- Cool Coast
- Fire Victim
- 714 Cases
- Firefighter Killed
- Fire Summary
- Water Emergency
- Hollow Tree
- Gun-Club Case
- Orr Springs
- Supes Briefs
- 1930 Laytonville
- PHF Quotes
- Horse-drawn Floats
- Corner Scofflaws
- Willits Armenians
- Eviction Relief
- Free Ranging
- Catch Down
- Mail Vote
- Willits Carriage
- Cry Havoc
- Garzini Family
- Obedient Minions
- 1897 Hotel
- Free Press
- Captain FU
- Disappearing Ice
- Trump Dystopia
- Oberg Film
- Social Reset
- California Flood
- Found Object
HOT AND DRY weather will continue across inland northwest California into next week, where near record heat will be possible around Sunday or Monday. Marine layer clouds will be persistent, keeping most coastal areas cool with very limited sun at least through Friday. (NWS)
THE VICTIM of Monday evening's fire on Mountainview Road, Boonville, is tentatively identified as Tammy Henderson, perhaps best known to residents of the Anderson Valley from her days as a cashier at Anderson Valley Market.
TEN MORE COVID CASES reported in Mendo on Tuesday, all from Ukiah area. Total cases now at 714:
TEXAS FIREFIGHTER-EMT KILLED BATTLING CALIF. WILDFIRE
Cresson Firefighter-EMT Diana Jones was killed battling the August Complex fire at Mendocino National Forest
WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK. Fort Bragg councilman Lindy Peters writes: "The City of Fort Bragg is now officially in a Stage 2 water emergency. The groundwater flow to our primary water sources has reached a level so low that we have not seen the likes of this since 1977. The recently constructed reservoir and new storage tanks will help. What does this mean? It means we are asking all users of our water system to use 20% less. This includes residential and businesses. For tips on how to achieve this go to the City of Fort Bragg webpage menu and click on “My Departments”. Click on Public Works. Then look on the left margin for “Water Conservation”. Click on that for some steps you can take to meet the 20% reduction. You’ll also find Stage 2 requirements on that page. Please do your part and we shall get through this. Thank you!"
Direct link to "Water Conservation" page: https://city.fortbragg.com/474/Water-Conservation
HOLLOW TREE CONVICT CAMP, LEGGETT
GUN CLUB CASE COMES TO AN ABRUPT END.
With potential jurors waiting downstairs, the long-awaited jury trial for two former officers of the Ukiah Rifle and Pistol Club came to an abrupt conclusion Monday morning.
Rather than proceed to trial, defendants Audie Lee Norbury, age 65, and Penny Renate Mathis, age 64, both of Ukiah, each pled no contest to knowingly receiving property stolen from the Ukiah Rifle and Pistol Club, as a misdemeanor.
Once each defendant had waived his and her constitutional rights and the Court had accepted the changes of plea, each defendant was sentenced to 24 months of court probation, given credit for time already spent by both in jail, ordered to pay joint and several restitution to the URPC in the amount of $10,000 (reimbursement for stolen property not recovered), waived any claim of right to recovered property alleged by the prosecution to be stolen (property seized by law enforcement at the home of the defendants), and each was ordered to obey all laws.
A former co-defendant, Jack Keith Mathis, age 77, of Ukiah, was separately convicted in July 2019 of illegally possessing two assault weapons. He remains on probation.
The law enforcement agency that investigated and developed the evidence underlying today’s Norbury/Mathis convictions was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
The prosecutor who had prepared the case and was ready for trial this morning was Deputy District Attorney Josh Rosenfeld.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman presided over the proceedings and today's disposition.
ORR SPRINGS, 1910
At Tuesday's meeting the Board of Supervisors approved a vague concept recommended by an ad hoc committee for a Public Safety Review Board and turned it over to County Counsel Christian Curtis to draft the specifics. Apparently the proposed review board would involve reviewing complaints against officers, among other things. Whatever written paperwork the ad hoc committee prepared wasn’t posted in the Supes agenda packet as it should have been, so for now we’ll have to wait and see if this is a good idea or, more likely, another politically expedient extra hassle for the Sheriff.
Supervisor Ted Williams went on at great length about the seemingly insurmountable bureaucratic and staff-intensive problems with the County’s current pot permit program after noting that Supervisor John McCowen’s use-permit/program “streamlined” reform proposal had been abandoned in favor of trying to fix the existing problem-plagued program with more ad hoc committee meetings.
