Sunny | Fox | Abandoned Bus | Trail Talk | Out Of Order | Water Proposal | Vultures | County Code | Misleading Numbers | Boonquiz | Sunset | AI Lookouts | Photo ID | Ed Notes | Peacock | Summer Music | Redwood Time | Neely Art | Yesterday's Catch | Elite Association | Touched | Neighborhood Walk | Housing Costs | Kick Off | News Rating | Manufactured Doubt | Greenhouse Gassing | Toxic Love | Naturists | Rejoin Consciousness | About Face | Sexual Ignorance | Ukraine | Fraction Man | YMCA
SEASONABLE WEATHER conditions will trend toward very hot and dry this weekend across interior valleys, with afternoon temperatures ranging from 100 to 110 across much of Trinity, Lake, and interior Mendocino County. Elsewhere, periods of stratus will continue to impact the coast, though afternoon clearing will be possible on a daily basis. Otherwise, no rain is forecast to occur during the next seven days. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A foggy 52F (the stratus quo returns) on the coast this Thursday morning. The fog is very thin & right along the coast only. More of the same thru the weekend.
BILL KIMBERLIN: I was sitting at my writing desk in Boonville trying to not look out the window when something started walking past the window. I took the first photo with the fox unaware, then I tapped on the glass to get him to look at me.
Earlier that evening I was sitting on the porch with a glass of wine. I went into the house to get a sweater, and when I came out there was a very large Black Bear slowly walking across my property in full sunlight. I was not able to get my camera out fast enough to get a shot but he was very large, and I would have hired him for a Smokey The Bear commercial right then, because he was so good looking as to ace the part.
GREAT REDWOOD TRAIL advocates John Haschak and Maureen Mulheren (who sit on the Great Redwood Trail Agency board, appointed by the Supervisors) got more than they bargained for on Tuesday afternoon when what they thought would be a simple 15-minute update and status presentation of their grandiose plans turned out to be an opportunity for several locals to offer their mostly negative opinions of the trail so far. Commenters complaining about anticipated security, fire and personal safety, potential problems facing neighboring land owners and associated liability, operation and maintenance of services (trash, latrines, communications, access, policing bad behavior etc.) and associated costs. A common them from all of them was that it didn’t seem like the Trail People were listening to them and their “concerns.”
Supervisor Ted Williams at first didn’t think Mendo had anything to do with the trail because the state (i.e., State Senator Mike McGuire) is pushing it through. (Never mind that Mendo has two Supervisors on the Trail board and here they were sponsoring a presentation.) Later Williams noted that the meetings he’d attended so far seemed like the “outreach” was merely perfunctory and done just so a bureaucrat could check off a box saying that public input was taken. Williams then began to agree that the public complaints had merit and that the County should at least demand that the state pick up all costs that the County might incur if the trail ever happens because, as Williams repeats at every meeting now, the County is broke.
Ground floor Trail advocate Supervisor Maureen Mulheren deflected all comment saying she understood that there were potential problems, but it was too early for the County or the commenters to do anything because the Trail people are still gathering input and it will all be addressed when the Trail’s “master plan” is rolled out, section by section, maybe next year.
The Trail planners will then proceed to address the problems in whatever way that keeps the Trail planners employed for a couple more decades.
A couple of Ukiah officials said they’ve had very few problems with the small section of trail in Ukiah so far.
The critics were not mollified. Neither were we.
The upside is that the Trail is a pipe dream in most of the rural areas the Trail planners have in mind. They might get a few small segments built here and there, piecemeal, disconnected, and slowly like everything else these days, and in the face of uncooperative neighboring land owners. At present the few miles of Trail in Ukiah allows hikers to enjoy the narrow scenic corridor between the big metal buildings in the industrial area on the north side of town, all the way down along the tracks to Ukiah’s sewage treatment plant and back.
Accordingly, even the Ukiah official who said he supported the Trail admitted that the current trail isn’t the tourist draw the advocates claim it will be.
BETTER TOO LITTLE & TOO LATE THAN NEVER
The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is inviting public comment on a draft order that proposes new requirements for vineyards to safeguard water quality. The requirements, which could be modified after public comments are received and reviewed, will be considered for adoption by the North Coast Water Board later this year.
The Proposed General Order for Waste Discharge Requirements for Commercial Vineyards, or draft vineyard order, the first of its kind for the region, is the result of collaboration among the North Coast Water Board, vineyard owners and stakeholders committed to sustainable practices that protect the environment. The draft order was developed through a series of stakeholder efforts that culminated in the formation of a technical advisory group in the summer of 2022 to address components of the program. Under the draft order, vineyard owners would be required to implement certain management practices, such as placing ground cover around their vines during winter to mitigate potential water quality impacts associated with agricultural activities. Vineyard owners would also be required to establish or maintain setbacks to riparian areas, which help maintain cool temperatures in streams.
