Chance Showers | Fog | Senior Lunch | Native Arts | Cubbison Affair | Wave Crash | Human Remains | Skeleton Run | Ed Notes | Sheer Poetry | Volunteer Opportunities | Mattole Mouth | Affinito Case | Yesterday's Catch | Speakerless House | Britney Barometer | Crow Analogy | Welcome Back | U.S. Complicity | News Anchorpersons | Gaza | I Like… | Taylor/Travis Romance | I'm Offended | Collapse Now | Blue Door | Zodiac Case | Missing Stash
SHOWERS will gradually move south and weaken throughout the day. Widespread frost is likely tonight across the eastern interior with cool and calm weather continuing through the week. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): I had clear skies & 46F at 4am but I expect mostly cloudy by sunrise & rain not much later this morning on the coast. A quick shot of rain today then big cooling into the weekend. Cool & clear into mid next week then more rain is forecast about Thursday.
SOUPS ON!…at the Fort Bragg Senior Center
Wednesday October 25th at the Redwood Bistro
Enjoy eating a hot delicious meal with friends while listening to KC play live music on the piano! Spaghetti and homemade meatballs served with steamed veggies, French bread, soup and your choice of a dinner salad or cottage and fruit. A beverage and dessert is included. Redwood Coast Seniors, 490 N Harold Street Fort Bragg for more information visits us at www.rcscenter.org
INDEPENDENT COAST OBSERVER reporter Susan Wolbarst covers the Board of Supervisors for the ICO. In her October 20, 2023 report about the suspension of Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector Chamise Cubbison, Wolbarst says that “Since election, she [Cubbison] has not delivered requested financial materials to supervisors in a timely manner, causing them to request a state audit of the county’s finances, which is ongoing.”
MS. WOLBARST seems to be reasonably assiduous in her Board coverage, uncritical as it is. So surely she must know that the Supervisors themselves had previously established an ad hoc committee of Supervisors Glenn McGourty and Ted Williams to specify what “financial materials” they want from the Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector. But at last report McGourty admitted that his committee had not done that because, McGourty claimed, they were too busy preparing this year’s budget. (Also not true, but irrelevant here.) Further, as Ms. Wolbarst must know, Ms. Cubbison has repeatedly asked the Board to tell her what they want with no response or results.
IN FACT, the Supervisors have never requested any specific financial materials in their effort to blame Ms. Cubbison for their own shortcomings. In her reports to the board, Ms. Cubbison has asked several times that Supervisors specify what they want. For example, the Board could cite reports from other counties. Cubbison has maintained that she can’t deliver reports to the Supervisors until they tell her what they want.
IF CONVENTIONAL REPORTERS are going to repeat the Supervisors’ false claims about Ms. Cubbison, it would only be fair to at least acknowledge that they are claims by the Supervisors, not undisputed facts, and that Ms. Cubbison disputes them as she has done in several board meetings.
LAST LABOR DAY WEEKEND, Ms. Cubbison told AVA reporter Mike Geniella that, “county departments are asked to provide the CEO quarterly annual projections, which likely provides most of information they seek. That information is not shared with our office, but rather with the CEO, who determines what information goes to the board.” … Cubbison said some board members are deliberately trying to create a perception of chaos surrounding delayed financial reports from a newly combined office of Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector to further their quest to create a county Department of Finance under the county supervisors’ oversight rather than other elected officials. “No examples of incorrect or incomplete reporting to the state have been brought to the attention of the Auditor-Controller / Treasurer-Tax Collector,” said Cubbison. … Cubbison said Williams’ contentions are bunk. She said what is really at issue is the board’s apparent lack of understanding of how County financial reporting works. Cubbison asked why Williams and other supervisors aren’t relying on the seven current budget analysts in the CEO’s office for the information they seek, rather than adding to an already crushing workload in her depleted office. So far, complaining supervisors have yet to provide examples of reports they seek from any other County in the state despite their insistence her office compile the information they seek. “Why doesn’t the board ask for the information they seek from their own Chief Executive Officer?,” asked Cubbison.
AND RIGHT THERE, given the timing of recent subsequent events in hindsight, one can see that Cubbison’s steadfast refusal to fall on her sword combined with her criticisms of members of the Board and the CEO are probably a key factor in her abrupt suspension. Remember, at the end of short discussion suspending Cubbison and appointing Deputy CEO Sara Pierce as Acting Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector, Supervisors McGourty and Haschak said they expected “cooperation” from Ms. Pierce.
HUMAN REMAINS FOUND IN COVELO
On Saturday, October 21, 2023 at approximately 6:00 PM, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was dispatched to contact a person who had located potential human skeletal remains in Covelo.
Upon contact the Deputy learned the person had been hunting on his property located in the 45000 block of Bauer Ranch Road in the vicinity of Mendocino Pass Road. While hunting the property, the person discovered the presence of several suspected human bones scattered on a rural portion of the property.
The person also found out-of-state photo identifications belonging to an adult male, which was in the general area of the bones.
Due to darkness and an impending rainstorm, a search of the property was delayed for the safety of Sheriff's Office searchers.
On Tuesday, October 24, 2023 at 10:22 AM Deputies and members of the Mendocino County Search and Rescue Team conducted a search for the bones. This resulted in the discovery and recovery of several human skeletal remains.
Investigations into the identity of the human skeletal remains are ongoing at this time and investigators have requested the assistance of the Anthropology Department at California State University in Chico to determine a cause and classification of death.
Persons with information that may assist investigators in this Coroner's Investigation are urged to contact the Sheriff's Office Tipline by calling 707-234-2100 or the WeTip Anonymous Crime Reporting Hotline by calling 800-782-7463.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY volleyball team, a perennial small school power, is again in the playoffs, with a match against Ferndale Wednesday in Ferndale. I'm assuming our soccer team is, as always, winning a bunch, and the football team, off a tough loss against John Swett in Crockett, sugar capitol of NorCal, takes on Potter Valley this Friday night in Potter Valley in, arguably, the most beautiful football setting in the County on the banks of the Russian River.
FROM THE NYT: “If someone were to start running even once or twice a week, instead of not exercising at all, that’s where we should see the most benefits” in terms of mental health, said Karmel Choi, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who has investigated the relationship between exercise and depression.”
