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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023

Partly Sunny | Missing Clover | School News | Willits Sky | Dress Rehearsal | Dope Scene | Hemp Wall | Pioneer Women | Spaghetti Fundraiser | CPS Response | Covelo Art | Families | Innocent Civilians | Free Show | Couple Bags | Pacific Coast | Ed Notes | Odd Bodkins | Monica & Neal | Beach Grotto | English Pronounced | Yesterday's Catch | Excited Delirium | Cowboy | Lonesome Cell | Capone Recipe | New Law | Candy Corn | Amarillo Slim | Israeli Airstrikes | Make Music | Gaza | Confusion | Suffering | Same Boat | Ukraine | Drunk Captain | Call 911

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AFTER PATCHY FROST across some interior valleys this morning, warmer temperatures are expected today under partly to mostly sunny skies. Clouds will increase again on Friday with light rain or drizzle across portions of the area by late in the day. After another break in the weather late Saturday through Sunday, a round of heavier rain is expected Monday afternoon into Tuesday. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): A cooler 46F under clear skies on the coast this Thursday morning. Today will be lovely then a chance of showers later tomorrow. Another shot of rain on Monday then maybe clear for a while? We'll see.

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Meghan Ruiz

Marisol Ramirez

Vianett Camarillo

Kellie Crisman

Mareli Orozco

Estrella Serna-Chavez

Juan Franco

Adolfo Vasques

Mariana Zavala

Miguel Jesus Hernandez

Gus Arbanovella

Lucy Espinoza

Sam Guerrero

Brianna Gomez-Florez

Students exhibited extraordinary effort, kindness, citizenship, or improvement and were nominated by their teacher. All students received a Mosswood Gift Card and a letter of appreciation to home.


Also, there is a planning meeting for the Senior Athlete celebrations being coordinated Cheer Coach Yesenia Pena and more adults are needed to plan and create the decorations to honor the senior athletes on the last game day. She is hosting a planning meeting on Thursday, October 19 at 5:00 p.m. in the High School Library. The more people involved the better!

Take care,

Louise Simson, Superintendent

AV Unified School District

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Barn and Evening Clouds, Willits Valley (Jeff Goll)

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CORRECTION for ‘Our Town’ Performance/Presser

Performances run on October 26-29. October 25 is a dress rehearsal.

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I was born in Humboldt (before the hippies showed up), and I have watched the dope scene my whole life. I have watched friends and family members living the grower life and chasing the dream. Sometimes they had a good year and wintered in Costa Rica. Mostly they didn’t. I have watched lifelong friends become mortal enemies, listened to endless tales of rip offs, snitches, arrests, addiction, violence and personally knew one person who was murdered over weed.

The dope business has always been a criminal enterprise, and there have always been criminals involved in it. If you think you are some sort of Robin Hood living in Sherwood Forest, you are high…

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Hemp fiber wall, stayed for 4 hours under heat of 360 degrees and barely burned. Hemp walls are soundproof and act as an insulating layer.

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COUNTY MUSEUM EXHIBIT: ‘HER SIDE OF THE STORY’ Highlights Local Pioneer Women, Starting Oct. 28

Illuminating the hardships, joys, and lives of female pioneers in California, Her Side of the Story: Tales of California Pioneer Women will show at the Mendocino County Museum from October 28, to December 23, 2023. The traveling exhibit features 30 first-person accounts collected from women who traveled by land or sea to settle throughout California prior to January 1, 1854.

In 1900 during the preparations for California’s Golden Jubilee, a simple newspaper letter asked why “no provision had been made for the pioneer mothers” and was the catalyst for the creation of The Association of Pioneer Women of California. Eight hundred handwritten stories of women who ventured to California were collected, adding a new layer to the history books. Yet, even with this feat, thousands more voices and stories were lost to time. In conjunction with online resources, Her Side of the Story delves into both the saved and lost stories of pioneer women.

The exhibit will be enhanced with the addition of women’s stories from across Mendocino County with special contributions from the Kelly House, the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House, the Anderson Valley Historical Society, and the Mendocino County Museum collection.

A special program and reception will be held on Sunday November 12, from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. This program will include readings from Mendocino County archives and a guest panel of curators and historians from partnering organizations.

For more information, please visit or contact the Mendocino County Museum at or 707-234-6365.

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I WAS JUST READING our comment line having to do with the alleged crimes of Mendocino County's Children's Protective Services agency, which I tend to think are truthful, off my own experience with that office some years ago. But that long ago experience, covered in all its grisly detail in print in the pre-cyber ava, was a story of the most egregious, most ignorant, least competent, most heartless social workers I've ever dealt with. And that whole dreary mob was backed to the max by the judge. Guess what? The dumbest, least responsible person of that bunch was appointed boss of the whole criminally defective office, none of whom had children of their own or had ever raised children.

THE ONGOING problem with CPS Mendo, and it's probably worse in most urban places, is that there's no oversight. Wealthy parents can hire a lawyer to fight arbitrary custody decisions. 

YOU LOSE YOUR CHILDREN in private. The whole process is secret, in camera, as the legal eagles say to protect themselves from public scrutiny. Occasionally, some outraged schlub will get in touch with us to tell his or her unhappy story of his or her experience with these dubious, tax-paid protectors of children, who will remain dubious so long as custody hearings remain closed to the public. 

OUR CHILD-PROTECTING JUDGE nowadays is Cindi Mayfield. She, as all the custody judges before her, and we're talking a legal context of nine go-along-to-get-along lawyers here in Mendo, automatically takes the social worker's word for whatever the social worker presents as the custody truth. The justice system being class-based, and the working or poor parent being financially unable to defend him or herself, the parent is in a No-Win situation.

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From time to time our editor—who I greatly respect— goes off the deep end and boldly opines about Mendocino County CPS (formally titled Family and Children’s Services). He often refers to his own experiences with the agency decades ago as partial basis for his thinking. And, on occasion, annoyed by his bias and generally fact-free arguments, I respond, as someone who worked for nearly two decades in that agency, mostly as a unit supervisor on the coast. It feels wrong, in my view, to let such views go unanswered.

I could write 20 or more pages of response with factual examples in rebuttal, but won’t take the time to do so. (And, importantly, I could also write many pages of factual critique of the agency’s flaws, based on personal experience.) But, pragmatically, I’ll be briefer and rebut some of the editor’s most egregious factual errors.

Bruce Anderson writes: “THE ONGOING problem with CPS Mendo, and it’s probably worse in most urban places, is that there’s no oversight.” That is not true. The oversight in fact is nearly constant— in layers—from social worker supervisors in the field, county counsel overseeing case facts and recommendations, court-appointed counsel for children and parents in juvenile court cases, and juvenile court judges. A CPS social worker, in fact, has the fairly constant feeling of being watched and judged, as he or she makes case decisions in consultation with a supervisor. This is as it should be.