“This draft order has been a truly collaborative effort that, if adopted, will ensure vineyards are doing everything possible to preserve and enhance water quality,” said Valerie Quinto, executive officer of the North Coast. “Without appropriate controls, cultivation of wine grapes can result in the discharge of sediment and agricultural chemicals and, by removing trees near streams and the subsequent shade they provide, increase the water temperature to levels that threaten the health and survival of aquatic life.”
Through widespread enrollment in voluntary sustainability programs such as Fish Friendly Farming, California Certified Sustainable, LODI RULES, and Sustainability in Practice (SIP), more than 80% of North Coast vineyards are already implementing conservation practices. Surface and groundwater monitoring required by the proposed Order would verify that these practices are protective of water quality.
Of the 65,000 acres of vineyards in the North Coast Region, 95% are within the Navarro and Russian River watersheds, which provide habitat for threatened and endangered salmon species but are considered impaired for sediment and temperature.
The public is encouraged to provide comments during the 45-day public comment period, which will end on August 14 at 5 p.m. The board will host a public workshop during its board meeting on Aug. 3 or Aug. 4 at 9 a.m. Following the close of the public comment period, staff will revise the draft order and draft report with a projected Board adoption hearing scheduled for December.
The North Coast Water Board is a regulatory agency committed to protecting and enhancing water quality in Northern California’s coastal region. The Board focuses on protecting water quality, enforcing environmental regulations, and collaborating with stakeholders to achieve long-term water quality goals.
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ms NOTES: The last time a state agency proposed requiring vineyard owners in the Russian River watershed to produce their own plans to avoid fish strandings those vineyard owners sued in Ann Moorman’s court and won. Moorman’s ruling was later overturned on appeal and the vineyard owners reluctantly prepared their water management/frost pumping plans. They now claim that they are “already” doing wonderful things for the rivers and fish. Will they sue again if the water quality board proceeds with these minimal requirements?
MENDOCINO COUNTY CODE, Chapter 18.23 currently provides that a limited density rural dwelling may not exceed 2,000 square feet of conditioned habitable space and that residential fire sprinklers are not required. The proposed amendments (passed on a 3:2 vote yesterday) to MCC Chapter 18.23 would allow limited density rural dwellings to exceed 2,000 square feet but only if the dwelling contains a fire sprinkler system.
UKIAH RESIDENT MAZIE MALONE commented on the uptick in mental health service reporting that we mentioned yesterday:
Hahaha. What can I say? No one asks the right questions. These [mental health service] numbers are misleading at the very least. The disparity issue of 431 who utilized crisis services this year as opposed to 93 last year is not part of the mobile crisis unit through County law enforcement and Behavioral health. It is the calls to the crisis line run by RCS, possibly their walk-ins and maybe each time someone goes to the ER for evaluating a person in the throes of a mental illness episode. Maybe it also includes any crisis evaluations at the jail. So it is a very confusing disparity in clients served. Also with mental illness it really needs long term management. So does the transition out mean death, or suicide or maybe moved, jail or loss of insurance? The reason is important!
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ms NOTES: MS. MALONE MAKES A GOOD POINT about the number of people who do not return to the Redwood Quality Management Company’s embraces. If they die by suicide or overdose, they’re not going to be back for service. If they moved out of the area, they won’t be back. If they are imprisoned for one reason or another, they won’t be back for some time. And some may simply have been unhappy with whatever the service was and didn’t come back. “Transitioning” “out of services” is hardly a measure of the value of the service.
NEXT BOONVILLE QUIZ: Thursday, July 20. No Quiz this week. We’ll be back next week on the 3rd Thursday: July 20th. Hope to see you there. Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster
CAL FIRE’S NORTH BAY UNIT among those testing AI technology through ALERTCalifornia wildfire cameras
Wildfire cameras equipped with artificial intelligence technology are designed to flag fire starts and other anomalies for emergency personnel.
by Mary Callahan and Rachel Gauer
Many of the growing number of lookout cameras stationed across California to locate and monitor wildfires will soon be equipped with artificial intelligence technology to speed response to fires and other natural disasters as they first unfold.
Cal Fire’s Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit is among six regional units testing the new technology this fire season in collaboration with the ALERTCalifornia system run through UC San Diego. The Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit covers six counties, including Colusa, Solano and Yolo counties.
Fed with regional geographical and topographical information supplied by UCSD, the AI-equipped system picks up on aberrations — like new fire starts — in the camera feed.
It then prompts a box to be drawn around the area in the camera view, alerting those monitoring the cameras to take a closer look because “this could be something,” said Caitlin Scully, communication program manager for ALERTCalifornia. (ALERTCalifornia, formerly part of the ALERTWildfire camera network, is now a stand-alone entity focused only on California.)
“It’s helping to flag those anomalies so the fire men and women can spot potential starts sooner,” Scully said. “So really what it’s doing is helping push down the response time to make that response time quicker and more efficient.”
Cal Fire Sonoma-Lake-Napa Chief Mike Marcucci said the artificial intelligence component “is truly another tool in the toolbox.”
