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TEMPERATURES across interior portions of northwest California will steadily warm going into the weekend. Excessive Heat Warning for Trinity, interior Mendocino and Lake counties remains on track. 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 54F on the coast this Friday morning. The fog played tag with the coast all day yesterday, I hear it's a little deeper today. Winds are forecast to increase Sunday & Monday otherwise more of the same.
POOR CHOICES BEHIND THE WHEEL RESULT IN TRAGEDY ON CALIFORNIA’S ROADWAYS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The results of the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) recent Independence Day Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) are a sobering reminder of the consequences resulting from unsafe driving behaviors.
Sixty-eight people were killed in crashes throughout the state during the Independence Day MEP, which began at 6:01 p.m. on Friday, June 30, and concluded at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4. Tragically, nearly half of the total number of vehicle occupants who died within CHP jurisdiction were not wearing a seat belt.
With unsafe speed being the number one contributor to crashes in California, the CHP placed a special emphasis on its enforcement during the recent MEP. CHP officers issued more than 9,700 speed citations throughout the long Independence Day weekend.
Additionally, impaired drivers were removed from California’s roadways at an alarming rate during the holiday enforcement effort. CHP officers made 1,224 arrests for driving under the influence, which is an average of one DUI arrest every five minutes.
“The results of this MEP are concerning and reinforce the need for responsible behavior behind the wheel,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “All of these deaths were preventable, and the loved ones they leave behind will be forever impacted. Traffic safety is everyone’s responsibility, and these statistics show us how much work there is still to be done. The CHP is committed to making California’s roadways safer for all who use them.”
To help protect those who are traveling on California’s roadways during the holidays, the CHP implements six MEPs per year. The next MEP is scheduled for Labor Day weekend. Throughout the holiday weekend, all available uniformed members of the Department will be on patrol to enhance public safety, deter unsafe driving behavior, and, when necessary, take appropriate enforcement action.
Keep yourself and others who are on the road safe by buckling up, driving at a speed safe for conditions, avoid distractions behind the wheel, and always designating a sober driver.
The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.
FORT BRAGG CITY COUNCIL HIRES CHIEF CERVENKA AS NEW ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER
by Megan Wutzke
During the city council meeting on July 10, the City approved an employment contract with Police Chief Neil Cervenka, making him the assistant city manager as well as the police chief. This additional role includes a 5% pay increase, a severance package, and 40 hours of sick leave. If City Manager Peggy Ducey cannot act as City Manager, Cervenka will step into the role.
A few members of the public were wary of this resolution. Former city council member Jessica Morsell-Haye commented that she could foresee problems with succession down the line, saying that the City was “backing itself into a corner.” Other public comments disapproved of the additional expense of this contract.
The council members themselves also saw some problems with this resolution. Council member Lindy Peters voiced his concerns about one person having two different roles. “I think they (the roles of the city police chief and city manager) should be separate. We can’t have the same person being the boss of another.”
Vice-Mayor Jason Godeke agreed. “We don’t want our police chief serving as our city manager as a regular thing; that’s just not a healthy state of affairs,” Godeke said. “I think this is something that our city council would need to be vigilant about.”
On the other hand, Mayor Bernie Norvell brought up that the council was overall happy with Cervenka’s leadership and trusted Cervenka to step into the role of city manager as needed.
After voicing their concerns, the council approved the contract, with only council member Marcia Rafanan voting no.
The council also approved a Letter of Intent with Syserco Energy Solutions for the Facilities Solar Project. This project will add solar power to six different Fort Bragg facilities and be grandfathered into a more favorable metering system.
Generally, solar power creates abundant power in the summer and less in the winter. Under the previous Net Energy Metering, or NEM 2.0, any excess power produced during the summertime would credit to the solar system owner during the wintertime. However, regulations recently changed to NEM 3.0, which would remove much of that benefit. Earlier in the year, SES submitted interconnection applications with PG&E so that the City would be grandfathered into NEM 2.0 for the next 20 years.
SES will be adding solar power to the city hall, the corp yard and water treatment plant, the CV Starr Center, the fire department, the police department, and the wastewater treatment plant. This project must be completed by April 15, 2026. As there is a long lead time for materials, the city staff needs to finalize all the project details as quickly as possible.
The council also accepted the bid of Argonaut Constructors for $4,611,831.45 for the 2022 street rehabilitation project. This project will include two miles of new pavement, three miles of pavement marking and striping, replacement of the decorative crosswalks in the Central Business District, and safety improvements along North and South Harold Street.
The primary funding source for this project is Special Street Sales Tax. However, other funding sources include the Local Partnership Program with State Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act funding.
The council also adopted a resolution approving a budget amendment accepting a grant from the Department of California Highway Patrol. This grant focuses on DUI enforcement and pays for two changeable message signboards and eight DUI saturation events over the fiscal year. Four of the saturation events will be advertised with signboards, and four will not be. The City will study to see if advertising the saturation events makes a difference in the number of DUIs.
A saturation patrol is an increased number of police officers patrolling a specific area to look for impaired driving behavior. This funding does not pay for DUI checkpoints, which involve stopping many vehicles to check for DUIs. According to Chief Neil Cervenka, DUI checkpoints often catch other bystanders that are not dangerous on the roads, and he personally doesn’t like them.
This funding will include additional DUI investigation training and public education events near local bars. These public education events will have bar patrons guessing their BAC to win small prizes so that people will better understand their own BAC level.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)
FREE JUNK CAR REMOVAL! No title, no problem. No job too big or too small. Give us a call 707-272-8101 or message us on Facebook!
We have served Mendocino County for 25 years providing junk car removal with our former business Starr Automotive Towing and Auto Repair in Philo, CA. We sold two years ago which allowed us to pursue our dreams of focusing on Junk Car removal. Our mission has always been to clear Mendocino County of Junk cars to do our part in keeping your community clean and these unwanted vehicles off public/private roads. Since starting our new business we have clean hundreds of vehicles surrounding Mendocino County. Those areas have included Point Arena, Gualala, Manchester, Albion, Philo, Navarro, Little River, Comptche, Ukiah, Fort Bragg, Mendocino, Cleone, Willits, Redwood Valley and my home town where I was born and raised in Boonvillle. (I’m sure I’m missing a few.) We not only offer removal of junk cars for residential areas, we offer junk car removal for businesses completely free as well. We stand by our word and will not surprise you with fees, when we say free, we mean free. We also specialize in removal of junk cars that are in challenging areas and have winch lines available for cars that are unable to roll. We currently do not offer removal of rvs, boats, and trailers. But please message us on these items, we can get you in contact with someone who may be able to help but does charge for their services.
