Mostly Sunny | Sunset | Body Found | Vet Benefit | Institutional Dysfunction | Little River Museum | Haschak Report | Leaf Art | Skatepark Radio | Moores Denied | Art's Apple | Mendo-Scene-o | AVUSD News | Calpella Bridges | Ukiah Construction | Feedstore Celebration | Unity Club | Buena Vista | Good Bones | Climate Event | Hooters | Ed Notes | Wood Done | Yesterday's Catch | Personal Nightmare | Hollow Chatter | Easily Distracted | Stoen/Trump/Jones | Cow Palace | Media Literacy | Mycue Poetry | Anarchist | Wrong Answers | Nice Sunrise | Freaky Times | Sky Low Low | Stuck Light | Understanding Hamas | Lemmings | Media Vetting | Goodbye | Tel Aviv | Bobbie Pissing | Get Ready | Mister Thatcher
DRY CONDITIONS are expected through much of Sunday as ridging builds over the inter-mountain west. On Sunday a storm system will begin to settle off the California coast. A cold front will approach the area bringing rain to coastal areas Sunday night into Monday. This front will then shift back west off the coast. There is high uncertainty as to when and how much rain can be expected Tuesday through Thursday with the low stalled over the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. Best chance for additional rain is on Tuesday. (NWS)
STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): 46F under clear skies this Saturday morning on the coast. Various forecasts agree on a lovely weekend to be had, then rain Monday thru Wednesday. After that?
BODY FOUND NEAR CAPSIZED BOAT On Ten Mile Beach North Of Fort Bragg Sparks Search
by Kym Kemp
A caller alerted authorities to a body found on Ten Mile Beach just seven miles north of Fort Bragg a little after 4 p.m. As personnel arrived they discovered a nearby boat capsized on a sandbar not far off the beach.
As Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies work to unravel what occurred, darkness fell and made their investigation more difficult. Investigators are trying to determine the identity of the deceased, as well as the circumstances surrounding the crash, and, even more worrisome, the possibility of more victims.
According to Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall, after someone called in the deceased person, when emergency personnel arrived on scene, they saw the boat capsized on a sandbar about 300 yards away.
Kendall cautioned, "We're making an assumption that the body came from boat." But he did believe that almost surely the two were connected. "The subject has not been in the water for any length of time so identification is not going to be hard," he told us. But he did not know if any identification had been found on the person's body.
He also said that as of the time we spoke (a little before 6 p.m.), personnel from California State Parks were securing the boat which is a small "16 or a 20 foot personal boat."
In addition, personnel are removing the body. He is concerned that possibly there might be another victim. At this time, he told us, "We don't know if that was the only person on the boat."
A US Coast Guard helicopter is now flying grid patterns in the area in what appears to be an attempt to rule out any additional victims.
Now, he explained, investigators will be contacting the harbor and asking questions about when the boat was last in the harbor (if it did come from the harbor), who were the last known occupants, etc.
Our hearts go out to those whose holiday season will be darkened by the loss of their loved one.
It appears we all made it through another week which is no insignificant accomplishment in these perilous, unsettled times.
It's impossible not to recognize the seemingly institutional dysfunction in the governing process of this county. Too many elected officials and “public servants” go out of their way to create problems when their main goal and purpose is to solve problems. Most people don't have lofty expectations of their elected representatives. Most would settle for an adaptation of the Physician's Oath, “First, do no harm.” This whole Cubbison affair is unseemly and fraught with underhanded “payback” politics. It's a shameful episode in this county's history. I fear it's going to be an expensive history lesson for the taxpayers, also.
This week’s BOS meeting dealt with, in one way or another, the ongoing fiscal mess with no resolution presently in sight other than fairly drastic measures are looming on the near horizon. Supervisors Haschak and Gjerde have been working towards some of the right steps needed to be taken to begin solving the problem but have little or no support from the other three Supes, who are content to jawbone it incessantly.
Meanwhile, here in Laytonville our Town Council took action at its recent meeting addressing the Geiger’s Market calamity, and recognizing local businesses and non-profits that have been doing their part to increase the availability of food and essential commodity supplies.
All of these issues are covered in this week’s Observer.
See you subsequently,
Editor & Publisher
The Mendocino County Observer
PO Box 490
Laytonville, CA 95454
(707) 984-6223- Phone
THIRD DISTRICT SUPERVISOR REPORT
by John Haschak
The turmoil in the County’s finances and financial departments continues. It is unfortunate that charges have been filed against the Auditor/Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector and former payroll clerk for misappropriation of public funds.
The Board suspended the ACTTC until the situation is resolved.
Meanwhile we face a huge budget deficit. As Albert Einstein said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” This is a chance for the County to eliminate wasteful practices, develop modern processes, and provide better, more efficient service.
The acting ACTTC stated that she discovered that there were County bank accounts that were not part of the Treasurer’s system. Even the outside auditors seem to be unaware of these accounts. These accounts apparently have existed for quite a while. Cleaning up these situations is a top priority.
While providing substance abuse treatment and other behavioral health and mental health services is a priority, the mental health wing of the jail must be built. Construction of the mental health wing is now costing $44 million instead of the $26 million originally estimated. There have been a series of delays with the state bureaucracy, supply chains, the pandemic and so forth which have led to cost overruns.
The County received a $25 million grant from the State to build the wing. The County’s cost was to be one million. The State’s contribution stays the same while our County must pay for all increases. The latest, and supposedly last, overrun is $6.8 million. That is why the Board decided to borrow that amount from Measure B funds. This will be repaid.
Former Sheriff Allman, author of Measure B, supported this approach.
Talk with the Supervisor is the 2nd Thursday of the month at 10:00 at the Brickhouse Coffee in Willits. I am available by email email@example.com or phone 707-972-4214.
MS NOTES: Haschak apparently wasn’t listening when his own hand-picked replacement/appointment as “ACTTC” said there was nothing untoward about the “bank accounts that were not part of the Treasurer system,” that they “seemed legitimate,” and that they were simply opened as a convenience for outlying county offices to avoid having to drive cash and checks to Ukiah for deposit. Also note that even though Haschak says there’s “a huge budget deficit,” he, like his colleagues, offers nothing in the way of suggestions or proposals to close it. Not even an area of potential savings that should be explored.
SPORTS PHONE REPORTS ON AV SKATE PARK
The radio program Sports Phone will highlight the AV Skatepark Project this Sunday (11/12) at 7PM, on KZYX and Z, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting. This is a live call-in program and the hosts are asking AV Skatepark enthusiasts to be at the ready to call in!
KZYX is 90.7 FM or listen online at www.kzyx.org.
An interesting Planning Commission hearing regarding William Moores and his remote housing development at Irish Beach.
Here's the video from the Moores hearing before the Coastal Permit Administrator on Thursday. The administrator ruled in favor of the County Planning position to revoke previously granted Coastal Development permits. Moores can appeal the ruling to the County Board of Supervisors. NOTE: While the Moores matter was first on the agenda, it was heard last so it's not at the beginning of this hour plus video. And the decision is right at the end if you want to jump ahead.
Gary Levenson-Palmer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
SOPHIA BATES: Snacking on the ridge. Hard to beat an Art’s apple from @philoapplefarm with @pennyroyalfarm vintage boont corners. Art’s might be my favorite apple of all, discovered as a seedling in Art’s orchard in Philo (in fact I can see the old Art’s fruit stand directly below me from the top of the ridge where we have the sheep @navarrovineyards). It doesn’t get more #andersonvalley
AV UNIFIED NEWS
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
Fall has definitely arrived! Congratulations to the boys’ soccer team for a close playoff game last Saturday. Although defeated, the team played with heart. A shout out to the Anderson Valley Fire Department and Ambulance Team for their amazing assistance during the game. All is well, and we were glad for their expertise.
Our mighty football Panthers are headed to the playoffs. This is remarkable given that the boys did not win one game last year and now they are in playoff contention. That summer practice and commitment has paid off. There are too many parents and volunteers to mention that are helping get the sports teams back to where they need to be. You know who you are, and you know the difference that you are making–not just for your kid but for other people's kids.
Basketball season is upon us and we need supervision. Sometimes, the games run in the gym for six hours. It is not feasible to expect staff to teach all day and supervise games at night. We have a game schedule in the office. If you can sign up to supervise, especially if you’re there anyway, please stop in and I can give you the Panther Volunteer Squad overview and protocols. You do not need to be fingerprinted to do this. A big shout out to Coaches Espinoza and Rhoades for getting the ball rolling on practice. We have some great potential here.
The elementary site has been busy. I want to thank Miss Pearl and Miss Cruz for their partnership and re-examining the sixth grade cohort and how to best meet the needs of those children. We will be splitting that class into two classes effective Monday. Ms. Thomas-Sweet has evaluated the needs of all children carefully in creating the class lists. Please note that parent requests are not considered. We of course value friendships, and there is plenty of time to socialize during shared recess, lunch, and ASP times. Aikido starts back up this coming week with Sensai Korn! The successful book fair was enjoyed by the students, and a heartfelt thank you to the community members who supported students with a donation that needed some help to afford a book. Trimester grades are mailed next week.
