MCT: Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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Light rain will return late today and Thursday over mainly Del Norte County, followed by warmer and drier conditions developing Friday and Saturday over the entire region. Rain is then forecast to return late this weekend as another cold front moves across the area early on Sunday. A chilly airmass will settle over Northwest California in the wake of the front on Sunday. (NWS)

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CREDIBILITY PROBLEMS

Dear Board of Supervisors:

You at least seem to realize that asking us for money for yourselves probably won’t go over too well. It’s politically more expedient to ask for money for local fire departments. It’s worked before, hasn’t it?

But:

You told us when we voted for Measure V that something would be done about the nuisance the Mendocino Redwood Company created by leaving standing, chemically destroyed dead trees on their thousands of acres of forestland. Now, even with a strong County Counsel opinion in your pocket saying MRC is wrong, all we get is Supervisor Haschak, hat in hand, talking to MRC about it, hoping MRC will change their long-standing position that there’s no money in poisoned dead standing tanoaks.

You told us when we voted for Measure B that we would get a PHF, and that the chronic mental patients we see on the streets every day would finally get some help. But now, all the Measure B money is going to consultants, planners, training, and “crisis residential” and “crisis stabilization” so there won’t be much left for a costly PHF.

You told us in 2016 when we voted for Measures AH and AI that the County would “use the majority of [cannabis program] revenue generated by Measure AI's [cannabis] business tax to fund enforcement of marijuana regulations, mental health services, county road repair, and fire and medical emergency services.” All we got was county employees riding around in new white SUVs and a lot of pot-related red-ink.

When Prop 172 was approved in the 90s for “public safety” some of it was supposed to go to fire departments — but NOT in Mendo. Local fire departments had to organize and go to the Grand Jury and make a stink before Official Mendo finally, grudgingly, agreed to allocate a token amount to local fire departments. You now say it isn’t enough. Why not give them more?

You told us back in the 1990s when the Bed Tax was on the ballot that the money would go into the general fund to cover services related to tourism. But within a year a big chunk of it was handed over to the tourism industry’s “promotional alliance” and none of it went to fire departments. (Remember when the Grand Jury asked for the Promotional Alliance’s books and they refused saying they were a “private business” which just happened to get 98% of its funding from the County?) And now you say that you can’t re-allocate anymore bed tax money to fire fighting even though fire departments (and the inland ambulance system) need the money now more than ever.

If the fire departments need the money so badly, why hasn’t the County allocated some of the EXISTING Bed Tax — well over $6 million now — which goes into the general fund and is available for fire departments if allocated to them?

With all that, you want us to vote for a campgrounds bed tax add-on that will also go into the general fund but with an “advisory measure” in which you promise (again) that you and your overpaid management team will allocate the $1 million or more to County fire departments, after having given yourselves and them very unpopular big raises without even a grand jury or citizen committee review?

(Mark Scaramella)

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NO SIERRA NEVADA FESTIVAL AGAIN THIS YEAR

Dear SNWMF Family:

We hope your year will be rewarding, even despite the turmoils of our times.

We have struggled for many months now to make tough decisions about the future of SNWMF, but have been forced to again conclude we cannot adequately present it this year. Time has flown, and despite great effort to move 2020 forward, we just are not at a point where we can do so.

Our founder and guiding light Warren Smith’s health will not allow him to put in the time and energy required to pull together the “best fest in the West” as we have always aimed to present it. He is at home, relatively stable, but it is a very challenging situation requiring constant attention and too unpredictable for us to commit to all the many months required.

Epiphany Artists has always been a very small team. We have conferred with veterans of our and other festivals, including exploring possible new partnerships and/or a smaller event, but have been forced to this sad conclusion. It is one which Warren fully supports and in fact proposed some time ago - although all of us have hoped against hope to still be able to pull everything together.

As we noted last year, nobody wishes for SNWMF to continue more than we do - for 25 years it was a joyful and proud highlight of our lives - truly a labor of love and music. But alas, we cannot in good conscience or health put on an inferior version of the festival, even though we still so wish to gather in June and see you all.

We trust and hope you understand this difficult decision. Your support and patience thus far has meant the world to us. We will keep our website, phorum and Facebook pages open for the community to continue to be in touch. While we hope to return in 2021, we cannot with confidence say yet if that will be the case, based on what has happened this year. But we will think, hope, and act with as much positivity as we can. Thank you for your patience and understanding, and blessings to all.

Yours in music and unity,

With great respect,

Gretchen Franz Smith for Epiphany Artists

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(photo by Judy Valadao)

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WITH SKIP

by Andrew Scully

Jed Olaf "Skip" Scully died on December 21st, 2019 at his home in Fair Oaks California, with his wife and partner of 40 years Glee Scully, and daughter Suzanne (Scully) Anderson at his side. He was born in Paris, July 27 1931, the first of five children, and only son of Frank and Alice Scully. His first marriage to Margaret Freeman in 1953 lasted 21 years and produced four children, only one of whom was named Andrew. In 1979 he married Ms. Glendalee Garfield, with whom he had two sons whose names are momentarily unavailable.

