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TEMPERATURES will be near to slightly below normal across Northwest California during much of the next seven days. In addition, breezy northwest winds are forecast to occur Tuesday and Wednesday. Late this week cool showery conditions are possible across the region. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): 52F with thin fog this Monday morning on the coast. Our forecast is for clearing skies & moderate winds into mid week then a chance of rain going into the weekend. A winter like system from the north no less.
September will be a busy month for the Grange.
On the second Sunday- September 10th will be our unusual/usual pancake breakfast. We open the doors at 8:30 and close up shop at 11. As usual we will have the same great deal, pancakes with our secret Grange recipe, gluten free if you wish, eggs and bacon, coffee and orange juice, tea and de-cafe available upon request. All the fixi'ns will be there as usual with Derek's master-full fruit toppings. AND, as usual, along with seeing friends and neighbors, you will be serenaded by the Deep End Woogies bringing the perfect digestive tunes to the hall. No kidding, some folks come just for the music.
Now here's something a bit unusual. The County Fair in Boonville is bearing down. Friday September 22nd. Every year the Grange enters the Feature Booth competition and usually we create the exhibit at our 3rd Tuesday meeting, but now the fair board has moved the entry times of vegetables and flowers from Thursday the 21rst to Wednesday the 20th. This doesn't give us enough time for our fabulous entry to be done. SO, After we cleanup from the pancake breakfast on September 10th it will be Seed Day at the Grange starting at 12 noon. For some of us it's our favorite "meeting" of the year. We lay out the backing designs and then everyone pitches in gluing the different colored seeds and beans. It's creative and fun and many hands make the work go fast. You don't have to be a Granger to participate and children of all ages are welcome. Hang around after pancakes or come back at noon. It's a great way to get involved.
A MAJOR THANK YOU to Captain Rainbow and the entire Boonville contingent for their generous, successful efforts to further the party that is Great Day in Elk. They even shared their cake. It is for the children. (Peter Lit)
PANTHER SOCCER UPDATE
In the semifinals of the Upper Lake tournament, AV Soccer dropped a tight and competitive game to talented and higher division Fortuna High 0-1. The team rebounded however for a third place finish in the tournament dispatching Fort Bragg 2-0.
In 5 games so far this season, the Panthers are 4-1 with only a single goal given up.
PANTHER SOCCER TEAM CONDUCT
(report from AV Unified)
We are having some really poor conduct from our soccer team. John and I will meet tomorrow with players for one final warning and a written agreement. If you notice any misconduct, please let me know asap.
I don't know what happened, whether it was Covid or what, but the disrespect and inappropriateness on this team is profound and is not found on our other teams. It won't be tolerated. If we end the season, we end the season.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
AV Unified School District
COACH JOHN TOOHEY has plenty of reasons to exult. Not only having revived AV Panther football, the resuscitated Panthers' first outing this season triumphantly occurred two nights ago at the headwaters of the Russian River in Potter Valley, on one of the most beautiful gridiron venues on the Northcoast. Toohey's 2023 squad dominated the return of the NCL 3 Legacy team scrimmage between AV, Laytonville, Covelo and Potter! “The Panther boys showed everyone how hard work pays off,” the coach commented.
VISITING ANDERSON VALLEY over the past week were Miles and Wyatt Gibson, graduates of AVHS in '85 and '88 respectively. Sons of the late Jim Gibson, Miles, Wyatt and mother Annie are now residents of the Klamath Falls area of Oregon.
ALSO visiting old friends from Anderson Valley was Gregory ‘GP’ Price, AVHS class of '83. Retired and living in San Pedro with a sister, GP has maintained many local friendships over the years.
SOME YEARS AGO, I wrote a long story about a young man who died instantly when he stuck his head into an unmarked wine tank filled with nitrogen. Alabama, in the usual sadism of death penalty cases, is set to become the first state to execute a murderer by making him breathe pure NITROGEN in a move the man's jailers insist is painless. Which a nitrogen exit is, as any winery can tell you, which is why tanks of nitrogen are usually clearly marked as potentially lethal.
KENNETH SMITH has been on death row for three decades. The authorities tried to kill him once before via the midnight needle but the anon executioners botched the drug proportions. They pulled Smith off the death table, keeping him alive for more years until now, having since been sold on nitrogen exits.
SMITH was paid $1,000 to slay a preacher's wife in 1988, the preacher having commissioned his wife's murder. He committed suicide when the cops identified him as the mastermind of the crude plot. The State of Alabama has preempted God's authority as in “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord” to assume His death duties for their temporal selves.
AS I ARGUE at least once a year, keeping a man alive for 30 years just to kill him in the vague name of “'the people,” is sadistic, and killing him in private negates the alleged purpose of the death penalty, which is to deter other people from murder. There is no evidence that anybody is deterred, as the USA is world famous for the large numbers of murders which occur here every day. And certainly no one is deterred by non-public executions.
I'D MAKE STATE executions public. Hold them in football stadiums and filmed live on national television, with all proceeds to the families of the victims, with only one caveat — a member of the victim's family must carry out the execution. The government should not have the authority to kill its citizens, even the worst ones.
AS AN ESSENTIAL part of the Boonville weekly's policy of general magnanimity, when requested we remove booking photos from our archive except, as in the case of a Ukiah man who called up to say, “Take my picture down or I'm coming over there to kill you and your whole family, including your dogs. Then I'm going to burn your house down.” That was twenty years ago. Mr. Wolf punched his own wolf ticket by dying of a drug overdose, but is memorialized in an eternal booking photo on our website.
THE OTHER DAY we received a “courtesy request” from a high end Brit law firm asking us to take down the booking photo of a wealthy young woman who apparently maintains dual citizenship:
“To Whom It May Concern,
We are writing to follow up on our emailed letter dated 8/7 regarding posts on your website. Said letter is attached hereto for your convenience. Please review and respond as soon as possible. Thank you.
Sincerely, Oanh Nguyen, Paralegal
AN AMERICAN law firm would have sent us an Or Else demand, to which we'd issue our usual reply: “We prefer the ‘Or Else’ option.” Which is where it invariably ends.
YES, since the Brits asked so nicely, we took down the young heiresses' mug shot.
KNOW YOUR LOCAL CARTEL:
Naseem Khayyata was arrested on drug charges in Mendocino County on August 14, 2016.