I RAN for about 30 years, even doing five marathons, until I realized my knees hurt all the time and, aerobically speaking, I belatedly came to understand that walking fast and hiking were physiologically just as therapeutic and a whole lot more interesting in the scenic sense. A daily 2-3 miles on foot, an OCD push-up regimen every morning, and here I am age 84. Mental health bennies? I understand that in my case they're debatable.
BUT I DO NOTE that in all the prescriptive mental health talk in Mendocino County that physical exercise as a crucial means of keeping your head straight is seldom, if ever mentioned. And eyeballing the people who are doling out the advice and the meds are obviously in poor physical condition and, in their private lives, probably cripplingly neurotic and pill-dependent.
COUNTY COUNSEL CHRISTIAN CURTIS is leaving when his contract is up in May of ’24. I asked my supervisor, Mr. Williams, for confirmation and he replied, “In all probability.” On the subject of probabilities, it’s not unlikely that Curtis’s departure is a Williams-Eyster twofer — Cubbison and Curtis. The DA has made it clear he resented hell outta the fact that Curtis makes more money than he does.
MY COLLEAGUE, Mike Kalantarian observes, “I've never heard anyone correlating baseball's decline with the advent of television before, but I agree, as I still prefer listening to baseball on the radio. There's an unhurried quality to the sport that is a throwback to the ways of days gone by. I'm out of step with modernity on many things, by design, and I like it that way.”
BASEBALL left me behind, too. I don't follow it anymore. I watch the last five minutes of Warrior's games, all of the Forty-Niners schedule, but no baseball. I think baseball's neo-reliance on electronics, pitch counts, steroids, too many guys who don't belong in the big leagues, jumbo scoreboards, fans chattering on cell phones throughout games… All of it has left me yearning for baseball circa 1960 before all the non-baseball kicked in, the game's decline simultaneous with the decline of the country. I do miss the ballpark at 3rd and Townsend, though, where I could sit at the very top of the stadium and look out at the magnificence of much of the Bay and the east hills of Berkeley and Oakland.
I RECENTLY FOUND myself following a car in Fort Bragg whose rear window contained this message: “It must really suck to be you.” Oh, I dunno. Being me has an occasional compensation.
BUT I WOULD say the incidence of random expressions of unprovoked hostility and just plain bad public behavior seems ever on the rise. In a recent 12-hour period during which I took two long walks around San Francisco, I saw all kinds of interpersonal collisions of a type rarely experienced 30 years ago or so. Standing at the corner of Haight and Masonic drinking a cup of coffee and evaluating the passing parade, in the space of ten minutes I counted six audible profanities, most of them heedlessly tossed off by young people who looked as if they’d been well cared for, if not properly raised. Down the block, and only minutes later, I was trucking along when I heard whispered sexual invitations. Knowing they were unlikely to be aimed at me unless this particular perv was blind, I looked to my left where a guy about forty, sailing along on a skateboard, was abreast a nicely dressed young woman hissing obscenities at her. I told man-boy to leave her alone and he sped off on his skateboard, never once looking in my direction but undoubtedly on the alert for his next victim. A couple of hours later, at the entrance to Golden Gate Park, a young couple tossed a frisbee into a park pond for their large dog to retrieve. The dog tore up several water lilies. Deeper in the park a bum was pulling up flowers, making himself a freesia bouquet. Waiting to cross the street at 16th and Mission — a solid block of bold dope dealers, junkies, freelance low-lifes, street creeps, and loitering young thugs — a carload of teenage boys drove by and yelled “Faggot!” at me and the rest of the men and women on the corner. I was asked for money 35 times as I walked along across the City. I bought two cups of coffee and a glass of lemonade without any of the three clerks looking at me as they handed me my purchase. A deranged old lady, speaking in tongues, latched onto me at the foot of Market Street where I was sitting on a bench watching the commuters run for the ferry boats. I offered her a dollar to go away, but finally had to jog a block up Market to shake her. On the bus back towards the Haight, a drunk pestered a teenage girl, repeating over and over, “You know, baby, you really spark my plug.” I asked him to leave her alone. “I’m kicking your ass as soon as this bus stops,” he said, resuming his spark plug pitch. He didn’t notice when I got off the bus. In three days I didn’t see a single well-behaved child.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO SUPPORT YOUTH ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
Local youth organizations in Ukiah, Hopland and Redwood Valley are teaming up on Wednesday, Nov. 1, to offer opportunities for interested community members to participate. Volunteers are needed to help guide youths on field trips and nature walks for environmental education.
The UC Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC), Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project (RVOEP) will share details of their volunteer opportunities, the requirements to participate and dates on which volunteers are needed over the academic year.
“Volunteering with youth is a great way to support our young people and their futures, but also takes time, patience and commitment,” said Hannah Bird, HREC community educator. “We hope this event will allow interested volunteers to understand just what is required to support our environmental education programs, the kinds of skills, time commitment and the registration process - which includes fingerprinting and background checks for youth safety.”
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, school field trips were canceled, leading to a natural decline in volunteerism in these areas. RVOEP and HREC now welcome over 3,000 students visiting for field trips annually.
Volunteers support site staff in delivery of environmental education programs, guiding groups on nature walks and through programs such as being a nature detective, identifying the most diverse bird habitat, learning fire science and experiencing lambing time.
“Despite having well-developed and refined outdoor programs, we still rely heavily on volunteers. If we lack volunteers, the quality of our environmental education programs is diminished,” commented Erich Sommer, RVOEP outdoor education specialist.
Many of the volunteer opportunities with HREC and RVOEP are during the day in the work week. The organizations involved hope that by collaborating for this recruitment event, prospective volunteers will find the perfect volunteer opportunity that fits their interests and schedules.
Participants are requested to register online for the event at https://bit.ly/volunteerhrec.
The volunteer event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at Shippey Hall, Hopland Research and Extension Center, 4070 University Road, Hopland. A simple free lunch will be provided.
For further information, email email@example.com or call Hannah at (707) 744 1424, ext. 105.
WHERE THE MATTOLE MEETS THE PACIFIC
DOMINIC AFFINITO IN COURT ON ASSAULT CHARGES [AVA, April 1999]
“Use My Name And You’re Dead Meat”
A grim-faced Dominic Affinito, flanked by a pair of attorneys from the Ukiah law offices of Jared Carter, appeared in Fort Bragg’s Ten Mile Court Tuesday morning to answer charges that he’d assaulted Fort Bragg councilman-elect Dan Gjerde the afternoon of November 12th, 1998. The preliminary hearing before Judge Joe Orr lasted until mid-afternoon.
