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DRY WEATHER is expected today before more rain arrives with a weak frontal system Thursday night and Friday with lingering showers Saturday. Rainfall amounts will generally range from a half inch in the north to less than a tenth in the south. Dry weather is forecast to return Sunday persisting into next week. Temperatures will be near normal for the weekend with warmer conditions possible next week. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): On the coast this Thursday morning I have clear skies & 53F. We now have a 40% chance for a shower tomorrow afternoon, then a 30% chance on Saturday. Next week is looking mostly sunny.
SKATE PARK FUNDRAISER A BIG SUCCESS
Fall Fling Recap: Our Sept 16th fundraiser @ the AV Brewery raised $19,490 for the AV Skatepark Project!
Thank You To the Anderson Valley community (and extended family) who came out in droves to show their support.
Thank You To Assemblymember Wood and his staff for making the event extra special with your presence and presentation of a giant gift for the project.
Thank You To all of the many event sponsors who donated resources to make the event a smash success!
Thank You To the many community volunteers who gave their time and energy to make this event run smoothly.
To get involved or donate go to the Skatepark facebook page.
AFTER 38 YEARS ON THE LAM, a Bank Robber Turned Fugitive Was Arrested by the Ukiah Police
On September 27, 1984, an Iranian national named Kourosh Sadeghi wearing military fatigues, ski goggles, and jeans walked into a San Diego area bank brandishing a pistol. He made off with $21,000. In November of that year, Sadeghi was arrested for the crime. The chain of events is unclear, but the bank robber was given parole for his crime and dropped off the radar.
For 38 years Sadeghi was a fugitive from justice until last Sunday, September 24, 2023, when a beat cop in Ukiah noticed a motorcyclist failing to maintain lanes. A run-of-the-mill traffic stop in Mendocino County proved to be Sadeghi’s undoing after living nearly four decades of life on the lam.…
BOONVILLE SCHOOL SUPE Louise Simson alerts us to the last stage of the elementary school's re-do of its aged infrastructure, and I'm confident in saying if not for this dynamic woman both school sites would be well on their way to becoming uninhabitable.
We are in the final phase of the elementary septic. The tank was drop-placed!
by Mark Scaramella
Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting was interrupted by a jerk or jerks calling in on zoom several times to make intentionally disruptive racist remarks. The Board clerk quickly cut the zoomer off, but the remarks had their intended shock effect. The practice is called “zoombombing” and it has become prevalent enough for its own wikipedia page.
The Washington Post claims that zoombombing has decreased somewhat since 2020 when the pandemic and zooming ramped up. Nowadays there’s more in person meetings and less zooming, but it’s still going on and now it’s reached tiny Mendo’s Supervisors chambers. The Zoom developer claims to have tamped down Zoombombing partly by making its product more difficult for users (and for online harassers) to use. In San Francisco, it has become so bad that Supervisor Aaron Peskin has proposed banning zoom calls and returning exclusively to in-person meetings.
After Elected Department Heads Assessor Clerk Recorder Katrina Bartolomie and Sheriff Matt Kendall made public comments during public expression, First District Supervisor Candidate complained again that Department Heads shouldn’t have to give their reports during time-limited public expression. Supervisor Dan Gjerde, missed the point again, replying that Department heads can agendize their remarks whenever they like by putting an item on the agenda. But Shattuck was trying to tell the Board that they should agendize regular reports from Department Heads, and they could do that by simply putting a place holder on the agenda for “departmental reports.” Or if they were really serious, they could — gasp! — require monthly reports from the departments. The Board seems tone-deaf to such criticism, which leaves the public to think they have no interest in what their own department heads, elected or appointed, have to say.
Ms. Bartolomie’s report on the status of assessment catch-up was again incomplete and informal. She mostly mentioned the still-lingering reporting problems she’s having with the County’s new “Aumentum” software which apparently can’t prorate tax calculations to adjust for new assessments kicking in in the middle of a tax year, among other seemingly simple-to-fix glitches. Of course, they’re “working on it,” but they’ve been saying that for years. As Ms. Bartolomie reported two months ago, they’ve hired some new people and are slogging their way through the parcels. But a clear, organized written “report” on the status is nowhere in sight. And without it the Board and the public remain in the dark on the status of assessment catch-up and corrections.
There was a long discussion of the Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Board’s request to be given an opportunity to comment on permit applications in Redwood Valley. As it is, they don’t get any notice nor any formal invitation to comment in their area. But when Planning Director Julia Krog told the Board that running permits by the MAC would convert many permits from “ministerial” (use of a checklist to verify that basic requirements are met) to “discretionary” (subjective evaluation of each application), the Board balked at the time that might add to permit processing. In the end they directed the Planning Department to work with the MAC and develop some “guidelines” that can be applied with a checklist addendum so that ministerial permits remain ministerial.
Several times during the meeting Supervisor Ted Williams off-handedly mentioned that “the County is talking about Chapter 9 now.” Actually, Supervisor Williams is talking about it, not “the County” which he grandly likes to equate himself with. Chapter 9 is part of the state’s bankruptcy code which could put the County under a court appointed “receiver,” and allow the County to postpone or renegotiate debts with vendors and suppliers. Unlike other bankruptcy chapters, Chapter 9 does not involve liquidation of assets. It wouldn’t directly affect county employees, but a receiver could impose staff cuts.
As the unagendized financial discussion rambled on, Supervisor Gjerde tried to explain where he got his $10 or $11 million deficit number for next year. Gjerde said that $7 million is the amount of one-time covid relief money they used to balance this year’s budget, plus he personally believes the County faces a $3 million-plus pension cost increase next year. (Gjerde is on the County’s pension board.) Those pension numbers have not been presented to the Supervisors or the public, however.
Williams correctly noted that the jail expansion cost which is already overrun by more than $10 million and has yet to break ground is likely to continue going up, adding that they haven’t budgeted for the staffing after it opens either. Supervisor Glenn McGourty said he’d spoken to state representatives about the dramatic increase in jail expansion costs, but that those discussions were “a blind alley.”
CEO Darcie Antle said that her “Golden Gate Bridge” departmental review process has identified $5.5 million so far in potential savings for next year and that another $3 million might be possible. Antle has not said what those “savings” might be. One rumor floating around firefighting circles has it that the County might give the fire districts the money they promised (but which is not legally binding), but then they might turn around and reduce other firefighting costs (such as Dispatch) and take that out of the Measure P money, thus producing a “savings” for the County, but not honoring their own resolution to give all the Measure P money to fire districts and the fire safe council.
Gjerde repeated his purely hypothetical example that putting more houses on the tax rolls is not only unrealistic, but won’t bring in much new money anytime soon. But the Board still shows no interest, understanding or recognition of problem of unbilled taxes and underassessed structures and parcels which could indeed bring in substantial new revenue.
Supervisor Maureen Mulheren went out of her way to deny that the Board is considering Chapter 9. Supervisor John Haschak agreed, saying that it’s the Board’s job to avoid bankruptcy.
A Cassandra-like Williams insisted that the County’s finances are not showing any major signs of short-term improvement, asking rhetorically what they did to the messenger — i.e., him the blunt teller of great truths. (But who has yet to propose a single specific budget cut.)
The Board asked staff to put an item on an upcoming agenda to discuss the County’s finances. But since this Board has shown no sense of urgency, has a very limited understanding of their own budget, and since nobody objected to Gjerde’s observation that each $1 million savings translates to about ten layoffs, and if history is any guide, the finance discussion won’t be soon, won’t be very productive, and won’t include a discussion of true reserves, tax defaults and tax collection, the sale of under-used County properties, or office hour cut backs as was used by the hated former CEO Carmel Angelo back during the Great Recession.