FURNISHING MARIJUANA: Naseem F. Khayyata, 36, of Victorville, was arrested at 9:50 a.m. Sunday on suspicion of selling, transporting or furnishing marijuana, and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The California Highway Patrol arrested him. From an inauspicious Mendo dope op, Khayyata moved to Mexico where he founded a much larger trafficking organization, so large he became fleetingly infamous from television reports on his moving large quantities of drugs across the border into Texas. He has just been sentenced to a ten-year stay in federal prison.
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS commented on our recent “Stonewall & Ducking The Issues” item:
Scaramella: “Despite the near constant gripes from Supervisors McGourty and Williams about not having enough financial information to offer even a token cost of living raise…”
The County needs to cut approximately $11M in annual spending to balance the budget. Cutting all boards and commissions not required by law will save taxpayers approximately $1M per year. Fiscal responsibility will come in the form of many small changes.
Independent of that reality, I have concerns over the financial record keeping and reporting. The reporting is secondary because if the records are not properly maintained, we get a garbage-in-garbage-out result. Your elected Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax-Collector has untenable performance and decision-making, but the dysfunctional systems and processes began long before. When all is said and done, you’ll see that you’ve attacked the messengers for being honest about findings.
I support market wages and COLAs during this time of inflation. I’m not the block on issuing COLAs, but we are required to pass a balanced budget, so any raises need to be matched with dollar-for-dollar cuts. The first $11M of trimming will get us to break even.
Since I’ve been on the board, we’ve raised wages to 90/95% of market (GF vs non-GF positions), then 3%, 3%, 3%, 2% COLAs. The raises were so significant in the initial move to market that the independent retirement board recently obligated an additional $3M/year of county revenue.
When the 1170 positions are compared on a total compensation basis to Humboldt, Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Sutter, Yolo, El Dorado counties, and Ukiah, Santa Rosa cities, you’ll find almost all are at market now. I say total compensation, because Mendocino pays into Social Security, whereas Sonoma does not.
I expect someone to surface the idea of new or increased taxes. How about we live within our means before asking for additional taxes? The public should not allow the board to use tax increases to balance the budget. It’s possible to pay market wages, provide public safety and roads, within existing revenue. Address the 30% underassessment of property tax and there won’t be so many potholes.
MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES:
Changing the subject and making unsupported claims does not address the issues we raised.
We never mentioned increased taxes.
“Attacked the messenger”? If the messenger, i.e., Williams, delivers unsubstantiated messages, it’s not attacking them to point that out.
Williams says $11 million should be cut to balance the budget. Where’s the analysis that produced that estimate? Why has he suddenly discovered this particular shortfall? Cut from what? The General Fund? Or the total budget? Which departments?
“Untenable”? Ms. Cubbison has responded a number of times to unsubstantiated complaints from McGourty and Williams, therefore, by definition, they are not “untenable.” Her main response, that McGourty and Williams have not specified what reports they want remains unaddressed, despite McGourty conceding that it is his and Willaims’ budget committee’s assignment and it hasn’t been done.
Williams now says his “concern” is record keeping, not the reporting gaps he’s been griping out for years? That’s new. Which records are not being kept? Why hasn’t Ms. Cubbison been given an opportunity to respond to this latest allegation?
Until Supervisor Williams provides the bases for his claims and addresses the basic issues that we raised and the responses that Ms. Cubbison is already on record with, we’re not inclined to argue about these new allegations and complaints. If this is an example of the Supervisors’ approach to County management, it’s no wonder the County’s finances remain in stagnant turmoil.
“County staff have asked the BoS to dissolve or consolidate a number of County Committees as a cost saving measure. The BoS will consider action on this report next Tuesday. You may want to show up to voice your opinion. Thanks, Dolly Riley”
Re: Elimination of MACs
Does this mean dissolving the MAC Committees? They are a way for locals to participate in local governing issues.
DAVID HALE PRATHER:
My third great-grandfather was the William Prather mentioned in the history article you ran a few months ago. I’ve visited Philo many times through the years, Philo was named by Cornelius, William’s brother. Cornelius left behind a wonderful wagontrail diary of his trip from Iowa. That diary is recounted in Blanche Brown’s book on Anderson valley – wonderful reading and can be bought at the museum in the valley.
I remember fondly the last of the Prather picnics (they did continue after 1951 at other locations), as mentioned in this article about Aunt Blanche Brown https://theava.com/archives/195072 .
I also met Aunt Blanche when I was younger, several years before she died. My cousins and I in our teenage years took a photo on the swing pictured in the article I mention above. That is a treasured photo for all of us. I remember clearly how sad I was to hear that Aunt Blanche’s house burned and with it much of her very carefully curated family records.
Thanks so much for publishing that article for it brings back so many memories of Prather and Brown families as told by those in my grandfather’s generation who were still close to Anderson Valley and Ukiah areas.
THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION, whose jurisdiction includes regulation of passenger transportation companies in California, is showing the same sort of incompetence in regulating robo-taxis that has plagued it during the PG&E debacle. The Commission repeatedly allows the utility to put profits before safety, resulting in PG&E being convicted of two felonies for its role in the San Bruno gas-line explosion and the catastrophic Camp Fire tragedy.
. . .
Michael Peevey was CPUC President from 2009-2015.
Peevey’s job was to protect California consumers. Instead he was PG&E’s biggest ally in fending off accountability for the San Bruno tragedy, which killed eight people, injured 66 and destroyed 38 homes. Peevey tried to limit the utility’s penalty even though multiple investigations showed PG&E put profits before safety in installing and testing gas lines. Peevey reportedly went as far as helping PG&E go judge-shopping for someone who would be sympathetic to the utility in deciding a $1.3 billion penalty phase.
He should have been fired, but Gov. Jerry Brown inexplicably kept him on the job. Peevey’s behavior was so outrageous that then-state Attorney General Kamala Harris opened an investigation into accusations of inappropriate “ex parte communications, judge-shopping, obstruction of justice or due administration of laws, favors or preferential treatment.” Sadly, Harris’ successor, Xavier Becerra, either failed to complete the investigation or didn’t announce the result.
(San Jose Mercury News)
SAVE THE REDWOODS LEAGUE CONSERVES WEGER RANCH FOREST
Save the Redwoods League today announced that it has secured a conservation easement on the 3,862-acre Weger Ranch, safeguarding its coast redwood and Douglas-fir forest. The easement protects this expansive Mendocino County ranch from subdivision, development and excessive logging in perpetuity. The deal also ensures that the property will remain as a sustainable working forest buffering Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve.