“It is allowing us to be more efficient and to have more situational awareness before we arrive at the scene,” Marcucci said. “Before this program, we would get a 911 call and we would have to spin the cameras to the area. This technology now does this for us.”
The trial program is part of an effort by Cal Fire to pursue cutting edge technology to aid its mission, made possible in part through the agency’s new Office of Wildfire Technology, Research and Development created by legislation authored by state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, in 2021.
Benjamin Rogers, assistant deputy director at the office, said the ALERTCalifornia system is among several being tested by Cal Fire at different sites.
Sensors installed in May in a pilot area at the Jackson Demonstration Forest in Mendocino County were designed to detect fire starts in dark, densely forested areas utilizing artificial intelligence to detect changes in the air and to distinguish campfires from “fires of significance and fires of insignificance.”
The sensors are designed to detect wildfires “within minutes, often during their early smoldering phase, greatly reducing the risk of spreading or becoming larger or more catastrophic,” Cal Fire said. They also monitor forest microclimates, temperature, humidity and air pressure in dark, dense areas of the forest with limited connectivity, due to the remote, rugged terrain.
The ALERTCalifornia system is a natural partner for Cal Fire, having grown as a network substantially over the past 20 years through several iterations.
The statewide system now boasts 1,032 high-definition cameras — 199 of them sponsored by Cal Fire — strategically deployed around California.
With pan-tilt and zoom capabilities and near-infrared night vision, they provide 24-hour surveillance and 360-degree sweeps every two minutes, some of them monitoring the same peaks and ridge tops from different perspectives. The devices can provide views of up to 60 miles during a clear day and up to 120 miles during a clear night.
Authorized personnel also can train the cameras on specific points to monitor unfolding events.
The state fire agency has invested $20.3 million in the system, with a commitment to provide at least $3.5 million more in the coming year, Cal Fire said.
Many members of the public also have become familiar with the system, using the public-facing camera views to monitor wildfires in their vicinity. The cameras also are now being placed beyond areas at high risk of wildfire to monitor other natural disasters, including atmospheric rivers and flooding, Scully said.
“Really, within the last five years or so, the network has exploded with the amount of growth,” Scully said. “We’ve doubled the amount of cameras really, in the last three years, because they’ve proven to be an amazing tool.”
Before the addition of artificial intelligence, the cameras functioned similarly to security cameras, simply recording the views.
“The AI will provide additional data from which firefighters can decide how to respond,” said Dr. Neal Driscoll, who serves as the principal investigator of ALERTCalifornia. “We want to have data-driven decisions.”
Only trained emergency responders will have access to the AI-enhanced views, though Driscoll suggested anyone in wildfire country become familiar with the public site.
“The public can see which cameras have been moved and they can time-lapse and zoom the cameras,” he said. “We recommend that you get comfortable with the platform — get familiar with where your street address is on the map and where certain features are — so in the case of an event, it is not the first time you’ve been on the website.”
Along with Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit, the AI trial program will be implemented in the San Bernadino, Madera-Mariposa-Merced, Nevada-Yuba-Placer, Shasta-Trinity and San Luis Obispo units.
HELP IDENTIFYING PHOTO LOCATION
I was approached by someone looking to identify the location where this photo was taken. (See link below.)
The person who approached me says it was taken in the 1930s at one of the mills in the Mendocino area. Her father worked for Mendocino and Fort Bragg Mills and she would love to know where this photo was shot. Anyone out there familiar with the old mill sites from that era? Does the locale look familiar to you?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Peggy McGee, Senior Library Technician, Fort Bragg Branch Library
A CALLER wanted to know what the AVA’s candidates’ letters policy is. If the message is at all satisfyingly issue-specific or amusingly abusive, it goes. If it’s the usual “Joe or Josefina Blow is the finest human being who’s ever walked the wine and cheese reception lines of the Northcoast,” forget it. We once got a political letter from a lady who described Dan Hamburg as a “brilliant, gifted, heady person with a heart” who “cares about justice and the well-being of his fellow men and women.” I told her I always wished that my mom would have sent in a letter in like that about me.
A GUY who’s plagued me for years called up the other day. He’s a major chronophage (chrono-time, phage-eat = time-eater). I try to elude him but like all true chronophages, he’s relentless, so bad that I used to have a network of downtown Boonville business people who’d telephone our code “Chronophage Alert” whenever this guy appeared in Anderson Valley’s capitol city. After trapping the missus on the line several times previously for ten irretrievable minutes at a whack, one morning, I impulsively and unwittingly picked up a call, dying a little as I recognized Chrono’s voice. He said he had “a major story” he wanted me to write up. The guy’s quite capable himself but he is nuts and his prose, like his visits and calls, runs on and on and on. But reading him is preferable to listening to him because once he’s face-to-face he doesn’t leave.
HE BEGINS: “I met a woman on the bus coming back from San Diego. She’s one-quarter Hoopa and…” Hold it right there, I demand, as if I have him at gunpoint. You want me to write a major story based on what a lady you met on a bus told you?
