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COOL, BREEZY CONDITIONS will persist today followed by gradual warming and drying through the week. Offshore flow midweek will promote warm weather even along the coast. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): An overcast 48F on the coast this first day of October. Warm temps & maybe an east are forecast into the week. I see a hint of rain early next week.
With the end of last year's rainfall collection cycle yesterday here are my totals (our average is about 38"):
2022: Oct .18” - Nov 3.55” - Dec 9.23”
2023: Jan 10.58” - Feb 4.41” - March 11.75” - April 2.10” - May 1.71” - June .07” - July .00” - August .15” - Sept .64”
AVA PHOTOG JEFF GOLL: The sandbar at Navarro Beach has built up so the Navarro River no longer flows to the Ocean. Recent large surf along with all the silt the river brought down has created a substantial bar.
AV UNIFIED NEWS
I hope you are enjoying the weekend and getting ready for Homecoming Week.
Some things to know for the coming week:
Early Dismissal All Week For Plps! The schedule is a little different this week.
Students Need To Attend Their Plps!
Please make sure that you attend your scheduled PLP session with your family. Students will actually help lead the conversation regarding their classes and their plans for career and college for the future. Thank you for filling out the information about your goals. Your PLP advisor will support this new process which is one of the recommendations from the WASC visit last year. Staff have also commented on an Excel spreadsheet to try and give you as much feedback and kudos as possible to share at the conference!
Homecoming Football And Dance
The hallway decorations will be much enjoyed. Please be respectful of your fellow students and not destroy their efforts. The high school will have some lunch time games this week and the King and Queen voting is Friday. They worked hard on Friday afternoon and through the weekend to set up. The football game is Friday at 6:00 p.m. The dance starts at 8:00 p.m. and ends at 11:00 p.m. Please make sure your parents know to pick up by 11:00. Important: If you are bringing a guest that is not attending our school, please make sure that you have returned the guest form by Wednesday. You can receive one in the school office. We need to make sure that your guest student is verified by their school of residence before they are approved to come. Thank you to your chaperones who are taking a night away from their family to be there for you. I will look forward to seeing you there.
Staff have also heard rumblings that there is an“after party” which is not school sponsored. Please be careful with your choices and make sure your parents/guardians are aware of your participation. The whole staff worries about your safety.
Just a reminder that when you receive your driver’s permit, please make sure you bring your paperwork to Miss Celeste so that she can sign you up for behind the wheel training. The District pays for the training, if it is during school time!
Library & Tutoring
Just a reminder to seek out support in your classes throughout the day in the library. First receive permission from your teacher and then check in. The only time that is not good is the 6th period on Thursday. Any other day, there is help available. Ms. Malfavon and Ms. Tompkins can help you. Ms. Malfavon and Ms. Pantajja are also available after school on Tuesday and Ms. Suarez is free afterschool on Wednesday. Ask for help!
Congratulations to our Volleyball, Soccer and Football teams. You are all on a roll and the sportsmanship and hard work is appreciated!
Congratulations to Mr. Ballentine and some of his students for participating in a weekend long experience in San Francisco and El Cerrito featuring Japanese culture and woodworking.
Have a great week ahead!
Mrs. Louise Simson, Superintendent
AV Unified School District
A tasting flight from one grafted tree - Granny Smith and Fuji and golden delicious and the last of the first ripening an early summer red. A bounty harvest after nothing last year. Still pruning it upwards away from munching four footed visitors.
Took three lugs of reds to foodbank and had plenty pies and juice. Chew and spit!
SHERIFF KENDALL spoke about Fort Bragg’s CARE unit at the Supervisors Tuesday meeting (under "public expression"):
There's been a lot of talk about homeless issues and things like that. I had the opportunity to meet with Chief Cervenka this week regarding some of those issues, specifically Fort Bragg’s CARE response unit. There are a lot of different issues that surround these problems. If we look at them like a wheel, there are several spokes in the wheel. In some cases a proactive response has done very well for us with some of the behavioral health things. Fort Bragg's program is different from what we put in with our dual response unit [crisis van]. But there is overlap. We are having some discussions. I am talking to the Chief there and our deputies on the coast. If we try to build out the wheel there are a lot of spokes to put in place. I am not 100% on everything that's going on with this. But so far everything is looking pretty good. The difference between a proactive response and a reactive response is the personnel time that is saved. We don't have people digressing to places where they should not be. There are a lot of things that bring these issues together. Narcotics abuse, behavioral health. Problems with the social fabric. There are several things I've seen over the years where I could have predicted the outcome based on the environment people were in. When we start looking at all of these things and taking a deeper dive we will get more of a proactive approach to stop the problem before it becomes a problem. We will continue working with Chief Cervenka on these things. And I will report in. We will see what we can do together. … The fact that we have been able to reduce the transport of 5150s by almost 60% in two years is part of that proactive versus reactive approach. It is good for my deputies and it frees us up to deal with things like the weekend we just had. You can only get 5 gallons of work in a 5 gallon bucket, not 12. We will have more information on this in the next month or so. I'm a little busy right now. As we slow down heading into winter I think we will have time to get deeper into this. When the weather changes into winter we will have more interactions with folks which will give us more data to work off of.
Dianne Feinstein came to Mendocino twice.
Once for the oil drilling hearings.
Mike G. also recall her walking into the Fort Bragg hearing on offshore oil. She was resplendent in a dark lavender suit, thick hair, and her then regal bearing. “Oh my,” exclaimed a woman near me. “She is a force to be reckoned with.”
National Women's Political Caucus had a Fundraising Event at the Grace Hudson Museum in 1996 when she ran for her 2nd term in the Senate.
HARD FOUGHT LOSS TO VISITING TOMALES YESTERDAY At The Boonville Fairgrounds, Coach John Toohey Reporting:
We lost 32-38 - our last shot from about the fifteen yard line hit the dirt just beyond our tight ends reach.
We gave up two crucial turnovers - one right before the first half ended and one right as the second half began. Those both turned into points.
Tomales runs a grinding methodical offense, our boys run a home run at any point offense - that’s exactly how the scoring was shared today. A slow drudging from Tomales answered by fireworks from AV.
Tomales looked like they were going to grind the game away in the 4th - but on their own ten, Jack Spacek punched the ball free from the fullback and into the hands of defensive end Ivan Camarillo, who returned it 15 yards before being tackled. That set up our push to try and tie, ending in a pass just out of reach.
The kids are showing incredible growth playing the worlds most challenging team sport - for many, this was only their fourth game - yet we have players like first year center Dominic Sanchez identifying defensive fronts, and freshmen nose tackle Alexis Valencia filing through a catalogue of defensive techniques to get an advantage.
Luis Perez went from a defensive liability last time we played the Braves to completely shutting down Tomales’s right side - Eric Perez and Jack Spacek gave the Tomales defense fits all day chasing them a round the field. Omar Anguiano caught a touchdown pass and solidified himself as the teams number one safety.
We as a team, are at a point where we are beyond moral victories - and that was a game we should have won. We expect to win every game we play, and the league title is now realistically within our reach should we play at our potential.
I am incredibly inspired by these student athletes.
JONAH RASKIN'S EXCELLENT ‘MUSINGS ON COMMUNISM & ANTI-COMMUNISM.’ “I am not now, nor have I ever been…” was an excellent look back at a terrible time in American history, and reminded me that around age twenty or so when I got to know communists as a wide-eyed member of the Congress On Racial Equality (CORE) in San Francisco. All I knew then about the left was what I'd read in Dos Passos' USA Trilogy, but even as inchoate as my political thinking was, and it was hardly thinking so much as emotional horror at race hatred and its manifestation in the Bay Area as strict segregation, all I knew first hand was that my black high school teammates lived in Marin City, and we never saw each other outside the fields of play. Now that everyone's a liberal, it's hard to imagine how thoroughly retro and vicious race relations were in the late fifties, early sixties. Those first CORE demos never drew more than three or four hundred or so foot soldiers, the boldest of whom were arrested and roughly handled by the forces of law and order. One demo at Auto Row on Van Ness saw my brother and my then-girlfriend lock themselves into a shiny new vehicle in the sales window of a dealership where no black people were permitted to hold jobs where they were visible — ditto for all the Frisco hotels. The cops had to cut bro and girlfriend out with bolt cutters. There were so few “reds” that SF still maintained a Red Squad into whose files your name and photograph would be lodged if you were a recurring presence among the bolshies. I managed to acquire an FBI file, a copy of which I still have somewhere which, among other major errors in my modest contributions to racial righteousness, the feds placed me at the infamous events in Selma, 1965. In fact, I was in a tiny village on the South China Sea in the Borneo state of Sarawak with the first wave of Peace Corps volunteers. My leftwing associations a few years earlier had gotten me quite a grilling by the Peace Corps before they cleared me for placement overseas. I've never met a communist I didn't like, and now that they're extinct, I miss them.
MORE BAD NEWS FOR STONERS: A massive Danish study based on nearly 7 million health records drew a strong correlation between heavy cannabis use and increased risk of schizophrenia in young men.
“ZOOM TROLLS have flooded recent public meetings from Santa Rosa to Ukiah to Walnut Creek, subjecting people to racist, antisemitic rants that are difficult to curb without impacting public discourse.” Santa Rosa Press Democrat last week. Some anonymous cretin zoomed into a meeting of the Mendo supervisors a couple of weeks ago, enlivening the turgid proceedings with an N-word barrage.
ZOOM may have been useful during the worst of Covid, so why not require people to show up in person? That would end the Zoom prob. How many people use it to get an unheard word in with the Supes anyway?
DA EYSTER doesn't deign to respond to AVA inquiries these days — our relationship has waxed and waned over the years, and at the mo we're apparently in wane mode. I called last week to get a yes or no out of his liege on whether or not he intends to run for judge against Clay Brennan of Ten Mil Court. No call back.