Bruce writes, about his own CPS-based experience: “(The CPS staff) none of whom had children of their own or had ever raised children.” While this may have been true of his limited experience, many among the scores of CPS staff I worked with over the years had had their own children and deeply cared for children. I also know that none of the social workers I worked with wanted to take children from their families. All of us, without exception, worked hard to help families become safer. It was heart-breaking to have to take children from parents, but when children were unsafe, that was a necessary, hopefully temporary, intervention. And, when families were reunited, we were thankful for their success, happy to see them leave our system

Bruce Anderson writes about juvenile court judges: “OUR CHILD-PROTECTING JUDGE nowadays is Cindi Mayfield. She, as all the custody judges before her, and we’re talking a legal context of nine go-along-to-get-along lawyers here in Mendo, automatically takes the social worker’s word for whatever the social worker presents as the custody truth. “ Not true. First, Judge Mayfield was the juvenile court judge for many years, during my tenure at CPS, but I don’t think she currently is. More importantly, Judge Mayfield was a tough, smart judge who clearly empathized and felt for the parents and children who came before her court. She did not “automatically” believe social workers—that is a laugh. She was actually tougher on social workers than any other judge I observed. I can still feel the sting of her criticisms, earned several times by me.

Trying to humanely, effectively help these families—to do the best, right thing—is hard. There are no perfect answers, and to do this work over many years means making a measure of mistakes, making poor judgments, even doing harm at times, as one tries to do well by families. These harsh realities are part of the job, and we all tried to learn as we went on, to do better. It is humbling work.

I don’t know, after all my years in this honorable, important work, what the answer is to helping, reducing and ending the epidemic of stressed, unsafe families. The ubiquitous presence of hard, dangerous drugs has made CPS work much more difficult. Parents on these drugs cannot safely parent, and they are difficult to rehabilitate. Our society in so many ways is not family-friendly and does not well-support families in poverty and need.

I do know that—like the many and endless criticisms of police and their fraught work—the answer is not uninformed, fact-free critiques by the media that amount to defamation.

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Gutted Building, Covelo (Jeff Goll)

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Will call each other crazy

Make jokes about meds.

However, if someone is truly in need,

They will brush it off carelessly,


Oh, that’s just the way he is.

— Emjay Wilson

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The horrors visited upon Israeli civilians ought not to be replicated in Gaza. The international community, including the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations, ought to press and support Egypt in immediately setting up refugee centers and opening the border to rescue innocent civilians in Gaza and give them shelter, food and water.

Isebill V. Gruhn

Santa Cruz

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The Purpose of the Spiritual Revolutionary

“The purpose of the spiritual revolutionary is to destroy the demonic and return this world to righteousness.” ~Craig Louis Stehr

This is the role of an avatar, as explained in the Bhagavad Gita:

Warmest spiritual greetings, Please know that I am available for frontline participation on the planet earth, in response to the global ecological implosion. I am free to leave California's Mendocino County at any time, am in general good health presently, have a thousand dollars in the checking account, am packed into one suit case on wheels and one duffel bag, and am following spirit. If this resonates with you, please make contact. Thank you very much.

Craig Louis Stehr


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(photo by Falcon)

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THE FORT BRAGG FIRES. The silence has always been deafening. Even though by now almost everyone in town has read the AVA series on the 1987 arson spree that destroyed three community landmarks — the Piedmont Hotel; the Fort Bragg library; and the adjacent Ten Mile Court in one grand combustible night, nobody involved has ever talked, other than to say things like, “Please don’t mention me. Please.”

AND NOBODY was arrested, indicted or charged, although there was probably a murder involved, that of young Kenneth ‘Kenny’ Ricks who died of an alleged suicide the day before he was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury in San Francisco. How’d the kid do it? By placing a shotgun between his legs and pulling the trigger with his toe. Not impossible, but with at least one handgun in his house? 

THE TOPPER for me, though, was when, years later, long after the statute of limitations had expired on the arsons, I went to the DA’s office to ask for a look at the twenty (count ‘em) boxes of accumulated case evidence. “Not here. Gone.” DA Eyster has speculated that his nemesis, DA Susan Massini, had taken the boxes with her when she left office and moved to Oregon. (Massini once fired Eyster when he was an assistant DA, marching him out of the office on a Friday afternoon at the point of an investigator’s gun.)

DISAPPEARING EVIDENCE would be a crime if the evidence left town with Massini, because the evidence belongs to history not a private former DA, and this evidence trove undoubtedly contains the names of the people who hired the young men like Kenny Ricks to set the fires that infamous night in 1987. After all, both the FBI and the ATF worked the case, and Massini’s deputy, Myron Sawicki, and many cops and local investigators accumulated the twenty boxes of the case that was never brought. And there may have been a murder involved. Or Kenny Ricks did kill himself because if he’d talked to a federal grand jury the arsonists would have killed him anyway. It was an amazing event, doubly amazing that criminals got away with a series of major arsons.

I’VE CAUGHT GLIMPSES of attorney Sawicki shuffling in and out of the Ukiah Safeway in his bathrobe and slippers, and was tempted to flag him down, but I didn’t because I thought maybe he’d wigged out, nutted up as the cops say. Of course these days people go out in public in all kinds of garb that used to be considered questionable if not a misdemeanor. Sawicki knows I want to talk to him about the night the heart and soul of historic Fort Bragg was burned out of the venerable, proud community.

FORT BRAGG, in ’87, had a population of about 6,000 and included some rough characters, the kind of low down people who have since been priced out. (Where do they go, Redding? Medford?) Cocaine was everywhere in Fort Bragg in ’87, and the young guys who set a series of arsons prior to that grand night when they torched the old hotel, the library and the justice court, were rewarded for their late night work with copious amounts of the popular white powder.

AND GET THIS. The library and the Ten Mile court were burned as a diversion, the target being the Piedmont Hotel, a business rival of the crime’s mastermind. Diversion? All the firefighters had to do was look down the street to see the Piedmont going up, but by the time they drove the three short blocks the popular restaurant, bar and ancient rooms upstairs were fully engulfed. I guess the diversion worked, but what kind of nihilist burns a town library, let alone its court house, and is permitted to get away with it?

WE SOLD a lot of papers in Fort Bragg over the month our Fire series appeared. No story we’ve done has inspired the kind of pure fear that one did. When even the justice apparatus is worried about retaliation, it means that criminals have inserted themselves so thoroughly into the warp and woof of the community that instead of a concentrated effort to root them out, everyone even remotely involved, if they would talk at all, either spoke in whispers, applied for a concealed weapon’s permit, or begged not to be involved. 

THE WHOLESALE dope dealing, insurance fraud, arsons-for-profit saga occurred because the Fort Bragg-based crooks knew they had nothing to fear from either the DA’s office or from the in-county judicial apparatus. It’s pertinent to point out here that business people whose start-up capital came from the drug trade remain prominent members of Fort Bragg’s free enterprise community. The crooks of ‘86-’90 were confident that they had nothing to fear from authority at higher levels of the justice system. They were right.

SAD THING is the tiny Fort Bragg Police Department knew who did what, and so did the FBI, the ATF, Myron Sawicki, and the DA at the time, Susan Massini. But the twenty boxes of research, the case files, are gone, and there’s no evidence that crimes had ever been committed.