I WAS RELIEVED that he hadn’t identified her as “one-fourth Cherokee,” the ethnicity of choice among the identity-desperate. There are at least ten million more Cherokees in America today than there were at the time of Columbus.
CHRONO, talking very fast, told me that One Quarter Hoopa had told him that “trains stuffed with guns are running into Mexico from Texas around the clock for the Mexican Army to crush the drug gangs.”
NOT particularly well-informed on Mexican affairs, I asked Chrono if he was for or against crushing the drug importers. “I’m on the fence,” he said. I said, “Sorry,” I replied. “No fence-sitters allowed at this newspaper. Gotta run Chrono. Gotta a doctor’s appointment next month.”
SUMMER MUSIC SERIES at North Coast Brewing Company Sequoia Room in the Pub
Friends and neighbors -
North Coast Brewing Company (NCBC) and Crosstie Productions are honored to announce their summer series of live music in the Sequoia Room at the Pub. NBBC’s summer series will feature bands on Thursday with a $10 cover charge and singer-songwriters on Fridays and Saturdays with free admission. Music performances on all three nights are single shows starting at 5:00 pm and continuing to 8:00 pm.
NCBC’s live music series begins Thursday, July 13th featuring local favorites Moon Rabbit and their brand of classic rock with modern twists, Friday will be hosted by Colby Lee and his country, blues, and folk-flavored tunes, followed Saturday with Bandajour presenting their original music along with blues and jazz covers. A full calendar for the series is available at northcoastbrewing.com/the-pub.
NCBC is committed to delivering an enjoyable experience for its customers. We believe that live music of all genres ranging from rock to folk, jazz to blues, funk to R&B, country to Americana, and everything in between is vital to serving our community.
We welcome you to join us to spread joy and magic through live music in our community!
THE LARRY SPRING MUSEUM is the recipient of a $25,000 grant from the California Humanities for its project “Redwood Time.” The project started July 8, 2023, with artist Melissa Ferrari joining the museum as artist in residence.
According to the museum, “Redwood Time” is a multi-disciplinary project “that encourages us to reevaluate the dominant narratives of settlement and resource development along the Northern Californian coast.” During her tenure as artist in residence, Ferrari will create a site-specific adaptation of a Phantasmagoria Salon de Physique (or “Physics Parlor”) that will feature an evening of animation experiments, installation work, and a magic lantern expanded cinema performance. The performance will take place on Saturday July 22 at 8 p.m. at the Larry Spring Museum, 225 E. Redwood Ave, Fort Bragg.
Below is a joint announcement from the Larry Spring Museum and the California Humanities:
California Humanities has recently announced the 2023 Humanities For All Project Grant awards. The Larry Spring Museum has been awarded $25,000 for its project entitled “Redwood Time.”
Humanities For All Project Grant is a competitive grant program of California Humanities that supports locally developed projects that respond to the needs, interests and concerns of Californians, provide accessible learning experiences for the public, and promote understanding among our state’s diverse population.
“Redwood Time” is a multi-disciplinary project that encourages us to re-evaluate the dominant narratives of settlement and resource development along the Northern Californian coast. Through creative exploration and reflection, we will produce a collaborative account of Fort Bragg that reflects formerly excluded local histories and worldviews, providing us with a richer understanding of the past we inherit and the territory we inhabit.
The primary object of our reflection is a timeline affixed to the commemorative redwood round that has dominated our downtown center since its dedication in 1943. As with similar redwood rounds, Fort Bragg’s public memorial and timeline privileges linear time as the driver of history and naturalizes far-flung Euro- and human-centric events as the default approach to understanding our past and presence.
Over the next two years, “Redwood Time” will unfold as a focused series of live performances, public art installations, and community gatherings designed to generate new understandings of our relationship to our shared geography. Together we will create an empathic and nuanced counter-narrative that will draw into question our inherited notions of individuality. Our activities will be centered around the creation of reimagined versions of the round and a new legend that reveals our messy and vital connectedness.
“California Humanities is honored to welcome our newest round of Project Grant awards,” said the organization’s President and CEO Rick Noguchi. “These projects will push the boundaries for not only how we understand and engage with our diverse array of California histories and cultures, but also provide a unique humanities lens for discussing pressing and important community issues.”
California Humanities promotes the humanities – focused on ideas, conversation and learning – as relevant, meaningful ways to understand the human condition and connect us to each other in order to help strengthen California. California Humanities has provided grants and programs across the state since 1975. To learn more visit www.calhum.org, or follow California Humanities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Karen Neely Is August Featured Artist at Cloud Nine Art Gallery
Event: Karen Neely Featured Artist at Cloud Nine Art Gallery Who: Karen Neely, Acrylic Fine Art Painting Where: Cloud Nine Art Gallery, 320 N. Main Street, Fort Bragg When: Friday, August 4, from 5-8, and continuing through August. Come join us for a night of live music, light refreshments and bubbly as we celebrate the unique stylized realism of Karen's original art work. She exhibits her fine art paintings in numerous venues throughout northern California. Cloud Nine Art Gallery is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 12-5.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, July 12, 2023
RICHARD CONDON JR., Ukiah. Loaded firearm in public.
