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SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS will impact northwest California through Wednesday. Drier weather along with freezing temperatures across interior valleys will develop Thursday morning. Dry weather will persist through Saturday, followed by a possible round of light rain Sunday and Monday. (NWS)
9 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
CHARGES DISMISSED IN MENDOCINO COUNTY MARIJUANA ROBBERY CASE AFTER 2 MISTRIALS
by Julie Johnson
After two separate trials led to deadlocked juries, Mendocino County prosecutors dismissed all charges against a group of men from Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties accused of armed robbery in 2019 at a cannabis farm.
The dismissal ends a nearly two-year ordeal for the defendants, Nathan Dominic Kurtz, 26, of Petaluma, Azuriah Dominic Paul, 26, of Forestville, and Christian Shane Waier, 26, of Capitola, who claimed they had been double-crossed by a man who had given them marijuana and other items to settle a debt.
They argued they were unarmed when they went to the property and the alleged victim gave them some cash, pot and a pickup to start repaying a $70,000 debt — then staged a robbery scene after they left and called 911, according to defense attorney Jai Gohel.
“In the end the jury I think believed two main things: That the victim knew my clients and had business relationships with them and that he concocted or staged the robbery scene,” said Gohel, who represented Waier in the trials.
The lead prosecutor on the case, Dale Trigg, couldn’t be reached Monday through a District Attorney’s Office spokesman.
The encounter occurred July 9, 2019 on a remote Low Gap Road property about 10 miles west of Ukiah, an area known for marijuana cultivation.
About 9 p.m., a man called 911 to report he and another man had been attacked by six men wearing masks who tied them up with zip ties and duct tape, took marijuana, a pickup, cellphones and other belongings, according to court documents and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies spotted the pickup and a Jeep Compass leaving the area as they responded to the call, radioing for backup to stop the vehicles. Two men in the Jeep, Paul and Waier, were arrested. The driver of the pickup got out of the vehicle and ran, and authorities later arrested Kurtz, the suspected driver.
Gohel acknowledged the case involved illegal cannabis cultivation but said his client and the other defendants did not rob anyone and were not armed.
“This was a marijuana debt collection that was not a robbery,” Gohel said.
Gohel said that a deeper investigation into the situation would have revealed that one of the alleged victims, David Stetson, had business ties with some of the defendants from their involvement in the illicit marijuana trade.
Attempts to locate Stetson were unsuccessful Monday.
The first trial began in March shortly before the coronavirus pandemic halted many court proceedings. A judge declared a mistrial after the jury couldn’t reach an agreement, splitting 6-6 on some charges and 9-3 for acquittal on others, court records show.
A second trial was held in October. Nine out of 12 jurors voted to acquit the defendants on all charges, according to court filings. District Attorney David Eyster announced his office would pursue a third trial.
But in February, the defendants requested Judge Keith Faulder dismiss the case, arguing the prosecution lacked credible witnesses to back up their claims.
At a March 5 hearing to discuss the defendants’ request, prosecutors announced they would dismiss all charges and forgo a third trial.
“This would have been a serious crime, don’t get me wrong, and you can’t blame the DA for pursuing it,” Gohel said. “But I wish they had looked below the surface and investigated the underlying relationships.”
Caspar vaccine clinic update, Friday 3/12
Caspar Community Center is confirmed for 750 Pfizer doses on Friday. We'll be executing a hybrid of in-vehicle (ideal for those with accessibility concerns) and in-building (according to the plan linked below). The experience will steer future events and we might shift the balance on Friday as we go. In the right location, exclusive in vehicle could be optimal.
We've had substantial volunteer interest. I'd like to use this event as an opportunity to train volunteers in preparation for larger events. We'll be doing morning and afternoon shifts. Once the vaccine is in syringe, it must be used within an hour, so we will not break for lunch.
Signups will be using the State's myturn system. The link will be available later this week. (Don't ask now, it's not yet available.) Onsite registration will be using computers to enter directly into California Immunization Registry (CAIR), eliminating paper forms and reducing errors.
If you are volunteering as a vaccinator, you must be enrolled as a California Disaster Healthcare Volunteer. Register at https://healthcarevolunteers.ca.gov – We update from DHV every 24 hours.
All other volunteers must register with North Coast Opportunities: https://www.ncoinc.org/programs/volunteer-network/mendocino-county-volunteer-opportunities/
Karen Bowers is coordinating the shifts. She's reachable at karenbowersU2@gmail.com
Supplies are being ordered today, including vehicle chalk, parking safety vests, floor distance marking tape and name tags. Other ideas are welcome, especially from those who have observed other clinic events.
I know a couple of people have volunteered to feed the volunteers. I don't know who you are yet, but thank you. As we scale up to larger vaccination clinics, I believe community serving community will be our best model. I feel very supported by public health, healthcare professionals, our volunteer network and you. Little River went amazingly well, but ramping up from 600 to 750 doses, we could have some hiccups. It's a learning experience for everyone. Your patience is appreciated.
Media is welcome to join us during the setup, before patients arrive.
My cell is 707 937 3500. Text is best due to high volume.
Many hands make light work. One of our collective goals should be to fill the rosters of fire departments throughout the county. How's your local department doing on staffing today? If you're able and haven't taken a turn yet, it's a unique benefit of rural living to directly care for neighbors in need. It'll disrupt your life, but it's worth it. Weekly training night remains one of my favorite breaks (no politics allowed at fire). If I can fit it with my schedule, perhaps you can, too.