Cautions: When a junk car is scheduled for removal, the company you select should not have to remove parts off the vehicle. If this does happen and they want to return to pick up the vehicle later due to mechanical issues with their equipment please make sure to have any parts removed remain with the vehicle.
— Johnson & Son Junk Car Removal, firstname.lastname@example.org
DO YOU NEED HELP creating defensible space? Do you know someone who does? Apply here for two full days of work to make your home a little more fire safe. If you need help with the application, give our office a call. 707 895-2020. Please share this information - The Defensible Space program is seriously underutilized, and we know there are folks out there who need help! andersonvalleyfire.org/dsafie
CALFIRE & OLD TRAILS
There will be a CalFire Recreation Task Force (RTF) meeting this Saturday July 15th. One of the main items to discuss is unsanctioned trails. We hope you will attend and provide public comment regarding CalFire’s recent approach towards ‘decommissioning’ and abandoning long used trails. The meeting agenda is posted below.
There has recently been several trails off road 408 that CalFire ‘closed’ without notice or discussion. These trails were frequented by local dog walkers, hikers and bikers alike. CalFire decided that it was necessary to send crews in to try and obliterate these trails. Closure of the trails was implemented by cutting down live trees, beside the trails, some as large as 12” in diameter, and then placing them on top of the trails along with accumulated brush. Why is this necessary, and why are trails being closed without public input? We would like to know the answers to these questions as well. We hope you can attend the meeting and let CalFire know your opinions on this matter.
The public may also submit comments in advance via email pertaining to the meeting’s agenda. Please submit public comments to the following email address: JDSF@fire.ca.gov (subject line must contain “RTF Meeting Comment”). These comments must be submitted by 12:00 pm, July 13th to be considered by the RTF at the meeting.
Here are the meeting details:
Date: July 15, 2023 Start Time: 9:30 am End Time: 2:00 pm
CalFire Woodlands Station
41722 Little Lake Rd, Mendocino
JEFF GOLL: good issue today though Dana Milbank's support of glyphosate is ultimately wrong. Globally, 700,000 tons of that stuff is spread across the landscape per year (2015). The effect on the microbiomes of soil and intestinal tracts of animals and humans has undergone limited research (and we can only guess why). Rippling effects throughout the ecosystem have already shown decreases in insect life-not direct poisoning, but the effect of alterations in the overall environment. If furtherly interested, here's an unbiased view from Frontiers in Environmental Science: frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2021.763917/full.
CENTER THE PENDULUM
I recently read an article by Jim Shields article titled “Crime and no punishment.” I found the article pretty much hit the nail on the head. I believe we are currently in a moment when the pendulum has swung too far. Over the past dozen years, we have seen legislation which removes personal responsibility from people, it’s just that simple. If there is no personal responsibility, then who does the responsibility for behaviors fall to?
Laws protect the safety of society and ensure our rights as residents against abuses by other people, by organizations, and by the government itself. Our laws help us to create safer communities. One of the things our laws also do for us is remove the duty to avenge. This duty has been well documented throughout time. Trust me, I have arrived at many a tense situation where one subject was wronged or endangered by another. In many cases all involved parties were happy to see law enforcement arrive before things went too far. I am extremely concerned when the teeth are removed from our laws. When faith in our courts is gone, our residents will grow their teeth back and we will see that duty to avenge played out across our nation.
We can’t have that.
Many of our elected officials made several campaign promises to close prisons. These promises are coming true. Not because we have less crime and fewer victims, but due to changes in legislation which decriminalized many behaviors. If we want to close prisons let’s start by creating education and opportunities that reduce crimes, not simply ignore them.
I have heard many people say drugs are a victimless crime. To the contrary, there are victims constantly and many of the victims are the people addicted. This is turning into slow and agonizing homicide for many. Addictions are killing people in numbers that are completely out of control. If people are dying from this how are they not victims? Many of these addicted individuals have children, of whom many will suffer abuse and neglect. These addictions also cause people to start dealing or committing crimes to feed their addiction. Armed robberies, burglaries and assaults are often the spoils of addictions.
This shift in policy and laws aren’t simply dealing with drug offenses.
This week we saw Senate Bill 14 come before the state’s public safety committee. This bill would have classified human trafficking of a minor child into the realm of a serious felony. This would have made trafficking a minor a strikable offense and allowed sentencing enhancements for those convicted of this crime in the same fashion arsonists and bank robbers receive sentencing enhancements for their crimes. This would also keep repeat offenders incarcerated and make them ineligible for early releases.
California lawmakers in the Assembly Public Safety Committee blocked the measure. The public safety committee is well known for blocking measures that would increase prison time. On Thursday the public outcry was so intense, the public safety committee in emergency hearing reversed their decision and allowed this bill to pass. News reports described this as “a sudden and spectacular reversal.”
Many people have forgotten when a criminal is in prison, he isn’t victimizing a neighborhood and therefore it prevents crime. There are people who belong in prison. Some crimes are so heinous it isn’t safe for our communities or the suspects to remain on the street. I understand this may not be a popular statement. However this has been my experience and we are in a time when the truth isn’t particularly popular.
Now to the point, and why I am bringing this up in Mendocino County. I truly believe many of our residents are busy working hard, raising a family and putting supper on the table. We are often too busy to involve ourselves in pouring over legislation and how it will impact our communities. Let’s try to find some time to ask the hard questions of our state representatives and elected officials. These are good people, I often think they simply aren’t hearing from all of us. If we can all educate ourselves and come together with a reasonable voice, I am certain we can move beyond these issues. The recent reversal on SB-14 is evidence that voices are heard. We simply need to speak.
As always, thank you for constantly supporting our men and women serving at the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Matt Kendall
I had wanted to comment on the Great Redwood Trail update but Kerri Vau did well enough. I am glad Ted Williams expressed that the State needs to further fund the maintenance but was disappointed that he doesn’t feel the County really has a role. The BOS should be advocating for our communities which include defending us against bad state policies. Kerri is exactly right that they should be on record voicing our concerns.
