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Mendocino County Today: Friday 5/3/24

Cloudy | Lilies | Laytonville Grocery | Caspar Event | Road Damage | Beer Fest | Ukiah Construction | Willits Graffiti | Ukiah Aesthetic | Cabot Cove | Brown Zone | Care Week | Ed Notes | Yesterday's Catch | Labor Law | Lucky Investors | PG&Expensive | Cut! | Energy Costs | Frank James | Brewery Brats | Bottle Stages | On Protesting | Free Palestine | Effective Demonstrating | Stormy | Hedges Canceled | Functioning Psychopaths | Trump Bucks | Grumpy Seinfeld | Garden Wear | Pharaoh Like | True Compassion | Whitebells

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MAINLY DRY WEATHER is expected for tonight and Friday. A colder storm with will generate moderate to heavy rain Friday night through Saturday morning. Drastically colder temperatures and light snow are expected for the mountains above 3500 feet on Saturday. Mainly dry conditions and below normal temperatures are expected next week. (NWS)

STEPHEN DUNLAP (Fort Bragg): Clear skies & 47F this Friday morning on the coast. Some increasing clouds & a lovely day for today. A seasonally strong system will arrive tonight & bring us some healthy rainfall amounts thru Saturday. Clearing on Sunday then generally dry next week.

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Watsonia-Bugle Lilies, Westport Landing (Jeff Goll)

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by Jim Shields

Just a few days ago, I was optimistic that recent developments indicated that legal wrinkles in the mysterious sales agreement between the former owner of Geiger’s Long Valley Market, Michael Braught, and the new owner, the Faizan Corporation, based in Ukiah, had apparently been ironed out. 

The sales agreement was reached late last summer. The agreement transferred ownership of the property that included the store facility, parking lot, and adjacent storage buildings. It should be noted the transaction did not include transfer of a separate legal entity, a four-partner LLC that operated the grocery business pursuant to 10-year operating lease. Braught and his family re-located to Montana in 2018.

The 10-year operating lease was jointly owned by four partners, who all have equal 25 percent shares in the lease.

In an interview with a Montana business blog that occurred in early September of 2023, Braught explained the transaction: “Last week, 30 days ago (end of July 2023), we sold the building and property in Laytonville, the grocery store and property … Two years ago, Shanna and I and one of the four owners of the LLC, Mike Maciel and his wife, bought the [Superette] building and property in Hopland … So currently, Shanna and I are just 25 percent owners of the business in Laytonville, that’s all we have. We are 50 percent owners of the building and property and business in Hopland.”

Braught’s comment about being “just a 25 percent owner of the business” apparently is a reference to the 10-year lease that controls the operation of the actual Laytonville grocery business. In other words, there are two distinct business entities previously known as Geiger’s Long Valley Market: The physical assets of the actual property, including the store facility, and a second entity, the operating lease LLC that controls the actual grocery business in the store.

Coincidentally, subsequent to the purchase of the Hopland Superette in 2021, the Laytonville grocery operation began a slide into eventual nearly empty product shelves, almost no produce, and a meat and seafood market without much of either on display. Of course, it all culminated with the store’s un-announced closure on November 1, 2023.

Ironically, in an April 2023 letter to the Laytonville community, Braught addressed the issue of rumors alleging that he was planning to sell Geiger’s. He wrote then, “Dear Community, There are few things we would like to address. First, Geiger’s Long Valley Market has operated this grocery store for decades. Geiger’s isn’t for sale and it isn’t going anywhere. Michael Braught and Shanna [Geiger] Braught have owned the land and building at 44951 Hwy 101 Laytonville separately for 26 years purchased from Bernie and Judy Geiger. Geiger’s Long Valley Market has been the tenant for those 26 years. Nearly all grocery stores lease as it’s better for basic operations. Someone else can fix the roof during a once in a generation winter storm like we just had for example. A grocery store should focus on other things like food, groceries and personnel. New title to real estate doesn’t change a long-term lease in fact it relies on it.” 

Three months after sending out his letter, Geiger’s was sold to Faizan.

Faizan bought and owns the store’s property, but Braught and his three partners still own the 10-year lease to operate a locked grocery store.

In February of this year, in a filing with the California Secretary of State, Faizan identified one of its affiliated corporations as “Laytonville Long Valley Market, Incorporated, previously know as Geiger’s Long Valley Market.” In March, Faizan purchased the off-sales liquor licensed owned by Geiger’s Long Valley Market. 

What follows is a letter I sent last week to Faizan’s CEO regarding the anticipated re-opening of the Long Valley Market.

Haji Alam

Chief Executive Officer

Faizan Corporation

Dear Mr. Alam,

By means of introduction, I am the chair of our town council, the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council.

The Council, along with most of the citizens of the greater Laytonville area, some 3,500 people, have been following with heightened interest and anticipation the re-opening of Geiger’s Long Valley Market, which has been closed since November 1, 2023.

Speaking personally, I congratulate you and your company on reaching a final purchase agreement with the previous owner (s) of the Market, and wish you well as you move ahead with plans to re-open the store for patronage by Laytonville area residents, as well as visitors.

Now that the transition of ownership is presumably complete, I believe that Laytonville citizens would appreciate the opportunity to learn in a general sense the basics of the re-opening plan.

If you or your representatives would like to address the Council and the public at a meeting regarding your re-opening plans, please know that will be readily accomplished. 

If the Council may be of any assistance to you in your re-opening efforts, please feel free to contact me at your convenience. 

Once again, wishing you good luck on your endeavors and I am looking forward to your store’s re-opening.


Jim Shields


There’s a reason why Grandma used to warn us, “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.”

I believe that saying comes from an Aesop’s fable, so Grandma must have known what she was talking about.

Anyway, my recent comments on the anticipated re-opening of the former Geiger’s Long Valley Market evidently is not quite hatched yet.

I called Haji Alam, the CEO of Faizan Corp., the day after I sent my letter inviting him to appear at an upcoming Laytonville Municipal Advisory Council meeting to share his re-opening plans with us.

He told me that he certainly would like do so but it will be delayed because a legal dispute has arisen over the former owner(s) allegedly defaulting on the store’s 10-year operating lease. For those of you who listen to my Saturday show on KPFN 105.1, are aware that I have long been wary of that operating lease and suspect it’s the main reason the former owner(s) closed the store on November 1, 2023. 

According to Alam, since the former owner(s) are no longer making monthly lease payments of $25,000, they are in violation of the original sales agreement, which includes a binding arbitration clause when disputes such as this arise. He alleges the former owners refuse to arbitrate the issue, which has left him no alternative but to sue Braught and his partners.

Realistically, at this juncture, none of us know whether the former owner(s) failed to comply with any of the terms and conditions of the sales agreement since they aren’t talking. Evidently, who’s right and who’s wrong is going to be a job for the courts to sort out. 

What a way NOT to run a grocery store.

Meanwhile, the greater Laytonville area of 3,500 people continue to pay the costs of a mess not of their making.

I’ll keep you advised on any developments.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher,, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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by Mark Scaramella

There’s been some local fanfare about the County’s plans to repave the deteriorating Mountain View Road as if it’s some kind of significant accomplishment. It is, on the surface (sic). But it shouldn’t be. If Mendo hadn’t screwed up Mountain View Road with its permit process years ago, the road would probably still be in usable shape and the funds could go to fixing much worse rural roads. We gather that not many people remember the County’s role in ruining Mountain View Road in the first place. If one knows the backstory about this particular road and the totally unnecessary damage done to it, the fanfare fades.

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When Williams Communications first proposed to bury miles of “wholesale” fiber optic cable under two of Mendo's rural County roads back in 2000 (Highway 253 and Mountain View Road to the Coast where the cable goes underwater to Hawaii and Japan), Governor Gray Davis's PUC over-ruled the state Attorney General who had strongly recommended that such major cable installation projects require an Environmental Impact Report. The Attorney General wrote a convincing explanation for why an EIR was legally required: basically the work was over the San Andreas fault, Northcoast soils are inherently unstable, improper precautions or methods might result in major road slippage, etc.

The PUC's heedless decision to waive the EIR in that case meant that relatively cashless Mendolanders near the proposed trenching would have to come up with the big bucks themselves to challenge the PUC's ruling in favor of Williams Communications, one more decision in favor of a private entity achieved, as it turned out, at public expense.

Neighbors couldn’t afford the legal fees, so there was no challenge to the trenching, and no EIR.