After an odd but ultimately unsuccessful attempt by Board Chair John Haschak to torpedo it yet again via pointless delay, the Board approved a long-overdue $360k/year Mobile Crisis Team “pilot” proposal that would use Measure B money to fund three mental staffers to ride along with a deputy on potential 5150 calls for four years. The request to the Board was the usual vague description with nowhere near enough information to know how the program would work. Many important questions remain unasked, much less unanswered: what vehicles will be used and who will pay for them? How will dispatch work? Who will pay for the law enforcement portion of the “team”? What are the hours of operation? How much funding is available from other sources? Who’s in charge? Will it be staffed by Camille Schraeder or a County employee? … Sheriff Kendall’s only contribution to the discussion was that it’s a good idea. As good as this idea obviously is, Mendo is quite capable of finding a way to screw it up as they have been doing for years.
After (correctly) tabling three other Measure B expenditure proposals, the Board then decided to set up another ad hoc committee of Haschak and Williams to work with the Measure B oversight committee to develop the long-requested Measure B Business Plan. Apparently, the eleven nearly incoherent babblers already on the Measure B committee aren’t enough, so two more (Supervisors) will magically straighten it all out.
PS. OUR HARD WORKING SUPERVISORS won’t meet again until September 22.
PPS. Here’s the kind of thing that passes for a “status report” according to the latest Health and Human Services Agency Status Report of August 24, 2020: Adult and Aging services “continues to provide critical services to clients.” Apparently, the Board and the Public are supposed to be impressed that the Adult and Aging services people haven’t all quit.
POSTED BY MENDOCINO COUNTY TUESDAY MORNING
Operation Services for Mendocino County Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF), Psychiatric Hospital, and/or Psychiatric Unit
Department Health and Human Services (HHSA)
Category Request for Quotes
RFP Number MH-20-001-RFQ
Start Date 09/01/2020 8:55 AM
Close Date 11/05/2020 5:00 PM
RFP Post Status Open
The County of Mendocino is soliciting information from professionally qualified vendor that can meet licensing requirements to operate a 16 Bed Psychiatric Health Facility, Psychiatric Hospital and/or Psychiatric Unit in Mendocino County. This Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is extended to any Vendor (hereinafter ‘Firm’) that meets the minimum qualifications and has the required experience as described below.
Operation Services for Mendocino County Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF), Psychiatric Hospital, and/or Psychiatric Unit RFQ
Procedural and Technical Inquiries:
Health and Human Services Agency, Administrative Services
Attn. Jeff Champion
PO Box 1060
Ukiah, CA 95482
4TH OF JULY PARADE, MENDOCINO
MENDOCINO, a facebook story: "Unclear what if anything can be done....this morning in front of "Fiddlehead's" 7 humans (+2 canines) smoking and hanging out on the sidewalk in front of the block of closed businesses, basically our local homeless (harmless) crew. I heard loud and angry shouting "GET THE FUCK OUT OF OUR TOWN" and went over to inquire, intervene if there were fighting about to break out, but just a bunch of friendly fellas with no masks telling me "Not us, Merrie, this lady was the one yelling at us" and so they were "defending" themselves. I presume it was a masked person resenting having to pass by (they blocked the corner so if you were heading south on Lansing or East on Albion you ran the gamut). This is obviously not an asset for business (mine is directly across the road) and particularly not a great model for visitors whom we demand/expect to comply with our local mask ordinance. But these are not outside agitators or scofflaw tourists....."fining" them would be a joke. I can talk to them but many people refuse to believe masks should be mandatory. They are obviously not SIP or whatever, they live in a big family of sorts but are out mingling with whomever comes along. Any suggestions? Clearly, this is our failure on the same level as not providing restrooms or cleaning up around town, etc. Jails are not for this. Even if we had space and staff to accommodate who knows how many individuals county wide. What are we currently doing for/with our homeless here, I wonder?"
ARMENIANS, WILLITS FRONTIER DAYS
CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR SIGNS EVICTION RELIEF BILL AMID VIRUS
by Adam Beam
Californians who haven't paid their rent since March 1 because of the coronavirus can stay in their homes through at least Jan. 31 under a new state law Gov. Gavin Newsom signed late late Monday — one day before statewide eviction protections are set to expire.
The pandemic has devastated California’s economy, causing millions of people to lose their jobs as the government ordered businesses to close for months to slow the spread of the disease. In April, the Judicial Council of California — the rule-making authority for the state’s court system — halted most eviction and foreclosure proceedings during the pandemic.
But those protections end on Wednesday, meaning landlords could resume eviction proceedings on tenants who haven't paid their rent.
