Wind & Rain | 15 Cases | Hispanic Percentage | Giant Salamander | Logging Ramifications | Parade/Rodeo | Assange Decision | Bank/Library/Mill | Vigilante Concern | Gualala Tracks | BLM Vandalized | Stumptopus | Zoom Tripping | Burke/Clay/Hiatt | Ed Notes | Tequila Soup | California Covid | Heavy Load | Propane Gouging | Yesterday's Catch | Johnson Memorial | Lobbyist Friend | Walmart Pharmacy | True Wealth | Election Treason | Poisoned Underpants | Found Object
AN APPROACHING FRONT and low pressure will bring strong southerly winds through the morning along with moderate to locally heavy rains. Heavy snow is also expected across the Trinity Alps into this evening. Dry weather will return to the region during Tuesday, followed by another round of rain and high elevation snow on Wednesday. (NWS)
15 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Sunday, bringing the total to 2626.
HERE IS THE HISPANIC/LATINO PERCENTAGE of total Covid cases (cumulative) in Mendocino County at the end of each month:
- 52% (43/83) June, 2020
- 59% (185/312) July, 2020
- 65% (460/704) August, 2020
- 63% (609/964) September, 2020
- 63% (737/1174) October, 2020
- 61% (970/1594) November, 2020
- 54% (1394/2558) December, 2020
After peaking in August at 65% the percentage has been dropping.
Here's the percentage of Hispanic-to-total cases during each month (non cumulative figures):
- 62% (142/229) July, 2020
- 70% (275/392) August, 2020
- 57% (149/260) September, 2020
- 61% (128/210) October, 2020
- 55% (233/420) November, 2020
- 44% (424/964) December, 2020
Again, August was their worst month, when they accounted for more than 2/3 of all cases, while December was their best, well under 1/2.
OVERALL, looking at the numbers of cases-per-month since last summer, we see that October was Mendocino County's best month, at 210 cases, but the following month (November) the number of cases doubled (420), and the next month (December) surpassed doubling (964).
WHERE'S THE THP FOR JACKSON STATE?
Starting next August 542 acres of Jackson Demonstration State Forest bordering Mitchel Creek, Mitchel Creek Drive, and Caspar Creek, is slated to be logged. This is just one of seven Timber Harvest Plans scheduled for our coastal forests over the next couple of years — 3000 acres.
The Forest management has been enigmatic about these THPs, only notifying residents within 300 feet of a cut and allowing a small window of time for public comment. That window for public comment closed December 23, but all is not lost.
A team of scientists recently surveyed the August fire. Most of the old-growth trees survived. What burned were the young, smaller trees without dense, protective bark. A large percentage of the (valuable) old trees in each of these harvests are marked for removal, leaving the young trees and the resulting slash to dry out and become fuel for the next fire season. These THPs put us all at risk, especially those of us living in the neighborhoods adjacent to the cuts: those of us with only one way out in the event of a fire.
A walk in any of the zones logged in Caspar and Hare Creek as long ago as 10-30 years reveals choked stands of small trees, volatile scotch broom, and generally unhealthy forests and combustible understory. In addition to the amplified fire danger there is the risk of increased siltation of our rivers and creeks, possible herbicide contamination of the groundwater and our wells.
Perhaps by changing their name from California Department of Forestry to Calfire they would like us to believe that thinning of the forest would reduce the risk of fire. Instead, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy eventually costing us our homes, perhaps even our lives.
For maps and photos of recent cuts please visit: mendocinotrailstewards.org
JULIAN ASSANGE CANNOT BE EXTRADITED TO US, BRITISH JUDGE RULES
by Ben Quinn
Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the US to face charges of espionage and of hacking government computers, a British judge has decided.
Lawyer for US authorities are to appeal against the ruling, which was delivered at the central criminal court by the district judge, Vanessa Baraitser.
Delivering her ruling the judge said said the WikiLeaks founder was likely to be held in conditions of isolation in a so-called supermax prison in the US and procedures described by US authorities would not prevent him from potentially finding a way to take his own life.