But Williams still needed encroachment permits from Caltrans (for 253, a state highway and a small portion of Highway 1, also a state highway) and the Mendocino Board of Supervisors (for Mountain View Road, a county road) before they could dig. Caltrans approved the Highway One and Highway 253 permits on the condition that the cable be "undergrounded" — a more costly method than simple trenching that meant using a horizontally-drilled underground tube-like hole for the cable.

Caltrans and many locals knew that a four-foot trench in Mendo's coastal rural roads would permanently ruin them and greatly increase the cost of future maintenance. But Mendo's then-Supervisors let Williams go ahead and dig an old-fashioned trench in the middle of Mountain View Road and Fish Rock Road when Williams' lawyer stoutly "guaranteed" to Mendo that the roads could and would be restored to "the same or better condition" upon completion. A token permit fee was paid to Mendo. 

But, as predicted, stretches of both roads were permanently destabilized by the trenching.

Mendo's clueless supervisors at the time — Michael Delbar, Richard Shoemaker, Tom Lucier, Patricia Campbell, and David Colfax — approved the Williams permit over the warnings and objections of a small group of Anderson Valley and Coastal residents. (If Cowboy Johnny Pinches had been on the Board things might have been different…)

Permit in hand, Williams proceeded to pay a low-bid contractor to dig their trench, although it was never clear who was doing the actual work since much of the heavy trenching equipment was rented — a sure sign that Williams was trenching on the cheap, and that the work wasn't particularly well planned or supervised.

Several large ranches whose lands bordered Mountain View Road didn't particularly like the idea of their primary county road being wrecked, but they didn't complain because they got some money from Williams for various forms of temporary neighboring land access rights during the trenching.

After months of local traffic snarls, the gaping trenches were covered up and the pavement patched, but the roads still looked rough and wrinkled to the mostly local drivers on the road — hardly “as good or better,” as Williams had promised.

(A google maps street view still clearly shows the remnants of the trench, paved over, but permanently weakened.)

A County-commissioned study — prepared later in response to citizen pressure in hopes of getting Williams to improve the patch job — released back in 2002, confirmed residents' predictions that the roadbed had been irreparably damaged. The two compacted six-foot wide slabs of soil created by cutting the road in half with the trench started moving inward toward the trench when it was first dug, and it has continued to slowly move inward toward the weakened area of the filled-in trench, even after compaction and refill.

The study, by Chico-based Chec Engineering, specialists in this kind of road damage, said that the roadbed has suffered “significant structural damage.”

According to the study, the only way to partially mitigate the damage was to substantially increase the pavement thickness and hope it holds it together — an expensive proposition. Perhaps to be done by the repave the County is preparing to contract for.

But the problem went deeper. In late 2002, Williams Communications' parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It seems the cable communications industry stuck way more cable into the ground than anybody wanted back before the 2000 boom went dot.bust. (Mendo County, by the way, got no cable access, no nothing from this destructive project.)

Using the new engineering study documenting the obvious and already known, Mendocino County asked the bankrupt Williams outfit to do something about the road damage Mendo’s Supervisors had naively allowed them to do. Williams' bankruptcy notice insisted that their day-to-day cable operations wouldn’t be affected by the bankruptcy filing. But Williams simultaneously tried to get creditors to accept their nearly worthless stock — not an optimistic sign.

Theoretically, Mendo had some leverage over Williams because all that they actually installed in the trench was an empty conduit. There's not even a cable down there to show for all the trouble! So at the time there was the possibility that Williams would have to get another permit to install the actual cable, a permit that could have imposed improvement conditions.

But Williams Communications, the telecom company itself, was later sold to a vulture capitalist by parent company Williams Communications Group, which itself was bailed out of bankruptcy by Warren Buffett on condition that it stick to energy pipelines and abandon telecommunications activity. So Williams Communications never applied for the second permit.

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As best we recall, Mendo eventually got a small cash settlement out of Williams in bankruptcy court, but nothing was done about the physical damage to Mountain View Road. The Independent Coast Observer used to run pictures of segments of Mountain View Road on the Coast side showing wrinkled asphalt and other road damage that was usually smoothed or temporarily patched by County road crews who probably don’t even know the history of how that trench got there or realize that there’s nothing in the trench except an empty conduit.

The ugly paved over trench is still visible in the middle of Mountain View Road as seen in the above Google Streetview pic.

Back in 2017 Mountain View Road had to be closed (again) because another chunk of the road had collapsed, making passage by low wheel clearance vehicles difficult and dangerous. 

Given the history, Mountain View Road has continued to collapse and be patched since then, making it a real obstacle course for local drivers.

County Transpo Director Howard Dashiell is pretty creative though. He has managed to find some funding (we think it might be FEMA storm damage money) to finance a repaving project on Mountain View Road. 

But if Mendo had simply taken the same position as Caltrans did, the repaving project probably wouldn’t be necessary.

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Randy Burke of Gualala added: “I recall after moving to Mendo county in 2001 the interest in resolving the issues you remind the reader of. What I find interesting is that there has been no mention of a performance bond or a maintenance bond. There may have been both of these in place, I am not sure. But had they been activated, the bonding companies would have ended up on the financial hook to make the installation whole and bring it up to county/state specs.”

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CHAY PETERSON: So many wonderful Valley volunteers working throughout the weekend for Anderson Valley Brewing’s annual Boonville Beer Fest! Got your tix yet? It’s this Saturday!! Proceeds support many of our local non profit organizations so let’s “Let the Froth be with Us” rain or shine!

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On the south side of the project, concrete crews are working the complete the formation of new curbs and gutters, sidewalks, and driveways. Additionally, old streetlights are being removed to make room for new. Please use extra caution while driving in this area, as it will be a little darker than usual. There will be temporary impacts to some driveways, but crews will provide advance notification and mitigate impacts to the best of our ability.

On the north side (Norton to Henry), installation of the brick band along the edge of the sidewalks will continue. In roughly three weeks, removal of the existing street will begin. Much of this section of State Street was constructed out of concrete (back when it was Highway 101), which makes the process a little more difficult, and probably a little noisier. More details will be provided in the coming weeks. Note: We removed the stop sign at State and Norton; however, the changed conditions proved too challenging at this time and it has been replaced. Please proceed carefully in this area.

On Main Street, as part of the “Urban Core” project (, potholing will continue during the week of May 6th, and tree removal in some areas will also occur this week. Once potholing is completed, restricted parking will be limited to the immediate construction area(s).

Work on curbs, gutters, and sidewalks between Mill and Gobbi continues, along with electric infrastructure and irrigation; on the north side, installation of the brick band in the sidewalk.

Construction hours will be Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. - 6 p.m., depending on the weather.

There will be some noise associated with the south section; not much dust.

On the south side, on-street parking in the construction zone will be closed; however, on-street parking on the north side of the project is open in most areas (see above). Pedestrian access to businesses will be maintained at all times. Through traffic on State Street will be allowed in both directions. Traffic signals at Gobbi/State and Mill/State and Scott/State will remain on flash.

Thank you,


Shannon Riley

Deputy City Manager

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Old Train Engine, Willits (Jeff Goll)

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Dear Ukiah City Planners,

If you want people (ie tourists) to come to Ukiah, there needs to be something more than a "catchy slogan" - when they get here, it has to be worth it! Most of the charm of Ukiah was destroyed decades ago. There is so little left, that you're not going to get any word-of-mouth traffic, let alone return visitors, with or without a restored Palace Hotel. There needs to be some really wonderful things to see - How about outrageously gorgeous, colorful and different buildings?

The new County Courthouse you have planned is simply boring, and no one will be interested in looking at it. Yes, I'm sure you'll say it's too late to come up with a truly WONDERFUL new design, but re-think that! You're going to spend millions on it - and it's already taken years to get going, so what's a couple more? - what if you could make it an ATTRACTION? So beautiful and different, people would be HAPPY to get off the freeway and look at it? That building could be the start - then mandate that new buildings follow suit - and remodels of existing - like the totally boring county buildings, hotels and malls Ukiah has? They could be transformed relatively easily - colorful designs painted on to begin with!

I bet there is a Native American architect who could come up with gorgeous designs using some variation of traditional Native American motifs. You'd be amazed what the right designs can do! look at what Bolivia has done in the town of El Alto! Crazy fun and beautiful, and totally different!

Make Ukiah a REAL destination!