Monday — the final day of the legislative session — state lawmakers approved a bill that would ban evictions for tenants who did not pay their rent between March 1 and Aug. 31 because of the pandemic. The bill would also ban evictions for those same tenants through Jan. 31, but only if the tenants pay at least 25% of the rent owed during that time.
Newsom signed the bill about an hour after lawmakers passed it. In a news release, Newsom called the law “a bridge to a more permanent solution” from the federal government.
“We need a real, federal commitment of significant new funding to assist struggling tenants and homeowners in California and across the nation,” Newsom said.
The legislation does not forgive the missed payments. Tenants will still owe the money. Landlords can ask a judge to order the tenant to pay it back, but they can't ask a judge for an eviction solely for not paying rent in full.
Tenants would have to sign a document, under penalty of perjury, that says they have experienced a financial hardship directly related to COVID-19. Wealthy tenants — defined as earning a salary of at least $100,000 or 130% of the area’s median income, whichever is higher — would have to show proof that they cannot pay.
The bill does not halt foreclosures for landlords whose tenants have stopped paying rent, but it does extend some state protections to rental properties of four units or less — protections previously only available to owner-occupied homes.
“It’s often said a sign of compromise is both side are dissatisfied, and that’s certainly true here,” Assemblyman David Chiu said, a Democrat from San Francisco and author of the bill. “This bill is an imperfect and necessary solution to an enormous crisis.”
Patricia Mendoza lives in Imperial Beach with her two children. She said she lost her job in April and has had trouble paying her rent ever since. Her asthma puts her more at risk for the coronavirus, making it difficult for her to find a job. She said she doesn't think she'll be able to afford 25% of her $1,500 per month rent over the next five months to qualify for eviction protection.
“This is not my fault. I'm a hard-working mom. I've never asked for help,” said Mendoza, who has been advocating for eviction protections as part of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. “I've never thought of myself as being poor. We're not rich. I”m a working mom, we're not poor. Now I see myself as: We're poor."Ron Kingston, a lobbyist representing multiple landlord groups, said the bill is flawed because it does not require most tenants to verify they have suffered a financial hardship because of the coronavirus. He said the pandemic has been hard on landlords, too, many of whom could go more than a year without receiving any rent payments.
“That creates a really difficult situation,” he said
Chiu said the bill is the best lawmakers could do while mustering the two-thirds vote needed to make the bill take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature. He has pledged to work on the issue again when lawmakers return to work in January.
Republican Sen. Andreas Borgeas of Fresno, who voted for the bill, said that when lawmakers return next year, they should consider approving a tax credit for landlords who were paid just 25% of the rent they were owed. A similar proposal introduced earlier this year failed to pass the state Assembly.
JUST IN: The Trump administration blocks ALL evictions nationwide until the end of the year: Government's sweeping order to stop the spread of COVID will protect 43 million renters
The order lasts through Dec. 31 and applies to individual renters who do not expect to earn more than $99,000 this year or $198,000 for joint filers.
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 1, 2020
(Unavailable due to disappearance of mugshots on the Sheriff’s Booking Log site, including mugshots that were previously posted.)
VOTING BY MAIL
Letter to the Editor
Voting by mail should replace voting at the polls in it's entirety. The two institutions that can definitely be trusted is the County Board of Elections and the United States Postal Service. The money saved by eliminating the need for poll workers could be used to offer free postage on the envelopes used to vote by mail. The person voting would also have more time to consider what they are voting for and would not be confined to the hours of the polling place. It would also prevent unwanted entry to schools and churches from anyone trying to harm someone. In addition the voter would not be harassed by someone trying to place unsolicited campaign literature into their hand. The additional revenue would boost the Postal Service and perhaps keep it afloat until we as a country are able to vote online. Voting by mail would solve the registered voter problem and guarantee safe passage of the ballots to the County Board of Elections. It might even prevent further spread of the Covid-19 Virus.
Joe Bialek, Cleveland
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Neither side concedes after November.
Where do we go then?
Is there even a where?
The future is here.
It’s just not widely distributed.
GARZINI FAMILY, COYOTE VALLEY (PRE-LAKE)
BETSY CAWN WRITES:
Thank you for the sadly informative essay by Mr. Encimer.
Lake County has a proportionally significant number of Veterans (~8,000 for our total ~64,000 population), enough to warrant provision of a VA Clinic in the city of Clearlake, and several “traditional” organizations (VFW, American Legion, DAV Chapter 83, and the state-mandated Veterans Service Office) plus a home-grown collaboration group called “Vet Connect.”