In a brief construction update we have moved the bid opening by one day to Friday, November 17. There is another job in Sonoma County that is very large, also bidding for the original planned bid opening day of November 16, so we have pushed it by one day to make sure we get maximum participation. The bidding will be for the two science wings and the library wing at the high school. Regarding the gym and the domes buildings, we are beginning the process of creating the required seismic reports to demonstrate eligibility for building retrofit or replacement with State hardship money. This is a long process and not quick. It could have a huge result in our district. We need members for our Bond Oversight Committee. The next meeting is December 7 at 4:30. Please reach out to me, if you are interested in serving two or three times a year. Our next Junior/High Site Council Meeting is December 5 at the high school library and we will conduct a Community Schools visioning as part of the LCAP program.
If your child has not already signed up for our holiday schools and Saturday school program TK through sixth grade, drop by the elementary office. This is a fun enrichment program that helps us meet our extra 30 days of school requirement. The kids that attended had a marvelous time. Please make sure if you sign up you send your student.
Our ELAC dinner for the district is at the high school library on November 30! Make a reservation to attend. We will be holding a Community Schools visioning session.
Please remember at the high school the semester closes on December 15. There are no independent study contracts approved on either side of the holiday break. Years and years of allowing students to leave school for weeks at a time has deteriorated their skills and achievement. We honor family time, but we ask you to please travel during the scheduled three week break. It is very unusual for a school district on a traditional calendar to have three weeks, and we are doing that to make sure the kids are in school during scheduled days.
Regular attendance is also important. We want kids in school every day so they don’t miss their learning opportunity and don’t hold the rest of the class back while they try to make up skills. Being on time and at school is preparation for being on time and at work. Please help us, help your students be successful. If there are extenuating circumstances such as car problems or other issues, contact your school secretary and we can get your student a ride for the day. Every day a student is not at school that costs the district $75-$95 PER STUDENT. That translates into extra teachers and staff not being funded. Help us, help your students. Please get them to school. We have CHRONIC absenteeism. That can’t happen.
Progress reports at the high school will be mailed on Friday. Just a reminder that I personally go through those and any student that has more than one D or an F, I will schedule a parent/ guardian meeting to review how we can support your student. Please remember that F grades at the semester result in credit deficiency. I hate to be the one to say that there is a great difference between a D minus and an F, but there is and it’s five credits. I don’t want our kids performing at that low rate, but I do want to make sure no kid loses credit. If you want to discuss how credits work 9th to 12th grade please let me know and we can visit.
We have our high school exhibition, “Who is Anderson Valley”, scheduled to debut on Tuesday, November 28. Please join us for a Pozole dinner in the cafeteria at 5:00 p.m. and then enjoy the exhibits. Please call the office for a reservation. Mark your calendar for March 13 for our annual College and Career Fair dinner. Last year, we had SnowMageddon for that event in February, so we have moved it. It’s a great opportunity for your kids to do some career exploration and is available 6th to 12th grade.
* * *
I hope you are having a wonderful three-day weekend. I just wanted to touch base about a few things. Congratulations to the volleyball, soccer, and football players who have all participated in the playoffs this fall. That is a great achievement. Congratulations to our FFA students on attending the National Convention. We also have some of our musicians performing with Dustin and Shane and that is terrific. Super proud of you. I also want to please ask your cooperation in thanking all of the adults that make these things happen for you. A lot of schools just don’t do these things because the teachers and staff don’t step up to support the students. Please show your gratitude for these opportunities to the people that have given their time and energy to you by saying or writing a thank you. They don't do it because they have to, they do it because they want to.
If you are interested in a dual enrollment class at the college next Spring, please see Mr. Howard. It’s hard to believe that we are right at Thanksgiving break and will have a whole week off for Thanksgiving, come back for a few weeks and then be off for three weeks for Winter break. It is very important that you have all your completed work in by December 15. That is the end of the semester and grades cannot change. Please remember there is no independent study before or after Winter break, so travel is permitted December 16 and students are back in school on January 8.
Thank you to all of the students that are taking advantage of the tutoring on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I am so proud of you all and your development in not only your academic life, but your sports and activity life. Really very impressive to see.
We have a big school Pozole dinner on November 28, sign your family up for the free dinner by giving Miss Celeste your name and the number of people coming from your family. It starts at 5 o’clock and then you can enjoy all the student exhibitions. The incredible Redwood Classic starts again the next day. Teachers will be setting the policy about whether their class will attend the games during class time. Completing required work will be one of the factors to attend the game. That is up to each teacher.
The canned food drive class competition starts the Monday after Thanksgiving. Bring a can for the local food bank. It is like last year where we will be counting items in the class bins with the class donating the most items winning a special activity. I am taking suggestions about what you would like to see as the prize.
During high school advisory this week on Wednesday, Tricia and Lucy will present their Education Foundation fellowship travel slides. This is an incredible opportunity to experience life in another place. The Ed Foundation pays for these opportunities. I am excited to learn more about their adventures. I encourage students who are eligible to APPLY.
The school also received a $200,000 Community School planning grant. We want to know what students want in their education. We will be meeting with the leadership class, but I will send a survey out as well to find out ideas and suggestions about things you want to see and do while you are at school. A big thank you to Ciomary who asked for a page on our website to list student leadership events. That is now active and if anyone wants something posted just come see me and email me the content.
Junior High has a Winter Ball scheduled. Make sure you come. That’s pretty fun.
I appreciate the hard work and effort that so many of you are showing in school. I also appreciate the respect that you show your teachers and staff. I know you think we demand a lot of you and we do. That’s because you’re worth it.
Have a safe weekend!
Mrs. Simson, Superintendent
AV Unified School District
HEADS UP: There’s some exciting news, as we continue to replace the two Calpella bridges across the Russian River and East Side Calpella Road in Redwood Valley, Mendocino County.
Starting at around midnight, November 11, motorists traveling eastbound on Route 20 will be routed across the new bridge while westbound traffic will continue to use the old bridges.
As a reminder, eastbound motorists on Route 20 are unable to turn left onto Road 144 or turn left from Road 144 to eastbound Route 20. These changes are expected to last until next spring and will allow for crews to connect the existing roadway to the new bridge alignment. A detour is available to Redwood Valley and the Business District. Please follow signage and thank you for your patience during this safety project.
Myers and Sons Construction is the contractor for the $32.4 million project with $5.2 million from SB 1 funding. Completion is expected in 2025.
For more information visit, https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-1/d1-projects/calpella-two-bridge-replacements
UKIAH CONSTRUCTION UPDATES FOR THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 13TH:
On the south side (Mill to Gobbi), crews are installing new sewer laterals; these are the pipes that connect the main line in the street to each of the buildings; work will progress from south (Gobbi) to the north (near Mill). There may be intermittent closures on the 100 blocks of East and West Mill.
Looking ahead a little further, we’ll start to see the project extend south toward Cherry Street. Beginning mid-November (weather dependent), work will begin to replace the sewer lines in that area, which are located roughly in the center of State Street. Both directions of travel will remain open, and driveways are not expected to be impacted.
On the north side (Norton to Henry), lots of work is happening on the sidewalks on both sides of the street. Most of both sides have been demolished, and new curbs and gutters are being framed. Along with the curbs and gutters, electric lines for the streetlights and irrigation lines are being installed. Concrete work cannot be done when it’s too cold and wet, so depending on how much rain we get in the beginning of the week, work may be delayed.
Thanks for your patience, everyone. We’re working to get this project “buttoned up” for the winter…then, we’ll get a little break from construction and resume next spring. We’re hoping to finish the bulk of the concrete work this fall. Asphalt, landscaping, and more will happen in the spring.
Deputy City Manager
City of Ukiah
300 Seminary Avenue
Ukiah, California 95482
UNITY CLUB NEWS
by Miriam Martinez
It's almost time for good cheer; soon the Holiday Bazaar will be here. Coming to the Apple Hall on Saturday, December 9th from 10 to 4, the Holiday Bazaar will be fun for everyone. Santa will drive his sleigh to the critter shed, for the reindeer, and be in Apple Hall from 11 to 1 for photos and to hear what's on the wish list for kids of all ages. Our AV Agriculture Institute will have wreathes for your home, as well as other evergreen decor. The AV Elementary School's 6th grade class will be serving sandwiches, a hot dish, and beverages and treats for you at the Snack Stand. We will be holding a Silent Auction of priceless gifts and services from our local merchants, crafts people, wineries and service providers. I just love bidding on my favorites, and upping the bid whenever's someone else tries to win it from me. This year the AV Skatepark Alliance will be selling T-shirts buttons, and a variety of "Slug on a Skateboard" items to raise funds for the local community skate park.