LUZ DELGADO-GARCIA, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
MICHAEL GUERRERO, Chico/Fort Bragg. DUI.
CHARLES HARRIS, Willits. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
KIMBERLY JONES, Ukiah. Trespassing.
KYLE LUDWIG, Covelo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JEREMIAH MCOSKER, Ukiah. Tear gas, probation revocation.
GABRALLIA PRITCHARD, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs.
ABIMAEL SERNA-CASTILLO, Potter Valley. Domestic battery, child endangerment, pot delivery, vehicle registration tampering, protective order violation.
MIKE GENIELLA: If truth be known Justice Clarence Thomas and the late West Coast timber baron Harry Merlo shared a few drinks while mingling with the big boys, thanks to the elite Horatio Alger Association based in New York City. Harry, who prized his membership, would have admired Thomas's climb, and how he powered himself onto the U.S. Supreme Court, where access is everything. Merlo was once quoted by the New York Times after a Horatio Alger talk, “Exploit your successes and don't try to redeem your failures.” Merlo, who in 1973 formed a Portland, Ore., lumber company, the Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, that reached $1 billion in sales by 1978. For a time L-P was the largest timberland owner in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Humboldt counties.
EVERYONE must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.
It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.
The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.
— Ray Bradbury
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I don’t see a civil war happening, but I do see widespread criminal activities increasing. In the city where I presently live, there are shootings on my street every week, garbage just tossed or dropped on the sidewalks or fronts of the houses. It stinks when I walk the neighborhood. So far I’ve not been accosted, but I know that people sometimes look at me a little hard. It’s a black neighborhood, and there is plenty of fine weed being smoked, I can smell the quality every time I walk (I don’t partake, but used to). Generally the people, my neighbors do not look at me nor talk to me, and I respect that, and don’t try to engage them. It’s obvious they’re not interested and have some distrust of me being white. I don’t blame them. I try to be respectful and pleasant in my demeanor.
A READER WRITES: The relationship between affordable housing and homelessness is noted in this article by Sonali Kolkatkar which reminded me of the fate of two neighborhoods in Central Merced after 2008. Kolkatkar also noted that a recent UCSF study on homelessness showed that 80% of homeless stay in their home counties, which turns a very ugly glare on California home prices. We were first made aware of investor groups buying whole lots of single-family homes by two realtors on the Merced City Council, not our usual social group but people who recognized our commitment to the city, too.
July 11, 2023
IT’S NOT THAT HARD TO SOLVE HOMELESSNESS
by Sonali Kolhatkar (CounterPunch.org)
“So, how to bring housing costs down? The federal government sees a shortage of homes as the problem, treating it as an issue of supply and demand: increase the supply and the price will fall. But there is no shortage of housing in the nation. There is a shortage of affordable housing and as long as moneyed interests keep buying up housing, building more won’t be a fix.
"Since at least 2008, hedge funds have been buying up single-family homes and rental units in California, throwing a bottomless well of cash at a resource that individuals need for their survival and pushing house prices and rents out of reach for most ordinary people. This too is a nationwide phenomenon, one that was extensively outlined in a 2018 report produced by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Americans for Financial Reform, and Public Advocates.
"That report makes it clear that Wall Street hedge funds see housing as the next frontier in profitable investing. Once these funds buy up homes and apartments to rent out, they cut the labor and material costs associated with maintenance, and routinely raise the rents...
"The rent is too damn high—to cite affordable housing activists—and wages are too damn low. That is the nutshell description of an economy that is simply not intended to center human needs...”
LIES & MISINFORMATION
This matter of 'truth', the objective reality underlying any particular news story, is, I think, the most important thing going on in politics.
Basically Trump and the MAGA folks seem to be making the claim that it's OK to lie, that it's a constitutional right in fact, to lie. It's a matter of free speech.
And I agree.
Except for news organizations.
If you are a licensed news organization, you should be held to a strict standard of authenticity under threat of fines and loss of license just like the food industry and car seats for toddlers.
This might actually be a place where AI could be well used as an 'impartial' arbitrator that could turn the tide and reign in large scale misinformation campaigns. It would constantly track and rate ALL news stories for authenticity (and only authenticity).
Its results, its ratings if you will, would, by law, be posted live on all licensed news programs and included with all printed news.
I read a local article describing record worldwide temperatures reached July 3. A few hours later I read online about Republican efforts in Congress to cut funding for “a boondoggle of climate change spending” calling the efforts “wasteful.”
The two sides of the climate debate consist of, on one side, virtually the entire worldwide scientific community, including more than 190 major scientific organizations, and on the other side, a relatively small group of activists and organizations with various connections to the fossil fuel industry and right-wing politics.