“I find that the mental condition of Mr Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” she said.
Assange has been taken back to Belmarsh prison ahead of an application on Wednesday for his release on bail, which will refer to conditions at the high-security prison in south London against the backdrop of the worsening Covid-19 pandemic.
The judge’s decision, focusing on Assange’s health, came after she knocked down one argument after another made last year by Assange’s lawyers. Sending him to the US would not breach a bar on extradition for “political offences” she said, and she had no reason to doubt that “the usual constitutional and procedural protections” would be applied to a trial he might face in the US.
But she accepted the evidence of prominent medical experts, including details of how Assange had suffered from depression while in prison in London. “The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man who is genuinely depressed about his future,” said Baraitser.
The case against the 49-year-old relates to WikiLeaks’s publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as diplomatic cables, in 2010 and 2011.
Prosecutors say Assange helped the US defence analyst Chelsea Manning breach the US Espionage Act, was complicit in hacking by others and published classified information that endangered informants.
Assange denies plotting with Manning to crack an encrypted password on US computers and says there is no evidence anyone’s safety was compromised. His lawyers argue the prosecution is politically motivated and that he is being pursued because WikiLeaks published US government documents that revealed evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses.
At the weekend, Assange’s partner had said a decision to extradite the WikiLeaks co-founder to the US would be “politically and legally disastrous for the UK”.
Stella Moris, who has two children with Assange, said a decision to allow extradition would be an “unthinkable travesty”, adding in an article published by the Mail on Sunday that it would rewrite the rules of what it was permissible to publish in Britain.
“Overnight, it would chill free and open debate about abuses by our own government and by many foreign ones, too.”
Over the course of hearings last year, lawyers for Assange had called witnesses who told the court that WikiLeaks had played a vital role in bring revelations to light that exposed the way in which the US had conducted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Among them, the founder of the legal charity Reprieve, Clive Stafford-Smith, said “grave violations of law” such as the use of US drones for targeted strikes in Pakistan had been brought to light with the help of documents published by WikiLeaks.
Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam war, had also defended Assange, saying he had acted in the public interest, and warned he would not get a fair trial in the US.
Assange has been in custody in Britain since April 2019, when he was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had taken refuge seven years previously to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that was subsequently dropped.
Sheriff Kendall Writes:
I was contacted by a friend who had seen the images I placed on the agenda for the upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting (January 5th, 2021) regarding additional staffing for the Sheriff’s Office.
There were two images shared.
One was a subject who was caught on game camera with a large pack and an assault rifle. This image was reportedly taken during theft of marijuana. The subject is blurry due to the resolution of the camera and is unable to be identified.
The second image was of a subject who had been captured by locals following a robbery. I intentionally blocked out the subject's face to protect his identity, including the subject's race and age which also protects identity.
My friend advised me the image had previously been shared on social media following a robbery in Mendocino County, therefore people would be able to remember the unprotected image.
This image has stirred concerns in our community and I am truly sorry this image caused these concerns.
My intent was to show the crimes and begin conversations regarding the disturbing truth behind what many of our residents are facing regarding violence.
I also wanted to make clear my concerns regarding what can occur if persons choose to enforce laws themselves. I also wanted to make a point, policing should be handled by trained professionals.
I fear what can happen when persons who are not properly trained attempt to enforce laws.
These images were disturbing, please understand they were equally disturbing to me. We are in a time where we have to have honest straight forward conversations regarding crime and the effects on our communities.
If we in law enforcement don’t do our jobs, someone who is untrained will attempt to do them for us.
Please understand I don’t agree with anything in either of these images and that was my point and focus when providing them to our Board of Supervisors.
I appreciate the fact we live in a community that is able to reach out to me, and I to you, early on a Sunday Morning regarding any issue.
I also appreciate the honest discussions regarding many things including this matter in particular.