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by Bruce Anderson (May, 2003)

He was Clyde, but she was no Bonnie. She didn't want to be Bonnie, didn't really want to be with Clyde either, but this Clyde out of Willits scared her into staying with him, and after awhile she thought it was love.

Monica Winnie, 18, knew Neal Beckman, 35, was an outlaw, but she didn't know he was so far outside the law he'd shoot a cop. Monica saw her outlaw as smart and funny and quick to defend her. Gallant. 

“He always stood up for me, and he was always nice to me,” Monica would say. “And he was exciting.”

Neal Beckman was exciting. No one will deny that. 

Neal Beckman

Monica knew he'd been to prison, and she'd heard Neal say he wasn't going back, although she knew he was doing things that would get him sent back as soon as Neal was caught doing them. 

But there he was, and there was something about Neal that drew Monica to him. He'd be there for her, which was more than she could say for her previous boyfriend, the “All-American Mr. Clean” who'd dumped her just when she needed him most.

Jeff and Patty Winnie, Monica's bewildered parents, didn't know what to make of their daughter's new boy friend, but they soon learned that their little girl had brought home a two-strike felon with a history of violent crimes all the way back to his early teens. Exactly a week after their first meeting with their daughter’s boyfriend, Mr. and Mrs. Winnie were being portrayed on the front pages of newspapers as proprietors of a Willits bomb factory, and their daughter was being portrayed as a latter-day gun moll.

How did a nice girl like Monica wind up handcuffed in the back seat of a cop car with her boyfriend dying of gunshot wounds in the front seat, the cop who shot him staring eerily up at her from where he also lay half-dead only feet away as another man lay stretched out on the pavement bleeding from stab wounds, Monica’s mom hyperventilating in shock at the door of the Ukiah WalMart?

Monica Winnie is pretty, she's intelligent, she's conventionally ambitious, and she's blessed with a kind of effervescent good humor that draws people to her. The incongruity of her and the late Mr. Beckman as a couple is as startling as, say, Patty Hearst's youthful interlude as a revolutionary, or all those 60's couples who went from wholesome star status in their high school yearbooks as Mr. and Miss Congeniality only to reappear as the lead debauchees of some sex and drug collective a few years later.

“He was a little guy, shorter than me even,” Monica says, remembering the man who breathed his last in the front seat of the Ukiah Police car as Monica sat handcuffed in the back seat. “He looked the same age as me. But he was real strong. He could pick me up, and everyone was afraid of him. I'd known him before when I had another boy friend. Back then, when I was 17, Neal was kind of stalking me and threatening to kill me and stuff. Then my other boy friend suddenly just left me when I really needed him and there was Neal.”

Whose Cro-Magnon courtship won him the girl he wanted, and love's mysterious ways had racked up another one. 

Monica briefly tears up when she thinks back. She's still seems a tiny bit beguiled by the guy. 

“You know,” a veteran prosecutor explains, “there are a lot of women who go for guys like Beckman. Or versions of Beckman. I don't get it, but it's common. These babes you see on the back of Harleys? If you polled them probably half are lawyers and college professors.”

Could be. America is a democracy after all. 

Unbeknownst to Monica, the cops had been watching her ever since she took up with Beckman because they kept close tabs on the dangerous little man. Anybody seen with him on a regular basis became a bad person by proximity. County law enforcement had Monica down in their Bad Person File. The cops were sure that Monica was shoplifting and doing other things for Beckman that would eventually land her in jail.

“Beckman was a very scary guy,” a long-time Sheriff's Department deputy said recently. “We were always very much aware of Mr. Beckman. I'm not surprised he did what he did.”

Monica was, though. 

A year and three months after being abandoned by the “straight, All-American” young man who'd promised to marry her, Monica's mom, Monica and Mr. Beckman pulled into the parking lot at the Ukiah WalMart. Mr. and Mrs. Winnie had been persuaded to let Neal stay with them until he found a permanent place to stay, but after their first 24 hours with their house guest they wanted Neal to find another place to live. On Neal's Last Night with the Winnies and on earth, Mrs. Winnie and Monica were driving him to a Ukiah motel when they stopped at WalMart so Mrs. Winnie could do a quick round of shopping before off-loading Beckman.

“Neal had everything he owned in a duffel bag,” Mrs. Winnie recalls. “I wanted to get a few things at WalMart and so did he.”

What Beckman got was death. What the Winnie family got was a ton of unwanted and wholly undeserved notoriety; they also got an ongoing legal bill that the 25-year, home-owning residents of Willits will be struggling to pay for years to come.

It was about 9pm when Mrs. Winnie, Monica and Beckman arrived at the Ukiah WalMart. Out of the hearing of Mrs. Winnie, Beckman had instructed Monica to take the receipt from his prior purchase of a WalMart duffel bags, snag a package of identical bags from inside the store and exchange them for the $29 shown on his old receipt. Mrs. Winnie assumed Neal and Monica were going to wait for in her car. But after Mrs. Winnie was inside the store and safely out of sight, Monica jumped out of her mom's car and entered the store through its garden section door. Beckman simultaneously entered the store via its main entrance. Monica then met Beckman at the duffel bag shelf, thus nullifying their separate entrances. (Beckman didn't seem to be much of a one for two-step planning.) At the duffel bag shelf, Beckman handed Monica a package of bags identical to his previous purchase and told her to go up front and exchange them for cash. 

Beckman explained to Monica that he needed a few more bucks for his motel room rent. He'd apparently spent most of the Social Security Insurance check he received every month for having been declared an “anti-social personality type” — too mean to work. Beckman had persuaded one of Mendocino County's uniquely gullible shrinks to qualify him permanently 5150. He mostly spent his monthly government stipend on methamphetamine.

A WalMart security guard instantly figured out that Neal and Monica were attempting to run a scam often seen in Ukiah's retail stores, and Monica was detained as she walked out of the store with the 19 dollars. WalMart called the Ukiah Police to come and get her. A popular, long-time Ukiah cop by the name of Marcus Young soon appeared. Sgt. Young was accompanied by a 17-year-old student cadet named Julian Covella. 

Monica takes it from here.

“Neal handed me the bags off the shelf. I took them and his old receipt up to the return counter where they gave me the money. I was almost outside when Carolyn Schott, a WalMart security guard, stopped me. I didn't know it then but her husband is also a security guard at the store. He was the man who Neal stabbed. Anyway, Carolyn Schott and some other WalMart people took me into the back of the store to wait for the Ukiah police. Marcus Young showed up. He took some notes, read me my rights, put me in handcuffs. He was very nice to me. All the cops were nice to me that night. I didn't know where Neal was. He disappeared after he got me the bags off the shelf. 

“So Marcus Young put me in the backseat of his car, which was right next to my mom's car, right in front of the store. I was sitting there handcuffed behind my back when Neal came walking up. He sat down on the hood of my mom's car, right next to where I sat in the cop car. Officer Young told Neal to get off the car and come over to him because another security guard had pointed Neal out as being in on the thing with me. They knew Neal was with me. 

