Cloudy | Vehicle Fire | Fiscal Condition | Tire Disposal | Substantial Violation | Cemetery Cat | Wrongful Termination | Test Results | Ukiah Construction | Youth Poets | Trail Opposition | Gull Squabble | Ed Notes | Cabrillo Lighthouse | Pride Radio | Raymond Nicholson | Yesterday's Catch | Breaking Point | Expect Chaos | Marco Radio | Framers Puzzle | Impeach Them | Greta Stand | Judgment Rush | Stone Cottage | Humanitarian Aid | Buffer Zone | Animal Farm | Gaza | Clown Lunch | Westminster Declaration | Insane Ranks | Birthing | Robot Arm | Osama/Obama | Loafers | Teheran | Weirdo | Fatty Arbuckle | Naptime
INCREASING CLOUDS AND COOLER TEMPERATURES will prevail across the region this weekend. In addition, light beneficial rainfall is expected for most locations in Northwest California during Sunday. A return to drier and slightly warmer weather is then expected early next week. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): 54F under partly cloudy skies this Saturday morning on the coast. I have no idea what the fog might do next. Otherwise rain moves in later tonight & for much of Sunday. Next week is looking dry currently although forecast models are still struggling with possible weather moving in.
THIS VEHICLE FIRE today in Philo was stopped quickly, thanks to quick thinking on the part of the driver and passenger, who noticed the issue and pulled over immediately, and thanks to an anonymous UPS driver with a fire extinguisher. When AVFD and CalFire arrived, the fire was stopped. (AV Fire Department)
FORMER SENIOR COUNTY AUDITOR STAFFER Norm Thurston writes:
The side-lining of Chamise Cubbison has left the County’s voters without their duly elected independent fiscal watchdog. Because the appointed substitute is an employee of the CEO’s office, there is a legitimate question of independence, especially with regards to matters related to that department. It is good that the State is auditing the County’s finances, but we do not know the scope of the audit. And when the audit is completed the auditors will issue their report and head home, while the results of the audit may or may not be used to make substantive changes. This all seems to me to create an environment where the County’s fiscal condition could spiral completely out of control, with no safeguards or safety rails. It seems this may be a good time to bring up the possibility of a State receivership to oversee the County’s finances until the situation is under control. I believe it would be the best way to ensure professional, independent oversight.
NOTICE OF BROWN ACT VIOLATION
October 20, 2023
TO: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors Chair Glenn McGourty <email@example.com>
CC: County Counsel Christian Curtis <firstname.lastname@example.org>, District Attorney David Eyster email@example.com
Dear Chair McGourty,
This letter is to call your attention to what I believe was a substantial violation of a provision of the Ralph M. Brown Act, one which may jeopardize the correctness and finality of the action taken by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.
On Tuesday, October 17, 2023, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the following motion made by Supervisor Ted Williams:
“I move we suspend the Auditor-Controller / Treasurer Tax Collector and appoint Sarah Pierce as acting Auditor-Controller / Treasurer Tax Collector.”
After clarifying that the suspension was without pay, the motion was unanimously approved.
However, the government code section cited by the outside attorney prior to the motion, section 27120, which authorized the suspension says:
“Whenever an action based upon official misconduct is commenced against the county treasurer, the board of supervisors may suspend him from office until the suit is determined. The board may appoint some person to fill the vacancy, who shall qualify and give such bond as the board determines.”
The approved motion is flawed because:
1. The government code section (27120) cited applies to a “County Treasurer,” not an “Auditor-Controller / Treasurer Tax Collector” as cited in the motion.
2. The motion did not establish that the person appointed as Acting Auditor-Controller / Treasurer-Tax Collector qualifies for the position as required by Government Code Section 27120. (“…shall qualify…”)
Therefore, this action violated the California Open Meetings Law, aka, the Brown Act, because Mendocino County does not have a “Treasurer.” According to the June 7, 2022 election results Chamise Cubbison was elected to a position entitled “Auditor-Controller / Treasurer-Tax Collector.” In addition, the motion did not include a finding that Ms. Pierce is qualified for the position as required by Government Code Sections 26945 (Auditor) and 27000.7 (Treasurer).
…which read as follows:
(26945) “No person shall hereafter be elected or appointed to the office of county auditor of any county unless the person meets at least one of the following criteria:
(a) The person possesses a valid certificate issued by the California Board of Accountancy under Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 5000) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code showing the person to be, and a permit authorizing the person to practice as, a certified public accountant or as a public accountant.
(b) The person possesses a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university, college, or other four-year institution, with a major in accounting or its equivalent, as described in subdivision (a) of Section 5081.1 of the Business and Professions Code, as that section read on December 31, 2009, and has served within the last five years in a senior fiscal management position in a county, city, or other public agency, a private firm, or a nonprofit organization, dealing with similar fiscal responsibilities, for a continuous period of not less than three years.
(c) The person possesses a certificate issued by the Institute of Internal Auditors showing the person to be a designated professional internal auditor, with a minimum of 16 college semester units, or their equivalent, in accounting, auditing, or finance.
(d) The person has served as county auditor, chief deputy county auditor, or chief assistant county auditor for a continuous period of not less than three years.”
(27000.7)“(a) A person shall not be eligible for election or appointment to the office of county treasurer, county tax collector, or county treasurer-tax collector of any county unless that person meets at least one of the following criteria:
(1) The person has served in a senior financial management position in a county, city, or other public agency dealing with similar financial responsibilities for a continuous period of not less than three years, including, but not limited to, treasurer, tax collector, auditor, auditor-controller, or the chief deputy or an assistant in those offices.
(2) The person possesses a valid baccalaureate, masters, or doctoral degree from an accredited college or university in any of the following major fields of study: business administration, public administration, economics, finance, accounting, or a related field, with a minimum of 16 college semester units, or their equivalent, in accounting, auditing, or finance.
(3) The person possesses a valid certificate issued by the California Board of Accountancy pursuant to Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 5000) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, showing that person to be, and a permit authorizing that person to practice as, a certified public accountant.
(4) The person possesses a valid charter issued by the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts showing the person to be designated a Chartered Financial Analyst, with a minimum of 16 college semester units, or their equivalent, in accounting, auditing, or finance.”
As you are aware, the Brown Act creates a legal remedy for improperly or illegally taken actions — namely, the judicial invalidation of them upon proper findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Accordingly, we request that the appointment of Ms. Pierce be rescinded and a new action taken to appoint an acting Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector which includes 1. a government code citation applicable to the title of the position in question, and 2. a finding that the appointee is qualified under government code section 26945 and 27000.7 at the next available, properly noticed and agendized board meeting.
As provided by Government Code Section 54960.1, you have 30 days from the receipt of this demand to either cure or correct the challenged action or inform me of your decision not to do so. If you fail to cure or correct as demanded, such inaction may leave me with no recourse but to seek a judicial invalidation of the challenged action pursuant to Section 54960.1, in which case I would also ask the court to order you to pay my court costs and reasonable attorney fees in this matter, pursuant to Section 54960.5.
Anderson Valley Advertiser, Box 459, Boonville, CA 95415
BETH SWEHLA: A colleague of mine was at the Evergreen Cemetery today eating her lunch. This kitty just jumped in her car. It purred and purred. It was very affectionate and very hungry. This is not the first time she has seen the cat. She did give it some cat food. Anybody recognize this kitty?
DENISE MATTEI identified the cat as “Cemetery Cat,” that CC had been a regular presence at Evergreen Cemetery for several years.
LESS THAN TWENTY YARDS to the south of Evergreen is a feral cat feeding station. The wild things live full-time across AV Way at the old June property.
SAKO SAYS TO SOCK THE COUNTY
To the Editor:
After the dust settles in the criminal matter and Chris Andrian gets Auditor Chamise Cubbison acquitted, I wonder how much Cubbison will win in a wrongful termination lawsuit?
The case will turn on three questions: What was the scope of Cubbison's duties? What were Cubbison's statutory obligations? And What were Cubbison's rights and privileges as a constitutionally elected officer? I'll explain.
“Violation of public policy” are grounds for wrongful termination.
More specifically, wrongful termination in violation of public policy occurs when an employer fires an employee for exercising a legal right or performing a legal obligation, provided that the legal right or obligation is connected to an important public policy. This usually applies to things like taking time off for military service or to serve on a jury, or to serve as a witness in court in compliance with a subpoena or other court order, but Cubbison's attorney could argue that firing Cubbison for "just doing the job she was elected to do" was a violation of public policy.
California wrongful termination law also provides that an employer may not fire you for performing a statutory obligation (that is, a legal duty).