Sheriff Matt Kendall
A WAR ON WORDS: Vandals Cut Down and Steal Laytonville Resident’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ Sign
Susy Barsotti, the owner of the Black Oak Ranch and a representative of Laytonville’s Hog Farm community, demonstrated the community’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement by displaying a large sign with those words along the frontage of her property which abuts Highway 101 north of Laytonville. On the last day of 2020, Barsotti discovered vandals had used a chainsaw to cut down the sign and steal it.
ZOOM TRIPPIN’ WITH AV VILLAGE
AV Village Activity: Trippin’, Monday Jan 4th, 4:30 to 5:30 pm
Join AV Village member and volunteer Mary O'Brien <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Participants should have 2 or 3 pictures of a particular place they have visited, which they’ll share on Zoom. Then they’ll give a few facts about the place and ask participants to guess the locale. After that they can share an event - humorous or sobering - that happened while they were there and why it was meaningful to them. With tech support as needed.
Meeting ID: 434 337 6734
WE RECENTLY posted a photo from the 1930s of an elderly woman standing in her vegetable garden. The caption read, "She survived The Depression because she knew how to do things." Yes, but preparedness and thrift preceded that crash because government wasn't available for help, and most Americans, especially rural and small town Americans, knew that in a pinch survival was up to themselves. Also, there were less than 130 million people in the US when The Depression took hold, about half of them still on the farm or not far from the farm. There are now 330 million of US, most in cities or suburbs of cities, which means that the covid-caused Depression ahead will place the most desperate millions fully dependent on government for their lives.
I HAVE VIVID memories of visiting my maternal grandparents at their home in a small, former coal-mining town in southern Illinois called Hillsboro. They owned a small-ish house that seemed large because it had a basement that ran the full length of the house and an attic that also ran the full length of the house. Throughout the summer months both my grandparents worked a half-acre garden in the backyard whose produce my grandmother and her daughters “put up” and stored in the basement which, to my childish eye, seemed to contain enough preserved food to feed an army. When The Depression hit Hillsboro, in my mother's memory, the family lived out of their garden and a couple of milk cows they shared with the whole neighborhood. She said there were times when all they had to eat was milk and potatoes that my grandmother creatively batched up from a variety of recipes. Tough as it was, my mother always said with many other Depression-era Americans saying the same thing, “But we had a lot of fun. We were all poor and in the same boat, but people helped each other out and we had dances in the cold months and picnics in the summer.” Also like a lot of Depression-era Americans my mother saved everything from string to tin foil. “You never know when you might need it.”
THE DEPRESSION just now jumping off less than a hundred years later, given the huge numbers of people unaccustomed to real struggle, is likely to be much more violent and no fun for much of anybody.
THIS COMMENT wafted in out of the cyber-ethers the other day had me agreeing. “So it was when it was easy for common people to keep land in America, w/o subversion of laws made to give the most people a chance to own some and over-regulation to charge fees and fines to take it from common people for those who already have more than they need. Three Laws were made in California so many could own land. All were perverted. Now it’s in the fewest hands. California should pass a land reform law for the People to take it back and limit acreage owned to 160 acres as it was, that makes communities healthy and prosperous for the many.”
LAND DISTRIBUTION in Mendocino County is skewed to larger holdings, first because in the last quarter of the 19th century large outside timber moguls, often deploying thugs to get it done, combined small holdings into a few large ones, the Mendocino Redwood Company being the largest remaining. It's owned by a billionaire San Francisco family named Fisher who made their fortune from Asian sweatshops and now do nothing much at all, and why the lives and resources of Mendocino County should depend on a private family is, well, capitalism. But wouldn't it make more sense to have timberlands owned in common by the people who work them, kinda on the same sensible basis that the town of Green Bay owns the Green Bay Packers?
HOW MANY MENDOS know that the Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, owns damn near everything from east of 101 at South Laytonville to Dos Rios?
LOTS OF PEOPLE laughed at Andrew Yang, the Democrat who ran for president, when he suggested UBI (Universal Basic Income) but think about it. Imagine yourself as president faced with the situation Old Doddering Joe is facing, a situation with millions of people out of work and just as many facing eviction. A UBI set at about 5 thou a month looks not only desirable but necessary to keep this sucker from going all the way under.