District Attorney Vroman is prosecuting Affinito to emphasize that the DA’s office no longer downplays crimes committed by well-placed Mendocino County citizens. Former District Attorney Susan Massini had charged the wealthy Fort Bragg developer with one count of misdemeanor battery for his attack on the slightly-built and mild-mannered Gjerde. Upon his upset election victory over incumbent Susan Massini in November’s election, Vroman immediately charged Affinito with three felonies, all of them related to assault on an elected official.
Affinito’s attorney, John Behnke of Jared Carter’s Ukiah law firm, presented no witnesses for the defendant. Vroman introduced five, including Gjerde, whose testimony unanimously supported Gjerde’s account of the startling events which occurred in the middle of Fort Bragg’s city hall on a work day.
Gjerde said he entered City Hall shortly after 1pm. “I saw Robert Affinito,” Dominic Affinito’s oldest son, “and I paused. I also saw a man standing next to Robert who had white hair. I saw it was Dominic Affinito. I walked past them on my way upstairs and I was hit from behind and pushed into a wall. My head hit the door of the Planning Department.”
Gjerde went on to testify that Affinito, as the developer pummeled him, shouted, “You motherfucker, you caused this. It’s your fault.”
Affinito was apparently upset that the Fort Bragg City Council, on the advice of their attorney, had decided not to allow Affinito to open his controversial North Cliff Motel, a structure erected in blatant disregard of state and local height limitations imposed on buildings along California’s coastline. The City Council deciding against Affinito, three of whose members no longer sit on it, two of whom were reflexively friendly to Affinito’s many Fort Bragg projects, had been advised that were Fort Bragg to grant Affinito an operating permit, the City of Fort Bragg would quickly find itself sued by the State of California. Affinito, unaccustomed to not getting his way from a grotesquely unethical city council majority, somehow blamed Gjerde for his own miscalculations.
A series of City Hall staffers verified that Affinito had shouted at Gjerde, as Gjerde reeled his way into an office to call the police, “Dan, you better not use my name! If you use my name, you’re going to get it!” And, “If you use my name, you’re going to be dead meat.”
Photos of Gjerde’s bruised back were introduced into evidence by prosecutor Vroman.
Affinito’s sedate lawyer, John Behnke, seemingly resigned to the obvious fact that his volatile client will be fortunate to avoid a stay behind bars, calmly cross-examined Gjerde with questions whose answers confirmed Gjerde’s account of the attack on him.
Gjerde, along with three other reform-minded candidates for the Fort Bragg City Council, had been critical of City Hall’s obvious bending of the rules for a few Fort Bragg developers and contractors. He hadn’t been any more critical of Affinito’s flagrantly illegal North Cliff than any number of Fort Bragg residents. The election results, which overwhelmingly returned the vote for reform of City Hall, in large measure represented a repudiation of Affinito and the favoritism clearly extended to certain Fort Bragg business interests by councilmen Melo, Olbrantz, Peters, and Huber. Huber and Olbrantz were replaced by Gjerde and Michelle White, whose majority was the largest in Fort Bragg’s history. Reform candidate Vince Benedetti was also elected, replacing Darrell Galli who had chosen not to run for re-election. Galli had been an independent voice on the council.
At the end of Affinito’s preliminary hearing, judge Orr bound Affinito over for arraignment June 1st on one charge of making terrorist threats, one misdemeanor charge of dissuading a witness (Gjerde), and one charge of misdemeanor battery on a public official. The judge said the injuries sustained by Gjerde during Affinito’s prolonged attack on him were not serious enough to warrant felony assault charges. The judge’s peculiar logic suggested that a victim must suffer much more severe injury to warrant felony prosecution.
DA Vroman seemed pleased that he’d been able to make at least one felony stick but conceded it was unlikely that Affinito would do any jail time. Vroman predicted that the 63-year-old Affinito, who has never been convicted of a crime although he has been involved in litigation of various kinds much of his adult life, would “plead out” on the charges resulting, Vroman hopes, in his being placed on felony probation.
If Affinito decides to take his non-existent case to a jury, he faces two-to-three years in state prison on the felony threat charge, and up to a year in the County Jail on each of the two misdemeanor charges. In addition to the charges he faces in the Gjerde episode, Affinito is suing Fort Bragg for the City’s refusal to allow him to open the North Cliff, and he is being sued by the State of California for deliberately building his ocean view motel overlooking the mouth of the Noyo River one story taller than is permitted by the Coastal Act.
* * *
Mark Scaramella notes: For those who came in late to the City’s dispute with Affinito’s motel, the issue arose when a sharp Coastal Commission staffer drove by the completed motel and saw immediately that it was too tall and blocking the view of the Pacific, and she wondered how that could happen. It was later discovered that in his submitted plans to the City, Affinito had measured the height from the bluff on which the lowest piling was placed, not from Highway 1 where it was required to be measured from. (Affinito also greatly under-represented the amount of water the motel would use, but that never came up in the Coastal Commission’s review.) Somehow that height measurement detail had escaped the City planner who reviewed the plans. So there they were with a motel that was conspicuously blocking the view of the Pacific from the Highway in blatant violation of the California Coastal Act. The City and the Coastal Commission sued and the case dragged on for several months before Judge Conrad Cox invoked the legal concept of “estoppel” which basically says that what’s done is done. The Coastal Commission, which was supplying and funding the attorneys for the City, probably could have won on appeal, but they gave up. And the North Cliff Motel stands to this day as a monument to Affinito and his “build it first and worry about the legality later” philosophy.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, October 24, 2023
CHARLES ANDERSON, Fort Bragg. Trespassing, public nuisance, contempt of court.
JAVIER CAPRILLO-PEREZ, Ukiah. Unspecified offense.
GERALD FULLER, Ukiah. Vandalism.
ERIC GONZALEZ, Ukiah. DUI.
CARLOS HERNANDEZ-ESTRADA, Covelo. Domestic battery, pot transportation, no license, failure to appear.
KIRK JOHNSON, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse.