Sincerely, Nancy MacLeod

Concerned citizen of Mendocino County


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by Sarah Nathe

You can’t find Cabot Cove, Maine, on any map, but like Brigadoon, it comes back to life every now and then. This coming weekend is one of those times. The Kelley House’s second annual Murder, She Wrote Festival will celebrate the memory of Angela Lansbury, and let Jessica Fletcher fans walk in her fictional footsteps on Saturday and Sunday. On May 4th, “Deadly Lady,” one of the first episodes filmed in Mendocino, will be screened at the Matheson Performing Arts Center at 4:00 pm (with a special introduction by local resident Doug Nunn, who appeared in the episode back when he was much younger). 

Angela Lansbury wheels her bicycle past Mitch's Barber Shop on the northeast corner of Lansing and Ukiah Streets, 1988.

Afterwards, attendees will walk across the street to a hosted reception at the Blair House, Jessica’s lovely home, where they are invited to explore the inn’s rooms, including Angela’s Suite, peruse original scripts from the TV show, and bid on items in a silent auction, the proceeds of which will benefit the museum’s Education Program. The screening and reception are sold out, but if you need to feel part of the celebration, there is a special Angela Lansbury Exhibit all weekend in the Kelley House. 

On Saturday, May 5th, at 1:30 pm, lucky fans will take a Murder, She Wrote walking tour through Mendocino. The 1.5-hour stroll will visit a dozen filming locations for the TV show and conclude with a tea party in the Kelley House Museum. Participants will enjoy the special exhibit about Angela while they sip teas provided by the Mendocino Tea Company, currently observing its 20th anniversary, and nibble on cookies from the Good Life Bakery. Alas, tickets for the walking tour and tea party have sold out, but an extra walking tour has been added on Saturday, May 4, at 11:30 pm. Tickets are $25 each.

If you are bummed that you missed out on all the fun because earlier announcements about the festival somehow passed you by, email to sign up for the Kelley House newsletter. That way you’ll be among the first to find out about next year’s festival plans, and you’ll keep up with other interesting events at the museum.

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by Andrew Lutsky

It’s not easy being … brown.

A dispute has erupted in Mendocino County as a local journalist claims all five members of the Board of Supervisors engaged in unlawful communications over designating the county a “Brown Zone” prior to their April 9 meeting.

Last week journalist Mark Scaramella of the Anderson Valley Advertiser submitted a Ralph M. Brown Act violation notice to the County alleging that their communications “were an unprecedented, clear and improper attempt to influence the public’s understanding of a ‘Brown Zone’ and the decision over whether to declare our county the world’s first Brown Zone.” The designation was created by independent journalist Elliott Rosewater whose trademark defines a Brown Zone as a region where residents produce the most regular and optimally formed bowel movements in the world as measured by the Bristol Stool Chart.

In February a study in the journal Nature indicated Mendocino County residents outperform all other global population centers based on Rosewater’s metrics, and Rosewater then began working with Board members to plan a dedication ceremony to take place following its unanimous adoption of the Brown Zone status on April 9.

In response to the allegation, Fifth District Supervisor Ted Williams wrote on Facebook: “Decisions to support colored zones – Blue, Pink, Yellow or Brown – are a Supervisor's individual right to free speech.”

“I didn't talk to any of [the other Supervisors], but irrespective, it's not action that would come before the county. It happens that we all endorsed a status – one we can certainly take pride in – but there was no secret movement. AVA's Brown Act Violation argument is laughable, but it puts their overall reporting in context of not understanding the basics.”

Second District Supervisor Maureen Mulheren, also responding on social media, stated: “I can’t imagine who would have a problem with county leaders coming together to affirm something quite positive that also happens to be Brown.”

Through a Public Records Act request Scaramella learned more about the supervisors’ communications in the weeks leading up to their nearly simultaneous public endorsements. In one email exchange First District Supervisor McGourty jokingly asked Rosewater: “These Brown Zones of yours don't have any dark secrets I should know about? Illegitimate children, scorned women, drunken brawls with local police, etc…? Just asking!”

In another message Rosewater asked Third District Supervisor Haschak for guidance: “Wondering if you think it would be better to have the individual supervisors each write an endorsement of Brown Zones or just state that I have the full endorsement of the Board?” Haschak replied, “I would think individual statements. Later you can toot [sic] that you have the entire Board's support.”

In response to a request for comment, Scaramella stated, “Mendocino County may or may not be a Brown Zone, we’re not debating that claim. We are challenging the legality of five supervisors simultaneously declaring their support for Brown Zone status when the item was already agendized and in a manner that suggests a prohibited ‘serial meeting’ likely occurred.” “If it wasn’t an actual serial meeting it was at least a loosely-formed movement that had the appearance and stench of one,” AVA editor Bruce Anderson added.

A Color Combo Thwarted

The county’s endorsement of Rosewater’s designation represents a direct challenge to the Blue Zones empire built by its founder and evangelizer Dan Buettner. According to Buettner, a Brown Zone is a geographic locale that has been concurrently designated a Blue, Pink and Yellow Zone, and for years he has actively pursued trademark infringement claims against Rosewater.

In the year since Mendocino’s county seat was named the world’s second fully authenticated Pink Zone – a locale where residents enjoy the most frequent and intense orgasms in the world – Lodi, Ca., also earned recognition as a Yellow Zone – a geographic area where humans excel cognitively as measured by IQ intelligence testing – after a majority of its nurses voted to unionize.

Experts had predicted Adventist Health’s lucrative Blue Zones brand would soon announce the identity of additional Pink and Yellow Zones and would finally unveil the location of an exceedingly rare, entirely Brown domain.

In response to a request for comment on the current controversy over the Brown Zone designation and the possible violation of good government rules, AH’s spokesperson Rachel K. Green wrote: "The [Seventh Day Adventist] Church believes that the self-sacrifice required for its healing mission is inherently incompatible with the self-serving goals of some secular practices, including, in this case, defining the status of a community through fecal examination.” “We believe the color of a zone should rightfully be determined by the objective Blue, Yellow and Pink standards that journalist and world explorer Dan Buettner has unearthed."

Green added that allowing stool samples to determine public health policy would interfere with hospital administrators' ability to receive policy guidance directly from God: "We are required to seek God's direct guidance and direction with how we employ our resources.” The use of qualitative stool data in particular “would be a direct interference with our process of seeking God's guidance and leadership," Green said.

In his remarks at the Pink Zone authentication ceremony in Ukiah in February of 2023, Buettner jokingly expressed doubt that any Mendocino County locale would qualify for Yellow status, much less Brown. Reached for comment regarding the county’s adoption of Rosewater’s Brown Zone appellation, Buettner stated, “If there’s no Yellow there can be no Brown, I think that’s obvious to most people.”

“It’s time for the Elliott Rosewaters of the world to accept that Brown Zones are not all about feces. How important is stool quality compared to longevity, having a high IQ and experiencing the most frequent and intense orgasms?” he asked, referring to his conception of Blue, Yellow and Pink Zones, respectively.

Oops … Blue Zones Don’t Appear to Be True Zones

As challenges to Buettner’s claims regarding common features of so-called blue zones and to the validity of the concept itself have multiplied in recent years, the movement’s founder has taken to fiercely defending the idea to which he devoted more than a decade of his career and which he sold to Adventist Health for $78 million in 2021.

Regarding Oxford University researcher Saul Newman’s study “Supercentenarian and remarkable age records exhibit patterns indicative of clerical errors and pension fraud,” which debunks the very existence of blue zones, Buettner told Salon magazine, “The Saul Newmans of the world can find ways to poke holes, but it's not where I want to spend my time." Readers debated whether by “the Saul Newmans of the world” Buettner was referring specifically to demographers who work at the world’s most elite universities or more generally to all members of the scientific community.

Newman’s study concludes that “relative poverty and short lifespan constitute unexpected predictors of centenarian and supercentenarian status and support a primary role of fraud and error in generating remarkable human age records.”

Last year the Brevard Newsbeat newsletter reported that another scientist, Eric D. Carter, a professor of geography and global health at Minnesota’s Macalester College, stated Blue Zones “pretend that they are in the scientific research domain, but they are really more in the marketing domain.”

In the Newsbeat article Dr. Carter adds: “To me it’s just a lot of mumbo-jumbo.” In a message discovered through the AVA’s public records request, Mr. Buettner appeals to Supervisor Williams to accept his tri-color definition of a Brown Zone, promising that “people eat this ____ up,” inserting an impolite epithet for fecal matter.

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Please tell Torrey, Holly, Dawn, & Lisa that I am following their advice of “attending a self-care day.” Actually, it’s a week. I’m worth it.


