggle to pay energy bills, which have increased sharply.

Since taking over, Poppe said she is most proud of such efforts as PG&E’s Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings, which use data and technology to deenergize power lines within a tenth of a second if they are touched by something like a branch.

In her conversation with The Press Democrat, Poppe said the company is making strides to correct the program’s byproduct of also causing significant unnecessary unplanned outages that have been disruptive to communities and a major problem locally.

If you want unvarnished facts about safety improvements, hire inspectors outside of the company structure that report only to Patricia. Keep them in place for the next 3-5 years, until they report a change of company culture.

She pointed, too, to the “culture change” underway at PG&E, to go “from being responsive to disasters to one that is preventing them.”

“As the climate continues to change around us, and we here in California, and certainly here in Sonoma County, are feeling some of the most extremes effects of climate change, we know that we can be a force for thwarting the pace of climate change, but also adapting our infrastructure to be resilient to those changes,” Poppe said.

She called PG&E’s program to underground 10,000 miles of power lines in high fire risk areas within a decade, the “bedrock of what will be this climate resilient grid of the future.”

The company undergrounded 180 miles in 2022 and plans to underground 350 miles systemwide and a current goal of 2100 miles by 2026.

Here are more highlights of In Your Corner’s conversation with Poppe, edited and condensed for clarity.

In Your Corner: What is happening with undergrounding in Sonoma County?

Poppe: In 2023 for Sonoma County, we're forecasting about 6 miles. That sounds small — it's 6 miles in Sonoma, 85 miles in Lake County, four miles forecast in Mendocino all in 2023 — but as we build our map, and we'll be filing a plan later this year to the Office of Infrastructure and Energy Safety to show our exact plans for the next 10 years, those miles will go up.

In Your Corner: PG&E has said it’s scaling back some of its undergrounding projections.

Poppe: We had been asked to file our proposed first four years of undergrounding to the (California Public Utilities Commission), which we did. We had a lot of our key stakeholders provide feedback about that, and they felt it was too aggressive, and they wanted to make sure that any plan we made was a plan we could execute. So, we just slowed down the initial ramp, but the total mileage commitment is still the same, and we're still planning those 10,000 highest risk miles to be underground.

In Your Corner: What would you say is at the root of some of the historic mistakes and systemic problems with the company?

Poppe: It’s hard for me to assess what people were thinking then. What I do know (is) successful organizations, like the ones where I've worked and led before, have a mindset about continuously improving their performance every day, and that includes investing in our infrastructure so that it is safer, making sure that we have a workforce who is trained, able and supported. I hear from my co-workers that there have been times where in the past they have spoken up and haven't been heard. So, each day, every team has a morning huddle, and then their team of leaders has a huddle, et cetera, et cetera, and at 10:20 in the morning, every day of the week, I get a briefing about what happened in the field today. The best companies in the world have executives whose dials are turned to hear the voices of our co-workers closest to the front and closest to our customers, and that's where the most important information lives.

In Your Corner: A major issue I hear is that energy costs are becoming unsustainable. Are you concerned about bills becoming unmanageable for many people, especially with more rate increases on the table?

Poppe: We know how important it is to provide this vital resource in the form of electricity, natural gas at the lowest cost possible. The best operators in the world find wasteful processes that they can streamline. For example, originally underground lines had to be buried at 36 inches. We went back and challenged that in our own engineering assessment and identified that if we start burying the lines at 30 inches, which is still deeper than we bury our gas lines, we could save $25 million this year. Last year, we set a target to reduce our cost by 2% after inflation, and we, in fact, reduced it by 3%, so I know the organization has the capacity to find ways to eliminate waste, not do less work, in fact, do more work for less. So, we're working actively on that every single day.

In Your Corner: PG&E’s bill relief programs for vulnerable customers often have household income thresholds that leave many who are struggling ineligible given the high cost of living in much of PG&E’s service region. (For instance, the California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (CARE) and the Family Electric Rate Assistance Program (FERA), that offer monthly discounts, require an income of $36,620 or less for one to two people or less than $69,375 for a household of four, respectively, to qualify for relief.) Is that something the company is looking at?

Poppe: The income limits are set, not by us, but through the state rules. We're always working with the state to look at are those thresholds proper? We'll continue to look at that.

In Your Corner: What do you think about capping bills at the rate of inflation?

Poppe: I don't think it's good to have a blind cap because we need to do the work that's necessary. One of the things I hear from customers is the feeling that PG&E chose profits over safety, and so we didn't invest in the infrastructure to make it safe. I would never want a cap to cause us to not invest in the infrastructure that we need to, but I do think that we are looking hard at how can we make sure that we minimize the cost increases to customers in order to achieve that.

In Your Corner: What would you say about the criticism that customers shouldn’t shoulder the burden for infrastructure work that was neglected over the years?

Poppe: I think that's a kind of spiraling argument that doesn't lead to any improvement. I'm not here to explain away why it is how it is. I'm just here to make it right going forward. Any great infrastructure takes a decision to build it, and we are building it. And in time customers will also receive not just the cost of it but the benefits of that infrastructure being resilient to climate change.

Note: Poppe said costs of litigation, as well as fines or penalties issued against PG&E by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), come out of profits and not customer rates. PG&E can seek cost recovery for wildfire damages not covered by insurance in cases where the CPUC determines the company acted prudently in managing its system.

In Your Corner: PG&E’s stock has been up. What are your reflections and expectations on that?

Poppe: I'm grateful that investors are having more confidence that they can invest in PG&E because there was a period of time where they couldn't and wouldn't and didn't want to. The investors in the utility are often pension funds, teachers’ funds, mom-and-pop kind of investors. I'm grateful that those long-holding investors are coming back.

The hedge funds are less than 10% of our stock holdings now. When I got here, they were 40%, so we've made a big improvement of turnover in the ownership.

We are still very much at a discount to other utilities nationwide, and even in California, so we have a lot more room to grow to catch up with peers so that we can attract the lowest cost capital, so that we can make the system safer faster.

In Your Corner: How does PG&E compare to some of the other California energy utilities?

Poppe: I would say because of the nature of our service area, and certainly the conditions, but just the size of our service area, particularly these high fire threat areas, we have a much higher footprint of risk. I will say we've learned a lot from our peers in the state. In fact, a nod to San Diego (Gas & Electric) — they have undergrounded a higher percentage of their lines than we have. We went there to see how they were doing it. They were the ones who taught us about this reduced depth of the lines.