Meanwhile, the County employees and their reps have backed off their strike threats and seem content to tread water as inflation erodes their real earnings.
* * *
GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM was on ‘60 Minutes’ last Sunday touting his new “CARE court” idea. The segment included lots of pictures and film of sad homeless tents lining city streets, implying that CARE courts will do something about that obvious problem.
The entire discussion reminded us of Mendo’s Measure B campaign years ago when the voters were told that if they gave tens of millions of additional sales tax dollars to the Mental Health people there would be a noticeable decrease in wandering nut cases on the streets.
Instead, none — zero — of those tens of millions have even gone to “treatment,” much less to the people the voters expected to be helped. Instead all the money has been soaked up by grossly overpriced facilities and the expensive consultants who designed them.
Under the CARE courts at the end of next year, California’s 58 counties will be required to set up new mental health court systems to “address the needs of people with severe mental illness who often languish on the streets.”
Under the state’s timeline, seven counties will have to establish their new courts by Oct. 1, 2023, followed by the remaining 51 counties by December 2024. The pilot counties are San Francisco, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Glenn.
Theoretically, the CARE courts allow family, close friends, first responders and behavioral health workers to submit a petition to the court, signed under penalty of perjury, on behalf of a person with untreated “schizophrenia spectrum” or other “serious” psychotic disorders” that shows why they qualify for CARE Court. In order to qualify, a judge must determine through a hearing process that the person is either unlikely to survive safely without supervision or is a threat to themselves or others without support. The petition must include either an affidavit from a licensed health care professional who examined them or tried to examine them — or proof that the person was recently detained under intensive treatment.
The court would then order a clinical evaluation of the person — and review the evaluation to see if the person qualifies for CARE Court services. If they do, they’ll get legal counsel and a “supporter” — an advocate to walk them through the process, as well as a “Care Plan” that can include recommended treatment, medication and housing. If not…
Medication can be court-ordered, but not forcibly administered. During 12 months, a participant will have to attend hearings to make sure they’re adhering to the plan — and counties are providing the court-ordered services. If not…
Following that year, a person could receive another year of treatment or a graduation plan, which would not be enforceable by the court. If a person received the court-mandated services but failed to complete their treatment, they then, and only then, could be considered by the court for conservatorship. Refusing medication alone wouldn’t be grounds for failure. The intent is to make it easier for people who need help, but may not be seeking it, to get it before they lose legal autonomy or end up in jail.
The only rural county on the October 1 deadline list, Glenn County, isn’t anywhere near being ready by October 1. Their webpage on CARE Court simply says, “Glenn County Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court Program. A new civil court process designed to link individuals who have specific [sic] mental health diagnoses to county behavioral health services, under the oversight of a judge, for up to 24 consecutive months. Includes a clinically-indicated, individualized treatment plan, with supportive services and a dedicated team. Meant as a diversion process to prevent conservatorship or incarceration.” And, “CARE Court Is NOT criminal court; Does NOT include persons with any/all mental health conditions; and is NOT a solution for homelessness.”
A recent CalMatters report on the subject was entitled: “Families have high hopes for Gavin Newsom’s CARE Courts. Providers want to lower expectations.”
Will people who need it get help? “Unless that loved one has a medical diagnosis specific to schizophrenia or some other serious psychotic disorders, the answer was probably not.”
“In reality,” the Director of San Diego’s Behavioral Health Services said, “it’s actually going to be a pretty small program. It’s not going to be this thing that dramatically changes homelessness.”
But it will pump another big pile of cash to the mental health/government bureaucrat industrial complex.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY EYSTER is telling persons close to him that he will be running against sitting judge Clay Brennan for a seat on the Mendocino County Superior Court. Brennan has been sitting as judge of the Ten Mile Court where he exists in a kind of judicial exile, precluded from presiding at judicial headquarters in Ukiah. He and Eyster have been at odds for years. We will have more about this development as more is learned.
A FORT BRAGG CALLER rightly wonders why a dying, or certainly very sick, seal has been languishing on Noyo Beach for three full days. The light brown child of the sea could use some immediate attention from someone who knows their seals.
TONY PANN: The September Full Moon is this week on Thursday Night. This Full Moon is maybe the most famous of all: The Harvest Moon! Why is it called the Harvest Moon? It marks the transition from Summer into Fall, so the preparation for the harvest must begin. The crops are ready! Shine on… (Photo: Bea Glass)
JAYNE THOMAS RECOMMENDS: “First, you HAVE to see this film!!!, The Saint of Second Chances. Anyone who loves baseball has to see it. I knew about Bill Veeck, but not his son. Second, we just watched a PBS 24 year old doc from their neighborhood series, The Fillmore. I bet you’ve seen it. Excellent, and very sad.”
MS. THOMAS' viewing recommendations are unerring, unerring, I tell you! As a baseball fan all the way back to Seals Stadium and the Pacific Coast League — Marino Pieretti! Roy Nicely! Dario Lodiganni! Steve Bilko! Carlos Bernier! — I, too, was aware of Veeck and long ago read his wonderful book, Veeck as in Wreck, but like Ms. Thomas I was unaware of his son and son's interesting life as both pere and fils are memorialized in this fascinating Netflix doc, The Saint of Second Chances.
I'VE ALSO SEEN The Fillmore, an interesting filmic history of how a vibrant neighborhood — a whole area of San Francisco really — was bulldozed in the name of "redevelopment" under the monarchical direction of Justin Herman. Herman's destruction of the Fillmore was rightly seen by the mostly displaced black residents of the Fillmore as "negro removal." Herman is fittingly remembered in the stark swathe of pavement at the foot of Market Street with the preposterous Valliancort "sculpture" at its north end in "Justin Herman Plaza." Precocious members of my high school class used to hangout weekends at the great but long gone jazz venue called Bop City, one of many quality jazz clubs in the Fillmore lost to redevelopment. Some of the high schoolers claimed they managed to get inside, but most admitted they listened to the music from outside on the sidewalk.
ATTENTION PARANOIDS! If a man driving a gray Toyota pulled into your driveway leisurely surveilling your premises and taking pictures, what would you do? Happened here at the mighty ava Tuesday morning.
ROBBIE LANE: I have a guest speaker who is coming to the valley from October 23-26, in order to speak to our High School students about life in the penal system. I’m looking for a place for him to stay. If anyone has some space and is willing to discuss terms, you would be doing the young people of Anderson Valley an invaluable service! Please PM me if you can help.
REACHING The End of a job interview, the Human Resources Officer asks a young engineer fresh out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “And what starting salary are you looking for?” The engineer replies, “In the region of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.” The interviewer inquires, “Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every two years, say, a red Corvette?” The engineer sits up straight and says, “Wow! Are you kidding?” The interviewer replies, “Yeah, but you started it.”
A READER WRITES: San Francisco authorities forced Elon Musk to remove a new “X” sign from the front of one former Twitter building because neighbors complained the flashing strobe lights were so bright that it lit up their apartments. But frost fans can disturb thousands of neighbors’ sleep without our “authorities” making them shut down? Pitiful.
NO BOONVILLE QUIZ THIS WEEK. The General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz at Lauren’s at The Buckhorn is on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays. Tomorrow is the 4th Thursday, so… Cheers,
Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster
ANDERSON VALLEY: We're still looking for a home. If you hear of anything that aligns, please share and reach out:
NOT GETTING IT
People just don’t get it. The homeless population is growing every day. So many of us are wondering how long we will be able to hold on to our homes before we are taxed and regulated out of them? It’s an act of Brutal and Barbaric Violence Against Us, who are our Ancestor’s Posterity.