“California’s bold plans for climate action and leadership depend on the success of conservation projects like Weger Ranch,” said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League. “The state’s nature-based solutions to climate change include investing in sustainable management of commercial redwood forests and protecting those forests from subdivision and development to better sustain habitat, carbon capacity and climate resilience.”
The League has now protected more than 64 square miles (40,974 acres) in Mendocino County. These lands are in some of the area’s most-loved parks, including Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, Mendocino Headlands, Sinkyone Wilderness, Navarro River Redwoods and Hendy Woods state parks. The League purchased the 453-acre Atkins Place property in 2022 and the 3,181-acre Lost Coast Redwoods property in 2021. It also donated a 523-acre redwood forest known as Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, returning Indigenous guardianship to the land, in 2022.
“To protect life around the world and combat climate change, we must work together to conserve nature,” said Jennifer Norris, Ph.D., the deputy secretary for biodiversity and habitat, California Natural Resources Agency. “California is leading the way to protect 30% of its lands and coastal waters by 2030 with critical support from nonprofit partners, including Save the Redwoods League. We are excited to see the protection of Weger Ranch, adding to the network of protected redwood forestland in Northern California.”
Weger Ranch has more than 3,000 acres of mixed-conifer forest, with nearly 400 old-growth trees throughout the property. The ranch also contains the headwaters of seven tributary streams, all of which drain into Big River, a critical coastal watershed for imperiled salmonid species. The ranch has 2.75 miles of steelhead and coho salmon streams, including 1 mile of chinook salmon streams. The land also provides habitat for northern spotted owls and foothill yellow-legged frogs, federally threatened and special-status species, respectively. Goshawks, white-tailed kites, peregrine falcons, golden eagles and red tree voles, as well as bears and mountain lions, also are present.
A key provision in the conservation easement reduces the total number of legal parcels on the property from 37 to three, eliminating the possibility that this land will be sold off piecemeal for development. The easement also establishes 62 acres of reserve areas where the forest will be allowed to return to old-growth condition.
Weger Ranch was acquired by Donald Weger over the course of 25 years, beginning in 1941. For the past three decades, the owners have set a high bar for forest management in the region. The family’s selective “light-touch” harvesting approach results in a multi-aged, diverse forest structure that benefits streams and wildlife. These practices will continue under the conservation easement, along with additional restrictions in riparian zones and protection of all residual old-growth trees.
“The protections and sustainable harvests under this easement will ensure that the forest can continue to develop and thrive,” said Joanna Nelson, Ph.D., director of science and conservation planning for the League. “The wild abundance of life in these forests is thrilling to see with salmon, mammals and birds, from raptors to songbirds. This collaboration will protect not only biodiversity, but also water and carbon-storage functions of the soil and forest.”
Montgomery Woods Initiative
The completion of the Weger Ranch easement is the latest accomplishment in the League’s Montgomery Woods Initiative to enhance the old-growth coast redwood forest and visitor amenities of Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve.
In addition to conserving Weger Ranch, which shares a 1.25-mile border with the reserve, the League also protected the adjacent 453-acre Atkins Place property in 2022 as a future fee addition to Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve. Together, these properties form a protected greenbelt of more than 11,500 acres in the upper reaches of the Big River watershed.
The League is also working in partnership with California State Parks to improve the trail network within the reserve. Over the next three years, the partners will reconstruct and expand the perimeter loop trail; create an immersive old-growth grove path that brings visitors to the valley floor; and build new features including gathering areas, a bridge overlooking Montgomery Creek and inclusive interpretive exhibits. The partners also will restore areas where extensive social trails have damaged the ecosystem.
Funding the Conservation of Weger Ranch
The Weger Ranch conservation easement was made possible by the generous support of Save the Redwoods League donors and through a $9.5 million grant from the Cal Fire Forest Legacy Program; a $3.42 million grant from California State Coastal Conservancy; a $1.121 million land value donation from the Weger family; and $250,000 from Walmart’s Acres for America program through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
RAISE TEACHER PAY
There’s a teacher shortage. Is that surprising? It shouldn’t be and could have been avoided if teachers earned a salary they could live on. I taught school for 34 years and barely made over $50,000. If I hadn’t had a husband who owned a business and was financially sound, I never would have owned a home or enjoyed the life I have. Until school districts wake up and pay teachers a decent salary the exodus will continue, and children in many cases will not receive a quality education because the teacher isn’t qualified or isn’t teaching the subject they are qualified to teach. Parents should be aware and need to step up and demand their district pay teachers a decent salary. The shortage of teachers will only get worse, and our education system will fail until teachers get the salary they deserve.
ADVENTIST HEALTH, which operates hospitals in four West Coast states, last month announced a proposal to take over Madera’s operations through a management agreement, contingent on it receiving state funds. In a letter outlining its terms, Adventist projected needing $55 million to reopen and another $30 million to sustain operations in the second year.
(Ana Ibarra, CalMatters)
NOT THAT BAD
To the Editor:
As a psychologist who was working at Mendocino State Hospital in Talmage (currently The City of 10,000 Buddhas) when it was shut down, I read with great interest Jim Shields’ analysis of our current homeless crisis titled, “Who closed mental health hospitals in California? Three guesses, it wasn’t Reagan.”
I found Mr. Shields’ analysis to be largely but not entirely correct, somewhat incomplete, and unnecessarily dramatic, employing emotionally-charged terms such as “epic”, “abysmal”, “dire”, “explosion”, “shambles’, “voracious”, etc..
For example, his description of an “abysmal failure of a [mental health] system that has never experienced any kind of success” is an overstatement, to say the least. Despite all of its faults and shortcomings, our understaffed and underfunded mental health system has had and continues to have many successes every day, not the least of which include prevention of untold numbers of suicides and homicides.
As presented in his article’s sarcastic title, one of the main objectives of Mr. Shields’ opinion piece is to wash Governor Reagan’s hands of any responsibility for the closure of the state hospitals. But who else signed the bill into law? Who else could have vetoed it? Who else could have sent it back to the legislature demanding that it include adequate funding for community mental health so that our county mental health departments wouldn’t be overwhelmed with the flood of seriously ill patients released to the streets? Who else took credit for the great cost savings from closing the hospitals? Isn’t it ironic how our leaders take credit for successes but not for failures like this? Whatever happened to Truman’s “the buck stops here”?
Mr. Shields instead points his finger at the “Democratically-controlled” legislature which passed the bill, although the LPS bill’s lead author was a Republican and the bill was supported at the time by almost every single Republican legislator.