BRENNAN got his Superior Court sinecure through his mom, an influential federal judge out of the Bay Area. These positions are sinecures defined, defined, I tell you! They're seldom contested anywhere but especially in Mendocino County where the legal eagles flock tightly together, many of them undoubtedly yearning to land a Superior Court slot for themselves some rosy day.
WHAT KIND OF JUDGE IS BRENNAN? The only complaints I've heard about the guy are from Eyster. It's not like our over-large contingent of judges — 9 for a population of 90,000, and got that way by a major fraud on The People — ever has to sort out complicated matters because the people appearing before them are almost all people of no means and less hope. (We used to have two Superior Court judges, but about 40 years ago, Mendo County's far flung justice courts were magically declared Superior Courts, meaning part-time judges suddenly got full-time pay, big pay and emoluments as Superior Court judges, elevated by state fiat on the grounds that only people trained as lawyers could function as judges. Huge swindle for Mendocino County forcing all of us to Ukiah where their majesties dwell. Fort Bragg still has a functioning court but all the serious stuff goes to Ukiah. In 1920, for instance, even murder cases were heard in the communities they occurred in.)
I DO KNOW that Brennan is pretty much confined to Fort Bragg, which seems to mean he's not highly regarded by his judicial peers, which to me is a major plus for the guy. I also know he has an expensive ex-wife he maintains in high style in a big house on Ukiah's Westside. The guy would probably be screwed if he lost the big pay that comes with his easy gig on the Mendocino Coast.
IS EYSTER ELECTABLE? He's been elected and re-elected District Attorney, which means in a county-wide election, which elections for judge are, he would have a huge advantage in name recognition over Brennan. The only people opposed to Eyster would be the defendant community, and they tend overwhelmingly not to vote.
DOES THE DA have a “judicial temperament”? Given the number of pure psychos and drop-fall dummies this county has suffered on the local bench that question is almost funny, but Eyster is not a difficult emotional read. He's a bombs away and the rocket's red glare kinda dude who takes crime personally, which is what you probably want in a prosecutor, but could he be fair as a judge? We'll see because he's probably a shoo-in against the hapless Brennan.
Mark your calendars and spread the word. The 1st Regenerative Uprising is coming to Tan Oak Park north of Laytonville, October 6th through 9th. We'll be teaching and sharing many skills essential to surviving and thriving in this place in the coming years. We come together as an extended community to restore harmony by advancing our collective capacity to live in balance with nature through three days of workshops that convey an array of practical and spiritual techniques to meet mounting modern challenges.
Workshops include: Herbal First Aid, Fermentation, Mushroom Gathering, Friction Fire, Archery, Spoon Carving, Power of Root Medicine, Earthen Plaster, Woodworking, Fiber Arts, Ceramics, Plant Dyes, Stories of Regeneration, Kids Activities, Biscuit Will on the wood fired cob Pizza oven. Taco Steve. Evening music.
Donation based event.
People can arrive and camp Friday night. Workshops all day Saturday and Sunday. Monday we will celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day with a Council of All Beings and dance by the Round Valley Feather Dancers.
Northern Mendocino Ecosystem Recovery Alliance www.NM-ERA.org
Collectively we have the power to rise to the challenges of our era. Together we can revitalize
Tan Oak Park, 58974 Highway 101 North, Leggett, CA 95585
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Bernie is a smart, young dog who’s had some training. Although he knows sit and down, he would benefit from basic puppy training. Bernie needs a guardian who has the time and experience to continue his lessons and socialization, guiding him to become a well behaved and much loved member of his family. Bernie may not have had a lot of interaction with other canines, and can be a bit “snarky” with new dogs. He needs to learn that other dogs can be fun! Overall, Bernie is a smart boy, and sure to be a great companion. Bernie is 6 months old and 49 handsome pounds. He’s neutered and ready to romp out the shelter door and into your life! For more about Bernie, and all our adoptable dogs and cats, head to mendoanimalshelter.com For information about adoptions, call 707-467-6453. Check out our Facebook Page and share our posts! And if you’re looking for a puppy, the shelter is full of the cutest and sweetest pups.
AVA's resident Archie Bunker, Tommy Wayne Kramer, finds no shortage of things to criticize about today's America, from Ukiah, his special focus and admittedly worthy of attention, to all points East, West, North and South. And he seems to pine for the day when white dominance of American society was unquestioned and its darker hued inhabitants were restricted to ghettos and barrios and knew better than to challenge it or expect faces like their own to appear in ads in the country's premier publications and on television as they do today.
There is, no doubt, on the latter, an exaggerated emphasis on “mixed race” couples which, until 1951, was against the law in California, and restricting “housing covenants” based on race, were the norm. Those, I have gathered, were for TWK, like for Donald Trump, “the good old days,” and even though quite literate himself, he is even for the defunding of libraries, such as Ukiah's which he considers to be past their shelf life.
I was really struck the other day, actually a couple of weeks ago, when he had something to say that I found mind-boggling, coming from someone who would have us believe in the wisdom he has picked up in his years as a newspaperman observing the planet and its less than perfect inhabitants. Not once, but twice, in a single column, he wrote that he is “proud of American history.”
Now, it's understandable to love one's country but to be proud of a history that has included the deliberate genocide of its original inhabitants and the theft of their lands, while honoring in every way imaginable those responsible, and subjecting to four centuries of slavery African slaves and their descendants followed by decades of Jim Crow, should raise serious questions about the character of any American or any person who is proud of such an inheritance.
Moreover, according to the Congressional Research Service, the US has launched 251 military interventions since 1991, and 469 since 1798 -- the list of countries targeted by our military includes the vast majority of the nations on Earth, including almost every single county in Latin America and the Caribbean and most of the African continent. And if you look at the countries that are the sources of the migrants trying to cross our borders, you will find that the origin of the problems that have made them desperate enough to leave their homes has been American interventions. That the only possible relief from their fears and their needs is the United States is one of the great ironies and tragedies of history and nothing to be proud of.
Instead of advocating for the defunding of our libraries, I would advise TWK to spend some time in one, beginning with the History section.
ASSEMBLAGE ART CAMPS
‘Outta the Box’ Assemblage Art Camps are open for signups with a new camp beginning Saturday, October 21st. The camps are hosted by assemblage artists Spencer Brewer and Esther Siegel and open to all levels of experience or non-experience and artistic backgrounds. No formal art education is needed. Spencer & Esther will share the secrets of their own assemblage practice, offer assistance to help guide your creative process and expand your scope of usable materials.
Assemblage is a three-dimensional art form made up of everyday objects that normally don’t live together. These objects are scavenged and collected to help create unique art pieces. The result is both fun and a ‘wow’ experience for the artist and the observer. The goals are to 1) learn the basics of assemblage, 2) create a finished art piece out of a ‘case’, 3) increase your sense of community, 4) ‘sparkle’ your intuition, and 5) have some fun!
These theme-orientated camps will involve using a ‘case’ to create your art piece. A case is a container that is designed to hold or protect something. Examples include boxes, instrument cases, cigar boxes, anything that holds other objects. Participants will have the opportunity to display their work in a group show at the Corner Gallery in Ukiah early 2024.
Workshops are Saturday, October 21st from 9:00 to 5:00, and Saturday, November 11th from 9:30 to 5:30.
Space limited to 8 participants. Fee is $200 (includes a scrumptious lunch, some materials and the gallery lease). The location is at Spencer & Esther’s sculpture barn in Redwood Valley.
Check out a video of one of our August assemblage camp! https://youtu.be/7bmxcws378M
Contact Esther Siegel at email@example.com or 707-485-5354 to reserve your spot!
‘HIGHER’ EDUCATION IN MENDOCINO
Public education began in Mendocino in 1862, when a primary school was established near the corner of Ukiah and Lansing streets. Captain David Lansing donated the lot, and the local sawmill contributed lumber for the schoolhouse. As the community grew, a larger school was needed, and a new primary school building was constructed on the northeast corner of School and Pine streets in 1885. That school building burned down in 1929, and a new grammar school building, now the Community Center, was constructed on the same property the following year.
Although some limited “advanced” education was available through the primary school, there weren’t enough students or resources in the local school district to support a high school. Mendocino students who wanted a high school diploma had to leave the area in search of secondary education. Many were sent to live with relatives or friends in San Francisco, where the first high school in the state had been organized in 1858.
In March, 1891, the California legislature passed the Union High School Act. For the first time, small adjoining school districts could band together to fund a single high school. Two high schools were proposed in Mendocino County: one in the county seat, and the other on the coast. After intense lobbying by Fort Bragg and Mendocino school trustees, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors selected Mendocino as the location of the first coastal high school.
William Heeser donated a 4.5-acre hilltop parcel, and in July, 1893, Professor R. Y. Glidden was hired as the first principal, with a starting salary of $150 per month. Plans for the new two-story high school building were shown to the public in August, and the Mendocino Beacon noted that the plans depicted a “handsome structure, tasteful in its architecture and conveniently arranged.”
Although high school instruction officially began on September 11, 1893, construction of the high school building had not yet begun. Instead, high school classes were held at the old primary schoolhouse (today’s GoodLife Cafe and Bakery) for the first two school terms.
To be admitted to the high school, either a grammar school certificate or an entrance examination was required. Twenty-three students were admitted on the first day of instruction, and by the second week of that first term, 32 pupils were enrolled. In addition to local students, others came from Point Arena, Navarro, Little River, Caspar, and Fort Bragg. Some families rented homes or rooms in town so that their children wouldn’t have to travel far to attend.
In October, D. E. Eggleston of Oakland was awarded the contract to build the high school, and lumber for the building was purchased from the Mendocino Lumber Company. A crew of men and a six-horse team leveled the top of the hill and graded the streets around the lot, and work on the foundation began.
High school instruction continued at the old schoolhouse for the fall and winter terms, with Glidden as the only teacher. When the spring term began in April, students moved into the new high school building, and Miss Mary White joined the faculty. Dedication ceremonies were held on April 28, 1894.