WE STILL WONDER what’s behind the County/CEO’s interest in hundreds of acres of ag and industrial land a couple of miles north of Ukiah after reading the following item in Tuesday’s Supervisors agenda packet:
“Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.8 - Conference with Real Property Negotiator - Property: APNs 152-090-05, 152-120-09, 152-150-03, 152-150-05, 152-150-08, 152-180-05, 152-180-09, 167-120-15, 167-120-17, 167-160-03, 167-160-06, 152-150-02, 152-270-01, 152-270-05, 157-200-01, 157-240-01, 169-010-01, 152-100-01; Physical Address. 537 Parducci Road, Ukiah CA 95482. Agency Negotiators: Carmel J. Angelo, Janelle Rau, and Darcie Antle. Under negotiation: Property Acquisition, Price and Terms.”
CLOSED SESSION is allowable under the Brown Act to allow for non-public negotiations of price and terms of potential real estate transactions. But the Brown Act does not say that the reasons for considering the purchase in the first place are legitimate closed session items. In addition, there have been no prior closed session items discussing any such purposes. How does a large and very specific real estate transaction get to the Supervisors without prior approval of the reason or need for the acquisition? The item says the County is already in discussion with a “real property negotiator” for 18 very specific rural parcels out on Parducci Road. As we said previously, available on-line realty info for that address says that 537 Parducci Road is owned by “McGehee Development Corporation (Robert & Elizabeth McGehee) a wealthy Ukiah couple who are apparently no longer in business. The property also has a substantial water right permit allowing appropriation of almost 300 acre feet per year from York Creek, a tributary of the Russian River.
THE PLOT HAS THICKENED. After seeing our initial item, this weekend a reader with Ukiah real estate connections told us that former County Health Officer and current part-time Public Health Officer consultant Dr. Noemi Doohan owns neighboring property to the parcels in question via her family’s Ukiah area history. Dr. Doohan, who lives in San Diego but works for Mendocino in a high-paying and unusually cozy arrangement designed specifically to accommodate her personal living circumstances, is also known to be close to CEO Angelo.
TO SUMMARIZE: another pre-packaged real estate deal similar to the earlier closed session plans to buy the real estate offices of Ukiah uber-realtor Richard Selzer is now presented as a done deal to the Supervisors for property which neighbors Dr. Doohan’s with nothing left to discuss in closed session but price and terms? We think the public deserves an explanation of what is going on here.
MELOY VS. MOTEL 6. (MOTEL WINS)
On Thursday, March 4, 2021 at approximately 9pm, Ukiah Police officers were dispatched to a robbery in progress at the front desk of Motel 6 (south). Officers were advised a male subject had entered the front lobby of the motel and demanded money from an employee while wielding a knife.
Officers arrived within moments and parked their patrol vehicles outside the lobby of the motel. Officers observed a male subject (later identified as Marcus Anthony Meloy, 30, of Willits) standing in the lobby with what appeared to be a knife in his hand.
Officers drew their department issued pistols and pointed them at Meloy through the window of the building. Meloy immediately threw the sharp object on the ground and placed his hands above his head. Officers ordered Meloy to exit the lobby. Meloy exited the lobby and was taken into custody.
Meloy was questioned about his actions and he admitted that he was attempting to rob the motel clerk for money. Officers located the object Meloy had in his hand and found that it was a pair of scissors.
Officers contacted the motel clerk who was unharmed. The motel clerk advised that Meloy had entered the front lobby of the motel and brandished what she believed was a knife while demanding money. The motel clerk advised she was able to escape to a back room and telephone law enforcement without giving in to Meloy’s demands.
Meloy was placed under arrest for attempted robbery and violation of his felony probation. Meloy was booked at the Mendocino County Jail and is being held on a $75,000.00 bail.
ED NOTE: Marcus Meloy started appearing in police logs as early as 2010 at age 19. Meloy, a Native American from Point Arena who graduated from Point Arena High in 2009, was arrested for assault in Point Arena in 2010 after pepper-spraying a local man in the face while the victim stood in victim’s own doorway.
In 2012 Meloy brandished a knife and stole a minivan near Jenner. He was reported to have been hacking at bushes with his knife in front of the Fort Ross store before entering the store to steal some cigarettes, then, wielding the knife, he stole the minivan to escape. After a high-speed chase down Highway 1 Meloy crashed the van into a milemarker and was arrested.
After acquiring additional tattoos in prison, in 2016 Meloy was arrested in Point Arena for unspecified vandalism and parole violation after which he was returned to prison.
Since then he has listed his residence as Clearlake and then Willits as an increasing number of tattoos appear in his booking photos.
In 2019, apparently having been released from prison again, he was picked up on a drunk in public charge.
This year he’s been arrested again for drinking before being arrested over the weekend for the Motel 6 scissors/robbery incident.
UNFIT TO OPERATE
On Sunday, March 7, 2021, at approximately 8:07 p.m., Fort Bragg Officers were dispatched to the 100 block of E. Pine Street for a report of a traffic collision that just occurred involving a vehicle striking a power pole. Dispatch described the vehicle as a gray Ford Fusion, and the vehicle was potentially on fire. Officers subsequently responded and were provided further information from dispatch that the driver of the vehicle was attempting to flee the scene. Officers arrived promptly on scene and located the vehicle in question at the specified location.
Officers made contact with the sole occupant of the vehicle and observed an open container of alcohol inside. While speaking to the driver, who was later identified verbally as Rhonjene Ammerman, 64, of Fort Bragg, Officers observed objective symptoms of Ammerman being under the influence of alcohol.