In Your Corner: How do you contend with the size of the service area and thoughts about whether it needs to be reduced?

Poppe: That was an early thought I had coming here, and so we, early on in my time, created what we call a regional service model. We’ve taken our service area across the state and divided it into five regions, so that we could have a closer point of contact to those regions. North Coast is where Sonoma is, and we have a regional vice president, Ron Richardson. He is my conduit to this region. And so when Ron calls, and we talk every day, but when he calls and says we've got an issue in the North Coast, he has my direct attention. So in that way, we have shrunk the company. We have to act like a local business. We have to be present.

In Your Corner: Are you supportive of increasing use of microgrids, localized self-sufficient energy systems?

Poppe: I’m very supportive of microgrids. I'm very supportive of new and innovative ways of delivering energy with less wires.

In Your Corner: There's been some criticism that California utilities have a history of undermining solar adoption, for instance, pushing for heavy solar fees or cutting the amount paid to customers for excess power. What are your thoughts?

Poppe: It's an interesting debate. And first of all, we are big believers that rooftop solar, and bulk solar, play a very important role in the energy of the future. I'm definitely pro-solar. What I do want to make sure is that it's priced fairly. It's important that we think about implementing these clean energy technologies, rooftop solar being one of a suite of solutions, that decarbonize our economy, at the lowest societal cost. And so we want to make sure that the costs are borne and shared appropriately. And that's what we care about in that debate. We certainly don't want to thwart the use of solar, we just want to price it right.

* * *

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“If you can cut boobs off a woman and call her a man, then why not poke pencils into your eyes and claim disability so you can be deemed legally blind? ”

This is the kind of thing that poor families in third world countries used to do (or still do?) to make their children more convincing as beggars. 

Like genital mutilation, this kind of mutilation (also, say, breaking legs to produce paraplegic children to beg form sympathetic strangers, for the benefit of the family) used to be decried.

* * *


Activist and former Lone Scout Ned Moulton opened Ned Moulton's Supermarket located at 11070 NW 17th Ave in 1947. By 1949 the 360 lb Ned had renamed his store the Village Idiot Supermarket, been arrested several times for things like tearing up his mothers' grocery store on NW 27th Ave, attempting to demolish the downtown FEC station with his pick up truck, destroying the downtown Western Union Office, gambling charges and destroying his jail cell in the old jail on the upper floors of the Dade County Courthouse. He was told by a judge to take the Village Idiot Trading and Jabbering sign down on his supermarket. When the judge asked him later why he hadn't taken the sign down Ned responded that the judge only said that it would be nice if he took it down. When two psychiatrists visited him in jail he had his hair cut Mohawk style with a one inch strip of hair down the middle of his otherwise bald head. He told the psychiatrists that one of his cellmates wanted to practice his barbering. Moulton was remanded to the state psychiatric hospital in Chattahoochee (six times).

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by Wendy Fry

The California Reparations Task Force published documents Monday indicating it plans to recommend the state apologize for racism and slavery and consider “down payments” of varying amounts to eligible African American residents.

The documents, numbering more than 500 pages, do not contain an overall price tag for reparations, but they do include ways the state could calculate how much money African Americans in California have lost since 1850, when the state was established, through today due to certain government practices.

The loss calculations would vary depending on type of racial harm and how long a person has lived in California. The loss estimates range from $2,300 per person per year of residence for the over-policing of Black communities, to $77,000 total per person for Black-owned business losses and devaluations over the years.

The state-appointed task force faces a July 1 deadline to make reparations recommendations to the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom. Task force leaders have said they expect the Legislature to come up with actual reparations amounts.

The task force also is recommending a variety of policy changes to counteract discrimination.

“It is critical that we compensate, but not just compensate. We also need to evaluate policy that continues to hold us back,” said Monica Montgomery Steppe, a San Diego city council member who is on the task force. She spoke at a “listening session” in San Diego Saturday.

Who would get reparations?

The task force documents discuss two kinds of reparations: those arising from particular instances of discrimination or harm that require an individual to file a claim, and those that involve distributing money or benefits to all eligible Black Californians for racial harm the entire community experienced.

A recent example of an individual claim was Bruce’s Beach, a beachfront property and resort that the city of Manhattan Beach seized from a Black family nearly 100 years ago. Recently, partly because of the task force, government leaders returned the land deed to descendants of the Bruce family, who re-sold it to Los Angeles County for $20 million.

 It is one of the few times a Black family was restored property taken by a local government.

“It is critical that we compensate, but not just compensate. We also need to evaluate policy that continues to hold us back.” — Monica Montgomery Steppe, Reparations Task Force and San Diego city councilmember Eligibility for reparations continues to be a controversy. The task force in March 2022 voted to limit potential compensation to descendants of free and enslaved Black people who were in the United States in the 19th century. The group narrowly rejected a proposal to include all Black people, including recent immigrants, regardless of lineage.

Everyone in the eligible class should be compensated, the task force report says, even if they can’t prove they suffered a specific harm.

“The State of California created laws and policies discriminating against and subjugating free and enslaved African Americans and their descendants,” the report says. “In doing so, these discriminatory policies made no distinctions between these individuals; the compensatory remedy must do the same.”

The final report, much like the task force’s previous interim report, lays out the history of systemic racism and ongoing injustices in California.

Costs of racial damage

The latest batch of documents also urges that eligible people be compensated in cash, sooner rather than later. The records instruct the Legislature to begin with “down payments” rather than waiting for full loss calculations.

The final report suggests dollar figures for certain categories of racial damage:

For mass incarceration and the over-policing of Black communities, it estimates a loss per person of $115,260, or $2,352 for each year they lived in California from 1971 to 2020, corresponding to the national War on Drugs.

For housing discrimination, it offers two methods of loss calculation. One method based on gaps between Black and white “housing wealth” would peg losses at $145,847 per person. The other method, based on governments’ “redlining” history, including discriminatory lending and zoning, would calculate Black residents’ losses at $148,099 per person — or $3,366 for each year they lived in California from 1933 to 1977.

For injustices and discrimination in health, it estimates $13,619 per person for each year lived in California, or $966,921 total for someone living about 71 years — the average life expectancy of Black residents in California in 2021.

The reparations program would be overseen by a new state agency that would determine eligibility and distribute funds, the report says. The agency also would be responsible for helping individuals document and provide evidence for specific injustices.