Even more curious, Mr. Shields answers his own question about responsibility thusly: “So who closed the hospitals? The patients did. You could say mental health patients after the law was passed, voted with their feet: They left their rooms and walked out of the hospital’s front doors, never to return.” Sounds to me a bit like blaming the victim. A more apt description might be that the seriously mentally ill were evicted from their rooms into the streets, where we see them today.
More important than finger-pointing at mistakes of the past is addressing the question of what are we doing to remedy the problem, and here I find Mr. Shields’ analysis incomplete. He concludes that “nothing we’re presently doing is ever going to work. Isn’t that sort of the definition of insanity?” Well no, that’s the definition of pessimism. Here are a few present things that are working.
Recently established mental health and drug courts direct non-violent mentally ill and substance-abusing offenders into treatment rather than locked cages, since the traditional “correctional” philosophy of “the floggings will continue until morale improves” clearly was not reducing recidivism or improving mental health.
We can argue about the cost and efficiency of recent programs to provide housing to homeless people with serious mental illness, but it is inarguable that the cure for homelessness is a home, and we have indeed increased and are continuing to increase such housing for the homeless mentally ill.
Importantly, Mr. Shields’ analysis fails to note that the LPS Act also created mental health conservatorships, which provide that when a serious mental illness renders a person unable to voluntarily and safely provide for their shelter, food, or clothing and there is no responsible third-party willing to provide them, the court can order the Public Conservator to provide for the person’s basic needs, including appropriate housing and treatment. Mr. Shield contends that after passage of the LPS Act “involuntary commitment was no longer an option”, but while the LPS conservatorship mechanism is expensive and involves time-limited but renewable suspension of certain civil rights, it does indeed provide an involuntary commitment option for what Mr. Shields describes as “a mentally ill person who is incapable of making rational decisions concerning their health.”
And on the near horizon, next month California will begin rolling out Governor Newsom’s sweeping “CARE Court” program (“Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment”), which provides another mechanism for compelling homeless people with serious mental illness into shelter and treatment.
Yes, the plight of the mentally ill homeless has risen to crisis proportions, but in my opinion the situation is not as “abysmal,” “dire”, and hopeless as Mr. Shields suggests.
J. Holden, PhD,
CATCH OF THE DAY, Sunday, August 27, 2023
MARIA CARLOS, Ukiah. DUI.
DARIO DIEGO-RUIZ, Ukiah. DUI.
DAVID FRANK JR., Covelo. Narcotics for sale, conspiracy.
RANDALL GIROUARD, Redwood Valley. DUI.
MINDY GONZALEZ, Ukiah. Stolen property, paraphernalia, drug possession in jail.
COREY HEINE, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
RICHARD HOWE, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license, no license.
JEFFREY LONGWITH, Ukiah. Reckless driving.
LUZ MARTINEZ-TREJO, Ukiah. DUI, controlled substance.
JUSTIN MCNIEL, Ukiah. Narcotics for sale, conspiracy, probation revocation.
JOSEPH PEARSE, Alameda/Ukiah. Domestic abuse, false imprisonment.
SHADIE RAEE, Ukiah. More than an ounce of pot.
ANDREW RIFFLE, Fort Bragg. Burglary, stolen property.
ANDREW SCOTT, Laytonville. Domestic battery, fugitive from justice.
TONY WHIPPLE, Covelo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs, failure to appear.
THIS IS A POEM I wrote about a man in Vacaville who died last year. His name was Mark Rippee and his story is a testament to how we ignore the suffering of the most seriously mentally ill. His family for years have dedicated themselves to advocating for him, begged for help, time and time again pleas ignored. He suffered from Schizophrenia was also blind! You can do a quick google search there are many stories and newspaper articles about his plight!
Anyway, this Poem along with another I wrote is being published in a book about Mental Illness called the Melting Pot 4. Which will be out soon!
* * *
Condemned to a life of suffering
Surviving on the streets with nothing your only possession a shopping cart
And a family that loved you with all their heart
Love nor persistence would get you the assistance desperately needed to quiet the voices
Ignored and violated you deteriorated
A brain too sick to understand what was needed and a plan
Ironically unable to see what you needed to be free
Some medicine, a bed, staying warm and being fed,
You suffered and lost your life
Amongst a system that misunderstood your condition
Your right to freedom left you sick unable to make the choice of life or death
Cognitive decline, psychosis and delusions
Injury, pain and confusion
My heart cries in shame every time I hear your name
You deserved dignity and compassion
Action and understanding
Your life was not in vain, your story of suffering and pain is ours to carry forward in creating change!
— Mazie Malone
WHAT THE HELL STORY IS THIS?!
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Once upon a time a Ukiah guy started his car, headed to work and noticed an open bottle of Mickey’s Malt Liquor in his cupholder.
It was from last night, driving back from the pizza place in Redwood Valley and he’d guzzled a bit but left most of it because he needed to use both hands to carry the two pizza boxes into the house. The Mickey’s Malt Liquor cooled overnight and eventually turned warm.
He drove down Dora and took a few large gulps, found it both satisfying and not, checked his mirrors for cops, then drained and tossed the empty bottle.
It landed, crashed and smashed near the corner of South Dora and Clay Street. The noise surprised a pair of blue jays who flew into a tree, causing a good sized ripe apple to fall from it.
The apple landed on the windshield of a passing pickup truck causing a momentary distraction that led the driver to realize he was about to run over a cat on Jones Street, which he did.
The cat was hurt but not dead and the driver thought maybe he could help the critter he’d injured, so he jumped out and pursued it on foot across a lawn and around back of a house. His truck, driver’s door open, remained idling on Jones Street.
Two kids walking to South Valley School saw the truck, heard the engine running, looked at one another, got in and drove away faster than the speed limit allows.
The driver, after following the cat through three yards, went back to his truck. Oh no he didn’t. He walked back to where he’d left his truck and then assumed the cat had died, gone to pet heaven and had caused the man’s truck to disappear as punishment.
The cat actually didn’t do that as you and I and the kids in the pickup truck know, but what matters is what the man thought. He was a rather spiritual type of the modern sort, meaning he attributed fairly ordinary things like the vanished truck he left running to magical woo-woo karmic nonsense rather than stolen by teenagers.
And right now those teenage boys were rolling along North State having abandoned any thought of going to school today, instead going up to Lake Mendocino to drink beer with some friends who’d be thrilled to cut classes. The beer? Well, they’d steal some out of their parents’ refrigerators.