Additionally, it was determined through a records check that Ammerman had a suspended driver license due to having a prior conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Ammerman was requested to participate in standardized field sobriety tests which she agreed to. During testing, Officers deemed Ammerman was unfit to operate a motor vehicle based on her current alcoholic state. Ammerman was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving while having a suspended license. Ammerman was transported to Mendocino County Jail on the charges related to this incident.
The Police Department would like to thank the initial witness who reported this intoxicated driver to law enforcement. Questions regarding this press release may be directed to Sergeant McLaughlin at (707) 961-2800 ext. 123 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
SATELLITE IMAGES SHOW KELP FOREST off Sonoma, Mendocino coast almost gone
An analysis of satellite imagery has found that the kelp forest that only eight years ago formed a leafy canopy along the Northern California coast has almost disappeared.
In looking at satellite images of the Sonoma and Mendocino coast going back to 1985, researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz found the kelp forest declined by an average of 95% since 2013. Their study shows the destruction was related to an explosion in the population of purple sea urchin, which eats it, and two warm water events that lasted from 2014 to 2016, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.
Around that period, a wasting disease struck the sunflower sea star population, a predator of the purple urchin, allowing the spiky intervebrate with a huge appetite for kelp to take over.
Researchers who study the kelp and the types of species that depend on it, including jellyfish, abalone and red urchin that's popular with divers and sushi lovers, say the forest probably won't recover anytime soon, partly because removing the purple urchins is difficult.
“They can actually survive under starvation conditions,” said Meredith McPherson, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz’s Ocean Sciences department and coauthor of the study. “The impact has been that basically there is no kelp forest at all left, really.”
Already, the deforestation has led California regulators to suspend recreational diving for red abalone in 2018, and Mendocino County’s commercial red sea urchin fishery is almost completely shut down.
Scientists had already been monitoring the kelp forest’s decline for years with aerial photography and tidal data. But the new study was the first to use satellite imagery to more closely analyze changes in growth along with ocean temperature and nutrient levels. (AP)
“TAKING OUR VALLEY BACK”: ROUND VALLEY RESIDENTS BAND TOGETHER TO CLEAN-UP ROADWAYS
Paula Fugman, a 45-year Round Valley resident and former educator, sensed “dismay, angst, and disillusionment” as the community saw their roadsides become littered with garbage. In an act of civic duty, Fugman and a rag-tag gang of yellow-vested do-gooders sought to “take our valley back by being stewards.” Over the last month, the cleaning brigade has spruced up over five miles of roadsides and is planning more events in the future.
MEGHAN AND HARRY, saga of, is interesting, and before you write me off as a hopeless feeb, I'm happy to be one of millions of feebs who also find the story interesting. I haven't seen the famous interview with Oprah yet, but I'm already in the camp that views Prince Harry as a weak-kneed, relatively unsophisticated hostage to a very smart and ruthless woman. But ever since their departure from the royal embrace to “seek privacy,” not a day passes when they're not prominent in the media. And now we get a vague charge of royal “racism” as one of the myriad reasons Harry and Meg wanted out. Names, I say, names!
I'LL BET if America had somehow maintained monarchical ties to England, and Mendocino County was one of a thousand duchies, we'd love it, especially the annual awards ceremony as local luminaries were knighted and lesser lights got their earldoms and baronets.
A VALLEY LOCAL ASKS: “Does anyone have stories about the Tucker Court property? I know a lot of people have lived in the house my family and I are in and that Eddie Slotte used to have his shop here. I’m asking 'cause we have a spirit in the house, but she’s actually attached to the property. Just curious if any locals have any ideas who she might be. If spirits aren’t your thing, just please keep scrolling.”
A LOT of people contributed their memories of the property, while one wag suggested we all sit down around a ouija board, another unironically cautioned against messing with ouija spirits because it could be dangerous. The closest I've come to anything like a mystical experience occurred during my first few LSD trips, especially the first one when, ignoring the Tibetan Book of the Dead cautions of the hippie tripper who gave me the magic potion, I popped it on down, assuming the cautions were just more hippie bullshit. But in an hour I was in a psychotic nightmare state where all sound and color was painfully amplified, tiny dogs had giant heads with alligator teeth, and my body felt like it had been turned inside out. I was scared bleepless! Fortunately, an experienced tripper had some thorazine handy that quickly returned me to my natural, semi-psychotic state. Subsequent zaps taught me that one's mind is a veritable funhouse, but chemically entered only with extreme caution.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RITUAL
I would like to extend unbounded gratitude to Fred Gardner and the AVA for publishing Cannabis & Covid-19.
Cannabis worked perfectly to assist one staying put for the most part for the past year and the added benefits to aid in combatting initial infection are duly noted. That being said the revelation to me from this article is the need to abstain from Cannabis consumption in its myriad of forms in order to allow the body’s immune system to properly react to vaccination and build immunity.
Once I read Fred’s piece I scheduled a vaccine and began abstaining from Cannabis. So far the drawbacks have been all in the mind. First off I had to round up all the cannabis products and paraphernalia and give some away and box the rest up and lock them away. So truly first things first out of sight out of mind. The second thing is that it may take hours and hours to fall asleep and my remedy for that has been listening to the radio in the dark till I finally catch some z’s around 1 or 2 in the am.
Overall I feel myself having more patience and I am less likely to make assumptions, jump to conclusions, or take things personally (I’m not sure what that’s all about maybe you’re less in your own mind and so your empathy increases?). My increased energy and lack of fatigue are duly noted. I would like to continue to abstain from alcohol as I can feel those lingering effects for days even if I use it on a rare occasion. Alcohol is clearly a long term detriment to my strength and well being.