A SELF-DESCRIBED “anti-racist” educator named Lorena Germán tweeted about how many classics written before the 1950s needed to be “switched up” — rewritten or excised — to bring them up to her standard of gender and ethnic appropriateness. Professor Germán cited ‘The Scarlet Letter’ as an example of a book needing revision.
A WRITER named Jessica Cluess rightly responded by calling Germán an “idiot” and defending Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote ‘The Scarlet Letter.’ “If you think Hawthorne was on the side of the judgmental Puritans… then you… should not have the title of educator in your bio,” Ms. Cluess wrote.
A DAY LATER, Ms. Cluess unfortunately apologized and called her words “misguided, wrong, and deeply hurtful.”
BUT IT WAS TOO LATE. Ms. Cluess, a successful author of children's books, had already been dropped by her spine-free agent, Brooks Sherman, due to the tweet, which he labeled as “racist.” Prof Germán is black, meaning, it seems, at least to Brooks Sherman, the professor is exempt from criticism.
EVERY YEAR we lose people. I mean “we” here at the AVA lose people who suddenly are gone from the comment line or otherwise drop from sight. Here are a few of the disappeared: Susie de Castro; Louis Bedrock; Rex Gressett; Jonathan Middlebrook, and Flynn Washburne, the last writing that he had fallen in love in Eureka as if that happy fact accounted for his subsequent absence from the pages where he was truly loved. So to speak. And Eureka wouldn't seem to be the best place for Flynn given that town's temptations, and love ordinarily doesn't bring the rest of life to a halt, but I'm afraid I angered Flynn when I suggested he write about what he knows best — the demi monde, although that simple suggestion wouldn't seem to count as an insult.
A GLIMPSE AT HELL ON EARTH
by Jim Shields
While Mendocino County is experiencing a pandemic surge, it’s nowhere close to the dire circumstances in other parts of the state. So let’s take a quick look at how C-19 is ravaging the state of California, which is now the number one state in the Union in COVID contraction and deaths.
Southern California hospitals are so overwhelmed that gift shops, conference rooms, and storage areas have been converted to makeshift rooms for patients.
Los Angeles County confirmed another 274 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, Dec. 30, bringing the total to 10,056.
With this new, unprecedented surge of patients into hospitals, there has also been a “large volume” of dead bodies that many mortuaries across the county don’t have space for.
“This is causing a backup of dead bodies at a variety of facilities and hospitals across the county,” Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said.
There’s help on the way according to L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis: Members of the National Guard will be deployed next week to the Coroner’s Office to help with operations.
“Most heartbreaking is that if we had done a better job reducing transmission of the virus, many of these deaths would not have happened,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a media conference.
Ferrer, the architect of California’s most restrictive local lockdown orders, has been the target of protestors for months, as angry business owners and laid-off workers allege the orders are over-broad, draconian, and do almost nothing to reverse the actual cause of the surge: too many people who ignore public health orders to stay at home, don’t gather with people outside of family bubbles, and don’t-travel advisories, especially during holiday celebrations.
At a Tuesday, Dec. 29 press conference, state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly (husband of Dr. Christina Ghaly) said some Southern California hospitals have begun making choices that affect patient care, as in life-and-death decisions.
He said the “state is working to keep hospitals from operating in crisis care mode for “as long and as much as possible,” and that the state has not seen instances in which health care providers have to decide how to care for two patients with just one ventilator.
Ghaly said hospitals are diverting ambulances and making decisions about whether to provide certain treatment for patients who are likely to die. He said more than 95% of Los Angeles hospitals have diverted ambulances in the last 24 hours.
“Some hospitals in Southern California have put in place some practices that would be part of crisis care, whether those are decisions about how ambulances are received into the facility or how stretched staff become to care for patients, looking at the effectiveness of certain treatments for certain patients who are unlikely to survive,” he said during a press conference. “That is happening in facilities in Southern California.”
He said SoCal hospitals are running out of staff and wait times are much longer than normal — “a critical difference” between Northern and Southern California, Ghaly said.