The psycho-social distancing that occurred in the post-Viet Nam / Southeast Asian intervention era, circa 1970s, split the already riven communities whose embittered sons were shunned by the older generation of “real” warriors (from WWII and Korea, even that malevolent unofficial “war” produced honored soldier-survivors).
My family was torn apart by the youngest son’s near destruction in the Nam, and his subsequent adaptation to the rejection of his honorable service — embracing the mainstream assumption that 18, 19, 20-year old draftees would “get over it” and return to “normal” civic and civil life after having their lives on “the line” and surviving by unleashing the worst most murderous impulses on the fragile ecosystems to which they were loosed.
Almost forty years transpired before the recognition of his and your service — and amelioration of the conditions in which once-young Veterans now found themselves, often homeless (with all of the medical and “mental” health related problems that homelessness entails) began. In Northern California, we were at least supported by Congressman Ron Dellums in Oakland, and in the past decade local Congressman Mike Thompson has championed the needs of regional Veterans — helping us get that clinic in Clearlake, and other support systems for “accessing health care” (i.e., transportation to Ft. Miley).
But the County of Lake has no open opposition to the U.S. Military’s innate global authority (as I discovered recently when I went hunting for a local chapter of Veterans for Peace), and a pervasive culture of support for the Pentagon’s perpetuation of servitude in the name of patriotism.
The second most popular option for a high school graduate in Lake County is military enlistment (the top option is local government, the largest employment body including all school districts, municipalities, public health and safety services, and affiliated private businesses).
Most importantly (I bet you thought I’d never get to the point, right?), the tradition of strict social conformity is ensured by the absence of civic centers serving the diffuse and “diverse” needs of the general public, for which only the state’s public health crisis (COVID-19) generated sufficient funding to “shelter” eligible homeless “residents” here.
From the vantage point of a life-long anti-war activist and public service advocate (sure, call it “socialism” if you like), the strict adherence to patriotic symbolism and capitulation to enforced loyalty is currently manifested here by the latest battle for enforcement of a simple public health requirement — “masking” to prevent increased transmission of COVID-19 (or other) communicable virus molecules — and the emergence of highly visible “group” affiliations coincident with (but not necessarily caused by) political party philosophies.
Revelations about Southern Humboldt County’s ruling class and its official minions are helpful to understanding the dynamics of Lake County, which took a different approach to its relatively minor role in the development of California’s major marijuana industry (an apparently effective and untroubled permitting system, although it did take several years of wrangling to get there). Certainly the “leadership” of a mostly sacrosanct system of “elite” decision makers has succeeded in keeping everyone coloring in the lines, maintaining the imperialistic authority of Private Property over civic operations, and keeping any disestablishmentarian upstarts from challenging the status quo.
Our very own “Downtown Brown” is cruising to the end of his 20-year career as local protector of “Pioneer” values and upholder of SOME people’s “Constitutional rights” — which have become the cri de coeur of adolescent jet-ski jockeys feeling deprived of their libidinal options to fuck everything and everyone in sight . . . because this is America, goddamnit!
Time to switch on the Board of Supervisors and see what galling and superficial waste of our hard-earned tax money will be substituted for responsible government this week. Love from Upper Lake, Mr. Encimer.
HOTEL DE THORNTON, POTTER VALLEY, 1897
THE FEEDBACK BOOTH:
“Editor, You know, I just don’t get it. An intelligent person like you. You think that fanatic Kunstler is worthy of attention? Thoughtful, intelligent? Is that because he comes from an era of past days with your friend who died and you pledged your allegiance to anyone who espouses some form of so called radical thinking. I just don’t get it? How on earth could you even consider printing his disgusting diatribes? Because you hate the Democrats? Because you believe no one but you can possible get it? … The correct political position. Apparently you represent the same position politically as you project onto those nasty politically correct Dems. Have you ever considered that you are just like them in your own way? You are really no different you know.
“Me thinks you lack discrimination and lean toward ideological extremism which is actually exactly what Trump and his minions are about, what Q’Anon is about, what Fox News is about, what perhaps Hillary was about. Are there any John Lewis’s in the Republican Party??? No one with basic intelligence thinks our political system makes much sense anymore because of extreme polarization. Why don’t you print some other writers who actually have something meaningful to bring to the discourse? There are a wealth of other writers you could print. You choose to throwyour cards on the table of division and extremism when you print such ugly and biased authors. It makes me question your judgment and your ability to walk the narrow path of reason, good will and discrimination. Do you not see that you are as proud and self-righteous as the extreme right or left, neither of which are doing anything good for this world or this country?