Skip grew up in Hollywood in the 1930's, where he became familiar with many of the literary and cinematic figures of the time. Frank wrote the long-running column in Variety “Scully's Scrapbook,” and several books including "Rogue's Gallery - Profiles of My Eminent Contemporaries" and the stunning bestseller "Behind The Flying Saucers" (1950 Harper and Row, now AVAILABLE on AMAZON kindle eBook $5.99).

Both of his parents were deeply engaged in the Catholic faith,and Skip too remained a Roman Catholic to the end of his life. He was educated in the parochial schools, at Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood, and then at Belarmine - Jefferson High School in Burbank, where he briefly dated Angie Dickinson which may have returned to his dreams in his second marriage

Second lieutenant Scully, 1953

In high school Skip began service in the United States military that continued more than 36 years. He earned a full Air Force ROTC scholarship at UCLA. He graduated in 1953 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Retired as a Brigadier General in 1982, his last posting was as Assistant Adjutant General - Air of the California National Guard.

His years at UCLA were some of the happiest of his life. He had a very active approach to his work, and took a great deal of pleasure in introducing foreign students to the American landscape and culture, and particularly national parks. The trips that he organized to Yosemite and Grand Canyon will forever be remembered by those who took part in them. Skip was a true renaissance man, with interests ranging far and wide - academic, artistic, and cultural. Like his father he was a gifted writer and his writing survives as a testament to his thoughtfulness and intellect. He was a gifted raconteur. He had a great sense of humor and friends and family will always remember his booming laugh, easily identifiable in a dark theater or a crowded coffee house.

Although military service was an important part of Skip's life, his primary passion and dedication was to education and to the law. After graduating UCLA Law School in 1961, he became assistant dean of students at UCLA, later the first dean of International Students and the founding executive director of the International Student Center at UCLA. These were transformational years for the University, when the UCLA Medical Center - now one the largest and most advanced in the World - was then just taking form under Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy. Skip was in his element fundraising for the International Student Center, hobnobbing with California and Hollywood rainmakers like Irving Stone, and Edwin W. Pauley, the Oil and Construction tycoon and crony of Harry Truman.

Los Angeles Mayor and Democratic Candidate for Governor Tom Bradley pins the Stars on Brigidier General Scully at his retirement, 1982

In 1970 he left UCLA and became vice-president for student affairs at Loyola Marymount University, and an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School, where he became involved in the clinical aspects of legal education.

In this period he met his second wife, and lifelong partner Glee in 1978. Within a short time of meeting her he relocated to Sacramento and began a long tenure with her at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, where both of them were engaged in the clinical and trial advocacy programs. It was also during this time that he came to know and became a confidant of the five time Mayor of Los Angeles,Tom Bradley. Skip was among many people shaken when Bradley's Democratic candidacy for Governor in 1982 ultimately fell short to George Deukmejian by less than 90,000 votes out of more than 8 million cast.

The last couple of years were hard. He struggled, faced, and surmounted many physical challenges. He demonstrated incredible physical resiliency. But in the end I'm reminded and comforted by the B. B. King song "Riding with the King":

"We're on TWA to the promised land… He's on a mission of Mercy to a new frontier… he's gonna take us on outta here… up to that mansion on top of the hill…"

It seems just that way. God lifted my father up out of his broken body and took him on out of here.

Godspeed Skip Scully

Requisat in Pace

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ED NOTES

PHONE SCAM ALERT: "I have received 2 calls this morning saying my Social Security is being blocked because of a report against by SS # and Drivers License #. I was told in order for it not to be blocked I should call 628-400-8860 I did not call, of course. Just be aware these calls are happening. Don't fall for it."

AN E-MAIL hustle had me looking for my bullshit detector. It purported to be from a copyright lawyer who said we owed six hundred bucks for posting a photo of a painting by a certain dead artist. It gave me pause although I had no memory of either the painting or the artist. Years ago, I printed a poem I liked from an obscure poetess. A few weeks later came a scorcher of a letter from her agent, who really was the poet's agent, a twofer, I thought. A poet with a one-client agent. But I'd dropped a line from the poem in the paste-up process, which was then by hand. "You're not only a thief, you're a stupid thief," the one-client agent wrote. She had a point — two points actually, which didn't prevent me from writing back gentle words suggesting that both the poet and her agent should thank me for (1) being aware of the poet's work and (2) re-printing it. "Instead of damning me, you snarling ingrate, you should be thanking me!"

THE LOCAL ANGLE. Len Feinstein of Boonville has rightly garnered a slew of film editing awards. He's the guy who makes a coherent narrative out of a jumble of raw material, which makes him just as important, or more important, than the creator of the film, depending on the creator. He most famously edited the marvelous "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth."

I've just watched Len's latest, "The Confession Killer," a five-part Netflix documentary that tells the story of Henry Lee Lucas, famous for being the man who claimed responsibility for hundreds of murders when the only person he for sure knocked off was his dear old mum. (She disciplined little Henry by hitting him over the head with a two by four.) In 1983 and 1984, Lucas’s apparently unstoppable urge for killing helped a Texas Rangers task force clear 213 unsolved cases, meaning they'd apparently assumed mayhem was Henry's full-time job. It didn’t matter that the victims, methods and weapons appeared to be chosen at random, nor that actual tangible evidence was non-existent. Lucas had confessed, and that was enough. Cops flew to Texas from all over the country with their unsolved murders, and Henry would dutifully confess to them. Fascinating doc. The AVA gives it all digits up.