You will find gifts for the loved ones on your list, from hand made clothing and kitchen items to soaps, candles, jewelry and more. The Unity Club will have Grandma baked goodies, fudge, divinity, pie and cookies. Your family will enjoy food made with love from the Unity Club. We will also have some gems from Grandma's Attic. Come and see what tickles your fancy.
For out young people, the Parent Teacher Alliance will be holding the Craft Corner in the Dining Room adjacent to the Apple Hall. There, children can create a frame for a photo with Santa, or a sparkling ornament. Crafty kids will be content creating a masterpiece while the adults shop at the Bazaar. Our Lending Library will be open special hours during the Bazaar so you can find that special book for Aunt Agnes or Uncle Jim.
Put it in your Calendar. AV Unity Club's Holiday Bazaar on Saturday December 9th from 10 to 4. See you there, with bells on.
MUSIC AT GOOD BONES (OLD CASPAR INN) on 11/16 with award winning Roadhouse Blues Band The Lucky Losers
Thursday, 11/16 Good Bones Kitchen revives live music and dance at the old Caspar Inn with the award-winning The Lucky Losers Band on a mini tour from the Bay Area.
Good Bones Kitchen - “The good bones of Good Bones Kitchen are the Caspar Inn, a turn-of-the-century roadhouse and infamously rowdy music venue that once hosted Etta James and Bonnie Raitt.
Miles McCreary, a chef and ceramicist who worked at acclaimed Bay Area restaurants including Standard Fare in Berkeley and Ramen Shop in Oakland, recently revived the historic space with general manager Jenna St. George and wine director Devin Myers. (Myers is responsible for poetic wine descriptions like “passion fruit brain freeze” and “sea salt in the hair.”) The standout fish stew always features local, humble rockfish, but has evolved with the seasons, from a tomatoey base adorned with okra to corn and potatoes swimming in a rich tomatillo broth. (McCreary’s crusty sourdough bread is a must-order for dipping; ask for a loaf to go for tomorrow’s breakfast, too.)
The menu changes often based on what’s available. Smashed potatoes with yogurt and chile oil give way to juicy tomatoes and shiso ranch; lettuce cups might be stuffed with confit albacore or pork belly. Good Bones has become a new kind of coastal institution, one where diners gather on the front porch to watch the sunset or come on weekend mornings for toast and coffee.”
Join in welcoming back live music and dance, outstanding food, brilliant wines and beers, and an evening of joy and community. Music is from 6:00 to 9:00 pm - cover is $20
Tim Cuny <email@example.com>
AT THE BRINK: VANISHED(ING) TREES & CLIMATE CHANGE
Anyone concerned about forest health and climate change will not want to miss a special free event on December 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Mendocino’s Stanford Inn.
Author Greg King, who helped initiate the “redwood wars” after Maxxam’s notorious 1985 takeover of the Pacific Lumber Company in Humboldt County, will discuss his new book, The Ghost Forest: Racists, Radicals, and Real Estate in the California Redwoods. Rich with historical information and references, The Ghost Forest explores the decimation of the coastal redwood forest and the players involved, from the nineteenth century to today, and provides the first critical examination of the history of the Save the Redwoods League. King describes how corporate shenanigans and over-harvesting have left the North Coast with almost no old-growth redwood forests – shenanigans secretly undergirded by Save the Redwoods League. The Ghost Forest also describes the historical citizen-driven efforts that helped slow the decimation of redwood treasures. Signed copies of The Ghost Forest will be available for purchase.
King will present along with coast resident John O’Brien, Ph.D, a climate scientist & research affiliate in the Climate & Ecosystem Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and who served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. O’Brien will provide an up-to-date accounting of current climate change and how our ecosystems are responding to such change. He will also present a quantitative overview of forest resources and management in the redwood region, with an emphasis on Jackson State Demonstration Forest.
O’Brien and fellow scientist, Dr. Stephen Sillett of Cal Poly Humboldt recently submitted a paper to Cal Fire and the Jackson Advisory Group related to the “New Vision” plan for JDSF. They pointed out that global air temperatures this past July “soared above anything previously experienced . . . [and] nothing about this is normal. [W]e have entered a climate that humans have never experienced.” O’Brien & Sillett noted that, “Somewhat surprisingly, mature secondary redwood forests are far more rare than primary (old-growth) forests due to logging pressure. [T]hese less-than-100 year old forests now contain the most valuable (economically and ecologically) trees not protected in parks and reserves, as North Coast redwoods have been virtually completely logged over.” Today’s local forests “are just a mere shadow of their former selves.”
In researching The Ghost Forest, Greg King scoured nearly ten thousand pages of curate archives at Berkeley’s Bancroft Library to develop the most comprehensive account yet available of one of the world’s greatest natural phenomena – the unique redwood belt – and document multigenerational efforts exploiting this special redwood biome in service to the manufacture of American empire.
Famed author Richard Preston (The Wild Trees) said, “The Ghost Forest is the book I’ve long wished someone would write, and Greg King has done it luminously well. Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, Inc., said The Ghost Forest is a page-turner, a calibrated adventure of the highest sort … a story necessarily written by the most committed of redwood defenders.” David Rains Wallace found the book composed of “poetic fervor, scientific precision, political wisdom, and a droll, self-deprecating sense of humor” that clarifies the heyday of forest activism.
This event is co-hosted by Mendocino Coast Environmental Scholarship Program, the Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle’s Children’s Books, and the Mendocino Eco Education & Events non-profit. Seating will be limited and reservations are required. Special vegan finger food by Stanford chefs, accompanied by a no-host wine/beer bar. Donations will be accepted to offset event costs.
To reserve a seat, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions? Contact Rod Jones at 937-0549 or email@example.com.
ED NOTES: RANDOM PONTIFICATIONS
 PHARMACEUTICALS have always been a can’t miss investment opportunity for the investor class given the eating and exercise habits of Americans. Fifty years of gluttony and sloth do tend to catch up with their host and hostesses. What’s disturbing to me is to see children, many of them as sedentary as the most sedentary adults by the time they’re twelve, already pounding down the negative food value items that will kill them by the time they’re fifty. Anywhere, any time you’ll find young people guzzling from giant bottles of sugar fizz water as they down greasy chunks of mystery meat, seldom looking up from their cell phones. Then they go home and watch television or monkey around with computers while piping savage tunes into their overloaded sensory systems. It won’t be long before they’ll need ten different pills a day to keep their flabby hearts pumping through their lard-lined arteries.
 PEOPLE are outta hand everywhere, even at library sales. Especially at library sales, in my experience. The last one I went to was more like a bank run than a gathering of presumably civilized book people. I’ve been in riots where there was less body contact. As soon as the doors opened swarms of these sort of mushroom-looking people shoved and pushed their way to the book tables like packs of starving rats at a cheese banquet.
The annual Friends of the San Francisco Library sale, when it was run by my old friend Byron Spooner, said one of his last sales was “semi out of control last night.” For five bucks book people got in for a first shot at the sale tables the Thursday evening before the weekend’s all-day market. “Next year,” Spooner vowed, “if people behave like they did last night, I’ll throw them out.” He described the chaotic scene at the previous evening’s sale as “a lot like the floor of the stock market when a major economy is collapsing somewhere.”
Fortunately for me and the missus, we had rolled up to Fort Mason, where The Friends of the Library make their headquarters, on a Friday afternoon about 2 when the crowd was still in pre-mob mode. Even so I had to correct an elderly beatnik that the pile of books he was walking off with had been assembled by me. Much as I appreciated the implicit compliment he’d paid my literary tastes by trying to steal my pile of bargains, the way he hesitated before grudgingly giving the books back to me I thought I might have to attack him to retrieve what was rightfully mine.
 WALKING through Golden Gate Park near Hippie Hill the other afternoon, I was flattered when a scruffy kid whispered, “Thai hash?” right at me. How did I know he was asking me to buy dope? Because I was the only upright person within ten yards of the two of us. For a quick moment I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right. “Eh sonny? You’re going to slash my thigh? Why? What did I do to you?” Then it occurred to me that somehow I looked enough like an Old Groovy to be considered a likely drug customer. After all these years a hep cat at last. I was thrilled. I’m not a drug person, other than Tylenol PM, but I guess there are enough shoppers alert to these whispered sales pitches that they work well enough. If it’s overheard by what seems to be a small army of undercover cops patrolling the area, the strolling dope merchant can plausibly claim he was talking to himself, which about half the people in the area seemed to be doing. The cops are deployed in force to guard the huge numbers of tourists and young trend-o shoppers who flock to nearby Haight Street’s thriving variety of shops. I was startled the other day to see a squad car pull clear up on the sidewalk of one busy block from which a uniformed officer jumped out from behind the wheel to grab a grungy kid with a backpack. Within seconds, two more cops on bicycles were on the scene and, in what seemed no more than twenty or thirty more seconds, an unmarked police car filled with gym muscles appeared and more cops surrounded Mr. Grunge. After a check of his ID and a quick rummage through his backpack by about eight cops, Mr. Grunge was released. Wrong grunge apparently. A few blocks north, on Parnassus, a seedy-looking guy was defecating with the door of a porta-potty wide open. Whether he was an undercover perv — exhibitionist division — togged out as a grunge or merely another soldier in The City’s army of walking wounded I couldn’t say, but untoward public behavior is so common these days this particular low-level offense didn’t seem to disturb passersby.