Kirk Vodopals

Navarro (but not at this moment)

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LESSER-OF-TWO-EVILISM remains the Democrat's traditional bludgeon, but this election at least it comes with some plausibility, what with the Orange Monster running strong for another four years as primary chaos agent. If we don't get behind Biden, the lib labs tell us, Trump “will end our democracy.” Which, for all practical purposes years ago segued into an oligarchy or, as George Carlin put it, “It's a club, and you ain't in it.”

AND WHO IS BIDEN? He's a non-functioning ceremonial figure trotted out on limited occasions to pretend he's president while an anonymous junta does whatever needs to be done. The office is running itself. But we're supposed to ratify this arrangement because it isn't Trump. 

AND how much democracy do we have? From the little guy perspective of Mendocino County, we have democracy right up to the county line. Beyond that, anonymous Democratic big shots choose our candidates who are duly ratified, and overwhelmingly, by the alleged progressive Democrat voters of the Northcoast because Biden on down through Huffman, Wood and McGuire aren't Trump or Trumpists.

WE HAVE a machine Democrat congressman, like a majority of Democrats, who blithely signs off on funding for the Israeli fascists, making all of us registered Democrats complicit in major crimes against humanity. We're supposed to vote for more of this because the Democrats aren't Trump?

WHEN THE INTERNET kicked in 30 years ago, I knew print was in trouble. And the way the ’net took hold so fast and became so prevalent… the repercussions are still creating havoc with not only print but with other media, notably audio, notably public audio like KQED in the Bay Area and probably KZYX where fundraising has always been frantic but now seems positively frightened. 

PATTERNS of media consumption are still in flux, and the flux seems fluxing away from public radio and public television. The few young people I know — the young people I know are between the ages of 50 and 70 and they're all lib-left — tune in their preferred commentators directly for information about the great world outside. People younger than that seem to get all their media input from their telephones, and that info doesn't seem pegged to linear thought about the real world.

THE GREAT MASS of people under the age of forty don't listen to radio, don't read newspapers in either print or cyber form, watch mindless television, and don't buy books. I'd bet the average age of a KQED or KZYX consumer is around 55 or more.

INFORMATION is as fragmented as our crumbling society, although the public library bookstore here in San Anselmo does a brisk trade in used books — I even saw a teenage boy browsing the shelves one day — and the local librarian tells me, “We're always busy.”

OF COURSE if we were still a literate society, not that we ever fully were, we certainly wouldn't have a presidential choice between the Biden junta and Trump.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, May 2, 2024

Dewitt, Esquivel, Heine

KENNETH DEWITT JR., Ukiah. Paraphernalia, parole violation.

ORLANDO ESQUIVEL SR., Covelo. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

COREY HEINE, Ukiah. Probation revocation, resisting.

Moyer, Oliver, Peters

ROBERT MOYER, Willits. DUI with blood-alcohol over 0.15%, probation revocation.

FRANKLIN OLIVER, Covelo. Robbery, grand theft, kidnapping, conspiracy, offenses while on bail.

BYRON PETERS, Covelo. Robbery, kidnapping, conspiracy, resisting.

Reid, Sanchez, Seymour

JASON REID, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol&drugs, suspended license for DUI.

FABIAN SANCHEZ, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting, offenses while on bail.

BLAKE SEYMOUR, Myrtle Creek, Oregon/Ukiah. Battery with serious injury, disorderly conduct-under influence.

Smith, Tucker, Wichers

IZAAK SMITH, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

BRETT TUCKER, Laytonville. Stolen property, probation revocation.

JEFFREY WICHERS JR., Ukiah. Battery.

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Will California's new farmworker labor law survive the assault by the Wonderful Company?

by David Bacon

It took two marches from the southern San Joaquin Valley to Sacramento, and months of mobilization and pressure on Governor Gavin Newsom, to get a card check law for farmworkers. In the end, though, on September 28, 2022 he signed AB 2183, giving California field workers the best agricultural labor law in the country.

Marchers in Sacramento at the end of the 22-day march to win the card check bill.

Today that law is in danger. In a courthouse in Visalia, a small city in the heart of Republican grower country, a hearing opened last week to undo the law's first landmark achievement - the certification of the United Farm Workers as the union for workers at Wonderful Nurseries. A union in this 640-worker operation could lead to organizing the rest of the gigantic Wonderful agribusiness complex, which employs over seven thousand grape, nut and tree fruit laborers.

At stake, however, is more than just a union at Wonderful.  The hearing has become the focal point of a campaign combining politics, media and union busting, that takes aim at the law itself.…

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‘EVERYONE IS GETTING SQUEEZED’: California electricity prices now second-highest in U.S.

by Julie Johnson

North Beach resident Serena Satyasai never thought much about her utility bill, but that was before February when California’s electricity prices rose to become the highest in the contiguous United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

Satyasai’s Pacific Gas and Electric bill jumped by about $100 compared to the same month last year. Like many of PG&E’s 5.5 million customers, she’s having to rescript her monthly budget around these rising costs.

“Everyone is getting squeezed,” Satyasai said. 

Propelled in large part by PG&E, which hiked residential electricity rates by 20% for about 16 million Californians in January, the state high electricity prices are second only to Hawaii, which is always an expensive outlier because of the costs of shipping oil to the far-flung archipelago.

A pack of New England states have historically had some of the nation’s highest electricity prices (the federal government doesn’t track rates but rather calculates prices using customer counts, sales and revenue data) due to factors like a shortage in natural gas pipeline capacity plus the region’s reliance on costly fossil fuels to generate electricity. 

But California has joined them in the last ten years, leapfrogging with Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to periodically hold the title as the most expensive state for electricity usage in the lower 48. (Even though Californians pay a high amount for each unit of electricity, their total bills tend to be lower than other states in the Northeast and South due to the West Coast’s relatively temperate climate.)

East Coast residents are paying higher prices during cold winter months with Californians paying higher electricity prices for a brief period nearly every summer since 2014, likely when people must cool their homes during heatwaves. 

It is unusual for Californians to pay higher prices than the East Coast in the depth of winter. This year alone, typical Northern and Central California households (which use about 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month) will pay over $400 more annually on their PG&E bill. 

PG&E currently charges the most for electricity among California’s three investor-owned utilities with an average residential rate of $0.397 per kilowatt hour. The company’s residential electricity rates have risen more dramatically than the other utilities, jumping 128% over the last decade. 

San Diego Gas and Electric’s average residential electricity rate is $0.383 per kilowatt hour and Southern California Edison’s rate is $0.338. 

PG&E has vowed to keep future rate increases between 2% and 4% annually, and said January’s dramatic hike was partly due to the slow pace of state approvals that compressed two years of rate hikes into one. 

PG&E chief executive officer Patti Poppe last week told investors during a quarterly earnings call that the company is taking dramatic steps to increase efficiency and lower costs. In an interview with the Chronicle, Poppe said the focus on lowering operational costs is new for the company and one that she hopes will show up in lower bills in the future. 

“The work we’re doing is really necessary,” Poppe said. 

Robert McCullough, an Oregon-based energy consultant who has studied California’s utility markets, said California’s historically high electricity prices can in part be tied to complicated factors like the state’s deregulation of the energy industry in the 1990s. 

But McCullough blamed January’s sticker shock hitting PG&E customers this year on the company’s deferred maintenance of its aging electric grid.

The company attributes about 85% of January’s rate increase to covering the costs to modernize, upgrade and strengthen its aging electric and natural gas infrastructure at a time when climate change has made the state increasingly vulnerable to storms and wildfires. 

“Pacific Gas and Electric fell behind on its maintenance and even without global warming that would have been a big bill,” McCullough said. 

And PG&E’s rates are set to be eclipsed by San Diego Gas and Electric before the end of 2024. The San Diego utility has temporarily dropped rates to compensate customers after previously charging too much, according to the Public Advocate's Office of the California Public Utilities Commission. 

Californians’ utility bills could also be impacted by a controversial proposed monthly fixed charge of about $24.

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Regarding Loretta Lynch’s recent article about “the real reason PG&E rates are skyrocketing in California…” Lynch comments on the fixed charge proceedings at the California Public Utilities Commission as an unfortunate misrepresentation of the debate. 

The fixed charge is not “on top of” per-kilowatt-hour prices but rather explicitly designed to be offset by lower per-kWh prices. The fixed fee is not the “start of more rate increases” because it is not a rate increase but rather a recognition that putting the entirety of revenue collection into the per-kWh price undermines incentives to electrify homes and hurts the lowest-income customers. 