Finally, California wrongful termination law provides that it is wrongful discharge in violation of public policy for an employer to terminate an employee for exercising a right or privilege granted to them by law.
A word about the required nexus between public policy and termination.
One important point that plaintiffs in wrongful termination suits based on public policy need to prove is that there was a “nexus” between: 1.) the employer’s public policy violation and, 2.) the employee’s termination.
This means that Andrian will need to demonstrate a clear causal connection between the public policy problem and Ms. Cubbison's termination.
The fact that Cubbison is a constitutionally elected officer will only strengthen her case.
Cubbison not only gets to recover lost wages and the value of any employee benefits, but also damages for emotional distress/pain and suffering arising from her public policy wrongful termination, which may include compensation for physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, grief, anxiety, humiliation, or loss of reputation.
In a few cases, an employee may be able to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the employer for its behavior and do not need to be related to any economic or non-economic loss that Ms. Cubbison suffered. Punitive damages are only awarded in public policy wrongful termination cases where the employer is found to be guilty of 1.) oppression, 2.) fraud or 3.) malice.
Oppression. Fraud. Malice. Yup, you read right. I see all three.
Jurors are going to have a blast decoding this case and meting out justice. As far as American institutions go, there's nothing quite like “twelve angry men and women.” Big judgements are as American as apple pie.
Trial attorneys start your engines!
MENDO TEST RESULTS
UKIAH CONSTRUCTION UPDATES FOR THE WEEK OF OCTOBER 16
NOTE: Starting October 23rd, construction of Phase 4 of the Recycled Water Project will begin in the area around Bush and Low Gap. While this does not directly impact the streetscape project area, it will create intermittent detours, which could result in additional traffic, particularly on the north side of this project. Please use extra caution and leave a little extra travel time. We will also be sending weekly construction updates for that project. If you’d like to receive them, please go to http://www.ukiahrecycledwater.com and click “Subscribe for Updates.”
On the south side (Mill to Gobbi), crews will continue installing the new water infrastructure. There will be some temporary interruptions to water service as the system is switched from the old to the new. In every case, those affected property/business owners will be individually contacted at least 72 hours in advance. Not all properties are affected, and access to all properties will be maintained. This work is scheduled to be completed next week, and no additional interruptions to water service are anticipated after that. Following the work on the water infrastructure, new storm drains will be installed along the west side of the street; work will progress from south (Gobbi) to the north (near Mill).
On the north side (Norton to Henry), joint trench work is anticipated to be complete and those crews will move to the east side of the street to begin installing the electric lines for the new street lights. Sidewalk demolition will continue, with base rock being installed immediately after demo for pedestrian access. Following that, electric lines, irrigation lines, and pouring the concrete curbs and gutters…and finally new sidewalks.
As of next week, work on Scott Street is complete until the very end of the project when it will be repaved.
Deputy City Manager
City of Ukiah
300 Seminary Avenue
Ukiah, California 95482
WAILAKI TRIBE SUBMITS RESOLUTION TO OPPOSE THE GREAT REDWOOD TRAIL
Press release from the White Lily Clan of the Wailaki:
To: The California Coastal Conservancy
Resolution To Oppose the Great Redwood Trail
WHEREAS, the Wailaki Tribe, White Lily Clan of Wailaki, as a constituted and functioning government, has determined that a significant portion of the Great Redwood Trail is proposed to be developed through culturally and ecologically sensitive Wailaki Ancestral Land that is of great historical and cultural significance to the Wailaki people.
WHEREAS, The Great Redwood Trail poses a great threat to the Eel River Canyon Preserve, The Grand Canyon of the Eel River which has been designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, and an incalculable number of Native American, Sacred and Sensitive Sites; both documented and undocumented. Many of these sacred sites have already been desecrated by the general public, including irreplaceable ancient petroglyphs which are thousands of years old, which have documented impairment and degradation from recent and ongoing human vandalism.
WHEREAS, the work of decommissioning the existing rail lines poses a direct and significant threat to the Natural Wild and Scenic nature of the Eel River. This threat results from the work that will be performed on the many miles of geologically unstable landscape that lies directly above the Eel River. This includes the failing infrastructure of rail lines, tunnels, bridges, and trestles.
WHEREAS, the proposed project represents a significant, ongoing, long-term impairment to documented sensitive ecological and cultural resources. The feasibility of a successful, long-term maintenance and management program with the sufficient monetary and human resources necessary to monitor and mitigate the human impairment upon the landscape in perpetuity; is predictably unreasonable to expect. The proposed and expended resources will never adequately address the many miles of impairment that will be perpetually caused by a new and innumerable amount of human traffic in these sensitive areas.
WHEREAS, the State of California has neglected to remediate land to the Wailaki people, in recognition of the past loss of this land, and to restore valuable portions of this former asset, to a free and independent indigenous people living in their ancestral land, but has instead, chosen the path of further conflict and hardship by drawing people from all over the world, to once again trample over these First Peoples; their sacred lands and their sacred sites without first consulting the Wailaki Tribe.
BE IT RESOLVED, that these members of the Wailaki Tribe, White Lily Band of Wailaki, meeting on the 29th day of April, 2023, as a Duly Constitued Tribal Government do vigorously oppose all those parts of the proposed Great Redwood Trail that pass through Wailaki Ancestral Land and to cultivate and develop a coordinated partnership of opposition throughout all phases of project development, permitting, public comment and in all forms of media.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these members of the Wailaki Tribe, White Lily Band of Wailaki seek a compatible and peaceful government to government relationship with the people of the State of California and their representatives. We seek a relationship that exists in mutual respect, dignity, and good faith work toward a future filled with a benefit for all people. It is acknowledged that we share the stewardship and protection of these great natural resources and are willing to embrace your respectful and good faith partnership in conservation and protection of them.
Dorothy Hoaglin, Chairperson
Markida Slaughter, Secretary
The Great Redwood Trail Agency
The California Coastal Conservancy
Senator Mike McGuire
Governor Gavin Newsom
THIS STORY pops up a few times every year. “Newspaper Editors Study Ways To Regain Public Trust, Respect.” May I suggest mass suicide? But seriously, beginning with the basic fact of American life that the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens get all their information about the rest of the world from television because they prefer to have visual confirmation of the day’s catastrophes rather than conjure the grim images themselves as they decode columns of badly written, inaccurate, lazy, timid prose tossed to them by news businesses owned by people who don’t care what their readers think so long as it makes them money. Even here in Winetopia there are lots of good writers trying to do honest media work, but the purpose of the dominant media is to sell advertising just as it is the purpose of Taco Bell to sell negative food value items.
PLEASE. The idea of newspapers as extensions of Sunday school ignores the history of the genre. Newspapers arose as instruments of late 19th century cranks whose reporters were a collection of drunks and misfits who got paid for hanging out in bars with crooks, cops and corrupt politicians, phoning in their garbled reports to smart women on the rewrite desks who did the necessary prose alchemy. The people who owned papers occasionally hired real writers to report for them, thus enlivening their papers even more. These days, the nation’s papers read like they were all written by the same droning machine which, in a way they are, and likely will be when AI kicks in, but for now, given the influence of journalism schools where the great myth of objectivity reigns, well, son, trust but verify.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT is a perfect example of why so many people abandoned print media for the internet and the illustrated thrills of corporate television, not to mention the blips and bleeps coming out of their telephones. Consider the case of Norm Vroman. The PD was mercilessly on his case his entire tenure. The popularly elected Mendocino County DA from 1999-2006, Vroman didn’t file income taxes for a four-year period from 1977 to 1981 when his wages were paid by the public as a prosecutor and a public defender. It’s not as if he paid no taxes because federal, state and local taxes were withheld from his paychecks; he didn’t pay the rest of his tax bill because Vroman, an otherwise savvy hombre, had been seduced by libertarian interpretations of the Constitution, parlaying a wacky libertarian contention that the Constitution didn’t say Americans had to pay taxes. A serious guy, Vroman took his losing contention all the way into a stint in federal prison. His tax bill of $23,400 became $1.2 million and, by the Press Democrat’s jubilant reckoning, became $3.4 mil. Do the math, folks, like the IRS does its math. Is it fair to grow $23,400 into $3.4 million in twenty years?
THE REAL STORY here is the extortionate interest calculated by the IRS against a guy who never made more than $50,000 a year during the disputed period. But the PD, harrumphing every few weeks about Vroman’s battles with the vindictive IRS bureaucracy, didn’t run any stories about legislation aimed at bringing the IRS into line with democratic tax collection procedures. In response to many thousands of complaints from ordinary Americans that the IRS had resorted to totalitarian practices in pursuit of relatively small amounts of tax money, the IRS has been legislatively corralled. More or less. The wealthy are hardly audited at all, of course. It’s the Vromans of the country the IRS goes after.