THE COMMENT LINE PROB is common to all websites that maintain them. Take MCN's chat-back for instance where, round-the-clock, four or five guys insult each other, a man calling himself Zeke Krahlin the primary provocateur. But the back and forth dominates MCN, every day, all day deep into the night. At the ava we try to keep the feedback at a reasonably civilized level but it requires the constant vigilance of our tech guy. His theory, and it seems right to me, is that the new tech has gotten lots of people into the habit of firing off to comment lines whatever pops into their fraught heads, meaning tiny ballpeen hammers tap-tapping on the skulls of the rest of us. As tech guy puts it, "It's difficult for many of these people who seem to live in facebook world, where the interaction is more impulse oriented. They walk around with their phones, constantly plugged in, and interacting. Every waking thought can easily get transmitted, immediately. It's a kind of disease."

THE PHONE RINGS and a voice demands, "Who's this?" Could it be the person you're calling, Mr. or Ms. Manners? Jeez. I know that basic civility long ago disappeared, but ordinary social interactions these days are often downright savage. "You Bruce?" a twelve-year-old asks. For his/her own good it's probably a good idea to instruct the child that out in the world of Bruces unknown to him/her, and for him/her's future welfare, find someone who remembers the basics of social intercourse and ask him/her for a crash course. Not long ago as I sat down on a torturous metal chair for an inane hour at a public school meeting, I simply said hello to a pair of women sitting next to me. One of them, apparently recognizing me, shot back, "We don't read that paper." Excuse me, but I don't think I asked you a question. I didn't recognize either of the snarling hags — teachers, apparently — but what right? Huh? A man does that and you grab him by his snozzle, "How's that again? Speak right into the microphone."

IN A WORLD of annoyances major and minor, add the minor annoyance of the term "elder" as now applied to people over the age of 70 or so, especially by the more pious sectors of Mendolib. 'Elder' in their usage seems to imply wisdom which, and I offer myself as Exhibit A, does not come with mere age. There's as many dummies among the elderly as there are among every other sector of the population.

SOME OBJECT to the sign as rude and suggest the reference to kidnapping is in poor taste considering January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, in addition to mocking people who are fat.

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CHINESE ‘MASSAGE’ GRAND OPENING IN FORT BRAGG

MSP received these photos from a viewer Monday @ 7:00 pm with the message: "Right by the DMV in Fort Bragg, super clean and really nice. They’re giving $5.00 off right now."

(via MSP)

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REMEMBERING JEFF COSTELLO & Y2K

Editor,

I just got my January 15 AVA and read “The Night of the Apocalypse.” I love reading your stuff, especially like your renaming people talent, but what prompted me to write this is the memory it brought back of where I was that last day of 1999.

I was hanging out in my Waikiki condo with not much to do, so I wrote Y2K. It’s a song to the tune of an old sixties hit that goes, “Each night I ask the stars up above/ why must I be a teenager in love.” I forget who sang it, but I might remember before I finish this.

My refrain goes, “Each night I ask the beer in my mug/why must I be afraid of Millennium Bug.” That’s about all I remember, so I went to my song collection and couldn’t find it. I was wondering if it was ever in the AVA, so I looked through my yellow pile of old AVA’s that go back into the 20th Century to 1988. I even found a Mendocino Grapevine from 1976 with a piece I wrote called Tai Chi: The Chinese Cure for Slouching. I used to loved doing tai chi barefoot.

Then I recalled that Jeff Costello came to visit for a few days back then. Not really sure, but I think it was just days before Y2K. I do remember he had his Fender guitar, and my son had given me a tape recorder for Christmas, so I talked him into accompanying me on his guitar while I sang a few of my songs. I happen to have the tape stored somewhere in this house, which means it’s possible I could hear it and digitize it. Of course all I have is DVD and VCR machines, and I recall it being the small 20th century kind of tape.

Anyhow, now I feel like writing about Jeff who, as you know, died last year of throat cancer. He’s been a friend ever since he showed up at Gate 6 in Sausalito in 1971 to play lead guitar with The RedLegs, the local rock n’ roll band. He soon hooked up with Maggie Catfish, the “chick singer,” and they had two kids, Annie and Jake.

The bad news was he got into coke aka cocaine, and became a serious addict. In fact, he inherited $20K from an aunt and spent a lot of it on the drug. He also gave a hunk of it to Joe Tate, the band leader, to spend on his boat, the Richmond, with plans to sail with the band down to Costa Rica and then to Hawaii.

Joe eventually made that trip, but without Maggie and Jeff because Tate didn’t want any kids along. At some point I went to visit Maggie sometime after she broke up with Jeff. She was anchored out on her boat, don’t recall the name. I had been living in the Mendocino Hills near Willits, but would return to the waterfront on occasion to catch up with old friends. She was cooking something in the galley while we chatted. I picked a book from a small bookshelf, and as I was leafing through it I found a few twenties. I waved them at Maggie and her eyes lit up.