Manufactured doubt about climate science predominantly comes from the same groups that worked to manufacture doubt about the connection between tobacco use and health. That’s not a coincidence. Yet the facts are simply not on their side. Looking at the funding available to deniers from the fossil fuel industry, the outsized influence of their claims can be understood. Meanwhile temperatures climb.
HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE TOXIC CHEMICALS
by Dana Milbank
When last I wrote about my battle of the brush, I was losing, badly, to the invasive vines and noxious weeds that had turned forest and field at my Virginia home into an impassable jungle. I’d cut them back, but they would return in even greater numbers.
So, I consulted far and wide, asking botanists, naturalists, academics and federal and state scientists what to do. Buy a Bush Hog? Rent a herd of goats? Move back to the city?
One consistent, counterintuitive answer came back: The best thing I can do for nature is to fight the invaders with herbicides.
How could it be that the ecologically sound solution was to apply the same chemicals to my land that Big Agriculture sprays on fields by the tankerful? I disdain gardeners who douse every dandelion with Roundup — yet now I was being told that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is my friend in the fight to save my land.
Even while getting my certification this spring with the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, a group that sends armies of volunteers to uproot invasive plants by hand, I learned from my instructors that herbicides are a necessary evil. I contacted the Natural Resources Defense Council in expectation of finding a counterargument; I received none.
Finally, I checked with Jake Hughes, who is in charge of invasive-plant management for the largest landowner in my neck of the woods, Shenandoah National Park. “The reliance on herbicides is pretty close to universal,” he told me.
Before you accuse me of being a chemical-industry lobbyist, let me assure you that Hughes uses so little of the stuff that Bayer, Roundup’s manufacturer, would go broke if it relied on people like him. For the vast, almost 200,000-acre park, he uses an average of just 23 gallons of glyphosate a year, diluted and applied surgically to the offending species, usually with backpack sprayers.
With that method, the number of acres he treats each year reaches into the thousands. And if he didn’t use herbicides? “We’d probably be doing tens of acres,” Hughes said. Using mechanical (nonchemical) means to remove invasives from one infested acre takes 900 person-hours, Hughes estimated; that same job using herbicide can be done in nine hours.
It comes down to this: Without chemical treatments, the invaders would take over much of the park in the coming decades. Herbicides might be the difference between whether there will even be a forest in Shenandoah National Park in the future.
If invasive plants kill off the oaks, hickories, walnuts and pines on my land, and all the sedges and asters and shrubs that live beneath them, that’s a problem for me. If they do the same to Shenandoah National Park, that’s a problem for all of us in this region. If they are allowed to devastate the forests of Appalachia, and other woodlands and grasslands of the United States, that’s a catastrophe.
Hughes showed me two alternative futures for the forest. The first, on Rocky Branch Trail off Skyline Drive, was a forest destroyed, first by the spongy moth and then by the emerald ash borer. These disturbances created an opening for Asiatic bittersweet, which climbed the remaining trees, weighing them down and stealing their light. The trees then lost their tops, or fell entirely, in ice storms and windstorms — leaving a tangle of ugly vines that is of little use to wildlife.
The second, in Buck Hollow off Highway 211, was likewise overrun by bittersweet a decade ago. But after years of treatment with glyphosate (and some hand pulling), the invader has been repelled. Hughes and I stand in a forest rejuvenated: Spice bush, box elder, Blackhaw viburnum, northern red oak, black cherry, American elm and dogwood are all rising in the understory. Hughes didn’t have to plant a thing. “Released from the blanket of bittersweet, stuff just took off,” he said.
And so, I have become a reluctant convert to chemicals. I bought a gallon of glyphosate concentrate, a pump sprayer, rubber gloves, goggles, a respirator (technically unnecessary, but I’m taking no chances) and a hatchet. My preferred technique is “hack and squirt.” With my hatchet, I cut gouges around the circumference of the invading tree, then spray the poison inside. For smaller invaders, I can chop the whole thing down and apply the chemical as a “cut stump” treatment.
Because I’m badly outnumbered (and because I’m liable to kill a prize specimen I’ve mistaken for an invader), I brought in experts. Workers from the Virginia Forestry and Wildlife Group arrived in their F-150 with pink, blue and yellowish jugs of chemicals in the bed. Then the three of them got to work with backpack sprayers, climbing and crawling through the brush, pursuing the invaders and spraying their trunks with a “basal bark” treatment.
Next, for the worst-affected areas, I’m bringing in “forest mulchers,” dystopian tractors that chew up everything — even whole trees — in their path. After that (if I haven’t bankrupted myself), it’s time for the “foliar treatment,” spraying the leaves of the smaller, herbaceous invaders.
It will take about five years to get the infestation under control. But already, I see possibility. The woody invaders (bittersweet, autumn olive, tree-of-heaven, Callery pear) that we hit with the first treatments have begun to shrivel and die.
Some will respond by saying that the threat of invasives is overblown or even invented. This is akin to climate-change denial. It’s true that plenty of nonnative species are innocuous or beneficial (wheat, for example), but it’s a different story for invasive plants. Because they didn’t evolve in local ecosystems over the millennia, they have no natural controls to keep them in check. They are therefore crowding out and killing the plants that did evolve here — and the animals that rely on them for food.