I do see the possibility of opportunity. I would like rail from Willits to Cloverdale to be restored or at least the option to remain open. If they are able to railbank, they will pull up the rail and that will be the death of any chance of rail service returning. The rail company then becomes the partner the State is looking for to maintain it. Then we can have a trail for human scale transit — i.e., walking, biking, etc — in the areas where there is higher density and the rail connects people and services like the grocery store. I am thinking Redwood Valley from Laughlin Way to Calpella to Lake Mendocino Drive to Ukiah and even to Hopland. I would also like to see some of the funds go to bigger projects that would include a community development plan being developed to do an EIR/CEQA to codify some of the amenities, the “lemonade stands” they keep touting as economic opportunities. Ask people what they want, what they can live with in terms of impact. Do a needs assessment of our roads and everything else. Lay it out what people can do and how they can get permitted so they don’t have to go through a major land use permit process. Then we have some shovel ready projects to get more State and Federal support to enable some economic development. I would like to see Hopland from 175/101 to Old River Road/101 developed this way. People park across from the gas station where the taco truck usually is. Make a nice loop down the rail line south to Old River Road and back up Old River Road. Get money to improve Old River Road and expand the shoulder so people can safely walk, bike, push a stroller without getting run over. Maybe some people would want to make a weekend out of it and could do some Air BNB, glamping tent farm stays, buy some local wines, eat at restaurants, etc.
As for the vineyard regs, I don’t see what they are going to accomplish except make it cost more to farm. The farm plan and instituting Best Management Practices is fine. That’s basically what the Fish Friendly Program does. It works. But measuring NTU/turbidity is ridiculous. It’s not a measurement used to determine water quality for salmonids. The machine to measure it is $5,000-$20,000. That doesn’t include the time collecting samples and entering them into the GeoTracker database. This requirement isn’t part of any of the other Water Discharge Requirements for other regions in the state.
PHILO-BASED SEX CULT IN THE NEWS AGAIN
OneTaste sues ex-worker for breaking her NDA as it claims she flipped on the 'orgasmic meditation cult' when her ex-boyfriend fell in love with another woman who she punched in the face before quitting
OneTaste is suing a former worker after she allegedly broke a non-disclosure agreement by launching a 'malicious crusade' against the company.
The 'orgasmic meditation cult' claims Ayries Blanck is in breach of their $325,000 settlement for voicing her hatred of the firm since she left in 2014.
It argues in a lawsuit that she had previously 'loved OneTaste and its staff 'and 'consistently had sex with other members' while living in New York City.
But it claims she changed after she split up with her boyfriend in 2014 and he found love elsewhere.
The documents say she flew to Los Angeles and confronted the other woman before punching her in the face and dramatically quitting the company.
It comes as OneTaste's founder Nicole Daedone was indicted for allegedly keeping women in residential warehouses where they were forced into sex acts.
Blanck became involved with OneTaste in 2012 and was 'positive' about her involvement until 2014 when she split with her partner, the lawsuit claims.
The legal documents, seen by DailyMail.com, claim Blanck said she wanted to 'f***ing kill' her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend – who he met through a OneTaste event in LA.
The lawsuit comes after founder Daedone, 56, and Rachel Cherwitz, 43, were hit with a federal indictment, which accused them of forcing volunteers, contractors, and employees into sex acts using cult-like tactics.
Prosecutors say the alleged victims were kept under surveillance and made dependent on Daedone and Cherwitz for shelter and basic necessities.
They have been charged with conspiracy to violate federal laws prohibiting the use of forced labor.
Prosecutors for the Eastern District of New York have now filed to pause the civil litigation of OneTaste against Blanck, claiming that she is a 'possible witness' in the federal case.
But lawyers for the San Francisco-based company told DailyMail.com that the filing is 'unconstitutional', adding that pausing the case would be 'ludicrous'.
Ed McPherson said: 'Blanck signed a settlement agreement years ago that obligated her not to reveal certain confidential information and not to disparage One Taste. We understand now that she has done both.
'The crux of the case is that she fraudulently induced OneTaste into signing the agreement, knowing that she was never going to comply.
'Five years is a pretty excessive period in which to be investigating someone, especially when ultimately they came up with two indictments of individuals, but didn't indict the company.
'And yet, they're kind of coming after the company by trying to remove its constitutional right to, to pursue a civil suit against this woman.
'They use buzzwords, like in the interest of justice and all these other things that really kind of mean nothing.
'You shouldn't get to come into my case where I'm trying to prosecute a case on behalf of a company against a woman who clearly breached her contract and is out there saying all kinds of lies.
'It's hurt the company really has. Just because she says those same lies to the Eastern District of New York doesn't mean that she gets a pass.
'I just don't understand how they think they can keep this off grid and have some kind of secret trial where we don't get to confront their witness - that's unconstitutional in the US.
'The articles came out, the podcast came out and other things have come out. And we didn't know that she was behind it until fairly recently.'
Blanck filed a lawsuit against the company in August of 2015, claiming they subjected her to a 'hostile work environment, sexual harassment, failure to pay minimum wage and intentional infliction of emotional distress'.
The lawsuit also claimed OneTaste 'forced and manipulated her into having sex and taking part in orgasmic meditation with OneTaste staff, supervisors, and customers'. These claims are denied by the company.
But the new suit argues that following her ex-partners new relationship, Blanck begged Cherwitz to end his new relationship, which she said she could not do.
Both parties then attended a mediation, with OneTaste saying in the suit the 'cost of defending the case would exceed the amount' for which they could settle – despite denying the allegations.
Blanck then signed a settlement agreement confirming that she would not 'disparage OneTeste or its officers, or incite others to do so'.
Their suit claims Blanck continued with a 'vendetta' against the company despite the settlement and 'chose to repeat the false claims'.
OneTaste claims that Blanck laughed when asked if she signed an NDA, saying 'Whatever I'm going to do what I want'.
She is also accused of attempting to connect former OneTaste customers and staff members with journalists and admitted being offered money to appear in a Netflix documentary according to the suit.
Blanck does not directly appear in the series, but her sister instead speaks on her behalf – calling the company a 'cult'.
The lawsuit states that the documentary is a 'fictional tale', and insist that they have never 'silenced' Blanck or anyone else.
It goes on to say: 'Significantly, although Blanck discussed with her closest friends every detail of every one of the many sexual encounters that she had while she was with OneTaste, whether she felt that they were enjoyable or disappointing, she never mentioned to a single one of her closest friends that she had experienced any of the events that were printed in the Bloomberg article, the subsequent media reports, or the Netflix Film.
'Moreover, during her time at OneTaste, she certainly never reported anything even close to rape or being forced to have sex with anyone, to any of her friends, to any of her roommates, to any OneTaste staff, or to any law enforcement agency.