“We need to be prepared for some hospitals to resort to crisis care,” where certain supplies and medical care are rationed, he said. “Medical professionals have to make hard choices and relocate resources.”
Ghaly also provided new guidance to hospitals under a crisis care continuum.
It includes three levels: conventional care, contingency care, and crisis care.
Ghaly said most hospitals are operating under contingency care now.
Under this guideline, space in the hospital starts to be used for other types of care, such as COVID patients, single occupancy rooms are converted to double, supplies are conserved or reused and the level of care may be delayed.
“We do have to acknowledge that we need to be prepared that some hospitals will have to resort to crisis care,” Ghaly said.
The state does not determine when a hospital resorts to crisis care standards, it will be determined by the hospital, based on the need for hospitalization and available resources.
According to Ghaly, care must be guided by ethics, equity, and transparency.
Ghaly said the state has also issued guidance to achieve four goals:
• Hospitals are able to remain in conventional or contingent care as long as possible;
• All hospitals in a region work together to support each hospital to remain in contingent care as long as possible;
• Hospitals have prepared plans for crisis care if needed as a last resort;
• The public has clear and transparent information regard
ing the crisis care continuum as well as the hospital’s approach to crisis care during this surge
And, of course, Ghaly said hospitals are preparing for even worse conditions into late January as cases surge and people become sicker after the holidays.
“We are worried about a rapidly accelerating increase and pressure on our hospitals,” he said.
Looks to me like the time to worry is over as hospitals, at least those in Los Angeles County, are already coming apart at the seams.
Hopefully, Mendocino County officials are paying strict attention to events in SoCal and have made plans accordingly.
Our county has only three hospitals and approximately 45 ICU rooms, and it won’t take much to overwhelm them, especially within the next 3-to-4 weeks when everything is supposed to hit the fan.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
A READER ASKS,
Trying to find out what is going on with propane prices in this county is impossible. My propane is costing me $3.60 a unit/meaning a gallon. That’s outrageous as I read there is a glut of propane…. My bill more than doubled this year. I know it’s been cold…. one little propane heater in the cottage was on “some” of the time but my guest mostly used an electric heater. The bill was $255!!! $255 for a week????
My house was $855!!!! breathtaking.
I read that the average cost in the US is about $2.00. It has always been more expensive in the this county. But something is really wrong here. I believe price gouging is a felony during an emergency. I would say the pandemic has emergency written all over it….especially with people staying home. So the propane companies are getting away with highway robbery.
Could you look into this?
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 3, 2021
MICHAEL JOHNSON, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance without prescription.
SHANNON KESTERSON, Sea Ranch (State Parks). DUI, resisting.
ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
NATHANIEL SMITH, Rancho Sequoia/Willits. Paraphernalia, ammo possession by prohibited person, parole violation.
NEWSOM’S FRIENDSHIP WITH LOBBYIST WHO THREW FRENCH LAUNDRY PARTY BRINGS QUESTIONS
On the website of one of Sacramento’s most influential lobbying firms, partner Jason Kinney boasted of his close connection to Gavin Newsom, noting he has advised the governor for “nearly 14 years.” The plug suddenly disappeared last month, days after Newsom drew national criticism for attending Kinney’s 50th birthday dinner at the famed Napa Valley restaurant the French Laundry.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GROW RICH? Is it to have red-blooded adventures and to make a ‘fortune,’ which is what brought the whalers and other entrepreneurs north? Or is it, rather, to have a good family life and to be imbued with a far-reaching and intimate knowledge of one’s homeland, which is what the Tununirmiut told the whalers at Pond’s Bay wealth was? Is it to retain a capacity for awe and astonishment in our lives, to continue to hunger after what is genuine and worthy? Is it to live at moral peace with the universe? (Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams)
by Peter Pomerantsev
“That Alexey Navalny must be quite someone,” went a joke on the Russian internet, “if he has the secret services washing his underpants.” Earlier this month, the opposition politician prank-called one of his attempted murderers. The FSB man, believing he was talking to a colleague, explained how his team had smeared Novichok on Navalny’s underpants in August, and then picked up the murder knickers after the operation and washed them (twice) to get rid of the evidence. Not only had Navalny, with the help of investigative reporting by Bellingcat and the Insider, managed to find out the names of the FSB goons who had tried to poison him; he also got one to confess to the operation. It took 49 minutes for the FSB officer to ask if it was OK to be talking on an open line. “Look how stupid and corrupt the Kremlin’s system is,” Navalny said on his YouTube channel after the phone call: another reason to get rid of the regime.