SO VROMAN was a tax crank. So what? We all have our eccentricities. Hell, this is the country where something like 75% of the population consults its astrological charts before climbing out of bed in the morning. And did you know that there are millions, millions I tell you, who think Biden is fully functioning and that Trump is fit to be president. And how about my old lawyer pal over there in Ukiah, Mr. Carter? He went into court to argue that regulatory interference with billionaires like Charles Hurwitz amounted to confiscation of their property! Delusion prevails, my friends.
(Mark Scaramella adds: Carter also successfully argued that Hurwitz and his minions at Pacific Lumber could legally lie to the government in official documents on grounds that the lying was “lobbying” and therefore perfectly legal. Look it up. It’s called the “Noerr-Pennington Doctrine.” Carter convinced a visiting Humco Judge (and likely political ally of Carter) that Noerr-Pennington applied to Pacific Lumber’s blatantly false logging applications.)
IN THIS WEEK’S MAILBAG comes a letter accompanying a Cannibal Club artifact. The Cannibal Club, for you readers unaware of the intricacies of Mendocino County’s historic power arrangements, used to be an annual barbecue for “the right kind” of white men, meaning liberals and members of ethnic minorities need not apply. But one didn’t apply for membership in the Cannibal Club, one was tapped for membership based on the perceptions of the primitive fat cats who oversaw the membership roster that you were their kind of guy.
Years ago, during the Larry Peoples bogus trial era, there was a small group calling itself People Against Racism. It was through my affiliation with PAR that I first heard of the Cannibal Club.
Came in as an anonymous tip from a relative of a member. I remember thinking to myself, ‘What year IS this?’ especially after confirmation. Geez Louise…
Several years ago I found the enclosed apron neatly folded amongst the heaps of clothes at the buck-a-bag tables at the hospice yard sale in Willits.
I about lost my footing when I shook it out and saw the little cannibal and cooking pot. No kidding; it was at the bottom of my buck bag before my face finished turning red. It has bided its time under my thermal socks ever since.
Sorry to admit I once saw a blue-with-mesh baseball cap at the Goodwill in Ukiah that had the same logo but included the words “Cannibal” as well. I was too flustered to buy it or we’d have a set.
Over the years I’ve toyed with the idea of sending it to Whoopee Goldberg as I’ve heard she collects racist tchotchkes, but a little voice held me back.
It should stay here, where it was found, an artifact. Like a pointy-headed robe would be or should be — in a museum or something — but local.
Then you printed the shameful name in your paper. Aha, I can be relieved. I can send it to you! Maybe you’ll know what to do with it.”
THE CANNIBAL CLUB’S apron is illustrated with the Club’s Little Black Sambo logo not seen in other parts of the country since 1965 or so. The apron was on display at the AVA’s office as one of several artifacts symbolic of the County’s reigning mentality, circa 1950-1980.
HOW LGBTQ+ RADIO SHOW HAS BEEN BRIDGING DIVIDES In Mendocino County Since The ‘90s
by Kathryn Styer Martínez
Cynthia Huhn was just a young girl growing in Long Beach when she heard Kim Amidon on the radio. She would listen on headphones with the volume cranked. The radio connected her to something bigger.
When she lived in the East Bay she would hang out with friends at the dive bars and eventually scored her own weekend DJ gig.
“I knew I wasn't gonna make a living out of doing that,” Huhn said. “It was just kind of one of those fun little side gigs.”
Now, Huhn is one half of Pride Radio Mendocino, the long-running show on Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, KZYX, that was started in the late ‘90s. The show airs live on the second and fourth Fridays each month.
Huhn, 60, goes by the name “Corporal Cin” as the show’s music programmer. She plays music mostly by gay and lesbian artists while her wife, Terri B., handles the show’s public affairs.
Karen Ottoboni, the show’s creator, passed on the reins of the show, then known as “Queer Ear,” to Katharine Cole in 2008.
Also a Southern California transplant, Cole saw the show as a way for Mendocino’s large and dispersed LGBTQ+ community to stay informed and connected. People would send information about happenings in the gay community to Cole that she would then broadcast to listeners.
Cole remembered introducing listeners to new queer artists like k.d. Lang, the Canadian singer-songwriter whose first album debuted in 1984. She remembers spinning 4 Non Blondes and the like. The general public would call in saying, “Oh, I love this show. I learned so much about the gay community on your show!” she said.
But Cole knew the show needed a change to reach more people.
The show was renamed Pride Radio Mendocino around 2009 or 2010 — a move meant to unequivocally connect the show with the local gay community.
“Corporal Cin” was brought on, Cole said, because of her prior DJ experience and her knowledge of the community
“I thought, oh my gosh, I bet she would be really good on the radio,” she said.
And Huhn’s wife, Terri, would be the perfect foil, Cole said. While she described “Corporal Cin” as a stiff, “military” type, Terri B. had a carefree nature.
The two were willing to walk around Mendocino County with a sign that read Pride Radio Mendocino, something Cole said has never been fully free from reprisal.
Even in the aughts, Cole said there was fear among the LGBTQ+ community of being rejected and ostracized. Then, in 2008, it seemed to be the death knell: California Proposition 8 passed with 600,000 votes and banned same-sex marriage. (Eventually being overturned by a higher court and ultimately found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.)
Huhn, who retired from a career with the California Highway Patrol after 26 1/2 years, said when she started she was one of two women in her office. That number grew to three but she remained the only one who was openly gay.
Her career with the CHP was never about rising to the tops of the ranks, she said. It was about being a good leader.
Her approach to working with the public as a CHP officer was to turn a negative interaction into a positive one — and to “be respectful, be kind and try to make a difference.”
That’s also what she’s doing with Pride Radio Mendocino: bridging the divides caused by hate and negativity.
“There's really no reason why we can't get along. We can agree to disagree. But we don't have to be hateful to one another,” she said.
ON THIS DAY IN MENDOCINO HISTORY…
October 20, 1942 - Raymond Nicholson joined the U. S. Navy during World War II.
Born in Mendocino in 1923 to Alfred and Anna Ellison Nicholson, Ray grew up in the Daniels-Nicholson House (today’s Nicholson House at Beaujolais) near the east end of Ukiah Street. He attended the local schools, where he excelled at football, basketball and track, and played trumpet in the band. Ray’s hobbies were hunting and fishing, and his ambition was to join the Navy. After graduating from Mendocino High School in June 1941, he accepted a job at a shipyard in Oakland.
Following his Navy enlistment in San Diego, Ray was sent to a Naval Training Station in Idaho, then returned to San Diego for further training. He was deployed to the Central Pacific where he served on the battleship USS Maryland from July 1943 to August 1944, and on the destroyer USS Gainard from November 1944 to March 1946. His decorations included the American Theatre, Asiatic Pacific (4 stars), Victory Ribbon, and Philippine Liberation.
On August 25, 1945, the Beacon published portions of a letter he wrote to his parents. “Raymond Nicholson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Allie Nicholson of this place, writes from the Central Pacific and wishes to be remembered to all his friends. In part he writes: They have lifted the censorship quite a bit now, so I can tell you just where I’ve been the last few months. We were at or around Okinawa since the beginning of the campaign.
“We were screening for transports at first and were attacked by Japanese planes a few times but nothing serious. We destroyed a couple of mines, etc. and were assigned to picket duty off the island during the heavier raids. We were attacked quite often by torpedo bombers, and mainly those suicide planes and we succeeded in knocking down five planes while on duty and none of them even got to knock any paint off our ship, so we were pretty lucky. Our destroyer had more time on picket duty there than any other destroyer and we are still floating. We are in a rear area now for a little rest and get some liberty.
“August 10. [The United States detonated two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, respectively. Japan formally surrendered on September 2, 1945.] Well, it looks like last night was what we have been waiting for for the last four years. It surely was a happy night out here. I guess it was the best fire-works that I’ll ever see and have seen on any Fourth of July. There were rockets and flares coming from all the ships in the harbor. All the whistles and sirens were blowing, and ours was doing a good job of making a lot of noise.
“It surely seemed good and its really hard to believe. It’s not official yet, but it sounds good to me. No more suicide planes, no more night raids, no G.Q. at all, as we are having holiday routine. Even if I don’t get home for awhile life will be a lot easier out here and a lot longer too, but getting home is secondary and the word that the war is over, is the best one I’ve heard in my life.”