“Neal started right off asking Young, 'What did I do? What did I do?' I could hear them talking, face-to-face — that close. Young asked Neal if he had any weapons. Neal said, 'Yeah. I have a knife.' Neal stuck his hand into his jacket and Young grabbed his arm. Next thing I knew Neal had a gun and was shooting it straight at Officer Young, and then they all fell down on the pavement and were wrestling around. The security guard and Young were trying to get Neal's arms, but it looked like Neal was too strong for them. Officer Young kept saying, 'Watch out for the knife. Get the knife!' 

“Neal had already shot Marcus Young. Then Neal started stabbing the security guard (Schott). I didn't see the stabbing, but the security guard went down, too. Neal got up and ran to the police car. He didn't say anything to me until he got shot, then he said, 'I got shot in the head, babe. I'm dead.' He kept saying that. His body was shaking.

“I ducked down after Neal got shot and he kind of slumped over in the front seat. I thought he was just ducking down too when Officer Young started shooting at him. I didn't know Neal had been shot until he told me he'd been shot.”

Sgt. Young had been hit in his right shoulder, thus paralyzing his shooting hand. His protective vest had saved him certain death from Beckman's point-blank pistol fire. When Beckman had emptied his gun at the cop, knocking him to the pavement, he then began a savage, repeated stabbing of WalMart security man, Schott. Schott went down as Beckman leaped into the front seat of Sgt. Young's cop car where he struggled to free the shotgun secured to the rear of the front seat. Young, struggling to regain his feet, his right side disabled by the bullet to his shoulder, couldn't get his gun out of his holster. The police cadet, 17-year-old Covella, alertly freed Young's pistol from its holster, handed it to the dazed officer who then emptied it at Beckman, hitting Beckman in the head with one of the first rounds. Sgt. Young then collapsed onto the pavement. 

Monica, gun fire exploding all around her, lay terrified only inches from her dying companion. “Neal was in the police car for a long time, shaking. He was about a foot from me. He was still shaking after they pulled him out of the police car. They really jerked him out of there. It looked like they dislocated his arm, they jerked him so hard. They put him face down and put handcuffs on him, and he was still shaking. Convulsing. There was blood everywhere, but he wasn't dead. Officer Young was looking straight up at me while the paramedics worked on him. They moved me to another squad car. I watched them give Neal resuscitation, but I think he died on the way to the hospital.”

Monica's dad, Jeff Winnie, remembers the man who memorably came to dinner at what had been his peaceful home. He'd thought he'd seen the last of Neal Beckman when his wife and daughter departed with Mr. Beckman to deposit him in a Ukiah motel. Mr. Winnie was asleep when the phone rang and he learned the news that would keep him wide awake for what seemed like the entire following week. 

“When we first met him, we didn't know what to think,” Jeff Winnie says. “He had those devil's horns tattooed on his head, but he looked so young we thought he was about the same age as Monica; and Monica liked him so we let him stay. We thought he was only going to be with us for a couple of days.”

The Winnies soon learned that their guest — their daughter's new love interest — was, in liberal Mendocino County's preferred expression of disapproval, “inappropriate.”

Jeff Winnie has a vivid memory of a family trip into town.

“One night when we all went out to dinner, the guy acted like a complete punk. He tried to start a fight with some guy he said was looking at Monica,” Monica's appalled father says. “And all he talked about was how much he liked drugs. This guy was my house guest? He had to go.”

The Winnies prayed that Monica would soon want Neal out of her life. 

Mrs. Winnie thought she was driving Mr. Beckman out of all their lives when she stopped at WalMart that Friday night in early March, and ten minutes later her daughter was in handcuffs and her berserk boyfriend was shooting it out with a policeman in the parking lot! 

Beckman was dead, but when the police discovered five “explosive devices” in the Winnie family car, the police thought they might have disrupted a whole family of homicidal maniacs. A task force, complete with bomb disposal equipment, soon appeared at the Winnie home in the hills southwest of Willits, and Monica and her dad were both in the Mendocino County Jail on charges related to possession of bomb making materials. Dad soon bailed out, and all charges against him were soon dropped. 

Charges against Monica were not dropped. They included a bomb charge, and two burglaries, all three of which were either unfounded or inflated to their state prison potential.

Despite her repeated denials that she had no idea that Neal Beckman had either a gun or five unarmed pipe bombs, Neal was dead and Monica was alive. And Neal had shot a cop. Monica had been with Mr. Beckman so...... 

So, at a minimum, she needed to be scared straight.

“Needless to say,” begins Monica's beset mother, “The night it all happened, well, it was like a nightmare. I still can't believe it. Monica has no criminal history. She's a nice kid. She's still in school, she has goals, she has hopes. I was just about to drop this guy off at a motel after we stopped at WalMart. Monica and I were headed home to Willits — we thought. It all happened very fast. I was just coming out of the store. I'd already been told Monica had been arrested for shoplifting, and I was very unhappy about that. I figured Neal was involved somehow, and was looking forward to getting him away from all of us. So, I'm walking towards my car with Mike, a WalMart guy, when it all happens right in front of me. 

“I couldn’t see Neal's face, but he seemed nice and calm and cool. He had on black pants, jacket, a cap. He was walking towards Officer Young in that chicken walk that the hood guys use. He was walking like a hoodlum, a cocky guy. I wondered what the heck he was doing. He walked right up to Officer Young and Officer Young says, 'I need to speak to you.' Neal starts in, 'What’d I do?' Both hands were in his pockets. Officer Young didn’t say anything derogatory to him. All he said was, 'Sir, please remove your hands from your pockets.' Neal said, 'What do you want me for? What’d I do?' 

“I blinked, and next thing I knew Officer Young had his left hand up in front of him. I didn’t actually see the gun. I saw the muzzle flash. I saw Officer Young get hit in the stomach. The next shot looked like it hit him square in the face. I couldn't believe what I was seeing! I started dialing 911. I heard a couple more shots. I thought Officer Young was dead right there! Officer Young had hold of Neal's arm. Then Officer Young fell on him or pushed him up on the hood of my car. He was on top of him when Neal fired the second shot that looked like it hit Young right in the face. 

“I really felt like the 911 operator was stupid. She asked a lot of stupid questions, although I'd made it clear that a policeman had just been shot. I was trying to tell her an officer was dead and she hung up on me! Maybe a minute later, I started hearing all kinds of sirens. 

“The paramedics worked on Young and Schott in the ambulance for 30-45 minutes ( Schott is the WalMart security guard stabbed by Beckman immediately after the frenzied Beckman had emptied his gun into Sgt. Young.) 

“Neal was in the police car where he'd been shot, shaking. Not actually dead. He was laying on the seat and twitching. Two officers came up to him while he was still twitching, pulled him out of the car, slammed him down on the pavement and handcuffed him. He laid there for 5-10 minutes until an EMT came over to Neal to work on him. They put him in the ambulance and took him away. 