You get panhandled non-stop. I give only to panhandlers in my age group, thank you. I give to people who put the bite on with verve and imagination. A black guy I pegged to be about forty approached me as I was sipping a cup of coffee at a bus stop watching the passing parade. He had on a pair of greasy pants, a greasier shirt, a satiny Giants warm-up jacket that looked like he’d been born in it. “Excuse me, sir, but I couldn’t help noticing your tie,” he said. I looked down and saw that I was wearing a hypnotically boring, food-stained piece of cloth my wife had picked up at a garage sale. Thank you, I replied. “I also like your hat,” the fashion commentator said. “You look good in it,” adding, “I like a man who wears a hat.” I was wondering how much the flattery was going to cost me when he said, “By the way, I’ve just arrived from Seattle but I’m exactly four dollars short of accommodations for the evening.” As I forked over, I asked him where he was staying. “Oh you wouldn’t recognize the name. A cozy little place away from the tourists out in the Mission.” Without bothering to get out of hearing range the guy laid the same rap on a nicely-dressed woman of about my vintage. “Your scarf looks very nice on you…” he began.
 IF I WERE MAYOR of San Francisco, I would use City property in San Mateo and Sonoma counties as rehab centers for the thousands of people presently living on the streets. Persons unwilling or unable to care for themselves do not have a right to live on the streets. They do not have a right to destroy public space. Government has an obligation to shelter and treat them — forcibly, if it comes to it. People who claim to be defending the rights of the alcoholic, the drug addicted and the insane to live wherever they happen to lie down at night are killing the homeless as surely as the government that won’t care for them. The defenders of the homeless to be homeless are also killing public space, doing site prep for an inevitable, fascist-like crackdown on the walking wounded, and generally making urban life far more unhappy than it should be. I’d also ban dogs from public parks, legalize prostitution so long as it stayed indoors, I’d ban bums from all play areas for children, give businesses that employ fewer than thirty people big tax breaks so they can survive in The City. The City also needs a big tax on big incomes (which was proposed years ago by Tom Ammiano who was promptly denounced as a Bolshevik), I’d ban private cars in the downtown area east of Van Ness, slap a painful tax on inbound commuters who drive over the bridges into The City by themselves, and I’d ban bongo drums inside the City limits. I’d also prohibit the sale of Giants and Niner tickets to corporations who buy big blocs of seats they don’t use or use on people who don’t know a ball game from a line dance. I’d enact a law that the Giants, Niners and Warriors would have to set aside a thousand seats a game for children under the age of ten whose tickets would cost a dollar.
A READER WRITES: Bruce, how come there’s nothing in network media simply showing loss of Palestinian land since 1948, and zero mention of UN declaration of illegal Israeli occupation of said land? It’s antisemitism to ask the question?
MR. WIZARD replies: I'd say the grim fact that the modern state of Israel was established where Palestinians (and a small minority of Jews) happened to have already been living for an eternity is not often mentioned in the dominant English-language media because those media reflect Brit and American foreign policy favorable to Israel because the Israelis boast a democratic government which is in fact democratic only for Israelis existing in an Arab sea of autocratic states.
THE ONLY GOOD thing the Clinton government accomplished is getting Arafat to stipulate to Israel's right to exist and agree with Israel's Rabin to work towards a two-state solution. Rabin was promptly assassinated by an Israeli fanatic while Arafat was denounced as a traitor by fanatic Palestinians who segued into Hamas. Rabin, and then Peres, and Barak (kind of) were succeeded by the monstrous Sharon and Netanyahu and all of it — two opposing fanaticisms — culminated in the hideous slaughters that commenced on October 7th. Looking around the global room at the shot callers we find little to no hope for anything resembling peace between the Israelis and the Arab countries. I'm hardly an authority on all of this; like you, I watch television news and discussions which are mostly light on Arab perspectives. Hamas says Israel has no right to exist, the Israelis, under its present government, are extinguishing the Palestinians. Period.
ASSEMBLYMAN JIM WOOD ANNOUNCES HE WON’T RUN FOR REELECTION
Wood was first elected to the 2nd Assembly District in 2014. His fifth term runs through December 2024.
by Colin Atagi
Citing family matters, Assemblyman Jim Wood announced Friday he will not seek reelection in 2024 for what would have been his sixth and final term in the state Legislature.
The Healdsburg Democrat and chair of the powerful Assembly Health Committee said in a statement his mother has been in declining health and he wants to contribute to her “increasingly higher level of care.”
“Many in public office say they are leaving for personal or family reasons, but that is very real for me,” said Wood, a dentist and former Healdsburg mayor.
First elected to the Assembly in 2014, his 2nd District includes the northern half of Sonoma County, plus Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Del Norte counties.
California legislators are limited to maximum of 12 years in office between the Assembly and Senate. Wood’s fifth two-year term goes through December 2024.
“Deciding not to run for my final term was one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in many years,” Wood said in a statement. “I can make a case to continue my work, but I believe now is the right time for me to change my focus.”
Wood has faced little competition at the ballot box — in the November 2022 election he won 68% of the vote over Republican challenger, Charlotte Svolos of Crescent City.
In his announcement, Wood noted he represented a population small for its large region. This, he said, showed solutions cannot be “one-size-fits-all” for a state as large as California.
Chairman of the Assembly Health Committee since 2016, Wood also served on committees for budget, natural resources, insurance, agriculture and water, and parks and wildlife.
On Friday, he touted his advocacy for, among other things, agriculture, the cannabis industry and universal access to broadband, clean water and air.
Wood is expected to be remembered as one of California’s most “distinguished legislators,” Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, D-Salinas, said in a statement.
“His love for this state knows no bounds, and he’s committed a lifetime to ensuring future generations can realize the California Dream,” Rivas said. “I thank Jim on behalf of the entire Caucus, for all his achievements and dedication, and I’m also proud to call him a dear friend and trusted colleague.”
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, November 10, 2023
ANDREW LOPEZ, Eureka/Ukiah. DUI, concealed weapon in vehicle.
BABRALLIA PRITCHARD, Willits. Domestic abuse.
THERESA QUASCHNICK, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, probation revocation.
KEEGAN REED, Willits. DUI, blood alcohol over 0.15%.
DANIEL ROCKEY II, Covelo. Domestic battery.
NIKOLAI SPRINKLING, Elk. DUI.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
My personal nightmare is not being able to pay my property taxes, which keep going up, even as income keeps going down. Would the county really come and seize everything I own? I’m hoping that when the SHTF, they’ll be too busy worrying about other things to come put me off of my land.
Another mass shooting. Ho-hum. Another angry letter to the editor. Ho-hum. Another plea from do-nothing politicians to keep those slain in our thoughts and prayers. More hollow chatter about a ban on assault rifles. Perhaps we should pray for those who will be shot later this week. Or next month. And hope the total for 2023 doesn’t reach 600 mass shootings. Isn’t 501, almost two a day, enough?
The number dead has become just that — a number. Not human beings with lives to live and a future to look forward to. We the people in order to form a more perfect government must elect those who can change what’s been happening for far too long and far too many times. We need to know who in Congress, and who among those hoping to win the public trust in 2024, will work to protect their countrymen from being shot while shopping, going to school, praying in church or bowling with friends.
We the people can change things. We can stop the madness when we stop electing those who say it’s not guns, it’s people who kill people. Wrong. It’s people with guns who kill people.
With the 45th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre coming up, local attorney Timothy Stoen, has made a video comparing Donald Trump and Jim Jones. On Nov 18, 1978, 918 people died in Guyana at Jonestown. Former cult member Stoen says those people were murdered, although the event is recorded as a combination of mass murder and suicide. He says surrounded by armed guards nobody could leave and those people were murdered. The video lasts more than an hour which is spent almost entirely looking into the comparative mental states of Trump and Jim Jones, providing strikingly similar quotes. Tim is a very interesting individual who was the Fort Bragg court's prosecutor for many years and later a public defender, now in private practice.
He has practiced law here since the 1970s. Jim Jones relocated the People's Temple from Indiana to Mendocino County and Ukiah because he believed a nuclear attack would hit the Midwestern state. Stoen talks about how appealing nuclear weapons are to a desperate narcissist like Trump. Stoen had broken with Jones over a custody dispute before the massacre happened.