Ray was honorably discharged from the Navy on March 26, 1946. After the war, he trained to be a lineman with Pacific Gas & Electric and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ray passed away in a Palo Alto hospital on October 3, 1976, and is buried in the Nicholson family plot in Evergreen Cemetery.
(Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Mendocino Historical Research Inc., now known as the Kelley House Museum. A new exhibit at the Kelley House Museum.)
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, October 20, 2023
JORDAN GUTHART, McKinleyville/Ukiah. Controlled substance, felon-addict with firearm.
MAGDALENA HERNANDEZ, Ukiah. DUI, child cruelty-infliction of injury.
LALUNA MARTIN, Point Arena. Narcotics & controlled substance for sale.
JAMES MCGARY, Elk. Probation revocation.
JONATHAN ORTIZ, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.
RAFAEL PAZ JR., Willits. Parole violation.
CLOSE TO THE BREAKING POINT
It’s 1:51 PM Pacific Time in sunny Ukiah, California and am on computer #1 at the Ukiah Public Library tap, tap tapping away. Identified with that which works through the body-mind complex without interference, the Anderson Valley Advertiser online local news has just been digested. The Sant Mat advanced meditation practitioners in India described the human condition as “worms in excretia”. Additionally, other than the nine nights of worship to the Divine Mother presently being celebrated in India and other places, called Navratri, there is nothing happening on the planet earth of any major spiritual significance. The global situation, minus a few individual bright spots, is just more rotting in the quagmire of samsara. It’s a coin toss between going to Schat’s Bakery for a coffee and scone, or just plunging head first into the Ukiah Brewing Company. Coming close to the breaking point, I could do both! ;-))
Craig Louis Stehr
LARRY LIVERMORE NOTES: This guy must be a lot of fun at parties…
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio show is on all night tonight!
Soft deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is 6 or 7pm. If you can't make that, send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am PST on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as via KNYO.org. Also the schedule is there for KNYO's many other terrific shows and projects, including how to get on the Movie Night list for info about family-friendly coming attractions at the storefront that all include free popcorn, the delicious treat that aids digestion and cleans out the whole system, right on down the line.
Furthermore, you can always go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night I'll put up the recording of tonight's show. And you'll find educational and entertaining opportunities to improve your outlook and add to any well-rounded plan to step your inner life up to the next level, now that you're all sparkly-clean inside downstairs, from the popcorn.
Danny Boy. A true story. (via b3ta) (10 min.)
Is it cruel to use bees as sensors? It looks like it, yes, but... they don't kill them like they kill bunnies and puppies that they test cosmetics on, and they let them go back outside and fly around afterward with their friends. Is it really any more cruel and unfair than making anybody do anything at all for some set number of hours every day whether you want to or not?
And who knew? Spacetime itself is right-handed.
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
STEP IT UP AND GO
by James Kunstler
“Like it or not, Republicans have the law in their favor, to put this point another way. Democrats are left with subterfuge and media manipulation. The latter present Americans with the greater danger.” — Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News
Things are going a little sideways now, wouldn’t you agree? The world is not coming to an end, exactly, but our arrangements in it are breaking up all at once, threatening to wreck everyday life for a whole lot more people than just the poor mutts on the margins. The endless insults to common decency and common sense by the vicious governing blob that runs things don’t help, either. The main question du jour: when things break really badly, will they break against that vicious blob hard enough to make it stop?
This blob — a weird cabal alien to our heritage — is composed of people with names and duties, and institutions too. They have already lost their credibility, their authority, and their legitimacy. The problem is that they haven’t lost their power to wreck our country. Exposed and disgraced as they are, they still occupy the seats of command, still twiddle the dials on the control console, still enjoy a foolish illusion of invulnerability.
I’m in favor of wholesale impeachment of these top people as the best way to go, first, to pry their hands off the levers of power, and second, use the process of impeachment to move public sentiment to a firmly anti-blob position. When you read of “Joe Biden’s” 37 percent favorable rating in some poll, do you wonder how it can be that high? Hard evidence of his high crimes of bribery has been plain to see for many months. We await a brisk House inquiry to put all that evidence in order, in a simple bill that even The New York Times won’t be able to ignore. Let Mr. Schumer’s tiny Senate majority try to decline an impeachment trial. Between that and “Joe Biden’s obvious incapacity, he’ll have to resign. And then let the Party of Chaos try to pretend that Kamala Harris can be in charge of anything. We’ll see soon enough who’s pulling the strings in the White House.
The House should simultaneously form committees to impeach the faithless and incompetent agency heads below “JB” starting with Merrick Garland, specifically for criminally violating the rights of the many J-6 defendants falsely charged, denied speedy trials, and abused in the federal jails while awaiting those unjustly delayed trials. Also, tack on multiple counts of perjury for the many times he lied under oath before Congress.
Next, Alejandro Mayorkas, for allowing a virtual invasion of our country and his gross, willful failure to enforce the laws that regulate entry across our borders. As with Mr. Garland, include counts of perjury, lying to Congress. After him, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, for presiding over the vaccination debacle and all the lying about it perpetrated under his supervision by the CDC, the FDA, and many other public health agencies. FBI Director Christopher Wray is not subject to impeachment, so the House should defund the agency until he and the rest of the seventh floor C-suite gang, led by Deputy AG Lisa Monaco, resign.
That would be good start for breaking up the blob so that the public does not have to wait for a 2024 election that shows no signs of being cleaned up procedurally to ensure fair and truthful results — though momentous impeachment moves against the figures truly responsible for wrecking the country might prompt some states to take action to get rid of the Covid-era mail-in ballot trickery that the blob cooked up to keep itself in power.
All of the blob’s projects are coming to grief now in the worst way possible. Ukraine was a foolish venture starting in 2014 when the US tried to shanghai it into NATO over a red line explicitly declared by Russia. We didn’t believe they meant it, apparently. What part of sphere of influence don’t we understand? How did the CIA do sizing that up? Or sussing out the October 7 Hamas massacre in Israel? Do they have no assets in Gaza? How’s America’s prestige in the world doing, and the dollar that represents it, vis-à-vis the new BRIC alliance that was allowed to come together largely because of the “Joe Biden” regime’s foreign policy blunders scaring so many previously neutral nations?
How are the blob’s domestic projects doing? It’s managed to destroy the credibility of medicine, the honor of higher education, and the authority of the news media — with plenty of help from the blobistas embedded in all those institutions. How is it possible that the majority of doctors still don’t know that Covid vaccines are unsafe and ineffective, and that they have been systematically lied to by the CDC from the get-go on this? How is it possible that presidents of the most distinguished universities go along with the suppression of free inquiry and speech, as if these were not the foundation of learning? How is it possible that the editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post lie continually and knowingly about events and persons, unless they are getting paid by, and have become defacto arms of, the blob itself, to cover-up the discovery of its crimes?
How’s the blob’s campaign to sow gender confusion and race hatred going? Resistance has formed to the first hustle, most visibly against the local school boards by parents rightfully disturbed over not just sexualizing little children, but egging them into mental illness over it. You might have also noticed that the policy for decriminalizing crime has the interesting effect of collapsing the social contract, especially in cities. Thus, wholesale car-jacking, armed robbery, flash-mob looting, and murder. Want more of that? Think it works in favor of the brotherhood of man?
Don’t you suppose some kind of effective opposition is required to contend with all this. One might expect, at this turn in history, for the Republican Party to become a righteous and effective antipode to the epic malign ineptitude of the Democrats’ Party of Chaos and Death. The only venue for this to opposition to function in at the moment is the US House of Representatives. It’s either that or something harsh, bloody, and awful lies ahead for us.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE IN THIS HIDEOUS WAR
by Michelle Goldberg
As a few bleak anecdotes illustrate, it is often impossible, in real time, for outsiders to know what is happening in the ceaselessly reigniting war between Israel and the Palestinians. This was true even before social media and before Elon Musk acquired Twitter and turned it into the cesspool of misinformation, trolling and hysteria now called X. But today countless people are plugged into a frantically churning news cycle, trying to instantly metabolize a conflict that is a hall of mirrors in the best of times and is now careening toward a possible regional war, with all the propaganda and mass panic that entails. It’s an epistemological catastrophe that is putting people’s lives in danger.
I went to bed on Tuesday night assuming, as many people did, that an Israeli airstrike had killed at least 500 people in Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza. That’s what the Gaza Health Ministry claimed, and those claims made headlines in leading news outlets, including this one. Politicians issued impassioned condemnations of what some called Israeli war crimes. Social media lit up with anguished howls of grief and rage. Furious protests erupted throughout the Middle East. A historic synagogue in Tunisia was reportedly set alight, and a synagogue was attacked with a firebomb in Berlin. The leaders of Jordan and Egypt canceled a meeting with President Biden, where they would have discussed aid to Gaza.