“That Friday night I'd stopped at WalMart, and the next thing I know my daughter's boy friend is shooting a cop on top of my car! And a week later my daughter is being talked about by John Walsh on America's Most Wanted! These three men said on national television that Neal Beckman made no attempt to free Monica. That he just climbed in the front seat of the police car with my daughter in the back seat to get more guns. If they were this Bonnie and Clyde team, why didn’t Neal open the back door and let Monica go so she could help him shoot people? Instead, he climbed in the police car to get more guns where Officer Young, God bless him, did what he did. But as Bonnie and Clyde? No way. It's a miracle she wasn't hit with all the bullets flying around. But if Neal had got hold of that weapon in the police car..... God!”

Monica says her lethal adventure at WalMart has cured her of exciting beaus. She says she wants to finish school and pursue a career working with autistic children, a goal she adopted after spending long hours with the autistic child of a relative. She hopes her plans have only been temporarily derailed. 

Everyone, including the everyones in the justice system, is similarly hopeful for Monica. In an agreement worked out by Linda Thompson of the Public Defender's Office and Dan Haehl, Assistant District Attorney, Monica, who is out of jail to care for her still shaken, diabetic mother, will plead guilty to a misdemeanor burglary, a felony burglary and a misdemeanor bomb charge. The two burglaries include a shop lift of one blouse from JC Penny's by a friend of Monica's; the $19 bunco attempt devised by Beckman at WalMart; and one count of possession of an explosive device brought against her on the assumption Monica knew Beckman possessed the things. One of the shoplifts is the felony, the bomb charge has been filed as a misdemeanor, as has the second shoplift.

(Beckman had ordered Monica to make a list of things he wanted her to buy for him the next time she left the Winnie home. The list was discovered in Monica's diary. “I didn't even know what the stuff was,” Monica says. “He just told me where to get it in town. IMR-40-64? I just wrote it down. My dad told me later he could make bullets out of it for his gun. I'd never heard of it.”)

The DA's skepticism about the degree of Monica's knowledge of her boyfriend's weapons is understandable. From law enforcement's perspective Monica had been hanging out with crooks for more than a year and had to have been aware that Beckman was involved in criminal activity. Her arrest, even if it's based on extremely tenuous particulars, is probably the best thing that could have happened to her. 

Monica seems to agree. 

“I don't want to go to prison. I don't like jail. And I think everything that happened that night was horrible. It's not me.”

Monica will be back in court Wednesday morning, May 21st. It is likely her sentence will consist of time already served in the Mendocino County Jail, plus five years of felony probation. 

Nobody wants to see her in prison. Everyone likes her, everyone is pulling for her.

* * *

Grotto, Navarro Beach (Jeff Goll)

* * *

ENGLISH (via Marco McClean)

I've read several things like this, but this is the first I've seen of English as She Is Pronounced, by J.H. Walton. It's via, which is up and running again after a years-long rest.

The wind was rough

And cold and blough,

She kept her hands within her mough.


It chill’d her through,

Her nose grough blough

And still the squall the faster flough.


And yet although

There was nough snough,

The weather was a cruel fough.


It made her cough

Pray do not scough!

She coughed until her hat blew ough.


Ah, you may laugh,

You silly caugh!

I’d like to beat you with my staugh.


Her hat she caught,

And saught and faught

To put it on and tie it taught.


Try as she might

To fix it tight

Again it flew off like a kight,


Away up high

Into the skigh.

The poor girl sat her down to crigh.


She cried till eight

P.M., so leight!

Then home she went at a greight reight.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Ambriz, Dahlund, Friend

ZARAGOZA AMBRIZ, Sacramento/Ukiah. Controlled substance for sale.

KEVIN DAHLUND, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, parole violation.

ANDREW FRIEND, Gualala. Domestic battery.

Griffith, Ickes, Johnson

SHANNAH GRIFFITH, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs.

COLE ICKES, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.

DAKOTA JOHNSON, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, failure to appear, probation revocation.

Kuntz, LewisKooy, Nielsen, Paechcheron

FOREST KUNTZ, Garberville/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

JAKE LEWISKOOY, Ukiah. Petty theft, failure to appear, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

MARK NIELSEN, Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, stolen property, county parole violation, suspended license for DUI, paraphernalia, disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs, no license, state victims restitution.

ZAHIR PECHCERON, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

Phillips, Rodriguez, Vega

CLIFTON PHILLIPS, Covelo. Domestic battery.

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, Kelseyville/Ukiah. Parole violation.

CYNTHIA VEGA-AYALA, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, failure to appear.

Whipple, Wailley, Winters

KOBE WHIPPLE, Covelo. Harboring wanted felon, evidence destruction, conspiracy, resisting.

SEAN WILLEY, Santa Monica/Fort Bragg. Vandalism, petty theft.

PHILLIP WINTERS, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

* * *


California has become the first state to ban the use of “excited delirium” as a cause of death, prohibiting the pseudoscientific diagnosis that authorities have frequently cited to justify killings at the hands of law enforcement.

Excited delirium – a term rejected by major medical groups, including the American Medical Association – suggests that people can develop “superhuman strength” due to drug use. Medical examiners and coroners have argued that the condition caused victims of brutal police force to struggle and collapse from cardiac arrest, essentially excusing the role of officers who were holding them down, choking or suffocating them.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Sunday prohibiting the term from being recognized as valid diagnosis or cause of death. The bill comes as a national emergency physicians’ group is also considering disavowing the term.…

* * *

* * *


(Belton Suthereland)


Tired of sleeping, low-down lonesome cell

Tired of sleeping there, low-down lonesome cell

And I wouldn't've been here, hadn't've been for Nell


Kill that old grey mule, burn down the white man's barn

Kill that old grey mule, burn down that white man's barn

I didn't mean no trouble, I didn't mean no harm


I want you to love me or leave me, girl, anything you wanta do

I want you to love me or leave me, anything you wanta do

What a strange thing happenin', someday might a-happen to you


Well you say you gonna leave me, said you're goin' away

Well, you said you're gonna leave me, pretty Maggie, said you was goin' away

I said, luck be the fortune, you'll come back home some day


I said luck beats a fortune, gonna make you come some home someday

* * *

* * *


by Jocelyn Wiener

Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced that he has signed the first of a series of bills that aim to transform California’s mental health system. Depending on who you ask, this transformation represents a long overdue humanitarian response — or a worrisome step backward on civil liberties.

The signature loosens long-standing rules about who is eligible for involuntary treatment under the half century-old Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, the landmark mental health law that regulates involuntary civil commitment in the state. Advocates and county leaders expect the new legislation to lead to more people being placed in treatment facilities against their will.

“California is undertaking a major overhaul of our mental health system,” Newsom said in a written statement. “The mental health crisis affects us all, and people who need the most help have been too often overlooked. We are working to ensure no one falls through the cracks, and that people get the help they need and the respect they deserve.”

Newsom also is expected to sign legislation sending two key ballot measures to voters next March: a $6.4 billion bond to pay for 10,000 new treatment beds and supportive housing, and an overhaul of California’s 20-year-old law that funds mental health services with a tax on millionaires. A majority of voters would need to approve those measures.

All of this comes just as CARE Court, Newsom’s signature mental health legislation from last year, begins rolling out in an initial cohort of seven counties. Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne counties opened their Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Courts on Oct. 2; Los Angeles County will open its court on Dec. 1. The rest of the state will follow next year.