Our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents had horses. So what we are going though today is genuinely tantamount to someone violently torching down the homes of the descendants of our ancesters.
Contrary to what our political leaders think, we don’t live on massive estates with orchards of money trees in our backyards where we can endlessly pick $100 bills at will.
Standin' in a Hard Rain, The Making of a Revolutionary Life: Lessons from the Last Revolution
Don't miss this book event evening with the author, Joel Eis at The Mendocino Book Company in downtown Ukiah, this Friday September 29th at 5:30pm. Hope to see you there.
Mobilize Mendo member.
Joel D Eis, World Beyond War, Nov 21, 2022 - Civil rights movement - 440 pages
"Standin' in a Hard Rain" is the fast paced, personal, "boots-on-the-ground," front line account of major events by a dedicated radical in the 1960's (and beyond) who found himself at the table with the planners and out in the street, running from the cops. It tells the story of how and why an ordinary suburban kid became a committed radical who was with the Freedom Riders in the Deep South, the Strike of '68 at S.F. State University (the longest, most violent student strike in American History) the Draft Resistance with David Harris and Joan Baez, the Grape Strike with Caesar Chavez, Angela Davis, Eldridge Cleaver and the Panthers. I faced a bayonet at my own throat from the National Guard at Berkeley's People's Park. Standin' in a Hard Rain traces the difficult transition after this revolutionary period of a generation trying to do something productive with our lives in a country in which we felt alienated. It ends with me burning my draft card at the age of 73.
About the author (2022)
I was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Fresno, California. Beginning life as "red diaper" baby in a pro-labor Jewish household. My parents refused to cross picket lines. At age eight, I played in my communist uncle's back yard with Carl Bernstein. From my college days on, I seemed to be in the right place at the right time to be on the front lines of some of the major events of the 1960's. Student strikes, draft resistance, the Grape strike in California. I even helped get Eldridge Cleaver out of the country away from the FBI. I worked in important radical theatre companies for progressive change. This put me in front of the crowd but it also increased the surveillance on my activities. I was not afraid to be one of the people our parents warned us against. I was followed and informed on. My phone was tapped. I was shot at and I did some time in jail. The last time I saw my FBI file it was as thick as a small city phone book. After a career as a professional theatre designer and professor, my wife Toni and I own and run a small bookstore north of San Francisco. We use the space for workshops and public events. I talk politics with my customers all day. Visit my website at http: //JoelEis.com
OCT. FIRE SAFE POINT ARENA MEETING
Oct. 4, 2023, 4:45 p.m.
Coast Community Library, Main St., Point Arena
- Agenda: GMRS radio update,
- Sept. 9 event report,
- Mendocino Foundation Grant Application Update,
- PGE tree maintenance update
Would people be interested in having a representative from "United Policyholders" - https://uphelp.org/ - come do a presentation in the near future?
“We’ve got your back when insurance matters”
“United Policyholders (UP) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) whose mission is to be a trustworthy and useful information resource and a respected voice for consumers of all types of insurance in all 50 states. We don’t take money from insurance companies. We give you the straight scoop. Guide you on buying insurance and navigating claims. Fight for your rights. When someone says you can't do it, do it twice and take pictures.”
96 YEARS AGO, the Apple Fair in Boonville was marked by the dual tragedies described in these articles from local newspapers. Many thanks to Debra Silva for finding them.
* * *
(Fort Bragg Advocate News, Oct. 12, 1927)
Pilot And Robert Witherell Seriously Hurt When Plane Crashes At Boonville Fair —Rushed To Ukiah Hospital
An airplane tragedy marked the closing hours of the Boonville Apple Fair Sunday afternoon. With hundreds of people present—probably the record attendance for the three days.
The plane which had been on the ground since the opening of the exhibition, made regular flights each day and carried passengers. It crashed in full view of a large portion of these passengers, just north of Boonville, barely missing the Anderson Valley grammar school. A feeling of horror went through the big gathering as the plane crumpled to earth. The distance of its fall made if almost certain that the three occupants of the plane—its pilot, D.C. Warren, and passengers, Thelma Farrer and Robert Witherell) must have been badly injured if not killed outright, and those who quickly gathered at the wrecked plane to extricate the unfortunates had their fears realized for the three were desperately hurt.
Miss Farrer lay unconscious and Hal Warren and Witherell were ashen-faced from intense suffering, the pilot with a broken thigh and Witherell with a fractured leg and internal injuries. All were removed as quickly as possible, temporarily treated and started on their way to Ukiah where they could have hospital care, and where Miss Farrer passed away that evening,
Following the crashing of the airplane came another fatality: for which the airplane was partly responsible. Merle Ginochio, little 8-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Jess Ginochio, wishing to obtain a better view of the airplane flights had climbed to the top of a tank tower, some forty feet in height, and was watching them with intense interest when apparently he forgot: his dangerous location in his attempt to keep his eyes on the plane and he made a misstep and toppled from the structure to the ground where he lay for a long time until his mother, missing him, started in search of him and finally located him lying at the foot of the tank. She gathered him up and took him to the house and summoned a physician. No serious injury manifested itself at the time and the lad did not come complain of serious hurt. Bat apparently he had suffered seriously, internally for his condition grew worse during the night and he passed away the following day.
* * *
(Fort Bragg Advocate News, Oct 12, 1927)
Ukiah, Oct. 10, 1927 —Miss Thelma Farrer, of Boonville, passed away in Ukiah General Hospital last evening at about 9 o'clock from injuries received in an aeroplane accident at Boonville several hours previously.
Her companions in the flight, Robert, Witherell, aged 17, also of Boonville, and D.C. Warren, of San Francisco, pilot of the plane, received more or less serious injuries and are in the hospital. They were reported this afternoon to be doing as well as could he expected. Witherell received internal injuries and a broken femur. Warren has a broken femur. Both are suffering greatly from the shock as well as from their injuries.
Miss Farrer’s injuries were largely internal. She suffered also a broken tibia and a very severe cut in the thigh. Her death was due to the shock as much as to her injuries, according to the physician in charge.
The cause of the crash was due either to failure of the ignition or to the stoppage of the gasoline feed. Warren had been flying low and was making a bank at an elevation of about 300 feet. When the engine failed the machine went into a tail spin.
[Ed note: The cause of the crash was later determined to have been toy balloons that had somehow floated into the plane’s propulsion system.]
The machine was straightened from the tail spin, but owing to his close proximity to the earth, he was unable to get out of the nose dive that followed. The plane hit the earth on its nose and the left wing also received some of the shock. It is understood that the plane was a new one, being out of the factory only four days and Warren is considered one of the best pilots in the Bay region.
The plane crashed near the Boonville grammar school, only a short distance from the hall in which the, Boonville Apple Fair was being held. Hundreds of people were at the scene almost immediately and first aid was given by Mrs. Theresa Ray, owner of Ukiah General Hospital and by her nurse, Miss McIver, who were visiting at the Apple Show. Sheriff Byrnes and Capt. Royal Ryder were also on hand directing traffic and keeping the immense crowd that gathered in order.
Owing to the lack of dressing material at Boonville the injuries could not be taken care of as well as desired but makeshift dressings were applied and the injured occupants of the plane were put into trucks on mattresses and rushed to the hospital in Ukiah.
Word of Miss Farrer’s death was telephoned to Boonville about nine o’clock, a few minutes after she passed away. and the fair and a dance which was in progress were immediately closed.
* * *
Ukiah Dispatch Democrat, Oct 15, 1927
The funeral of Miss Thelma Farrer was held at Boonville Wednesday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.T. Farrer, parents of the deceased. The service was conducted by Rev. Luther Beasley of the Ukiah Methodist church, and was one of the most largely attended of any ever held in Anderson Valley.