“I know you think I am just another person criticizing you and you are used to it. Which is another way of saying, ‘what you say to me will never make an impact because I KNOW THE TRUTH, THE WAY and the LIGHT like no other.’ I have begun to understand that you will never change your narrow mindedness about what is actually unfolding in this country. But as a friend and someone who cares, I feel a need to tell you that you are actually no different than those that you so dearly despise and criticize. I just wish you could see it.”
Ed reply: Some of my besties are Democrats. I'm a Democrat of the Berner type myself, although to the left of him. I thought I explained that I agree with Kunstler about the RNC Democrats but disagreed with him about voting for Trump. I print all kinds of stuff I disagree with, which is what a free press is supposed to do. No need to demand the death penalty for writers you disagree with. Jeez.
“TRUMP’S ELECTION is going to be the biggest 'fuck you’ ever recorded in human history,’ Michael Moore predicted several weeks before the vote, ‘and it will feel good. Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he’s saying the things to people who are hurting, and that’s why every beaten-down, nameless, forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump. He is the human Molotov cocktail that they've been waiting for, the human hand grenade that they can legally throw into the system that stole their lives from them.” (Michael Moore, 2016)
28 TRILLION TON ICE MELT SPELLS DANGER FOR SEA LEVEL RISE, CLIMATE CHANGE
A total of 28 trillion tons of ice has disappeared from the Earth’s surface since 1994, according to the results of a study that shocked the U.K. researchers who conducted it.
DEMS MUST DEMOLISH TRUMP’S DELUSIONAL LAW-BREAKING DYSTOPIA
by Ralph Nader
Donald Trump continually breaks multiple laws. Yet the serial lawbreaking, lying Trump is playing the “law and order” card against street protestors reacting to fatal cases of police brutality. Armed pro-Trump provocateurs are attending civic protests and generating casualties and property damage, as was the case recently in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Trump uses such mayhem to attack Joe Biden and his hyped “radical leftists.” This is grotesque, but then that is how corrupt, dangerous, devious Donald operates when cornered by falling polls, and growing opposition from leading retired military leaders and national intelligence officials. Trump’s attack on the U.S. Postal Service is also producing a nationwide backlash and even red-state conservatives are troubled by delays in deliveries of medicine and Social Security checks.
Devious Donald has a practice of doing exactly what he mostly falsely accuses his opponents of doing. It is puzzling, though not surprising, that the Democrats have not repeatedly restated the highlights from corrupt Donald’s rap sheet. Shining a spotlight on Trump, with specific indictments, would demonstrate that his actions suspend law and order in favor of dictates.
Every day Trump is committing crimes and civil violations of federal law. Every day Trump is violating the Constitution with serious impeachable offenses (December 18, 2019, Congressional Record H-12197). Do the Democrats think that the American people do not care about the rule of law and observing the Constitution that are the bulwarks against destructive dictatorial power by an ego-obsessed delusional wannabe monarch?
Yesterday’s acceptance speech to the Republican Party by Trump turned the White House into a federal crime scene. The Hatch Act states that having federal employees enable, with federal property, the political campaigns of the President is a criminal violation with serious jail time. Why? Because Congress did not want the power of the federal government to be used to further an incumbent’s political objectives against challengers. When Trump ordered Treasury Department staff to place his signature on the memo line of millions of relief checks, that was also a criminal violation of the Hatch Act. Attorney General William Barr, a Trump toady, is not about to prosecute. Barr refuses to respond to demands that he investigate this and other Trump administration violations of law.
But lawless Donald has gotten away with more serious violations such as seizing, unconstitutionally and illegally, the Congressional power of the purse and the power to tax in our Constitution. Trump moves money for purposes, not approved by Congress, from one agency to another, as for building the wall, thereby violating the Anti-Deficiency Act, which carries a criminal penalty.
Trump has defied over 100 Congressional subpoenas and more formal demands for his subordinates to testify. These are first-class impeachable offenses. The Founding Fathers provided Congress with the power to compel the disclosure of information that is critical to all other Congressional authorities.
President Richard Nixon was on the way, in 1974, to being impeached and convicted in the Senate, during the Watergate scandal, for defying just one subpoena and one count of obstruction of justice. Trump obstructs justice, the processes of law enforcement, all the time, as documented in part by the Mueller Report.
Trump talks about supporting law enforcement on the streets, while inciting his supporters to violence, yet he fires and intimidates prosecutors and Inspectors General who investigate or expose violations of law by Trump and his Trumpsters. Both his current government and personal businesses, as well as his previous ongoing personal business and taxation entanglements are under investigation by federal and state prosecutors.