The high school curriculum at that time was a three-year course. Seven students graduated in 1896: Ernest Shibley, Dave McMurphy, Charles Hargrave, LeForest Philips, John Byrnes, Mabel Rainey, and Mabel Thomson.
In 1948, school district voters authorized a new high school building. The first high school was demolished, and the hilltop was lowered eight feet to accommodate the larger footprint of the one-story building. The dedication for the new school was held on November 6, 1949. This structure was partially remodeled in the 1980s.
The 2023 remodel of Mendocino High School was intended to create a structure that would honor Mendocino's historic charm in the exterior details, while meeting the needs of today’s (and tomorrow’s) students and educators. The first day of classes in the renovated school was August 28, 2023, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on September 9th.
If you would like to learn more about Mendocino’s historic structures, the Kelley House archives are open for research appointments Wednesday through Friday from 12:00 to 4:00 pm. To make an appointment, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
BANNED FOR A MONTH!
A Reader Writes: This is regarding an incident at the Fort Bragg Library with the Head of the Library, and a Clerk on his staff.
About a week ago, I hit a glass bottle left in the street by the sidewalk, and shattered it.
Apologetically, and somewhat embarassed, I went inside, and asked the Clerk if she had a broom, and dust pan, I could use to sweap the glass. She said it would be best if the Head of the Library took care of it. I heard her say to him: “She broke a bottle on the street (that's all).”
I exited the library at the same time as the Head Librarian with broom, and dust pan.
I saw him go into the bushes, away from the street, and left of where the incident took place, and merrily called upon him, pointing to the street. He reacted negatively, and asked me to stop yelling at him, and asked me to stop asking him to do more things.
I was shocked. I told him my father had never even raised his voice.
Today, I arrived in my usual merryment, and asked the same Clerk for my book, not on the shelf. She asked me if I had received the letter.
Letter? What letter? “Is it bad?” I asked already sensing it was bad, my heart pounding. She said you better talk to the Head Librarian. He didn't ask me to go into his office, for privacy. No, in public, and loud enough for patrons to hear, he said: “You have received a letter, and here it is. You are being banned from all branches of Mendocino County libraries, for one month.”
* * *
FORT BRAGG LIBRARY, TAKE TWO
Not at ALL surprised.
As a Sergeant on the FBPD told me, “They have a rep.”
I was standing on the corner, on a public sidewalk outside the library on the corner of Laurel and Whipple smoking a cigarette and being a gardener, I started taking the snails out of the Iris and throwing them in the street.
A woman who worked at the library pulled up in her car and told me to stop smoking as a window “might” be open and to leave the cute snails alone.
I told her THE LAW says I need to be 20 feet from the entrance and snails are invasive, but the LAW was of no concern to her as this was about how she “felt.” I am NOT her husband, son or boyfriend and how she “felt” was of absolutely no consequence to me AT ALL and I sure as hell wasn't going to abide by what SHE wanted. But what she was doing, according to THE LAW, was harassing me on a public sidewalk.
She then started to berate me for throwing the cute snails in the street.
She didn't like her self-appointed authority being challenged and went in and told the head librarian.
He gave me a lecture on killing the cute snails.
I told him they are invasive and destructive as any gardener knows and as he worked in a library, maybe he should educate himself.
THAT really pissed him off so he called the police as I had questioned his lack of knowledge.
The police came, rolled their eyeballs and we all had a good laugh and the police left.
The head librarian was furious that the police weren't going to remove me.
The woman who had the head librarian call the police, then went out in the street and “rescued” the cute snails and put them BACK in the garden.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, September 30, 2023
JAMES ANDERSON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JAMES BROWN SR, Redwood Valley. Burglary.
REGINA CLANTON, Clearlake/Willits. Domestic battery.
MICHAEL FURSTENBERG, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
TOMAS HERNANDEZ-CRUZ, Redwood Valley. DUI.
JONATHAN LARSEN, Crescent City/Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
KAREN RUIZ, Willits. Shoplifting, suspended license for DUI, failure to appear.
JOSE SANTIAGO, Covelo. Probation revocation.
Isn't it time for everyone, regardless of which political team you root for, to honestly acknowledge that CA is no longer a free state?
Two recent examples. First, in response to rising gas prices for which he doesn't want to be blamed, our Governor has told regulators to accelerate the shift from summer to winter blend gasoline, which is 25 cents a gallon cheaper. No screeching in the media about killing the environment for political reasons.
Just as egregious is a new law signed by his Governorship yesterday. That raises the minimum wage of 500,000 fast food workers to $20/hr. And creates a Fast Food Council that can increase it at any old time they choose. This council will be within the Department of Industrial Relations, a rather ominous sounding title if you believe in the old adage that the government that governs least, governs best.
PART 2: WHEN CHINA WAS COMMUNIST
by Michael Nolan
By the summer of 1980 the China of Mao Zedong's Communist Party was the result of 30 years of applied radical ideology. Every aspect of life had been relentlessly re-thought and restructured to conform to an ideal concept as exacting as a religion. The concept was that “the people” own all the land and its industries and use them to produce a standard of living that everyone can enjoy equally. There would be a government at first to organize things and then it would just wither away when no longer necessary. So here is what that looked like in August 1980 when I woke up in the Taishan Overseas Chinese hotel and walked out into it:
Everybody was wearing the same kind of clothing, not uniforms exactly, but there were only three colors of clothes. Army green, navy blue and gray. White cotton shirts. Loose fitting pants. Plastic sandals or shoes. But the pleasantly shocking thing was no personal artifice. No makeup. No jewelry. Straight black hair cut short for men. Women had two hairstyles: unmarried wore uncut hair in braids usually looped in back to be out of the way, married cut hair off at just below the ears. Everyone was completely natural. Dressed simply without style or colors. They were beautiful. (Under our paint and posturing we are beautiful too.) And nobody, not one person of any age, was overweight. Bad judgment by Mao and company in 1958 had caused widespread famine. If you were not emaciated you must be hoarding food, so being fat was a sin if not a crime. Just stop and think about that for a moment. We have been adorning ourselves in one way or another since we were throwing sharp sticks at animals for a living. Have you ever been in a place where nobody had any personal adornment? No cute hair, no earrings, no logos, no tattoos, no rings, no facial hair, no caps, no bamboo splinter through the nose, no fingernail polish, no nothing. Now imagine what kind of government power it would take to create that reality for a billion people in a country the same size as ours.
This was Chinese Communism.
No pets. Mao had decreed that people should spend their love and energy on other people. A goldfish was OK. Taishan's glass factory had a side income making aquariums from waste material. Some old men kept prize songbirds in ornate cages. No dogs, no cats. Animals were workers and food. Something good began every morning. Men congregated in tea houses. Hundreds of men from work groups or neighbors or just friends drink tea and eat dim sum together. The room is roaring with laughter, gossip and stories. It's a powerful way to start the work day; everyone a part of this social solidarity. Then they disperse to their various jobs.
I loved the way they sounded. Cantonese is a tonal language with soft vowel word endings. Old men playing cards in the dusk were a musical treat as they kidded each other. There were a few TVs but only one station which was a government broadcast and was about the successful sorghum harvest in Hebei Province or the need to conserve fuel.
But there was a storyteller. In the park, an evening a crowd of all ages was held spellbound by a man with an expressive voice and face. There was Cantonese opera. Lots of sports, none rough. Taishan's volleyball teams were famous. There was a movie theater showing only Chinese-made films. One time the police marched five young men roped together up onto the stage to publicly shame them in front of everybody for being unruly.
The stone buildings were the same dirty gray as Chicago from the same coal smoke. The only vehicles were army green trucks acting as freighters, crowded buses and single-cylinder diesel walking tractors all of them loud and smoky. Bicycles were copies of English Raleigh bikes from the 40s. Narrow tires, hand brakes, bell, one-speed, black. But even here there was prestige; the Flying Pigeon brand made in Shanghai was the one to have.
Larry insisted that we keep a good relationship with the recently established American Consulate located in the Dong Feng Hotel in Guangzhou. He figured that if we had to make a run for it they could get us out. (I would have fled down to the border with Macao and got out by using a carton of Marlboros). But the Consul turned out to be a cool guy and we became friends. The Americans were quarantined in Guangzhou so they couldn't leave the city. They had to ask us about what was going on outside. They found it fascinating that Anne and I were actually living there. And spending lots of time out in the communes. Most amazing to them was that the government had given my family long stay visas. Henry Kissinger couldn't have gotten a residential visa in 1981. Of course, this was an experiment. The Taishan County government certainly couldn't cause the national government to issue long-stay visas. The Chinese system was to try experiments in remote localities. So if they were successful they could be replicated; if not, buried. Be sure that the locals weren't acting alone. Beijing just wanted to see what would happen. We Taishan folks were very aware of the situation and tried to be at our best so it could continue.
At first the whole system seemed so strange I couldn't figure out what the roles were and what the tities of the men I was negotiating with meant. Who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs? What did “a leading cadre” mean? Then one day someone mentioned that the lake that our Stone Flower Mountain Inn was being constructed on was controlled by the Department of Public Works and the whole thing snapped into focus. This was a county government! I was very involved with my own county government in Ukiah and now I felt right at home.
I wound up being inside the Taishan County government in the same way I was inside my county government (as 5th District Planning Commissioner). A useful person, but powerless. The Chinese had a derogatory word for us which loosely translated means “everything upside down.” They wear red for weddings and white for funerals. Tractors were never used on farm fields because they would compact the soil. In the Fall I saw women processing hemp plants just like their sisters in Comptche were. Only the Chinese women were stripping off the leaves and flowers and feeding them to livestock. The lovely stems were what they were after. In Comptche the leaves and flowers were saved and the stems were burned. Lo Fan, indeed.