ROXANNA MILLER, Chico/Laytonville. DUI w/blood alcohol over 0.15%, suspended license for DUI, probation revocation.
SHIELA OWENS, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, obtaining personal ID without authorization, vandalism, failure to appear.
KEVIN TOBIE, Vallejo/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
MARTIN VARGAS-FLORES, Yorkville. Domestic battery, battery with serious injury.
LACK OF A SPEAKER
There has been no similar time to this. There have been legislative snafus, but the present one stands alone for its length and danger. In January, 2023 Kevin McCarthy was finally elected to be Speaker of the House. The 16-vote process occurred only after he made unprecedented promises to the GOP right-wing, so-called “Freedom Caucus.” The worst one was that any single member might call for a vote to remove him from office. Matt Gaetz, a performance artist made that motion; McCarthy lost the resulting vote which created the present dangerous vacancy,
Last week a contender for the post, Rep. Jim Jordan, had three unsuccessful votes. A secret vote of the Republican caucus withdrew his nomination. Now Tom Emmers. Hopefully he’ll get to 217,
Can the House of Representatives return to doing its work?
Frank H. Baumgardner, III
THE CROW ANALOGY
Dear Ava Editor
Re: Israel’s Awful Gaza Hamas Deadly Attack by Frank.H Baumgaedner
Frank does cover an interesting point quote “Our foreign policy of unlimited support for Israel needs to change.”
In my opinion I saw an injured crow and wanted to help feed it occasionally, but soon I noticed it became the center of attention and was showing signs of willing to watch other birds feed because it to me knew more was coming. However, if I acknowledge Frank’s premise, what we do if the United States sets a tone elsewhere, such as allowing other countries to come without passports?
First, I commend The Press Democrat for running an Associated Press story about the Palestinian invasion of Israel that put this event into context and humanized Palestinian victims of Israeli retaliation by including some of their names.
But there is an even larger context to this unprecedented uprising by the people of Gaza. It is the 75 years that the majority of the international community has looked the other way while Israel has taken more and more Palestinian land and waged a bloody war of occupation against the people whose land they continue to steal.
The blame for this rests especially on the shoulders of the U.S. Congress and successive administrations that supply Israel with billions of taxpayer dollars so Israel can purchase American weapons with which to attack the people of Palestine.
If powerful countries like the U.S. had intervened to end the occupation, or even refused to take sides, this horrific war between Palestine and Israel would never have happened.
THE SECRETARY GENERAL of the United Nations said on Tuesday that the attacks by Hamas that left 1,400 people dead in Israel on Oct. 7 were “appalling” but it did not justify the “collective punishment” of civilians in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli military significantly stepped up its bombardment in recent days.
Israel said it had struck more than 700 targets in Gaza in the past two days. The Gaza Health Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, said that it had recorded the highest single-day death toll of the war on Tuesday: at least 704 people killed in dozens of strikes on homes, a refugee camp and other places. It was not possible to independently verify the toll.
The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, called for a humanitarian cease-fire in an address to the U.N. Security Council, saying that it was important to recognize that the attacks by Hamas “did not happen in a vacuum” and Palestinians had been subjected to 56 years of “suffocating occupation.”
“The grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas,” he said. “And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”
His comments prompted fierce backlash from Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, who called on Mr. Guterres to resign in a post on social media. “It’s truly sad that the head of an organization that arose after the Holocaust holds such horrible views,” he wrote.
The civilian toll in Gaza — where a slow trickle of aid trucks have done little to stem a spiraling humanitarian crisis — was underscored by President Emmanuel Macron of France during a visit to Israel, where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said his country stood with the Israelis. The fight against terrorism “must be merciless,” Mr. Macron said, “but not without rules.”
John Kirby, a White House spokesman, said the Biden administration did not support a cease-fire because it would only benefit Hamas and acknowledged that civilian casualties were all but inevitable as Israel tries to push Hamas out of Gaza.
“It is ugly and it’s going to be messy, and innocent civilians are going to be hurt going forward,” he said. The United States, he added, had not discussed any red lines with Israel.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said more than 5,700 people, nearly half of them children, had been killed since Israel began its response to the Oct. 7 attack, a figure that cannot be independently verified.
One of the two Hamas hostages released on Monday, Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, told reporters in Tel Aviv that she had “gone through hell.” The other released hostage was identified by Israel as Nurit Cooper, 79. Last week, Hamas set free an Israeli-American mother and her daughter, but it and other groups are believed to still be holding about 220 people captured during the Oct. 7 raid.
Six hospitals across the Gaza Strip have had to shut down because they are out of fuel, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. While some aid convoys have made it into Gaza, humanitarian groups have called for fuel to be added to the food, water and medicine being sent in. But Israel has balked at deliveries of fuel because it says Hamas could use it for military purposes.
Israeli military officials say they are well prepared for a ground assault in Gaza, but it remains unclear when and if such an invasion will occur. American officials have said Israel’s military is not yet ready with a plan for a successful invasion, and have also urged Israel to give more time for hostage negotiations and aid deliveries.
The U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, told the Security Council that the White House supported humanitarian pauses to allow aid to reach Gaza and civilians to evacuate. He also urged council members to use their influence to prevent Iran from spreading the war to additional fronts in the region, given its support of Hamas, Hezbollah, and other militia groups. At least 33 Americans were among the victims of the Oct. 7 attacks, he said.
In a statement posted online on Tuesday, the Israeli military accused Syria of launching rockets toward Israel and said its fighter jets had responded and “struck military infrastructure” and mortar launchers belonging to the Syrian Army. Syria did not immediately comment on Israel's claim, but it has accused Israel of airstrikes in the past, including an attack on two airports this past weekend.
* * *
U.S. cites ‘high confidence’ that Palestinian rocket caused hospital blast.
American intelligence officials said Tuesday they now had “high confidence” that the blast at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza last week was the result of a Palestinian rocket that broke up mid-flight, and that no Israeli weapon was involved in the explosion.
The officials said, however, that numerous mysteries still remained about the incident. Those include how many people were killed or injured when, by the U.S. account, the warhead of a Palestinian rocket landed in the parking lot of the hospital. But they said there was little damage to the hospital itself, and no collapse of the structure.