He drove up Gibson Street and turned into his driveway. He and his pal saw his mother, wearing a pink satin bathrobe, coming out the front door. Also exiting the front door, but not in a bathrobe, was a guy named Jack who worked at Raley’s and was adjusting his belt buckle.
The mom gasped. Her son, driver of a stolen truck, tried to back out of the driveway but instead hit Jack Corbo’s BMW bumper. This happened because the transmission was in ‘D’ instead of ‘R’ and the result, which no one would know until tomorrow, was $8,500 in damage to the bumper and trunk lid of the BMW. The kids drove off.
By now the cat had straggled home but couldn’t get in the house since everyone was gone, so it laid on the sidewalk and died of internal injuries.
Driving a bit wild, the kids in the truck hit a pole on North Oak and his mother, who had recently escorted Mr. Corbo out the front door after first escorting him out a bedroom door, heard the crash.
Her son had not been wearing a seatbelt and, given the broken windshield, bloodied-up dashboard, and overall stillness of his body, it did not augur well. The passenger, after first choking mildly on airbag gas, ran south on North Oak Street.
Remember the Ukiah guy driving off to work? Right around the time the kid was sprinting south on Oak, he was pulling into the parking lot behind the Mendocino County’s Social Services building. But the parking lot was empty.
He gasped for joy. It’s Monday! It’s a federal holiday! He didn’t have to work and instead could go home, slightly buzzed as he was by the warm Mickey’s Malt Liquor he’d gulped a few minutes ago, and finish off the other five bottles.
Holidays are so cool, especially an unexpected one. He left the lot, headed up Gobbi, turned right on Oak Street and saw some kid running down the sidewalk, probably happy he didn’t have to go to school. The guy turned off South Oak onto Jones Street, saw a dead cat on someone’s porch, went home and was drunk by 9 a.m.
THE LESSON: Never leave a partially consumed beer in your vehicle cupholder, even if it requires making two trips from the car into the house, carrying one pizza box each time. Or else finish the beer and throw the empty over your neighbor’s fence.
That way none of this would never have happened.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I only go grocery shopping about every two weeks–if that often–so you would think that price increases would make a strong impression on me. Mostly, what I’m seeing so far is that the coffee that used to be $10 is now $14, and the cream that used to be $4 is now $5. I think these prices increases occurred several months ago and haven’t risen since then. That’s at Walmart, which is the only grocery store within about 30 miles of here. Well–sort of. I could drive five miles to the nearest little town, where every item costs about 50% more, but I try to avoid that. The next-nearest little town, which is about twenty miles away, has no grocery store at all.
I do about half my grocery shopping at Walmart and the other half at Sprouts, (Walmart’s meats and produce are disgusting.) The produce at Sprouts is good quality (mostly) and quite reasonable. Their meat, poultry, and fish is expensive, but at least it resembles real food. I haven’t noticed how much things there have gone up–except for salmon, which I have passed on several times because the price seemed outrageous. Some canned goods there are very high. I like their bone broth, both chicken and beef, and it runs about $7 a quart. It tastes like chicken and beef, while the broth from Walmart (which is much cheaper) tastes like canned water. I guess Sprouts has me conditioned to just bite the bullet and pay, in order to get food that has the advantage of being edible.
Another reason I don’t notice price increases all that much is probably because people my age don’t eat all that much. It’s pretty cheap to feed a person who eats like a bird. I might pay a lot for a package of lamb chops, but it will provide me with dinner for two or three days–and maybe even leftovers for soup. And my dog loves the bones.
I guess my appetite has decreased more than prices have increased.
Back in the 70s, when I was a young adult, I used to go into shock every time I went to the store. Every can of beans or corn seemed to go up by about ten cents a day.
FOUR THINGS SAN FRANCISCO NEEDS TO CREATE A PATH TO RECOVERY FOR ITS DRUG CRISIS
by William Andereck, David Smith, and Steve Heilig
San Francisco’s drug crisis has resulted in a major influx of patients into hospital emergency departments. Many have chronic mental health issues, substance use disorders or both. These individuals show up at the hospital critically ill, if not near death. Most can and want to be helped. Unfortunately, these individuals are often stabilized and then discharged to the same unhealthy environment that made them sick in the first place.
A smaller, but more troubling, demographic refuses to cooperate with caregivers and insists on leaving without adequate treatment — only to return soon thereafter, or die. Hospital personnel refer to them as “frequent fliers.” We define this select group as those who suffer from medical conditions severe enough to require hospitalization, but, due to substance use or psychiatric disorders, repetitively demonstrate a lack of capacity to understand the nature of their disease, the recommended treatment or the consequences of noncompliance. The impact of this group on the health care system is significant, economically and emotionally.
Patients who leave against medical advice have been shown to have a higher rate of homelessness, drug dependence and mental health issues than patients who remain in the hospital. Up to one-third of these discharges result in readmission to a hospital within 30 days. The financial burden on the community is significant. A 2002 study conducted in Baltimore found the average cost of a hospital stay was $3,716 for patients who stayed as planned. For those who left against doctor’s advice and were readmitted, the cost was $10,762, a 56% increase.
Our current system of letting someone’s disease bring them to the brink of death, only to be resuscitated and then turned loose to repeat the process is like an eerie form of waterboarding. This cycle of despair is one of the sources of moral distress that is leading to doctor and nurse burnout. We are failing these unlucky people and our community.
Dealing with this drug and mental health crisis requires a new ethical and nonjudgmental health paradigm. As health care workers who have long seen California’s most vulnerable patients, we propose a four-point path to recovery that calls on health care providers, local officials and the state to develop a coordinated system that can stabilize individuals during their initial hospital stay, initiate a prompt and transparent conservatorship process, and provide placement in an appropriate inpatient rehabilitation program that can accommodate all medical, psychiatric and substance disorder needs.
1. Expand addiction services at hospitals
Hospital staffers routinely complain that they do not have the training or the specialty support to address the addiction needs of their patients. This is unacceptable. How would doctors respond if they weren’t given the proper training to manage diabetes? Failing to control the withdrawal symptoms of a critically ill patient is like neglecting to manage their blood sugar. Every hospital in San Francisco needs to adopt “best practice standards” in psychiatric management and substance use disorder treatment. This includes stabilizing patients when they are admitted to the hospital with appropriate medications — such as buprenorphine — to control withdrawal symptoms, and more importantly, the craving that characterizes addiction. Once stabilized, some patients will accept rehabilitation services and can be discharged to an outpatient setting. Those who continue to refuse treatment are another issue.