He describes the mental factors that made Jones go off the deep end and makes a series of evaluations of Trump's sanity and his likelihood of setting of a nuclear attack if elected. Tim has done a tremendous amount of good in the community, practicing law ferociously well into his 8th decade on earth. Now 85, he and his wife have been community activists and supporters and involved in many great things locally.
For Release: November 6, 2023 On YouTube
”Donald Trump and the Specter of Jonestown: Experiencing His ‘Lethal Twin’
by Timothy Stoen
Donald Trump / Jim Jones, Lethal Twins
This one-hour video seeks to answer the most urgent, and overlooked, issue facing the American voter in 2024:
Is Donald Trump’s Psychological Instability a Nuclear Danger to American Survival?
On YouTube at: https://youtu.be/FdE9TyPO_GI.
RECOGNIZING FAKE NEWS NOW A REQUIRED SUBJECT IN CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS
by Carolyn Jones
Pushing back against the surge of misinformation online, California will now require all K-12 students to learn media literacy skills — such as recognizing fake news and thinking critically about what they encounter on the internet.
Gov. Gavin Newsom last month signed Assembly Bill 873, which requires the state to add media literacy to curriculum frameworks for English language arts, science, math and history-social studies, rolling out gradually beginning next year. Instead of a stand-alone class, the topic will be woven into existing classes and lessons throughout the school year.
“I’ve seen the impact that misinformation has had in the real world — how it affects the way people vote, whether they accept the outcomes of elections, try to overthrow our democracy,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Marc Berman, a Democrat from Menlo Park. “This is about making sure our young people have the skills they need to navigate this landscape.”
The new law comes amid rising public distrust in the media, especially among young people. A 2022 Pew Research Center survey found that adults under age 30 are nearly as likely to believe information on social media as they are from national news outlets. Overall, only 7% of adults have “a great deal” of trust in the media, according to a Gallup poll conducted last year.
Media literacy can help change that, advocates believe, by teaching students how to recognize reliable news sources and the crucial role that media plays in a democracy.
“The increase in Holocaust denial, climate change denial, conspiracy theories getting a foothold, and now AI … all this shows how important media literacy is for our democracy right now,” said Jennifer Ormsby, library services manager for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. “The 2016 election was a real eye-opener for everyone on the potential harms and dangers of fake news.”
AB 873 passed nearly unanimously in the Legislature, underscoring the nonpartisan nature of the topic. Nationwide, Texas, New Jersey and Delaware have also passed strong media literacy laws, and more than a dozen other states are moving in that direction, according to Media Literacy Now, a nonprofit research organization that advocates for media literacy in K-12 schools.
Still, California’s law falls short of Media Literacy Now’s recommendations. California’s approach doesn’t include funding to train teachers, an advisory committee, input from librarians, surveys or a way to monitor the law’s effectiveness.
Keeping the bill simple, though, was a way to help ensure its passage, Berman said. Those features can be implemented later, and he felt it was urgent to pass the law quickly so students can start receiving media literacy education as soon as possible. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024, as the state begins updating its curriculum frameworks, although teachers are encouraged to teach media literacy now.
Berman’s law builds on a previous effort in California to bring media literacy to K-12 classrooms. In 2018, Senate Bill 830 required the California Department of Education to provide media literacy resources — lesson plans, project ideas, background — to the state’s K-12 teachers. But it didn’t make media literacy mandatory.
The new law also overlaps somewhat with California’s effort to bring computer science education to all students. The state hopes to expand computer science, which can include aspects of media literacy, to all students, possibly even requiring it to graduate from high school. Newsom recently signed Assembly Bill 1251, which creates a commission to look at ways to recruit more computer science teachers to California classrooms. Berman is also sponsoring Assembly Bill 1054, which would require high schools to offer computer science classes. That bill is currently stalled in the Senate.
Understanding Media, And Creating It
Teachers don’t need a state law to show students how to be smart media consumers, and some have been doing it for years. Merek Chang, a high school science teacher at Hacienda La Puente Unified in the City of Industry east of Los Angeles, said the pandemic was a wake-up call for him.
During remote learning, he gave students two articles on the origins of the coronavirus. One was an opinion piece from the New York Post, a tabloid, and the other was from a scientific journal. He asked students which they thought was accurate. More than 90% chose the Post piece.
“It made me realize that we need to focus on the skills to understand content, as much as we focus on the content itself,” Chang said.
He now incorporates media literacy in all aspects of his lesson plans. He relies on the Stanford History Education Group, which offers free media literacy resources for teachers, and took part in a KQED media literacy program for teachers.
In addition to teaching students how to evaluate online information, he shows them how to create their own media. Homework assignments include making TikTok-style videos on protein synthesis for mRNA vaccines, for example. Students then present their projects at home or at lunchtime events for families and the community.
“The biggest impact, I’ve noticed, is that students feel like their voice matters,” Chang said. “The work isn’t just for a grade. They feel like they’re making a difference.”
Ormsby, the Los Angeles County librarian, has also been promoting media literacy for years. Librarians generally have been on the forefront of media literacy education, and California’s new law refers to the Modern School Library Standards for media literacy guidelines.
Ormsby teaches concepts like “lateral reading” (comparing an online article with other sources to check for accuracy) and reverse imaging (searching online to trace a photo to its original source or checking if it’s been altered). She also provides lesson plans, resources and book recommendations such as “True or False: A CIA analyst’s guide to spotting fake news” and, for elementary students, “Killer Underwear Invasion! How to spot fake news, disinformation & conspiracy theories.”
She’s happy that the law passed, but would like to see librarians included in the rollout and the curriculum implemented immediately, not waiting until the frameworks are updated.
The gradual implementation of the law was deliberate, since schools are already grappling with so many other state mandates, said Alvin Lee, executive director of Generation Up, a student-led advocacy group that was among the bill’s sponsors. He’s hoping that local school boards decide to prioritize the issue on their own by funding training for teachers and moving immediately to get media literacy into classrooms.
“Disinformation contributes to polarization, which we’re seeing happen all over the world,” said Lee, a junior at Stanford who said it’s a top issue among his classmates. “Media literacy can address that.”
In San Francisco Unified, Ricardo Elizalde is a teacher on special assignment who trains elementary teachers in media literacy. His staff gave out 50 copies of “Killer Underwear!” for teachers to build activities around, and encourages students to make their own media, as well.
Elementary school is the perfect time to introduce the topic, he said.
“We get all these media thrown at us from a young age, we have to learn to defend ourselves,” Elizalde said. “Media literacy is a basic part of being literate. If we’re just teaching kids how to read, and not think critically about what they’re reading, we’re doing them a disservice.”
I AM A FACT NOT A FICTION: SELECTED POEMS
San Francisco poet Edward Mycue was born in Niagara Falls, New York, and raised in Texas from age eleven. He was a Lowell Fellow at Boston University Graduate School of Public Relations and Communications, a WGBH-TV Boston intern, a Macdowell Colony Fellow, a Peace Corps teacher in Ghana, editor at the Norton Coker Press, and he taught American Literature at the International Peoples College in Elsinore, Denmark. He has had 18 books or chapbooks published. His poems appear in multiple anthologies and journals.
I Am a Fact Not a Fiction is a selection of poems culled frorn three areas of interest: War and Peace, Life / Time Memory, and History.
“The precision of Ed Mycue’s dreamscape is laser-sharp and as warm as chocolate. Images rush pell-mell across the page, jumbling and tossing each other aside as one supplants the other in a rush to break the barrier between words and meaning, perception and feeling.”
— Laura Kennelly, Ph.D., Associate Editor, Bach: Journal of the Riemenschneider, Bach Institute
“Ed Mycue’s poetry is a lifetime of surprises. He was born surprised, grew up on wonder, and now surely lives under the ever crashing waterfalls of amazement. His language is pure chirp, flip and rouse. It never ever sleeps. Savor his lines — like memory — for as long as you dare.”
— Hiram Larew, author of More than Anything and Part Of
Originally an online chapbook, I Am a Fact Not a Fiction was the first collection published by Wordrunner e-Chapbooks in 2009. It is now being released as a print edition and kindle, both with Richard Steger's compelling cover illustration.
Now available on Amazon.
58 pages, perfect bound, 5 x 8 inches
$10, paperback; $2.99, Kindle
PUNDITS: "IGNORANCE" MAKES AMERICANS GIVE "WRONG" ANSWERS TO ECONOMIC CONFIDENCE POLL
Why ask, if you don't want to know?
by Matt Taibbi
Paul Krugman of the New York Times on America’s “belief” problem when it comes to the economy: “Biden is not, in fact, presiding over a bad economy. On the contrary, the economic news has been remarkably good, and history helps explain why. Nonetheless, many Americans tell pollsters that the economy is bad. Why? I don’t think we really know… Many voters have demonstrably false views about the current economy — believing, in particular, that unemployment, which is near a 50-year low, is actually near a 50-year high.”