“Oh, Gibbons,” she exclaimed, “I wondered what happened to that money.”

She then told me those few bills were all that was left of the money Jeff inherited from his aunt. She said he didn’t even buy the kids new shoes. He had spent most of it on drugs and restoring Joe Tate’s boat.

I also found in my old pile of newspapers, the AVA’s Special Edition of Jeff’s waterfront story, The Redleg Boogie Blues: A Memoir of the Sixties. It’s a really good read about life on the waterfront during mostly the early seventies, because as Jeff said, “The sixties lasted until 1973.”

Back in the mid-nineties Jeff came to visit. I showed him some of my articles in the AVA and he liked the paper and wanted to write about his days on the waterfront. He knew I had written a weekly column for The Willits News, and asked me for some advice on how to write. Said he never really wrote much but letters and songs.

“Just write like you’re telling a story. Just like you talk,” was about all the advice I had to share.

I introduced him to editor Bruce Anderson, and before I knew it he was spending several days in Boonville writing his story. The Special Edition came out in October, 1997. Too bad it was never a book because it wouldn’t smell so bad. I believe it is still on the AVA website with Mendocino Noir, The Mendocino Papers, and Behind the Green Curtain. All must reads for anyone living in Northern California.

I could go on about my times hanging out with Jeff, but some of my favorite memories don’t make either of us look that good. What he used to say about himself and the Redlegs I also think applies to me: We have The Built-in Failure Factor.

theredlegs.com/JeffCostello.html

Jim Gibbons

Hawaii

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CHASING TRAINS IN ARID-ZONA

by Katy Tahja

Sometimes in the depth of winter in Mendocino County escaping to a land of sunshine for a break seems like a REALLY good idea. If that destination features tourist railroads my “ferroequonoligist” (lover of iron horse/trains) husband hasn’t ridden yet it’s all the better.

With rides on the Grand Canyon Railroad and Verde Canyon Railroad, and two little lines we can now claim over 50 individual railroads ridden on in the U.S., Canada and Japan. It took us over 45 years to accomplish this and we’re proud of ourselves. We buy embroidered patches for rails we’ve ridden and sew them on vests. We wear those vests and are literally “read” by other rail fans that walk in circles around us pointing and commenting on trains they’ve ridden on too.

Headed east hayfields in California were fallow, with tractors just beginning to plow and flocks of seagulls inspecting overturned dirt, but from southern Arizona and Nevada truckloads of green alfalfa bales were headed to our state. The single most universal vehicles on the highways were Wal-Mart trucks. Gas was $2.39 in Arizona.

We spent the night at Ellis Island Casino and Brewery in Las Vegas, chosen because we like good beer. We also learned about a new money grubbing ploy called the “resort tax.” Now if I was at a place with pools and spas and fancy stuff I might not fuss but this is a mandatory fee tacked onto every room near the Strip and not advertised or shown, often, on a property’s website. So POOF! Our room cost $30 more than expected.

“Get Your Kicks on Route 66” the song says. I don’t know about kicks, but we enjoyed the scenery and the Burma Shave signs from Kingman to Seligman in Arizona and again east of Barstow in California. If there is any way, shape or form the days of old motoring can be merchandized the Route 66 merchants have done it. In Seligman is the Route 66 Roadkill Café. No, they’re not serving roadkill, though they do have a cookbook you can buy to do so. Instead they’re famous for the comical names for menu entrees. You can order a Splatter Platter, Roadside Revenge, Smothered Deer, Rigor Mortis Tortoise, Chunk of Skunk, Paws & Claws, Yellow Line Bovine and Really Bad Hunter (vegie) Burger. On the way home we visited the Route 66 Museum in the Barstow CA train depot full of old cars, motorcycles, photos, maps and every conceivable item you could slap a Route 66 sticker on.

I’m easy to amuse during long distance travel, starting with reading road signs. “Animals on Road next 114 miles” Arizona proclaims while Nevada promises “Next Gas 96 Miles.” There is no standard open range cattle sign. The silhouette image can be a contented cow, a standing bull, or a dashing thrashing bull with horns. Horse signs show a horse standing, or galloping with mane and tail flowing. Burros get their own image. Near Walker Lake in Nevada the big horn sheep cross the highway to reach water and a flashing illuminated sign warns “Major Sheep Crossing.”

In Arizona and Nevada your highway crosses arroyos, washes and draws. Exit signs direct you to shooting ranges and trap shoot facilities and rifle clubs. Building signs offered the Best Beer on the Planet. Recreational Vehicle Proctologists would fix your RV’s plumbing, Hostels and Bivy’s would shelter hikers and bicyclists in the eastern Sierra and the synthetic grass store would do your landscaping. In Sedona the Center for the New Age promised the largest metaphysical bookstore on the planet. I loved a self-service dog wash bay in the car wash. It had a giant cage in it and a promise of only warm water and dogs happily barking as their owners squirted them off. I loved the juxtaposition of a truck passing us labeled “Christian Ministries Tent Revival” while the next truck’s signage proclaimed “Adult Entertainment Emporium”

Merchandise.