2. A better conservatorship process
Patients who repetitively refuse to cooperate with their recovery, due to substance use or mental illness, should not be allowed to leave the hospital against medical advice without a legal release.
In 1967, California adopted the Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act to create a process for holding patients with a mental illness against their will when they are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others or are gravely disabled. This process, however, falls short in two significant ways. First, while alcoholism is considered grounds for involuntary holds, substance abuse is not. The act’s criteria for holding a patient also do not apply to medical conditions. As such, patients who are unable to assess these ailments in a rational manner are allowed to walk out of the hospital with life-threatening infections, uncontrolled diabetes and other diseases that need ongoing treatment.
A second flaw in the process are rules that allow us to hold people but make it hard to treat them for the disease we are holding them for. A specific legal process is required to initiate a physical hold, a separate hearing, called a Riese hearing, is needed to actually treat the patient, who lacks the capacity to make rational decisions, without consent. This mechanism currently exists only for psychiatric patients. There are no provisions in LPS conservatorship for incapacitated patients refusing medical treatment.
Paternalism — “doctor knows best” — has become an unpopular concept in medicine and society. But the current prevalence of homelessness, misery and premature death among the mentally ill and addicted is worse. We take oaths to “do no harm,” but, as was first noted a half century ago, we are letting people “die with their rights on,” even though many of them who refuse assistance lack the ability to rationally exercise their rights and self-interest.
Some argue no addicts can stop substance use unless they really want to. Clearly, recognition of the problem is necessary. However, one essential characteristic of the disease of addiction is denial. With proper treatment, denial fades over time, but only with the support and time to get there. We know many addicts well into recovery who did not enter treatment willingly. Requiring someone’s volition to enter rehab is another way of blaming the victim for their lack of will.
3. Expand treatment infrastructure
Stabilizing and conserving a patient without a place to treat them is a waste of time and resources. We often find that, even when a patient is eligible for conservatorship, there is no place to send them from the hospital. A patient can stay for weeks, or even months, in this medical limbo of “awaiting placement.”
The biggest challenge San Francisco faces on its road to recovery is the lack of infrastructure to accommodate the patients in our hospitals and on our streets. Expansion of substance abuse disorder and mental health treatment facilities is essential for any effort to get control of the current crisis.
San Francisco has several sober living centers and other outpatient treatment programs available for patients willing to accept them. More are urgently needed. What is most lacking in San Francisco, however, is a closed, subacute medical unit for patients requiring continued hospital care. A location for 60-75 subacute beds needs to be identified and developed to staff and care for these patients.
We also support expanding harm reduction efforts such as overdose reversal, street outreach, safe injection sites and law enforcement where needed to deter drug dealing. But we must recognize these approaches will never be sufficient to eliminate substance abuse disorder and the suffering it causes.
To be successful, post-hospital management must be closely coordinated with inpatient hospitals. We can’t continue to discharge people to the streets while they wait for treatment. Patients need immediate access to closed residential centers for medical management and rehabilitation. Addiction medicine specialists, psychiatrists and psychologists have to be part of the program.
The length of stay in the rehabilitation center would be determined by the individual’s progress. For the most challenging patients, that will mean a minimum of several months. Recognizing the role of triggers that induce drug cravings, these centers should be secure, and perhaps geographically isolated, with visitors strictly limited. Centers would promote a therapeutic community with programs from addiction medicine and counseling to job training, as well as tiered living arrangements based on progress. The eventual goal would be to address the patient’s medical conditions and then transfer them to an outpatient sober living program.
While designing a rehabilitation program, we need to realize that these people are victims of a disease, not simply criminals or “weak.” Many, if not most, have a history of severe early-life trauma. A disproportionate percentage are people of color and economically disadvantaged. Any successful approach to their treatment and healing must differ from the criminal justice system in its purpose and environment.
Finally, we need to revive some publicly funded state hospitals for those who, despite the best efforts at rehabilitation, remain unable to safely live in the community for whatever mental health reasons.
4: Pay the Piper
Programs that provide a path to recovery are expensive because they are necessarily human resource-intensive and can take considerable time to build and staff. However, data shows that making these investments to treat the neediest is ultimately less expensive than neglect.
Treatments for substance use disorder and many psychiatric conditions are beneficial for a significant portion of the population. However, it is possible that some individuals will not be able to return to a functional lifestyle even with a year or more of therapy. This means that a population of those who cycle in and out of the hospital with serious medical issues could become long-term wards of the state. Providing ongoing compassionate care to this group will be expensive. But the situation on our streets and in our hospitals, fueled by fentanyl and methamphetamine, is clearly getting worse — and the status quo isn’t working. Solutions will only become more expensive, and heartbreaking, with further delay.
* * *
William Andereck is an internist and chairman of the ethics committee at Sutter Health/California Pacific Medical Center. David Smith was founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinics and is past president of California and American Societies of Addiction Medicine. Steve Heilig is director of public health and education for San Francisco Marin Medical Society and a former Robert Wood Johnson drug policy fellow. The opinions stated in this piece are those of the authors.
The original version of this piece appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, August 27, 2023.
GOING BACK TO BURNING MAN
Around this time of year 27 years ago, Bruce Sterling loaded into a 22-foot Ford recreational vehicle alongside his wife and two daughters and barrelled across the West Coast to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, home of the infamous Burning Man Festival. There, ravers, hippies, artists, journalists, and cops (swarms of them, believe it or not) alike were gathered for a weekend of communing with art, nature, and each other. Over the decade since its founding, the event, Sterling writes, had evolved into “something like a physical version of the Internet.” It promised to be freaky. Perhaps even fun.
These days, Burning Man has lost quite a bit of the utopic patina Sterling describes. The event is populated by as many Silicon Valley mainstays and celebrities as it is performance artists and eco-freaks (Elon Musk is a big fan). Tickets cost north of $500, without factoring in any of the additional expenses required to get to and camp out in the middle of the desert. And extreme weather has taken a toll. Last year, temperatures rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and this year severe tropical storms threatened to derail the festival just a week before it was set to kick off. Forgive the cliche, but nothing stays gold forever.
In his account of his trip, Sterling writes that Burning Man is “big happy crowds of harmless arty people expressing themselves and breaking a few pointless shibboleths that only serve to ulcerate young people anyway,” and argues in favor of hosting comparable festivals downtown once a year in every major city in America. That is laughably hard to picture. But what would it look like to foster community and creativity and, frankly, weirdness in the places we already live rather than paying a premium to truck out to the middle of nowhere and do so there? I’d love to hear what you think. Write me a letter or leave a comment with your thoughts.