The food. I ate Cantonese food every day for months and could eat it every day forever. South China is blessed with a semitropical climate, productive agriculture and a sophisticated cuisine which maximizes both nutrition and pleasure. Without refrigeration, food was shopped for in farmer's markets every day. Fresh vegetables locally grown were standard. A much larger variety of animals alive or dead were on offer. Oil was expensive. Things we take for granted were absent: no bread, no dairy products, no potatoes, no coffee and no canned or frozen food. There was good beer. Tolerable orange soda. Tea and tobacco were coarse and low quality.
Service and retail workers were not required to be anything but there. You want to buy a shirt. You go to the department store cashier and give her the price of a shirt which you haven't seen. She gives you a receipt. You ask the clerk behind the counter for a shirt. She looks at your receipt. She estimates your size and throws a shirt down on the counter. She is not required to smile or wish you a nice day or thank you and so she doesn't. She has been assigned to this job. This job is to hand you a shirt.
Miss Anne appeared so otherworldly to them that women sometimes looked at her like they were hallucinating. Not just for her long light brown hair and beautiful blue eyes. Anne is a skillful seamstress who designs and makes her own classic long dresses. Perfect fit and fall, flattering neckline, high quality fabrics, rich muted colors. A queen. Like them, she wore no jewelry and had no artifice. She was a stunning vision of a woman.
So exactly when did Communism end in Taishan, China? 1982. The end was signified by a chrome cone. Remember those beauty parlor hair dryers? One day a street-level living room was converted into a beauty parlor. Suddenly, and I mean suddenly, women had hairstyles. Perms, shag cuts. Skirts came next. Then sheer white hose. No lipstick yet or jewelry but this revolution was started by women. Mao was over.
MEMO OF THE AIR: The wreck of the Potrzebie.
Here's the recording of last night's (Friday 2023-09-29) eight-hour-long Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA) and KNYO.org: https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0560
I'm happy to read your writing on the radio. Just email it to me and that's all you have to do.
Besides all that, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together, such as:
4-foot-11 Sugar Pie DeSanto on stage in 1964. A bit after that but back when KMFB still existed, Joanie used to come in to hang out and talk with manager Bob. Joanie once told a story about a weekend stuck in jail with Sugar Pie DeSanto. Not really stuck. "She's nice," she said.
Rerun: Bill Bailey plays a Belgian jazz version of the Doctor Who theme. I never learned French. If you understand him and can translate, would you, and share the results?
And here's something I noticed, watching this: you so seldom anymore hear someone talking about anything at all where the person really knows what he's talking about and isn't at least halfway bullshitting to cover a lack of understanding. Especially on teevee. This guy knows 100-percent what he's talking about. It's like wonderful ice-water on a hot day.
Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
CONGRESS NARROWLY AVERTS SHUTDOWN as House Democrats Help Pass Stopgap Bill
In a stunning reversal, Speaker Kevin McCarthy pushed through a bill with Democratic votes to temporarily keep the government open. President Biden signed it late Saturday.
by Carl Hulse and Catie Edmondson
Congress narrowly averted a government shutdown on Saturday as the House, in a stunning turnabout, approved a stopgap plan to keep the federal government open until mid-November. After Senate passage, President Biden signed the bill shortly before midnight.
In a rapid-fire sequence of events on Capitol Hill, a coalition of House Democrats and Republicans voted to pass a plan that would keep money flowing to government agencies and provide billions of dollars for disaster recovery efforts. The bill did not include money for Ukraine despite a push for it by the White House and members of both parties in the Senate, but House Democrats embraced the plan anyway, seeing it as the most expedient way to avoid widespread government disruption.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who had for weeks brushed off demands to work with Democrats on a spending solution, outlined the proposal for Republicans in a closed-door meeting Saturday morning and then rushed to get it on the floor under a special procedure that meant it could only pass with substantial Democratic help...
by James Kunstler
“The statement that “Joe Biden wasn’t involved in Hunter Biden’s business,” is absurd in its face. Joe Biden was Hunter Biden’s business.” —Margot Cleveland
Understand: no amount of political blustering will bring this gaslit nation into daylight when there is no more money and no more credit and no feasible way to feed the blob that ate our government. The equation is simple. Our country can’t handle normal interest rates; and the value of the dollar can’t withstand more ultra-low interest rates. Someone, please, ask Congress to stop screwing that pooch over there!
Oh, and that “can” we’ve been kicking down the road turns out to be a rusty old 50-gallon drum. Somebody has stuffed America into it and is fixing to drop us overboard beyond the continental shelf off the Jersey Shore. Can that be stopped, too?
So, here at week’s end we see these two rather momentous issues juxtaposed: the battle over how to finance that blob-infested monster in DC; and the battle to expose the crimes of a real-life Manchurian Candidate president. Neither battle is going all that well for the minority of citizens who want to live in a pro-reality society. If we follow the fiscal trend, all the tax revenue we can grudge up will barely cover the annual interest on our $30+trillion debt. If we can’t boot out the brain-dead cat’s paw in the White House, then say goodbye to the rule of law and liberty with it.
The people we elect to Congress don’t want to be accountable for specifically authorizing spending on the blob’s multitudinous pet projects. So, they depend on multi-thousand-page omnibus bills nobody can ever scrutinize, and continuing resolution dodges to postpone any necessarily painful action on a budget. Therefore, a dissenting coterie in the House proposes to play hard-ball over de-funding the blob, that is, a government shutdown of unknown duration, until gaslight is replaced by sunlight. The blob itself sends out a frantic S.O.S. Don’t let these white supremacist, “far-right” MAGA nut-jobs drag us out of the comfortable warm, moist darkness we thrive in — perfect conditions for continued blob growth!
After all, these Congresspersons have their lobbyist-donors to answer to, and they’d better come up with the right answer — or else their chance of eventually retiring as multi-millionaires, like Nancy Pelosi did, might slip away. Of course, the joke would be on them (and the rest of us) if it eventually costs a million dollars for a slice of pizza when they try to cash-out. Or is there some dirty secret involved here — for instance, that the blob has also taken over whatever remained of the US economy, too. So that defunding the blob also blows a hole in that putative economy? Or maybe not. Maybe the regular economy can breathe a little again with the blob’s boot off its neck. Let’s go ahead and shut off the flow for a week or two, see what happens.
I imagine some of you took in the opening of House Oversight’s impeachment inquiry, or at least enjoyed a few choice tidbits on Web video. Chairman Comer (R-KY) tried to proceed gingerly, so as to not appear vicious, and called onstage three witnesses to establish an upright basis for the exercise. Alas, they were led by the earnest but equivocating GWU law professor Jonathan Turley, straining so hard to be above reproach that he seemed to levitate out of his seat. The Democrat minority were allowed to invite their own shill, one Michael J. Gerhardt, a law prof from North Carolina, who was there to make the gaslight flicker, and sho’nuff did.
Ranking (minority) Member Jamie Raskin immediately tried to distract the proceeding with a call to subpoena Rudy Giuliani — supposedly to impugn the process. The majority briskly tabled Raskin’s motion. The old trouper has been worked over pretty severely by a lawless DOJ the past three years, had his client correspondence stolen by the FBI, his law license suspended by a malign New York Bar Association… but don’t forget he is an experienced and resourceful federal prosecutor himself. He spent many months beating the thickets of corruption in Ukraine for then-President Trump, and certainly knows more about what went on in that grubby money laundry than practically anyone. Bring him on. I’d like to see ol’ Rudy joust with the likes of Cori Bush (D-MO) , AOC (D-NY), and Kweisi Mfume (D-MD).
The New York Times pushed the leitmotif of their narrative this morning: there’s no evidence that “Joe Biden” committed any impeachable offenses.
That wasn’t the point of Mr. Comer’s opening exercise, which did not include what are called “fact witnesses” — exactly what The New York Times pretended to not understand. The point was to open this ugly business delicately, with some decorum. It will be interesting to see how long the news media can keep pretending there’s nothing to see in the Biden family’s global business doings when a firehose of evidence is turned on them. You can be sure the committee is sitting on some items we have not heard about.
There’s reason to be discouraged that the people we elect can bring the two great issues of the moment — the blob’s budget and the impeachment of “Joe Biden” — to satisfactory conclusions. They are arguably pseudopods of that very blob, whose very existence is being threatened now, and they have to worry about their shots at becoming multi-millionaires, too. The weeks ahead will inform us if there’s anything that can be salvaged of our federal government or whether we must make other arrangements.
ANTHONY FAUCI WAS AMERICA'S WARMUP DICTATOR
He institutionalied the purposeful lie, suppressed critics, mastered emergency politics, even sold himself as a sex symbol. Anthony Fauci gave the next monster a playbook
by Matt Taibbi
Exposés in Public and Racket this week showed Anthony Fauci engaged in the bureaucratic version of witness tampering, using a dubious “Proximal Origin” paper he helped engineer to divert attention from the possibility that Covid-19, too, was a viral Frankenstein’s monster. Apart from a few conservative outlets, no one picked up the story. How screwed up is the U.S. right now? The nation’s top medical official for years worked in public and private to stifle investigation of our worst health crisis, which increasingly looks like a unparalleled man-made catastrophe, and he’s going to skate on it, because upper-class America is now so deep into mass mental illness that it’s more likely to make a sex symbol of corruption than punish it.
Historians will scratch heads at the Fauci episode, because as troubling as his secret behavior apparently was, his worst offenses were public. While the Washington Post patted itself on the back for counting by the thousand “false statements” by Donald Trump like, “The world respects us again,” and “[Biden] was a cheerleader for NAFTA,” Tony Fauci was winning plaudit after plaudit for telling reporters to their faces that he lied to the public for its own good. A typical Trump lie was presidential flatus, popping out unscripted for a line of Post reporters to eagerly inhale, but Fauci’s lies were planned, strategic, and destructive.