AMID ALL THE MISERY, TAYLOR SWIFT AND TRAVIS KELCE ARE THE ROMANTIC ESCAPISM AMERICA NEEDS RIGHT NOW
by Piers Morgan
I spent much of my weekend scrolling through social media, exposing myself to constant horrific imagery from the Israel-Hamas war, and to an incessant barrage of vile abuse from extremists on both sides.
To be a high-profile news journalist at a time like this is like dwelling in the world’s nastiest sewer — a deeply unpleasant experience, though not of course in the same stratosphere of unpleasantness as the horrors endured by innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians over the past two weeks.
The vicious, toxic tribalism that the latest escalation in this conflict has provoked feels worse than ever, but society’s been heading this way for years.
From the bitterly polarizing Trump presidency (only rivaled by Brexit in the UK for its partisan savagery), and the deadly COVID pandemic, to Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, and a ruinous global cost-of-living crisis, we’ve become a bunch of angry, sniping, self-righteous, shrieking, distrusting guttersnipes fueled in our indignant rage by myriad public-platform soapboxes that didn’t exist 20 years ago and cynically amplify division and fake news for clicks and cash.
The consequence is that we’re all left searching desperately for moments of unifying relief, little rays of uncomplicated, uplifting happiness that can make us all feel good about life.
Enter Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.
The romance between the world’s biggest pop star and one the NFL’s greatest-ever tight ends has been as phenomenal as their careers.
They’ve only been dating a few weeks, but it’s no exaggeration to say it now feels like the whole world has a view on them.
And what’s seemingly unique about this celebrity relationship is that nobody seems to have a problem with it.
Unlike Kim and Kanye, whose mutually repulsive, attention-seeking narcissism ripped into our souls like a cheese grater going through a hard piece of Gouda, Taylor and Travis are intensely likeable, both individually and as a couple.
A video clip went viral yesterday on X (formerly Twitter) of him holding a door of his car open for her after his Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers.
It wasn’t a big deal; in fact, it was the kind of thing most men used to do for their women before feminism morphed into the kind of man-hating “End the Patriarchy!” garbage we saw celebrated in the Barbie whineathon.
As such, it was surprisingly touching to see a guy displaying basic good manners to his date.
Just as it was sweet to see Taylor during the game, first cheering, then gasping in shock and holding her concerned face in her hands as Travis fumbled a catch and crashed to the ground.
It’s not hard to see why they’ve fallen for each other.
They’re from similar middle-class American backgrounds.
Kelce’s an Ohio guy, son of a steel sales rep father and bank executive mother.
Taylor’s a Pennsylvania girl, daughter of a stockbroker dad and marketing executive mom.
And they’ve both enjoyed stupendous, record-breaking success in their respective professions, earning them vast fame and fortune in the process.
They’re great role models, too, both polite, well-spoken, good-humored, hard-working, clean-living, hugely charitable people who love their families and their country.
And unlike a lot of big stars, it’s not just for show.
I’ve met Taylor a few times and she’s a genuinely delightful young lady — warm, down to earth and mature beyond her 33 years.
She’s managed the almost miraculous achievement of building one of the biggest brands in the history of pop music while retaining her dignity, pride and sense of self-worth in the process.
Unlike Kim Kardashian, Taylor would never make a sex tape, or post a topless photo of herself flipping the bird.
Perhaps because, unlike Ms. Kardashian, she’s got a world-class talent for writing and singing songs.
Just as Travis has a world-class double Super Bowl-winning talent for football.
So they deserve their huge success.
And they’re giving the firm impression of enjoying every moment of living out their love affair as the world watches in rapt fascination.
It’s certainly having a beneficial effect on Travis’ ability to play football.
Taylor’s so far attended four of the Kansas City Chiefs’ games since their romance began, and they’ve won every one of them.
More pertinently, Kelce’s averaged just 46.5 yards per game when Taylor’s not attended games since they got together, and 99.0 YPG when she has.
This suggests he’s playing twice as well when Taylor’s in the stadium, and that’s before we get to the massively increased TV ratings and Kelce shirt sales that have exploded since they hooked up.
As Chiefs coach Andy Reid quipped last night: “Kelce keeps getting better with time. Taylor can stay around all she wants.”
But it’s not just Kelce’s game that is benefiting from this union.
All of us do.
In a world so ravaged by death, destruction, rancor and incivility, there’s just something charmingly innocent and escapist about it, isn’t there?
I don’t know how long it will last.
I don’t even really know how real their love for each other is.
They probably don’t either.
And it goes without saying that it’s not remotely “important” in the way that war, poverty, health and politics are important.
But right now, this feels like the dose of sunshine we all need breaking through our otherwise hellish daily clouds.
The Taylor/Travis romance isn’t just good for his football.
It’s good for America.
BRACING FOR IMPACT
by John Michael Greer
I think it was Lenin who said that there are decades in which nothing happens, and then there are months in which decades happen. It’s a useful reminder that the pace of historic change is not smooth. We’ve all seen immense changes take place over the last few decades, but in the industrial world, at least, most of them have happened slowly. Recent headlines suggest, though, that the pace is picking up to a remarkable extent. A brief survey of the landscape of crisis ahead of us may thus be helpful.
As I write these words, to start with, Russian forces on the eastern front of the Russo-Ukrainian war have pushed their way through the Ukrainian lines and are moving to encircle the fortress city of Avdeevka, the linchpin of the Ukrainian defenses in the western Donbass. At the same time the war between Israel and the Hamas militant movement is blazing, as 300,000 Israeli troops converge on the Gaza Strip while Israeli and Hezbollah forces exchange rocket fire across the northern border. An assortment of other wars flare elsewhere, unnoticed by most people in industrial nations; the outrage fanned by our corporate media is as always highly selective.
The two wars just named are important, to be sure, and so are the ones that aren’t getting the same attention. One of the ways that you can tell that a regional or global hegemon is strong is that wars in their bailiwick tend to decrease in frequency; one of the ways you can tell that a hegemon is losing its dominant position, in turn, is that wars imitate June in the song from the musical Carousel and start busting out all over. Russia and Hamas both gambled that the US and its allies were too weak to be able to stage an effective response to war. With Hamas, it’s much too early to tell, but Russia so far has done very well by its war in Ukraine and seems to be confident pushing it forward.