These physical and mental effects of abstinence are minimal in the long run and what I would like to discover is the heart of the matter which I believe is more cultural/psychological.
I had an epiphany this morning, we are people in search of ritual. I believe ritual contributed extensively to our development as humans through history. In the modern world we are literally starved for ritual. They say sports fans are happier people and I would contend that is a result of their minor connection to ritual. Exercise can provide even more ritual but I want more than that. I am implementing a tea time in the afternoon to replace the ritual of 420.
I am also setting aside time for reading from sacred books, contemplation, meditation and yes even prayer.
It's not that I don’t see cannabis as having its origin as a sacred plant but I believe we have lost the ritual and the meaning that surrounded sacred consumption which was not for its own sake alone.
So I will let this be a time of abstinence and development as well as hopefully building strong immunity. Thanks Bruce and the Major (and Ling, Renee and John) for your always critical eye in these matters and thanks again for all the keen editorializing. Thanks Fred for all of the great articles. Great things are bound to happen.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 8, 2021
PETER BLOM, Mendocino. Domestic violence court order violation, probation revocation.
THOMAS HAUGEN, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse, domestic battery, paraphernalia.
STEVEN LAWSON, Willits. Parole violation.
MARCUS MELOY, Willits. Attempted robbery, probation revocation.
SICKENING. SHAMEFUL. SELF-PITYING. Salacious. Scandalous. Sanctimonious. Spectacularly self-serving. Those were just my initial thoughts after ten minutes of the Oprah whine-athon with Meghan and Harry, and while restricting myself to only using words beginning with the letter 's'. By the time I'd finished the whole two-hour orgy of pious, self-indulgent, score-settling twaddle, the steam was erupting out of my ears like an exploding geyser, and my lexicon of rageful epithets extended to the full range of the alphabet. Never have I watched a more repulsively disingenuous interview. Nor one more horrendously hypocritical or contradictory. Here we had the Duke and Duchess of Privacy flinging out the filthy family laundry for the delectation of tens of millions of people all over the world, whilst simultaneously bleating about press intrusion. In the middle of a pandemic that has already taken over 2.5 million lives, a staggeringly rich and entitled couple living in a $11 million sun-kissed California mansion wanted us all to know that THEY are the real victims around here. Within hours of the Oprah interview airing, the hashtag #AbolishTheMonarchy was trending on Twitter. Ms Markle won't care about the damage she's done to an institution she clearly reviles. But Harry should.
— Piers Morgan
THE LORD gives everything and charges
by taking it back. What a bargain.
Like being young for a while. We are
allowed to visit hearts of women,
to go into their bodies so we feel
no longer alone. We are permitted
romantic love with its bounty and half-life
of two years. It is right to mourn
for the small hotels of Paris that used to be
when we used to be. My mansard looking
down on Notre Dame every morning is gone,
and me listening to the bell at night.
Venice is no more. The best Greek islands
have drowned in acceleration. But it’s the having
not the keeping that is the treasure.
Ginsberg came to my house one afternoon
and said he was giving up poetry
because it told lies, that language distorts.
I agreed, but asked what we have
that gets it right even that much.
We look up at the stars and they are
not there. We see the memory
of when they were, once upon a time.
And that too is more than enough.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #1
I have quite a few friends commenting on AOC as an idiot, out of her depth. I beg to differ. I find her wonderfully refreshing, even if I disagree on certain policy.
I bet you didn't know this about Alexandria Ocasio Cortez:
As a teenager, she won second prize in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair with a microbiology research project on the effect of antioxidants on the lifespan of the nematode C. elegans. In a show of appreciation for her efforts, the International Astronomical Union named a small asteroid after her: 23238 Ocasio-Cortez.
During college, she served as an intern in the immigration office during the final year of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy’s tenure.
She graduated cum laude from Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2011, majoring in international relations and economics.
Those who call her names and put her down are intimidated by her intelligence and are afraid of how hot her fire burns.
Better make sure that the people you attack aren’t out of your league. Go ahead and attack this young woman. I am going to get the popcorn.
Please don’t suggest we put Amazon in charge of anything regarding health care or the pandemic. The costs behind tech giants like Amazon’s success are unseen and the impact of Amazon is that it has destroyed many businesses. This dog eats all the other dogs.
One of the world’s richest men is not the man you’d want to work for, and should not be involved in our health care. The only goal of any business is to make money, while the goal of politicians is to protect people. The fact that our politicians are bought by these businesses means we need to fix the problems of politics, not add additional support for a business monster like Amazon. We should never want a what’s good for Amazon is good for us mentality, as the movie “Catch-22” warns.
I LOVE THESE RAW moist dawns with
a thousand birds you hear but can’t
quite see in the mist.
My old alien body is a foreigner
struggling to get into another country.
The loon call makes me shiver.
Back at the cabin I see a book
and am not quite sure what that is.
-- Jim Harrison
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
Meanwhile, we have many actual disasters hanging over our heads. Both the New Madrid and the Cascadia faults are due or overdue for a good rip. That’s not to even mention that monster that naps uneasily under Yellowstone, along with several other volcanos set to blow (one in Iceland is imminent), screw with our weather, and spoil our picnics with cold, rainy, summers. Then there’s Cuba Vieja, ready to dump half its mass into the Atlantic at any time, and set off a tsunami estimated by displacement to be 100 feet high. That would arrive at the eastern seaboard of the US within eight hours. It would take out much of coastal Europe and parts of Africa too. We may get a Carrington event to accompany the inclement weather of the Grand Solar Minimum we are entering. They haven’t bothered to protect our electric grid from such a danger. Mother Nature always bats last. We might as well eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die–advice of an Egyptian poet, and also recommended in the Old Testament.