The individual road names I spotted delighted me. I’d like to drive the Jackrabbit Trail, wondered who Sore Finger Road was named for and saw pavement go down No Name Lane. Don’t know if I’d want to live on Thirsty Acres Road. I wanted to exit the highway in Arizona just to go to Bumble Bee or Daisy Mountain. Don’t ask me why, but there is an official highway sign outside Bishop CA on Highway 6 stating” Providence Rhode Island 3,600 miles.”

At frequent Border Patrol (BP) checkpoints near the border we’d pass signs that said “Border Patrol Working Dogs Ahead-Restrain Your Pet.” People we talked with in the Southwest want what they call Boots on the Border for protection. That’s a BP agent every few miles with a radio in his hand to report suspicious activity. We watched the BP constructing the wall at the New Mexico/Arizona/ Mexico border. Locals were appreciative for the employment but questioned the efficiency of the Wall and liked the idea of drones.

No trip for me is complete without my question page in my journal where I write down all my “I wonder…” thoughts.

Note: The person writing this is a paper and pencil journalist. I do not travel with computer or smartphone and research my questions when I get home. So, does anything eat creosote brush? Yes, jackrabbits. Creosote is taking over the grasslands of the southwest. How much land does state and federal governments in the southwest own? In Nevada it’s 84%, Arizona it’s 81% and California 49%. What limits the growth of Saguaro cactus to the north? Temperature. They can’t stand prolonged 25-degree weather. Why is there an Andy Devine Blvd. in Kingman AZ? Remember Roy Rogers’s sidekick with the rasping crackling voice? He grew up in Kingman and was a beloved local character.

An observation about jet airplanes chem trails (sorry if I’m making some people nervous…). At Coaldale junction near the CA/NV border I counted 15 of them. I watched jets crisscrossing each other using the clear blue sky as a canvas to paint chem trails on. This kind of activity must constitute “fun” for the pilots from Nellis AFB. On a brighter note I saw true craftsmanship in the building of impenetrable cactus fencing. Plant big tall columnar ones in back, then a line of bushy prickly stuff medium size, then tiny deadly spiny ones in front, throw in a few cholla, and let it grow 20 years…a very effective barrier.

Now, about those trains we chased. Well, really, we didn’t chase them, we rode them. The Grand Canyon Railway and the adjoining hotel in Williams AZ is run by Xanterra, a corporation that buys up National Park hotels, attractions and concessions. It was slick and spiffy and a seat price could vary by $100 depending on if you chose coach, which we did, or luxury plush dome cars with food and booze. Listen folks, the scenery out the window is exactly the same in every car…why pay extra for a softer cushion? The ride was 130 miles round trip on a beautiful bright cold day and the depot on the South Rim was a two-minute walk away from the canyon’s edge. There I looked left and right and counted whopping 15 tourists within sight…a big difference from the hundreds in summertime. We picnicked on the porch of the old El Tovar Hotel and had three hours to wander before returning to the train.

Verde Canyon Railroad is different. Starting out of the old copper mining town of Clarkdale it runs for a 42 mile round trip along the Verde River with a sky full of bald eagles and red rock. The only disconcerting thing is that copper mining leads to smelting the ore, which leads to slag. This noxious liquid sludge hardens into rock. The train drove through a corridor carved through a slag heap 40’ high covering 40 acres. The mines closed years ago but we passed a slag recovery project investigating what could be done with the abandoned waste. Again, this train offered coach for the regular folks and a caboose with overstuffed chairs, champagne and a valet. We choose to sit outside in the open observation car. It says something that both these trains had 10 cars and hundreds of travelers.

The tiniest train we rode on was the Queen Mine tour in Bisbee AZ. You literally straddled this tiny contraption, a leg on each side, four persons to a car, as a tiny tractor engine hauled you into the depths of a copper mine. Very educational. We also caught the Nevada Southern Railroad in Boulder City NV for a short jaunt along a highway. Rail bikes were big items here…pedal out to the end of the line on apparatus holding two peddlers or four and the train brings you back to the station. All in all this vacation was a nice break from the redwood coast and we’d be happy to share any of our rail adventures with interested folks.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 28, 2020

Canevari, Chan-Medina, Cruz, Hanover

MICHELE CANEVARI, Potter Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

GILBERTO CHAN-MEDINA JR., South Lake Tahoe/Ukiah. Loaded firearms in vehicle, large capacity magazines, no license, suspended license revoked for drunk/refusing chemical test, probation revocation.

LORENZO CRUZ, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, criminal threats.

THOMAS HANOVER JR., Ukiah. Stolen vehicle. (Frequent flyer.)

Hilliard, Hurtado, Johnston, Malcolm

SEAN HILLIARD, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

ANDREW HURTADO, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, probation revocation.

MARTIN JOHNSTON, Fort Bragg. Use of offensive words in a public place which are likely to provoke a violent reaction/disturbing the peace.

JOSHUA MALCOLM, Miromonte/Willits. Controlled substance, under influence, paraphernalia.

Moreno-Romero, Salisbury, Stagg

ELISEO MORENO-ROMERO, Madera/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.

LISA SALISBURY, Fort Bragg. Suspended license (for DUI), probation revocation.