See you next week!
Eve Sneider, Deputy Ideas Editor
NORM CLOW REPORTING FROM HURRICANE ALLEY:
Our plan was to make it over to Christ Church United Methodist this morning, about nine miles west through The Woodlands, as is our Sunday custom. Got up a little after 6:00, took one look outside and one look at the local TV coverage, and decided next Sunday was probably soon enough. Houston itself, well to the south, is experiencing the worst flooding in years, if not decades. Inexplicably, people are still out driving around. Well, there are two who won't be doing so again. It's a low-lying city with lots of concrete and low underpasses, and is not called the Bayou City for nothing. The rain bands that have settled on our area are essentially replenishing themselves and have not abated for hours. At last report, there are over ten million people ! in SE Texas under a flash flood warning, including us. Even the KHOU TV station near downtown that is giving us non-stop coverage is getting water inside and is moving operations to the second floor. It's quite a morning … glub … glub … glub …
ANOTHER SIGN THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
‘All we want is revenge’: How social media fuels gun violence among teens
Provocative posts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok can fuel reprisals.
by Liz Szabo
Juan Campos has been working to save at-risk teens from gun violence for 16 years.
As a street outreach worker in Oakland, he has seen the pull and power of gangs. And he offers teens support when they’ve emerged from the juvenile justice system, advocates for them in school, and, if needed, helps them find housing, mental health services, and treatment for substance abuse.
But, he said, he’s never confronted a force as formidable as social media, where small boasts and disputes online can escalate into deadly violence in schoolyards and on street corners.
Teens post photos or videos of themselves with guns and stacks of cash, sometimes calling out rivals, on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok. When messages go viral, fueled by “likes” and comments, the danger is hard to contain, Campos said.
“It’s hundreds of people on social media, versus just one or two people trying to guide youth in a positive way,” he said. Sometimes his warnings are stark, telling kids, “I want to keep you alive.” But, he said, “it doesn’t work all the time.”
Shamari Martin Jr. was an outgoing 14-year-old and respectful to his teachers in Oakland. Mixed in with videos of smiling friends on his Instagram feed were images of Shamari casually waving a gun or with cash fanned across his face. In March 2022, he was shot when the car he was in took a hail of bullets. His body was left on the street, and emergency medical workers pronounced him dead at the scene.
In Shamari’s neighborhood, kids join gangs when they’re as young as 9 or 10, sometimes carrying guns to elementary school, said Tonyia “Nina” Carter, a violence interrupter who knew Shamari and works with Youth Alive, which tries to prevent violence. Shamari “was somewhat affiliated with that culture” of gangs and guns, Carter said.
Shamari’s friends poured out their grief on Instagram with broken-heart emojis and comments such as “love you brother I’m heart hurt.”
One post was more ominous: “it’s blood inna water all we want is revenge.” Rivals posted videos of themselves kicking over flowers and candles at Shamari’s memorial.
Such online outpourings of grief often presage additional violence, said Desmond Patton, a University of Pennsylvania professor who studies social media and firearm violence.
More than a year later, Shamari’s death remains unsolved. But it’s still a volatile subject in Oakland, said Bernice Grisby, a counselor at the East Bay Asian Youth Center, who works with gang-involved youth.
“There’s still a lot of gang violence going on around his name,” she said. “It could be as simple as someone saying, ‘Forget him or F him’ — that can be a death sentence. Just being affiliated with his name in any sort can get you killed.”
The U.S. surgeon general last month issued a call to action about social media’s corrosive effects on child and adolescent mental health, warning of the “profound risk of harm” to young people, who can spend hours a day on their phones. The 25-page report highlighted the risks of cyberbullying and sexual exploitation. It failed to mention social media’s role in escalating gun violence.
Acutely aware of that role are researchers, community leaders, and police across the country — including in Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. They describe social media as a relentless driver of gun violence.
Michel Moore, the Los Angeles police chief, called its impact “dramatic.”
“What used to be communicated on the street or in graffiti or tagging or rumors from one person to another, it’s now being distributed and amplified on social media,” he said. “It’s meant to embarrass and humiliate others.”
Many disputes stem from perceived disrespect among insecure young adults who may lack impulse control and conflict-management skills, said LJ Punch, a trauma surgeon and director of the Bullet-Related Injury Clinic in St. Louis.
“Social media is an extremely powerful tool for metastasizing disrespect,” Punch said. And of all the causes of gun violence, social media-fueled grudges are “the most impenetrable.”
Calls For Regulation
Social media companies are protected by a 1996 law that shields them from liability for content posted on their platforms. Yet the deaths of young people have led to calls to change that.
“When you allow a video that leads to a shooting, you bear responsibility for what you put out there,” said Fred Fogg, national director of violence prevention for Youth Advocate Programs, a group that provides alternatives to youth incarceration. “Social media is addictive, and intentionally so.”
People note that social media can have a particularly pernicious effect in communities with high rates of gun violence.
“Social media companies need to be better regulated in order to make sure they aren’t encouraging violence in Black communities,” said Jabari Evans, an assistant professor of race and media at the University of South Carolina. But he said social media companies also should help “dismantle the structural racism” that places many Black youth “in circumstances that resign them to want to join gangs, carry guns to school, or take on violent personas for attention.”
L.A.’s Moore described social media companies as serving “in a reactionary role. They are profit-driven. They don’t want to have any type of control or restrictions that would suppress advertising.”
Social media companies say they remove content that violates their policies against threatening others or encouraging violence as quickly as possible. In a statement, YouTube spokesperson Jack Malon said the company “prohibits content reveling in or mocking the death or serious injury of an identifiable individual.”
Social media companies said they act to protect the safety of their users, especially children.
Rachel Hamrick, a spokesperson for Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said the company has spent about $16 billion in the past seven years to protect the safety of people who post on its apps, employing 40,000 people at Facebook who work on safety and security.
“We remove content, disable accounts and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety,” Hamrick said. “As a company, we have every commercial and moral incentive to try to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on Facebook. That’s why we take steps to keep people safe even if it impacts our bottom line.”
Meta platforms generated revenue of over $116 billion in 2022, most of which came from advertising.
A spokesperson for Snapchat, Pete Boogaard, said the company deletes violent content within minutes of being notified of it. But, Fogg noted, by the time a video is removed, hundreds of people may have seen it.