“It’s settled science,” said Stanley Burgiel, executive director of the National Invasive Species Council, an interagency office of the federal government.
Repelling the invasives, and thereby protecting the rich biodiversity of local ecosystems, also serves as protection against climate change. “The natives have the best ability to adapt — they’ve been adapting for tens of thousands of years in these areas — so they’ve got the ability to change as the climates and the landscapes have been changing,” said Lori Makarick, chief of the National Park Service’s Landscape Restoration and Adaptation Branch. “Invasives can disrupt and upset that balance.”
Makarick told me that of the 85 million acres under Park Service management, 2.5 million are infested with invasive plants. In Shenandoah, the situation is much worse: About 55,000 acres, or 28 percent of the park’s area, is infested with invasive plants, and the invaders have a presence in two-thirds of the park. That’s likely because the park’s long and skinny boundary is carved out of private, developed land, and because the land was used for grazing and logging before it became a park in the 1930s.
But there isn’t enough money to keep the invasive plants at bay in Shenandoah or throughout the national parks, and not enough to put up much of a fight at all on many other lands managed by federal, state and local governments. Private lands are often even worse.
For fiscal 2021 (the most recent available), the federal government spent just $826 million on invasive plant and animal management nationwide. With such limited funds, the government focuses on identifying and eradicating emerging threats, while often leaving established invaders unchecked.
The Park Service spends only about $5.5 million annually on “invasive plant management teams.” Much of the rest of the funding must be squeezed out of the individual parks’ operating budgets. At Shenandoah, it would take at least $27 million over a decade (and possibly a multiple of that) to get the invasives under control, and then $1 million a year to keep them in check. That’s obviously not happening on a budget of just over $20 million a year for the entire park, about 85 percent of which goes to fixed costs.
So, it’s a matter of trying to slow the conquest by the invaders. “If nothing else, we’re keeping our finger in the dam on some species,” Patrick Kinney, the park superintendent, acknowledged. “We’re trying to hold on to a healthy forest, but we have to recognize that the forest may become a different forest than it is today.”
If maintaining the status quo is a struggle now, it would be impossible without herbicides. “I think of it as chemotherapy,” said Doug Tallamy, a University of Delaware entomologist and guru of the native-plant movement. “We have ecological tumors out there. If we don’t control them, we have ecological collapse. We have the collapse of the food web.”
True believers in glyphosate claim it’s less toxic, ounce for ounce, than table salt. But I won’t be sprinkling it on my fries. I accept that it’s toxic. Still, “it’s an essential tool,” Tallamy argued. “The cost of not using it is very high compared to the cost of using it.”
Walking with Hughes in a bittersweet-overrun section of the park, I asked him whether he sometimes despairs. “Park-wide, yeah, it feels like it’s largely a losing battle,” he allowed, as a blue swallowtail butterfly danced nearby and a woodpecker tapped a tree in the distance. “You almost feel you can never get on top of anything.” But Hughes retains hope by focusing on small victories. “You can improve things a little in places that matter the most,” he said.
And how rewarding that is! He took me past the dead ash trees and the distressed oaks to a section of the Appalachian Trail where invasives have been kept out except for a little bit of garlic mustard. Here, the woods were as they should be. The forest floor burst with sweet cicely, violets, bloodroot, hepatica, fly poison and blackberry. An understory of serviceberry, witch hazel, ironwood, striped maple and basswood merged into a canopy of white oak, northern red oak and black birch.
This is my hope for my land.
It won’t happen anytime soon. Joe Rossetti, the hardwood-management coordinator for the Virginia Department of Forestry, struggled through the thicket with me and estimated, based on the prevalence of “early succession” trees, that much of the land had been cleared and used for grazing up until about 60 years ago.
As in Shenandoah, such “disturbances” (along with the decimation of chestnuts, ash and hemlocks by invading insects) provided the foothold for invasive plants. Now I can’t see the forest for the weeds.
But this will change. Several weeks after the first herbicide treatment, I ventured into the forest with Brian Morse of Virginia Forestry and Wildlife. We found the carcasses of the newly slain invaders, shriveled and gray. Alongside them, green and unharmed, were the bushes and trees that belong here: the redbuds and dogwoods, the sassafras and persimmon, the spice bush and black raspberry, the tulip trees and the black cherry.
From here, it is possible to imagine, five years from now, a recovering forest. Beyond that, I can see a future in which, at least in my little corner of this overheating world, nature regains her balance.
(The Washington Post)
THE PROBLEM IN MIDDLE LIFE, when the body has reached its climax of power and begins to decline, is to identify yourself, not with the body, which is falling away, but with the consciousness of which it is a vehicle. This is something I learned from myths. What am I? Am I the bulb that carries the light? Or am I the light of which the bulb is a vehicle?