Meanwhile several less dramatic but equally explosive crises are building. Those of my readers who pay attention to the economic news already know that real estate markets worldwide are in trouble. There’s a fine witch’s brew of reasons for the impending crisis, but the most important is that the big players in real estate financed their purchases with cheap short-term debt. Now debt isn’t cheap any more and the big players are over their heads in loans they can’t pay off, or even cover interest. Plenty of other economic interests are in deep trouble as a result, and the possibility of a really ugly global recession can’t be ruled out.
Nor can the US simply keep printing money and churning out unpayable IOUs to cover the gap and keep the economy humming away, as we’ve done for the last fifty years. The deficit spending of the last half century was possible because the US dollar was the global currency of trade, and economic globalization forced every bank around the world to stockpile dollar-denominated investments as a basis for credit-based cash flows. Now the global economy is coming apart as other nations realize that the ongoing inflation of the dollar imposes a hidden tax on every transaction, and Russia demonstrates that being able to make everything you need within your own borders has certain hard advantages. The dollar isn’t going to be forced out of global trade all at once, nor will any one competing currency replace it overnight. Instead, the dollar faces the same death of a thousand cuts that doomed the British pound sterling’s once-inviolable status as global reserve currency.
What makes this a challenge is that at this point the United States is effectively bankrupt. The US national debt is well over 33 trillion dollars now, and something like half of that staggering sum has been accrued since 2008. So huge a sum can never be paid back; the only questions remaining are when the default happens and what form it takes. This matters because the entire US economy, and the lifestyles of most Americans, depend on gargantuan inflows of raw materials and manufactured goods from abroad, paid for by the unpayable IOUs mentioned above. When the market for those IOUs dries up—and it’s faltering—Americans are going to have to get used to living with a lot less energy and a lot fewer consumer goods than they think they’re entitled to. I can’t say I expect many of them to take that well.
All this is happening, furthermore, just when our old friend peak oil is rearing its head again. That was always inevitable; the downside of running a civilization on a finite nonrenewable resource is that no matter how much money you throw into finding and developing new sources, no matter how eagerly you exploit low-grade reserves like oil shales and tar sands, that doesn’t solve your problem—it just kicks the can a little further down the road. Depletion never sleeps, and so every barrel of liquid fuels you burn today is a barrel you will not have tomorrow. Combine that with steadily rising fossil fuel consumption, in a world where nearly all transport still relies on fossil fuels, and you have a recipe for a real mess.
As we’ve already learned the hard way, we can’t rely on windpower, solar power, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, or any of the other standard nostrums to bail us out. We’ve been building the first two frantically for decades, you know, and fossil fuel consumption just keeps going up in lockstep. That’s not just because wind and solar are too intermittent to provide more than a trickle of power to the grid most of the time, though that’s true; it’s also because it takes vast amounts of fossil fuel energy to build, install, and maintain wind and power installations. As for nuclear fission, it never pays for itself—that’s why utility companies walked away from it—and fusion costs so much more than fission that even if a commercial fusion reactor can be made to work, it’ll be hopelessly unaffordable.
All these possibilities were discussed and explored at length half a century ago. All the gimmicks being hawked on the internet today by people who think they’re being original were being hawked on less transient media back then; they were tested, and most of them were found wanting. The first hard lesson to take in is that we can’t deal with the end of the age of oil by increasing production of some other energy resource. The alternative resources won’t cut it, and the other fossil fuels are already being used as fast as they can be mined or pumped from the ground. The second hard lesson is that there’s no way to make the standard lifestyles of the Age of Extravagance sustainable in a postpetroleum future. Those lifestyles, with their gluttonous appetite for energy and their reliance on petroleum-based materials like plastic, were born with the age of oil and will die with it.
That doesn’t mean that we’re inevitably headed back to the sort of primeval squalor modern mythology likes to project onto the past. It’s possible to support a literate, urban, humane society on a tiny fraction of the energy and resource consumption modern industrial societies consider necessary; the proof is that this has been done many times. What’s more, many discoveries and inventions of the last few centuries could be put to work to make a future society with modest energy consumption much more comfortable and viable. Consider how much has been learned about the physics of energy, for example, and how that could be combined with architecture to make buildings that are comfortable 365 days a year on little or no heat input. That can be done; I studied how to do it in Master Conserver classes in the mid-1980s.
In the year 1800, the region where I now live was full of thriving communities with their own libraries, newspapers, democratic governments, and trade and information links to the rest of the world, without any dependence on fossil fuels. In the year 2100 the same thing could be true, with improved sanitation, superinsulated homes, shortwave radio, and ultralight aircraft, among other things, making things even more comfortable and interesting than they were in the Federal era. That’s a future worth having, and it’s a future we can still achieve. Is the global population too high for that? That’s a question that has not yet been settled; meanwhile every continent but Africa has already gone into population contraction and Africa’s following the same trajectory, just a little more slowly. By 2100, if current trends continue, there will be fewer people on the planet than there were in 2000, and the downslope is expected to continue from there.
The one difficulty with this pleasant picture, of course, is getting there. We’ve already thrown away two chances to make the transition. When the first oil crisis hit fifty years ago in 1973, the industrial world still had huge reserves of fossil fuels and used them at a much more modest rate than today. A transition to the kind of future I just outlined could have been launched then at an equally modest cost. That didn’t happen; instead, after several years of flailing, not to mention high oil prices, the US and its allies doubled down on fossil fuels, relying on the North Sea and Alaska oil fields to bail them out. By the time the second oil crisis hit in 2005, the North Sea and North Slope fields had been pumped nearly dry. So we went through several years of flailing, not to mention another round of high oil prices, before frantic efforts to extract liquid fuels from oil shales brought supply more or less back into balance with demand, at prices that had been considered disastrously high a few years before.
Even then, American oil shale reserves could have been used sparingly to keep the price of oil below ruinous levels while other measures were put in place to deal with the end of the age of oil. Of course that’s not what happened. Instead, the shale reserves got drained as fast as possible for short term gains. Now most American shale provinces have been tapped out, and the one left standing, the Permian shale in Texas, is losing ground fast. So once again we can look forward to several years of flailing before another temporary substitute gets jammed into place, and this time the US won’t be able to draw on the oceans of cheap credit that made fracking financially possible. No doubt some gimmick or other will be found, but it won’t be easy or cheap.