Eligible Black residents should not expect cash payments anytime soon. The state Legislature and Newsom will decide whether any reparations are paid, and it’s unclear what they will do with the task force recommendations.

“This is the time where we really need the voice of the public,” said Khansa T. Jones-Muhammad, also known as Friday Jones, a member of Los Angeles’ reparations advisory commission. “This is the time to get your churches together. This is the time to get your school boards together.”

Jones made the comments during the listening session in San Diego.

Non-cash reparations

Some task force members have been dismayed at the amount of attention paid to the dollar figures under discussion. The final report provides dozens of policy recommendations aimed at preventing further discrimination and harm against Black residents.

“The biggest fight is implementation of all these recommendations,” Montgomery Steppe said. “After the task force issues its final report, those recommendations need strong support in California’s Legislature and the government. It will take all hands on deck to ensure we push for a policy change from our state legislature.”

The task force is scheduled to meet again at 9 a.m. Saturday at Lisser Hall at Northeastern University, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., in Oakland. The meeting will be live streamed.


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(via Chuck Artigues)

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by Ta-Nehisi Coates

It’s not often that an article comes along that changes the world, but that’s exactly what happened with Ta-Nehisi Coates, five years ago, when he wrote “The Case for Reparations,” in The Atlantic. Reparations have been discussed since the end of the Civil War—in fact, there is a bill about reparations that’s been sitting in Congress for thirty years—but now reparations for slavery and legalized discrimination are a subject of major discussion among the Democratic Presidential candidates. In a conversation recorded for The New Yorker Radio Hour, David Remnick spoke with Coates, who this month published “Conduction,” a story in The New Yorker’s Fiction Issue. Subjects of the conversation included what forms reparations might take, which Democratic candidates seem most serious about the topic, and how the issue looks in 2019, a political moment very different from when “The Case for Reparations” was written.

This conversation has been edited and condensed.

Ta-Nehisi, for those who may not have read the article five years ago, what, exactly, is the case that you make for reparations—which is a word that’s been around for a long, long time?

The case I make for reparations is, virtually every institution with some degree of history in America, be it public, be it private, has a history of extracting wealth and resources out of the African-American community. I think what has often been missing—this is what I was trying to make the point of in 2014—that behind all of that oppression was actually theft. In other words, this is not just mean. This is not just maltreatment. This is the theft of resources out of that community. That theft of resources continued well into the period of, I would make the argument, around the time of the Fair Housing Act.

So what year is that?

That’s 1968. There are a lot of people who—

But you’re not saying that, between 1968 and 2019, everything is hunky-dory.

I’m not saying everything was hunky-dory at all! But if you were speaking to the most intellectually honest dubious person—because, you have to remember, what I’m battling is this idea that it ended in 1865.

With emancipation and the end of the war?

With the emancipation, yes, yes, yes. And the case I’m trying to make is, within the lifetime of a large number of Americans in this country, there was theft.

A lot of your article was about Chicago housing policy. It was a very technical analysis of housing policy. When people talked to me about the article—and I could tell they hadn’t read it—”So, Ta-Nehisi’s making a case for”—no, no, no, I said. First and foremost, it’s a dissection of a particular policy that’s emblematic of so many other policies.

Right, right. So, out of all of those policies of theft, I had to pick one. And that was really my goal. And the one I picked was housing, was our housing policy. Again, we have this notion that housing as it exists today sort of sprung up from black people coming north, maybe not finding the jobs that they wanted, and thus forming, you know, some sort of pathological culture, and white people, just being concerned citizens, fled to the suburbs. But beneath that was policy! The reason why black people were confined to those neighborhoods in the first place, and white people had access to neighborhoods further away, was because of political decisions. The government underwrote that, through F.H.A. loans, through the G.I. Bill. And that, in turn, caused the devaluing of black neighborhoods, and an inability to access credit, to even improve neighborhoods.

Now, your article starts with someone who lived through these racist policies, a man named Clyde Ross. Tell us the story of Clyde Ross. How did he react to the article?

So, Mr. Ross was living on the West Side of Chicago.

He started out in Mississippi.

Started out in Mississippi, in the nineteen-twenties, born in Mississippi under Jim Crow. His family lost their land, had their land basically stolen from them, had his horse stolen from him. He goes off, fights in World War II, comes back, like a lot of people, says, “I can’t live in Clarksdale[, Mississippi]—I just can’t be here. I’m gonna kill somebody or I’m gonna get killed.” Comes up to Chicago. In Chicago, all of the social conventions of Jim Crow are gone. You don’t have to move off the street because somebody white is walking by, doesn’t have to take his hat off or look down or anything like that, you know. Gets a job at Campbell’s Soup Company, and he wants the, you know, the last emblem of the American Dream—he wants homeownership. Couldn’t go to the bank and get a loan like everybody else.

And he was making a decent wage.

Making a decent wage—enough that he could save some money, enough for a down payment. And obviously he has no knowledge—none of us really did, at that point—of what was actually happening, of why this was. No concept of federal policy, really. And so what he ends up with is basically a contract lender, which is a private lender who says, Hey, you give me the down payment, and you own the house. But what they actually did was they kept the deed for the house. And you had to pay off the house in its entirety in order to get the deed. Although you were effectively a renter, you had all of the lack of privilege that a renter has, and yet all the responsibilities that a buyer has. So, if something goes wrong in the house, you have to pay for that. And so these fees would just pile up on these people, and they would lose their houses, and you don’t get your down payment back. Clyde Ross is one of the few people who was able to actually keep his home.

There’s such a moving moment in the piece where he’s sitting with you and he admits, “We were ashamed. We did not want anyone to know that we were that ignorant,” and felt that his ignorance had extended to his understanding of life in America, in Chicago, which had seemed, to use the phrase of the Great Migration, the Promised Land.

Right, right. And he felt like a sucker. And he felt stupid, just as anybody would. And I don’t think he knew, on the level, the extent to which the con actually went. And then living in a community of people—and this was somebody getting a piece—but living in a community of people who were being ripped off. And they couldn’t talk about it to each other because they wanted to maintain this sort of façade, or this front, that they owned their homes, not that somebody else actually held the deed. And so for a long time there was a great period of silence about it.

Did Mr. Ross react to your piece?

Yeah, he did.

What did he say?

He said reparations will never happen.