Lynch frets that the proposed fixed charge “exceeds twice the national average,” but ignores that the current per-kWh charges of these utilities are already much more than twice the national average. Under the proposed change, fixed charges would make up approximately 10°0 of residential hills, about equal to the national average. 

California indeed faces a crisis of electric utility bills. Mischaracterizing policy options will not help us solve it. 

Severin Borenstein, faculty director, UC Berkeley Energy Institute at Haas; member, board of governors, California Independent System Operator 


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In his letter about PG&E's fixed-fee plan, Severin Borenstein correctly warns against mischaracterizing policy options. But, unfortunately, he may be guilty of the same. 

The plan can simply be stated as transferring costs from high-usage electricity customers to middle-class ratepayers and any ratepayer who reduced their load through solar or energy efficiency. But that makes solar and energy efficiency much less attractive, which is the opposite of being beneficial, as Borenstein claims. 

It is more akin to the old utility arguments of electricity that is “too cheap to meter,” but just happened to have the effect of increasing shareholder value through high-fixed charges. 

The alleged benefit justifying this boon to high electricity users is that it enhances electrification. Climate change is forcing us to move in this direction. The fragility of the electric grid and the current reliance on fossil fuels to generate power imply that we should not rush that process. 

Solar and energy efficiency improvements help climate change regardless of the fuel used and should not be gutted by reducing rates. 

Max Sherman, retired senior staff scientist, 

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


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Regarding PG&E’s CEO getting paid $17 million a year. Here's how that compares to other utility leaders. 

Thanks to Mark Toney of the Utility Reform Network for pointing out the obvious: The distinction between shareholder and ratepayer money is specious. All of PG&E's money is derived from their customers every month. 

That PG&E chooses to squander large amounts of money on advertising — like we're going to pick another utility if they don't tell us how wonderful they are? — and bloated executive pay is infuriating, as is the rubber stamp regulation supplied by the California Public Utilities Commission. 

A good start toward rectifying this situation might be making commission positions elected offices rather than appointments. 

William Raffetto


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Frank James, brother of the more famous Jesse James, at the James family farm in Clay County, Missouri, 1913, a few years before his death.

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by Esther Mobley

Of all the things that are riling people up this week, the presence of children at breweries has ignited a unique sort of dispute.

“Stop Bringing Your Kids To Breweries Im Trying To Relax,” wrote @tapptastical on X in a post that, as I’m writing, has been viewed 3.4 million times. 

Predictably, the internet had some thoughts. “I’m going to bring my kids to breweries even harder now,” responded @Ephon. Another user, @RolyBenitez, pointed out the obvious: “Who relaxes at a brewery”? Many suggested that if @tapptastical wanted to avoid children they might consider going to … a bar. 

But a sizable contingent of the thread agreed with the original poster’s sentiment: Breweries should be child-free zones. Some criticized parents for getting drunk around their kids; others proposed that brewery-goers hire a babysitter. “And if you purposely let your kids run wild and I just so happen to spill my beer on them, that is your fault,” wrote @Don_Yeager. (To which @clhubes replied, “If you think beer is the worst thing my child has been covered in, think again.”)

As a new parent, I have some thoughts too. I liked going to breweries before I had a kid; since having one, I am at breweries all. the. time. To scroll through my phone photos is to witness my baby’s grand tour of Bay Area taprooms. Granted, sometimes these visits constitute work (“work”) for me, but my family and I find ourselves at a brewery pretty much every weekend regardless of my assignments. In other words, I’m @tapptastical’s worst nightmare. 

It wasn’t always this way. At some point in the last decade or so, craft breweries became hubs for parents with young children, and it’s easy to see why. Taprooms tend to be casual, expansive, often outdoor spaces with plenty of room for running around. They’re open during the day, an ideal time for socializing if you have to be home for an early bedtime. If they serve food, the menu often includes items like fries and burgers. Unlike in a chic restaurant, no one cares if you get a little messy or a little loud.

Those features made breweries incidentally kid-friendly, without them even having to try. Then they started trying. These days, as many X users pointed out this week, breweries actively woo children by installing playgrounds and claw machines.

The San Francisco poster child for this is Barebottle Brewing in Bernal Heights, which happens to be the taproom that my family visits most frequently. The sprawling, open brewhouse includes a whole arcade, with games like Ms. Pacman and Killer Queen. 

I called up Lester Koga, one of Barebottle’s three owners, to discuss the recent X storm. “When we opened, people would call us Babybottle,” he said, which made me laugh out loud.

Welcoming families was part of Barebottle’s intention from the start, Koga said. He wanted to model the place on the biergartens he’d visited in Germany — essentially “public parks with jungle gyms,” he said, where “you have your beer hut and your hot dog hut and your pretzel hut.” Kids run free while parents drink their low-alcohol kolsches.

But Koga, whose partner was pregnant when the brewery opened in 2016, was beginning to see San Francisco as “a kid un-friendly environment.” Even at restaurants that ostensibly allow children, families don’t always feel comfortable. “When you come in with a stroller, you feel like you’re taking up too much space,” said Koga. He attributed this attitude partly to the city’s culture — after all, we’re famously the most childless major city in the U.S. — and partly to the fact that many public spaces here feel cramped. 

He thought Barebottle, with its massive square footage, could be an antidote to that. Yet even with that mission, Koga said they never could have predicted just how much of a baby magnet Barebottle would become. I know what he means. I can still remember the first time my husband and I went soon after it opened. On a crowded weekend afternoon, we were the only people there without a child in our group.

The anti-kid feelings expressed in the X thread felt familiar to Koga. In the early days, he said, childless patrons (not me!) would complain to the bartenders and send him angry emails. Over the years, though, those have trickled off. “Maybe it’s just people naturally saying we’re not gonna come to Barebottle if they don’t want to be around kids,” said Koga, “and that’s OK with me.”

To be clear, not every Bay Area brewery is as much of a children’s wonderland as this one. Even Barebottle’s other taprooms (in Salesforce Park, Santa Clara and Menlo Park) aren’t as inundated with little ones, according to Koga. And some outright ban children: My baby has gotten turned away from Southern Pacific in the Mission District. That would be a great place for @tapptastical to relax.

A generational shift may be underway. When I was a kid, the country wasn’t overrun with taprooms the way it is now, but even if it had been, I don’t think it ever would have occurred to my parents to spend a Saturday at a big communal table (an “Oktoberfest table,” as some breweries call them) with a group of their friends and drag us kiddos along. But for millennial parents like me, this has become the dominant weekend vibe.

Sometimes, my husband and I feel jealous of people like @tapptastical, who (I’m presuming here) don’t have their weekend schedules dictated by naptimes and can waltz into any bar they want without having to wonder what sort of liquor license the place has. We miss going to our favorite dives and seedy beer bars. We miss the Toronado and Vesuvio and O’Keeffe’s and the Lone Palm. We miss going out at night.

But like Koga and the many other parents we congregate with every weekend, we’re gradually accepting that we’re in a new stage of life now. And breweries offer us a different kind of magic. “That’s what at its core makes brewery taprooms great — they’re meeting places,” Koga said. “You’re not going there to get plastered and find somebody to hook up with. It’s an environment that feels safe for your kids.”

He continued, “You graduate from bars to breweries.”

(SF Chronicle)

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by Bernie Sanders

(Bernie Sanders remarks on Wednesday night on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the student protests taking place on college campuses across the country, and the ongoing, horrific humanitarian disaster in Gaza.)

Some of us have been out of school for a while and we may have forgotten our American history. But I did want to take a moment to remind some of my colleagues about a document called the U.S. Constitution and, specifically, the First Amendment of that Constitution.

For those that may have forgotten, here is what the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Let me also take this opportunity to remember our late colleague, the former congressman John Lewis for his heroic role in the Civil Rights Movement.

I know it’s very easy to heap praise on Congressman Lewis and many others decades after they did what they did, but, I would remind my colleagues them that Mr. Lewis was arrested 45 times for participating in sit-ins, occupations, and protests – 45 times – for protesting segregation and racism.

I would also remind my colleagues that the Lunch Counter protest at Woolworths and elsewhere desegregating the South were in fact sit-ins and occupations where young Black and white Americans bravely took up space in private businesses, demanding an end to racism and segregation that existed at that time.

Further, as I hope everybody knows, we have also seen in recent decades protests — some of them massive protests — against sexism, homophobia, and the need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels in order to save this planet.

In other words, protesting injustice and expressing our opinions is part of our American tradition. And when you talk about America being a free country, whether you like it or not the right to protest is what American freedom is all about. That’s the U.S. constitution.