The late John le Carré’s world of Soviet superspies, operating silkily in shadows within shadows, has been replaced with a quite different image of Kremlin espionage: bumbling putzes scrubbing a pair of Y-fronts in full view of the world.
The Kremlin may not much mind, however. Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, the clever and courageous chroniclers of the “new nobility” of spies who now run Russia, argue that the Kremlin has long moved away from even trying to make its operations covert. In a world where anything is merely a hack and a leak away from being revealed, being relaxed about getting caught is a sensible safeguard. I asked Soldatov if he thought the Navalny phone call would be an embarrassment for the FSB. Someone would get a rollicking, he said, but as the dunce who spoke to Navlany was just “technical” staff, there to help with handling the poison, he didn’t really count as elite FSB.
In any case, the more people know about your readiness to douse poison everywhere from Mayfair to Salisbury to Omsk, the more menacing you appear. We may laugh at the Kremlin’s goons, but it’s uncomfortable laughter. Their cack-handedness doesn’t make anyone feel safer. The Russian dissidents that Soldatov and Borogan interviewed for The Compatriots were all frightened of being next in line for Novichok: it didn’t help to know that oafs would deliver it. The power of Navalny’s online investigations and YouTube performances has less to do with the corruption and incompetence he reveals (everyone knows about that already) than with his preparedness to talk about them publicly, his astounding refusal to show any fear.
By making the covert overt, the Kremlin (and Navalny) grasp the demands of the age of social media. Le Carré worked not only during the Cold War, but also within the confines of the novel, the fading world of print and the private self. Social media reduce privacy and interiority: there is no place on Instagram for the private, “hidden” self. Secret services need to move with the technological times: what matters, in the words of a recent RAND Corporation analysis, is not whose army wins but “whose story wins.”
Along with the Kremlin’s change from covert to overt, from the age of the novel to social media, there has been a shift in tone from high seriousness to low humor. Navalny’s call to his would-be murderer is something out of a Soviet anecdote, the subversive mini-stories that citizens would tell one another to puncture Party propaganda.
Seventeen Moments of Spring was a Soviet television series first broadcast in 1973 (a few years earlier than the BBC’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, with which it shares a certain melancholy; it’s based on a novel by Yulian Semyonov). The streets of Soviet cities would empty when the show was on. The hero, Shtirlitz, works undercover among the Nazi leadership. Russian spin doctors polling voters in the late 1990s found that Shtirlitz was the nation’s favorite hero, and – according to Gleb Pavlovsky, who helped run both Russian presidents’ campaigns – began to look for a successor to Yeltsin among the secret services, finally alighting on Putin.
But Shtirlitz was also an anti-hero, a frequent target of Soviet anecdotes, which transformed him from an elegant, lonely super-spy to a buffoon who is both ridiculous and reckless, always on the verge of being revealed. If Putin is playing Shtirlitz the movie hero, he is also destined to perform as Shtirlitz the joke, while his regime has become an anecdote about the Soviet Union. Unlike the Soviet Union, however, Putin’s regime doesn’t profess any ideals that can be subverted, so turning into an anecdote isn’t especially harmful to it. If you don’t claim to aspire to anything, then what can you feel shame for? Isn’t the lack of shame more help than hindrance?
“All that day Shtirlitz spent in the Reichskanzlei with his zip undone, his red underpants hanging out,” one Soviet anecdote went. “But only he knew that he was actually celebrating the First of May.”
(London Review of Books)