One of the psychological problems in growing old is the fear of death. People resist the door of death. But this body is a vehicle of consciousness, and if you can identify with the consciousness, you can watch this body go like an old car. There goes the fender, there goes the tire, one thing after another— but it’s predictable. And then, gradually, the whole thing drops off, and consciousness, rejoins consciousness. It is no longer in this particular environment.
— Joseph Campbell
WHERE HAVE ALL THE LIBERALS GONE?
by Matt Taibbi
Yesterday a House Committee — Republican-led, but still — released a series of documents showing without a doubt that the FBI has been forwarding thousands of content moderation “requests” to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube on behalf of the SBU, Ukraine’s Security Agency. The documents not only contain incontrovertible evidence that our own FBI pressures tech companies to censor material, but that the Bureau is outsourcing such work to a foreign government, in this case Ukraine. This passage below for instance reads “The SBU requested for your review and if appropriate deletion/suspension of these accounts.” There can’t possibly be controversy at this point as to whether or not this censorship program is going on. Whether it’s the FBI forwarding the SBU asking for the removal of Aaron Mate, or the Global Engagement Center recommending action on the Canadian site GlobalResearch.Ca, or the White House demanding the takedown of figures like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the same types of behavior have now been captured over and over. In light of this, I have to ask: where are the rest of the “card-carrying” liberals from the seventies, eighties, and nineties — people like me, who always reflexively opposed restrictions on speech?
Is your argument that private companies can do what they want? Then why did you think otherwise in 1985, when Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center suggested record companies “voluntarily” label as dirty songs like “Darling Nikki,” and call them McCarthyites when they compiled a list of the “Filthy Fifteen” albums? Does that not sound suspiciously like the “Disinformation Dozen”? Why were you on Frank Zappa’s side then, but with blacklisters now?
Do you now think it’s not really censorship if the FBI merely makes its opinion known about content, and doesn’t order takedowns? Did you think the same when the FBI sent a letter to Priority Records complaining about NWA’s “Fuck the Police”? Did you agree then with the ACLU, whose Southern California chairman responded to the FBI’s letter by saying, “It is completely inappropriate for any government agency to try to influence what artists do. It is completely against the American traditions of free speech”?
Is your belief that new forms of speech constitute “harm” and “offense” to such a degree that censorship is warranted? If so, why did you once support Andres Serrano and his work Piss Christ, which Catholics insisted was an intolerable offense, and call it censorship when opponents like Al D’Amato and Jesse Helms tried to pull funding for Serrano from the National Endowment of the Arts? Wasn’t the Hustler magazine spread suggesting Jerry Falwell had sex with his mother in an outhouse offensive? Didn’t you go to The People Versus Larry Flynt anyway?
If you’re okay with the FBI collaborating on censorship with the SBU now, why oppose the original PATRIOT Act, suggesting you didn’t even want the government looking at library records in search of Islamic terrorists? Why did you support the Dixie Chicks when they were blackballed for antiwar views after the Iraq invasion? Did you cheer them when you watched Shut Up and Sing?
Weren’t those national security issues, too? That wasn’t even that long ago. Is Vladimir Putin that much more of a menace than Al-Qaeda to justify the change in heart?
The change in thinking of traditional American liberals is the only part of this censorship picture that still doesn’t quite compute for me. I’d like to hear from anyone who has an explanation, a personal testimonial, anything. Comments are open to everyone here.
UKRAINE, WEDNESDAY, 12TH JULY
NATO officials and leaders from its partner states continue their summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, focusing on Russia’s war in Ukraine and the path forward for aspiring members.
G7 states signed a declaration outlining long-term security guarantees for Ukraine aimed at to deterring against future Russian aggression, a day after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed frustration at NATO for its lack of a timeline giving specific details for his country’s desired NATO membership.
The Kremlin warned in a statement that Western security assurances for Ukraine were a “dangerous mistake” that would threaten Russia’s national security and make Europe less safe.
NATO leaders stated that Ukraine’s future is inside the military alliance, but it failed to give a timetable and said conditions still need to be met, including an end to the war.
Meanwhile, Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine have come under repeated attack, with the capital as well as Odesa and Kherson enduring waves of drone strikes before and during the NATO summit. Ukraine’s military says Russian forces have launched more than 350 strikes on the wider country in the last week.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the NATO leaders summit for humanitarian and security assistance.
“I want to thank, too, all Americans who understand that it is more than $43 billion for today, it’s big support. And I understand that this is all your money, but they have to know that you spend this money for not just fighting, you spend this money for our lives,” Zelenskyy said during the bilateral meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania.
“I think that we save the lives for Europe, for all the world,” Zelenskyy added.
Biden thanked Zelenskyy for acknowledging the commitment of the American people.
“It’s about innocent people around the world and the absolute brutality with which [Russian President Vladmir] Putin is acting and the Russians are moving on,” Biden said.
“Ukraine, the whole world has seen your courage,” the U.S. leader said.
— Amanda Macias (CNBC)
A MAN IS LIKE A FRACTION whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.
― Leo Tolstoy