Even critics acknowledge that the sheer volume of content on social media is difficult to control. Facebook has nearly 3 billion monthly users worldwide; YouTube has nearly 2.7 billion users; Instagram has 2 billion. If a company shuts down one account, a person can simply open a new one, said Tara Dabney, a director at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago.
“Things could be going great in a community,” Fogg said, “and then the next thing you know, something happens on social media and folks are shooting at each other.”
Playing With Fire
At a time when virtually every teen has a cellphone, many have access to guns, and many are coping with mental and emotional health crises, some say it’s not surprising that violence features so heavily in children’s social media feeds.
High school “fight pages” are now common on social media, and teens are quick to record and share fights as soon as they break out.
“Social media puts everything on steroids,” said the Rev. Cornell Jones, the group violence intervention coordinator for Pittsburgh.
Like adults, many young people feel validated when their posts are liked and shared, Jones said.
“We are dealing with young people who don’t have great self-esteem, and this ‘love’ they are getting on social media can fill some of that void,” Jones said. “But it can end with them getting shot or going to the penitentiary.”
While many of today’s teens are technologically sophisticated — skilled at filming and editing professional-looking videos — they remain naive about the consequences of posting violent content, said Evans, of the University of South Carolina.
Police in Los Angeles now monitor social media for early signs of trouble, Moore said. Police also search social media after the fact to gather evidence against those involved in violence.
“People want to gain notoriety,” Moore said, “but they’re clearly implicating themselves and giving us an easy path to bring them to justice.”
In February, New Jersey police used a video of a 14-year-old girl’s vicious school beating to file criminal charges against four teens. The victim of the assault, Adriana Kuch, died by suicide two days after the video went viral.
Preventing The Next Tragedy
Glen Upshaw, who manages outreach workers at Youth Alive in Oakland, said he encourages teens to express their anger with him rather than on social media. He absorbs it, he said, to help prevent kids from doing something foolish.
“I’ve always offered youth the chance to call me and curse me out,” Upshaw said. “They can come and scream and I won’t fuss at them.”
Workers at Youth Advocate Programs monitor influential social media accounts in their communities to de-escalate conflicts. “The idea is to get on it as soon as possible,” Fogg said. “We don’t want people to die over a social media post.”
It’s sometimes impossible, Campos said. “You can’t tell them to delete their social media accounts,” he said. “Even a judge won’t tell them that. But I can tell them, ‘If I were you, since you’re on probation, I wouldn’t be posting those kinds of things.’”
When he first worked with teens at high risk of violence, “I said if I can save 10 lives out of 100, I’d be happy,” Campos said. “Now, if I can save one life out of 100, I’m happy.”
CORNEL WEST is morally and intellectually superior to literally every single government official in Washington and it’s not even remotely close.
— Caitlin Johnstone
IMPERIAL POWERS do not forgive those who make public the sordid and immoral inner workings of Empire. Empires are fragile constructions. Their power is as much one of perception as of military strength. The virtues they claim to uphold and defend, usually in the name of their superior civilization, are a mask for pillage, corruption, lies, the exploitation of cheap labor, indiscriminate mass violence against innocents and state terror.
The current American Empire, damaged and humiliated by troves of internal documents published by WikiLeaks, will, for this reason, persecute Julian for the rest of his life. It does not matter who is president or which political party is in power. Imperialists speak with one despotic voice.
Julian, for this reason, is undergoing a slow-motion execution. Seven years trapped in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Four years in Belmarsh Prison. He ripped back the veil on the dark machinations of the U.S. Empire, the wholesale slaughter of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the lies, the corruption, the brutal suppression of those who attempt to speak the truth. The Empire intends to make him pay. He is to be an example to anyone who might think of doing what he did.
CORNEL WEST SHUTS DOWN CALLS TO DROP OUT on Meet The Press
UKRAINE, SUNDAY, 27 AUGUST
Russian shelling of Kherson city killed one person and injured three, including a child, Kherson’s regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said. Sixteen Russian shells hit the city, including a residential area, he said.
Russian forces are regrouping in the Moscow-controlled eastern parts of Ukraine in order to conduct an offensive, the commander of the Ukrainian military’s ground forces Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said.
Russia’s foreign intelligence chief Sergey Naryshkin said the failure of Ukraine’s counteroffensive was “obvious”.
Moscow said its air defences thwarted a rare Ukrainian missile attack on the Kaluga region southwest of Moscow.
Russian air defence forces downed 42 Ukraine drones over the Crimean peninsula. The defence ministry in Moscow said nine Ukrainian drones were destroyed while 33 drones were suppressed by electronic means and did not reach their targets.
The Russian navy said it attacked Ukrainian port infrastructure, the state-owned TASS news agency reported, citing the defence ministry.
Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said Ukraine is dealing with tough Russian resistance in its slow-moving counteroffensive, including minefields, tank ditches and dragon’s teeth antitank obstacles, which Russia had months to prepare.
Ukraine dismissed the head of its State Emergency Service after an internal inspection, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko wrote on Telegram. Klymenko gave no reasons for the dismissal but said it followed an internal inspection of the service.
Yevgeny Prigozhin and Wagner fighters
Russian investigators recovered flight recorders and 10 bodies from the scene of the plane crash thought to have killed Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin two days ago. “Molecular genetic analyses” will be carried out to establish the identities of the dead, Russia’s Investigative Committee said.
The Kremlin dismissed accusations it ordered the assassination of Prigozhin. “There is a lot of speculation around the plane crash and the tragic death of the passengers, including Yevgeny Prigozhin … All this is an absolute lie,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
The Prigozhin plane crash — Putin's revenge?
Russia’s foreign ministry blasted US President Joe Biden for saying he was not “surprised” that Prigozhin was presumed dead in a plane crash. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Biden’s remarks were indicative of Washington’s disregard for diplomacy.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Wagner mercenaries could remain in his country, following the presumed death of their leader, Prigozhin. “Wagner lived, is alive, and will live in Belarus,” Lukashenko was cited as saying by the state-run news agency BelTA.
Lukashenko said he doubted that Putin was behind the plane crash that reportedly killed Prigozhin, maintaining that it was too “unprofessional” for the Russian president. “He is a calculating, very calm and even a slow person in making decisions on other, less complicated issues, so I can’t imagine that Putin did it … It’s too rough,” he said.
Putin offers ‘condolences’ after presumed death of Yevgeny Prigozhin
The Kremlin announced that Russian paramilitary fighters must now swear an oath to the Russian flag.
Kremlin spokesman Peskov said the Wagner group made a “big contribution” to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, but the force had no formal legal existence after the death of Prigozhin.