Addressing serious mental illness among the state’s growing unhoused population is a major focus of all of these initiatives. That population has burgeoned to more than 170,000 people, less than a quarter of whom have severe mental illness, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A recent survey of people experiencing homelessness by the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, found that the majority had experienced serious mental health conditions at some point in their lives but the main reasons most became homeless were high housing costs and low incomes.

CARE Court allows family, close friends, first responders and behavioral health workers to petition a court to compel a person with untreated schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders into a court-ordered treatment plan. The ballot initiative that would redesign the Mental Health Services Act would require that 30% of tax dollars brought in under the plan go toward housing programs, half of it to serve people who are chronically homeless or living in encampments.

Taken along with the signature of the involuntary confinement law, Senate Bill 43, the moment marks a significant departure from the decades in which the civil liberty protections for Californians with mental illness seemed virtually untouchable because of the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act.

The authors of that law — Assemblyman Frank Lanterman and Democratic Sens. Nicholas Petris and Alan Short — sought to end the inappropriate and often indefinite institutionalization of people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. At the time, it had been relatively easy for family members to force people into mental health treatment, often locking them away for long stretches in state hospitals where conditions were abhorrent.

New Standard For Involuntary Treatment

The law, which then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed in 1967, established strict criteria to determine who was eligible for involuntary treatment as well as specific timeframes that limited involuntary holds. This included the 72-hour hold known as a 5150. But concomitant promises to build up community-based support programs did not materialize.

Susan Talamantes Eggman, a social worker turned Democratic state senator from Stockton who has become one of the legislature’s main authors of mental health policies, is among those who feel California went too far back then.

“For fear of doing something wrong we did something even worse,” she said.

Eggman authored the law, carried the legislation to redesign the Mental Health Services Act and also co-authored last year’s CARE Act.

She told CalMatters she has tried five times in recent years to introduce legislation amending the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. Stiff resistance from disability rights groups and some legislators impeded those changes, she said.

This year’s attempt sailed through the Legislature without opposition. It expands the legal definition by which someone can be deemed “gravely disabled” and treated against their will. The new, expanded definition allows for consideration of whether a person fails to provide for their own medical care or personal safety. It includes not just mental illness, but also severe substance use disorder and chronic alcoholism.

She called the current constellation of policy changes “the most significant thing we’ve done in the mental health, behavioral health workspace easily within the last 50 years.”

Why Some Families Want Involuntary Treatment

Many families of seriously mentally ill individuals say they are thrilled with Eggman’s bill and with the other policy shifts, having long felt sidelined in their efforts to press for treatment when loved ones refused it.

“I think personally that the tide is finally turning, that we are on our way to really doing something to help these very sick people get the treatment that they need,” said

Linda Mimms, vice chair of the national Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliance.

She lauded Newsom’s interview with 60 Minutes last month, in which he called out critics of the changes, saying: “Change has its enemies. I get it. But one thing you cannot argue for — with all due respect to all the critics out there — is the status quo. You can’t. And in the absence of alternatives, what the hell are we going to do to address this crisis?”

But those critics say they aren’t defending the status quo at all. Rather, they point to other parts of the system — including affordable housing and an array of voluntary treatment services — that have suffered after decades of underinvestment.

“We’re never having the right conversation,” said Kelechi Ubozoh, a mental health advocate and author of We’ve Been Too Patient: Voices from Radical Mental Health. “It is a conversation around poverty. We’re still saying ‘let’s blame it on mental health and the mental health system.’”

Many who live with mental illness have had traumatic experiences with involuntary treatment, Ubozoh said, and are “really scared” by the current direction the state is headed.

“For no one to oppose this huge erosion of civil rights is just a really concerning change in the state legislature,” said Samuel Jain, senior attorney with Disability Rights California. He believes state leaders feel pressure to address the homelessness crisis, and as a result are conflating homelessness and mental illness.

“We don’t feel that this is going to change anything on the streets,” he said. “This strategy seems to be to take people with mental health disabilities and put them into institutions.”

In the meantime, he said, the organization’s clients often find themselves stuck in emergency departments and locked psychiatric settings because there are no community-based beds for them.

Worry About California’s Mental Health Tax

Some mental health advocates also are wary of Newsom’s ballot initiative to reallocate money from the millionaire’s tax, which raises several billion dollars every year for programs.They say the redesign of the Mental Health Services Act will inevitably redistribute some funds away from current programs.

That worries Tiffany McCarter, executive director of the African-American Family & Cultural Center in Oroville, which provides children with food, after-school care, and other services, such as anger management.

“I was pushing and pulling within my own self,” she said. “I want to help the homeless on a mass level for sure.” But she worries: “When it came to this measure, if they do this, what about our kids?”

That’s because her organization depends almost entirely on money from the Mental Health Services Act. She’s trying to rush to apply for grants but worries that she doesn’t have enough time. She says other organizations that serve people of color in her community — and around the state — are in the same position.

“It’s a lose, lose, lose all the way around,” she said.

Counties, which are charged with implementing many of the mental health policy programs coming down from the state, including CARE Court, caution that change will take time.

“It is a very positive thing that there are higher expectations around behavioral health in our communities,” said Graham Knaus, CEO of the California State Association of Counties.

But after decades of underfunding, he says, resources are still finite. The state continues to face significant shortages of appropriate housing placements, public guardians and mental health workers.

* * *

* * *

THOMAS PRESTON was born in Johnson, Ark., on New Year’s Eve 1928. His family moved to Turkey, Tex., nine months later. His father was a car salesman, and the family moved frequently between Arkansas and Amarillo. His memory could astound: he memorized the United States Constitution and could remember a license plate 15 years later.

Mr. Preston spent most of the 1950s hustling pool. Some stories have it that he took his pseudonym after playing matches with Minnesota Fats. He enhanced his hustles by learning to play the bumpkin.

Eventually, his reputation at pool spread so widely that Amarillo Slim thought he had to switch businesses, so he turned to engaging in illegal bookmaking in the winter and traveling around Texas in the summer playing poker. When the World Series of Poker was first played in Las Vegas in 1970, he was there. The handful of competitors played his favorite game, hold ’em. He ultimately won more than $500,000 in tournament play and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1992.

“Slim used his name and face to promote poker in a way it had never been done before, and without Amarillo Slim, the poker world would likely not exist in the way we know it today,”

“California Split” a move moment in history capturing Amarillo slim doing what he does best.” I recommend watching the movie it’s basically a degenerate gamblers movie. 

Reading through some of Amarillo slim stories, one of them said he won $300,000 betting on which sugar cube the fly would land on. 

And as always, See you at the tables!

* * *


Paramedics said they would need bulldozers, which they don’t have, to pull more people from buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes amid power cuts.

by Raja Abdulrahim

When Israeli airstrikes began pounding the Karama neighborhood in Gaza City on Tuesday night, the paramedic Amir Ahmed and his ambulance crew raced through streets lined with destroyed buildings and headed toward where black plumes of smoke were billowing above the rooftops.