'To the contrary, every text that she sent to her closest friends indicated how much fun she was having, seeking men out and having sex with them.
'Specifically, with respect to her claim that she was violently assaulted by her former boyfriend, such a claim was never made – even to her closest friends – before her former boyfriend started dating his subsequent girlfriend.'
Lawyers for OneTaste are seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages – asking for the amount to be 'sufficient to punish or set an example.'
Speaking to DailyMail.com Anjuli Ayer CEO of OneTaste - who is not accused of any wrongdoing - said: 'OneTaste is and has always been about women's empowerment. Orgasmic Meditation and OneTaste changed my life.
'I want every person to have access to what I've experienced. Unfortunately, as CEO and leader, the past five years have been consumed with countering baseless attacks on this mission. I am determined that we have our fair day in court.'
In the latest court hearing over the federal charges, lawyers for Cherwitz and Daedone claim that the government failed to show 'how they violated the forced labor statute.
According to the pair the indictment does not specify what 'forced labor' they supposedly obtained, nor does it provide key details such as when, where and how the alleged violations took place. Their filing states: 'Instead, the indictment is peppered with sensationalized allegations that have no nexus to its one criminal charge.
'Remarkably, this bare-bones, legally incognizant indictment is the culmination of a five-year government investigation into Ms. Cherwitz, Ms. Daedone and OneTaste, suggesting that the reason for the indictment's insufficiencies is not simply poor indictment drafting but a lack of evidence to support the single charge within it.'
Daedone and Cherwitz have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are free on $1 million and $300,000 bonds, respectively. OneTaste's current leadership team says they stand behind the defendants. The two are next scheduled to appear in court on July 26.
OM exploded in popularity following a 2009 New York Times profile of OneTaste, and at one point, the company was reportedly raking in $12 million a year from eager clients.
But in 2018, the FBI launched an investigation when ex-customers came forward saying they were left in debt after paying for expensive classes, and former employees said they were told to engage in sexual relations with potential clients to close sales.
Now, prosecutors say that between 2004 and 2018, Daedone and Cherwitz deployed a series of abusive and manipulative tactics in order to obtain the labor and services of a group of OneTaste members, including volunteers, contractors, and employees.
The indictment alleges that the duo used tactics designed to render the OneTaste members dependent on the group for their shelter and basic necessities and to limit members' independence and control.
Members of OM were allegedly kept in 'residential warehouses' where they were forced into sex acts.
OM involves a woman, naked from the waist down, having her clitoris 'stroked' for exactly 15 minutes by a man, either her own partner or another paying customer.
Prosecutors say the alleged victims were subjected to 'constant surveillance' and isolated from friends and family.
When members could no longer afford OneTaste classes, they were pressured to take on debt, and that at times Daedone and Cherwitz even assisted them in opening new credit cards, according to the indictment.
At one point, OneTaste operated centers in cities including New York, San Francisco, Denver, Las Vegas, Boulder, Los Angeles, Austin and London.
In New York City, OneTaste leased residences and hosted events in several different locations, including in Brooklyn and the Manhattan neighborhoods of Harlem, Hell's Kitchen, Soho and West Village.
Daedone has previously denied that she ran a sex cult, telling the Mail on Sunday last year: 'I want to continue the work of getting OM into the world. It is such a powerful practice and we have a world that is so starved of something that will bring a fundamental connection.'
JOURNALISM takes its practitioners to some strange places. It took me to Willits one gray winter morning almost 30 years ago in response to a call from “Mrs. Roberts, Darlene Roberts, and you can call me Darlene.” Mrs. Roberts said her son, Max, had been beaten up by three members of the Willits Police Department.
“You aren’t afraid to write a story about a child molester who has been mistreated by the police, are you?”
I said I was interested in hearing what she had to say. I told her I didn’t think the police should mistreat anybody, including child molesters.
Mrs. Roberts said her son, Max, “is developmentally disabled, you know, retarded.” She went on to tell me about how her son, although he’s retarded, is required to register as a sex offender.
I assured Mrs. Roberts I knew what developmentally disabled meant but didn’t know that retarded people could also qualify for molester status. I’d assumed mental retardation was the kind of disability which exempted a person from responsibility for his acts.
We made an appointment for me to visit her and Max. In the meantime she would send me some paperwork on the civil rights case she was trying to bring against the Willits Police Department and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department for “beating up my son, Max.”
Mrs. Roberts was offended when I asked, “Are you sure Max was beaten by the police?”
“We have pictures,” she snapped. “They did it because they’re mean and they hate child molesters.”
We agreed to meet.
On that gray day early in December I turned off Highway 101 south of Willits and drove a short distance to a doublewide trailer where Mrs. Roberts and her son Max lived. The trailer was set in the middle of a field. No effort had been made at aesthetic enhancement of the homestead. Not so much as an ab shell or a Safeway primrose adorned the trailer’s perimeter. The shades were drawn and the place was eerily silent. The doublewide was as stark and as forlorn as a home can be.
Given the tomb-like silence of the place, the overcast day, the absence of all signs of life, I felt like restraining my knock so it wouldn’t alarm the people I hoped were inside. Just as I cocked my arm for knock number two, Mrs. Roberts appeared.
She was wiry-small and friendly and nicely dressed in a blouse and skirt. Intelligent, wary eyes looked out of a careworn face. She spoke in a gravelly, smoker’s baritone. There was steel in this woman's dough. She said she doesn’t trust the police or the courts and thinks the entire apparatus has singled her and her son out for special attention.
”I feel under siege,” she said, which seemed to account for the uninhabited look of her doublewide. “People have been coming on to the property and doing things.”
Mrs. Roberts said that the local attorneys she’d talked to wanted “a lot of money up front” to take on Max’s civil rights case, adding, “most of them are wimps.”
She’d warned me that Max, who still hadn’t appeared, “was very nervous around strangers.” Mrs. Roberts cautioned me that “if Max acts scared it might be because he thinks you are a police officer.”
In previous telephone conversations, and from the documents she had loaned me, I knew Mrs. Roberts was trying to sue Willits and Mendocino County because, she was alleging, they’d beaten and casually tortured her retarded son. She told me that Max had, until recently, been living in Arkansas with relatives. Mrs. Roberts suspected that a cop there “had it in for Max because he’s a sex offender” and had called Willits PD to continue his persecution.