Of course, I’d read Israel’s insistence that an errant Islamic Jihad rocket had caused the explosion at the hospital, but I didn’t put much stock in it, because in the past when Israel accidentally killed civilians, it has blamed Palestinians for the deaths. In May of last year, the Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed while covering an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp. Israeli officials said she was shot either by a Palestinian or by an Israeli soldier aiming at a Palestinian gunman. A New York Times investigation, however, contradicted the official Israeli line. It found that the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was fired from the direction of an Israeli military convoy and that “there were no armed Palestinians near her when she was shot.”
A few months later, during another round of Israeli bombing of Gaza, five Palestinian boys were killed in a cemetery. Initially, Israeli officials blamed a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket for the deaths. But as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, an army inquiry found they were actually killed by an Israeli airstrike. With the hospital explosion, it seemed history was repeating itself on a larger and more tragic scale.
Perhaps it was, just not in the way I thought. As I write this, it looks increasingly likely that Israel was correct about an Islamic Jihad rocket hitting Al-Ahli hospital. That, at least, is what both early American intelligence and a number of independent experts have found. If their analysis holds up, it means the best analogy for this world-convulsing event is not the killings of five boys in Gaza last year. It is the myth of a massacre at the Jenin refugee camp in 2002.
That year, a Hamas suicide bomber killed 30 people at a Passover Seder in the seaside city of Netanya, in what was, until this month, the deadliest single attack on Jewish Israelis since the country’s founding. As part of its response, Israel Defense Forces invaded the West Bank city of Jenin, leveling dozens of refugee camp buildings. Palestinian leaders claimed Israel had committed a massacre; the Palestinian official Saeb Erekat told CNN that at least 500 people had been killed. People all over the world believed these reports; as a BBC headline put it, “Jenin ‘massacre evidence growing.’”
But Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations later concluded that the reports of a massacre weren’t true. The real Palestinian death toll was less than 60 — still an awful number but significantly fewer than what was feared. Human Rights Watch soon revealed that its researchers had found “no evidence to sustain claims of massacres or large-scale extrajudicial executions by the I.D.F. in Jenin refugee camp,” even though many of the civilian deaths “amounted to unlawful or willful killings by the I.D.F.” This finding, that the Israeli military had committed only a small fraction of the extrajudicial killings it was accused of, was not an exoneration. But it should have been a cautionary tale about accepting incendiary claims of Israeli atrocities at face value.
The rush to judgment on Tuesday night will continue to haunt us all. Not long after the allegations emerged of a massacre in Jenin, The Guardian said, “Jenin already has that aura of infamy that attaches to a crime of especial notoriety,” predicting that it would “live on in memory and myth.” The Guardian was wrong about the scale of death in Jenin but right about the afterlife of the rumors. The narrative that Israel perpetrated a massacre at Al-Ahli will soon take on the same aura of infamy, with the amateur forensics of the internet only making it worse.
In much of the world, there will be no dissuading people from holding Israel and, by extension, America liable for the hospital bombing. At the same time, Israel will be able to use this episode to deflect criticism of the violence it really is inflicting on the Palestinians. Jews, whatever their views about Zionism, will be placed in greater danger. As this hideous war grinds on, there will almost certainly be other enormities. We will only compound the horrors if we pretend to be instantly certain about them.
GETTING AID INTO GAZA, NOT JUST PROMISES
Yesterday there were two lines of big-rig trucks lined up on the Egyptian side of the Rafah check-point Egyptian/Gazan border which is still closed. Each truck is filled with Red Cross relief supplies, food, water, and probably clothes and also gasoline. Unable to move, Even though it was reported day before yesterday that the Egyptian Government had given its OK, and a few trucks, possibly four, did get through.
This idea is simple. Allow a few brave Israeli volunteer IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers to accompany a few trucks to cross into Gaza. Have them stop about 6 or 8 Km into Gaza. Allow the Red Cross to unload them and return safely empty to Egypt.
If this is done without a lot of fanfare, it would serve as an example of getting humanitarian aid directly into the hands of some hungry Gazans. Hamas might not have time to take over. Actions speak louder than words. I have emailed President Biden earlier today this idea.
If done successfully, it might reduce hatred and fear on both sides of this very imminent wider war.
Frank H. Baumgardner, III
ISRAEL will enforce a buffer zone within the Gaza Strip once the war is over, Israel's agriculture minister Avi Dichter said on Thursday. In comments that seemed to refer to setting up a buffer zone in the coastal strip, Israel's foreign minister Eli Cohen said on Wednesday that 'at the end of this war, not only will Hamas no longer be in Gaza, but the territory of Gaza will also decrease'. Asked about these remarks and the possibility of setting up a buffer zone inside Gaza, Israel's agriculture minister Avi Dichter said that the current situation, in which most of Israel's border security infrastructure was several hundred metres inside Israeli territory, was no longer tenable. 'It's not that you started it from inside the Gaza Strip, as a buffer zone. You started it on the Israeli side - 50 to 100 metres inside . . . We understand it was a mistake, it has to be fixed,' he told a media briefing in Sderot.
— Daily Mail
A convoy of 20 trucks carrying aid moved through the Rafah border crossing into Gaza from Egypt on Saturday, according to the United Nations, after days of diplomatic wrangling to get food, water and medicine into the blockaded enclave where supplies were running out and hospitals were nearing collapse.
Aid officials welcomed the breakthrough but warned that the trucks, which the United Nations said carried “life-saving supplies,” were barely enough to start addressing the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
“The people of Gaza need a commitment for much, much more — a continuous delivery of aid to Gaza at the scale that is needed,” the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said in a speech in Cairo.
Humanitarian aid workers had expressed hopes that fuel, which Gaza’s struggling hospitals need to generate power, be allowed into the enclave — a prospect the Israeli military spokesman, Daniel Hagari, appeared to rule out on Saturday, at least for the time being.
Several U.N. and European officials and diplomats familiar with talks around opening the crossing said that the primary concern voiced by Israel’s government was that the aid not strengthen or fall into the hands of Hamas, which killed more than 1,400 people and captured about 200 hostages in its Oct. 7 assault into Israel.
Fuel is particularly contentious, as Israel worries it could get diverted to Hamas to be used for weapons or its vehicles.
Here are some other developments:
- As the situation in Gaza worsens, Israel is readying a ground offensive in the territory. The timing of any invasion was unknown, but Israel was gathering forces near the border. Military analysts said that an extended campaign could result in heavy casualties on both sides.
- The Egyptian government is hosting a summit in Cairo aimed at de-escalating the war. In attendance are representatives of the Arab world and Western countries, including many that Arab nations have criticized for being quicker and more enthusiastic in their support of Israel than in their calls to protect civilians in Gaza.
- Mr. Biden and his top aides are trying to head off any major Israeli offensive on Hezbollah, the powerful militia in Lebanon, believing that Israel would struggle with a two-front war and that such a conflict could draw in both the United States and Iran, U.S. and Israeli officials say.
- Hamas released on Friday two Americans it had held captive after discussions with Qatar. The country has acted as an intermediary between Hamas and the United States. They were identified as Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter, Natalie Raanan, 17, who live in the Chicago area.
- The death toll from the bombing on Tuesday of a school-turned-shelter in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza rose to eight, according to UNWRA, the agency that administers aid to Palestinians. About 40 others were wounded in the attack, including three UNRWA employees.
GERMAN PHOTOGRAPHER THOMAS HOEPKER took some of the most iconic images of the 20th Century. He never studied photography, he "just did it" and was influenced by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliott Erwitt
DISMANTLE THE CENSORSHIP-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The Westminster Declaration
At the outset of another crisis in which leaders will ask for emergency power, a collective letter calling for a 21st century free of information control.
by Matt Taibbi
Earlier this week, the Westminster Declaration to Dismantle the Censorship-Industrial Complex, a sequel of sorts to the Harpers Letter on Justice and Open Debate, was released. Several colleagues, in particular Michael Shellenberger and Andrew Lowenthal, worked hard to put it together. I played at most a small role, but strongly recommend everyone read it and take note of the varied list of signatories:
We write as journalists, artists, authors, activists, technologists, and academics to warn of increasing international censorship that threatens to erode centuries-old democratic norms.