Fauci leaned into a cult-of-personality movement when Americans were exquisitely vulnerable to such manipulations. When a Covid-level disaster hits, terrified people will surrender to any hack with a poker face claiming to have answers. Fauci only just finished playing that hand more aggressively than perhaps any American public figure ever.
Donald Trump’s “I alone can fix this” campaign of 2016 was an overt paean to the strongman’s promise, but it was delivered with a heavy dose of Rocky Horror Picture Show camp, and institutional America not only didn’t buy it, it shrieked and threw a net over his presidency before it started. Doddering Robert Mueller had the saviour role thrust on him, but when it came time for Adam Schiff and company to apply Caesar’s laurels in Congress, he gave a helpless look, asked, “What are these?”, and that ended that.
Fauci meant it. The full weight of a global bureaucracy fell behind his edicts, and promoted him as an everything-authority with a shamelessness not seen since the Soviets published Lenin and Children. Had Fauci been younger, his term of service longer, we’d undoubtedly have been treated to Fauci Christmas specials, Cosmo features on “Anthony Fauci’s 19 Sex Secrets,” and “organic” campaigns to urge him toward higher office. Fauci made no secret of his vision of pandemic messaging as a fundamentally political project, validating ancient authoritarian ideas in which power flows from the intellectuals who devise society’s organizing myths.
Socrates described the “noble lie” as a phenomenon in which myth-making ability matters even more than political office. “How then could we devise one of those useful falsehoods we were talking about a while ago,” he said, “one… that would, in the best case, persuade even the rulers?”
This is the role Fauci tried to play during the pandemic, creating a story about a disease so devastating that not only the public, but political officeholders couldn’t be trusted to make judgments about it. Fauci was flamboyant in his embrace of the purposeful lie. He insisted in a classic display of doublethink that facility with deception is exactly what made him a trustworthy medical authority.
As Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. noted in The Real Anthony Fauci — a book that probably on title alone landed Kennedy on the most wanted list of every “anti-disinformation” outlet on earth — lying for the public good is what Fauci meant when he talked about how “you’ve got to evolve with the science.” Examples are almost too numerous to count, but the most infamous probably came when he adjusted estimates for herd immunity upward once he saw polls showing increased enthusiasm for his policies.
“When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” he said, in December of 2020. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.”
This was the opposite of scientific method, changing numerical estimates based on political considerations, but an adoring press still ratified narcissistic lunacies like, “I represent science” because they were incapable of examining his behavior in isolation. So long as Fauci acted stoked to wear a mask and looked like less of a threat to a cheeseburger than Trump, his Covid decrees were holy writ.
Fauci even corrupted journalism. He told industry priests like the Nieman Foundation he was concerned with delivering “correct information” to people, but his idea of “correct” was a dangerous political chimera much closer to narrative than fact. When it suited him to exaggerate risks of the virus or inflate efficacy of vaccines, in his mind he wasn’t issuing incorrect statements, but correct behavioral judgments. He was proud of this, sitting for a shameless InStyle puff shoot on “The Good Doctor,” in which he beamed in wraparound shades at poolside while flexing about having “no regrets” about fibbing to the public. He wasn’t wrong to initially downplay mask efficacy, he told the mag, because “in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct,” as “we [had] a serious problem with the lack of PPEs and masks for the health providers.”
Fauci probably told the truth at first about the limited utility of masks, and only came up with a cock-and-bull story later to explain away this uncharacteristic slip into candor. Still, he was explicit in telling InStyle he lied about mask effectiveness so ordinary people wouldn’t screw things up by saving their own lives before health providers. This, literally, was his definition of “correct,” a concept that would soon assume unfortunate importance in the lives of lesser-known scientists employing the old, fact-based definition.
How great did Fauci have it then? When Alisyn Camerota of CNN interviewed him in April, 2020, she didn’t think of pushing back on statements already known to be questionable, like that families shouldn’t get together for Easter and instead needed to “step on the acceleratah” of lockdowns. Rather, she asked which movie star he’d prefer play him on Saturday Night Live, which was preparing to reopen its Trump-era run as blue America’s endless USO Tour. “Ben Stiller, Brad Pitt. Which one?” she gushed. “Oh, Brad Pitt, of course!” Fauci said.
American mass culture was so deranged by then that the real Brad Pitt answered the call, symbolically stepping aside to christen Fauci America’s real new hunk in a cold open complete with the usual tin Trump jokes, but dismounting to an Inside the Actor’s Studio-level self-serious thespian apostrophe. Pitt deliberately took off his wig and stocking-cap and, the “illusion” of America’s wise doctor-hero removed, thanked “the real Dr. Fauci, for your calm and your clarity in this unnerving time.”
In the endless daisy chain of self-congratulation that is modern American media culture this ankle-nuzzling performance of course earned an Emmy nomination, and triggered a succession of Mueller-style hagiographic profiles promoting him as America’s political hearthrob, its real leader. “New poll reaffirms that most Americans don’t trust the President, but they do trust Dr. Fauci,” cheered CNN, whose Brian Stelter insisted Fauci — who, again, had already told the country he sometimes lied on purpose — was the cure for a country in a “truth emergency.”
He said this as real scientists like Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya and Harvard’s Martin Kulldorf began facing recrimination for saying true things. Bhattacharya’s crime was an April 2020 study showing far higher numbers of people in Santa Clara County with Covid-19 antibodies than officials believed, placing the infection fatality rate at closer to 0.2% than the terrifying 3.4% the WHO was claiming in public. Kulldorff meanwhile was pointing to the thousand-fold difference in mortality rates between age groups, showing Covid-19 to be a very dangerous disease for the elderly but hardly a threat to the young. He also retweeted information from his native Sweden showing that that country’s policy of keeping schools open had not resulted in the death of even one of 1.8 million students.
Bhattacharya and Kulldorff, along with Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta, would be singled out after they signed the Great Barrington Declaration opposing Fauci’s beloved lockdowns. Emails produced by Freedom of Information requests showed Francis Collins complaining to Fauci that “this proposal from the three fringe epidemiologists . . . seems to be getting a lot of attention” before concluding, “There needs to be a quick and devastating published takedown of its premises.” The insidious Fauci rhetorical construction that scientists like Bhattacharya and Kulldorff were pursuing a strategy of intentional Covid infection because they wanted to “let it rip” was repeated in slavish fashion by a long line of supposedly independent-minded journalists, from Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! to Gerry Baker of the Wall Street Journal to writers in the New York Times and Washington Post and beyond.
Critics of Fauci’s policies found themselves stripped of jobs, removed from the Internet, and isolated socially, financially, and professionally, thanks to messaging technologies that work quite well, having been developed to limit the influence of terrorists. Fauci understood the utility of emergency, used “noble lies” well enough to redefine truth and fact as relativistic political concepts, and embraced the personality cult with such gusto that pundits unironically proclaimed the Phisohex-scented skeletal octogenarian the Sexiest Man Alive.
The hostility of people like Goodman or celebrated hygienist Gene Simmons (“If you’re willing to walk among us unvaccinated, you are an enemy”) not just to scientists like Bhattacharya and Kulldorff but ordinary people who refused the shot was based entirely on myths perpetuated, purposefully, by people like Fauci. We were propagandized to reject natural immunity, ignore obvious massive age-specific risk discrepancies, and believe the health of the collective depended on mass acceptance of a vaccine that people like Fauci knew early on did stop transmission or infection. The public was told anyway that the unvaccinated were killing grandma and predictable rage and calls for brutal counter-measures, including jail, ensued. This was true factory-produced out-group hatred of the type found in every modern authoritarian movement, and journalists blew off the obvious warning signs and even participated themselves because Tony Fauci knew how to pull an aw, shucks face in split-screen with Alisyn Camerota.
Anthony Fauci showed proof-of-concept for the whole authoritarian package. He convinced the monied classes to embrace the idea of lying to the ignorant public for its own good, green-lit powerful mechnical tools for suppressing critics, engendered fevered blame campaigns, demanded visible symbols of policy compliance, embraced open-ended states of emergency, and unlike Mueller was sentient enough to accept when beautiful people tried to apply laurel wreaths to his little pin head. Only pandemic truths that eventually became too obvious to ignore prevented this story from having a worse ending. We’d better hope the door closes before the next emergency’s Answer Man tries the same playbook.
* * *
The above piece, ‘Anthony Fauci Was America’s Warmup Dictator,’ prompted a few hot texts and comments that deserve responses. A common theme is that I need to own being late to the topic.
It’s true. Fauci, Covid, and treatment of people like fired podcaster Alison Morrow and censored Drs. Martin Kulldorff, Jay Bhattacharya, and Aaron Kheriaty are on my conscience. Intimidated by the science, I decided early to sidestep pandemic stories, and as a result blew off people who could have used support. Bari Weiss and Michael Shellenberger were the ones who knew to look up Jay’s name in the Twitter Files. Their focus on Covid turned out to be key in spotting the worst mischief in those documents, because so many pandemic-related removals were based on narrative rather than factual transgressions. Suppression of posts supposedly encouraging “vaccine hesitancy” created the template for true political censorship. This was the moment when platforms and government agencies learned to punish based not on what was written, but the state of mind of the writer, a next-level dystopian technique.
I had to start over to get through jargon-laden texts like the Slack chats of the “Proximal Origin” authors. Going back through pandemic chronology was embarrassing — I can’t believe how much I missed in real time — but also drove home how much ole journalism went on among people who supposedly covered the story every day. There was close to zero meaningful pushback in the early months to public messaging on a slew of issues like natural immunity, age-specific risk, and especially the monstrous infection mortality rate error that sent the country into a panic from which it still hasn’t really recovered:
So, yes, there was an awful lot that anyone paying even minimal attention should have known then, but many official deceptions are also only becoming clear now. An example is this past week’s Public/Racket story about Fauci’s “big tour “ promoting zoonotic origin to the CIA, State Department, and White House.