Music was furnished by a quartet composed of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Brown, Mr. Don Mackintosh and Mrs. Emily Presley, and a solo, “Whispering Hope,’’ was sung by Miss Christine Burke.
* * *
The following tribute to the memory of Miss Farrer was written by a friend:
Thelma Elizabeth Farrer was born April 4, 1910 at Boonville and after 17 brief and happy years our friend and playmate quietly slipped away from us on October 9, 1927.
The people of Anderson Valley are stunned by the loss of our young friend, yet the inspiration of her beautiful, loyal life will ever abide in our hearts and our lives will ever be the richer because she has dwelt among us. She was a friend to all and “none knew her but to love her, or name her but to praise her.”
SHIP TRAVEL is like being in jail, but without the comforts of jail.
— Ben Franklin
(ms adds a corrolary: Staying in a hospital is like being in jail, but without the privacy of jail.)
CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, September 27, 2023
KIMBERLY JONES, Ukiah. Trespassing, failure to appear.
ANGELA LEBERT, Willits. Domestic battery.
JESSE MARTINEZ, Caspar. No license, suspended license for DUI, probation revocation.
NATHAN MOORE, Fort Bragg. County parole violation.
SYDNEY SHACKMAN, Ukiah. Robbery, contempt of court.
IAN TREADWELL, Fortuna. Controlled substance, false ID, suspended license for DUI, conspiracy.
CODY WIRT, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, probation revocation.
THE DISASTER STATE
Good grief! California has always been a climate disaster zone. Look up the Great Flood of 1862. The whole Central Valley was several feet deep in water. It didn’t quit raining all winter. The capital had to be moved from Sacramento to San Francisco. So many farmers and ranchers lost crops and livestock the state couldn’t and didn’t try to collect taxes that year. Then there are earthquakes, wildfires and other floods. Isn’t that why the leadership in Sacramento in the 1960s built the dams?
California is Crazy Town. If you want to live somewhere safe, move to Nebraska. That is where I’m from. It is safe, but you may find it boring. Little Bill in “Unforgiven”: “Thought I was dead once. Come to find out, I was in Nebraska.”
If you don’t like the risks of living in California, move. Many have.
I discovered the U.S. Restaurant, 431 Columbus Avenue, when I first started driving a taxi in the late 1970s. It was one of the few family run Italian restaurants left in North Beach. At the time I missed my family in New York. The U.S. Restaurant's fine Italian cooking and friendly family gave me a "home away from home." At the time you could get dinner with soup, dessert and coffee for under eight dollars. I used to eat there three to four nights a week.
Established in the 1920s,the name U.S. is an abbreviation of the restaurant's original name - Unione Sportiva. Natives of Parma, Italy, Maria and Luigi Borzoni purchased the U.S. from Luigi's brother Camillo Borzoni and Joe Cassarotto in 1964. Borzoni and Cassarotto had the place for seven years after buying it from an Argentinean family.
The restaurant was completely family run. Maria and Luigi's daughters, Anna and Anita helped with the cooking and waiting on tables. Their son, John, did the cleaning after hours. His wife, Lou, is also a waitress. Alberto Cipollina, who did the bookkeeping with his wife Anna, also worked as chef. I became friends with the family and when I got my first 35 mm camera in 1979 I started doing a series of portraits inside the restaurant.
In the mid-1990s Maria retired and closed the restaurant. Her son-in-law Alberto reopened the U.S. with a partner a few months later with new decor and a new modern menu. It did not succeed. It closed and about a year later Alberto opened what is called the Original U.S. Restaurant up the street at 515 Columbus Avenue with a new staff.
Has anyone ever noticed that when the Republicans control the presidency, there is never any talk in Congress about balancing the budget or cutting spending? Funny, how the topic only seems to come up when there is a Democrat in office, and it is always Republicans who then talk about cutting spending and/or shutting down the government.
Does anyone remember Sen. Ted Cruz shutting down the government when Barack Obama was in power? The event turned into a mess for the Republicans and caused all sorts of harm to hardworking Americans, with no other result except to assist in downgrading the credit rating of the U.S.
Here’s what we should be asking Congress: “Isn’t it your job to pay the bills and keep the government going?” I suggest we pass an amendment that stops the people in Congress from ever being paid for days lost during a government shutdown. This might make everyone in Congress think twice before pulling such shenanigans. After all, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
ON THE CIA, ANTHONY FAUCI, AND COVID-19
by Matt Taibbi
Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee led by Ohio Republican Brad Wenstrup issued a press release announcing a whistleblower’s claims that Dr. Anthony Fauci entered CIA headquarters “without a record of entry” to influence agency analysis of the Covid-19 outbreak in the direction of zoonotic origin.
Today, Public is publishing many more details, including news that Fauci also made similar visits to the Department of State and the White House.
“Fauci Diverted US Government Away From Lab Leak Theory Of Covid’s Origin, Sources Say” is part of a joint Racket-Public project that’s been in the works for months. The story is complex and still evolving, but in the meantime, thanks to Michael Shellenberger, Alex Gutentag, and Leighton Woodhouse for their excellent work on this article. As with previous collaborations, Racket will have its own contribution to this topic in short order.
USING MODERN BALLISTICS TO CRACK ‘COLD CASE JFK’
If the JFK assassination happened today, would we have the tools to crack the case? Ballistics experts Luke and Mike Haag apply 3D laser and Doppler technology to the crime scene for new insights into the "single bullet theory" and the "grassy knoll." (NPR)
IRA FLATOW, HOST:
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Those of us of a certain age can remember exactly what we were doing on a Friday this hour 50 years ago when we heard the news. President Kennedy's assassination horrified and transfixed the nation. It was murder in plain sight, seemingly the easiest kind of crime to solve. But 50 years later the basic facts of the case are still debated.
Was there a second shooter on the grassy knoll? Could a single bullet really hit the president and Texas Governor Connally and remain intact? This month Gallup reported that 61 percent of Americans still believe JFK's murder was a conspiracy. Well, also this month a new PBS documentary asks whether modern technology could crack the cold case.
"Cold Case JFK" aired on PBS series "Nova." It features the father and son ballistics team of Luke and Michael Haag and in the film the Haags use old school shooting reconstruction, plus they use modern high tech gadgetry not available to the Warren Commission or others that followed to probe the grassy knoll and the single bullet theories, and what they found is quite revealing.
I want to introduce them. Luke Haag is a forensic scientist specializing in ballistics, also the former technical director of the Phoenix crime lab. He joins us from Phoenix, Arizona. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.
LUKE HAAG: Thank you, Ira, from a rainy Phoenix.
FLATOW: Well, yeah. That's good news, I think.
HAAG: It is.
FLATOW: Michael Haag is also a forensic scientist specializing in ballistics. He's a senior forensic scientist with the Albuquerque Police Department and he joins us from Albuquerque. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.
MICHAEL HAAG: Thank you.
FLATOW: Luke, as a ballistic expert, what kind of test did you carry out on the magic bullet to prove whether there could really be a magic bullet or not?
HAAG: Well, a number of them. This is an extremely unusual bullet. It was unknown to the forensic community then, still pretty much the case now. So Mike and I have tracked this bullet through a variety of soft tissue simulates with Doppler radar, looked at deflection issues, filmed it with high-speed video, some of which you saw in the "Nova" program, a lot of which still has yet to be shown.
So those are some examples of things that weren't available in the '60s. Frankly weren't available until more recently.
FLATOW: And in the program you actually shot the bullet through three feet of pine, right? It went through - and then it emerged intact.
HAAG: Well, actually, Mike made the shot.