The Guardian editorial Krugman linked to explains: Americans continue to believe the economy sucks, even though they’ve been told over and over it doesn’t! Why won’t they listen?
Commenting on their own exclusive poll, the Guardian wrote: “The results illustrate a dramatic political split on economic views — with Republicans far more pessimistic than Democrats. But unhappiness about the economy is widespread. Two-thirds of respondents (68%) reported it’s difficult to be happy about positive economic news when they feel financially squeezed each month (Republicans: 69%, Democrats: 68%).”
Noting Joe Biden’s achievements include a “landmark $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill” and legislative actions “predicted to create 1.5m jobs per year for the next decade,” the Guardian complained: “That message may be hard to sell given the widespread disbelief of and ignorance about the health of the US economy highlighted by the poll. As well as being wrong about the unemployment data, respondents were unaware of, or chose to mischaracterize, other major economic data points.”
I can’t remember an instance of newspapers polling Americans about their feelings, then telling them their answers are not only wrong, but ignorant! The Guardian takes the additional hilarious step of blasting respondents for making it harder to “sell” the story the economy is doing well.
Krugman, last seen citing the sqme unemployment stat and insisting those who complain about the economy are Republicans bent on “giving Vladimir Putin victory,” now says the problem is “psychological,” because people want to think higher incomes are personal reward rather than monetary side-effect.
“Human nature being what it is,” he writes, “it’s natural for people to feel that they earned their higher incomes, only to have inflation snatch away their gains.” And “lecturing voters” about their wrongness won’t work, he notes.
No shit. He dismounts to a Tom Friedman-esque, “Who the hell knows, but still, here’s what I think” ending: “So what’s actually going to happen in the next election? I have no idea, and neither do you. What I can say is that if you believe that Biden made huge, obvious economic policy mistakes and could easily have put himself in a much better position, you probably haven’t thought this thing through.”
Have these people considered that questions about the economy aren’t a political referendum on Joe Biden for the people answering them? That they may just having a hard time paying bills and can’t give The Guardian or Paul Krugman the answers they want? This has been true for huge numbers of people in this country for decades. Maybe it’s time to ask more about that, instead of calling them stupid again?
by James Kunstler
Of course, you already sense that the 2024 election will be a freaky event, if it happens at all. If it’s not America’s last election altogether, it may be the last one that follows the traditional format that has signified stability in our country’s high tide as a great power: that is, a contest between Republicans and Democrats. Both parties are likely to crash and burn in the year ahead, along with a whole lot of other things on the tottering scaffold of normal life.
Have you lost count yet of the number of things in our country that are broken? The justice system. Public safety. Education. Medicine. Money. Transportation. Housing. The food supply. The border. The News business. The arts. Our relations with other countries. That’s just the big institutional stuff. At the personal scale its an overwhelming plunge in living standards, loss of incomes, careers, chattels, liberties. . . poor health (especially mental health). . . and failing confidence in any plausible future.
The reasons behind all that failure and loss are pretty straightforward. The business model for operating a high-tech industrial economy is broken. That includes especially the business model for affordable energy: oil, gas, nuclear, and the electric grid that runs on all that. We opted out of an economy that produced things of real value. We replaced that with a financial matrix of banking fakery. That racket made a very few people supernaturally wealthy while incrementally dissolving the middle-class. We destroyed local and regional business and scaled up what was left into super-giant predatory companies that can no longer maintain their supply chains. Fragility everywhere in everything.
Bad choices all along the way, you could say, but perhaps an inexorable process of nature. Things are born, they grow, they peak, they decline, they die. The difference this time is the scale of everything we do is so enormous that the wreckage is also epic. It’s happening in Western Civ at the moment, led by its biggest nation state, us, the USA, but it will eventually go global, spread to the BRICs and the many countries that will never actually “develop.”
I started writing about the fiasco of suburbia decades ago, and now the endgame of that living arrangement is in view. The dissolving middle class has gotten priced-out of motoring. Motoring is the basis of the suburban living arrangement. No motoring, no suburbia. It’s that simple. There was widespread belief among idealistic reformers that suburbia could just be “retrofitted” for “smarter” daily life, but that dream is over. The capital (money) is not there to fix it, and there’s no prospect that we’ll somehow come up with it as far ahead as we can see.
So far, the collapse of suburbia has happened in slow motion, but the pace is quickening now and it’ll get supercharged when the bond markets go down, as they must, considering the country’s catastrophic fiscal circumstances. That will produce exactly the zombie apocalypse telegraphed in all those movies and TV series over recent years: normality overrun by demonic hungry ghosts. Every day in suburbia will be Halloween, and not in a fun way.
All this is apprehended to some degree by the increasingly frightened public, though they have a hard time articulating it within any of the popular frameworks presented by politics, religion, or what appears lately to be extremely corrupt science. The people see what’s coming but they can’t make sense of it, and the stress makes a great many of them insane. Without a way to construct a coherent view of reality, or tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not, they behave accordingly: anything goes and nothing matters.
In the face of all this the two big political parties are helpless and clueless. The Democrats have made themselves into a giant feedback loop amplifying the poor mental health of their constituents. They are in CrazyLand, where there are no boundaries anymore, and to insist that there should be is an affront that gets you cancelled. They are in upside-down inside-out world. Hillary Clinton demonstrated this perfectly the other day on ABC’s The View when she accused her party’s opponents of trying to “do away with elections, trying to do away with the opposition, and do away with a free press….” It’s hard to imagine a more impressive lack of self-awareness.
REMEMBERING SKY LOW LOW
Marcel Gauthier was a Canadian professional midget wrestler who wrestled under the ring name Sky Low Low (a reference to Sky Hi Lee).
Known by his midget wrestler persona “Sky Low Low,” Gauthier stood just 42 inches tall and weighed 86 pounds.
He began wrestling in the 1940s.
He made his debut in the Canadian National Wrestling Alliance and soon claimed the NWA World Midget Championship in Paris, France.
He was managed for the bulk of his career by Jack Britton, father of Gino Brito.
Gauthier and Little Beaver squared off in a match for Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and King Farouk of Egypt.
Touring with the World Wrestling Federation as late as the 1980s one of his gimmicks was an open challenge to any other midget professional wrestlers to beat him in a two out of three falls match for $100.
He could also stand on his head without using his hands to balance himself.
He had a longtime feud with Farmer Brooks.
He died on November 6, 1998 from a heart attack.
He was married at the time of his death.
He was posthumously inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002.
A SMALL BOY AND ISRAEL
by Stephen f. Eisenman
Understanding the October 7 Hamas attack…
The numbers are grim, and the details are worse. 1,400 killed (1100 civilians, 300 troops) and 240 taken hostage. The victims at the Supernova Sukkot music festival were just kids — sweet ones too: lefty, hippie, peaceniks. First, they fled; then they were caught and slaughtered. The other attacks on civilians were equally gratuitous – against children, their parents, and grandparents in their homes. It was like a pogrom by the Cossacks in the Pale of Settlement of Imperial Russia. Or like executions by the Einsatzgruppen and Waffen SS, who followed the German Wehrmacht as it swept through Jewish districts in Eastern Europe during World War II. In each instance, the killings were wholesale and wanton.
Only there’s a difference. In those earlier cases, the Jews were weak, and their oppressors were strong. This time, it’s the reverse. The Palestinians are weak, and the Jews are strong. The Israeli military is the best in the Middle East. It’s as if the Jews of Warsaw in August 1944 escaped their ghetto, crossed the river Oder, and murdered German women, children, teens, and old people – or took them hostage.
But that comparison isn’t right either. Hamas is a state actor, not a desperate militia. They took power in Gaza following parliamentary elections in 2006 and seized full control the following year. Since that time, they have fought off their Palestinian Fatah rivals as well as other Islamic militant groups. Thanks to Israeli transfers, they have lots of money. They also have many weapons. In addition to truck-mounted machine guns and small arms, their militants can fire long-range rockets, mortars, and grenades. They have access to improvised explosive devices, drones, and anti-tank missiles. They built and control an extensive network of tunnels and deploy cyber-assaults and espionage. On October 7, they mounted simultaneous, complex attacks on multiple Israeli military guard posts and crashed vehicles through border fences and other barriers to reach their targets. They had physical maps and electronic communication to guide them.
The U.S. State Department designated Hamas a terrorist organization in 1997. In 2001, a Hamas operative placed a bomb in a Tel Aviv disco, killing 21. During the following two decades, bus bombings in Israel killed and wounded hundreds. But to call Hamas a terrorist group is wrong for two reasons. First because the group is more like a well-trained army, as we have seen, than a network of fanatic bomb throwers. And second, because use of the term “terrorist” whitewashes the much greater mayhem perpetrated by powerful states. When the U.S. bombed civilian populations – as it did in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, El Salvador, and even Grenada — it claimed raison d’etat and mostly escaped reprobation or sanction. With U.S. support, Israel is currently bombing the densely populated Gaza Strip. More than 10,000 civilians have been killed so far, according to Hamas, more than a third of them children. The U.S. and its allies – including Israel — comprise what Edward S. Herman in 1983 called “the real terror network.” America’s victims number in the millions. Israel, whose victims number in the thousands, is an epigone. Hamas is a piker.