MCN, HOW TO
ListServ Story on KZYX & Z News Monday 6 PM
On 3/8/2021 12:47 PM, Nicholas Wilson wrote:
Marco here. Nick, all those things are effectively how I and many others see and use MCN Announce listserv right now, and have done all along, the way it is, and it's simple and small and fast enough to work with dialup too. So what if it's in your computer, ten years of it take up less space than a folder of baby pictures, and if it starts bugging you anyway, you can press crtl-A and then press delete and it's gone.
Everything is listed by one line of sender, subject and date.
In Thunderbird, with three clicks, filter people you don't like into their own folder and check in every once in awhile to see if they've become likeable to you again. Block them, they're gone forever. It takes literally less than ten seconds do to either, and to undo either later on if you feel like it.
Click once to organize by tree, the whole thing is organized by tree. Click once to close trees, there's your list of thread titles to open if you're interested and not open if you're not.
If you hate someone so much that you can't stand the thought of other people maybe seeing the crap they say and being allowed to decide for themselves whether it's worthy of attention or not, and you (you in general) insist on preemptively moderating the object of your hate out of existence for not just yourself but for everyone else, that says more about you than about them, really no matter how much of a whiner or a prick or a lunatic or a racist weasel they are, and no matter what they say about you or anyone.
It takes two or three posts to get a sense of who someone is and whether you like reading him or not, and if, after deciding you're tired of him, you insist on punching yourself and others in the nose with him after that, that's nuts, unless you're enjoying it, in which case, fine, then.
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
 There can be no restoration of America without the necessary values and norms to provide the foundation of a culture. That is essentially what has been lost and I don’t see how anything like that can be accomplished with family and church so completely obliterated. The new dark ages will have to provide some way to allow families in small groups to continue the nucleus of cultural life along the lines of principles of order. We are further along in social disintegration than any other nation-state in the world.
Read Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ for an all too graphic description of what we could become.
 I don’t understand what’s wrong with men having rights.
I am a woman, a bit of a tomboy. But I’m not a man. My man is very different from me, much more powerful physically, and different in the way he thinks. Why would anyone suggest that a man shouldn’t have rights? He’s a human being, just like me in that respect.
Testosterone is a shockingly powerful substance. Believe it or not, testosterone played a large role in the development and industrialization of every nation. I’m glad that men exist, and I wish they were not berated for being men.
 The state of California spent $13 Billion in the last three years on homeless programs. The number of homeless people increased by 16% between 2018 and 2019. This is from the Legislative Analyst Office, which is bi-partisan and is very informative https://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/4152:
“The scale of the homelessness crisis in California is significant and even substantial investments in resources could quickly dissipate without demonstrating much progress if investments are made without a clear plan. We recognize that there is no obvious right answer as to how the state should address the homelessness crisis. That said, we find the Governor’s budget proposal falls short of articulating a clear strategy for curbing homelessness in California. In the absence of a clear strategy, state resources could be allocated in a less targeted/coordinated way. As a consequence, we believe the Governor’s proposed approach is less likely to make a meaningful ongoing impact on the state’s homelessness crisis. Additionally, we find that the details provided as part of the Governor’s 202021 homelessness proposal raise many important questions for the Legislature to consider.”
As mentioned many times our homeless crisis is not completely driven by a lack of affordable housing, most people who have jobs and need housing assistance can eventually find housing or they move to a cheaper place. I think we all know people who left the area because it was too expensive and they could have a better comfort level in a cheaper location. No one I know chose to become homeless and live in an encampment and expected someone to hand them an apartment for free. Homeless people have other problems like drug addiction and mental illness. The reason why California has so many homeless people is that Martin v. Boise made it hard to enforce vagrancy laws - states not in the 9th circuit can enforce them - and we have Prop. 47 which basically allows people to steal items less than $900 so if you're a drug addict and you don't want to pay rent and can live off stolen food from Walmart, Walgreens, 7-11 and other convenience stores, California is the place to be - you can spend all your money - if you receive disability or unemployment - on your drug addiction. Drug addiction is a disease and it does control people but you can't force an addict into recovery, you can only minimize the harm they cause to society.
 A thought on the Dr. Seuss “controversy”…this may be a new style of advertising.
The ad mantra has long been “there’s no such thing as bad press”…perhaps they’ve now discovered (amidst the overwhelming maelstrom of people, products and ideas on social) that “bad press is still good, but it’s actually even better than good press”.
Piss people off and you’ll get attention from all sides.
Notice that Dr. Seuss is topping the news cycles for days now. Not that they were in decline in book sales necessarily, but I’d imagine they’ll see a nice spike.
Nike figured out that half the country is annoyed by Kaepernick, but the other half may ante up product support more than before if they took a stance.
Every time some politician tries to ram through gun control, gun/ammo manufacturers and dealers make an absolute killing for the next year that otherwise would’ve likely been one of normal profitability.
And who gave a shit about Mr. Potato Head a week ago?
 Cancel culture. Banning. It’s not just what you can’t say or what books won’t be promoted in classrooms or libraries. It’s disappearing “wrongthink” down the memory hole forever.
Bezos. Owns the most Woke newspaper in the U.S., the Washington Post. Also owns this kinda prominent business called Amazon. You can buy most any book from Amazon. But you don’t own them, at least not in any sense we understand the term.
You buy a book from the bookstore, read it, and set it on your book shelf to reread whenever you want. You die, and in your will you bequeath your library to your son. (I was an early beneficiary of my older brother’s huge library of books when he died in 1971. A terrible event, obviously, but also a fortuitous one for me, as those books, still with me, changed my life at 15.) Books well-built will last for centuries, and of course are reprinted in many editions when the old ones molder.