BRADLEY STAGG, Clearlake/Laytonville. Concealed dirk-dagger, forgery/alteration of vehicle ID, paraphernalia.

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NEWSGUARD CAN SAVE YOU FROM PUTIN!

by Fred Gardner

The New York Times headline was an attention grabber worthy of Sen. Joe McCarthy: “How Amazon, Geico and Walmart Fund Propaganda.” A subhed explained: “Algorithms are sending ads by American brands onto Russian disinformation sites.” The op-ed by L. Gordon Crovitz, a former publisher of the Wall St. Journal, culminated in a sales pitch for his latest venture, NewsGuard. The company’s business plan is to do for internet news sites what Red Channels did for Hollywood movies: maintain a blacklist. Patriotism for personal profit —perfect plan.

Crovitz’s first paragraph invoked Lenin and Putin:

“Lenin is sometimes said to have predicted that capitalists would sell Russia the rope with which they would be hanged.* Yet not even Lenin could have imagined Vladimir Putin’s success in getting some of the largest Western companies to subsidize his disinformation efforts by advertising on his government-run “news” websites.

“The top programmatic advertiser on Mr. Putin’s Sputnik News site? The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, through ads bought on behalf of Berkshire Hathaway’s Geico insurance. Sputnik News peddles Kremlin propaganda on topics such as Syria and straightfacedly reports Mr. Putin’s denials of interfering in other countries’ elections.”

Isn’t a “news site” supposed to report the news straightfacedly? Did Crovitz expect Sputnik to scowlingly report Putin’s denials? Or mockingly? Is that how they would handle the story at the Wall St. Journal? (Of course not. The WSJ would simply ignore Putin’s denials.) As for poor Syria, millions of Americans got a look at Bashar Al-Assad in a 60 Minutes segment that aired in 2015. He’s an ophthalmologist, his wife is a banker, they met in London, they are not religious zealots. The interviewer was hapless Charley Rose, an unlikely Kremlin agent.

Crovitz can only estimate how much US companies spent advertising on Sputnik and RT (Russia Today), but he can name names and try to shame:

“Geico is hardly alone in financing propaganda through what’s called “programmatic advertising,” ads that are placed automatically by algorithms, without judgment based on the content or journalistic standards of the websites. Mr. Putin’s leading disinformation arm, RT.com, attracted programmatic advertising from 477 companies and brands over a recent six-month period… Among RT.com‘s top 20 programmatic advertisers: Amazon, PayPal, Walmart and Kroger. For Sputnik, its 196 programmatic advertisers in addition to Geico included Best Buy, ETrade and Progressive Insurance.

“These all-American brands don’t intend to subsidize the Kremlin. The problem is that with programmatic advertising brands can target the kinds of audiences they want to reach online, rather than specifying, as they once did, on which websites their ads should appear. As a result, these ads inadvertently end up on all kinds of inappropriate sites…

“Whatever the amount, companies are supporting websites that are the very definition of corporate social irresponsibility. RT describes its role as encouraging people in other countries to “question more” — that is, promoting divisiveness in the United States and Europe.”

To accuse RT of “promoting divisiveness” in the US and Europe is really ludicrous. As if African-Americans would accept the murder of their children by police if it weren’t for outside agitators — the essential White Supremacist line. John Stewart, Amy Goodman, Michael Moore, John Oliver, Samantha Bea and others reported and commented on the same events covered by RT, and their tone was every bit as biting towards racist cops, the ascendant arms industry, greed-driven bankers, mine owners, for-profit healthcare…

“Question more” was the signature sign-off line of Larry King, who conducted interviews on RT that seemed no different than the ones he conducted for 25 years on CNN. Then his show was called “Larry King Live;” on RT it was “Larry King Now.” I forget who King was talking to in the spring of 2016 when he mentioned that Donald Trump had phoned him to discuss the pros and cons of running for President. “Donald Trump is no buffoon,” King cautioned his guest. “It’s a big mistake to write him off as a buffoon.” King has interviewed the Donald more than 100 times over the years. He has been talking to people on-air since the late 1950s. After gaining popularity with radio shows based in Miami and New York, he reached a nationwide audience in 1985 with an all-night show on which a 90-minute interview was followed by call-ins from listeners. Larry King is as American as baseball. (Watching LA Dodger games on TV in recent years, you’d see him sitting behind home plate and seriously observing the field.)

Rosie used to watch RT on the small Panasonic atop the refrigerator. The hour-long news show, produced in New York, was informative. Most of the on-air talent seemed to be American 30-somethings, politically “progressive.” The women were all smart, urbane and way more appealing than the harpies at Fox News. I didn’t think the male comedians were funny, but they thought they were. There was a very clear explainer of financial news named Ed Harrison but RT dropped him before we in the East Bay suddenly stopped getting it about a year ago.

RT.com is but one example, Crovitz writes, cyberspace is full of sites that no reputable company should support with ad buys. He points to three he considers totally loony:

“Among the top 20 advertisers on the site Healthy Holistic Living, which has promoted milk thistle as a cancer treatment, are Amazon, Citibank, Hertz and Hilton — as well as the Navy Federal Credit Union. A site called Healthy Food House, which ran an article that said, “Our aim today is to persuade you that there is no such a disease as cancer, as it is only a B-17 deficiency,” carried advertising from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Its top two advertisers were Amazon and Google. A website perhaps appropriately called The Mind Unleashed, which blamed Israel for the Sept. 11 attacks and claimed that certain foods are better than radiation or chemotherapy for cancer treatment, ran advertising from Procter & Gamble, CBS and Best Buy.”