Let me also remind you: exactly 60 years ago, student demonstrators occupied the exact same building on Columbia’s campus as is taking place right now – ironically, the same building.

Across the country, students and others, including myself, joined peaceful demonstrations in opposition to the war in Vietnam. Those demonstrators were demanding an end to that War.

And maybe – just maybe – tens of thousands of American lives and countless Vietnamese lives might have been saved if the Government had listened to those demonstrators.

And I might also add that the President at that time – a great president — Lyndon Johnson, chose not to run for re-election because of the opposition to him that occurred as a result of his support for that Vietnam War. And further, let us not forget those who demonstrated against the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe those protestors should have been listened to as well.

Shock of all shocks, government policy is not always right.

M. President, I noted recently that a number of my colleagues in both parties, as well as many news reporters, TV, newspapers, are very concerned about the protests and violence we are seeing on campuses across the country.

So let me be clear: I share those concerns about violence on campuses, or, for that matter, any place else, and I condemn those who threw a brick through a window at Columbia University. That kind of violence should not be taking place on college campuses.

I am also concerned and condemn about the group of individuals at UCLA in California who violently attacked the peaceful encampment of anti-war demonstrators on the campus of UCLA.

Let me be clear: I condemn all forms of violence on campus whether they are committed by people who support Israel’s war efforts or those who oppose those policies.

And I hope we can also agree that in the United States all forms of bigotry must be condemned and eliminated. We are seeing a growth of antisemitism in this country which we must all condemn and work to stop.

We are also seeing a growth of Islamophobia in this country which we must all condemn and stop. And in that regard, I would mention that in my very own city of Burlington, Vermont, three wonderful young Palestinian students were shot at close range on November 25th of last year. They were visiting a family member to celebrate Thanksgiving, walking down the street, and they were shot.

Let make an additional point, I have noted that there is an increasing tendency in the media and on the part of some of my colleagues here in the Senate to use the phrase “Pro-Palestinian” to suggest that that means “Pro-Hamas”.

To my mind, that is unacceptable and factually inaccurate. The overwhelming majority of American people and protestors understand very well that Hamas is a terrorist organization that started this war by attacking Israel in an incredibly brutal and horrific way on October 7th.

To stand up for Palestinian rights and the dignity of the Palestinian people does not make one a supporter of terrorism.

And let me also mention something that I found rather extraordinary and outrageous.

And that is just a few days ago Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing extremist government in Israel, a government which contains out-and-out anti-Palestinian racists.

Netanyahu issued a statement in which he equated criticism of his government’s illegal and immoral war against the Palestinian people with antisemitism.

In other words, if you are protesting, or disagree, with what Netanyahu and his extremist government are doing in Gaza, you are an antisemite.

That is an outrageous statement from a leader who is clearly trying – and I have to tell you, he seems to be succeeding with the American media — trying to deflect attention away from the horrific policies that he is pursuing that created an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.

So, let me be as clear as I can be: It is not antisemitic or pro-Hamas to point out that in almost seven months Netanyahu’s extremist government has killed 34,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 77,000 – seventy percent of whom are women and children.

And to protest that or to point that out is not antisemitic. It is simply factual.

It is not antisemitic to point out that Netanyahu’s government’s bombing has completely destroyed more than 221,000 housing units in Gaza, leaving more than one million people homeless – almost half the population. No, Mr. Netanyahu it is not antisemitic to point out what you have done in terms of the destruction of housing in Gaza.

It is not antisemitic to realize that his government has annihilated Gaza’s health care system, knocking 26 hospitals out of service and killing more than 400 health care workers. At a time when 77,000 people have been wounded and desperately need medical care, Netanyahu has systematically destroyed the health care system in Gaza.

It is not antisemitic to condemn his government’s destruction of all of Gaza’s 12 universities and 56 of its schools, with hundreds more damaged, leaving 625,000 children in Gaza have no opportunity for an education. It is not antisemitic to make that point.

It is not antisemitic to note that Netanyahu’s government has obliterated Gaza’s civilian infrastructure – there is virtually no electricity in Gaza right now, virtually no clean water in Gaza right now, and sewage is seeping out onto the streets.

It is not antisemitic to make that point.

It is not antisemitic to agree with virtually every humanitarian organization that functions in the Gaza area in saying that his government, in violation of American law, has unreasonably blocked humanitarian aid coming into Gaza.

They have created the conditions under which hundreds of thousands of children face malnutrition and famine. It is not antisemitic to look at photographs of children who are starving to death because they have not been able to get the food that they need. It is not antisemitic to agree with American and UN officials that parts of Gaza could become famine districts in the not very distant future.

Antisemitism is a vile and disgusting form of bigotry that has done unspeakable harm to many millions of people for hundreds of years, including my own family. But it is outrageous and it is disgraceful to use that charge of antisemitism to distract us from the immoral and illegal war policies that Netanyahu’s extremist and racist government is pursuing.

Furthermore, it is really cheap politics for Netanyahu to use the charge of antisemitism to deflect attention from the criminal indictment he is facing in the Israeli courts.

Bottomline, M. President: it is not antisemitic to hold Netanyahu and his government for their actions. That is not antisemitic. It is precisely what we should be doing.

Because among other things we are the government that has supplied billions and billions of dollars in order for him to continue his horrific war against the Palestinian people.

I would also point out while there has been wall to wall coverage of student protests, I think that’s about all CNN does right now, I should mention that it is not just young people on college campuses that are extremely upset about our Government’s support and funding for this illegal and immoral war.

And I would point out that just last week this Senate voted to give Netanyahu another unfettered $10 billion for his war.

Let me quote just a few polls:

April 14 – Politico/Morning Consult: 67% support the United States calling for a ceasefire. This is at a time when Netanyahu is threatening to expand the war into Rafah.

April 12th – CBS: 60% think the U.S. should not send weapons and supplies to Israel as opposed to 40% who think the U.S. should. And for my Democratic colleagues, those figures are disproportionately higher among Democratic voters.

April 10th – Economist/YouGov: 37% support decreasing military aid to Israel, just 18% support an increase. Overall 63% support a ceasefire, 15% oppose.

No, this is not just protestors on college campuses who are upset about U.S. policy with regards to Israel and Gaza. Increasingly the American people want an end to U.S. complicity in the humanitarian disaster which is taking place in Gaza right now.

The people of the United States – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – do not want to be complicit in the starvation of hundreds of thousands of children.

Maybe, and here’s a very radical idea, maybe it’s time for politicians to listen to the American people. Maybe it’s time to rethink the decision this body recently made to provide Netanyahu another $10 billion dollars in unfettered military aid.

Maybe it’s time to not simply worry about the violence we are seeing on American campuses, but focus on the unprecedented violence in Gaza which has killed 34,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 77,000 Palestinians – seventy percent of whom are women and children.

So, I suggest to CNN and some of my colleagues here, take your cameras off of Columbia and UCLA. Maybe go to Gaza and show us the emaciated children who are going to die of malnutrition because of Netanyahu’s policies. Show us the kids who have lost their arms and their legs. Show us the suffering.

Let me conclude by saying, I must admit, I find it incomprehensible that members of Congress are spending their time attacking the protestors rather than the Netanyahu government which brought about these protests and has created this horrific situation.

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by Patrick Mazza

Sometimes a wildfire breaks out and sweeps the landscape. A tipping point is reached. A phase shift turns solid ice into a raging torrent. That’s what’s happening today.

In the brief two weeks since Columbia University students set up the first Gaza solidarity encampment at the New York campus April 17, student protests have swept dozens of campuses in the U.S. and other countries. Today buildings are being occupied on campuses from coast to coast, the latest being Hamilton Hall at Columbia, renamed Hind’s Hall in honor of a 5-year-old Palestinian girl killed by Israeli forces in January. It was renamed Nat Turner Hall when students protesting the Vietnam War occupied the building in 1968 during a campus protest wave being compared to what’s happening today.

Over 1,000 students have been arrested in brutal police crackdowns. Scenes of cops marching onto campuses clad in riot gear are filling social media, beginning with the NYPD clearing the first encampment at Columbia April 18. Texas, California, Ohio, Georgia, other places, are witnessing students and faculty being zip tied and dragged off to jail. It is just as clear that not only is the repression failing to stop the protests; It is feeding their momentum. The contrast between the genocidal actions the students are protesting and the excuses university administrators are hatching to justify the crackdowns is just too glaring.