Not so, from Amazon. They have the power, and most importantly under their terms — which you agree to as part of the TOS — the right to delete any and all books they see fit to from your Kindle. When (not if) this banning madness increases to levels which make the Dr Seuss issue seem mild, good luck preserving anything you value from electronic storage. And they’ll eventually not even stock anything “controversial” in the first place.
The book burning is, of course, the parallel issue, but a huge part of the average reader’s experience now happens through Kindle and other electronic reader devices.
 You sound like a germa-phobe. I hope you let your wife out of that giant ziplock bag now and then.
Actually, I share your compulsive obsessive disorder to a degree. I can’t drink from a glass or bottle someone else’s mouth has touched.
You are certainly free to wear a mask forever as far as I’m concerned. Wear two or three. But no one should mandate such intrusive and uncomfortable policies upon others.
The mask fogs up my glasses and makes me inhale the stale, low oxygen waste air I just expelled. As a result so many brain cells die, I suddenly feel like watching Rachel Maddow.
 Asbestos gets a bad rap. I have asbestos/cement siding on two houses. The stuff is great. I painted my house 30 years ago and it still looks good. Please don’t breath in the fibers, (common sense). Why would you want to? Same thing with lead paint. I wish I could still buy it. That stuff wears like iron. Why would you eat it? We all grew up with lead paint. My old motors still need lead. I shudder to think how smart my fellow commenters would be without the IQ points they lost from gnawing on windowsills. Most of this crap is just money in the bank for the abatement outfits. My prediction is this: Any pressure treated wood with arsenic in it must be removed before the sale of a house. Also all the soil under the deck must be tested and removed if contaminated. There is a fortune to be made by these mitigation businesses.
INTERVIEW WITH MARTIN GURRI: “A Short-Term Pessimist & Long-Term Optimist”
Q&A with the author of “Revolt of the Public”
by Matt Taibbi
Few authors in recent times have resonated with reviewers across the political spectrum in the same way as Martin Gurri. The Intercept said of the former CIA analyst’s 2014 work, The Revolt of the Public: “Trump and Brexit Made This Book Look Prophetic.” The Washington Examiner, in a piece called, “The best analysis of 2021 is from 2014,” just wrote this a few days ago:
“Gurri identified the underlying dynamics that explain why the Department of Justice is punishing an American citizen for making memes, shaman barbarians stand in the speaker’s chair, and sports fans bully hedge fund managers. The GameStop short squeeze in particular unfolded like a chapter in the book…”
Gurri’s book, which outlines the inherent contradictions between traditional hierarchies of power and the demystifying power of the Internet, is compellingly predictive on a number of levels, but it’s easy to see why some mainstream thinkers might look askance. He says things that are obviously true, but that no one wants to hear, the worst possible combination.
Ask any mainstream media critic — say, Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post — what needs to be done to rebuild trust in news organizations, and the answer might be a combination of, “We need to do ideological litmus tests before conducting interviews” and “We need to boycott Fox News,” without so much as a nod to, “We maybe have to stop screwing up, too.”
In politics, media, financial services, medicine even, there’s an institutional unwillingness to admit that their trust problem might in any way be self-inflicted. A central premise of Gurri’s book is that the public, around the world, is reacting to real institutional shortcomings. He even has a chapter called, “The Failure of Government.” At the same time, he finds some of that failure in the habit of setting expectations too high, deceiving the public into misunderstanding “the reality of what democratic governments can achieve.”
In other words, Gurri’s book doesn’t just point and blame, in the manner of most recent political non-fiction. He asks both the justifiably angry public and those working in hated elite institutions to look inward. Voters, while they should demand fairness and strike out against corruption, may also need to readjust expectations for government, and resist nihilistic solutions. Meanwhile, institutions like the news media need to recognize that a recent history of blunders — not just whoppers like the WMD mess, but constant worship at the altar of “experts” like Alan Greenspan, who in crises later prove to be clueless — have cost them dearly.
These problems need to be faced, but Gurri believes they can be fixed. The author on trust, positive change, and optimism:
TK: Can any informational institution be authoritative in the Internet age? Put another way, is the Internet-based media system — which can elevate anyone from Joe Rogan to Alex Jones to network-sized audiences almost overnight — inherently destabilizing?
Gurri: There are no logical or structural reasons why authority could not be earned in a time of information overabundance. The process would necessarily be different from the past, when authority was conferred from above and entailed, as a personal reward, rising a great distance above the public. That world is gone with the wind. No agreement exists about what should replace it.
We are in the earliest stages of a very messy transformation, but in time, I suspect, the institutions of democratic politics and government will learn to engender trust on a transactional basis within the crowded immediacy of the web. I’m not a particularly imaginative person, but I can easily imagine political parties relying on some combination of Wikipedia and subreddit-style sites, in which ideas and energy from below receive a minimum of governance from above.
Joe Rogan and Alex Jones are surface symptoms of this transitional moment. Their success and destabilizing power have come at the expense of the old hierarchical institutions, managed by elites who simply refuse to accept that the world has changed forever and who insist that legitimacy can only be bestowed from above. When the center grows dotty and delusional, marginal actors with strange ideas will move in and carve off slices of the public’s attention.
TK: Do you think the fears of those “old hierarchical institutions” might be part of the thinking behind the content moderation movement, which seems designed to a) put the "network" under more centralized control, and b) narrow the informational options for the typical news consumer?