After the don’t-be-alarmed-if-he-seems-afraid-of-you-because-of-the-trauma-he’s-recently-endured preliminaries, Mrs. Roberts said, “Maxie, you can come in now.”
Instantly, a door off the trailer’s immaculate living room flew open and in walked Max, right on cue as if he were the opening act in a play.
Max was visibly “on the spectrum,” as the therapists say. He had an oversized, semi-Downs head and propelled himself forward in lurch-like thrusts and started talking immediately after shaking hands, looking over the top of my head as he spoke.
The man was about 5’7” and stocky. His wrists were huge and he was big through the chest. I would not have wanted to attempt to restrain him. If he’d resisted them, the cops would have had to work to subdue Max even before they could think about getting handcuffs around his wrists, which were thicker than an ordinary man’s forearms, and his arms so short he would be unable to cross his wrists for the cops to cuff him.
Max was not afraid of me. He didn't seem to be afraid of anything,
He spoke at an unnecessarily high decibel level in a rush. But he had his story down and its narrative line wasn't hard to follow even with the rhetorical detours about his recently signed mutual non-aggression pact with God.
Mrs. Roberts’ relationship with her son seemed Gothic, lion tamer to a large tabby who loves and fears his keeper.
Max cried throughout his recitation. An unsympathetic person would describe his overwrought presentation as “blubbering.” I was sympathetic — well, interested at least — but Max’s bullhorn blubbering was quickly tiresome.
I was also unmoved because Max’s story, given his obvious limitations, seemed a little too well-rehearsed, with the tears loaded on as emotional punctuation. His version of his Willits arrest for failing to register as a sex offender may have been mostly true or it may be another case of odd blundering by Max, his “caregiver,” a “double cousin” named Tina; and the cops, who got into some hand-to-hand combat with a retarded guy when the retarded guy got scared because he didn’t quite understand why he was being arrested, and the cops couldn’t get Max’s penguin-short arms all the way behind his back, let alone fasten the cuffs around his NFL wrists.
What record there is of this unique incident suggests that Tina the caregiver stood around shrieking as the odd dance of mutual incomprehension was danced between Max and the cops, torquing up the hysteria out of all proportion to events.
Max had a prior, an ugly prior. He got eight years for molesting a 9-year-old girl in Santa Rosa. He did five years in state prison in a special unit for the retarded at the San Luis Obispo Men’s Colony. Max had been around cops enough to know the drill. Later, in his accounting of his Willits adventure, Max said he asked the cops if they had a warrant, a pretty savvy question coming from a social security-eligible developmentally disabled 40-year-old man.
“I was 27,” Max blared. “I was an idiot. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t even know God. I didn’t think God was real. I drank a lot. I drank a lot when I needed to stop the pain in my heart for my family being torn to pieces in the world, it hurt so bad. I just wish people could realize now how hard I am trying to be a human being.”
Mrs. Roberts said of her son's state prison tour: “They said he never should have been sent to Tracy or San Luis Obispo because of his mental condition. He was railroaded … ineffective counsel, that sort of thing. Max had been beaten and drugged in the Sonoma County Jail before he ever appeared in court on that charge.”
Max was the victim, not the child.
Max and his caregiver, the double cousin Tina, were in a downtown Willits Motel one night in 1996 when the Willits PD arrived to arrest Max for having not registered as a sex offender when he got to town after hurriedly leaving Arkansas. He and Tina had been in town long enough for officer Demarco of the Willits Police Department to have visited their motel room a couple of weeks earlier. On that visit, Demarco had found a small quantity of pot, which allegedly belonged to one of Tina’s friends. The Willits PD had met Max and Tina before this memorable evening of civil rights violations. The cops knew that Max had left Arkansas for unclear reasons having to do with children and guns.
Arkansas, guns, double cousins, registered sex offenders, five years in prison.
Back in Willits, the story continued.
“There was a big loud knock on the door,” Max recalled, telling his story top volume and crying, occasionally drawing breath in a combined sob and gasping inhale. “I was asleep. Someone stole my guitar out of the car and I was upset. But I got out of bed and grabbed my shirt. I started walking into where the door was and heard my cousin say, ‘Everything’s ok. I got him calmed down,’ but the police said, ‘Well, we’re coming in anyway,’ and they threw open the door and came busting in. I put up my hands and said, ‘You got a warrant?’”
It was three officers from the Willits Police Department. Max was told he was under arrest. Max demanded to see the warrant.
“Because his arms are so short and stocky, his hands do not cross behind him like you and I can do,” mom says.
It’s true; there’s no way to cuff Max behind his back. His arms don’t make it all the way south and don’t come anywhere near being long enough to cross to his rear.
“I can barely touch my hands together,” Max clarifies through fog horn-quality sobs.
But the police apparently managed to get the cuffs on Max’s hands behind his back. How they did it, if they did, defies Max’s physiognomy.
As the cops struggled to accomplish what would appear to be physically impossible, one of the cops called for “back-up,” cancelling the call a few minutes later after the three of them had their bellowing prey hogtied.
According to double cuz caregiver Tina, the hollering that caused the motel managers to call the police was Max lamenting the loss of his guitar, not him thumping on her. Max, as should be plain by now, is not your basic phlegmatic, docile retarded guy. You can hear him from Willits to the Covelo Road when he’s upset.
“There is not a violent bone in Max’s body,” mom said.
“I hate violence,” Max echoed.
Tina finally convinced the cops that she was not a victim of domestic abuse, but Max was hauled off anyway and charged with resisting arrest and failing to register as a sex offender. If the cops have to break a sweat arresting you, you can count on a resisting count being added to your arraignment bill.
Max and his mother said Max was held at the Willits Police Station for an hour before his cuffs were loosened.
“I watched this one cop take three folders out and shift papers around for about an hour,” Max recalled. “Then officer King came over and asked me my name. I said it should be on the warrant, and if it’s not, you should let me go or the judge is gonna be mad at you. I was begging them to loosen the handcuffs ‘cause of the pain. I was scared to death and I was in tears. He said they were checking me for warrants.”
Max is clearly not as disabled as he looks. He's got traffic warrants. He drives. He had been known to drive off without paying for gasoline at local service stations. Max plays the guitar. Max has done five years in state prison. Max used to like a drink. Max has found God.
“He’s a good driver,” Mom said. “At one time he had a valid California Driver’s License.”
Having reviewed Max’s record and concluded that Max was not to be confused with Forrest Gump, the cops decided to take Max to the County Jail in Ukiah.