So, in the aftermath of the piece—piece comes out, fifteen thousand words in The Atlantic, tremendous interest in it. You said this about the piece, I think it was in the Washington Post. You said, “When I wrote ‘The Case for Reparations,’ my notion wasn’t that you could actually get reparations passed, even in my lifetime. My notion was that you could get people to stop laughing.” What did you mean?

Well, I mean, it was a Dave Chappelle joke, you know? And what the joke was was, if black people got reparations, all the silly, dumb things that they would actually do.


You know, buy cars, buy rims, fancy clothes, as though other people don’t do those things. And once I started researching not just the fact of plunder but actually the history of the reparations fight, which literally goes back to the American Revolution—George Washington, when he dies, in his will, he leaves things to those who were enslaved. It wasn’t a foreign notion that if you had stripped people of something you might actually owe them something. It really only became foreign after the Civil War and emancipation. And so this was quite a dignified idea, and actually an idea there was quite a bit of literature on. And the notion that it was somehow funnier, I thought, really, really diminished what was a serious, trenchant, and deeply, deeply perceptive idea.

If you visited Israel between the fifties and a certain time, you would see Mercedes-Benz taxis all over the country, and you’d wonder. This is not a particularly rich country, at least not yet. This was reparations—this was part of the reparations payment from Germany to Israel in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, Second World War. What do reparations look like now?

Right, because they gave them vouchers to buy German goods, right.

What’s being asked for? The rewriting of textbooks, the public discussion—what? In terms of policy, how do you look at it?

So first you need the actual crime documented. You need the official imprimatur of the state: they say this actually happened. I just think that’s a crucial, crucial first step. And the second reason you have a commission is to figure out how we pay it back. I think it’s crucial to tie reparations to specific acts—again, why you need a study. This is not ‘I checked black on my census, therefore’—I’ll give you an example of this. For instance, we have what I would almost call a pilot, less significant reparations program right now, actually running in Chicago. Jon Burge, who ran this terrible unit of police officers that tortured black people and sent a lot of innocent black people to jail over the course of I think twenty or so years. And then, once he was found out, in Chicago there was a reparations plan put together with victims, [who] were actually given reparations. But, in addition to that, crucial to that, they changed how they taught history. You had to actually teach Jon Burge. You had to actually teach people about what happened. So it wasn’t just the money. There was some sort of—I hesitate to say educational, but I guess that’s the word we’d use—the educational element to it. And I just think you can’t win this argument by trying to hide the ball. Not in the long term. And so I think both of those things are crucial.

As of this moment, in 2019, there are more than twenty Democratic Presidential candidates running. Eight of them have said they’ll support a bill to at least create a commission to study reparations. What do you make of that? Is it symbolic, or is it lip service, or is it just a way to secure the black vote? Or is it something much more serious than all that?

Uh, it’s probably in some measure all four of those things. It certainly is symbolic. Supporting a commission is not reparations in and of itself. It’s certainly lip service, from at least some of the candidates. I’m actually less sure about [this], in terms of the black vote—it may ultimately be true that this is something that folks rally around, but that’s never been my sense.

Are there candidates that you take more seriously than others when they talk about reparations?

Yeah, I think Elizabeth Warren is probably serious.

In what way?

I think she means it. I mean—I guess it will break a little news—after “The Case for Reparations” came out, she just asked me to come and talk one on one with her about it.

This is five years ago, when your piece came out in The Atlantic?

Yeah, maybe it was a little later than that, but it was about the time. It was well before she declared anything about running for President.

And what was your conversation with Elizabeth Warren like?

She had read it. She was deeply serious, and she had questions. And it wasn’t, like, Will you do X, Y, and Z for me? It wasn’t, like, I’m trying to demonstrate I’m serious. I have not heard from her since, either, by the way.

Have you talked to any candidates about it?


You published your article five years ago. Barack Obama was President. We are now in a different time and place. How would you place the reparations discussion in this moment?

Yeah, I think people have stopped laughing, and that is really, really important. Does it mean reparations tomorrow? No, it doesn’t. Does it mean end of the fight? No, it doesn’t. But it’s a step, and I think that’s significant.

Now, what would you like to see the outcome of a conversation, or the American equivalent of a South African study into American history, be?

A policy for repair. I think what you need to do is you need to figure out what the exact axes of white supremacy are, and have been, and find out a policy to repair each of those. In other words, this is not just a mass payment. So take the area that I researched. The time I wrote the article—less every day—the time I wrote the article, there were living victims, and are living victims, who had been denied—

Who were on the South Side and the West Side of Chicago.

Yeah! All over this country. People who had been deprived, who had been discriminated against. Set up a claims office. Look at the census tracts. Are those people actually still living there? You know, maybe you can design some sort of investment through resources. Maybe you can have something at the individual level, maybe you can have something at the neighborhood level, and then you would go down the line. You would look at education. You would look at our criminal-justice policy. You would go down the line and address these specifically and directly.

Is your job to just break the glass on a subject, the way you did with reparations, or is it your job to then follow through the way a scholar would for years thereafter?

That’s a great question.

Do you feel your work here is done, and now I’m moving on to the next thing, as you have with any number of subjects? Or do you have to sustain it? Is that on you?

I don’t know. I really don’t know. I would like to be able to move on. But I recognize that’s not entirely up to me.

It’s not.

No. Not at all. I just feel like, if you write an article on reparations that has the effect that it actually does, which I didn’t expect, it’s very hard to say. I have to conclude that I clearly have something to say, and a way of saying it, that can affect things. So, if that’s the case, what is your responsibility now? What right have you to say, “I’m done talking about this”? “Because I feel like it.” I don’t know that you get to do that. I’m actually, I feel myself to be very, very grounded in the African-American struggle, even though I’m not. I don’t consider myself an activist. When I think about writing that article, I think about all the people before me who’ve been making the case for reparations from street corners—One Twenty-fifth, in Harlem—and couldn’t get access to an august publication like that. And I think about how I got access, and it strikes me that you owe folks something. You don’t get to just do what you want.

* * *

Source/ Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Data is adjusted for inflation (by Karl Russell)

* * *



It is time for the Treasury Department to raise the FDIC deposit coverage above $100,000. Why? The reason is due to the reality of what is happening to banks; especially smaller and medium sized banks, like Signature Bank of New York, Silicon Valley Bank and, now today, Republic Bank, that was bought by JPMorgan Bank today. Please know that I am not usually a big fan of Mr. Jim Cramer, on CNBC tv network. Back in 2008-09 Mr. Cramer was dead wrong to keep on saying everything was fine with our financial system when it obviously was not. However today I think he is right. 