Even though emails show Fauci was intimately involved with crafting the “Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2” paper, and one source told us this week that Fauci might even have brought one of the paper’s authors with him in those official briefings, he pretended not to know their names in an April 17, 2020 press conference touting their findings. “I don’t have the authors right now,” he said, when he insisted “highly qualified evolutionary virologists” determined the data on Covid was “totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.”
We didn’t find out until late July of this year that the “Proximal Origin” authors were exchanging thoughts like “I’m still not fully convinced that no culture was involved,” and “we also can’t fully rule out engineering” up until April 16th of that year, i.e. the day before that April 17 press conference above. That adds a brand new extreme-cringe factor to a video you’ve probably seen before.
It’s one thing to have an “evolving” take on mask efficacy, and another to tell a lie or two to scare people into getting a shot. Bullying bad research into existence and pretending in perfect TV deadpan not to know the names of the researchers, all while hyping a bogus paper you helped create, is corruption on a different scale. Add algorithmic suppression of Covid policy critics we now know was going on by then, and you have a story that looks uglier every time you glance in the rearview mirror. So yes, a lot of this is old news, but there are also new dimensions to the Covid debacle popping up every day that need examining, as no one’s come close to finding the bottom of this thing.
CHARLIE CHAPLIN DIED AGED 88.
He left us 4 statements:
(1) Nothing is eternal in this world, not even our problems.
(2) I like to walk in the rain, because no one can see my tears.
(3) The most wasted day in life is the day we don't laugh.
(4) The six best doctors in the world...
Keep them in all stages of your life and enjoy healthy life...
If you see the moon you will see the beauty of God.....
If you see the sun you will see the power of god..
If you look in the mirror, you will see God's best creation.
Believe it then.
We are all tourists, God is our travel agent who already made our itineraries, bookings and destinations...
Trust him and enjoy LIFE.
Life is just a journey!
DIFI, BREAKING INTO THE BOYS’ CLUB
by Maureen Dowd
I’ve always said that the Washington Monument is an apt symbol, a Freudian obelisk redolent of all the male egos that have shaped our capital.
To appreciate what Dianne Feinstein accomplished, you need to know how male this city was in 1992, when she was swept into Congress in the “Year of the Woman” as the 18th female senator in history.
That wave was buoyed by women’s anger at the vicious Republicans and inept Democrats on the white male Judiciary Committee overseeing the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings. A sexual harasser lied his way onto the Supreme Court, and now he is doing his best to corrupt it.
These women arrived on the Hill, home to historic man caves, as the journalist Jackie Calmes called the hideaways where male pols horse-traded, sipped whisky and played poker. When one new lawmaker stepped into the House elevator, the female operator said icily, “This elevator is for members only.”
“Yes, thank you,” the representative replied, waiting for the operator to spot her blue pin with the congressional seal.
A small sorority worked to penetrate the good ol’ boys club (and not be mistaken for staff). “With so many new women and minorities, everyone’s constrained to be politically correct,” Charles Wilson, the colorful Texas representative, told me that year. He deadpanned that he tried to irritate his colleague Patricia Schroeder of Colorado “by calling her Babycakes, but that’s about it.”
Despite stereotypes — “The word was women could not get along,” the former California senator Barbara Boxer recalled Friday to Katy Tur of NBC — women worked together to buck rules about how they couldn’t wear pants on the Senate floor and lobbied for a women’s restroom off the House floor so they wouldn’t have to trek to the women’s reading room. (That wouldn’t happen until 2011.)
Representative Louise Slaughter of New York told Hillary Clinton, the new first lady, of trying to include women’s health issues in the budget, noting: “It’s almost certainly the first time that these guys on the budget committee heard words like ‘cervix,’ ‘ovaries’ and ‘breasts’ spoken out loud.”
Hillary drolly riposted, “At least in that context.”
Nancy Pelosi told us at a lunch for women journalists last December that she never made it into a Democratic speaker’s office until she became the Democratic speaker.
Several years ago, Senator Feinstein invited me to her house one evening for a drink. I was very excited. I’d watched male columnists play golf with presidents and go drinking with male lawmakers for a long time, and now at last I was going to be ushered into an inner sanctum.
The very proper senator sat with a small dog on her lap in her elegant living room as we had a glass of wine. She didn’t want to spin me on anything or break news. She just wanted to chat. It turned out that DiFi, as she was known, regularly organized dinners with female journalists and mentored women in Congress; she often said that Washington could be a lonely, hard and mean place, especially for women breaking barriers.
Unlike Hillary, who got tangled in the gender issue, Feinstein (like Pelosi) played the game without regard for gender. She wasn’t worried about sexist criticism; she was focused on doing what she thought was right, no matter who complained.
In 2019, DiFi went viral when a group of child activists confronted her in her San Francisco office for not supporting the Green New Deal. She engaged with them but then briskly rebuffed them, saying she wasn’t succumbing to any “my way or the highway” demands.
As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she led the fight in 2014 to release the classified report on U.S. torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo. It took guts to go up against President Barack Obama and his C.I.A. chief John Brennan, who wanted to keep covering up what The Times would call “a portrait of depravity.”
George W. Bush’s C.I.A. director Michael Hayden said dismissively that Feinstein couldn’t be objective because she was motivated by “deep emotional feeling.”
“Nonsense,” she snapped back. The senator simply wanted America to face the ugly truth so we would never betray our values in such a grotesque way again.
She believed in government as a force for good. Unfortunately, she died at 90 watching our government coming off the rails.
Despite being surrounded by Republican lawmakers who never met a gun they didn’t like, Feinstein did her best to stop people from getting killed in mass shootings, driven by her traumatic experience with the assassination of Mayor George Moscone of San Francisco and Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California and her colleague on the Board of Supervisors.
Back in 2008 when the Sean Penn movie “Milk” came out, a solemn Feinstein told me: “I was the one who found his body. To get a pulse, I put my finger in a bullet hole.”
When she opposed the 2008 proposal to ban gay marriage in California, she told me of the evolution of her thinking: “The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve seen the happiness of people, the stability that these commitments bring to a life. Many adopted children who would have ended up in foster care now have good solid homes and are brought up learning the difference between right and wrong.”
Yep. A class act, all the way.
WHEN DEATH COMES, it's just like winter. We don't say, "There ought not to be winter." That the winter season, when the leaves fall and the snow comes, is some kind of defeat, something which we should hold out against. No. Winter is part of the natural course of events. No winter, no summer. No cold, no heat.
— Alan Watts
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
A genuine draft (one that wasn’t patently rigged from the start) would finally put some spine in the US electorate. That’s why they got rid of it post-Vietnam. It was far more lucrative to just ruin the economy, such that the military was the best option for young men of modest means coming out of high school. I was one of them. Tightening up admissions standards and putting a stop to student loan extortion might be a better option for finding college aged recruits, but then a lot of college “educators” and administrators would have to find a real job again too. I think it’s more likely that the military will just continue to ramp up the “high tech” boondoggles. Far more lucrative for everyone involved, especially since actually “winning” a conflict is never the goal in the first place.
UKRAINE, SATURDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has outlined plans for his country to become an international military hub. He said Ukraine would offer special conditions to companies willing to co-develop weapons.
Slovakians are voting in parliamentary elections that could radically reshape the country's approach to Ukraine and create deep rifts within NATO. The frontrunner is a pro-Kremlin figure who said he would stop sending arms to Ukraine.
As the Kremlin celebrated the one-year anniversary of the illegal annexation of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia, it also announced citizens there would be subjected to conscription for the first time.
Ukrainian police arrested two people suspected of hiding a Russian anti-missile system left over from fighting in the early days of the war.
I LIVE THE WRONG LIFE for the person I am. I’m tall and thin and that’s all right with me, but my life is square and small and I wish I had a maid but that wouldn’t help. And I wish I lived in Italy, but that wouldn’t help. But the only important part of the story is that I started to write. One might add that interviews and life stories give me the horrors. I’d throw it all out, like rotten apples, word by word…”Her father was an alcoholic; her mother was chained to her diamonds?” Need it be said, “She was locked in her room until the age of 5 and started school.” Or “She was unhinged” or “Her mother was a brilliant woman who excelled in all things and who shone brighter than the diamond she wore” or “She was an awkward child, backward, breathing in Fairy tales and force-fed on black market food.” Isn’t it all in the poems somewhere? Isn’t too much of it in the poems, an almost shameful display and listing of one’s Life Story. I understand Kafka. I understand Rilke. Only through them can I understand myself. The life story or better named, the case history, is only the machine, a Kafka machine. It makes me want to hide, back in the room where I was locked.
— Anne Sexton
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TOUTED HIM as a victim of #MeToo. Now he’s accused of dismembering a girlfriend
by Matthias Gafni
The gruesome discovery spoke to a ghastly crime.
On the afternoon of July 20, someone using a waterfront trail in Alameda spotted a large garbage bag wrapped in duct tape that smelled as if it was full of dead fish from the bay. When responding officers looked inside, they found the dismembered remains of a young woman whose head, hands and feet had been removed.
Investigators would extract a pair of DNA profiles from the duct tape on the bag. One belonged to Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner, a young mother and spoken-word poet who had just graduated from a San Francisco law school. The other, police now say, belonged to her killer — her boyfriend and onetime law school classmate Joseph Carl Roberts, suspected of using an electric saw to try to obscure his victim’s identity.
But as shocking as the crime was, the backstory was even stranger.
Roberts, it turns out, was once touted by the Trump administration as a poster child for the purported excesses of the #MeToo movement and the reckoning over sexual assault at American colleges. Kicked off the campus of Savannah State University in Georgia, the U.S. Navy veteran not only survived but turned the episode into a dramatic story about a different kind of victim: himself.
He earned entry to law school, won elected office in San Francisco and was featured in sympathetic coverage by national media outlets including ABC and USA Today, who allowed him to explain how his life was nearly ruined due to women making false allegations against him.