“I guess [Willits Police] Chief Brown heard me crying,” Max remembers, “so he told one of the cops to ‘loosen these things on this guy a little.’ So they took one handcuff off and put another set on between the two and handcuffed the handcuffs together. they were still on hard. They only gave me about an inch. My shoulders had already been tore out. They put me back in the car. ‘Ain’t you going to read me my rights?’ I asked ‘em. The cop said to me, ‘You ain’t going to need them, man; you ain’t never getting out’.”
Max said that on the half-hour drive south to Ukiah he begged the police to loosen the cuffs. He said he was told by the transporting officer, “If I have to pull over here, I’m gonna take you down a road you ain’t ever gonna come back on’.”
Not that this alleged death threat caused Max to turn his sound down. “I was screaming and praying to Lord Jesus the whole way,” he said.
“They were calling him names on the way, too,” Mom chipped in.
Max claimed that the cops left him handcuffed in the police car in the admissions garage for 20 minutes.
“Finally, a big giant guy comes out. I’m telling you he’s huge! Came and opened the door, unfastened my safety belt and told me to get out. I said, ‘Please help me; I’m so hurt. Please, I’m a human being’.”
The big giant guy, Max insists, called him a “sissy” and a “punk,” advising Max, “If you can’t take the pain you shouldn’t ought to be arrested with kids.”
In Max's memory several officers, led by the big giant guy, proceeded to “Yank on my throat, kick me in my butt and in my back, pound me on the top of my head,” and, for the grand finale, “they all picked me up by my hands and dropped me on the cee-ment floor.”
Max, with mom right there in his amen corner each excruciating step of her son's ordeal, said he was placed in a holding cell where “they took my pants off. I didn’t fight them. I could tell they were trying to take the handcuffs off me. Somebody got on top of me from behind. I felt the big giant guy’s hand reach right down the crack of my butt and grab hold of my testicles and crush them. About that time, not very much longer, they got the handcuffs off me. They tore my shirt off and left me lying there. I couldn’t move for hours.”
Max stopped crying for the brief moments he talked about what amounted to a sexual assault. He seemed fond of the memory.
But Max’s booking photo showed him with a great big smile on his face. He didn’t look like a man who had just been dry-humped and had had his nuts crunched.
Max was in jail for three days, in what is called the “A-Unit” where vulnerable people, particularly sex offenders, crazies and retarded guys, are held. He said when “a lady probation officer saw the bruises on my back, she burst into tears.”
Mrs. Roberts said her son got the Mendo Courthouse Shuffle.
Max was urged to plead guilty to resisting arrest by both the prosecution and the defense. Mom told Max not to plead out, only to have both the DA and the Public Defender tell Max, “Your mother’s going to cause you to go to prison for the rest of your life.”
Mrs. Roberts, who’s got to be 70, brought her son home to Willits from the Ukiah jail. Max is 40 now. Both of them got life with no parole a long time ago.
Mom is a retired waitress. She dismisses mention of her former husband with a wave of her hand. She says her sons and other members of her family help support her and Max. It’s them against the world.
“I just sit here and hope nobody gets hurt,” Max says. “I am scared to death. These people are big. They hate me.”
Nobody would talk for the record, but the consensus is that Max is not as handicapped as he may seem and, unless supervised, can be a danger to others, but he had been treated with unthinking if not intentional brutality by the Willits Police Department.
“You can rest now, Maxie honey,” Mom said, the suggestion no sooner out of his mouth than Max did a brisk about-face and exited the room.
”He really liked you a lot,” Mrs. Roberts told me.
Months later, as I was still mulling over the material, I picked up the phone one afternoon to a gravelly voiced, “I know who you’re working for, you son of a bitch.” Click.
I’d become part of the conspiracy.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, July 13, 2023
CURTIS ADAMS, Willits. Tear gas, paraphernalia, failure to appear.
COLEMAN ANDERSEN, Eureka/Ukiah. DUI, controlled substance.
BHAKTI DILLENBECK, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs.
COREY HEINE, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs, resisting.
MICHAEL MENDEZ, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
PATRICK PRICKETT, Clearlake/Ukiah. Controlled substance.
JESUS RIOS-ESCOBAR, Ukiah. DUI, evasion, resisting, probation revocation.
SHAWN SPILLER, Fort Bragg. Paraphernalia, county parole violation.
FRANCISCO TAFOLLA-RIVERA, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
ROBERT ZIEGLER, Ukiah. Battery with serious injury.
A COMMITTEE is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but together decide that nothing can be done.
— Fred Allen
YOU'RE INVITED TO CONTACT ME
Warmest spiritual greetings,
Awoke this morning fully rested, able to sleep on the body’s left side, on a spring bed at Building Bridges Homeless Resource Center in sunny Ukiah, California. The septic system was backed up, so the entire shelter population plus staff made do with three bathrooms, and no showers. Shaved using a hand held mirror, then got dressed using the right arm, and put my sunglasses on using the compromised left arm, noticing that the soreness from the ICD surgical implantation into the heart on Monday was lessening. Strode off confidently to the Plowshares Peace & Justice Center for a free meal at 11:30AM. Later, hopped on an air conditioned MTA bus and deboarded at the Ukiah Public Library. It is here and now 2:22PM Pacific Time. I am not identified with the body nor the mind. Immortal Self I am. Have a federal housing voucher. Have $600 in the SBMC checking account. Have food stamps. Have a post-op doctor’s appointment in a week. I am available on the planet earth for that which destroys the demonic and returns this world to righteousness. You are invited to contact me!
Craig Louis Stehr
THIS FOURTH OF JULY,
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat printed the Declaration of Independence. I applaud this. I point out the famous words written by Thomas Jefferson: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These words have in many ways become the foundation of our democracy. In the 247 years since these words were written, our country has abolished slavery, given women the right to vote and fought for civil rights and the right to vote for all our citizens. Today we are witnessing, with the Supreme Court’s recent decisions, a degradation of the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
― Do women have the unalienable right to choose what is best for their health and well-being?
― Do same-sex couples have the same unalienable rights as heterosexual couples?
― Do underprivileged children have the same unalienable right to a good education that more privileged children have?
The country is divided and polarized over our liberties. The 2024 election is critical. Will we continue to support and live the words of the Declaration of Independence?
THIS NAPA WINERY IS ‘GOING TOPLESS’
by Jess Lander
Since 1992, employees at Napa Valley’s Honig Winery have participated in a photoshoot for an annual marketing postcard mailed to customers. Past postcards have spoofed pop-culture icons like the Rolling Stones, “Charlie’s Angels” and “Back to the Future” (for that, they even rented a DeLorean). But this year’s imagery was particularly eye-catching.