HAAG: I just went up and dug the bullet out.
FLATOW: Mike, is that correct?
HAAG: Yeah. I think it was over three feet of wood, and one of the important aspects learned from this was just that this is a very stable bullet that as long as it stays nose forward, it takes quite a bit to stop it. And even though wood is not a more modern simulate for tissue, it also goes to the fact that if you just put it through tissue, like the president's neck, it really doesn't lose as much speed.
It certainly doesn't become deformed like a lot of people would think or expect.
FLATOW: And you discovered that the bullet, when it came out, actually started to tumble.
HAAG: Well, that's true when it goes through a soft tissue simulate, meaning something that simulates muscle tissue in human beings, and there are a number of those. And no matter what Mike and I fired these bullets through, they stayed stable in the tissue simulate, just as they did in John F. Kennedy's upper back and neck. But as soon as the bullet emerged into the air, it starts yawing or tumbling like a badly thrown football.
And that is of great importance when we come to Connally's entry wound.
FLATOW: Explain that.
HAAG: Well, Connally's entry wound, when Dr. Shaw examined it and later testified, is not a nice round hole. It's the consequence of a destabilized bullet, a bullet that's going end over end. And when Robert Frazier, the senior FBI examiner, examined the clothing of Governor Connally, he also reported and testified that the bullet that produced that entry hole in the coat was destabilized.
So if you use some scientific thinking, something had to destabilize that bullet. And one good choice, of course, is President Kennedy.
FLATOW: And so your bullet theory matched the actual testing evidence and the actual - the body, of how it entered Governor Connally.
HAAG: Yes. It's easy to see, if one takes the time to learn about this evidence, that this bullet can easily go through two people. In fact, if you line them up and add them together, this bullet, from what Mike was just telling you about three feet of wood, would go through two people and start to enter a third one.
FLATOW: So there's no reason then to call it a magic bullet.
HAAG: It is not magic. It never was magic, and neither is it pristine.
FLATOW: When you say that, tell us what you mean, it wasn't pristine.
HAAG: If one looks at the Warren Commission exhibits, and they're downloadable, the base view, looking at the back end of the bullet, it's oval. It's out of round. This is the consequence of slamming into Governor Connally while in yaw. That squeezes the bullet just like you'd squeeze a toothpaste tube and some of the soft lead core will now be extruded, whereas before, when it was going straight, either through the wood, through gelatin, through ballistic soap, or through President Kennedy, when it emerges from those materials, it's still perfectly cylindrical.
But not when it now slams into the governor going sideways.
FLATOW: And what - what significance is that to the case, about it not being pristine?
HAAG: Well, that's the point. It's been incorrectly called pristine and repeatedly magic. That's entered the public vernacular in this country. But it is not, and there's a reason for that and I just explained it, hopefully.
HAAG: I think another aspect of that too, is people like to say that this bullet, the stretcher bullet, if you will, caused seven wounds. I keep hearing that number over and over again. And really, that's also a misnomer. That really changes the perception that people have of what occurred with this projectile. It's not even close to seven.
People used the number seven by talking about entrances and exits, and that's really not what the bullet is experiencing. It experienced one impact when it comes to the president, going through the neck area. It experienced one impact or set of impacts going through Connally's chest, one with the wrist, and if anything, a half with regard to his thigh.
So really, it's only about three impacts that this bullet sustained.
FLATOW: Michael, you started by looking at Oswald's rifle. Is it possible to get off three shots in the time Oswald had to do it? Do you have to be a good shooter?
HAAG: You know, as long as you look at the physical evidence and come to the conclusion that the president and Connally were hit by the same bullet, that gives you multiple seconds of time to make the shot between the next shot and the head shot. And in fact, with this mechanism, it's a bolt-action rifle, it's a very simple action, it is absolutely possible.
And we've shot this set of trajectories, if you will, numerous times, and it is doable. It is absolutely something that is realistically possible, to come on target, fire one shot that would be quote-unquote the magic bullet, if you will, extract, eject, rechamber a cartridge, come back on target, and fire again to make the head shot.
The first shot is nominally about 60 yards, 60 to 65 yards, and the second shot, the head shot, would nominally be about 90 yards. With a four power scope on top of this gun, these are not difficult shots.
FLATOW: But they said there were three shots fired. Could it be that there were only two shots fired?
HAAG: No, I think that it's very realistically possible that three shots were fired. It's just that there's no absolute recovered physical evidence that indicates where that first shot was. Now, witnesses are notoriously horrible when it comes to recording what actually happened in an event. But many witnesses indicate that as soon as the president's limousine turned from Houston onto Elm Street, when he's right below the sixth floor depository window, that's when they hear the first shot. And actually one of the things that is online now with PBS's website - with the Nova website, is some videography and high-speed filming that we did to document what happens when you put bullets of this type into asphalt at the correct angles as would've occurred from the sixth floor down into the asphalt in the street.
MIKE HAAG: And there's some very revealing, interesting results there. And even though there's no physical evidence to unfortunately examine, I think it's a very realistic possibility that that first shot is the miss and it occurred right as the president was below the 6th floor window.
FLATOW: Luke, what other new technologies did you use in your experiments?
HAAG: Again, we were only able to show some of the things on the Nova program, but Mike's become a world class expert in the use of 3D laser scanning. And we included that to look at some deflection issues. In other words, dealing with that missing bullet, if it struck the tree branches, if it struck a traffic light, a support pole, what would happen to the bullet? How much deflection would it undergo? Mike did that with the laser scanning system. The Doppler radar was added to that to get impact velocity and exit velocity.
So these two tools allowed us to look at a lot of other what ifs. And I'd like to add to Mike's thing, there were three fired cartridge cases. And the predominant witnesses right around the - the best ear witnesses right around the intersection of Elm and Houston are all in pretty good agreement that there were three shots, including the three employees that are immediately below the shooter there on the 5th floor.
FLATOW: Tell us about how this new system - what is the Doppler? How does the Doppler work with ballistics?
HAAG: Well, it's a specialized system, not too different than the concept of police radar. It tracks moving objects, but it's designed for bullets. So you'll see it in a couple of the clips in the Nova program as it looks like a conical device. It's sending out a microwave beam. It's following the bullet in its flight and giving the velocity at every inch, if I wanted to print it out that way. It will show the impact velocity.
It'll then show the velocity of the projectile or projectile fragments coming out the other side of the target. If it's fragmented, it'll track them individually. And finally, I can tell you if the bullet is intact or destabilized and what - how often it's yawing as it continues on its way. None of this was readily available until very recently.
FLATOW: Michael, let's talk about the fatal head shot. What happened there?
HAAG: I think one of the things that causes people a lot of confusion is the difference in the effect of the two different shots to the president, the one that strikes basically just soft tissue and the one that strikes his head. And unfortunately in this country and around the world, the majority of what the common populace believes about firearms is obtained - or education is obtain from TV and other illegitimate sources that really aren't doing - this really isn't doing the population any favors.
So when we examine what was going on with this particular type of ammunition, when it struck soft tissue versus when it struck actually harder bone, like skull bone, and then proceeded into a softer medium like brain matter, there were some very revealing results. And some of this is documented in the "Nova" program as well, just that in the soft tissue these bullets are very stable, they're very hard. They punch right through almost like an ice pick.
But then if you go to an impact to the head where this projectile does strike harder bone, it begins to either yaw very quickly or you can fail the jacket, begin to expose the softer lead core, and it becomes much closer to a hollow-point-style bullet in that. It begins to fragment and come apart. When you have...