Roberts was still fashioning his unlikely comeback when he met Buckner at Golden Gate University School of Law. They fell in love, moved in together in Pleasanton and got engaged. She was a brilliant Howard University graduate who grew up in the East Bay and was pregnant with a daughter. He was known as “MAGA Joe” due to his outspoken support for then-President Donald Trump.
It was a toxic pairing, friends and classmates said. Eventually Buckner stopped communicating with her family and friends, before the couple, last year, broke into Buckner’s family home in San Ramon and assaulted her mother and grandmother.
Roberts was formally charged with Buckner’s killing and dismemberment on Sept. 7. It’s not clear whether the pair were engaged at the time of her death. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. His attorney, Anne Beles, declined to comment after being assigned the case Friday.
Now, people who knew Buckner are trying to understand what happened to her — and how, for so long, her alleged murderer managed to turn trouble into advantage.
Big Ambition, Early Trouble
A Georgia native, Roberts enlisted in the Navy in the spring of 1999, then served on the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship, from 2000 to 2003. He spent his last two years at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, finishing his military career in 2005 as an electrician’s mate fireman recruit, according to Naval records.
There were early signs of trouble. Virginia prosecutors filed two counts of trespassing against him in October 2000, documents show. The details are unclear.
Roberts said in a later interview that he spent five years as a railroad conductor for Norfolk Southern before being laid off. A company spokesperson told the Chronicle it had no record of Roberts as an employee.
He then decided to attend college, saying in interviews he was the first person in his family to do so. He walked on to the campus of Savannah State in 2009 as a 28-year-old freshman studying English. In court records, Roberts said he pledged Omega Psi Phi, campaigned for student body vice president and joined the quiz bowl team.
On Feb. 18, 2011, Navy Federal Credit Union sued Roberts for $4,689 over delinquent payments on a used Mercedes. Financial woes would follow him the next decade.
Savannah State officials have never said why the university came to investigate him. But in April 2011, an ex-girlfriend told campus police that Roberts was “spreading rumors on Twitter that she infected Mr. Roberts with a venereal disease,” according to records reviewed by the Chronicle. The woman said they were no longer dating, but that he was still texting her; she wanted him to stop and to quit spreading rumors about her.
Police told the former couple not to communicate, records show, but the woman said Roberts continued to make comments about her — and that she resorted to remotely deleting his Twitter and Yahoo email accounts. Roberts sought tampering charges against the woman, but police dropped the case. Roberts, in a foreshadowing of what was to come, believed this was evidence of sexism.
By his senior year, Roberts found himself in deeper — and more bizarre — trouble.
‘Afraid For Her Life’
In February 2013, Roberts filmed himself sneaking into the Super Bowl halftime show at the Superdome in New Orleans to watch Beyoncé perform. In a subsequent Reuters article, Roberts said he was an aspiring screenwriter and hoped a video taken with a camera strapped to his forehead would be used to improve security and “spark the dialogue.” He said he wanted to work in legislative affairs in Washington, D.C.
“I want to be that impartial voice of reason,” Roberts told the reporter.
Two months later and three weeks before graduation, Roberts asserted in a lawsuit that three women had leveled sexual harassment claims against him that got him kicked off campus. What the allegations entailed is not clear; the school and the accusers named by Roberts declined the Chronicle’s requests for comment.
In court records, Roberts said that one woman told school officials she was “afraid for her life.” Roberts said the school supported its decision to expel him in an incident report that included text messages, Facebook messages and Instagram posts. He said the university’s charges against him included damage to property and disorderly conduct.
On March 27, 2013, Roberts said, he was suspended. Officials emailed an alert with his photo across campus, he said, after deciding that his “presence on campus constituted a serious threat of harm to the campus community.”
Roberts said he was allowed to finish his studies remotely and to graduate, but two years later, in April 2015, he sued the university and several of its leaders in federal court, acting as his own attorney. In his version of events, the women were actually harassing him with text messages over a student election beef. He contended that administrators did an “excessively hurried investigation” and discriminated against him “on the basis of his male sex.”
Savannah State officials have declined to address the specifics of the case, saying only that they “give every student due process.”
Roberts became depressed, according to his account in court papers, and self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. On April 19, 2013, he said, he was found unresponsive after a suicide attempt and hospitalized. His lawsuit — later dismissed by a judge — sought $15 million in damages.
The Chronicle spoke to one of the women named in the lawsuit as an accuser. She said she was confused by the whole episode. She barely knew Roberts, she said, and had never made an accusation against him.
Embracing A New Fame
Speaking to a crowd at George Mason University in Virginia on Sept. 7, 2017, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke of a young Navy veteran who’d nearly lost everything after being accused of sexual harassment.
“This young man was suspended via a campus-wide email which declared him a ‘threat to the campus community,’ ” DeVos said. “When he tried to learn the reason for his suspension, he was barred from campus. … This young man was denied due process. Despondent and without options or hope, after five years of sobriety, he relapsed and attempted to take his own life.”
The Trump cabinet member referenced Roberts as she announced sweeping rollbacks of Obama-era reforms to Title IX, the law prohibiting sex discrimination at schools that receive federal funding. High-profile sexual assaults at universities had prompted the Obama administration to strengthen enforcement in 2011 and 2014, but critics like DeVos said the rights of the accused were being trampled.
It was a controversial push, especially after DeVos’ head of the Office for Civil Rights told the New York Times that “90 percent” of sexual assault allegations on campus “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’ ” The official apologized, but the comments led to protests at Education Department headquarters.
Two months before the George Mason speech, DeVos had met with Roberts and other men accused of campus assault and harassment. She singled out Roberts in her speech as particularly aggrieved.
“That is the current reality,” she told the crowd.
DeVos did not respond Friday to a message to her press team.
Roberts leaned into his newfound fame. He said he began working for Families Advocating for Campus Equality, or FACE, a D.C. advocacy group pushing for stronger protections for men accused of assault at schools. The organization did not return a request for comment.
As Roberts gained prominence in men’s rights circles, his private life and finances remained in turmoil. He had in November 2015 married Jasmine Danyelle White, an Army soldier stationed in Germany, records show, but she later alleged he cheated on her during his tenure in D.C. and misspent money she gave him.
Roberts moved back to Germany to be with his wife, but then he caught a break: On May 1, 2018, he said, Golden Gate University School of Law in downtown San Francisco offered him a Presidential Scholarship covering all of his tuition.
She Moved ‘Like Water’
Rachel Buckner, whose close friends and family members called her by her middle name of Imani, grew up attending Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland and singing in the children’s choir. As part of the AB Girls of Joy & Faith, she attended church trips and developed a close group of friends.
On weekends, she’d play basketball on a traveling Amateur Athletic Union team when she wasn’t enjoying Girl Scouts. As she finished high school, she received a full scholarship to Howard University in Washington, D.C.
“No one was shocked because she was so smart,” said Lyniece Hill, 26, who attended church with her.
After graduating, Buckner returned to the Bay Area and discovered a new pursuit. While she wrote poems at Howard, she’d kept them to herself. Now, in 2018, she burst on to the stage at the Liege Spirits Lounge in downtown Oakland for its weekly Speak on It sessions.
“She was not just self-confident, she was self-assured,” recalled Alie Jones, a poet who befriended Buckner. “When she’d come to the mic, you’d take a deep breath.”
Each Wednesday night, Buckner would hold forth on femininity, divinity and other topics, Jones said. “We talked about Black women’s pain, and she talked a lot about pleasure in a very human way,” Jones said. “When she moved, there was a lot of poise and confidence and ease. She moved through like water.”
In fall 2019, she began law school at Golden Gate, four months pregnant. A second-year classmate, Alva Ogletree, recalled walking to her torts class one day when she recognized Buckner wearing a Howard University hoodie. Ogletree, also an alum, cupped her hands to her mouth and yelled: “H.U.!” Buckner swung around and yelled back the requisite reply: “You know!”
“We became really close after that,” recalled Ogletree. Buckner would give birth to her daughter, Indigo, that first year. Ogletree had a son while at Howard. They bonded over their challenges as Black students and mothers — and the difficult births they’d endured. Ogletree helped Buckner clean the front room of her mother’s house for a nursery.
Also in fall 2019, Roberts restarted his coursework at Golden Gate.
He’d abruptly dropped out the year before — but not before leaving a distinct impression with his classmates. That was the year that Christine Blasey Ford testified that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. The hearings polarized Americans and fueled the Trump administration’s suspicions that accusations against men had gone too far. “It’s a very scary time for young men in America,” Trump said after Kavanaugh’s testimony on Oct. 2, 2018.
Days later, wearing a “Make America Great Again” ball cap, Roberts was featured in a sympathetic story on ABC News’ “Nightline” that said Savannah State had “derailed his dream of graduating.”
The Kavanaugh hearings were hot discussion topics in Golden Gate classes, recalled Ogletree, who shared classes with Roberts in the fall of 2018. “In certain classes in criminal procedures,” she said, “his whole arguments were about how there wasn’t due process.”
Meeting At A Troubled Time
What many other students didn’t see was that Roberts’ life was falling apart. In late October 2018, according to court records, he texted his wife: “Dropping out of law school. Adjusting to a new city. No money. No food. Divorce.”
On Nov. 1, 2018, he was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold, known as a 5150, after considering suicide, he later wrote. He said he’d been overwhelmed by the stress of law school, a disintegrating marriage and a potential eviction from his home. He was discharged with antipsychotic medication.
Roberts said he spoke to a law school administrator who recommended a leave of absence that would allow him to return the next year with his scholarship intact. He left school Nov. 7, telling classmates he was going on sabbatical, Ogletree recalled. A Golden Gate official declined to answer questions about Roberts’ tenure at the school.
That month, Roberts returned to his family in Atlanta, where he was again hospitalized after becoming suicidal, according to his court filings. He said he was later diagnosed with “unspecified depression, acute stress disorder and elevated blood pressure.”