The list goes on. Trump unlawfully nullifies statutory mandates by executive orders. His failure to enforce environmental, health, worker safety, and consumer protection laws is a direct violation of federal laws and the Constitution. He is dismantling these protections, driving out civil servants and scientists, and abandoning law and order for corporate crooks by defunding the corporate crime police.
Trump’s outlaw regime brags about destroying controls on pesticides (especially harmful to children), coal ash, and other sickening emissions that will attack the health of all Americans. Trump and his henchman also recently shredded controls on the release of methane, a global warming gas many times worse than carbon dioxide.
Why don’t the Democrats use what even the Wall Street Journal has regularly exposed about Trump’s riddance of law and order to allow runaway big businesses to cheat, pollute and overcharge people, as well as to defraud the federal government big time with procurement rackets? Trump is pushing for 20 million Americans to lose their health insurance, with no substitute proposal, and weakening nursing home safety regulations – in the middle of a giant pandemic!
One answer may be that the Democrats have done some similar things when in power, especially in the area of unauthorized wars and mass surveillance of the people. However, Trump sinks to utterly unprecedented levels of outlawry and openly embraces the monarchical boast that “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”
The daily tweeting, lying King, the man who boasted about abusing women, and behaving as a sexual predator, is a ruler who brings out the worst from this country. Trump deliberately divides America and stokes conflict and disruption. Trump is a reality denier and chaotic bungler who is aiding and abetting the climate crisis and preventing scientists and public health managers from controlling Covid-19, the cause of the worst global pandemic in our lifetimes. He is also blocking relief for a crashing economy and still escapes accountability.
The Democrats are not matching Trump’s own or his Party’s propaganda. In 2004, author, and former prominent Republican political analyst Kevin Phillips, argued that the Democrats go for the capillaries while the GOP goes for the jugular. By not going full force against dictator Trump, the Democrats are not overwhelmingly countering the most criminally, unconstitutionally culpable, vulnerable, and dislikable president in US history. With just over two months until the November 3rd election, a strong, independent, civic drive to oppose and vote out Trump/Pence is required. Standing on the sidelines hoping that the Democrats will retire the failed gambling czar didn’t work in 2016 and it won’t work in 2020 either.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
IRV SUTLEY WRITES: This is the Oberg film, not the one that appeared in the online addition of the paper
NO GOING BACK: It’s all got to change
by Graham Peebles
It’s been a weird time, the last six months, and so it continues; perhaps it always was. It’s certainly been an unjust violent mess in varying degrees of severity, for as long as most can remember. With selfishness, division and pleasure firmly in the driving seat, and the planet beautiful, slowly choking to death under the weight of human greed and stupidity.
After Covid-19 erupted, widespread lockdowns like a blunderbuss were enforced in many countries, and for a brief interlude hush descended on towns and cities across the world. Whole populations from Europe to New Zealand and most points in between were forced to desist from ‘going out’ and socializing, made to curtail their habitual shopping urges and change their work patterns. A strange and uncertain time, aggravating pre-existing anxieties, triggering depression, threatening economic meltdown.
A rare space opened, is still available, creating the opportunity to reflect on how life was and is being lived, individually and collectively; an opportunity to redefine what is important, and for those so inclined, to ponder life after the virus. A feeling of post-pandemic hope circulated among the hopeful. Could, will, ‘things’ change for the good at last, would corporate governments emerge with a new attitude towards public services, ‘key workers’ – who had suddenly become heroes – the environment and national health care systems (where they exist, and where they don’t with a recognition that they should), refugees and migrant workers.
Will the many acts of community kindness foster lasting social responsibility, can the pause in consumerism, manufacturing, and travel, ignite a major shift in political and social attitudes, leading to a change in policies and collective behavior rooted in environmental and social responsibility? Many hope for such a long overdue bonanza, but as countries tentatively begin to emerge from the shadow of Covid the political rhetoric and corporate talk is depressingly predictable.
Saddled with huge national debt, the prospect of an economic ‘slump’, or ‘slowdown’ and mass unemployment, anxious politicians, lacking vision, and business leaders (understandably) concerned with survival and profit, repeatedly, and desperately talk about getting back to ‘normal’; re-starting the economy – the very economy that has polluted the air, the oceans and the land – and speedy recoveries. It is predictable lunacy; no, no, no, not business as chuffing usual, many cry. This is a chance to think outside the existing foul paradigm, to creatively re-imagine how life could be. If we are to face the most pressing issues of the day, there must be real change.