What he said today was, “The limit of cash should be raised since it is not a good thing to see the big banks like J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, for example, to be having to take over the smaller banks when they are in trouble because consolidation of the banking system in America is dangerous.” I couldn’t agree more. 

We do not need another 1907. In that year, the real J.P. Morgan singlehandedly saved the whole national banking system.

Frank H. Baumgardner, III 2069 Seville St., Santa Rosa

* * *


Known as “Wild” Bull Curry he was literally one of the wildest pro wrestlers of all time. A former tough man in the circus, he was also a policeman in Hartford, Connecticut. 

Bull got his name when a bull escaped from the Hartford stockyards. Bull grabbed it by the horns and wrestled it to the ground and his legend was born. 

Curry wrestled many all time greats including Fritz Von Erich, Killer Karl Kox and "Tough" Tony Borne. One of his most famous opponents was Johnny Valentine, they wrestled hundreds of matches. 

His bushy eyebrows and wild antics caused riots and more than one fan was sent to the hospital as a result. Curry wrestled into his 60’s before retiring in the late 1970’s

He passed in 1985 at the age of 71.

* * *


Russia has suffered more than 100,000 casualties since December, including more than 20,000 dead, according to new White House estimates. The Kremlin has rejected the numbers. 

Russia's new military defenses in southern regions bordering Ukraine indicate the Kremlin's "deep concern" Kyiv's spring counteroffensive could mark a "major breakthrough" in the conflict, Britain’s defense intelligence agency said. 

A Russian official claimed Ukrainian forces shelled a border town overnight — the third time in three days he has accused Kyiv of attacking Russia's southwest region of Bryansk.

The White House on Tuesday offered rare praise for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy after he said he supports aid to Ukraine. 


* * *

* * *

IT’S CRAZY how US empire managers are talking about war with China more as a probability than a possibility, and it’s also crazy how they’re talking about it like it’s just something that would passively happen (like rain or an earthquake) instead of something they’re knowingly accelerating toward.

It’s like saying “Yeah unfortunately it looks increasingly probable that I’m going to get into a fight with the guy sitting in front of me on the plane, he really takes exception to the way I keep slapping the back of his head,” or “It appears that I’ll be crashing into the brick wall up ahead in a few seconds; there is nothing I can do about this problem but keep my foot on the gas and brace for impact.”

If there’s a war between the US alliance and China it won’t be something that just passively “happens”, it will be the result of US empire managers knowingly choosing to steer things in that direction day after day, year after year, while refusing every off-ramp that comes up.

— Caitlin Johnstone

* * *

* * *


by John Pilger

In 1935, the Congress of American Writers was held in New York City, followed by another two years later. They called on ‘the hundreds of poets, novelists, dramatists, critics, short story writers and journalists’ to discuss the ‘rapid crumbling of capitalism’ and the beckoning of another war. They were electric events which, according to one account, were attended by 3,500 members of the public with more than a thousand turned away.

Arthur Miller, Myra Page, Lillian Hellman, Dashiell Hammett warned that fascism was rising, often disguised, and the responsibility lay with writers and journalists to speak out. Telegrams of support from Thomas Mann, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, C Day Lewis, Upton Sinclair and Albert Einstein were read out.

The journalist and novelist Martha Gellhorn spoke up for the homeless and unemployed, and ‘all of us under the shadow of violent great power’.

Martha, who became a close friend, told me later over her customary glass of Famous Grouse and soda: ‘The responsibility I felt as a journalist was immense. I had witnessed the injustices and suffering delivered by the Depression, and I knew, we all knew, what was coming if silences were not broken.’

Her words echo across the silences today: they are silences filled with a consensus of propaganda that contaminates almost everything we read, see and hear. Let me give you one example:

On 7 March, the two oldest newspapers in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, published several pages on ‘the looming threat’ of China. They coloured the Pacific Ocean red. Chinese eyes were martial, on the march and menacing. The Yellow Peril was about to fall down as if by the weight of gravity.

No logical reason was given for an attack on Australia by China. A ‘panel of experts’ presented no credible evidence: one of them is a former director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a front for the Defence Department in Canberra, the Pentagon in Washington, the governments of Britain, Japan and Taiwan and the west’s war industry.

‘Beijing could strike within three years,’ they warned. ‘We are not ready.’ Billions of dollars are to be spent on American nuclear submarines, but that, it seems, is not enough. ‘Australia’s holiday from history is over’: whatever that might mean. 

There is no threat to Australia, none. The faraway ‘lucky’ country has no enemies, least of all China, its largest trading partner. Yet China-bashing that draws on Australia’s long history of racism towards Asia has become something of a sport for the self-ordained ‘experts’. What do Chinese-Australians make of this? Many are confused and fearful.

The authors of this grotesque piece of dog-whistling and obsequiousness to American power are Peter Hartcher and Matthew Knott, ‘national security reporters’ I think they are called. I remember Hartcher from his Israeli government-paid jaunts. The other one, Knott, is a mouthpiece for the suits in Canberra. Neither has ever seen a war zone and its extremes of human degradation and suffering.

‘How did it come to this?’ Martha Gellhorn would say if she were here. ‘Where on earth are the voices saying no? Where is the comradeship?’

The voices are heard in the samizdat of this website and others. In literature, the likes of John Steinbeck, Carson McCullers, George Orwell are obsolete. Post-modernism is in charge now. Liberalism has pulled up its political ladder. A once somnolent social democracy, Australia, has enacted a web of new laws protecting secretive, authoritarian power and preventing the right to know. Whistleblowers are outlaws, to be tried in secret. An especially sinister law bans ‘foreign interference’ by those who work for foreign companies. What does this mean?

Democracy is notional now; there is the all-powerful elite of the corporation merged with the state and the demands of ‘identity’. American admirals are paid thousands of dollars a day by the Australian tax payer for ‘advice’. Right across the West, our political imagination has been pacified by PR and distracted by the intrigues of corrupt, ultra low-rent politicians: a Johnson or a Trump or a Sleepy Joe or a Zelensky.

No writers’ congress in 2023 worries about ‘crumbling capitalism’ and the lethal provocations of ‘our’ leaders. The most infamous of these, Blair, a prima facie criminal under the Nuremberg Standard, is free and rich. Julian Assange, who dared journalists to prove their readers had a right to know, is in his second decade of incarceration.