* * *
FLATOW: This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. We're talking this hour about the JFK assassination and what new technologies could tell us about this 50-year-old crime. My guests are Luke Haag, forensic scientist specializing in ballistics. His son, Michael Haag, senior forensic scientist with the Albuquerque Police Department. Michael, you were talking about the head shot and the misconceptions that people have had all these years about it. Please go back and re-explain that, if you will.
HAAG: Well, I think I was just trying to make the point - and this occurs regularly to forensic scientists dealing with firearms when they go in to testify, is that our juries, our common public, is mis-educated by what they believe to be truths with regard to what happens when bullets strike things. So really what we're dealing with in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is that we've got the same bullet striking him in two different ways in two different mediums, if you will. The next shot is soft tissue, so it behaves one way.
When this bullet struck his head, it fragmented and behaved very, very differently. It created a much larger what's called temporary cavity or splash effect, if you will, which is the reason the head shot looks so dramatically different and is so much more catastrophic. But what's even more important here is that we have the physical evidence to back that up.
If you look at the fragments that were recovered in the front of the limousine, they're demonstrating exactly what happened. They're showing that this bullet came apart and there are legitimate physical reasons why this occurred. It struck the skull bone.
HAAG: And I should add, Ira, that those fragments are parts of a 6.5 millimeter Carcano bullet that Bob Frasier at the FBI and others after him matched back to Oswald's rifle.
FLATOW: The bullet was matched to the rifle.
HAAG: The fragmented bullet.
HAAG: Two major pieces. Now, there's about 90 grains of the 160 of it missing. But importantly two fragments that have rifling marks on them were matched back to the same rifle abandoned on the 6th floor and later traced to Lee Harvey Oswald.
FLATOW: How did you - Mike, how did you reconstruct the head shot?
HAAG: Well, we used different medium and material. Of course, there's not too many volunteers that are willing to sustain this kind of thing, so we used things like ordinance gelatin to simulate the brain tissue, the internal organ tissue. And then we used actually flat bone from animals in order to simulate the skull. And, indeed, we're able to reproduce this fragmentation aspect in live fire testing.
FLATOW: There was the most recent film - a special on the Reels channel - maybe you're familiar with that - that talked about that there had been a Secret Service agent behind the car that carried the president with an AR15 assault weapon. And that he accidentally shot it and hit the president in his head and that would explain all the fragmentary hollow-point fragments left there. You're not buying that.
HAAG: I've seen the program, if I can jump in, Mike.
HAAG: It's just another example of the conspiracy industry. This is an old story that's just been exhumed after Agent Hickey has passed away. But it's easily disproved. In about three slides, if we were in a television studio, I could disprove it. First of all, there are no evaporating bullets, so where are the fragments of a 223 bullet? There are none.
The entry hole, the proponent of this idea drills a hole in a skull. First of all, the hole in the back of Kennedy's skull is not circular. It's elongated. And it's nominally 6 by 15 millimeters. This proponent doesn't realize that full metal-jacketed bullets can produce a hole in skull bone that's slightly smaller than the bullet that produced them. So those are just two quick reasons why this is an absurdity.
FLATOW: Let's talk about the grassy knoll theory. Michael, how did you put that to the test?
HAAG: Well, one of the interesting things - one of the interesting technologies that we used in this examination is what's called 3D laser scanning. And I used an instrument in conjunction with a good friend named Tony Grisham, we used what's called a lika scan station, in order to move about Dealey Plaza and use very accurate laser range finding to create a true digital 3D representation of Dealey Plaza, not only outside but also inside the 6th floor.
And by blending this data together you create one big huge three dimensional realistic world that is accurate for each data point to about 5 millimeters. Again, this is a technology that would've been unheard of in 1963 and is actually still developing within the forensic and crime scene community now. It's something that really came on the scene in about 2006. So actually I'm sitting here with my laptop in front of me looking at a representation of Dealey Plaza.
So whether it's the grassy knoll theory or a theory that a bullet came from the Dal-Tex building or any other potential place that anybody can think of right now, I can simply go into this 3D data and begin to get distances and angles and then evaluate whether or not, number one, the trajectories are even possible to reach the president. If they are, what would be the intercept angles with the president?
So for example, with the grassy knoll, it's certainly possible. I think anyone who stands there could also see that. But I can look at the distances and then determine with whatever gun we'd like to choose how much speed the projectile would lose over that distance and where the bullet would go through the president. With regard to the grassy knoll, I think there are two aspects, one forensic and one not, that kind of rule this out.
Number one, there's not a lot of physical evidence to indicate there's an entrance on the front right, regardless of all the stories that I've heard. And number two, the left side of the president's head is relatively intact compared to the right. So if a shot were to come from the grassy knoll, the wound ballistics do not fit. It doesn't make sense.
But from a non-forensic perspective, I kind of have to laugh at the grassy knoll just because as an individual standing there, and as a shooter, it seems like such a strange, ridiculous place to try and attempt to assassinate someone from, because your back is to the open. You're standing with your back to a parking lot with a picket fence in front of you. It's laughable, quite frankly.
FLATOW: Something that's very graphic in the Zapruder film is that the president, as he - as the head shot happens, his head goes backwards as if he's getting shot from the front. It arches backwards. How do you explain that?
HAAG: Oliver Stone's one of the ones who I just saw recently stand up and say we can all see that the president's obviously shot from the front because his head moves back. There's two explanations for this. One's given by the lifelong wound ballistician named Larry Sturdivan, who worked for the wound ballistics lab. It may be neurological response. I'm not prepared to affirm or refute that at all. There's a physical explanation called Newton's third law of motion. And Mike and I have demonstrated this a number of times.
A doctor - Professor Alvarez also demonstrated it. It's basically if a bullet goes into the back of Kennedy's head and propels a quantity of brain matter that we see in frame 313 out the front, it's basically a propulsive effect, a jet effect, action-reaction. Not the consequence of a frontal strike. The momentum of a bullet stopping in a human being barely moves him at all. And if that were true, if Oliver Stone were right, then there'd be a bullet in there because there's no exit in the back or in the left side of Kennedy's head.
So it has kind of a commonsense appeal. But when you look at those two choices, a neuro-spasm or physics or a combination of both, it's explainable.
FLATOW: There's no way...
HAAG: I think it's important to note there too that I learned at a very young age from my dad that you go out and you actually shoot these things. You shoot that type of ammunition on materials that are similar, as close as possible, and learn from what you're actually observing. So I mean that's real true observable science. And we've been able to do that in this case as well. Whether it's a mixture of neurological result or physics, we've been able to show the physics part of it.
FLATOW: So from your analysis of the physics, from the evidence, from your own testing, you can confirm that it was a single - the single bullet is not a magic bullet and there was no shot fired from a grassy knoll.
HAAG: There's no physical evidence to indicate anything else. That's correct.
HAAG: Not in half a century.
FLATOW: And it would be possible to get off those three shots - you did it yourself - using the same gun.
HAAG: Multiple times.
HAAG: It's the two that's important, Ira, because we have a missed shot for which there's no time sequence. But if it's - when the car turns the corner, there's plenty of time to do all three of them.
FLATOW: This is quite interesting stuff. If this crime happened today and we were able to investigate it with the technology we have now, do you think there would be conspiracy theories anymore?
HAAG: I think there will always be because there's something in our psyche that likes a mystery, that likes to think there's got to be more to it than just some loner, loser, ne'er-do-well Marxist or whatever the person's philosophy might be, could kill the leader of a country. So there's no stopping it, but my urging would be for those who have a scientific mind to find out what the physical evidence is, then to understand that physical evidence; there's where the public's been let down. No one has really explained what the physical evidence is in this case and what it means.
It probably won't change the minds of a lot of individuals, but the physical evidence and the findings will be lasting long after I'm gone and even after Mike's gone.