Whether conducted by the United States, Israel, Russia, Palestine, or dozens of other states or non-state authorities, war today is a version of terrorism. Little distinction is made between combatants and non-combatants, and legal determinations of responsibility are generally made, if at all, after the fact, by the victors. “There will be plenty of time to make assessments about how these operations were conducted,” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken blithely stated on November 6. The whitewash has already begun.
Hamas’s attack on Israel was reprehensible. It was also consistent with modern warfare, and was conducted for a reason; to prevent a possible treaty – an expansion of the Abraham Accords — to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Such an agreement would have ignored the Palestinian struggle for emancipation and further isolated Iran, one of Hamas’s allies. Hamas surely knew their attack would lead to fierce Israeli reprisals, possibly even an invasion. But they calculated that whatever the cost, it was worth it. When the war finally ends, Israel may be more willing than before to negotiate a solution to the long, bloody dispute over Palestine. Indeed, the higher the death toll on both sides, they probably reasoned, the more likely an accommodation. They may be mistaken, however. Post-war conditions could wind up little changed from pre-war ones, except with many thousands of Palestinians dead, hundreds of thousands more homeless, and Israel or its Mideast allies policing Gaza.
A Yeshiva Boy
Every American Jew learns about Israel in childhood. I don’t remember much about my first exposure, but it must have come in the context of a family discussion (this would have been in the early 1960s) about Jewish identity and anti-Jewish prejudice. If we saw a movie or TV program with a Jewish actor or entertainer — Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas Dinah Shore, Woody Allen – that fact was mentioned approvingly, unless the person was considered low brow, like Milton Berle or Danny Kaye, in which case there would tongue clucking. If a right-wing or Republican politician was seen or mentioned – Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, George Wallace – it was followed by the (usually accurate) words “anti-Semite.” That’s when the state of Israel might have been invoked. It was the place where Jews were safe and respected, and where they could find sanctuary if things in the U.S. went sideways.
The “Law of Return,” passed in 1950 by the Israeli Knesset was a stroke of marketing genius. Jews all over the world were at once granted a second nationality and a place of real or imagined refuge – Palestinians be damned. The rank injustice that we could “return” to a territory we never inhabited, while Palestinians were barred from returning to the land from which they had been recently expelled, never entered our minds. And even if it had, we’d never have demanded that sovereignty over the land of Israel be shared with the exiled Palestinian population. Our anti-Arab prejudice was exceeded only by the strength of our memories. The Holocaust was less than a generation distant, and we knew lots of survivors. There was the Hungarian, silver-haired Mrs. Block, in apartment 2R below us; the cheerful Mrs. Schlesinger, and her dog Socrates who had his own phone number – you could look him up “in the book”. And there was the tall, austere doorman; because he was Polish and gentile, we were admonished to approach him with caution. I was once reprimanded by my mother for asking him about the blue numbers on his arm.
In 1966, I started yeshiva – an orthodox after-school program at tiny Temple Shalom in Forest Hills. I was sent there because it was close and cheap. If I stuck with my lessons, I’d be prepared three years later for Bar Mitzvah. I enjoyed learning Hebrew, which I was wrongly taught was the historic language of the Jews. (Between about 200 to 1900, it was solely a liturgical language; it was revived by Zionists.) But regular religious worship was uncongenial in the extreme. Nobody in my family believed in God or regularly attended services, not even my grandparents from Eastern Europe who still spoke some Yiddish. From my earliest memory, I was a proud atheist.
The only pious student in my yeshiva class was Samuel or Shmu’el. He was small for his age and wore thick glasses. He refused ever to say out loud the word “God” because it was too holy, so instead he’d substitute “Hashem” (Hebrew for “the name”). We taunted him by pulling a nickel from his ear and asking: “What’s that written to the left of Thomas Jefferson’s nose?” He’d stammer gamely: “In Hashem w-w-we, trust”. Or we’d stop him on his way home and ask: “What’s that song Kate Smith always sings?”. “Hashem Bless America” he’d answer. We were smart kids, and good at school, Shmu’el included. We followed political events and knew some history, but we never discussed – or knew anything about – the Nakba or “catastrophe” that befell Palestinian society and made possible the state of Israel. Between 1947 and ’49, some 750,000 people from a population of 1.9 million were displaced, 15,000 killed, and 530 Palestinian towns and villages destroyed.
During the Six-Day War in June ’67, we returned to the yeshiva – even though school was out for the year– to closely follow developments. I recall Rabbi Sanders standing in front of a chalkboard, erasing the x’s and y’s that stood for Egyptian planes and tanks, and tallying up the dead Syrian, Jordanian, and Egyptian soldiers. When Israel quickly prevailed, we celebrated as if the last-place New York Mets had won the World Series, which they would do two years later. We exulted in the territorial expansion of the Land of Israel and couldn’t care less about Palestinian civilians killed, injured, or displaced.
It would be at least a decade or so before I began to doubt the righteousness of Israel. The key event for me was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, followed by the Sabra and Shatila massacres, carried out by Lebanese Christian militias with the tacit approval of the Israeli Defense Forces. The succession of Israeli blockades and attacks upon Gaza between 2007 and 14 confirmed my view that Israel was an occupying power, determined to enforce a policy of apartheid. The long rule of the corrupt and incompetent President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas; and the incompetent and corrupt Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, made the current war inevitable. Today, Netanyahu and his neo-fascist regime have alienated many American Jews who were once Israel’s strongest supporters.
American Jews’ Attachment To Israel
Some Jews and many Gentiles (e.g. Donald Trump) think the bond between American and Israeli Jews is natural and inevitable, even atavistic: based on blood or race. That’s nonsense, of course. Judaism is a religion, not a race, and anyway, there’s no such thing as biological race. (The validity of the category was first disproved by Franz Boas in 1928.) The Jewish diaspora doesn’t even have a common lineage. Ashkenazi Jews (those from Central and Eastern Europe, currently about 70% of the total) are genetically heterogeneous and have little connection to the Jews of the ancient Near East. A study in Nature Communications, suggests that modern Ashkenazim originated in pre-historic Europe, not the Levant. In other words, the genetic origin of most modern Jews was not Jewish!
A more common belief is that American Jews revere Israel and Zionism because of cultural and religious solidarity. The position is understandable. American Jews number only about 7.5 million, or just 2% of the total U.S. population, with half those in New York and California. My chance of accidentally meeting another Jew while driving across the U.S. from Micanopy, Florida where I live, to the California border is exceedingly small. In rural Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, synagogues are harder to find than electric vehicle recharging stations.
In fact today, except for orthodox and Hasidic sects, American Jews are no more Zionist than non-Jews. It’s evangelical Christians, Christian Zionists and dispensationalists who are the most fervent supporters of Israel, and that’s because they see the state as fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and the future site of the “Rapture” when Jews will be cast down to Hell and Christians ascend to heaven. The new U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana is a dispensationalist who believes that during the final stage of historic development, or “dispensation,” the world will be destroyed by flames and Christ will return to Israel to establish a new heaven and earth, populated by those who have been born-again. Johnson is a supporter of Israel and backs a new package of military aid – so long as the money comes from the budget of the IRS, revealing the limits of his faith; the tax man is more feared than the Messiah is desired.
The real basis of American Jewish attraction to Israel is fear of anti-Semitism in the United States. The concern is not trivial. Jews were shunned, opposed, and oppressed from their very first arrival in the American colonies. Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Amsterdam (later New York) called them “enemies and blasphemers” and tried in 1655 to bar Jews from emigrating to the colony. Then, when some came anyway, he levied a special tax on them. Two centuries later, General Ulysses Grant issued an order expelling Jews from southern territories under his control. (Lincoln rescinded the order.) During and after the surge of Jewish migration from Eastern Europe, between about 1880 and 1920, anti-Semitism in the U.S. significantly increased. Jews were discriminated against in employment, education, and housing, denied membership in private clubs, and “restricted” from many hotels and restaurants.
The lynching of Leo Frank in Atlanta in 1915, after his unjust conviction for murder, marked a new low point in Jewish-American life. The killing precipitated the revival of the Ku Klux Klan and the wide dissemination of anti-Semitic attitudes during the interwar years, promoted by such prominent figures as Henry Ford, Charles Coughlin, and Charles Lindberg. Polls at the time indicated that strong majorities of Americans found Jews “greedy,” “dishonest” and “pushy.” It would take a world war and widespread revulsion of Hitler and the genocide of Jews, to generally break the spell of U.S. anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, a recent survey by the ADL indicates a significant rise in anti-Semitic attitudes. Though the poll is flawed – it essentially equates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism – Jews themselves detect an increase in anti-Jewish attitudes and behaviors.