The rise of fascism in Europe is uncontroversial. Or ‘neo-Nazism’ or ‘extreme nationalism’, as you prefer. Ukraine as modern Europe’s fascist beehive has seen the re-emergence of the cult of Stepan Bandera, the passionate anti-Semite and mass murderer who lauded Hitler’s ‘Jewish policy’, which left 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews slaughtered. ‘We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet,’ a Banderist pamphlet proclaimed to Ukrainian Jews.

Today, Bandera is hero-worshipped in western Ukraine and scores of statues of him and his fellow-fascists have been paid for by the EU and the US, replacing those of Russian cultural giants and others who liberated Ukraine from the original Nazis.

In 2014, neo Nazis played a key role in an American bankrolled coup against the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was accused of being ‘pro-Moscow’. The coup regime included prominent ‘extreme nationalists’ — Nazis in all but name.

At first, this was reported at length by the BBC and the European and American media. In 2019, Time magazine featured the ‘white supremacist militias‘ active in Ukraine. NBC News reported, ‘Ukraine’s Nazi problem is real.’ The immolation of trade unionists in Odessa was filmed and documented.

Spearheaded by the Azov regiment, whose insignia, the ‘Wolfsangel’, was made infamous by the German SS, Ukraine’s military invaded the eastern, Russian-speaking Donbas region. According to the United Nations 14,000 in the east were killed. Seven years later, with the Minsk peace conferences sabotaged by the West, as Angela Merkel confessed, the Red Army invaded.

This version of events was not reported in the West. To even utter it is to bring down abuse about being a ‘Putin apologist’, regardless whether the writer (such as myself) has condemned the Russian invasion. Understanding the extreme provocation that a Nato-armed borderland, Ukraine, the same borderland through which Hitler invaded, presented to Moscow, is anathema.

Journalists who travelled to the Donbas were silenced or even hounded in their own country. German journalist Patrik Baab lost his job and a young German freelance reporter, Alina Lipp, had her bank account sequestered.

In Britain, the silence of the liberal intelligensia is the silence of intimidation. State-sponsored issues like Ukraine and Israel are to be avoided if you want to keep a campus job or a teaching tenure. What happened to Jeremy Corbyn in 2019 is repeated on campuses where opponents of apartheid Israel are casually smeared as anti-Semitic.

Professor David Miller, ironically the country’s leading authority on modern propaganda, was sacked by Bristol University for suggesting publicly that Israel’s ‘assets’ in Britain and its political lobbying exerted a disproportionate influence worldwide — a fact for which the evidence is voluminous.

The university hired a leading QC to investigate the case independently. His report exonerated Miller on the ‘important issue of academic freedom of expression’ and found ‘Professor Miller’s comments did not constitute unlawful speech’. Yet Bristol sacked him. The message is clear: no matter what outrage it perpetrates, Israel has immunity and its critics are to be punished.

A few years ago, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that ‘for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life’.

No Shelley spoke for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damned the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin revealed the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw had no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was alive then, ‘the last to raise his voice’, wrote Eagleton.

Where did post-modernism — the rejection of actual politics and authentic dissent — come from? The publication in 1970 of Charles Reich’s bestselling book, The Greening of America, offers a clue. America then was in a state of upheaval; Nixon was in the White House, a civil resistance, known as ‘the movement’, had burst out of the margins of society in the midst of a war that touched almost everybody. In alliance with the civil rights movement, it presented the most serious challenge to Washington’s power for a century.

On the cover of Reich’s book were these words: ‘There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual.’

At the time I was a correspondent in the United States and recall the overnight elevation to guru status of Reich, a young Yale academic. The New Yorker had sensationally serialised his book, whose message was that the ‘political action and truth-telling’ of the 1960s had failed and only ‘culture and introspection’ would change the world. It felt as if hippydom was claiming the consumer classes. And in one sense it was.

Within a few years, the cult of ‘me-ism’ had all but overwhelmed many people’s sense of acting together, of social justice and internationalism. Class, gender and race were separated. The personal was the political and the media was the message. Make money, it said.

As for ‘the movement’, its hope and songs, the years of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton put an end to all that. The police were now in open war with black people; Clinton’s notorious welfare bills broke world records in the number of mostly blacks they sent to jail.

When 9/11 happened, the fabrication of new ‘threats’ on ‘America’s frontier’ (as the Project for a New American Century called the world) completed the political disorientation of those who, 20 years earlier, would have formed a vehement opposition.

In the years since, America has gone to war with the world. According to a largely ignored report by the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the number killed in America’s ‘war on terror’ was ‘at least’ 1.3 million in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

This figure does not include the dead of US-led and fuelled wars in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Somalia and beyond. The true figure, said the report, ‘could well be in excess of 2 million [or] approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware and [is] propagated by the media and major NGOS.’

‘At least’ one million were killed in Iraq, say the physicians, or five per cent of the population.

The enormity of this violence and suffering seems to have no place in the western consciousness. ‘No one knows how many’ is the media refrain. Blair and George W. Bush — and Straw and Cheney and Powell and Rumsfeld et al — were never in danger of prosecution. Blair’s propaganda maestro, Alistair Campbell, is celebrated as a ‘media personality’.

In 2003, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the acclaimed investigative journalist. We discussed the invasion of Iraq a few months earlier. I asked him, ‘What if the constitutionally freest media in the world had seriously challenged George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and investigated their claims, instead of spreading what turned out to be crude propaganda?’

He replied. ‘If we journalists had done our job, there is a very, very good chance we would have not gone to war in Iraq.’

I put the same question to Dan Rather, the famous CBS anchor, who gave me the same answer. David Rose of the Observer , who had promoted Saddam Hussein’s ‘threat’, and Rageh Omaar, then the BBC’s Iraq correspondent, gave me the same answer. Rose’s admirable contrition at having been ‘duped’, spoke for many reporters bereft of his courage to say so.

Their point is worth repeating. Had journalists done their job, had they questioned and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, a million Iraqi men, women and children might be alive today; millions might not have fled their homes; the sectarian war between Sunni and Shia might not have ignited, and Islamic State might not have existed.

Cast that truth across the rapacious wars since 1945 ignited by the United States and its ‘allies’ and the conclusion is breathtaking. Is this ever raised in journalism schools?

Today, war by media is a key task of so-called mainstream journalism, reminiscent of that described by a Nuremberg prosecutor in 1945: ‘Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically… In the propaganda system… it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.’