To avoid getting sidetracked by milk thistle, let’s stipulate to Crovitz’s basic point: the current programmatic advertising model results in reputable companies buying space on websites their executives and shareholders would disdain for one reason or another. Crovitz has the solution, but before pitching it, he points out the inadequacy of alternative approaches:

“Some advertisers have tried to keep their ads off inappropriate sites. Procter & Gamble stopped advertising on YouTube in 2017 for a year because its ads kept appearing alongside videos promoting pedophilia and white supremacy. The broader problem, however, remains.

“Some advertisers are trying a cure worse than the disease. Instead of deciding which websites to support with advertising and which to shun, advertisers use a black list* (sic) of words like “Trump,” “taxes” and “antitrust,” keeping their ads off web pages that mention such topics. This amounts to a boycott of serious news.”

Other advertisers such as JPMorgan Chase have had their staff try to decide which news sites are safe for their brands. However, the lists they compile can quickly become outdated because there are so many new purveyors of misinformation.

This is Crovitz’s message to prospective clients: Avoiding guilt by association with unsavory websites is too important to leave up to “staff” or algorithms, only dedicated specialists can protect you, hiring experts is a PR imperative! And BTW:

“The company I work for, NewsGuard, provides this service for a fee.”

The Times IDs Crovitz as “co-founder and co-chief executive officer of NewsGuard, which rates news publishers based on their reliability.” Wikipedia tells us that he co-founded a company called Journalism Online that was sold two years later for $45 million. Crovitz has become one of the one percent and deploying his internet acumen against the arch-villain. “If this approach catches on,” he wrote in conclusion to his op-ed, “Mr. Putin will just have to spend more of his government’s own money to promote its disinformation.”

NewsGuard is a good name for a company whose purpose is to guard against the American people receiving certain kinds of news. Whichever company becomes the go-to arbiter of news publishers’ “reliability” will in effect be a very powerful censor.

* The link is to a Wall St. Journal story by Suzanne Vranica that ran August 15, 2019 headlined “Advertisers Blacklist News Stories Online.” At least the WSJ editors know that blacklist is one word, not two, but the usage is jarring. News stories don’t get blacklisted, people do — and not just labor organizers and dissident writers. Vranica and Crovitz point to different words that could trigger a “don’t advertise” warning for clients. She wrote:

“Like many advertisers, Fidelity Investments wants to avoid advertising online near controversial content. The Boston-based financial-services company has a lengthy blacklist of words it considers off-limits. If one of those words is in an article’s headline, Fidelity won’t place an ad there. Its list earlier this year, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, contained more than 400 words, including ‘bomb,’ ‘immigration,’ and ‘racism.’ Also off-limits: ‘Trump’.”

(Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s. He can be reached at fred@plebesite.com.)

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THE LAST GOOD WAR

This picture is of a boy in London in 1945. That's about how I looked then. I was seven when the war ended, the U.S.'s last lawfully declared war.

I was in Baltimore. My city was "attacked" by the urgencies and necessities of war. A grade-school teacher of mine named Plitt-- a name in my family, too -- had complained about how she was met with hostility because her name was associated with Germany. I later knew faintly that we were German some, English, Irish and Scottish some -- and that was about it. Wasp. If anybody in my remote family cared about ancestry, they didn't tell me.

I care, though. I've never felt as though I "fit" anywhere especially. Once at the dinner table my oldest sister, Sandra, said to me (we were talking as kids about our origins and inclinations): "Where do YOU come from?" Laughter around table. Dunno if I joined in. Around the house I tried to be as small a figure as possible, having two older sisters, war-distracted parents, a scary, stormy father and rather indifferent mother. I was small-statured as a kid, so that helped.

Anyway: Baltimore -- it was for a while the busiest port in the country. We made war stuff -- liberty ships, warships, bombers, steel -- you name it.

I understood, playing with the other kids, that you don't drink from the perfectly clear brook you're damming up. It's polluted. So is Jones Falls, the small river it goes to on the way to Baltimore Harbor. Environmentalism takes a back seat in war. Just don't drink the water, and turn off your damn lights when the air-raid sirens go off. (An air-raid warden yelled up at me from way down on Edgevale Road when I was reaching for toilet paper during an air-raid drill and had a tiny light on.) "TURN THAT LIGHT OFF!"

My father built a factory and made war stuff. The Clogg Company. Sheet Metal Fabricating. Thrilling and terrifying. It was hellish in there. The racket of steel being formed, cut, welded, bolted, hammered and torched. Smokey and dark, the smell of welding rods prevalent -- their smell and the unnatural brilliance of the arc where welding rod met metal seams. "Don't look at it!"

Sometimes I put on Benjie's welder's mask. Then it was even darker. It didn't occur to me that I might get cooties from a colored man's mask, and nobody stopped me.