The 2023 postcard features a line of women sitting on the edge of a pool with their backs to the camera, holding their bikini tops in the air. “Greetings from your friends at Honig Winery,” the postcard reads. “Where we dare to go bare.”
The marketing campaign might be viewed as a bit risque for the oft-conservative wine industry, but it’s meant to convey an important announcement: Honig is “going topless.” Specifically, it's eliminating foil capsules, the pesky plastic covering found over the neck and cork of most wine bottles. You’ve likely struggled to remove a few of these with the foil cutter on your bottle opener, and have maybe even cut yourself on its sharp edge.
Co-owner Stephanie Honig said the decision was driven by the Rutherford winery’s sustainability efforts. Honig is solar-powered, limits its water usage and recently switched to lighter-weight bottles. (The use of glass is one of the wine industry’s biggest contributors to the climate crisis and accounts for 29% of its carbon footprint, according to the California Sustainability Wine Growing Alliance.) By eliminating capsules, the winery calculated that it could prevent more than 1 million foils from entering landfills each year.
The use of capsules has been a recurring debate in the wine industry. Historically, they were used to protect the cork from mold or hungry critters while wine aged in the cellar. But this is no longer a concern in modern-day cellars, and the purpose of capsules now is merely decorative or a form of branding. Many wineries stamp their logo over the cork, which arguably makes the bottle easier to locate.
In an article last year, Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre called capsules “a cost to the winemaker… and to the planet.” Dan Petroski, founder and winemaker of Napa’s Massican Winery, recently polled his Instagram followers on whether they care if a wine bottle has a capsule. Of 2,000 respondents, 68% said they don’t care; another 12% called it a pain to remove. (I personally agree with both camps.)
Despite these conversations, the sustainability benefits and potential cost-savings — Honig said the foil adds about $1 to production costs for each case of wine — few wineries have made the move. Those that have said goodbye to capsules, like Sonoma’s Martha Stoumen and Berkeley’s Broc Cellars, typically fall into the category of small natural wine producers. Honig is one of the largest California wineries to make the change thus far.
Similar to the switch from corks to screw caps, there’s a fear that breaking the capsule tradition will come with a stigma, that the wine may look cheap. Petroski, despite his poll results, said he’s continuing with his blue capsules for aesthetic reasons. “Place one bottle of Massican without a capsule next to one with a capsule, and you’ll immediately know why I want to keep them,” he said.
This was a consideration for Honig. “Is it going to look like it’s unfinished? That was a concern,” she admitted. But since announcing the shift, she’s only received one negative reaction from an international importer, she said.
“It’s been really positive,” she said. “If we can start a movement and have more people doing it, it just adds to that (environmental) impact.”
WHO WAS THE ZODIAC KILLER? Nobody, Says A New Documentary
by Mick LaSalle
The case of the Zodiac Killer captured the imagination of the country in the late 1960s and early ’70s, but in no region more than in Northern California. The serial killer’s four attacks, which resulted in five deaths, took place here, and the San Francisco Chronicle covered the story extensively.
Reporter Paul Avery (played by Robert Downey Jr. in David Fincher’s 2007 film, “Zodiac”) even became part of the story, when the Zodiac started sending his letters and cryptograms directly to him.
Yet despite the focused attention of the public, the media and law enforcement, the Zodiac was never found, and thus the case has never really gone away. It continues to haunt the collective mind, like the Shakespeare authorship question and John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
But now there’s a new Peacock documentary, “The Myth of the Zodiac Killer,” that comes up with a novel explanation for why the Zodiac Killer was never caught: He never existed.
A crackpot theory? Maybe, but maybe not entirely.
The two-part docuseries takes, as its launching point, the self-published book, “The Myth of the Zodiac Killer: A Literary Investigation,” by Thomas Henry Horan, an English professor and former insurance investigator. Horan gets plenty of time to expound on his theory, but director Andrew Nock also brings in eyewitnesses, police investigators and a forensic psychologist to offer their opinions as well.
By the time the series is over, you’ll probably be where you started, not knowing what happened. But you may also suspect that Horan is on to something. He may push his ideas too far. He might have some details totally wrong. But his angle on the case is fresh — and may contain some truth.
Horan’s idea is basically that the “single killer theory” has been wrong from the beginning. He believes that the four violent incidents were committed by different assailants for different reasons. He points to the different ballistics, the different methods of killing and the widely varying descriptions of the killer by eyewitnesses.
As for the letters, Horan suggests that they might have been written by more than one person.
The multiple-killer theory makes some sense. Let’s say a murderer wanted to throw police off the scent of his own crime. What better way to do it than to send a letter in which the Zodiac claims responsibility for the crime? Now, instead of looking to solve a specific murder, the police will be looking for a serial killer.
Horan is pretty good at explaining why the same person might not have committed all the attacks. He’s on shakier ground when he tries to ascribe guilt. His notion that the murder of San Francisco cab driver Paul Stine, in Presidio Heights, might have just been a random robbery is at least plausible.
But he also says that drug-dealing bikers may have killed teenagers David Arthur Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen. He suggests that Darlene Ferrin may have been killed and Michael Mageau wounded by Darlene’s ex-husband. He speculates that a masked park ranger may have fatally stabbed Cecelia Ann Shepard and wounded Bryan Hartnell.
Horan goes completely off the rails when he talks about the press. He hypothesizes that Avery might have written some of the Zodiac letters himself. Now, I was 10 years old when this story was unfolding, but years later I knew some of the bosses Avery worked under and I can tell you that there is no way that could have happened. They wouldn’t have gone along with anything so dishonest, and such actions by a rogue reporter could never have slipped by them.
Horan further explains how pieces of Stine’s bloody shirt could have gotten into some letters sent to Avery: The reporter sneaked into the police evidence room and stole part of the shirt!
As for Horan’s evidence? Merely the fact that the Zodiac stopped writing to the San Francisco Examiner and other local newspapers and instead started writing exclusively to The Chronicle. (But really, why wouldn’t he choose The Chronicle over those other rags? The Zodiac may have been crazy, but he wasn’t that crazy.)
Still, “The Myth of the Zodiac Killer” is an interesting documentary, and there just might be something to Horan’s theory.
‘THE GLEANERS’ - HAVE WE MOVED ON?