Coming from the left, right, and center, we are united by our commitment to universal human rights and freedom of speech, and we are all deeply concerned about attempts to label protected speech as ‘misinformation,’ ‘disinformation,’ and other ill-defined terms.
This abuse of these terms has resulted in the censorship of ordinary people, journalists, and dissidents in countries all over the world.
Such interference with the right to free speech suppresses valid discussion about matters of urgent public interest, and undermines the foundational principles of representative democracy.
Across the globe, government actors, social media companies, universities, and NGOs are increasingly working to monitor citizens and rob them of their voices. These large-scale coordinated efforts are sometimes referred to as the ‘Censorship-Industrial Complex.’
This complex often operates through direct government policies. Authorities in India and Turkey have seized the power to remove political content from social media. The legislature in Germany and the Supreme Court in Brazil are criminalizing political speech. In other countries, measures such as Ireland’s ‘Hate Speech’ Bill, Scotland’s Hate Crime Act, the UK’s Online Safety Bill, and Australia’s ‘Misinformation’ Bill threaten to severely restrict expression and create a chilling effect.
But the Censorship Industrial Complex operates through more subtle methods. These include visibility filtering, labelling, and manipulation of search engine results. Through deplatforming and flagging, social media censors have already silenced lawful opinions on topics of national and geopolitical importance. They have done so with the full support of ‘disinformation experts’ and ‘fact-checkers’ in the mainstream media, who have abandoned the journalistic values of debate and intellectual inquiry.
As the Twitter Files revealed, tech companies often perform censorial ‘content moderation’ in coordination with government agencies and civil society. Soon, the European Union’s Digital Services Act will formalize this relationship by giving platform data to ‘vetted researchers’ from NGOs and academia, relegating our speech rights to the discretion of these unelected and unaccountable entities.
Some politicians and NGOs are even aiming to target end-to-end encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. If end-to-end encryption is broken, we will have no remaining avenues for authentic private conversations in the digital sphere.
Although foreign disinformation between states is a real issue, agencies designed to combat these threats, such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the United States, are increasingly being turned inward against the public. Under the guise of preventing harm and protecting truth, speech is being treated as a permitted activity rather than an inalienable right.
We recognize that words can sometimes cause offence, but we reject the idea that hurt feelings and discomfort, even if acute, are grounds for censorship. Open discourse is the central pillar of a free society, and is essential for holding governments accountable, empowering vulnerable groups, and reducing the risk of tyranny.
Speech protections are not just for views we agree with; we must strenuously protect speech for the views that we most strongly oppose. Only in the public square can these views be heard and properly challenged.
What's more, time and time again, unpopular opinions and ideas have eventually become conventional wisdom. By labelling certain political or scientific positions as 'misinformation' or 'malinformation,' our societies risk getting stuck in false paradigms that will rob humanity of hard-earned knowledge and obliterate the possibility of gaining new knowledge. Free speech is our best defense against disinformation.
The attack on speech is not just about distorted rules and regulations – it is a crisis of humanity itself. Every equality and justice campaign in history has relied on an open forum to voice dissent. In countless examples, including the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement, social progress has depended on freedom of expression.
We do not want our children to grow up in a world where they live in fear of speaking their minds. We want them to grow up in a world where their ideas can be expressed, explored and debated openly – a world that the founders of our democracies envisioned when they enshrined free speech into our laws and constitutions.
The US First Amendment is a strong example of how the right to freedom of speech, of the press, and of conscience can be firmly protected under the law. One need not agree with the U.S. on every issue to acknowledge that this is a vital 'first liberty' from which all other liberties follow. It is only through free speech that we can denounce violations of our rights and fight for new freedoms.
There also exists a clear and robust international protection for free speech. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was drafted in 1948 in response to atrocities committed during World War II. Article 19 of the UDHR states, 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.' While there may be a need for governments to regulate some aspects of social media, such as age limits, these regulations should never infringe on the human right to freedom of expression.
As is made clear by Article 19, the corollary of the right to free speech is the right to information. In a democracy, no one has a monopoly over what is considered to be true. Rather, truth must be discovered through dialogue and debate – and we cannot discover truth without allowing for the possibility of error.
Censorship in the name of 'preserving democracy' inverts what should be a bottom-up system of representation into a top-down system of ideological control. This censorship is ultimately counter-productive: it sows mistrust, encourages radicalization, and de-legitimizes the democratic process.
In the course of human history, attacks on free speech have been a precursor to attacks on all other liberties. Regimes that eroded free speech have always inevitably weakened and damaged other core democratic structures. In the same fashion, the elites that push for censorship today are also undermining democracy. What has changed though, is the broad scale and technological tools through which censorship can be enacted.
We believe that free speech is essential for ensuring our safety from state abuses of power – abuses that have historically posed a far greater threat than the words of lone individuals or even organized groups. For the sake of human welfare and flourishing, we make the following 3 calls to action.
We call on governments and international organizations to fulfill their responsibilities to the people and to uphold Article 19 of the UDHR.
We call on tech corporations to undertake to protect the digital public square as defined in Article 19 of the UDHR and refrain from politically motivated censorship, the censorship of dissenting voices, and censorship of political opinion.
And finally, we call on the general public to join us in the fight to preserve the people's democratic rights. Legislative changes are not enough. We must also build an atmosphere of free speech from the ground up by rejecting the climate of intolerance that encourages self-censorship and that creates unnecessary personal strife for many. Instead of fear and dogmatism, we must embrace inquiry and debate.
We stand for your right to ask questions. Heated arguments, even those that may cause distress, are far better than no arguments at all.
Censorship robs us of the richness of life itself. Free speech is the foundation for creating a life of meaning and a thriving humanity - through art, poetry, drama, story, philosophy, song, and more.
This declaration was the result of an initial meeting of free speech champions from around the world who met in Westminster, London, at the end of June 2023. As signatories of this statement, we have fundamental political and ideological disagreements. However, it is only by coming together that we will defeat the encroaching forces of censorship so that we can maintain our ability to openly debate and challenge one another. It is in the spirit of difference and debate that we sign the Westminster Declaration.
Matt Taibbi, Journalist, US
Michael Shellenberger, Public, US
Jonathan Haidt, Social Psychologist, NYU, US
John McWhorter, Linguist, Columbia, Author, US
Steven Pinker, Psychologist, Harvard, US
Julian Assange, Editor, Founder of Wikileaks, Australia
Tim Robbins, Actor, Filmmaker, US
Nadine Strossen, Professor of Law, NYLS, US
Glenn Loury, Economist, USA
Richard Dawkins, Biologist, UK
John Cleese, Comedian, Acrobat, UK
Slavoj Žižek, Philosopher, Author, Slovenia
Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University, US
Oliver Stone, Filmmaker, US
Edward Snowden, Whistleblower, US
Greg Lukianoff, President and CEO Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, USA
Stella Assange, Campaigner, UK
Glenn Greenwald, Journalist, US
Claire Fox, Founder of the Academy of Ideas, UK
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, Psychologist, Author, Canada
Bari Weiss, Journalist, USA
Peter Hitchens, Author, Journalist, UK
Niall Ferguson, Historian, Stanford, UK
Matt Ridley, Journalist, Author, UK
Melissa Chen, Journalist, Spectator, Singapore/US
Yanis Varoufakis, Economist, Greece
Peter Boghossian, Philosopher, Founding Faculty Fellow, University of Austin, US
Michael Shermer, Science Writer, US
Alan Sokal, Professor of Mathematics, UCL, UK
Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology, Oxford, UK