In fact, nothing could be more telling than the virulence of the accusations being hurled at the students and the violence with which their protests are being met. We have seen months of protests since the Gaza war broke out October 7 with nothing like this reaction. Netanyahu likens the protests to Nazi actions on German campuses in the 1930s. Biden says, “I condemn the antisemitic protests,” giving carte blanche to the police repression. Opposition to genocide is being described as “hate speech.”

The Orwellian doublespeak in calling demonstrations in which Jewish students are taking a major part antisemitic is particularly astounding. Reportedly around 15 of the 100 or so in the original Columbia arrests were Jews.

“We chose to be arrested in the movement for Palestinian liberation because we are inspired by our Jewish ancestors who fought for freedom 4,000 years ago,” several of them wrote. “When the police entered our encampment, we locked arms and sang civil rights era songs that many of our more recent ancestors recited in the 1960s. We belong to the legacy of progressive Jewish activism that has worked across race, class and religious lines to transform our communities.”

Pro-Israel forces have been terrified at the loss of support among youth. Some months ago, a leaked recording of Anti-Defamation League Director Jonathan Greenblatt was released in which he said, “ . . . we have a major, major, major generational problem . . . all the polling I’ve seen . . . suggests this is not a left or right gap folks. The issue of United States support for Israel is not left or right. It is young and old . . . and so we really have a TikTok problem, a Gen-Z problem.”

The recent passage by Congress of legislation threatening to ban TikTok if it is not sold by its Chinese owners should come as no surprise. Many observers are pointing to the Israel lobby as a driving force.

Losing young people, especially at top-flight universities where future members of the elite are being groomed, is bad enough for Israel supporters. This is in the nation where continued support is vital to sustain Israel’s actions. The participation of so many Jews in the protests pushes it over the line. I believe this is a key reason for the intensity and falsity of the accusations and the violent police response. Jewish involvement has to be cancelled, denied, vilified.

Students of all persuasions are being told, toe the line if you expect to maintain your career prospects. Suspensions are being threatened and carried out. In a society more stratified than it was during the 1960s protest wave, when rising through the ranks depends more than ever on a university education and tuitions are significantly higher, it has required significant moral courage for students to stage encampments and risk arrest. Their determined resistance demonstrates the depth of their moral outrage at what they are seeing in Gaza, and testifies to their character. For all the dissing on younger generations I hear from olders, this provides hope for the future.

Another reason for the backlash from university administrators is that students are hitting them where they live, the money. Universities have become financialized machines with large endowments invested in the stock market. Student demands for divestment from Israel hit a nerve. Threats of losing contributions from major, pro-Israel donors, and of losing federal contracts made by Pro-Israel politicians, twitch the reptilian brains of administrators whose compensation now ranks with their peers in the corporate sector. It’s just too much for them to bear.

Whether the student protests seem to have any immediate impact, it is important to remember a lesson from the late 1960s movement. It would not be until 1975 that the Vietnam War was finally concluded. But protests in 1968 and 1969 may have averted a horror scenario. Daniel Ellsberg in his last book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, recounts how the Pentagon was proposing use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam. The protests convinced Richard Nixon that this would cause chaos so he shelved the plans. Doug Dowd, one the 1960s New Leftists who visited North Vietnam during the war, tells of how the Vietnamese credited the U.S. peace movement with stopping the use of nuclear weapons in his book, Blues for America: A Critique, A Lament, and Some Memories. They thanked the peace movement, saying that was the one thing that could have defeated them.

The campus occupations of 1968 led to the absolutely mass protests of 1969, notably the autumn moratoriums in D.C. that Ellsberg wrote were the key events that persuaded Nixon. Certainly today’s protests are putting intense heat on the Biden Administration, recalling how the 1968 protests led to Democratic defeat in that year’s presidential election. Could today’s protests stop or reduce what would be an absolutely devastating attack on Rafah, the last population concentration in Gaza? Could they lead to a ceasefire? It is hard to know, but the over-the-top response to the protests shouts out the depth of their impact.

Students, Jewish and others, are practicing the essential lesson of all the world’s wisdom paths, compassion for the other. Even though most are not being directly affected by what is going on in Gaza, they are being impacted on a deep moral level, and cannot remain silent. We must all take a lesson from what they are doing, and follow them into the streets.

(This first appeared in The Raven.)

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MY SHOW ON THE REAL NEWS HAS BEEN CANCELED because of my critiques of the Democratic Party and Joe Biden

by Chris Hedges

I was just informed by Max Alvarez, the Editor-in-Chief at The Real News, that they will no longer run my show. The reason for the cancellation, he said, is that my critiques of Biden, especially for the genocide in Gaza, jeopardizes his nonprofit status. My last show with Dennis Kucinich, who is running as an independent for Congress in Ohio, was removed from the site.…

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Psychopathy is a technical psychiatric term for a specific personality trait that involves lack of conscience, pathological lying, lack of empathy, manipulative interaction style, and a penchant for cheating. When a person has the trait, they are called a psychopath. Most psychopaths eventually end up in and out of prison or killed on the streets (these likely have the psychiatric diagnosis of Antisocial personality disorder), but about 25% are called ‘socially adept psychopaths.’ Many of the latter end up in political power positions and some in DC, hence all the mendacity, manipulation, and lying in places of power.

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by Drew Magary

What’s the deal with Jerry Seinfeld? Why is he so old and pissy?

You see this guy complaining about the wokes to the New Yorker? You see this? Sounds like my old man when he drives by a Best Buy they built where his favorite hardware store used to be!

“It used to be,” this guy tells David Remnick, “… you just expected there’ll be some funny stuff we can watch on TV tonight. Well guess what — where is it? This is the result of the extreme left and PC crap.” 

You believe this asshole? I know he was the star of “Seinfeld,” which was a great show back in the 1990s. But why didn’t he leave that decade? Doesn’t he know that we have streaming television now, and that he can watch “South Park” anytime he pleases if he’s worried that people aren’t getting their recommended daily allowance of “Hey! Look at that Black guy!” jokes? Doesn’t he know that Joe Rogan has a podcast where he can make fun of anyone he wants AND tout ginkgo biloba as a cure for HIV? What is this Seinfeld guy, 70 years old? What’s that? He actually IS 70 years old? Well my dad is older than that, and no one comes to arrest him anytime he makes an awkward joke about “the hip-hoppers” at the dinner table! And he makes those jokes a lot! I don’t even think my dad knows what hip-hop is! He might think it’s some kind of footracing league!

You know what’s weird is that the only people who complain about “the extreme left” and “PC crap” are our least funny people. Look at who we got in this crew. We’ve got Jerry, and what edgy jokes is Jerry being forced to hold back these days? He’s always worked clean, like he’s working a birthday party at a nursing home every night! We’ve also got Elon Musk, who’s about as funny as an unmanned Tesla running over a child. We’ve got Ron DeSantis, who forces schoolchildren to watch “Birth of a Nation” as part of his state’s public school curriculum. We’ve got the dog murderer lady from South Dakota, who’s somehow even more allergic to introspection than Jerry is. Oh, and we’ve got Bari Weiss! Yes, how can we forget America’s least favorite right-wing opportunist? I bet Bari could really go for whatever jokes about Whole Foods that Jerry was forced to leave on the cutting room floor!

Seinfeld offered these musings while doing a press tour for “Unfrosted,” which premieres on Netflix this weekend. “Unfrosted” is about the invention of Pop-Tarts. Can you believe Netflix gave Jerry Seinfeld millions of dollars to film a 90-minute Pop-Tart joke? Do kids even know what a Pop-Tart is anymore? Netflix even let Jerry direct! Who lets a comedian direct a movie? Did Jerry wrap up the shoot by smashing a ceremonial watermelon with a giant mallet? Is his next movie gonna be a biography of Mikey from the old Life cereal ads? With jokes about the gays? Tell you what, I’d rather eat at Arby’s than watch any of that! I even had a friend tell me — and this is true — that he saw Seinfeld live in 2019 and that Seinfeld still had jokes about *69 in his set. Remember *69? And 1-800-COLLECT? What was the point of all those crazy phone numbers? What was wrong with the phone numbers we had before? 

And you ever notice that Seinfeld appears to have nothing but the utmost contempt for pretty much everyone who isn’t A) him, or B) a wealthy stand-up comedian who’s now eligible for Medicare? No seriously, it’s true. I read it myself in an interview Jerry did with my former GQ colleague Brett Martin. Get a load of this guy!

“We had a prop master, Trish Gallaher Glenn. She had a room and it was floor-to-ceiling toys and bikes and clothes, everything from that era. Everybody does their job 150%. It is weird.”