Gurri: Content moderation, in my opinion, isn’t really a movement but part of this delusional thinking. The idea is to make the great digital platforms look like the front page of the New York Times circa 1980. It won’t happen. The digital realm is too vast. There can be no question that, with Joe Biden as president, we have entered a moment of reaction — a revolt against the revolt. But all the techniques of control wielded by the elites are, like their dreams, stuck in the 20th century and ineffective in the current information landscape.
To take down an opinion, or an author, or a small platform like Parler would have had a shocking impact in 1980, but today is simply swarmed over by similar opinions, authors, and platforms. This is truly a Marshall McLuhan moment, in which the message is the medium, rather than little threads of contested content.
TK: You write that the Border can neutralize, but not replace, the Center. Is this absolute? In other words, has the network you describe permanently undermined the whole concept of centralized authority, or just a particular set of institutional authorities - banks like Goldman Sachs, the Democratic and Republican Parties, CBA/ABC/NBC, etc?
Gurri: That’s a good question. I don’t believe the paralysis caused by the collision between network and hierarchy is absolute. I think it’s contingent on the structure of the institutions and the behavior of the actors on the political stage. Government can be reconfigured, elites can be replaced by others who behave differently, and the public’s behavior, one hopes, is under our own control. Positive change is perfectly possible.
I have often said that hierarchy is both inescapable — baked into our DNA – and indispensable to getting things done. The sectarian dream of perfect equality in every interaction is a formula for endless argument without final action. But hierarchy can be of various shapes and sizes, and it can be open or closed. We have inherited from the 20th century institutional pyramids that are steep, ponderous, and closed to all who don’t know the secret code. Digital life, which is what most of the public experiences, is flat, fast, and accessible to everyone. Part of the reconfiguration I mentioned before will be to bring the old hierarchies closer in line with the public’s expectations: government will have to be flatter, faster, and more interactive.
TK: You referenced the repeat appearance in protest movements of imagery from "V for Vendetta,” a movie that ends with the destruction of the old regime, and everything else will “take care of itself.” Do you think there's disinterest in the form of future governance among political activists because they're pessimistic about actually taking power? Or is it optimism: if they overthrow established authority, problems will vanish? Or is it the quasi-ironic/nihilistic spirit of these times, where even the most capable people don't like to imagine themselves as power-holders? Where in our society are people trained for actual governance?
Gurri: The posture of negation that edges into nihilism is a function of the structure of the public itself. The public in the digital age is many, not one. It’s fractured into mutually hostile war-bands. The only way to unify and mobilize these groups is to emphasize what they stand against: the system, the elites, the established order. Governance would require organization, leadership, programs — but all those things would once again divide the public into its component parts. So the posture remains eternally against. Even when protesters win concessions — as in France with the Yellow Vests, for example — they will not take yes for an answer.
Your last question is a very interesting and troubling one. In the digital age, people are trained to express themselves, to perform in a way that will grow their following, rather than to govern. (Think Donald Trump.) Yuval Levin has written that our institutions were once formative — they shaped the character and discipline of those who joined them — but are now performative, mere platforms for elite self-expression and personal branding. I completely agree. Outside of the military, which still demands a code of conduct from its members, I don’t see where people are trained to govern today.
TK: If so many of the questions in your book are tied to the problem of information and how it's delivered, how big of a role will the news media have in determining our future? A common reaction to criticisms of media within the media business is that we're just not that important, in the scheme of things, at least not compared to banking, medicine, etc. How big of a deal is the loss of trust in the news media?
Gurri: Well, the future is opaque, and I haven’t been granted a prophetic vision, but here’s my take on your question. The news business was adapted to 20th-century conditions and is an endangered species in the present information environment. I think many of the pathologies you yourself have documented are desperate attempts to survive in the digital storm. In the old analog life, the media was important to the elites, and the elites were important to the public. Neither of those conditions apply today.
TK: You speak in the book of being worried for the future of representative democracy. How much more or less bleak does the picture look now, after four years of Donald Trump? It looks possible that his legacy will be the delegitimization of electoral politics, as traditional hierarchies have almost rallied to something like an authoritarian counterrevolution in response to him. If people have lost faith in authority, have elites also lost faith in the ability of populations to hold up their end of the bargain in democracies?
Gurri: First, I hold that Trump was a symptom — an effect rather than a cause. He possessed an outlandish personality, and that brought its own effects, but one can easily find Trump-like populists all over the world. Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, for example, makes Trump seem like an etiquette book by comparison. Globally, the public is looking for alternatives to the ruling elites, and these populists, by their very outrageousness, are signaling that they are not them.
Second, the elites, as I said before, are stuck in a sterile nostalgia for the 20th century. They are at war with the world as it actually is today, and I imagine they would love to disband the public and summon a more obedient version. Hence the panic about fake news and the tinkering with control over content.
When Trump won in 2016, the elites refused to accept his legitimacy. He was said to be the tool of Vladimir Putin and an aspiring tyrant. When Trump lost in 2020, he and many of his followers refused to accept the legitimacy of that election. A Trumpist mob sacked the Capitol building to demonstrate its rage. None of this is good for democracy or the legitimacy of our political institutions.
But let’s look at the big picture. Trump won in 2016, and, in his inimitable style, ran the US government for four years. He lost in 2020 and moved out of the White House to make room for Joe Biden, just as he was supposed to do. Now Biden is in charge. He gets to run the government. The drama of democracy has generated lots of turbulence but remarkably little violence. The old institutions are battered and maladapted but they have deep roots. The American people may be undergoing a psychotic episode, but they are fundamentally sensible.