Among the many tragedies of the October 7 Hamas attack, and Israel’s program of retribution, is that they may strengthen American Jewish and Evangelical support for the country, assuring continued U.S. military and diplomatic aid for the most racist and expansionist government Israel has ever known. That makes the case for an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations even more urgent. At stake is the survival of the Palestinian people and the reconstitution of Israeli democracy.
(Stephen F. Eisenman is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Northwestern University and the author of Gauguin’s Skirt (Thames and Hudson, 1997), The Abu Ghraib Effect (Reaktion, 2007), The Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal Rights (Reaktion, 2015) and other books. He is also co-founder of the environmental justice non-profit. He and the artist Sue Coe have just published American Fascism, Still for Rotland Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
CENSORSHIP, COMMENTARY, ISRAEL, MEDIA, PALESTINE, PRESS FREEDOM, PROPAGANDA
Israel to ‘Vet’ US Corporate Media Embedded in Gaza
In a TV segment, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria explained the submissive arrangements that his outlet and others are making with the Israeli military.
by Brett Wilkins
U.S. corporate media outlets have granted Israeli military commanders pre-publication review rights for “all materials and footage” recorded by their correspondents embedded with the Israel Defense Forces during the invasion of Gaza, a precondition condemned by press freedom advocates.
“Journalists embedded with the IDF in Gaza operate under the observation of Israeli commanders in the field, and are not permitted to move unaccompanied within the Gaza Strip,” Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” explained in a segment on Sunday.
“As a condition to enter Gaza under IDF escort, outlets have to submit all materials and footage to the Israeli military for review prior to publication,” he added. “CNN has agreed to these terms in order to provide a limited window into Israel’s operations in Gaza.”
In a clip featuring correspondent Raf Sanchez — who is embedded with an IDF unit tasked with finding and destroying Hamas tunnels in Gaza — NBC News also acknowledged that it has “agreed to share raw footage” as “an operational security requirement.”
Responding to Zakaria’s admission, U.S. journalist Dan Cohen asserted that “CNN is explicitly acting as a propaganda mouthpiece for the genocidal Zionist regime.”
U.S. photojournalist Zach D. Roberts said on social media that “what CNN is doing here is creating a b-roll for the IDF. It’s nothing resembling news and the CNN employees that participated in it aren’t anything resembling journalists.”
Omar Suleiman, founder and president of the Texas-based Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, said Sunday on social media that “Israel is killing the journalists that expose their crimes, then bribing the journalists that cover for them.”
Israel does not allow foreign journalists into Gaza unless they’re embedded with IDF units under the aforementioned preconditions, placing almost all of the responsibility — and danger — of reporting on Palestinian correspondents.
As Common Dreams reported Friday, at least 31 Palestinian journalists have been killed in Gaza since Israel began bombarding the densely populated strip in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks that left more than 1,400 Israelis and others dead in southern Israel, with another 240 or so people taken hostage.
One Lebanese journalist was also killed in Gaza, while four Israeli media professionals were slain during the Hamas attacks.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the past month has been the deadliest four-week period for media professionals since the U.S.-based group started keeping records in 1992. CPJ has also documented at least eight injuries, three missing people, eight arrests and “multiple assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship, and killings of family members.”
Suleiman said that the world can “expect more coverage humanizing IDF soldiers while they murder thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians in cold blood.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said Monday that Israeli forces have killed at least 10,022 people in Gaza, including 2,550 women and more than 4,100 children, while wounding over 25,000 others.
During the eight-year U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, embedded journalists were used by American officials in an attempt to control the war’s public narrative. Research has shown that embedding “channeled reporters toward producing war coverage from the soldier’s point of view,” while minimizing civilian casualties and other negative consequences.
U.S. and other Western mainstream media have long been accused of one-sided coverage in favor of Israel. During the current war, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and other media monitors have noted how numerous outlets have broadcast unverified Israeli and U.S. claims of babies beheaded by Hamas, of Gaza-based militants operating from beneath hospitals, of Hamas using human shields, and other unsubstantiated reports.
Lara Witt and Tina Vásquez of Prism Reports recently wrote that the U.S. media “is evading its responsibility to acknowledge the Gaza genocide.”
“The American media is failing,” they wrote. “Through journalistic sleight of hand — including the use of passive language, ever-shifting headlines, bothsidesism, and the myth of objectivity — reporters across the U.S. are fueling the genocide their newsrooms are refusing to acknowledge is taking place,” Witt and Vásquez added.
IN TEL AVIV
by Sofia Goodfriend
Many of the patrons at the third-wave coffee roaster I go to in Tel Aviv now wear assault rifles slung over their shoulders. Some of the regulars are among the 400,000 reservists in the Israeli military who have been deployed into combat. Back for the weekend, they clutch onto old routines: drinking espresso on ice in the sun and rolling cigarettes, wearing baggy jeans and tank tops, but bringing their army-issued weapons with them.
Tel Aviv is only 45 miles from Gaza but it usually feels a world away. It’s been called the “Miami of the Middle East,” “one of the top ten hedonistic cities in the world,” and was 2021’s “most expensive city in the world,” where nearly one in ten residents is a millionaire. Built by Jews fleeing Jaffa at the start of the 20th century, the “first Jewish city” was always meant to be cleaved off from its surroundings. In Hebrew, Tel Aviv is colloquially known as the “bubble.”
The bubble burst on 7 October, when Hamas militants massacred 1400 Israelis and foreign nationals near the Gaza border and took 250 hostages. In the war that has followed, the thud of the 900-kg bombs dropped on Gaza by Israel’s air force have reverberated all the way to Tel Aviv. Air-raid sirens send people running for shelter at least once a day, where they wait for the Iron Dome defense system to intercept the missiles launched from Gaza by Hamas. People in cafés huddle in stairwells, joggers crouch next to large boulders along on the beach, entire gyms crowd into a basement crawlspace. Then they emerge, and get on with the day. Sometimes the rockets get through: two people were injured today in Tel Aviv.
Israeli airstrikes have reduced entire neighborhoods in Gaza to rubble while a near total siege has deprived the population of vital supplies: food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet missile defense systems and millions in US military aid allow Tel Avivians to pantomime normality. Some bars are open late and children are back at school. Old routines chafe against the collective trauma of the attack on 7 October. Videos of the slaughter play on endless loop: militants shooting into bungalows, setting rows of houses on fire, taking screaming children hostage. A cabinet minister said Israel is at war with “human animals.” An elected politician suggested dropping a nuclear bomb on 2.3 million people.
As in past wars, the reality of the Israeli destruction in Gaza is largely out of sight. Foreign news channels play live footage of the airstrikes that have killed more than eleven thousand Palestinians, including over four thousand children. Yet in most Israeli media, images of children’s bodies being pulled from the rubble, of mothers kissing body bags, of hundreds of thousands of people sleeping in makeshift shelters miles from home, are nowhere to be seen. Support for a war of retribution remains high, tugging on an old idea that national redemption can be delivered through brute force.
Yet decades of military rule over the occupied Palestinian territories have not brought lasting security to Israelis. The unrelenting violence of military rule and blockade – aerial bombardment, the constant hum of reconnaissance drones, limbs mangled by sniper fire during protests at the billion-dollar ‘smart’ border fence, strip searches at checkpoints, detention without trial – have made militant organizations popular to younger generations of Palestinians fed up with empty promises of regional peace.
Young Israelis meanwhile have been taught that evil people want to destroy them, and their self-preservation hinges on the destruction of the evil people. Innovations in surveilling and shooting at a distance promised to contain the Manichean struggle to distant battlefields on the other side of border walls and checkpoints. Successive generations of Israelis grew up isolated from the constraints of the occupation in the West Bank and blind to the blockade of Gaza.
Now that the bubble has burst, few Jewish Israelis are expressing opposition to the military operation (and those who do may be fired from their jobs or threatened by right-wing mobs). This is a battle for Israel’s survival, according to right-wing politicians – even the ones who spent years ensuring that Hamas’s rule over the blockaded Gaza Strip went uncontested. Before 7 October, stickers saying FCK BNGVR were plastered on lamp-posts and public toilet walls, as Israelis took to Tel Aviv’s streets in their tens of thousands to protest against what they saw as their country’s descent into fascism. Now the stickers going up say FCK HMS.
(London Review of Books)
PEOPLE GET READY
People get ready
There's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage
You just get on board
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket
You just thank the Lord
So people get ready
There'a a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers
Coast to coast
Faith is the key
Open the doors and board them
There's hope for all
Among those loved the most
There ain't no room
For the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all mankind
Just to save his own
Have pity on those whose
Chances grow thinner
There's no hiding place
Against the Kingdom's throne
So people get ready
There's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage
You just get on board
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels hummin'
Don't need no ticket
You just thank the Lord
— Curtis Mayfield