FLATOW: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much for taking time to be with us today.
HAAG: You're welcome.
FLATOW: Luke Haag is a forensic scientist specializing in ballistics. He's a former technical director of the Phoenix Crime Lab. Michael Haag, also a forensic scientist specializing in ballistics. He's senior forensic scientist with the Albuquerque police department.
OPEN BORDER? There is no “Open Border” policy. The only significant differences between Trump’s policies and Biden’s is that Title 42 expulsions had to end because the pandemic was declared ended and they aren’t forcibly separating families that cross.
That’s it. Detentions and deportations are up because the influx from various countries around the world is rising. I wonder why all those people are struggling so hard to get to the US when all I hear from folks like you is that Biden is destroying the country? Evidently the rest of the world disagrees.
You cannot have an impenetrable border unless you are willing to create something like the DMZ between North and South Korea with mines, fences, guard towers and automatic weapons. And that’s more to keep North Koreans in than anyone else out. Even that isn’t impenetrable as was recently demonstrated. Is that what you’re looking for in the US? Because it sure seems like it.
THERE IS ONE GENERAL PRINCIPLE which one may accept; that the whole of history from the earliest times until today, has been determined by the movements of peoples about the earth’s surface; migratory tribes settled and adapted their cultures to new conditions; conquest, colonization, commercial penetration, religious proselytizing, topographical changes, land becoming worked out, pastures disappearing, harbor silting up — have preserved a constant fluidity of population. It is useless to pretend that, suddenly, at the beginning of the Boer War, the foundation of the Third International, or at this or that time in recent history, the piano stopped and the musical chairs were over, the lava stream cooled and congealed, and the whole process was at an end, for no other reason than that the enlightened people of Northern Europe — having lost their belief in revealed religion and falling back helplessly for moral guidance on their own tenderer feelings — have decided that it is Wrong. The process will go on, because it is an organic process in human life. One nation may artificially restrain its people from going to a certain place; it may bring about the ruin of those who do. But in the end the future of European settlement in Central Africa will depend on the suitability of the country for the foreign system of cultivation by large, individual landowners, on the ability of the immigrant races to maintain efficiency in an alien climate, to propagate there, and on the re-establishment of the world’s markets on a basis which will enable them to sell their produce at a price high enough to maintain their standard of living. On first acquaintance, and for a few months’ visit, the climate of the Kenya highlands is slightly intoxicating but wholly agreeable. It is still uncertain, however, whether Nordic people will be able to live permanently at that altitude and on that latitude. Until the second generation have grown up, it is impossible to say. Many of the children I met seemed perfectly normal in health, and peculiarly self-reliant; in others there seemed to be a somewhat morbid alternation of listlessness and high excitement. There is as yet no adequate secondary education. Those who can afford it, send their children to school in England.
— Evelyn Waugh
UKRAINE, WEDNESDAY, 27 SEPTEMBER
Asked repeatedly by CNN on Wednesday how hundreds of Cubans came to fight for Russia in Ukraine, Russia’s Ambassador to Cuba Victor Koronelli said the two countries are in communication about the subject.
“The competent organs are at work and are in touch both on the Russia side and the Cuban side,” he said, adding that he “does not know how many Cubans are there; I don’t have the information.”
This is first time Russian officials have commented on allegations that hundreds of Cuban mercenaries are fighting in their invasion of Ukraine.
Koronelli spoke at an “appreciation ceremony” on Wednesday where Russia donated 672 tons of cooking oil to Cuba, which is weathering the worst economic crisis the communist-run island has seen in decades.
Cuban officials have defended their longtime ally Russia during its war in Ukraine, but in September said they had arrested 17 Cubans who had violated local laws by attempting to fight for Russia as paid mercenaries and for alleged human trafficking. Some family members of Cubans fighting for Russia allege their relatives had been tricked into joining the Russian war effort with promises of money, Russian citizenship and assurances they would not be sent to the front lines.
Video released by Russia appears to show its Black Sea Fleet commander alive and well — just days after Ukraine claimed he had been killed in a strike on the fleet's headquarters in Crimea. Ukraine's military said it is "clarifying" information regarding Admiral Viktor Sokolov.
Russia is constructing a new railway that will link the occupied cities of Mariupol, Volnovakha and Donetsk to Russia, according to a Ukrainian official.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed US Abrams tanks delivered to Ukraine "will burn" like other weapons and will not alter the course of the war. Analysts expect the modern tanks to add a powerful ground component to Kyiv's forces.
CNN obtained exclusive access to a frontline drone unit as Ukraine's troops make an offensive push near the eastern city of Bakhmut.
THEY SAY MY VERSE IS SAD
They say my verse is sad: no wonder;
Its narrow measure spans
Tears of eternity, and sorrow,
Not mine, but man’s.
This is for all ill-treated fellows
Unborn and unbegot,
For them to read when they’re in trouble
And I am not.
BROOKS ROBINSON, SLICK-FIELDING ORIOLES HALL OF FAME THIRD BASEMAN, DIES AT 86
In his 23-year career, all of it with the Baltimore Orioles, he had 2,848 hits and 268 home runs. But he was best known for his unparalleled defense.
by Richard Goldstein
Brooks Robinson, the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer who was perhaps the finest third baseman in baseball history, has died. He was 86.
His death was announced by the Orioles in a statement that did not include further information.
In his 23 seasons with the Orioles, from 1955 to 1977, Robinson became known as the Human Vacuum Cleaner for his ability to snare just about anything hit his way.
Charging topped grounders or bunts, backhanding smashes, ranging to his left or his right, he won 16 consecutive Gold Glove awards as the American League’s leading fielder at third base. Only the pitcher Greg Maddux, with 18 Gold Gloves, has exceeded Robinson’s total.
Robinson played on four pennant-winning teams, two of them World Series champions. He was the most valuable player of the 1970 World Series, in which the Orioles beat the Cincinnati Reds in five games, for his spectacular plays and for his hitting: He had a .429 batting average and hit a pair of home runs. (The Orioles also beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games in the 1966 Series.)
Robinson had 2,848 hits, 268 home runs and a career batting average of .267. He was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1964, when he hit 28 homers, had a league-leading 118 runs batted in and batted .317, all career highs. But he was best known for his fielding.
Robinson was named an All-Star every season from 1960 to 1974. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983, his first year of eligibility, with almost 92 percent of the votes.
In an interview with the former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent for his 2008 oral history, “We Would Have Played for Nothing,” Robinson recalled that after the 1970 World Series, “all the writers were waiting on me to come to my locker,” but Rex Barney, the Orioles’ broadcaster, said: “Well, don’t worry about him. Just interview his gloves. They’re a lot better, and that’s who’s doing all the work.”
Robinson wasn’t using his World Series glove the next year. It had been transported to the Hall of Fame.
Brooks Calbert Robinson was born on May 18, 1937, in Little Rock, Ark., where his father was a fireman and also played semipro baseball. He listened to St. Louis Cardinals games on the radio and grew determined to become a major league player. Tossing tennis balls against the steps of his family home hour after hour and grabbing the caroms, he taught himself to field a baseball coming at him from all sorts of angles.
Signed by the Orioles’ organization out of high school, Robinson started out as a second baseman for their York, Pa., farm team in 1955. But he was soon switched to third base, where his marvelous reactions enabled him to corral hard-hit balls.
Robinson got into a few games with the Orioles in 1955 and 1956. In the spring of 1957, Paul Richards, the team’s manager, thought he found a flaw in the mechanics of Robinson’s backhand plays and asked George Kell, the longtime third baseman who was concluding his major league career with the Orioles, to correct it.