One of the persistent strands in American political life is a cultish extremism that approaches fascism. Although Trump was credited with this, it was during Obama’s two terms that American foreign policy flirted seriously with fascism. This was almost never reported.

‘I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,’ said Obama, who expanded a favourite presidential pastime, bombing, and death squads known as ‘special operations’ as no other president had done since the first Cold War.

According to a Council on Foreign Relations survey, in 2016 Obama dropped 26,171 bombs. That is 72 bombs every day. He bombed the poorest people and people of colour: in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan.

Every Tuesday – reported the New York Times – he personally selected those who would be murdered by hellfire missiles fired from drones. Weddings, funerals, shepherds were attacked, along with those attempting to collect the body parts festooning the ‘terrorist target’.

A leading Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, estimated, approvingly, that Obama’s drones had killed 4,700 people. ‘Sometimes you hit innocent people and I hate that,’ he said, but we’ve taken out some very senior members of Al Qaeda.’

In 2011, Obama told the media that the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi was planning ‘genocide’ against his own people. ‘We knew…,’he said, ‘that if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte [North Carolina], could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.’

This was a lie. The only ‘threat’ was the coming defeat of fanatical Islamists by Libyan government forces. With his plans for a revival of independent pan-Africanism, an African bank and African currency, all of it funded by Libyan oil, Gaddafi was cast as an enemy of western colonialism on the continent in which Libya was the second most modern state.

Destroying Gaddafi’s ‘threat’ and his modern state was the aim. Backed by the US, Britain and France, Nato launched 9,700 sorties against Libya. A third were aimed at infrastructure and civilian targets, reported the UN. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that ‘most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten’.

When Hillary Clinton, Obama’s secretary of state, was told that Gaddafi had been captured by the insurrectionists and sodomised with a knife, she laughed and said to the camera: ‘We came, we saw, he died!’

On 14 September 2016, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in London reported the conclusion of a year-long study into the Nato attack on Libya which it described as an ‘array of lies’ — including the Benghazi massacre story.

The NATO bombing plunged Libya into a humanitarian disaster, killing thousands of people and displacing hundreds of thousands more, transforming Libya from the African country with the highest standard of living into a war-torn failed state.

Under Obama, the US extended secret ‘special forces’ operations to 138 countries, or 70 per cent of the world’s population. The first African-American president launched what amounted to a full-scale invasion of Africa.

Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has since built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments. Africom’s ‘soldier to soldier’ doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.

It is as if Africa’s proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, has been consigned to oblivion by a new white master’s black colonial elite. This elite’s ‘historic mission’, warned the knowing Frantz Fanon, is the promotion of ‘a capitalism rampant though camouflaged’.

In the year Nato invaded Libya, 2011, Obama announced what became known as the ‘pivot to Asia’. Almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to the Asia-Pacific to ‘confront the threat from China’, in the words of his Defence Secretary.

There was no threat from China; there was a threat to China from the United States; some 400 American military bases formed an arc along the rim of China’s industrial heartlands, which a Pentagon official described approvingly as a ‘noose’.

At the same time, Obama placed missiles in Eastern Europe aimed at Russia. It was the beatified recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize who increased spending on nuclear warheads to a level higher than that of any US administration since the Cold War – having promised, in an emotional speech in the centre of Prague in 2009, to ‘help rid the world of nuclear weapons’.

Obama and his administration knew full well that the coup his assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, was sent to oversee against the government of Ukraine in 2014 would provoke a Russian response and probably lead to war. And so it has.

I am writing this on 30 April, the anniversary of the last day of the longest war of the twentieth century, in Vietnam, which I reported. I was very young when I arrived in Saigon and I learned a great deal. I learned to recognise the distinctive drone of the engines of giant B-52s, which dropped their carnage from above the clouds and spared nothing and no one; I learned not to turn away when faced with a charred tree festooned with human parts; I learned to value kindness as never before; I learned that Joseph Heller was right in his masterly Catch-22: that war was not suited to sane people; and I learned about ‘our’ propaganda.

All through that war, the propaganda said a victorious Vietnam would spread its communist disease to the rest of Asia, allowing the Great Yellow Peril to its north to sweep down. Countries would fall like ‘dominoes’.

Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam was victorious, and none of the above happened. Instead, Vietnamese civilisation blossomed, remarkably, in spite of the price they paid: three million dead. The maimed, the deformed, the addicted, the poisoned, the lost.

If the current propagandists get their war with China, this will be a fraction of what is to come. Speak up.

(John Pilger can be reached through his website:

* * *

James Baldwin (photo by Richard Avedon)


  1. George Hollister May 3, 2023

    Money is a proxy for power, and using a proxy to empower those without power is inherently flawed, and will fail in its intended purpose. That is the inherent problem with monetary reparations.

  2. DA Dave May 3, 2023

    Dear AVA Editor …

    Please be on notice that I decline to accept landscaping and/or gardening advice from a publication that does not recognize the difference between and mislabels a field of calla lilies ((Zantedeschia sp.) as a field of geraniums (Pelargonium). Thank you.

    • Chuck Dunbar May 3, 2023

      It’s actually a minor, weird form of alchemy, done for our pleasure by the AVA wizards…

    • Bruce Anderson May 3, 2023


  3. Jerry Burns May 3, 2023

    Dear editor,
    I don’t think those are Geraniums.

  4. Harvey Reading May 3, 2023

    Clearlake, Monday, May 2nd (photo by James Marmon)

    Did they tip the lake to drain it?

    • Betsy Cawn May 4, 2023

      Happens every night, depending on whether the Grigsby Riffle is awake or not.

  5. Chuck Dunbar May 3, 2023


    Got an email this morning, supposedly from EBAY, saying someone in LA ,with name and address listed, had purchased an Iphone for $1,070 through my credit card. Email said this was a receipt for purchase. A bit suspicious was the warning—noted in 2 places in enlarged font— that if this was a fraudulent charge to call an 800 number to report. With caution I did call the number to say this was not my purchase. After a bit of back and forth with the agent, who immediately said he’d cancel the order, it was clear this was a scam, as he wanted to correct issues with my computer security. Told him to forget it, and I hung-up. Did double-check with my credit card company and there was no such charge.

    So, be on the alert out there for yet another stupid digital scam…

    • Chuck Wilcher May 3, 2023

      Save yourself the hassle and waste of time, Chuck.