But as they got near, the explosions continued relentlessly and they couldn’t get any closer, he said. Crowds of frantic people, some barefoot, rushed toward them, fleeing their just-destroyed homes. The ground shook with each strike from an Israeli fighter jet.

“People were crying for the children they had to leave behind under the rubble,” Mr. Ahmed, 32, said. “They were begging us to go in and pull their children from the rubble — this was all they wanted, for us to go and pull their children out.”

Israel launched a wave of airstrikes on Gaza after gunmen from Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip, crossed the border on Saturday, massacred Israeli soldiers and civilians in their homes, and fired thousands of rockets toward Israeli towns and cities.

Israeli official have defended the airstrikes — an intense bombardment that has hit hospitals, schools and mosques — saying that Hamas uses civilian buildings for military purposes.

But the strikes have spared no one, and for the emergency workers with the Palestinian Red Crescent, they have turned Gaza into a “nightmare,” Mr. Ahmed said.

Rescuers, emergency workers and doctors are struggling to reach and save people buried under the rubble from the Israeli airstrikes, with power now cut, fuel supplies close to running out and the onslaught from the air making movement dangerous.

By the time they reach many of the destroyed buildings, Mr. Ahmed said, they find only bodies. “Sometimes we don’t pull out anyone alive,” he said. “We pull them all out dead.”

On Wednesday afternoon, electricity in the blockaded Gaza Strip went out after the only power station there shut down, a result of Israel’s ordering a “complete siege” on Gaza and blocking all electricity, food, water and fuel from entering the coastal enclave.

The Gazan authorities have been warning that without power or fuel, the strip’s hospitals and emergency services will not be able to function. Al-Shifa Hospital, the Gaza Strip’s largest medical complex, has enough fuel to power its backup generators for another four days at most, its director said on Wednesday.

“If electricity stops, our hospitals will become nothing but mass graves,” the director, Dr. Muhammad Abu Salima, said. The hospital has limited its electricity consumption to essential services only, he said.

At least 1,127 Palestinians have been killed and more than 5,300 others injured in Gaza since Saturday, according to the Gazan Health Ministry. It was not clear how many of the casualties included the Palestinian attackers who carried out Saturday’s assault.

Electricity in Gaza had already been available only a few hours a day before the power station shutdown, and once the sun set, the enclave was mostly plunged into darkness as airstrikes continued.

Overnight Tuesday, rescue workers in several neighborhoods struggled to dig people out of the rubble of fallen concrete blocks and twisted metal, their efforts lit by headlights, flashlights and cellphones, according to video from the scene. Residents in flip-flops used blankets to help pull and carry their neighbors’ bodies out of the destroyed buildings.

Naseem Hassan, 47, who has been an ambulance driver in Gaza for 25 years, said he had never experienced anything like this war.

“When we go to the places that are hit, we only take the injured and dead who are outside the buildings, but we can’t dig out the injured and bodies from under the rubble,” he said. “We need bulldozers and heavy equipment, and we don’t have that.”

There are many demolished homes across Gaza with bodies underneath that can’t be recovered, he said.

Gaza, a small, densely populated enclave that is home to more than two million people, had already been living under a severe blockade imposed by Israel for 16 years.

The Gazan authorities have long said that the blockade, which is also enforced by Egypt, has prevented equipment such as fire trucks, ambulances and ladders from entering the territory, hampering rescue efforts.

Volker Türk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned violence by Palestinian armed groups on Tuesday but warned that the siege being imposed by Israel was prohibited under international humanitarian law and would exacerbate the “already dire” humanitarian situation there.

Several times, Mr. Ahmed and other ambulance crews tried to approach areas that had been attacked, only for more airstrikes to force them back. One strike hit 15 feet in front of their ambulance, he said, but they were uninjured.

But on Wednesday, four of his colleagues were killed in airstrikes on their ambulances, according to the Red Crescent.

“There is no differentiation between targets,” he said. “The paramedics themselves are targeted.”

The United Nations said that since Saturday, nine ambulances had been hit in Gaza and 13 attacks on health care facilities had been reported. Gaza’s Health Ministry accused Israel of systematically targeting ambulances.

An Israeli military spokesman did not respond to questions about whether the military was targeting ambulances.

The Israeli military has said its strikes are targeting all sites connected with Hamas, including the homes of members.

“A huge number of people are trapped under the rubble until this moment; for two days they have been under the rubble,” said Mahmoud Basal, a spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Defense in Gaza, which administers emergency service. “The rescue workers can’t reach them because of a lack of equipment.”

Rescuers also said they could not keep up with the pace of the airstrikes and their destruction. Unlike in past wars, when Israeli airstrikes have targeted single buildings, entire blocks are now being flattened, they said.

Israeli military commanders have said there is a “change of paradigm” in their airstrikes on Gaza.

“We need to use different language and different terminology regarding our assault activities in Gaza,” Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, said in a briefing on Tuesday. “This is not like previous rounds.”

The Israeli military warned Gazans to leave areas — in some cases entire districts or towns — it was targeting.

But Gazans have nowhere to go; the strip has no bomb shelters, and those who have gone to the homes of relatives in other areas often found that they, too, were fleeing. More than 260,000 people have been displaced inside the territory, with many of them sheltering in schools and hospitals.

Even those have not been spared from the strikes.

“Entire square miles are being erased from the map completely,” Mr. Basal said.

(NY Times)

* * *

* * *


Israel's blockade on supplies of fuel, food, water and medicines to the Palestinian territory has left Gaza's 2.3 million residents without electricity, internet or running water. Its only power plant was shut down after running out of fuel, leaving schools and hospitals reliant on emergency generators with dwindling supplies of fuel. Israeli air strikes continued to pound the Gaza Strip, obliterating entire neighbourhoods in retaliation for Saturday's attacks by Hamas. Great swathes of Gaza have been reduced to rubble. There are many uncounted casualties as the border with Egypt remains closed. There are roughly 2.5 million people in Gaza confined to an area the dimensions of Anderson Valley.

Israel’s energy minister, Israel Katz, has just tweeted: “Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home. Humanitarianism for humanitarianism. And no one will preach us morality.”

The Israeli military said its troops were preparing “for the next stage of the war” on Thursday, signaling that a ground invasion of Gaza could be coming, as Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to show U.S. support after the deadliest assault on Israel in more than half a century.

Mr. Blinken was also set to travel to Jordan and meet with other regional leaders, including the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, on Friday, according to a senior official in the authority. The Palestinian Authority has partial control over parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and was forced out of Gaza by Hamas in 2007.

Blinken said at least 25 American citizens were killed in the terrorist attacks by Hamas. That is an increase over the number of 22 confirmed by American officials on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken are giving public statements at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv after they had closed-door meetings here. Netanyahu said Blinken’s visit is a symbol of America’s “unequivocal support” for Israel. He talked about the violence by the “barbarians of Hamas.”