Jay Bhattacharya, Professor, Stanford, US
Martin Kulldorf, Professor of Medicine (on leave), Harvard, US
Aaron Kheiriaty, Psychiatrist, Author, USA
Chris Hedges, Journalist, Author, USA
Lee Fang, Independent Journalist, US
Alex Gutentag, Journalist, US
Iain McGilchrist, Psychiatrist, Philosopher, UK
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Human Rights Activist, Author, Netherlands
Konstantin Kisin, Author, UK
Leighton Woodhouse, Public, US
Andrew Lowenthal, liber-net, Australia
Aaron Mate, Journalist, USA
Izabella Kaminska, Journalist, The Blind Spot, UK
Nina Power, Writer, UK
Kmele Foster, Journalist, Media Entrepreneur, USA
Toby Young, Journalist, Free Speech Union, UK
Winston Marshall, Journalist, The Spectator, UK
Jacob Siegel, Tablet, US/Israel
Ulrike Guerot, Founder of European Democracy Lab, Germany
Heather E. Heying, Evolutionary Biologist, USA
Bret Weinstein, Evolutionary Biologist, USA
Martina Pastorelli, Independent Journalist, Italy
Leandro Narloch, Independent Journalist, Brazil
Ana Henkel, Independent Journalist, Brazil
Mia Ashton, Journalist, Canada
Micha Narberhaus, The Protopia Lab, Spain/Germany
Alex Sheridan, Free Speech Ireland
Ben Scallan, Gript Media, Ireland
Thomas Fazi, Independent Journalist, Italy
Jean F. Queralt, Technologist, Founder @ The IO Foundation, Malaysia/Spain
Phil Shaw, Campaigner, Operation People, New Zealand
Jeremy Hildreth, Independent, UK
Craig Snider, Independent, US
Eve Kay, TV Producer, UK
Helen Joyce, Journalist, UK
Dietrich Brüggemann, Filmmaker, Germany
Adam B. Coleman, Founder of Wrong Speak Publishing, US
Helen Pluckrose, Author, US
Michael Nayna, Filmmaker, Australia
Paul Rossi, Educator, Vertex Partnership Academics, US
Juan Carlos Girauta, Politician, Spain
Andrew Neish, KC, UK
Steven Berkoff, Actor, Playright, UK
Patrick Hughes, Artist, UK
Adam Creighton, Journalist, Australia
Julia Hartley-Brewer, Journalist, UK
Robert Cibis, Filmmaker, Germany
Piers Robinson, Organization for Propaganda Studies, UK
Dirk Pohlmann, Journalist, Germany
Mathias Bröckers, Author, Journalist, Germany
Kira Phillips, Documentary Filmmaker, UK
Diane Atkinson, Historian, Biographer, UK
Eric Kaufmann, Professor of Politics, Birkbeck, University of Buckingham, Canada
Laura Dodsworth, Journalist and Author, UK
Nellie Bowles, Journalist, USA
Andrew Tettenborn, Professor of Law, Swansea University, UK
Julius Grower, Fellow, St. Hugh’s College, UK
Nick Dixon, Comedian, UK
Dominic Frisby, Comedian, UK
James Orr, Associate Professor, University of Cambridge, UK
Brendan O’Neill, Journalist, UK
Jan Jekielek, Journalist, US
Andrew Roberts, Historian, UK
Robert Tombs, Historian, UK
Ben Schwarz, Journalist, USA
Xavier Azalbert, Investigative Scientific Journalist, France
Doug Stokes, International Relations Professor, University of Exeter, UK
James Allan, Professor of Law, University of Queensland, UK
David McGrogan, Professor of Law, Northumbria University, UK
Jacob Mchangama, Author, Denmark
Nigel Biggar, Chairman, Free Speech Union, UK
David Goodhart, Journalist, Author, UK
Catherine Austin Fitts, The Solari Report, Netherlands
Matt Goodwin, Politics Professor, University of Kent, UK
Alan Miller, Together Association, UK
Catherine Liu, Cultural Theorist, Author, USA
Stefan Millius, Journalist, Switzerland
Philip Hamburger, Professor of Law, Columbia, USA
Rueben Kirkham, Co-Director, Free Speech Union of Australia, Australia
Jeffrey Tucker, Author, USA
Sarah Gon, Director, Free Speech Union, South Africa
Dara Macdonald, Co-Director, Free Speech Union, Australia
Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive, Free Speech Union, New Zealand
David Zweig, Journalist, Author, USA
Juan Soto Ivars, Author, Spain
Colin Wright, Evolutionary Biologist, USA
Gad Saad, Professor, Evolutionary Behavioral Scientist, Author, Canada
Robert W. Malone, MD, MS, USA
Jill Glasspool-Malone, PhD., USA
Jordi Pigem, Philosopher, Author, Spain
Holly Lawford-Smith, Associate Professor in Political Philosophy, University of Melbourne, Australia
Michele Santoro, Journalist, TV Host, Presenter, Italy
Dr. James Smith, Podcaster, Literature Scholar, RHUL, UK
Francis Foster, Comedian, UK
Coleman Hughes, Writer, Podcaster, USA
Marco Bassani, Political Theorist, Historian, Milan University, Italy
Isabella Loiodice, Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Bari, Italy
Luca Ricolfi, Professor, Sociologist, Turin University, Italy
Marcello Foa, Journalist, Former President of Rai, Italy
Andrea Zhok, Philosopher, University of Milan, Italy
Paolo Cesaretti, Professor of Byzantine Civilization, University of Bergamo, Italy
Alberto Contri, Mass Media Expert, Italy
Carlo Lottieri, Philosopher, University of Verona, Italy
Alessandro Di Battista, Political Activist, Writer, Italy
Paola Mastrocola, Writer, Italy
Carlo Freccero, Television Author, Media Expert, Italy
Giorgio Bianchi, Independent Journalist, Italy
Nello Preterossi, Professor, University of Salerno, Scientific Director of the Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies, Italy
Efrat Fenigson, Journalist, Podcaster, Israel
Eli Vieira, Journalist, Genetic Biologist, Brazil
Stephen Moore, Author and Analyst, Canada
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Maybe we’re in the process of giving birth to a new decentralized living arrangement here in the USA – without a federal government. Anyone who’s witnessed a mammal giving birth – be it a human, a cow, or a dog – will witness something harsh and a bit bloody. Our transition to a sane society will involve the very sad and embarrassing spectacle of most all of the crazy people passing away. In the broken down West, the future will belong to people who can build homes with hand tools, grow their own food, and who can ride bicycles and motorbikes.
“NO PIECE OF ART has ever emotionally affected me the way this robot arm piece has. It's programmed to try to contain the hydraulic fluid that’s constantly leaking out and required to keep itself running… if too much escapes, it will die, so it's desperately trying to pull it back to continue to fight for another day. Saddest part is they gave the robot the ability to do these ‘happy dances’ to spectators. When the project was first launched it danced around spending most of its time interacting with the crowd since it could quickly pull back the small spillage. Many years later… (as you see it now in an on-line video) it looks tired and hopeless as there isn't enough time to dance anymore. It now only has enough time to try to keep itself alive as the amount of leaked hydraulic fluid became unmanageable as the spill grew over time. Living its last days in a never-ending cycle between sustaining life and simultaneously bleeding out. (Figuratively and literally as its hydraulic fluid was purposefully made to look like its actual blood).
“The robot arm finally ran out of hydraulic fluid in 2019, slowly came to a halt and died. And I am now tearing up over a friggin’ robot arm.
“It was programmed to live out this fate and no matter what it did or how hard it tried, there was no escaping it. Spectators watched as it slowly bled out until the day that it ceased to move forever. Saying that “this resonates” doesn't even do it justice imo. Created by Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, they named the piece, ‘Can't Help Myself.’ What a masterpiece. What a message.”
Extended interpretations: the hydraulic fluid in relation to how we kill ourselves both mentally and physically for money just in an attempt to sustain life, how the system is set up for us to fail on purpose to essentially enslave us and to steal the best years of our lives to play the game that the richest people of the world have designed. How this robs us of our happiness, passion and our inner peace. How we are slowly drowning with more responsibilities, with more expected of us, less rewarding pay-offs and less free time to enjoy ourselves with as the years go by. How there's really no escaping the system and that we were destined at birth to follow a pretty specific path that was already laid out before us. How we can give and give and give and how easily we can be forgotten after we've gone. How we are loved and respected when we are valuable, then one day we aren't any longer and we become a burden...and how our young, free-caring spirit gets stolen from us as we get churned out of the broken system that we are trapped inside of. Can also be seen to represent the human life cycle and the fact that none of us make it out of this world alive. But also can act as a reminder to allow yourself to heal, rest and love with all of your heart. That the endless chase for ‘more’ isn't necessary in finding your own inner happiness.”
— James Kricked Parr
PINKO TERROR-SYMPS and the “rule of law” gang may cavil and whine at the lack of legal propriety in the execution of Osama, but it’s not cutting much ice with liberal America. For long years what might be called the “progressive” segment of American voters have chafed at Republican gibes that their guy Obama is a wimp, all the more irritably because deep down many of them thought the charge had some merit.
It’s wondrous what two expanding bullets to the head of an unarmed man will do. The chorus of approval for the SEALs covers the liberal spectrum. The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill exulted, as did Gary Wills on the New York Review of Books site, with an ecstatic paean, “The President’s Crack Team,” concluding, “we should keep in mind what superb things can be done by our Navy Seals. And we should keep somewhere in the back of our minds a remembrance that the one ultimately pulling the trigger … was the President of the United States.”