But Kell noted that Robinson had not missed a ball hit to his backhand in six weeks of spring training. “He was already so good that there wasn’t much I could tell him,” Kell recalled in an interview with The Baltimore Sun in 2004.
Robinson played 145 games with the Orioles in 1958 (he hit a disappointing .238) and, after serving six months in the Arkansas National Guard and spending much of the 1959 season in the minor leagues, returned to the Orioles to stay in 1960.
With Robinson at third base and the future Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio and later Mark Belanger, both brilliant fielders, alongside him at shortstop for much of his career, the left side of the Orioles’ infield provided all the support a pitcher could want.
“I always had great hand-eye coordination and was blessed with the instinct to be where the baseball was hit,” Robinson told Danny Peary for his book “We Played the Game” (1994).
“I wasn’t fast and I didn’t have a great arm,” he added, “yet I compensated by quickly getting my feet in position to throw and getting rid of the ball quicker than anyone else.”
Robinson complemented his natural talents with hard work.
He told Fay Vincent how he “worked on the slow hit, the topped balls or bunts.”
“I used to line up about 10 or 12 balls in a row,” he recalled. “You just come in and pick one up and you’d take another step and pick one up and throw it.”
When Robinson retired, he held major league records for most games, putouts, assists and double plays by a third baseman, as well as highest fielding percentage. He was later a television broadcaster for the Orioles.
Information about his survivors was not immediately available.
When Robinson entered the Hall of Fame, Kell, a fellow Arkansas native, was inducted as well. (Robinson was selected by baseball writers, Kell by the Veterans Committee.)
“Is Brooks the best ever at third? No doubt about it,” Kell told The Sun in 2004.
Sparky Anderson, who managed the Reds in the 1970 World Series, found himself tormented by all those sure hits that Robinson turned into outs.
“I’m beginning to see Brooks in my sleep,” Investor’s Business Daily said Anderson remarked that October. “If I dropped this paper plate, he’d pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first.”
by Alexander Cockburn (2005)
I guess I can call myself one of the Dylan generation since, at 63, I’m the same age as him, but the prose stylists that allured an Anglo-Irish lad hopelessly strapped into the corsets of Latinate gentility were always those of American rough-housers: first, in the mid-’50s, Jack Kerouac, then Edward Abbey, then Hunter Thompson.
Thank God I never tried to imitate any of them. Thompson probably spawned more bad prose than anyone since Hemingway, but they all taught me that at its most rapturous, its most outraged, its most exultant, American prose can let go and teach you to let go, to embrace the vastness, the richness, the beauty and the grotesqueries of America in all its thousands of landscapes.
I tried to re-read Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ a few years ago and put it down soon enough. That’s a book for excited teenagers. Abbey at full stretch remains a great writer and he'll stay in the pantheon for all time. Lately sitting in motels along the highway I've been dipping into his diaries, ‘Confessions of a Barbarian,’ and laughing every couple of pages. “Writing for the National Geographic," Abbey grumbled, “is like trying to masturbate in ski mitts.”
Could Thompson have written that? Probably not. When it came to sex and the stimulation of the synapses by agents other than drugs or booze or violent imagery Thompson was silent, unlike Abbey who loved women. Thompson wrote for the guys, at a pitch so frenzied, so over-the-top in its hyperbolic momentum that often enough it reminded me of the squeakier variant of the same style developed by his Herald-Trib stable mate and exponent of the “New Journalism," Tom Wolfe. In their respective stylistic uniforms they always seemed hysterically frightened of normalcy, particularly in the shape of girls, so keenly appreciated by Abbey.
Thompson's best writing was always in the form of flourishes, of pell-mell bluster wrenched from himself for the anxious editors waiting well past deadline at ‘Scanlan’s’ or ‘Rolling Stone,’ and in his later years often put together from his jottings by the writers and editors aware that a new ‘Fear and Loathing’ on the masthead was a sure-fire multiplier of newstand sales. Overall, Thompson's political perceptions weren’t that interesting except for occasional bitter flashes, as in this sour and prescient paragraph written in 1972:
“How many more of these goddam elections are we going to have to write off as lame but ‘regrettably necessary’ holding actions? And how many more of these stinking double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me at least the 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils? I understand, along with a lot of other people, that the big thing, this year, is Beating Nixon. But that was also the big thing, as I recall, twelve years ago in 1960—and as far as | can tell, we've gone from bad to worse to rotten since then, and the outlook is for more of the same.”
There's nothing much to the notion of “Gonzo” beyond the delighted projections of Thompson’s readers. The introduction of the reporter as roistering first-person narrator? Mark Twain surely did that, albeit sedately, and less sedately we had Henry Miller, another man who loved women. Which of the road books will last longest between Miller's ‘American Nightmare,’ ‘On the Road’ and ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’? Kerouac and then Thompson drove faster but they didn’t write better. Norman Mailer took the form to the level of genius in ‘Advertisements for Myself,’ with political perceptions acuter and writing sharper by far than anything Thompson ever produced.
“Gonzo” was an act, defined by its beholders, the thought that here was one of Us, fried on drugs, hanging on to the cliff edge of reality only by his fingernails, doing hyperbolic battle with the pomposities and corruptions of Politics as Usual. And no man was ever a more willing captive of the Gonzo myth he created, decked out in its increasingly frayed bunting of ‘Fear and Loathing…’ The Strange and Terrible…? decorated with Ralph Steadman's graphic counterpoints.
Like Evel Knievel, Thompson's stunts demanded that he arc higher and further with each successive sentence’s outrage to propriety, most memorably in his obit for Richard Nixon: “If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin,”
Kerouac ended sadly at 47. As Abbey nastily put it, “Jack Kerouac, like a sick refrigerator, worked too hard at keeping cool and died on his mamas lap from alcohol and infantilism.” Abbey himself passed gloriously at 62, carried from the hospital by his pals to die at his own pace without tubes dripping brief reprieves into his veins, then buried in the desert without the sanction of the state.
How about Thompson? His Boston lawyer George Tobia Jr. told the Globe the 67-year-old author sat in his kitchen Sunday afternoon in his home in Woody Creek, Colorado, stuck a .45-caliber handgun in his mouth, and killed himself while his wife listened on the phone and his son and daughter-in-law were in another room of his house. His wife had no idea what had happened until she returned home later.
Seems creepy to me, same way Gary Webb blowing his brains out a while back with a handgun was creepy. Why give the loved ones that as a souvenir? I suppose Thompson's message was: We were together at the end. Webb was truly alone. He lifted the curtain on one little sideshow of the American Empire, and could never quite fathom that when you do that The Man doesn’t forget or forgive. Thompson engaged the Empire on his own terms and quit the battlefield on his own terms too, which I guess is what Gonzo is all about.
“LIKE MOST OTHERS, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles - a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other - that kept me going.”
—Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
It’s odd, I don’t talk about it much because I can see the eye rolling, the “tuning out”. People no longer can conceive of a supernatural God. They believe in the most utter BS, the most preposterous, obvious lies, but will not consider that just maybe there are things beyond their comprehension that truly exist. “Organized religion” has been so thoroughly demonized and infiltrated by evil agents, that jaded people are embracing communism, paganism and satanism. We are seeing this most plainly in the treatment of children, and the erasure of women…by women! I wonder why God chose to reveal Himself to me, as I am certainly not very virtuous, or worthy. I WAS searching, reading everything from “The Celestine Prophecy”, to Charles Stanley, so maybe that’s it, idk. But, yeah. Increasingly, Scripture makes sense, where before it was gibberish. To the degree you seek Him, you get “eyes to see, ears to hear”. And that involves admitting your own insignificance, sinfulness, and need for God.