Blinken begins his statement in Tel Aviv by talking about his personal feelings in this fraught moment. “I come before you not only as the U.S. secretary of state, but also as a Jew,” he said to Mr. Netanyahu and the audience in an Israeli air force room at the Kirya military base. “I understand on a personal level the harrowing echoes that Hamas’s massacres carry for Israeli Jews and for Jews everywhere.” Mr. Blinken made a reference to his stepfather, Samuel Pisar, who survived Nazi concentration camps. Mr. Blinken has talked often about his stepfather’s history.

“Too often in the past, leaders have equivocated in the face of terrorist attacks against Israel and its people,” Blinken said. “This is, this must be, a moment for moral clarity.” He noted that citizens of 36 nations were killed during the Hamas terrorist attacks or have gone missing. “Anyone who wants peace or justice must condemn Hamas’ reign of terror.”

Multiple people were killed by an Israeli airstrike on the Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza on Thursday morning, according to Palestinian media, the latest deaths from Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 1,300 Palestinians since Saturday.

Video from the aftermath of the strike showed the area covered in gray ash and dust, as people dug through the rubble around them. The Israeli strike on the densely populated neighborhood came three days after four mosques were struck in the Al-Shati camp.

As Israel’s extensive bombing of Gaza continues, the Israeli military is preparing to launch a multipronged invasion of the territory, if one is approved by the political leadership of the country’s newly formed unity government.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, emphasized to reporters on Thursday that the government had made no decision yet about whether to launch a ground war, but said that the military is planning for one. Israel has called up 360,000 reservists, many of whom are moving toward the border with Gaza, from which Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, launched its deadly incursion over the weekend.


* * *

* * *


by Fadi Abu Shammalah

The bomb exploded a few hundred feet from where I was sitting with my wife, Safa, and my three children, Ali, Karam and Adam. Ali, 13, screamed; Karam, 10, buried his face in my chest; and Adam, 5, burst into tears.

We were in the outdoor area at the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Tuesday morning. I had been lucky enough to obtain permits for my wife and kids to cross into Egypt so they could wait out the terrifying violence raining down on Gaza in safety. But before their names were called, Israel bombed the crossing, at that point the only way in or out of the strip.

We quickly ushered the kids into the crossing’s hall, but a policeman started shouting for everyone to evacuate immediately; the crossing was being closed.

Thronged by dozens of others, we jumped in my car and sped back to my family home in the Khan Yunis refugee camp, where Ali and Adam continued to cry while Karam sat silently shaking.

We were just one family, experiencing one terrifying close call. More than two million Palestinians are trapped inside Gaza, about half under the age of 18, as Israel pounds us in retaliation for Hamas’s surprise attack on Saturday, with the United States promising “surging” military support.

Apartment complexes in Gaza City have been leveled, houses bombed and families annihilated. I can’t even recognize the upscale Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City — it’s been so thoroughly damaged. At least 326 children in the Gaza Strip have been killed since Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health here. Women and children from my extended family were killed in an attack on Tuesday, and my cousin was killed on Wednesday. The smell of explosives permeates the entire strip. Yoav Gallant, Israel’s minister of defense, called us “human animals” and announced that the suffocating siege that Palestinians in Gaza have endured for more than 15 years would be tightened even further: The strip is now cut off from food, electricity and fuel.

No electricity means no internet or connection to the outside world. Raw sewage is seeping into Gaza’s streets; waste treatment facilities require electricity. The water supply has been cut. Driving south on Monday, I passed five United Nations schools-turned-shelters, so jampacked with displaced people that families spilled out into the yards. Dread grows inside me, as I know the worst is yet to come.

Over 2,300 Israelis and Palestinians have been killed so far, the majority of them civilians. I am saddened by the killing of all civilians. I know that the pain of an Israeli parent is no different from the anguish of a mother or father in Gaza. Yet I’m not surprised that we have found ourselves at this bloody point of no return.

Many of the fighters who breached those walls are probably just a few years older than Ali; many of them were born during the second intifada. Their entire experience has been Israeli military occupation, siege and devastating military assault upon assault in an enclave of 140 square miles, with unemployment and poverty rates of approximately 50 percent. This is the history, and these are the conditions that have shaped so many in Gaza, not a justification. Israel helped create these fighters by starving them of hope, dignity and a future.


* * *

* * *


It’s a busy day for international diplomacy in Europe as allies discuss the war in Ukraine, Israel-Hamas conflict and oil market stability.

Oil-producing giants Russia and Saudi Arabia met in Moscow Wednesday to discuss the oil market situation amid the ongoing violence and geopolitical uncertainty between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The Kremlin warned Wednesday that the Israel-Hamas conflict has the hallmarks of a “hot war” right now and could potentially be “very dangerous,” especially on a humanitarian level.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Belgium Wednesday as he meets NATO defense minister and other allies, trying to bolster support and military assistance for Kyiv ahead of winter.

The meeting comes amid signs of flagging support for continuing military aid Ukraine as the war drags on to its 19th month. The nascent war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas is also a distraction for Western leaders hoping to avoid a wider and more destabilizing Middle Eastern conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow “is on the right track” in a speech given during Russian Energy Week, as reported by state media outlet TASS on Telegram and translated by Google.

Putin said that it “goes without saying” that Western attempts to isolate Russia have failed, and that people around the world no longer want to tolerate “colonial thinking [that] persists in the West.”

* * *

THEY DRANK VODKA and once primed, the Russian began telling stories about the war. The Russian (Nikola translated) had been a mate on a ship called the Vanzetti — its sister ship was the Sacca — a decrepit freighter captained by a notorious drunkard. In a convoy of 50 ships crossing the Atlantic the Vanzetti was so slow it dropped far behind and one day when the convoy was almost out of sight, a German submarine approached. The captain radioed for assistance, but the convoy sped away, leaving the Vanzetti to fend for herself. The Vanzetti somehow eluded two Gemran torpedoes. The sub surfaced for a look, but the drunken captain had swung his rusty cannon around; he fired once, puncturing the sub and sinking it. The Germans came to believe that this hulk, manned by incompetents, was a secret weapon, and gave the convoy no further trouble. When the Vanzetti limped into Reykjavik, the British organized a special party for the Russians, who showed up two hours late, bellowing obscene songs, and the captain, paralytic with drink, was awarded a medal.

— Paul Theroux, ‘The Trans Siberian Express’ (1975)

* * *


  1. Mazie Malone October 12, 2023

    Happy to see Jake Kooy with a haircut….

    I hear through the grapevine there is going to be a team effort to assist him….he suffers from Schizophrenia


  2. Chuck Dunbar October 12, 2023

    Thank you, Bruce, for printing the CPS-related remarks you and I had recently made.
    And I wish that I had queried you as to the omission of my remarks in Off the Record, instead of jumping so nastily on you. My bad.

  3. Call It As I See It October 12, 2023

    It’s clear Bruce never met Monica’s brother in his 2003 article. He blew a couple of fingers off building or playing with Neal’s bomb. So it’s total BS when the family acts like they didn’t know he had bombs. This is not the real picture of Monica. She was a criminal, just not to the degree of her boyfriend. How do I know, I dealt with her and Neal Beckman!!!!!

  4. Me October 13, 2023

    Love the desert cowboy pic!

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