The black-white relations of my boyhood would take a lot of words to describe today, but they were how it was. When my family died untimely, black people in droves showed up at the funeral home, many men crying. My father and grandfather were considered good employers, decent white men. Most of the Clogg Company was black, but most of the Baltimore labor force was, too. There was plenty of racism in Baltimore, but I never saw or heard it at "the plant."

I was small enough to stand on the soiled plant floor under the inverted V of my father's legs, which was safe. Then later, at 14, I worked on it (in summer), like everybody else. Everybody was proud that I could work like a man. I was no longer little. I wondered what the praise was for.

With my first pay I bought a heavy denim overall-type apron. Smitty challenged me to race him to the top of the hill for it (the driveway from 41st Street to the plant), but I squinted at his long, lean legs and said no. Better to have been him, but that wouldn't have happened. Declining (it was lunchtime and there were lots of witnesses sitting around munching sandwiches) didn't cost me points, I thought. Instead, I gained because everybody saw I couldn't be shamed into a dumb contest. "That's the boss's son."

I never saw one single identifiable war thing, but I once heard my father say to another man he made seventy thousand after taxes last year. I didn't know what taxes were, but I knew 70,000 was a big number. Taxes during world war II were over ninety percent for high earners. I heard angry mention of the word, jokes about prosperous men doing their own home repairs because they had to make ten dollars to hire somebody for one.

My father snorted, when a big yellow butterfly smashed on the car windshield, "Butterfly! They ought to call it a margerine fly." Butter was rationed. You couldn't buy it.

Then came a day when my family was mostly gone 'cep' for Sandra, Judy and me, and I was a reporter for the Baltimore News-American. One day one of the city editors, Jack Kavanagh, raised his central-casting deep gravelly voice over the noise of copy boys and typewriters and said, "That's it. It's official. Baltimore is more black than white." Could have been the 1960 census. He might have said "colored." I'm not sure "black" was the style yet.

I still prefer "brown." I've never met a black person, or a white one, for that matter. I worked with a Jamaican man whose English -- that accent -- was like singing and whose skin was the darkest I ever saw, but even that, under the noonday sun, wasn't coal black. The ladies treated him like moths drawn to dark light.

There was a moment in my soldiering days. I slept in a cubicle with a black guy. I was mindful of the earnest observation "I'm not prejudiced, but they do smell different." My army buddy and I were Cold-War paratroopers, usually sweaty at the end of the work-day. In the shower, I noticed how soap suds stood out against his average-brown skin. He smelled the same as me.

English soldiers on leave stayed at my home. Part of the War Effort, which was a two-word reminder that We're All In This. They played at night and sent us kids English coins and wartime artifacts after they got back home. They were fun.

The derring-do of soldiers was much sexier, vastly more vivid on the RKO Pathé newsreels after movies, but the war that was waged in American factories was not merely awesome. "The difficult we do immediately. For the impossible, you might have to wait a few days" -- it was hardly believable. Rosie the Riveter was unleashed, do-rag tied round her head, arm up and clenched, showing her biceps. Anybody who couldn't make the military cut because of bad eyes or whatever worked in the factories and shipyards. If you were out of work, it's because you're no-count. Everybody has a job. Even the poor aren't poor. It seems deviant to say this, but it was a wonderful time!

For every service man or woman in combat, there were six uniformed people who never heard a shot fired in anger. That's the mob that stands behind the poor, freezing, unshaven dogface on the line.

I don't pray. If I did, I'd pray that the 2020 American has the grit of the 1945 model.

(Mitch Clogg)

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ENGINE CHANGE

That's how we did it when I was a kid.

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

Laytonville has quite the bright future in cannabis. Flow-Kana’s days are numbered and anyone who has lived in Laytonville 30 years or longer knows the Flo-Kana’s and the rest of the two-buck-Chucks of this world mean nothing to the long time growers who set the bar decades ago on quality weed. The foundation to Laytonville becoming anything other than a truck stop is to avoid the county process all together. Group the forces collectively and go straight to Sacramento. County level anything in Mendo is a joke. This thing at the Garden Club next Sat. is a good start to see where folks are at. Peace!

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ELIZABETH WARREN NOW SAYS SWIFT CHANGE IN HEALTH CARE COULD MAKE PEOPLE UNEASY

Elizabeth Warren said Saturday that a big change in the U.S. health-care system would make a lot of people “uneasy,” emphasizing she wouldn’t immediately push a full Medicare for All plan until people have three years to try it.

bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-04/warren-says-swift-change-in-health-care-could-make-people-uneasy

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TRUMP’S SPIRITUAL ADVISER CALLED FOR ‘ALL SATANIC PREGNANCIES TO MISCARRY.’ IT WAS A METAPHOR, SHE SAYS.

washingtonpost.com/religion/2020/01/26/paula-white-miscarry-metaphor/

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PACIFIC OCEAN’S RISING ACIDITY causes Dungeness crabs’ shells to dissolve

The Pacific Ocean is becoming so acidic it is starting to dissolve the shells of a key species of crab, according to a new US study.

theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/28/crabs-shells-dissolve-acidity-pacific-ocean

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FOUND OBJECT

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