When we think of ‘The Gleaners’ it's the controversial painting by Millet which made the wealthy class of France uneasy about poverty and the fate of workers and the ‘lower classes’.
In the Isle of Man the 19th century black and white print by Cowen (also titled ‘The Gleaners’) conveys the same message albeit in a different style, The pic of the two Smith sisters, Elsie and Glen, is posed and yet it was symptomatic of a way of life in the Manx countryside for poorer people especially farm labourers.
I worked with an older man in the early 1970s who had grown up as a child of a farm worker in the North of the island in the years before the second war He said it was a time of great hardship exacerbated by the fact that tenancies were usually on a 12 month basis and indeed they did collect leftover crops from the edge of fields after harvests to supplement their food.
Gleaning was a reality for the lowest ranks of Manx rural society. I wonder if we have moved on that much or is the food bank the modern equivalent.
The poet T E Brown may have waxed lyrical about ‘our poor not being neglected’ but they were. Indeed they still are after all the government could not find £55,000 to spend on school meals in the holiday period this year.
— Bernard Moffatt
WHO, ME? I’m a respectable businessman, nothing more. I’m a second-hand furniture dealer. I’m no gangster. I never robbed a person in my life. I never killed in my life and I never broke into a building or blew open a safe. I’ve never been convicted of a crime, never, nor have I directed anyone else to commit a crime. I don’t pose as a plaster saint but I never killed anyone. And I’m known all over the world as a millionaire gorilla. My wife and my mother hear so much about what a terrible criminal I am, it’s getting too much for them, and I’m sick of it myself. The other day a man came in and said that he had to have $3,000. If I’d give it to him, he said, he’d make me beneficiary in a $15,000 insurance policy he’d take out, and then kill himself. I got a letter from a woman in England. She offered me 100 pounds and my passage to London if I’d bump off some neighbors she’d been having a spat with. Even over there I’m known as a gorilla.
— Al Capone
BIDEN AND CLUSTER MUNITIONS: ‘In A Dark Time, The Eye Begins To See’
by Norman Solomon
“In a dark time,” poet Theodore Roethke wrote, “the eye begins to see.”
Stanley Kunitz observed: “In a murderous time / the heart breaks and breaks / and lives by breaking.”
In the current murderous time, amid the dim media swirl, acuity arrived for some with the news that President Biden had approved sending cluster munitions to Ukraine. For entrenched elites in Washington, using taxpayer money to shred the bodies of children and other civilians isn’t a big deal when there’s serious geopolitical work to be done.
The same White House that correctly put cluster munitions in the category of a war crime when Russia began using them in Ukraine last year is now saying they’re just fine -- when the U.S. supplies them to an ally.
Top administration officials have been quick to emphasize the toughness of the choice. “It was a very difficult decision on my part,” Biden said.
That reminds me of the infamous *60 Minutes* interview with Madeleine Albright, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in May of 1996. CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl brought up impacts of the U.S.-led sanctions on Iraq, saying “we have heard that a half a million children have died,” and then asked: “Is the price worth it?”
Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it.”
Eight months later, acting on the nomination of Albright to be secretary of state, the Senate confirmed her. The vote was 99-0. Maybe it would not have been unanimous if any of the senators’ children had died while she declared their deaths to be “worth it.”
Like Albright’s “very hard choice,” Biden’s “very difficult decision” was based on convenient abstractions and, ultimately, a willingness to sacrifice the lives of countless others, while claiming pristine virtue. Defending the president’s cluster-munitions decision, no one on the Biden team need worry that one of their own children might pick up a U.S.-supplied “bomblet” someday, perhaps mistaking it for a toy, only to be instantly assaulted with shrapnel.
The Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill who’ve been trying for the last week to justify shipping cluster weapons to Ukraine are evading a basic truth that BBC correspondent John Simpson reported long ago, in May 1999, while U.S.-led NATO forces were dropping cluster bombs onto the streets of Nis, Serbia’s third-largest city: “Used against human beings, cluster bombs are some of the most savage weapons of modern warfare.”
At the time, the San Francisco Chronicle reported: “In a street leading from the market, dismembered bodies were strewn among carrots and other vegetables in pools of blood. A dead woman, her body covered with a sheet, was still clutching a shopping bag filled with carrots.”
Today, with political fashion treating “diplomacy” as a dirty word, the resolute militarism of the U.S. government is bipartisan. While we should emphatically condemn Russia’s vicious war on Ukraine, we should be under no illusions about the moral character of U.S. foreign policy.
For example: During three presidencies, beginning with Barack Obama, the U.S. government has aided and abetted the Saudi-led war on Yemen, where the death toll since 2015 is now estimated at close to 400,000. Biden’s high-profile fist bump with Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman a year ago tells us a lot about the extent of the U.S. commitment to basic human decency in foreign affairs.
The murderous time that we live in now, organized as war, is reflexively blamed only on the barbarism of others. But President Biden’s decision to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine is shocking to many Americans because it has undermined illusions with no more actual solidity than sand castles before the tide of truth comes in.
In a dark time, the eye begins to see.
(Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy. His latest book, War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine, was published in June 2023 by The New Press.)
MILAN KUNDERA in a Prague garden, 1973. Eight years later he took up French citizenship.
"Milan Kundera, the Communist Party outcast who became a global literary star with mordant, sexually charged novels that captured the suffocating absurdity of life in the workers’ paradise of his native Czechoslovakia, died on Tuesday in Paris. He was 94.…"
UKRAINE, THURSDAY, 13TH JULY
A senior Russian general says he was fired after accusing military leaders of betraying his troops by not providing sufficient support. A Russian politician said another general, who has not been seen since last month's mutiny by the Wagner group, is "resting for now."
Ukrainian officials said one person died in Kyiv early Thursday after air defenses intercepted Russian drones — the third night in a row of airstrikes on the capital.
Ukraine has received controversial cluster munitions from the US, according to a Ukrainian commander.
Following a high-stakes NATO summit, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told CNN he has "no doubt" Ukraine will become part of the alliance after Russia's war against the country ends. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden is in Finland for security talks with Nordic leaders.
A YEAR OF AMAZING IMAGES From the James Webb Space Telescope
Today marks the first anniversary of the release of images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). JWST was launched in December of 2021, and now orbits around a point in space about 1 million miles from Earth. In the year since its debut, the new telescope has delivered a tremendous amount of data, fueling many new discoveries, and revealing some spectacular new views of the universe around us. Collected below, a handful of images from JWST’s first year in space.…