The term ‘new normal’ is routinely bandied around by politicians, business leaders and commentators these days; it’s often used to describe the changes to working methods – Zoom meetings for example, education bubbles in schools, one-way systems and hand sanitation in shops, face coverings on public transport. Cautionary health care measures, but nothing of substance; nothing that will save the planet, mitigate the ecological vandalism being perpetrated by humanity; create social justice, end violent conflict, racism and starvation; banish malnutrition, reform education, offer justice and support to migrants, and house the homeless in every land – for example.
We do not need a ‘new normal’, referring as it does to the old, decrepit, inadequate, poisoning ‘normal’ that has cast a cloak of misery and insecurity everywhere it is found, and it’s found everywhere. 99.9% of people around the world, and the natural environment require revolutionary change. Fundamental socio-economic change, true and lasting shifts in attitudes and behavior, not simply Covid-19 enforced adjustments encased in the existing structures and values – manipulations of an inadequate socio-economic model, which needs dismantling. As author Phillip Pullman put it: “ It’s all got to change. If we come out of this crisis with all the rickety, flyblown, worm-eaten old structures still intact, our descendants will not forgive us. Nor should they. We must burn out the old corruption and establish a better way of living together.” And if you take a walk through a shopping area, an industrial site or office island, it’s clear; the old is dying before our very eyes, not due to the pandemic, but because it is devoid of vitality, totally and utterly. It’s finished, let it go, and let’s turn our attention to re-imagining society and the systems under which we all live; allow the transition into the new to creatively and harmoniously take place.
Save Our Planet (S.O.P.)
For months Covid-19 has stolen the headlines and dominated mainstream media programs, but within a burgeoning list of interconnected crises, of which the current pandemic is one, it is the complex environmental emergency that screams out as the single greatest issue facing humanity. And if humanity is to rise to this greatest of challenges, wholesale change is need. Under lockdown the environment appeared to be given a respite, the air somewhat cleaner, rivers lighter, but, perhaps surprisingly, greenhouse gas emissions have been barely affected. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) expects this year’s annual emissions to be reduced by just 6-8%. This, they make clear, will have no measurable impact on carbon concentrations, or climate warming. In fact, 2020 is on track to be hottest year on record, on the back of subsequent hot years. According to the UK Met Office, a 10% drop is needed “to have a noticeable effect on the rising CO2 concentrations, but even then concentrations would still be rising.”
The principle cause of the environmental catastrophe is consumerism, insatiable ignorant human consumption of stuff, most of it unnecessary, and, crucially, animal-based food produce, and if we are to Save Our Planet (S.O.P.) and provide a viable world in which our children and grandchildren can live and grow, radical changes in our modes of living are needed, alternative values encouraged. Changes that move humanity in a new direction completely, that negate totally the urge, tempting or inevitable as it may appear to many to be, to resurrect the terminally sick economy and pursue the Growth Genie. Rooted in endless consumption, greed and competition such obsessive behavior has, in addition to strengthening nationalism and division, pushed the planet into critical care and, if we continue to be hypnotized by the pursuit of transient pleasures, will lead, if we are not already there, to irreparable climatic disorder and chronic ecological disease – and soon.
Returning to ‘normal’ means re-igniting the consumer-based economy, encouraging consumerism and affirming negative, habitual patterns of behavior. That’s what the politicians and the corporate voices are concerned about, and, while they may include the words ‘green’ or ‘alternative’, ‘renewable’, or ‘eco’, in their rousing duplicitous rhetoric, their principle goal is not salvaging the environment, changing behavior and encouraging simplicity of living, it is generating profit, perpetuating ‘growth’. And the way that’s achieved is by populations consuming, irresponsibly and in excess. An economic system based and reliant upon limitless consumption, in all its facets, including animal agriculture, is completely incompatible with the health of the planet, and the well being of people.
Instead of excess, simplicity and sufficiency need to be the goals; responsible consumerism, in which goods and services are bought based on need, and choices/decisions are determined by the impact on the natural world. This requires personal effort and worldwide education. National public education programs, run by governments in collaboration with environmental groups, are needed to make people aware of the impact of their behavior on the environment, including animal agriculture; cutting out all animal food produce is the single most significant step individuals can take to help reduce their impact on the environment.
Changes in behavior are essential, but governments, long-term political policies and corporations have the biggest impact; while the rhetoric from some in office may be resonant, it is difficult to see any politicians within the current crop who have the breadth of vision and the will to enact the radical measures needed if the environmental emergency is to be overcome. All are married to the existing structures and appear to believe in the pervasive socio-economic ideology. Intense public pressure then, like the actions undertaken by Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, the Schools Strike for Climate and others, is crucial and must be applied, consistently and forcefully if, and it is a loud and deeply troubling if, the needed actions to Save Our Planet and heal our societies – for the two are inextricably linked – are to take place within the time frame required.