So there’s good reason to think that over the next few years, we’ll be facing a steep lurch downward along the ragged trajectory I’ve named the Long Descent. It’s not the end of the world, though doubtless we’ll see the usual flurry of gloating predictions of imminent doom from the various apocalypse lobbies. What it means is that there’s a high probability that the months and years to come will see very hard times for a great many people across the industrial world, especially in the United States and its allies. Thus it’s time to circle back and revisit some of the themes I discussed at length between 2006 and 2009, during the early days of my blogging career, and talk about how to deal with the twilight of the age of oil.
Let’s start with a point that should be obvious, but apparently isn’t. No, I’m not saying that you should move to the country, by yourself or with a group of friends, and settle into a lifestyle of bucolic bliss as a subsistence farmer. To begin with, farming is a skilled trade; if you didn’t grow up doing it, or haven’t spent years on working farms learning how it’s done, you don’t know enough to keep yourself from going broke or starving to death. (It takes five to ten years of hard work on average to get past the learning curve and reach the point at which you can feed yourself by farming.) Since we’re not talking about the end of the world, furthermore, you can expect to have to keep paying a mortgage, utility bills, and taxes while you fling yourself into brutally hard physical labor from sunup to sundown.
Americans have this weird cultural fixation about going back to the land, and the dominant role of American culture worldwide over the last century or so has inspired a lot of people in other parts of the world to fall into the same mental trap. Here in the US, for a certain broad class of well-off urbanites, moving to a rural area and spending a few years playing at farming is an approved way to have your midlife crisis and finish the task of wrecking an unstable marriage. (I’ve watched this happen tolerably often.) It’s not a viable way to deal with an impending economic and social crisis—again, not unless you grew up farming or have some other access to extensive hands-on experience.
So what approach do I recommend for my readers, who are watching industrial civilization lurch and shudder under the weight of its own idiotic choices, and want to protect themselves and the people they care about from the consequences? I’ve talked about that in quite some detail in the past, but that was a long time ago and it bears repeating at intervals. The principal rule can be summed up in a single sentence: “Collapse now and avoid the rush.”
Let’s unpack that a bit. At the end of the period of crisis that seems to be approaching, if you and the people you care about make it through, you’ll be getting by with less energy, and fewer of the products of energy, than you use today. Electricity, heating fuels, and transport fuels will all be much more expensive than they are now. Food will likely cost much more, too, especially if it’s the kind of packaged processed stuff so many people in the industrial world rely on. If the impending real estate crash goes far enough, you may be able to make up some of the difference by a decrease in housing costs, but I don’t recommend counting on that.
Those of my readers who’ve been poor, as I have, know that it takes a fair amount of skill to live comfortably on a scant income. The more practice you have, and the more time you have to explore the options before it counts, the easier it will be for you to get by. Since the crunch hasn’t hit yet, you have the chance to get some of that practice and some of those explorations out of the way now, while you still have your current income and resource base to fall back on if you need to. That’s what collapsing now, ahead of the rush, gives you the freedom to do.
Imagine for a moment that your income were to drop sharply—or, which amounts to the same thing, that runaway inflation were to make it worth much less than it is today. Take some time over the next few days to figure out where you would cut back so that you can get by on less. Focus on ways to decrease your outgo, not to increase your income; that latter’s a different project for another day. Make a list of possibilities. If you live with other people, discuss the subject with them and, if they’re willing, get them involved in drawing up the list.
Then—before raw financial necessity forces you to do so—take some of the items on your list and put them into practice. Make some changes to save money, cutting an expenditure here, doing things in a cheaper way there. Pay attention to the results, and discuss it with the people you live with. Then try something else. Get some experience under your belt so that, when the crunch arrives, you aren’t left flailing. (I received a lot of thank you notes after the Covid hysteria from people who followed this advice a decade ago, and were much better prepared to cope with the shutdowns and layoffs of 2020-2022.) And if I’m wrong and the crunch doesn’t arrive? You have a bunch of extra money in your bank account. What’s not to like about that?
There are deeper dimensions to this little experiment, of course. The habits of spending money you’ve picked up over the course of your life may not be helping you achieve the life you want. In fact, it would be astonishing if they were. The entire structure of the consumer economy is set up to fool you into spending money you can’t spare on things you don’t need (and may not even want), so that you remain hooked into the system, trudging to work day after day to make enough money to pay your bills. The same structure is also set up to trick you into handing over your own competences to other people—“don’t do things for yourself, pay lots of money to have other people do it for you!” is the siren song of the machine that keeps you in chains.
That’s why the media and the political establishment love to define you as a “consumer.” Take a moment to think about what that word implies. If you define yourself as a consumer, you’ve given away your capacities as a creator, a producer, a maker of things and experiences. You’ve pigeonholed yourself as a passive recipient of other people’s productive activity. Multinational corporations and their corrupt stooges in government and the media benefit mightily from getting you to think of yourself that way. Their benefit, of course, comes at your expense; “the man in the suit,” to borrow a line from another song, “has just bought a new car from the profit he’s made on your dreams.”
The secret of collapsing now, ahead of the rush, is that it makes you a creator, not a consumer. You, not the man in the suit, get to choose how you’re going to spend your money, and thus what you’re doing to do with your life. Sure, the man with the suit will have to postpone buying his new car. So may you—but among the payoffs coming your way is a great deal of increased resilience in the face of a very troubled future.
ZODIAC KILLER: Why sleuths are still obsessed with S.F.’s most notorious serial killer
by Ryan Ocenada, Kevin Fagan
The Zodiac Killer hasn’t actively terrorized Northern California since the late 1960s, yet Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan still receives hundreds of tips a year from readers claiming to know new details about San Francisco’s most notorious serial killer.
Fagan has been covering the Zodiac for more than 25 years, but the San Francisco Chronicle has been inexorably linked to the case from the beginning. Of the 22 known bizarre letters and ciphers the Zodiac sent to Bay Area newsrooms, 17 of them came to the Chronicle. Each letter was more frightening than the last, especially when the killer threatened to shoot children riding a school bus and started targeting Chronicle staffers. Probably the most chilling of them all was a Halloween card the Zodiac sent to Chronicle reporter Paul Avery that included the phrase “Peek a boo you are doomed.”