      Flag those emails as junk, delete them and have another sip of coffee. You can thank me later.

      • Chuck Dunbar May 3, 2023

        Good advice, for sure. First one of these I’d gotten in a long time, and should have followed my instincts, which matched your advice. Thanks and on we merrily go…

        • Harvey Reading May 3, 2023

          Also, consider calling your credit card company to see if there actually WERE charges made to the account.

          A few years back, I started a subscription to the local fascist rag. The outfit would not accept cash payment. Incidentally, during the conversation, the local employee asked if I lived in Afghanistan! I said I did not. She replied that the outfit who handled their accounts said that I lived there!

          A few days later, some large charges appeared on my card. The credit card company promptly reversed them, and I gave the new card number to the local paper.

          The same thing happened again, and, again the charges were reversed, and I was sent another new card.

          That last time, I finally wised up. When the noozepaper subscription ended, I did not renew it. I have never since had any more fraudulent charges made to the card.

          Moral of the story, never subscribe to a noozepaper run by fascists and pay for it with a credit card.

          Another reminder: never use your ATM card for ordering on line. There are different rules protecting your rights when you use them than those pertaining to credit cards. Different, and much weaker!

  6. Margot Lane May 3, 2023

    Calla Lillies

    • Chuck Dunbar May 3, 2023

      The Great Debate of the day at the AVA: Be they Callas or Geraniums? They some wag brings up Tulips…
      What next for those readers who await news of great import?

    • Bruce Anderson May 3, 2023

      Nope, peonies.

  7. anne barnard May 3, 2023

    Those flowers are not geraniums. They Are Calla Lillies and I suspect that is a Photoshoped photo. Am I missing the joke?

    • George Hollister May 3, 2023

      I suspected photoshop as well. The Calla Lillies in the valley is maybe possible, the ones on the bank, no way.

      • Harvey Reading May 3, 2023

        Silkypix is just as good, and much less expensive…

  8. Marmon May 3, 2023

    Kings General Manager, Monte McNair, has been named 2022-23 NBA Basketball Executive of the Year. It’s going to be interesting how he puts things together going into next year. This year’s Euro League MVP, Sasha Vezenkov, is likely to join Kings over the summer. He would be a big upgrade if the Kings did nothing else in the coming off season.


    • Marmon May 3, 2023

      What’s nice is that after the Kings success this year they will be able to let some players go and pick up some better players via free agency. The Kings play a fun type of basketball and now have national recognition that makes their team very attractive to free agents. That’s a tool that the Kings have not had in over a decade.

      Monte McNair says now that the Kings have checked the box of making the playoffs, it’s time to shift the attention to building toward becoming a perennial playoff team and a championship contender.



  9. Mike J May 3, 2023

    The Great Redwood Trail will pass thru Rivino and in my imaginings I saw that as likely helping turn Rivino into an even more popular music/food/wine venue with river recreation activities also. So, hopefully Jason can expand on what is already there. I see parking established between Norgard and Plant with a shuttle service to Rivino where kayak rentals are offered too. Can the house stand apart from all this with Rivino activities not impacting the resident there???? I suspect so.

    A recent scene there:

  10. Chuck Dunbar May 3, 2023



    “The many legal perils amassing against former President Trump have a way of blurring together at this point. But the civil trial of the writer E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit for assault and defamation, which began Tuesday in New York, is about to stand out dramatically from the pack. That’s because the law, the evidence and the personalities involved portend a lopsided and relatively brief trial that will portray Trump vividly as a liar, bully and sexual predator.
    And we can probably add “coward” to that because Trump decided not to even show up Tuesday to face Carroll’s serious allegations. It’s a calculation that is likely to provoke resentment and contempt from the jury.
    Not that the jurors, who were selected Tuesday, will need any additional reasons to hold Trump accountable. Carroll’s evidence will likely be more than enough, especially considering the poverty of Trump’s defense…”
    Harry Litman

  11. Craig Stehr May 3, 2023

    Sitting here at the Ukiah Public Library on computer #5, tap, tap tapping away. Spent the evening in hell after diving into trays of donated cooked food; the discomfort did not subside, in spite of the medicine for overindulgence, until 5PM today. Feels like I am navigating in some other dimension. Maybe it was the two shots o’ Maker’s Mark the previous evening, but I doubt it. Joking aside, something is very wrong here, but I’ve no idea at all what it is. Divine intervention is coming up short! Meanwhile, have an assessment meeting at Adventist Health on May 15th. The zoom meeting to go over particulars about the housing voucher is on May 17th at Building Bridges. In essence, the body-mind complex feels terrible; very weak and spacy. However, the show must go on. Or does it? I leave you with that for your further reflection.
    Craig Louis Stehr
    c/o Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center
    1045 South State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
    Telephone Messages: (707) 234-3270
    Obviously, I am accepting money!
    May 3, 2023 Anno Domini

  12. Marmon May 3, 2023

    I see on Social Media that Angela Pinches has been missing for 5 days with no contact with friends or her family. Friends say this is very unusual.


    • Marmon May 4, 2023

      UPDATE: She has been located.


  13. Bernie Norvell May 4, 2023

    4th District candidacy,

    Good morning and thank you for the mention. To be clear I watch and follow all the supervisor meetings. I don’t always get to watch them live in their entirety but do follow up with the recordings. I stay in touch with at least three of the current supervisors. You are correct there are in fact several positions I have taken on council that are opposite of the county’s current direction. This is no different than when I first arrived on council. My plan is to bring change on many levels to the county. Starting with the ones you mentioned. I have however learned that change takes time and one cannot just come in like a wrecking ball and expect to work well with others. I have learned progress and change comes with compromise and hard work. Neither of which scares me. Do your homework, bring facts to the table, don’t be afraid to make a mistake or be wrong, always fail forward and get started yesterday. “either get on the bus or get out of the way”

    • jetfuel May 9, 2023


      Bunch of frivolous idioms from someone who fails to recognize the importance of having a working railroad into his community.

      But, guess your a good fit with the current crop of do nothing leaches calling themselves our County Supervisors.

      • Bruce Anderson May 9, 2023

        Fort Bragg won’t have a working railroad until Tunnel One is repaired and a train can run to Willits and back.

        • jetfuel May 9, 2023

          Agreed, but, would be closer to done had they the full support of the Mayor.

          Bernie needs to speak up on the issues of the rail line and the name change.
          He might find he has more support than he realizes.

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