(Graham Peebles is a British freelance writer and charity worker. He set up The Create Trust in 2005 and has run education projects in Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and India. E: email@example.com W: www.grahampeebles.org.)
THE GREAT FLOOD OF 1861–1862 WAS A PREVIEW OF WHAT SCIENTISTS EXPECT TO SEE AGAIN, AND SOON.
FOUR YEARS AGO, We Warned That Trump Could Win. Now, We’re Warning Again.
by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon
Five days before the election that put Donald Trump in the White House, an article we wrote appeared under the headline “Dangerous Myths About Trump That Some Progressives Cling To.” The piece warned progressive activists about “three key myths”:
Myth #1: “Trump can’t win.”
Myth #2: “If Trump becomes president, he’ll be blocked from implementing the policies he’s been advocating.”
Myth #3: “Trump couldn’t do much damage as president.”
We wrote that each of those myths was based on major misunderstandings of political realities: In fact, Trump actually could win. If he did, we shouldn’t “have an inflated view of our own power to block the policies of a President Trump.” And, “Trump plans to appoint to the most powerful policy positions of the U.S. government individuals who are as whacked out as he is: Rudy Giuliani, Dr. Ben Carson, war fanatic John Bolton, to name just a few.”
We added: “A Trump presidency -- made possible by his demagogic appeals to racism, misogyny, immigrant-bashing and Islamophobia -- would empower the worst elements of U.S. society.”
Our point now is not to say we told you so. Our point now is to tell you that Trump really could win again -- and progressives must do everything in our power to stop that from happening. That means, individually and collectively, going all-out to Vote Trump Out. Crucially, in swing states, that means voting Joe Biden in.
We have no illusions about Biden, who has faithfully served neoliberal corporatism throughout his political career. At the same time, we have no illusions about the neofascist elements of the Trump presidency or the virulent extremism of much of his political base.
That’s why, in recent weeks, the two of us have helped launch a campaign to “#VoteTrumpOut (in Swing States) / Then Challenge Biden from Day One.”
An encouraging reality is that the progressive movement is much stronger today -- online, in the streets and on election ballots -- than four years ago. We’re better organized, better funded, better networked and more astute about the need to challenge corporate Democrats.
Large numbers of progressives are ready, willing and able to battle a Biden-Harris administration on behalf of transformational reforms like a Green New Deal, major criminal justice reform to counter racism and establish true public safety, Medicare for All, affordable housing, free college, increased taxes on corporations and the rich, and big cuts in Pentagon spending.
Before that battle for progress can begin, the racist Trump regime must be defeated in battleground states (listed here) -- and by significant margins, so the election can’t be stolen.
While a Biden-Harris administration could be pressured toward reforms benefiting poor and working-class people, Trump is immune to progressive pressure and protest. And a second Trump term would stoke more white-supremacist vigilantism and an even more far-reaching assault on democratic rights and marginalized communities.
The #VoteTrumpOut campaign is aimed at a sizeable bloc of voters in swing states that mainstream media pundits generally ignore: “swing voters on the left.” Some of these change-oriented voters are thinking about sitting out the presidential election or casting a third-party protest vote, even though they live in battleground states.
We will be dialoguing with thousands of these voters in swing states every week, and regularly sending them thought-provoking videos from the likes of Medicare for All campaigner Ady Barkan and lifelong activist/scholar Noam Chomsky.
Chomsky has offered this comment: “I live in the swing state of Arizona, and I’d vote for a lamp post to get Trump out.”
It’s probably silly to debate how much better Biden is than a lamp post. We’d prefer to discuss a 30-foot flag post at South Carolina’s state capitol that was famously scaled five years ago by African-American activist Bree Newsome Bass to remove the Confederate battle flag. Her act of civil disobedience in the wake of the Charleston church massacre gained international acclaim, and the state soon permanently removed the flag.
Last week, she sent out urgent tweets: “Trump and Republicans have to be driven out of office. . . . If he’s not defeated electorally, it will solidify a fascist dictatorship & the far right will ramp up exponentially. . . . I cannot overstate how terrifying the prospect of a solidified Trump dictatorship should be to everyone.”
Trump really could win again. The more progressives wrap their minds around that reality now, the less likely they’ll have to live with it for another four years.
Jeff Cohen is cofounder of the online activism group RootsAction.org. He founded the media watch group FAIR, and was an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from New York for the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of many books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He was a 2020 Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the national convention.