Yeah man, what’s wrong with the prop masters? It’s like everyone who works under the line in Hollywood is being squeezed to death, so they have to work triple hard just to make me a perfect replica of a Special K box from 1963. That’s so absurd! Get a life, Trish!

“They’re so dead serious! They don’t have any idea that the movie business is over. They have no idea.”

They don’t! They’re just in their little propholes, fussing around with rubber turkeys and guns that don’t even fire anything. What a weird job. I don’t know what these people are doing with their lives when they could be spending all day meticulously workshopping jokes about airplane safety pamphlets instead. How come I can only exit the plane down that big yellow slide if the plane crash lands? You should be able to do that with every flight! I went to the “App Store” the other day and didn’t see a single appetizer there! Some men get to be women now! WHO ARE THE SEDUCTION WIZARDS WHO CAME UP WITH THAT ONE?


That’s not comedy. I don’t even know what that is. You’d never hear that kind of stuff on “Seinfeld,” because people just wanna laugh! We should go back to laughing, right? We should just forget all the social justice stuff and go back to regular comedy. Remember Rob Schneider? He was great, right? Can’t have him anymore, no. No, we have to have people like Beyonce. Super serious Beyonce. And she wants to be a cowboy now, did you know that? What cowboy ever looked like Beyonce? Maybe one who was a little light in the stirrups! Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

It’s all very strange. I don’t know if you saw this or not, but I actually noticed that Jerry Seinfeld said all this stuff about the social justice teens and then, without realizing it, immediately justified their efforts to get comedy to evolve in modern times:

“They [the wokes] move the gates, like in the slalom. … Your job is to be agile and clever enough that, wherever they put the gates, I’m going to make the gate.”

Larry David made all of the gates. Jerry Seinfeld, by contrast, skied off trail and into a f—king gorge. Put that in your borscht and slurp it, you old hack.

(SF Chronicle)

* * *

* * *

OUR USE OF OIL, in many ways, has transformed both the planet and humankind’s place in it. Take one specific scenario John Vaillant paints in his recent book “Fire Weather”: 

“Behind the wheel of a Chevy Silverado, a 100-pound woman can generate more than 600 horsepower as she draws a six-ton trailer at 60 miles an hour while talking on the phone and drinking coffee, in gym clothes on a frigid winter day. Prior to the Petrocene Age, only a king or a pharaoh could have summoned such power.”

— John Washington

* * *

A RABBI WAS ASKED by one of his students “Why did God create atheists?” After a long pause, the rabbi finally responded with a soft but sincere voice. “God created atheists” he said, “to teach us the most important lesson of them all – the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs an act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that God commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his actions are based on his sense of morality. Look at the kindness he bestows on others simply because he feels it to be right. When someone reaches out to you for help. You should never say ‘I’ll pray that God will help you.’ Instead, for that moment, you should become an atheist – imagine there is no God who could help, and say ‘I will help you’.”

— Martin Buber

* * *

British Whitebells (Randy Burke)


  1. George Hollister May 3, 2024


    “Orange Monster running strong for another four years as primary chaos agent”.

    Trump’s chaos is limited to his inner circle, and those wannabes who want to be a part of it. In his last term there was much less chaos nationally, and internationally than we have today. Trump has a history of short term associations with lowlifes, he fires people as. quickly as he hires them, and never stops his off the cuff inappropriate, and senseless talking. But the result of Trump as president was good. Surprisingly, the country survived, and prospered, and the US was respected internationally. As long as the three branches of government do their jobs, the country will survive another Trump presidency.

    • Chuck Dunbar May 3, 2024

      You live in a closeted, closed world, George, to be able to write these words. We could all spend thousands of words in righteous, real-world response, but not worth the time.

    • Marshall Newman May 3, 2024

      Wrong and wrong on so many levels.

  2. Chuck Dunbar May 3, 2024


    Another thunder-bolt statement from this brave senator. He ends with several challenges:

    “Maybe, and here’s a very radical idea, maybe it’s time for politicians to listen to the American people. Maybe it’s time to rethink the decision this body recently made to provide Netanyahu another $10 billion dollars in unfettered military aid.

    Maybe it’s time to not simply worry about the violence we are seeing on American campuses, but focus on the unprecedented violence in Gaza which has killed 34,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 77,000 Palestinians – seventy percent of whom are women and children.

    So, I suggest to CNN and some of my colleagues here, take your cameras off of Columbia and UCLA. Maybe go to Gaza and show us the emaciated children who are going to die of malnutrition because of Netanyahu’s policies. Show us the kids who have lost their arms and their legs. Show us the suffering.”

    • MAGA Marmon May 3, 2024

      Chuckles, you really need to get your head out of the fog and do a little research. Hamas is responsible for most of Gaza’s suffering. This news broke yesterday.

      US says Hamas briefly seized 1st aid shipment that entered Gaza via reopened crossing

      “Hamas managed to seize a major shipment of humanitarian aid that was delivered to Gaza from Jordan earlier this week, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Thursday, after the supplies were the first to be shipped to the enclave through a newly reopened Israeli border crossing.”

      Even though the aid was eventually recovered, it is just another reminder about how much Hamas could care less about civilians.

      MAGA Marmon

      • Bruce Anderson May 3, 2024

        The grotesque oppression of Palestinians and Gazans especially created Hamas, the only weapon left to people who have no peaceful options.

        • Lazarus May 3, 2024

          This sounds like bait, Mr. AVA…
          The idea that “grotesque oppression” justifies the October 7th killing of children, raping and dismembering women, and anyone else who happened to be in their way, then taking hostages is absurd.
          Who knows who Hamas really is? There’s little doubt that Iran is all over the events of October 7th. And there is also little doubt that Iran recruited the most homicidal, extremist group of mercenaries possible.
          However, if Iran also intended to create chaos and drain resources in America, Iran has been relatively successful.
          Be well, Mr. AVA,

          • peter boudoures May 3, 2024

            Some would argue Russia was even more successful in draining resources. Why aren’t there protests for the 500k 18 year olds killed who were forced to battle the USA. Are the Palestinians more worthy than the Russians? Both the Russians and Palestinians are being killed by the same USA backing

            • Lazarus May 3, 2024

              I would agree that Russia is draining the United States’ resources because of its war against Ukraine.
              However, I would suggest that Russia and Iran have perhaps the same interests and motives concerning the U.S. Multiple wars on multiple fronts. Now, all they need is China in the mix…
              As always,

            • Adam Gaska May 3, 2024

              China is goading Russia and the US to drain their resources.

    • Jim Armstrong May 3, 2024

      How can it be that only one member of both houses of the US Congress has the humanity and guts to speak the truth that Bernie does?

  3. MAGA Marmon May 3, 2024

    The county of Lake said it has received a state grant to help it study the potential impacts of Pacific Gas and Electric’s proposed decommissioning of the Scott Dam.

    County of Lake receives $700,000 grant to study Scott Dam decommissioning scenarios

    MAGA Marmon

    • Harvey Reading May 3, 2024

      That’ll fund some high-priced consultants to justify whatever the county wants justified on the matter…

  4. Paul Modic May 3, 2024

    Re: Grumpy Seinfeld
    Drew Magery is pretty good some of the time
    Pretty annoying, ie unreadable, most of the time
    And is pretty damned envious of Jerry Seinfeld
    Right about now…
    Yes, Seinfeld rails against the censorship on college campuses,
    rails against the snowflakes who can’t take a joke,
    and THAT’S Magery’s rant de jure?

  5. Paul Modic May 3, 2024

    Bruce, Mark
    Reprint Kristoff’s column about Palestinians and protesting
    from a couple days ago? Pretty damn good…

    • Jim Armstrong May 3, 2024

      I was really disappointed in that article.

  6. Eli Maddock May 3, 2024

    Brown zone:
    This has to be satire!

    • Betsy Cawn May 3, 2024

      Truly hilarious!

  7. Harvey Reading May 3, 2024


    Y’all may have pretty turds, but how do they rate for smell? Just another sign of a country that is near its end…and good effen riddance!

    Bristol Stool Chart–Is this the Limeys’ latest effort to regain their lagging power over the world?

  8. Harvey Reading May 3, 2024


    Nationalize the rats. Investor-Owned utilities are, and always have been, a damned ripoff.


    Been that way as long as humans have existed. We are freaks of nature, but will extinct ourselves soon…


    He always was as far as I’m concerned.

  9. May 4, 2024

    “Most psychopaths eventually end up in and out of prison or killed on the streets”

    Not so.

    Psychos do damage because they can.

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