— Alexander Cockburn (2011)
Loafers' wall, at courthouse, Batesville, Arkansas. Here from sun up until well into the night these fellows, young and old, "set". Once a few years ago a political situation was created when an attempt was made to remove the wall. It stays. When asked what they do there all day, one old fellow replied: "W-all we all just a 'set'; sometimes a few of 'em get up and move about to 'tother side when the sun gets too strong, the rest just 'sets'."
Source: Library of Congress (Carl Mydans photographer)
TEHERAN, a boom town grafted onto a village, is a place of no antiquity and little interest, unless one has a particular fascination for bad driving and a traffic situation twenty times worse than New York’s. There is talk of building a subway system, but the plumbing in Teheran is of the village variety: the sewage is pumped into the ground beneath each building. so the process of tunneling would very likely produce a cholera epidemic of gigantic proportions. One man I met verified this by claiming that you had to dig down only ten feet anywhere in the city and you would strike sewage; in a few years it would be five.
In spite of its size and apparent newness Teheran retains the most obnoxious features of a bazaar, as Dallas does, and Teheran has all the qualities of that oil-rich Texas city: the spurious glamour, the dust and heat, the taste for plastic, the evidence of cash. The women are lovely; they skitter around holding other women’s hands — even the most chic — or else they are bent sideways, on the arm of a small shrouded granny.
Wealth has allowed the Iranian little except the single excess of being overdressed; indeed, the freezing air conditioning seems to be designed for no other purpose than permitting rich Iranians to wear fashionable English clothes, for which they have a special fondness. There is about this decadence a peculiar absence of the physical that begins to look uncivilized in the most limiting way. Women are seldom seen with men; there are few couples, no lovers, and at dusk Teheran becomes a city of males, prowling in groups or loitering. The bars are exclusively male; the men drink in expensive suits, continually searching the room with anxious eyes, as if in expectation of a woman. But there are no women, and the lugubrious alternatives to sex are apparent: the film posters showing fat Persian girls in shortie pajamas; nightclubs with belly dancers, strippers, kick lines, and comedians in ridiculous hats whose every Farsi joke is a reference to the sex the patrons are denied.
Money pulls the Iranian in one direction, religion drags him in another, and the result is a stupid starved creature for whom woman is only meat. Thus spake Zarathustra: an ugly monomaniac with a diamond tiara, who calls himself “The King of Kings” (Shah of Shahs) is their answer to government, a firing squad their answer to law.
Less frightening, but no less disgusting, is the Iranian taste for jam made out of carrots.
— Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar (1975)
WHEN FATTY WASN'T FUNNY
by Doug Holland
At his birth, Roscoe Arbuckle weighed 16 pounds — a very big boy. Always chubby, he was taunted at school as “Fatty,” and the name stuck.
His father doubted the boy's paternity, beat him frequently, and eventually abandoned the family. From my few hours research, it seems young Roscoe had a miserable childhood, then rescued himself when he discovered he could make people laugh. That's not an uncommon story for funny folks.
By his teens, Fatty Arbuckle was a vaudeville comic and singer, and at age 22 he began working in films. Hired by Mack Sennett, he became a regular in the ‘Keystone Cops’ shorts, and later co-starred in the ‘Arbuckle and Mabel’ series of shorts, alongside Mabel Normand.
One of their first films together, A Noise from the Deep, has the first pie in the face in motion picture history — Normand pushing, Arbuckle receiving.
Often working with his buddy Buster Keaton, Arbuckle's star rose, and by 1920 he was Hollywood's highest-paid performer, signing a million-dollar-a-year contract with Paramount. Adjusted for inflation, that's about $15,000,000 in 2023 money.
But then, Arbuckle did something I'd never do: He accepted an invitation to a party.
* * *
His friend Fred Hibbard had rented several adjoining suites at San Francisco's super-swanky St. Francis Hotel, on the city’s Union Square, for a Labor Day weekend of debauchery. A great deal of then-illegal alcoholic beverages were consumed, over three days and nights of partying.
What happened at about 3:00 PM on Monday, September 5, 1921, is still subject to debate and exaggeration.
Arbuckle said he stepped into one of the bedrooms to change from his party pajamas into his clothes, and found Virginia Rappe in the room. She was, he said, a long-time acquaintance, who seemed weak and sick, vomiting in the bathroom, so he helped her onto the bed.
Or, Arbuckle pulled Rappe into the room, saying, “I've waited for you five years, and now I’ve got you,” then locked the door. That's what another guest at the party, Maude Delmont, said. Some time later she heard Rappe scream, she said, and after much pounding, Arbuckle opened the door.
Arbuckle and Delmont agreed that Rappe was on the bed, moaning, and that she said, “I am dying, I am dying.” In Delmont's version, Rappe also said, “He did it.”
With help from Hibbard the host, Arbuckle carried Rappe to a more secluded room, and called the hotel manager, asking him to send a doctor. When the doctor came, he decided Rappe was merely intoxicated (then as now, doctors tended to downplay women's complaints of pain).
Arbuckle later said he'd had no inkling that Rappe's pain would prove fatal. He left the hotel, she died of a ruptured bladder several days later, and Arbuckle was charged with manslaughter.
The case was covered in gruesome detail with lurid innuendo, newspapers claiming that the inebriated movie star had ravaged a sweet, innocent girl. It was whispered that Arbuckle had crushed Rappe with his weight while raping her, or crammed a Coca-Cola bottle or ice cubes up her vagina, thereby rupturing her bladder and killing her.
The man who had rivaled Charlie Chaplin as America's most popular comic was soon held in disdain, widely believed to be guilty. Paramount Pictures suspended his contract, and his films were withdrawn from circulation.
* * *
Arbuckle faced trial thrice, and maintained that he had acted responsibly, that Delmont had approached him for hush money after Rappe's death, and that she had only taken her accusations to the police after he had refused to pay.
Rappe's bladder was brought into the courtroom and introduced as evidence, as physicians testified that its damage was not caused by any external object or force.
Delmont testified against Arbuckle at the first trial, but her account of what happened was at odds with the statements of others at the party, and also at odds with her first statements to police. Instead of Arbuckle dragging Rappe into the bedroom, she testified that Rappe had gone in alone, to use the toilet. After telling reporters she and Rappe had been friends for an “intimacy of years,” at trial she said they'd known each other for about a week.
There were also rumors, probably planted by Arbuckle's defense, that Delmont had worked as a “madam,” and had been charged with blackmail some years earlier. Both claims remain unverified, and not much is known about Delmont. She was a heavy drinker, and reportedly peppered her speech with vulgarities, even during her courtroom testimony. This doesn't mean she was lying, but it made her less than the best witness on the stand.
The trial ended with a hung jury, as did a second trial. In the second and third trials, Delmont was not called to testify.
At the third trial, jurors deliberated for six minutes before finding Arbuckle not guilty, and apparently spent most of that time composing and unanimously signing a rebuke to prosecutors:
“Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done him. We feel also that it was only our plain duty to give him this exoneration, under the evidence, for there was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime. …
“Roscoe Arbuckle is entirely innocent and free from all blame.”
That part of the jury's note appears in most articles about the Fatty and Rappe matter, and usually with the same ellipsis in the same place. The rest of the jury's note, as written and without the dot-dot-dot, was:
“He was manly throughout the case, and told a straightforward story on the witness stand, which we all believed.
“The happening at the hotel was an unfortunate affair for which Arbuckle, so the evidence shows, was in no way responsible.
“We wish him success.…”
Which sounds more like a Fatty Arbuckle Fan Club than a jury outraged at a miscarriage of justice.
* * *
Despite his exoneration, studios, theaters, and moviegoers did not clamor for more of Arbuckle's comedy.
He worked behind the camera, writing and directing under the assumed name William B. Goodrich. After ten years he made an on-screen comeback, starring in 1932's Hey, Pop! and several other shorts, which were lukewarmly received. He died of a heart attack in 1933.
At the end of his life, Arbuckle resided at the Alto Nido Apartments in Hollywood, where “Black Dahlia” Elizabeth Short would live ten years later, and also home to fictional screenwriter Joe Gillis in Billy Wilder's classic Sunset Boulevard.
In our time, Arbuckle's name — if remembered at all — comes up more often in the context of “getting away with murder” than being a funny guy.
So, did Fatty Arbuckle kill Virginia Rappe? If you believe in the American system of justice, “there was not the slightest proof” of it.
The American system of justice also decided that Dred Scott wasn't a US citizen, that Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were guilty of murder, and that women have no right to control their uteri. So who can say with certainty what awful thing happened one afternoon all those years ago?
(If you read this far and didn't fall asleep, you might enjoy itsdougholland.com.)