In January 2019, Roberts was back in San Francisco, scraping by on food stamps and support from his wife that was nearing an end. By that July, he was taking out payday loans to support himself, by his account. In August, he returned to Golden Gate. He would meet first-year student Buckner and the pair would start dating.
Around Halloween, Roberts filed for divorce from his wife. He wanted nearly $2,700 in monthly spousal support; she said she’d already paid him nearly $28,000 and that he was “recklessly spending money” on Ubers, restaurant meals, a gym membership and switching to an expensive single-student living arrangement.
White, the ex-wife, and her attorney did not respond to requests for comment. But in a court filing, White said Roberts was a “narcissistic” serial adulterer. At one point, she said, she went into his Instagram account and discovered he had been “communicating with several different women and asking questions like, ‘when are you gonna be my wife.’ ”
When confronted, White said, Roberts admitted he had a “problem.”
A Run For Office
By the end of his first full school year at Golden Gate, Roberts, a registered Republican, decided to run for a seat on the San Francisco Republican Central Committee, representing Assembly District 17.
In his campaign profile, he touted his past work in Title IX reform.
“Joseph successfully advocated for equal treatment and due process for those affected by inequitable Title IX campus disciplinary processes,” his online profile stated. He said he was endorsed by the San Francisco GOP, Republican Women of San Francisco and the San Francisco Log Cabin Republicans.
He won the seat in the March 3, 2020 election, garnering nearly 2,000 votes and finishing fifth in voting for 11 seats. As a delegate, he continued pushing his Title IX grievances, sitting for two interviews on “The Exceptional Conservative Show,” a YouTube program hosted by Kenneth McClenton.
In his first interview on April 17, 2020, Roberts called his Savannah State accusers “total liars.” He compared his activism to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His opportunity to sit across from DeVos was akin to King meeting with President Lyndon Johnson to discuss the Civil Rights Movement, he said. At one point, McClenton asked Roberts what he would tell sons who left for college.
“They’re going to be tall and handsome and get attention from the opposite sex,” Roberts said. “Don’t take multiple women.”
As DeVos unveiled new protections that year for students accused of sexual assault, Roberts told Politico that the new rules were a “reaffirmation of what I and other families knew the entire time: We were just victims of the previous administration’s policy.”
In December 2020, Roberts posted an unusual photo on social media. He wore a tuxedo as he posed with San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and he said they had dined together at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley.
Jeff Cretan, a spokesperson for Breed, said such a dinner never happened and that the photo was from a San Francisco Symphony event. Roberts, Cretan said, had approached the mayor at a few different events.
“The posts on social media, because of their nature, were flagged for her security detail which is SFPD,” Cretan told the Chronicle, calling the episode “disturbing.” He said, “SFPD agreed and was looking into it.”
‘She Went Off The Map’
As the COVID-19 lockdown took hold, friends and family said, Buckner slowly faded from view. But when she stopped showing up for the weekly spoken-word performances, her friend and fellow poet Jones wasn’t overly concerned. They remained in touch via text and phone calls.
In some respects, Buckner was thriving. She worked as a summer associate at the Hanson Bridgett law firm in San Francisco for a month in 2020 and again in 2021, when the firm offered her a full-time position following her graduation. She accepted, said Managing Partner Kristina Lawson.
Buckner was an “amazing young woman” and “superstar summer associate,” Lawson said. “I personally remember my conversations with her about practicing law as a working mom, as she was a young mother looking forward to a promising career as a lawyer. Our thoughts and prayers are with Imani’s young daughter, and with her family.”
Buckner’s Instagram account during the COVID years showed her and her new boyfriend playing golf, sailing on a yacht and attending a Warriors game, her childhood friend Hill recalled. She saw Buckner with her daughter at a holiday event with no signs of trouble. Still, her friends spoke of concerns.
“She went off the map with everybody,” Ogletree said, “which was strange and unlike her.”
Roberts continued his Title IX mission as “trust and belief coordinator” at Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, or SAVE, a Maryland organization which believed that “dubious claims” of a rape culture created “moral panic” on college campuses. The group did not respond to a request for comment.
He penned op-eds that appeared in the Washington Examiner and USA Today. The former was titled: “If black lives matter, due process must matter.”
At that time, the Trump administration’s changes to Title IX remained in effect — and they do so today. President Joe Biden campaigned on “immediately” overturning DeVos’ regulations and reinstating Obama-era reforms, but the effort has taken time. The Biden administration has said it hopes to finalize new rules in October.
Shiwali Patel, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, who was quoted along with Roberts in the 2018 “Nightline” report, said the changes that Roberts helped establish have led to “hostile and unfair rules” on campuses, with sexual harassment cases turned away due to high thresholds for proof. In an interview Friday, she called his murder charge “shocking.”
“They painted a picture of #MeToo going too far and campuses being unsafe for men, but that was not what was actually happening,” Patel said. She said false accusation rates are “very low,” while campus sexual assaults are often not reported.
By 2022, the relationship between Roberts and Buckner began to veer into chaos. Between Jan. 21, 2022, and June 3, 2023, police responded to 17 calls for service at their Pleasanton apartment, for welfare checks, disturbances, reported domestic violence and suspicious circumstances, according to records obtained by the Chronicle.
On Feb. 28, 2022, the couple broke into Buckner’s mother’s house in San Ramon and beat up her mother and grandmother. The grandmother suffered a broken arm, records show. A judge issued a protective order to keep Roberts and Buckner away from the two women. On June 1, public defender Evan Kuluk, who represented Buckner, petitioned the court for a mental health diversion, saying his client “suffers from a qualifying mental disorder” that played a significant role in the charged crime.
Reached by phone, Kuluk declined to comment on any mental health issues, but issued a statement about Buckner’s death.
“Imani was an intelligent, thoughtful, hard-working person with so much promise for a bright legal career,” he said. “Her loss is devastating to all those who knew her.”
The case ended with the couple taking plea deals that left them both with probation. Later in the year, Alameda County’s child support department sued Buckner and a judge ordered her to pay $724 a month to support her daughter. On Dec. 15, Discover Bank sued Buckner as well, saying she failed to pay almost $7,000 in credit card debt.
On May 30 of this year, Pleasanton police responded to a domestic violence call from the Pleasanton apartment. Less than a week later, police responded to a welfare check at the apartment. The next month, according to court records, police believe Roberts killed Buckner in the apartment.
Following The Suspect
On July 13, six days before Buckner’s remains were found, Roberts’ cellphone abruptly stopped communicating with Buckner’s phone after nine months of consistent communication, according to search warrant records. But he did begin talking with at least three new women, records show. One left a voicemail saying, “Hey, handsome.”
Detectives said Roberts kept Buckner’s cellphone “long after the victim was dead,” drove her car and never reported her missing. Based on the condition of the body parts and the bag, investigators believe Roberts left the bag under the cover of darkness on the night of July 18.
On Aug. 30, officers started surveilling Roberts. A FBI team watched him drive Buckner’s car, golf, smoke cigarettes and eat Mexican food, records show. After a judge approved a search warrant, investigators on Sept. 6 entered the Pleasanton apartment — and reported immediately spotting signs of a cleaned-up crime scene, including an open bottle of Drano on the edge of a bathtub and freshly removed carpets.
In a police interview, Roberts denied knowing Buckner was dead, saying her mental health had deteriorated in the pandemic and that it was not unusual for her to leave for days at a time. He didn’t report her missing, he said, because he thought she would come back. When detectives told him Buckner was dead, Roberts speculated she may have died by suicide.
A GoFundMe for Buckner’s family has since raised more than $80,000. Her mother said on the fundraising page that despite her domestic troubles, she graduated.
“To anyone that got to know and be around Imani, she was a beautiful and radiant light,” her mother, S. Jamila Buckner, wrote. “She had an infectious spirit that you could not help but smile when around and gravitate towards. … She was at the beginning of her life and her journey and had so much more life to live.”
‘How Dare You’
Alie Jones started the vigil by reciting some statistics: Black women make up 40% of people trafficked in the United States. In Oakland, of 1,500 missing persons, more than 400 were Black women.
She recited a poem:
I dare you to HOLD SPACE
for Black girls who
bloom in a drought
Black girls who
ask too many questions and
don’t learn from our mistakes
From the sweetest sunflower to
the thorniest rose
I dare you to
EMBRACE Black girls
A little more than a week had passed since authorities identified Buckner as the woman who had been murdered. Just over a mile away on Alameda’s South Shore Beach, friends and classmates met for a memorial.
About 30 people formed a circle in the sand, spreading bubbles, playing music and sharing stories. As the sun set, the attendees walked to the shoreline and laid flowers in the shallow water.
Buckner’s friends spoke about her final months. The hashtag #PrayForImani had been circulating. Despite her estrangement from many of them, they had heard through the grapevine that she might be in an abusive relationship.
Ogletree, who lives 10 minutes from where Buckner’s body was found, said her friend had been seen with her arm in a sling and other mysterious injuries. Neighbors at their apartment would hear frequent fighting, she said.
Around June, a month before investigators believe she was killed, Ogletree said Buckner told a close friend that her boyfriend was trying to kill her and that she had tried to get to a domestic violence shelter.
When Hill’s father, a deacon at their Oakland church, called her with the news of Buckner’s death, she said she “didn’t really need him to say how it happened.”
Ogletree said she found out about Buckner’s death from a fellow Howard alum. “Imani was so full of love. She loved him through his inefficiencies and his flaws,” she said of Roberts. “She was able to have a child, successfully be a mother, be in an abusive relationship, withdraw from law school, get away from him, get back together and still graduate.”
She’s furious at Roberts — and his efforts to reframe his history.
“When I saw who it was, I broke. I was just in disbelief. It was so gruesome and I knew him and spent time with him,” she said. “How dare you play victim.”