These eerie messages, when combined with his rampage of brutal killings, continue to fuel the public’s decades-long obsession with the unresolved Zodiac Killer case. As internet sleuths comb over the case archives in search of potential clues, here’s a summary of what the Chronicle knows about the Zodiac Killer, his victims and his twisted legacy.
When was the Zodiac Killer active?
The Zodiac Killer’s officially verified murder spree began in 1968 and ended in 1969. The Zodiac Killer claimed he murdered a total of 37 people dating into the 1970s, but authorities have only confirmed four attacks. Five victims were killed and two survived.
Here are the incidents in chronological order:
• Dec. 20, 1968: David Faraday, 17, and his date, Betty Lou Jensen, 16, were parked on Lake Herman Road in Benicia when the Zodiac Killer snuck up on them and fired a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol. Scrambling in terror, the young couple died in a spray of gunfire.
• July 4, 1969: Darlene Ferrin, 22, and her friend Michael Mageau, 19, drove to a secluded parking lot at Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo to chat. A car pulled up toward the driver’s side, and the silhouette inside the car watched them for a moment before taking off. The car returned minutes later and parked toward the passenger’s side. The shooter fired five shots through the window. Only Mageau survived.
• Sept. 27, 1969: Cecelia Shepard, 22, was sitting on a blanket with her longtime friend and ex-boyfriend Bryan Hartnell, 20, at Lake Berryessa. A man came out of the bushes wearing a hooded costume with a rifle-sight crosshairs symbol on the chest (the symbol Zodiac used in his letters) and stabbed them repeatedly. Hartnell survived and was able to describe the Zodiac’s costume in detail.
• Oct. 11, 1969: Paul Stine, 29, was working a late shift as a taxi driver. He was hailed by a man on San Francisco’s Geary Street. After driving the passenger to Presidio Heights, he was shot to death with a 9mm semiautomatic pistol. The killer mailed a piece of Stine’s shirt to the Chronicle with a letter claiming credit for the murder. The taxi’s blood-spattered door is among the San Francisco Police Department’s pieces of Zodiac Killer-related evidence.
Although his carnage spanned less than a year, the moniker was cemented into history. The Zodiac Killer was never caught.
What is the origin of the Zodiac Killer’s moniker?
The killer referred to himself as “Zodiac” in the many letters he sent to newsrooms. His first letters came in a salvo of three, simultaneously sent on July 31, 1969, to the Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and Vallejo Times-Herald, and claiming credit for the first two attacks — but he didn’t use his infamous moniker then. The spooky name didn’t debut until his next letter, sent to the Examiner on Aug. 4, 1969. It’s never been determined why the killer gave himself that name, but the press soon started calling him “The Zodiac Killer.”
The Zodiac Killer’s coded messages
One of the most chilling characteristics of the Zodiac Killer was the string of letters with cryptograms and taunts he sent to newspapers. In total, there are 22 known letters, 17 of which were sent to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Chronicle also received three of his known cryptograms, including:
• 408 Cipher: Parts of Zodiac’s first cipher were sent to the Chronicle and two other newsrooms on July 31, 1969. It was quickly solved by Bay Area residents Donald Gene and Bettye June Harden.
• 340 Cipher: Dubbed the “Z-340,” the cryptogram was sent on Nov. 8, 1969, and remained unsolved for more than five decades. The solution was finally cracked by a code-breaking team in December 2020.
• My Name Is Cipher: The brief 13-character cryptogram was sent on April 20, 1970, as part of a letter that begins with “This is the Zodiac speaking. By the way have you cracked the last cipher I sent you? My name is….” No one has been able to solve the following 13 letters and symbols — though they’ve definitely tried.
Why was the Zodiac Killer’s identity so hard to uncover?
The Zodiac Killer used disguises and rarely left direct evidence at crime scenes. He targeted random victims and often changed the ways he carried out his killings — all of which made it difficult for investigators to trace him through typical investigative means.
The Zodiac case has led to numerous suspects over the years. When asked who is his No. 1 suspect, Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan says Arthur Leigh Allen is “probably the best bet,” citing similar suppositions by former Chronicle reporter Robert Graysmith and the late San Francisco homicide inspector Dave Toschi, and noting that Allen — a Vallejo man who died in 1992 — is still the only suspect ever officially named by investigators.
In 1996, San Francisco detectives also looked into the possibility that Unabomber suspect Ted Kaczynski was also the Zodiac. Among the possible links were that Kaczynski lived in the Bay Area from 1967 to 1969, the same period that the Zodiac’s confirmed killings occurred in California. Kaczynski also once signed a high school yearbook with a symbol similar to the Zodiac’s.
Another notable claim was from 2009 when Deborah Perez alleged that her father, Guy Ward Hendrickson, was Zodiac. Perez, a real estate agent in Orange County, said she accompanied her father on at least two of the slayings and has a pair of brown horn-rimmed eyeglasses she said her father snatched from victim Paul Stine. Investigators said they weren’t aware of receiving anything from Perez, but would look into her story.
As time keeps passing, witnesses and potential suspects have aged, died or disappeared, making this cold case almost impossible to solve.
Are there any new Zodiac Killer clues?
Though the case has been officially cold for decades, amateur internet sleuths keep finding ways to breathe new life into the Zodiac mystery.
In 2021, a private team of investigators calling themselves the Case Breakers said they had determined the Zodiac was a man in the Sierra foothills who died in 2018, but police officials said the tip didn’t hold up.
Also in 2021, Fayçal Ziraoui, a business consultant from Paris, claimed that he had cracked two ciphers and identified the killer as Lawrence Kaye, a South Lake Tahoe resident that other sleuths had scrutinized previously. Kaye died in 2010, and authorities never officially identified him as a suspect.
Then in June 2023, Ziraoui alleged that an eerie rock formation in the Sierra Nevada was the same symbol that the Zodiac Killer used in his correspondence during his reign of terror. The rocks are arranged in a bull’s-eye pattern about 25-feet wide, on a 6,000-foot plateau overlooking Hell Hole Reservoir near Tahoe.
Ziraoui told the Chronicle by email he had to keep some details of his investigation private, but said he had been interested in the Hell Hole Reservoir area before seeing the photos online. According to sources close to the official Zodiac investigation, the rock formation doesn’t appear to be a case-breaking development.