With regards to democracy, I’m a short-term pessimist and a long-term optimist. Not sure whether that’s an analytical judgment, or just an act of faith…
TOMORROW & TOMORROW & KABOOM
by James Kunstler
“The Senate bill also includes a provision intended to avert surprise tax bills for people who lost jobs, waiving federal income taxes for the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 for households earning under $150,000.”
—The New York Times
Isn’t that a curious concept from the front page of Re-set Central? How does a couple with no jobs and no income earn $150,000 in a year that they were not working? And if they somehow brought in $150,000 anyway, why do they need the support of the US government? Such are the many mysteries of the Coronavirus 2021 stimulus bill.
What’s actually going on with this monster of legislation? Kind of looks like an attempt to replace what used to be a national economy with something that pretends to be money conjured from a system pretending to tax itself on wealth that was never generated in the first place. In other words: politicians have achieved the final divorce of wealth from production, and thus economy from reality. The USA has become the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
Whatever else the Soviet experiment was, it was at least predicated on producing stuff, however defective the incentives turned out to be, or how shoddy the stuff was that got produced — and the system finally crashed anyway, because it was based on fantasies of human social behavior that just didn’t comport with reality. Now, the USA, in its own existential climax phase, seeks to re-do the Soviet experiment, only minus that feature of industrial production. Instead, our “wealth” gets generated from the banking system alone, and its subsidiary activities, such as hedge funds, arbitrages, dividends from companies with no earnings, and the fees for swapping digitized bundles of this-and-that. You understand that it’s all an illusion, right?
Bitcoin is the exemplar of that divorce of wealth from production. Its value appears to be derived from two features: the mathematically elegant blockchain code, which is a distributed accounting system supposedly impervious to government meddling. And “mining” Bitcoin using colossal amounts of electricity to churn the blockchain code, a simple dissipation of energy. What is actually produced by these operations? A promise that a set of digits residing on countless flash drives around the world equal X-amount denominated in national currencies, which are themselves spun out of nothing by a process far less complex than the exertions that produce Bitcoin.
It may be true that Bitcoin’s distributed “ledger” is difficult for governments to crack, but governments can just abolish Bitcoin in a few keystrokes by criminalizing the trade of it and confiscating any theoretical profits from it. They have probably refrained so far because the traffic in Bitcoin is still relatively tiny compared to the trade in stocks, bonds, and their derivatives, and because they prefer to keep the Bitcoin model running as a demonstration project in preparation for their own entry into national cryptocurrencies, with all its advantages for tracking individual transactions and targeting tax liabilities.
Let’s spell out the more blatant shortcomings of Bitcoin: The blockchain may be theoretically bomb-proof, but the exchanges that Bitcoin trades on can be fiddled, hijacked, and erased from the universe, and Bitcoins with them. Remember Mt. Gox? When it went tits-up in 2014, 850,000 Bitcoins vanished (out of the 21 million that can ever be “mined” under the system as designed). Bitcoins were worth under $1000 when that happened. Also, keep in mind that Bitcoin is meaningless without reliable electric service and the Internet that runs on it. How many Bitcoins were bought-and-sold in Texas those dark days a couple of weeks ago when a blue norther rolled in and the lights went out. Of course, trading Bitcoin might be the least of your problems when the pipes freeze and all the sheetrock in your house gets prepped for a black mold experiment. But just sayin’….
The Schumer-Pelosi gang looks exorbitantly proud of their legislative coup in the stim bill (and Mitch McConnell’s gang, too, which had to play along, or get tagged and cancelled as Dr. Seuss-like creatures of Grinchified parsimony). Obtuse, desperate, and stupid as these grandstanding politicians are, they all overlook the workings of entropy in these foolish expedients to keep the plates spinning in this performance-art economy. Namely: disorder. Everything is groaning and cracking out there.
One-time $1,400 handouts and even regular $300 unemployment subsidies won’t pay the mortgages or feed families very long, and every day there are fewer families bringing in anything close to that mythical $150,000. For many, it’s more like… nothing. The one-time bailouts of recklessly insolvent city and state governments and pension funds will only postpone their collapse. The varying guaranteed basic income schemes, enhanced child credits, advances on tax refunds, and other gimmicks would turn the former working class into sub-lumpenproles with nothing to occupy them but crime and vice. In fact, we already have a sizable underclass demonstrating exactly what you’ll get from enlarging the social group dependent on government support.
The only other question for now is when do the different population groups in this land explode in violence? The group loosely bundled as “Red” is angry enough with the ongoing insults of Wokery, failed rule-of-law, and abridgments of basic constitutional rights. The states where they dominate are likely to resist any more fiats by the federal government, like the imminent attempt to confiscate firearms. The “Blue” auxiliary armies are beyond their creators’ control. Antifa will be ready to rock-and-roll in the streets with good weather because so many young people have absolutely no prospects to thrive in the collapsing economy, and the streets have become their social space, with so little money for lattes and beers. And BLM need look no further than the Derrick Chauvin trial in Minnesota, starting today, for an excuse to resume its characteristic activities.
Does anyone seriously believe that the husk of Joe Biden will remain in office more than another few weeks? It’s obvious that he doesn’t have the mental mojo to work an authentic press conference, and surely not the customary address to a joint session of Congress. Even the news media may seek to know who is actually in charge of the executive branch before much longer. Pay close attention to events unspooling. Get ready for trouble. It’s coming every which way, from money to public order to rollicking spring weather.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
NOSE OFF: WHO HELD IT HIGHER?
A spirited challenge from young Daniel Jones-Pagan this week, but he's going to have to "elevate his game" to unseat reigning champ Anthony Moron.